Enjoy the kaiseki cuisine!
Basic of kaiseki cuisine.
The image of Kaiseki Ryori is quite expensive-looking and hard to order......
Once you enter these restaurants, you will see dishes with seasonal ingredients made by chefs that are beautiful and indeed culinary work of arts that inspire a feeling of serenity.
However, once you know the basics, you will be able to enjoy Kaiseki dishes without all the stress of not knowing what's what.
Let's get started with some basics, including the order in which the courses are served.
【1st dish: Sakizuke】
The Sakizuke (small bite) is the first dish that comes after the first order of drinks. This dish is usually one or two bites and varies depending on what the chef personally chooses to use, although these are often delicacies unique to the current season.
【2nd dish: Owan】
The Owan is a soup-type appetizer that is offered after the Sakizuke.
This dish may seem very simple, but making dashi (Japanese soup stock), arranging the food in a bowl, the textures and the flavors are all important as they are a real test of strength for the chef themself.
After taking a sip of soup, enjoy the ingredients mouthful by mouthful!
【3rd dish: Mukozuke】
The Mukozuke is also known as Otsukuri or sashimi.
The name "Mukozuke" indicates not just cutting raw fish, but also that the sashimi is easy to pick up with chopsticks and that extra chef skills are also apparent when enjoying the dish.
【4th dish: Shinogi】
The purpose of this dish is to prevent your stomach from feeling hungry and so this is commonly served as a small portions of sushi, udon noodles or buckwheat noodles.
【5th dish: Hassun】
The name "Hassun" indicates that the dish is focused on the enjoyment of alcohol, and that it is normally created by combining ingredients from both land and sea.
【6th dish: Yakimono】
Yakimono is also known as a grilled dish and is regularly served as a seasonal fish or meat dish complimented by seasonal garnishes and flourishes to be visually appealing as well as delicious.
【7th dish: Takiawase】
Foods such as fish, meat and vegetables cooked separately but served together as a single dish are called the Takiawase and this basically has a mild taste. The most important thing to consider for this dish is providing a sense of the current season and then following that theme with a combination of appropriate ingredients, coloration and texture.
【8th dish: Gohan/Shokuji】
This is the closing dish and therefore, generally speaking, most restaurants serve this as rice with miso soup and Japanese pickles, rice mixed with seasonal ingredients, udon noodles, buckwheat noodles, or ochazuke, the last of which is made by pouring green tea, dashi, or hot water over rice with savory topping such as seaweed, wasabi, umeboshi (pickled plum) or salmon in a way similar to pouring milk over cereal. Usually quite a small portion.
【9th dish: Mizugashi】
Mizugashi is known as a dessert in Japan and may include seasonal fruits, confectioneries, ice cream and/or cake. It functions as a means to "refresh" the mouth after the meal.
If you understand the fundamentals of Kaiseki, you will definitely not only be able to enjoy the dishes more, but also better appreciate the Japanese tableware used, the performance of the chef, and the atmosphere.