Kaiseki or kaiseki-ryōri is a traditional multi-course Japanese dinner. The term also refers to the collection of skills and techniques that allow the preparation of such meals, and are reminiscent of Western haute cuisine. There are basically two kinds of traditional Japanese meal styles called kaiseki or kaiseki-ryōri. The first, where kaiseki is written as and kaiseki-ryōri as refers to a set menu of select food served on an individual tray (to each member of a gathering). The seconsunomonod, written as and as refers to the simple meal that the host of a chanoyu gathering serves to the guests before a ceremonial tea, and is also known as cha-kaiseki.

The meaning of Ryori is ‘cuisine, so it’s quite a simple version, but Kaiseki is a word bit harder to put in plain words. It means ‘stone in bosom’, a metaphorical reference to monks putting warm stones in the segment of their fine clothes next to the tummy to ward off hunger. Why anyone would want to correlate a spectacular meal with hunger is rather confounding, but then again many Japanese concepts are like that. Kaiseki Ryori is also served in Ryokan, old-style inns dotted around hot spring areas in Japan. This rustic assortment of Kaiseki will usually use only traditional cooking strategies and focus on produce from nearby farm areas.

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A calm tranquil environment is a tradition for Kaiseki dining and in fact many restaurants have different ambiance where each table has its own room. Furnishings and decorations are classically glum and spares, but sophisticated.  The restaurant may

 

sometimes have its own Japanese garden which guests are welcome to explore.

Kaiseki meals have a arranged order to their dishes, most of which are prepared by by means of one of the general techniques of Japanese cooking. However, kaiseki chefs have considerable freedom to add, omit or substitute courses in order to highlight regional and seasonal delicacies and personal style. Below is a list of courses as they typically appear in a kaiseki meal.

When you hear these Japanese words what comes in your mind? Kaiseki Ryori is the Japanese version of Haute Cuisine, the ultimate in Japanese fine dining. Many courses, seasonal ingredients, no replication. Everyone who tries a Kaiseki Dinner for the first time will invariably find it to be an exquisite dining experience. Experience the taste in heaven of Kaiseki Ryori.

Cited from http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2348.html:

Starters

 

Aperitif (Shokuzen-shu)
The meal may be started off with a small glass of alcohol. Usually it is a sweet wine or local alcohol.

 

Appetizers
A selection of beautifully prepared, bite-sized appetizers start the meal. This is often served on a long dish known as a hassun named after its typical length of eight sun (about 24 cm).

Main Courses

Kaiseki courses are categorized by cooking method, with each dish representing one of the methods. Not all dishes may be present, however, as chefs will often include or omit dishes depending on the season and the chef’s individual style.

 

Soup (Suimono)
The soup is an integral part of a kaiseki meal. It is often a simple clear broth sparingly garnished with vegetables, tofu or seafood.

 

Sashimi (Otsukuri)
Sashimi is thinly sliced, raw fish, usually served on a bed of shredded daikon (Japanese radish) and accompanied by soya sauce and a small amount of wasabi paste. Sashimi is sometimes served with the starters.

 

Boiled Dish (Nimono)
Nimono is a dish made by boiling, simmering or stewing vegetables and meat or seafood, often in a mixture of soya sauce, sweet cooking sake and sugar.

 

Grilled Dish (Yakimono)
Yakimono dishes are usually either grilled fish or meat. Grilled fish may be a local fresh water variety or seafood depending on the region. Grilled meat often features local wagyu (prime Japanese beef).

 

Deep Fried Dish (Agemono)
The fried dish is commonly tempura (seafood and vegetables deep fried in a light flour batter). It is commonly served towards the end of the meal, alongside a light dipping sauce or salt seasoning.

 

Steamed Dish (Mushimono)
The most common steamed dish is chawanmushi, a savory egg custard flavored with fish stock, that contains small morsels of mushrooms, chicken, ginko nuts and seafood. It is served in a teacup shaped, lidded dish and eaten with a small spoon.

 

Vinegared Dish (Sunomono)
Sunomono dishes usually consist of vegetables and seafood (often shrimp or octopus) dressed in a vinegar based sauce. These dishes are usually served in small, shallow bowls to accommodate their vinegar dressings.

Shokuji

The shokuji set consists of rice, miso soup and pickles (tsukemono) and is always served toward the end of the meal before dessert.

 

Rice
A bowl of white rice is most commonly served, although some ryokan have come up with creative variations such as mugi gohan (rice with barley), okayu (rice porridge), takenoko gohan (rice with bamboo shoots) and other seasonal rice dishes.

 

Miso Soup
Accompanying the rice is a bowl of miso soup, made by dissolving miso paste in fish stock and adding additional ingredients such as seafood, vegetables and tofu.

 

Pickles (Tsukemono)
A small assortment of pickled vegetables is the third element of the shokuji. It may include pickles such as takuan (pickled daikon radish), umeboshi (pickled plum) or hakusai no sokusekizuke (pickled Chinese cabbage).

Dessert

 

Sweets
A dessert, such as local or seasonal fresh fruit, sorbet or other light dessert makes up the final course.

 

 

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