Kaiseki Ryori (会席料理)
(Typical Japanese Kaiseki Ryori)
Looks beautiful, doesn’t it? This is a good example of “Kaiseki Ryori” in Japan. Usually Kaiseki is an 8-course dinner or a dinner of 8 courses. Sometimes it is served one course after another. All 8 courses are served at one time like the picture above. You can tell this is a very official meal if you are a good observer. You don’t go to a restaurant and order like “Kaiseki for me, please!” No way. You need to make an appointment or arrangement with a particular restaurant which serves Kaiseki. That is because not all Japanese restaurants serve Kaiseki.
The word, Kaiseki, consists of two parts. “Kai” means “getting together” while “Seki” “seated.” That is, you have an official meeting with your business clients or you treat your company’s stockholders. Something like that. As you see it, it costs a lot for one person, so the host will pay a fortune for one Kaiseki meeting. Kaiseki meeting must be extremely important for the host.
Let’s take a look at each course one by one with particular terms in order.
1) Sakizuke (= Appetizer)
2) Wanmono (= Soup)
3) Mukozuke (= Sashimi)
4) Hachizakana (= Grilled Fish)
5) Shiizakana (= Nimono)
6) Tomezakana ( = Vinegared dish)
7) Shokuji (= Gohan+Miso Soup+Tsukemono)
8) Mizugashi (= Kudamono)
How did you like those courses? These days you can casually enjoy Kaiseki with your friends or family often. Those are called something like “Mini Kaiseki.” That’s not official. Remember? Kaiseki is for a special occasion. You are spend at least a couple of hours, enjoying Kaiseki dinner at the restaurant like this:
Intimidating? Most likely. For example, some Kaiseki restaurants in Kyoto don’t let first-time customers called “Ichigensan” in without referrals (!?). However, more and more Japanese restaurant started to offer “Mini Kaiseki” these days, more and more Japanese can enjoy that simplified Kaiseki. As you can imagine, “Mini Kaiseki” is a lot more affordable (US $30.00 – $50.00) than regular Kaiseki (US $200.00 – $500.00).
I strongly recommend that you try regular Kaiseki sometime when you go visit Japan. You definitely feel you are important. Let me show you some Kaiseki here. Enjoy!