Kaiseki is a style of multi-course cuisine that Japan is famous for. It is cooked using seasonal ingredients, and is known for dishes that are not only tasty, but also pleasing to the eye. Here are five of the most honored kaiseki restaurants around the country.
Kitaohji Ginza Saryo in Ginza is famous. All seats are in private rooms so you can enjoy a private meal, and it is well received among foreign tourists as it always has English menus and English-speaking staff available.
The restaurant has an interior that is gorgeous yet relaxing, and each dish in the kaiseki course, from appetizers to dessert, is made with the utmost care using the seasonal bounty of the ocean and land. The evening course starts at 7,000 JPY (excl. tax), while the the vegetarian kaiseki course (10,000 JPY (excl. tax)) is appropriate for vegans as it contains no ingredients that are derived from animals and is a great way to thoroughly enjoy fresh Japanese vegetables.
1. Kitaohji Ginza Saryo
This restaurant has a long history in Kyoto of over 180 years.
This restaurant offers courses only for both lunch and dinner, and prices are 20,000 JPY or 23,000 JPY for dinner, and 15,000 JPY for lunch (all excl. tax and service fees), though prices vary by season. The restaurant has been a Michelin 3-star restaurant for five consecutive years since 2011.
At this restaurant, you can enjoy a variety of elegant specialty dishes such as the a white miso and mustard soup with grilled mochi that brings out the natural flavors without using seasoning or dashi, and sea bream grilled with sake which is enjoyed with hot water as soup once the fish has been eaten.
Honkogetsu is in Hozenji Yokocho, an area reminiscent of Osaka's past despite being in the area of Osaka's entertainment district of Minami. Once you pass into a side street from the bustling town, it is a different world of calm and quiet. This restaurant is located on a romantic cobblestone street.
Courses are only available at night and are between 20,000 JPY (excl. tax) and 25,000 JPY (excl. tax). The seasonal fish and vegetables, which are the key ingredients for Japanese food, are carefully sourced domestically. The chefs give priority to maximizing the ingredients' natural flavors by eliminating any unnecessary preparation. If you ask in advance, you can have meat added to the course.
The restaurant has three stories, and on the first floor, there is seating at a bar made using wood from a 600-year-old Japanese cedar tree while the second and third floors are private rooms. Some rooms face the garden, and you can enjoy an elegant meal with as time quietly passes.
Futaba Uotorarou in Kusatsu offers thoughtfully prepared kaiseki course in a distinguished building that has been designated a registered tangible cultural property.
The restaurant uses primarily local ingredients, including fresh-water fish such as funa carp and moroko from Shiga's iconic lake, Lake Biwa, as well as Shiga-raised Omi beef. You can savor a variety of beautifully-presented food that reflects the changing of the seasons. Enjoy a luxurious meal with a view of a Japanese garden. Kaiseki courses start at 6,000 JPY (excl. tax).
4. Futaba Uotorarou
Suyama is in a convenient location, just five minutes on foot from Susukino Station, the main commercial district of Sapporo.
It is a small restaurant that sits six at the counter and a maximum of ten in the zashiki private room but has earned its popularity through word-of-mouth and in 2012, was designated a Michelin 1-star restaurant.
In addition to ingredients from Hokkaido, fresh, seasonal ingredients are carefully selected from around the country including Kyoto and Kyushu. The chef's exceptional skills transform these ingredients into beautiful dishes. All seats are reserved so that guests can enjoy their meals at leisure.
There are three course choices in the evening, priced at 10,800 JPY, 16,200 JPY, and 21,600 JPY (all incl. tax).
*Image is for illustration purposes
Kaiseki cuisine is a form of art where you enjoy not just the food, but also the dishes the food is served in, the restaurant's architecture and interior, and the chef's various movements and services. Please fully enjoy the traditional tastes and sense of beauty that Japanese people have long cherished.
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.