Tag Archives: Kaiseki

Japanese Cuisine/Kaiseki 4: Cha-Kaiseki Sample

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Cha-Kaiseki is the meal served in the context of chanoyu (Japanese tea ceremony). It precedes the serving of the tea at a formal tea function (chaji). The basic constituents of a cha-kaiseki meal are the ichijū sansai or “one soup, three side dishes”, and the rice, plus the following: suimono, hassun, yutō, and kōnomono. The one soup referred to here is usually miso soup, and the basic three side dishes are the following:

Mukōzuke: foods in a dish arranged on the far side of the meal tray for each guest, which is why it is called mukōzuke (lit., “set to the far side”). Often this might be some kind of sashimi, though not necessarily so. On the near side of the meal tray are arranged the rice and the soup, both in lacquered lidded bowls.

Nimono: simmered foods, served in individual lidded bowls.

Yakimono: grilled foods (usually some kind of fish), brought out in a serving dish for the guests to serve themselves.
Here under is a description of the additional items mentioned above:

Suimono: clear soup served in a small lacquered and lidded bowl, to cleanse the palate before the exchange of saké (rice wine) between host and guests. Also referred to as kozuimono (small clear soup) or hashiarai (chopstick rinser).

Hassun: a tray of tidbits from mountain and sea that the guests serve themselves to and accompanies the round of saké (rice wine) shared by host and guests.

Yutō: pitcher of hot water having slightly browned rice in it, which the guests serve themselves to.

Kōnomono: pickles that accompany the yutō.

Extra items that may be added to the menu are generally referred to as shiizakana, and these attend further rounds of saké. Because the host leaves them with the first guest, they are also referred to as azukebachi (lit., “bowl left in another’s care”).

Now, here is a typical Cha Kaiseki meal.
Can you guess the components?

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CHA-KAISEKI-3

CHA-KAISEKI-4

CHA-KAISEKI-5

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Japanese Cuisine/Kaiseki 3: Bento, Lunch Box Samples

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As mentioned before, kaiseki ryori also comes under the form of bento.
The latter can be ordered in restaurants or even on the internet.

Here is a typical collection of 10 different bento/lunch boxes whose prices vary from 14 to 35 US $.
Can you recodnize the ingredients?

KAISEKI-BENTO-1
“Hanagoromo”

KAISEKI-BENTO-2
“Youseikoubai”

KAISEKI-BENTO-3
“Harugasumi”

KAISEKI-BENTO-4
“Hanakosode”

KAISEKI-BENTO-5
“Umekoshiki”

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“Harunokoto”

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“Akinofue”

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“Kagamishishi”

KAISEKI-BENTO-9
“Kyoukanoko”

KAISEKI-BENTO-10
“Funabenken”

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Japanese Cuisine/Kaiseki 2: Full Course Samples

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The second part of this series explaining the basics of kaiseki ryori features a selection of full course meal.
Let me remind the usual components of a kaiseki meal:

ORDER
Originally, kaiseki comprised a bowl of miso soup and three side dishes. It has since evolved to include an appetizer, sashimi, a simmered dish, a grilled dish, and a steamed course, in addition to other dishes at the discretion of the chef.

-Sakizuke/先付: an appetizer similar to the French amuse-bouche.
-Hassun/八寸: the second course, which sets the seasonal theme. Typically one kind of sushi and several smaller side dishes.
-Mukozuke/向付: a sliced dish of seasonal sashimi.
-Takiawase/焚き合せ: vegetables served with meat, fish or tofu; the ingredients are simmered separately.
-Futamono/蓋物: a “lidded dish”; typically a soup.
-Yakimono/焼き物: Broiled seasonal fish.
-Su-zakana/酢魚: a small dish used to clean the palate, such as vegetables in vinegar.
-Hiyashi-bachi/冷やし撥: served only in summer; chilled, lightly-cooked vegetables.
-Naka-choko/中ちょこ: another palate-cleanser; may be a light, acidic soup.
-Shiizakana/しい魚: a substantial dish, such as a hot pot.
-Goha, o-shokuji/ご飯,お食事: a rice dish made with seasonal ingredients.
-Ko no mono/この物: seasonal pickled vegetables.
-Tome-wan/留め碗: a miso-based or vegetable soup served with rice.
-Mizumono/水物: a seasonal dessert; may be fruit, confection, ice cream, or cake.

Now look at the following pictures and try to find what is featured!

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Seasonal kaiseki, spring and summer style

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Seasonal kaiseki, cold weather-style with nabe mono.

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Kaiseki, shabu shabu course style

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Kaiseki with hot dish

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Kaiseki, nabe course

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Kaiseki, bento style

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Japanese Cuisine/Kaiseki 1: Introduction

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I’ve been asked quite a few times to explain and give examples of Kaiseki (Kaiseki Ryōri), a tradional form of Japanese Cuisine.
Here is a mini series that I hope will help friends to at least understand the basics!

Kaiseki (懐石) or kaiseki ryōri (懐石料理) is a traditional multi-course Japanese dinner analogous to 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 会席 (and kaiseki ryōri, 会席料理), referring to the fancy meal served at banquets. The other is written 懐石 or 懐石料理, referring to the simple meal that the host of a chanoyu/tea ceremony gathering serves to the guests, and which is also known as cha-kaiseki (茶懐石).

DISHES
In the present day, kaiseki is a type of art form that balances the taste, texture, appearance, and colors of food. To this end, only fresh seasonal ingredients are used and are prepared in ways that aim to enhance their flavor. Local ingredients are often included as well. Finished dishes are carefully presented on plates that are chosen to enhance both the appearance and the seasonal theme of the meal. Dishes are beautifully arranged and garnished, often with real leaves and flowers, as well as edible garnishes designed to resemble natural plants and animals.

ORDER
Originally, kaiseki comprised a bowl of miso soup and three side dishes. It has since evolved to include an appetizer, sashimi, a simmered dish, a grilled dish, and a steamed course, in addition to other dishes at the discretion of the chef.

-Sakizuke: an appetizer similar to the French amuse-bouche.
-Hassun: the second course, which sets the seasonal theme. Typically one kind of sushi and several smaller side dishes.
-Mukozuke: a sliced dish of seasonal sashimi.
-Takiawase: vegetables served with meat, fish or tofu; the ingredients are simmered separately.
-Futamono: a “lidded dish”; typically a soup.
-Yakimono: Broiled seasonal fish.
-Su-zakana: a small dish used to clean the palate, such as vegetables in vinegar.
-Hiyashi-bachi: served only in summer; chilled, lightly-cooked vegetables.
-Naka-choko: another palate-cleanser; may be a light, acidic soup.
-Shiizakana: a substantial dish, such as a hot pot.
-Gohan: a rice dish made with seasonal ingredients.
-Ko no mono: seasonal pickled vegetables.
-Tome-wan: a miso-based or vegetable soup served with rice.
-Mizumono: a seasonal dessert; may be fruit, confection, ice cream, or cake.

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CASUAL KAISEKI
The thing which put all menus of Kaiseki in Jubako (a nest of boxes). Shokado-bento falls under this, too.

Kaiseki is often served in ryokan/traditional inns in Japan, but it is also served in small restaurants. Kyoto is well known for its kaiseki.
Shizuoka is also renown for its kaiseki reastaurants thanks to the abundance of natural ingredients all year round.

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Japanese Cuisine: Hi no Ki


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Last week Monday started inauspicuously with the morning rain forcing me to embark on one of those smelly airtight buses. To compound my (relative) misery a matrimonial spat resulted in no bentobox being prepared for my lunch.
Oh, well… I’ve always been an incorrigible (irresponsible) optimist and proceeded to work as if nothing untoward had occured.
At noon the skies, which must have appreciated my positive attitude suddenly cleared up and encouraged me to get out of the office quickly and venture downtown in search of a new place to visit.
Enjoying a notable lunch in Shizuoka City is not such an easy task as most restaurants limit themselves to “lunch sets” while izakayas simply stay closed so early in the day.
Wandering in the vicinity of Isetan Department Store my sore feet (cricket umpiring duty the day before) finally carried me to an establishment I had always been curious about: Hi No Ki.
Well, the time could not have been more propitious to try out this venerable (founded in November 1986) “Kaiseki/Kappo Ryori” restaurant (traditional Japanese Cuisine)!

The irony was that “kaiseki” lunch is arguably another form of “set lunch”!
At noon they offer three repasts while dinner comes in six different offerings.
Japanese customers do feel more comfortable with a well-orchestrated dinner, but the chef will readily take “ippin/one item” orders or think up of a tailor-made menu according to a pre-arranged budget.
Actually “joren/regulars'” preferences seem to be more the order of the day as I noticed many middle-aged guests being served a dish of sashimi, a bowl of rice with miso soup and pickles at the counter without even as much as ordering.

Customers may choose to sit at the counter and watch the chef Kuniaki Kaneiwa, a passionate craftsman who is more than willing to talk about his trade, a quality that lone diners do appreciate to the full.
All dishes will be described and explained in great detail by simply asking politely.
Otherwise, if you prefer to converse with your friends or guests, you may choose a table by the bay window or a private tatami room for more privacy.

The accent is more on quality than quantity with consequent prices.
Sashimi is just perfect and cut the right size for quick tasting.

Fish, when cooked (marlin above), offers another intriguing taste to customers.
The judicious choice of “tare/sauce” and soft Japanese spices alone is an invitation to savour the morrsel.

The small assortment of varied “oden” introduces this typical Japanese culinary experience at its best without encumbering your stomac’s capacity. A great French Chef like Dominique Corby will surely agree with me!

The tempura is a marvel of delicious simplicity and lightness that is best appreciated with one of three Shizuoka Jizake served at Hi No Ki: Shosetsu (Yui Cho), Masu-Ichi (Shizuoka City) and Kaiun (Kakegawa City).

I’m planning to visit the place again soon to see if I could order a vegetarian dinner!

HI NO KI
Shizuoka City, Aoi Ku, Ryogae-Cho, 1-5-2, Grande Maison Ryogae Cho
Tel.: 054-252-2935
Business hours: 11:30~14:00, 17:30~22:00
Closed on Sundays (open on National Holidays)
Cards OK for dinner only