Kaiseki - A Traditional Multi course Japanese Dinner
It is a traditional Japanese multi-course haute cuisine. Many centuries ago, its origins are found in the simple meals served at the tea ceremony, but later it evolved into an elaborate dining style popular among aristocratic circles. kaiseki is served in specialized restaurants or can be enjoyed by staying at a ryokan, today. In the world, Japanese cuisine is among the most highly regarded, and now Japan's culinary prowess better demonstrated than in kaiseki elegantly presented dishes are here. The meaning of kaiseki is "stones in the bosom", and references the stones (Seki, or 石) that monks would fold into their robes (kai, or 懐) and close to their bellies, to keep hunger at bay. The other, variant of kaiseki, slightly more contemporary, is indicated by the characters 会席, and refers to a social gathering (kai, or 会) with seating (Seki, or 席).
Accompanied with sake and ending with a simple tea service it is a more elaborate meal. Over the years this form of kaiseki has evolved to become luxurious and elaborate compared to the cuisine's humble roots. To determine when to serve either type of kaiseki there are no fixed rules. On the setting of the venue and the preference of its chef and customers, says chef Yoshiyuki, it depends. During a tea ceremony, if you are having a kaiseki dish, the chef may prepare three portions of food [for three guests] on a shared platter that he hands to each guest in turn, but he will prepare three individual portions on separate plates if you're enjoying a meal in the sake-kaiseki format. Order to their dishes, Kaiseki meals have a prescribed most of which are prepared by using one of the common techniques of Japanese cooking. To highlight regional and seasonal delicacies and personal style, kaiseki chefs have considerable freedom to add, omit, or substitute courses. Several different courses are there of kaiseki meals, and the exact execution of the meal depends on the chef as well as the availability of seasonal ingredients.
The experience of the kaiseki dining typically begins with appetizers, followed by sashimi, cooked dishes, a rice course, and finally, dessert, with optional palate cleansers in between. Kaiseki or kaiseki-ryōri are two kinds of traditional Japanese meal styles. The first type, where kaiseki is written as 会席 and kaiseki-ryōri as 会席料理, refers to a set menu of select food served on an individual tray.
Yakimono: a grilled course
Takiawase: Typically, a simmered dish of vegetables mixed with some meat.
Shokuji: a rice course (Gohan), served with pickles and miso soup.
Mizugashi or Mizumono: A Japanese platter of sweets or fruits.
The pinnacle of Japanese gastronomy and sophistication is Kaiseki ryori. It is an extremely refined and varied menu in terms of taste and it's also a true composition of different shapes, textures, and colors. Traditionally, a kaiseki meal is composed of a succession of small dishes, in terms of ingredients, cooking, and presentation, all different. There are all the same rules to respect, while there is no set menu in a kaiseki ryori meal. According to the basic rules of traditional Japanese cuisine, the first rule is ingredients used must, of course, be seasonal and of the utmost freshness. By a chef who has mastered the techniques of traditional Japanese cuisine, each dish is usually prepared.