Kaiseki Ryori is one of the most famous traditional Japanese meals. It is also known as the Japanese Haute Cuisine (slow, fine dining) where it emphasizes not only good taste, but also the physical presentation as well as the way it is being served.
The origin of this dish can be traced back many centuries ago. It was first served as a dish during the tea ceremony, also known as “sado”. Like the tea ceremony, Kaiseki Ryori emphasizes simplicity (wabi) as well as elegancy (sabi).
Over the years, Kaiseki Ryori has evolved from being a simple dish to today’s highly-defined Japanese cuisine. You can find this meal at high-end Japanese restaurants known as ryotei. It can also be found at ryokan or old inns around the hot spring areas.
The full course of Kaiseki Ryori usually divided into four parts – starters, main courses, shokuji (second dish) and dessert. The ingredients used for each dish served depend on the season and usually it will not repeat in one full course of Kaiseki Ryori. Let’s brief you on some of the common dishes you can expect from a full course of Kaiseki Ryori.
Shokuzen-shuChi (in Oz)/Flickr
This is a small glass of sweet wine or local wine such as sake to start off the course.
This plate of appetizers consists of local delicacies, usually served bite-size. The name “hassun” is derived from the square plate used. The plate is measured as eight sun by eight sun (one sun is about 3 cm) and eight sun is called “hassun” in Japanese.
Selection of Main Courses (depending on season)
Literally translated as “chopstick wash”, Hashi-arai is a small bowl of simple soup called suimono. It is a simple soup garnished with tofu or vegetables. It is served in between dishes.
Mukozuke / OtsukuriJapanexperterna.se/Flickr
This dish consists of thinly sliced Japanese sashimi such as sea bream (tai) or flounder (hirame). The slices of sashimi are placed on top of shredded Japanese radish and this dish comes with soy sauce and wasabi.
Yakimono is a grilled dish usually consisting of fish. The bones of the fish are usually removed for easier consumption. Sometimes high quality meat such as local Japanese beef is used to replace the fish.
Wammori is a dish that consists of meat or fish together with seasonal vegetables. The ingredients are served in a clear seasoned soup.
Mushimono is a steamed dish where chawanmushi is usually served. Chawanmushi is Japanese savory egg custard usually filled with mushrooms, crab meat and gingko nuts.
AgemonoNot Quite a Photographr/Flickr
Agemono is a deep fried dish. In a Kaiseki Ryori course, agemono usually consists of tempura (Japanese deep fried seafood and vegetables) and served towards the end of the main course.
Meshi simply refers to the steamed rice. In a Kaiseki Ryori course, rice is served after all the main course dishes and usually only filled 1/5 full.
Shirumono can be divided into two types – clear soup or miso soup. Miso soup is often used in Kaiseki Ryori courses.
Yuto and Konomonoshiokuma/Flickr
Konomono is a dish consists of various vegetable pickles. And Yuto simply refers to a wooden pitcher filled with hot water.
Matcha is a kind of powdered Japanese green tea. The matcha served in a Kaiseki Ryori course is usually high in quality due to the course’s origin, tea ceremony.
Wagashi are Japanese confections, such as mochi.