Kaiseki Ryori

Once in a lifetime meal

05 March, 2010 by

“You only live life once, have no regrets trying” was what I told Chan. With that I managed to convince him on embarking on an epic culinary journey down to a Japanese restaurant strictly available only by reservations, to try out Kaiseki Ryori.

Kaiseki Ryori is basically a Japanese multi-course dinner, but at its most refined. Its showcases the ability of the chef’s skill, creativity and knowledge on various seasonal ingredients to create dishes that reflects on the season. It also could be described as an edible art form that balances the taste, color and texture. Even details right down to the plates and bowls are carefully chosen to enhance both the appearance and the seasonal theme of the dishes.

Kaiseki Ryori could easily be stretched into a 3 hour affair, so it is necessary to give oneself ample time to slowly enjoy the whole experience. Sort of akin to a ritual. Impeccable service usually accomplices Kaiseki Ryori, so do expect anything but undivided attention from the waitress serving you. The next dish will be prepared only after you have done with you previous dish, ready-made dishes on standby are never heard of in Kaiseki Ryori.

We had a 10 course meal for that night. But under the discretion of the chef, the number of dishes might vary. I’ll be showing pictures of the food taken that night, enjoy.

We were given a choice of various beautifully crafted sake cups to accompany our drinks. This was Chan's cup.

1. Appetizers - Whole baby abalone, clam meat, natto, stewed octopus, radish and yam. Little nibbles of tastiness to kick start the whole experience. The Female owner/server takes great detail in explaining every little item on the dishes presented. But alas, none of us had the foresight to write down anything for future reference, so everything described is based solely on memory.

2. Soup - Green Ling (fish) with goma tofu. A very clean tasting soup that brings out the freshness of the fish and the aroma of the goma tofu.

3. Sashimi - The freshest Otoro (Extra fatty tuna belly), Hotate-Gai (Scallop), Amebi (Sweet shrimp) and Hamachi (Yellowtail) was served on a bed of ice. And of course, only real freshly grated wasabi to accompany the very best sashimi. Wasabi from a tube would be blasphemy.

4. Fried Items - Tempura of Shisiamo (Smelt) and seasonal vegetables. Light, airy, crunchy and absolutely tasty. I checked the paper for grease stains and I'm happy to say I found none.

5. Grilled Dish - Grilled fish collar. A simple grilled fish seasoned with salt.

6. Steamed Dish - Most people would have easily guessed that this is Chawanmushi (Steamed egg custard), but to even my surprise it was totally different dish.

The leaf was lifted and mashed peas with eel was presented to us. The dish comes complete with a picked sakura petal.

7. Hotpot - Our main dish for the night. Instead of using a conventional claypot or metal pot, the chef has cleverly used a very thick paper as the pot. Amazingly, it's fireproof. Please don't ask why.

Wagyu beef with seasonal vegetables. I'm quite sure that this beef is a few notches up from the normal wagyu beef that could more commonly be found. Tasty? You bet.

8. Rice Dish - Glutinous rice steamed with seasonal vegetables. A very clean tasting dish accompanied with miso soup before the start of our dessert.

9. Dessert - Matcha Tiramisu, Japanese Muskmelon, Ginger Sorbet and strawberry jelly. Each of them tasty in its own right. The ginger sorbet could be a little acquired taste.

I think this particular piece of Muskmelon deserves special mention, it crumbles and dissolve quickly into your mouth, filling it with juice. Truly the "Otoro" of fruits. You can get a whole melon from Japanese supermarkets at 70 dollars per fruit.

10. Dessert - Wasabi Mochi and Green tea. The second wave of desserts signified the end of our epic journey through the last 9 courses, as Japanese like to end their meals with a good tea. Very high quality green tea was used for the tea and the very sweet mochi is paired with the bitterness of the green tea.

Total Damage for the meal was $633.60. Some might argue that for that amount of money, its better of spent on more permanent items or even a short vacation. For me, a truly amazing experience will do.

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Addicted to film, Yan shoots with a black Nikon Fm3a. For special occasions, Yan shoots with a Mamiya Sekor TLR.