Elegant and culturally important cuisine
Kaiseki-ryori is a traditional multi-course Japanese dinner. It places a huge emphasis on seasonal ingredients as well as presentation. Each dish is a delicate balancing act of flavor, texture and color. Every aspect is considered in detail, including the tableware each course is served on. Kaiseki is just as much a feast for the eyes as the taste buds and is a culinary experience unlike anything else.
What to expect at a kaiseki restaurant
The menu at a kaiseki restaurant is usually pre-determined. Simply choose the number of courses you would like and allow the chef to take you on a Japanese culinary journey. The basic elements of kaiseki are grilled fish, soup and a rice dish, but are certainly not limited to them. You can expect local, seasonal vegetables that you may have never heard of, prepared in ways that you never imagined.
Suggested kaiseki restaurants in Tokyo
Suzunari in the Arakicho area is a Michelin-starred kaiseki with courses starting from around 7,500 yen. It is located in a quiet neighborhood filled with tiny bars and restaurants. Suzunari is a great introduction to kaiseki as they offer smaller courses with reasonable prices.
Ishikawa in Tokyo's Kagurazaka neighborhood offers guests a quiet, friendly environment in which to try kaiseki-ryori. Ishikawa is a three-star Michelin restaurant with only one course on offer for 19,000 yen. Reservations are required.
Ginza Ibuki, located in the upscale Ginza district is a must for lovers of the fatty bonito fish. Ibuki specializes in preparing a variety of different types of bonito in styles from across Japan. Dinner starts at 13,000 yen. Ibuki also offers a lunch service starting at 2,600 yen. Reservations are recommended.
Suggested kaiseki restaurants in Kyoto
Izusen is a kaiseki restaurant located near Daitokuji Temple . You can experience a refined version of Buddhist vegetarian cuisine. If the weather permits, you can dine in the restaurant's garden. Reservations are required.
Gion Karyo is a very welcoming kaiseki restaurant that offers English menus, allowing first-timers to gently ease into the world of kaiseki. Dinner starts at 10,000 yen and a lunch course is also available during the daytime.
Kodaiji Wakuden is an elegant option among the many kaiseki restaurants in Kyoto . The menu changes with the season, and they only serve the freshest ingredients. Dinner starts at around 30,000 yen and reservations are required.