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Usually served at traditional ryokan inns or specialised restaurants, kaiseki is Japan’s answer to haute cuisine. A kaiseki meal consists of a set menu of many little dishes served in a prescribed order, showing off many different cooking techniques, flavours and textures, each presented more beautifully than the last.
Tackling kaiseki can be daunting, but our handy Insider Guide will help you decipher any menu. Although the courses will vary according to seasonal and regional specialities, all kaiseki meals usually include the following:
A small glass of sweet wine or local alcohol.
Bite-sized appetisers on a rectangular plate.
A light soup with vegetables, tofu or seafood.
Thinly sliced, raw fish with shredded radish. Soy sauce is provided for dipping.
Grilled meat or fish. Often wagyu beef, river fish or seafood.
Vegetable and seafood tempura, deep fried in a light flour batter. Served with a dipping sauce or salt seasoning.
Vegetables, meat or seafood simmered in soy sauce, sweet cooking sake and sugar.
A savoury egg custard with morsels of mushrooms, chicken, ginko nuts and seafood. It’s OK to eat this with a teaspoon!
Vegetables and seafood (often prawns or octopus) dressed in a vinegar-based sauce.
Miso soup with vegetables, tofu or seafood.
A small assortment of pickled vegetables.
A bowl of rice comes towards the end of the meal.
Try kaiseki cuisine on our Gastronomic Adventure itinerary. From £2,670 for 13 nights (exc. intl. flights).
Thank you to Matt Lodge who shared a photo of his kaiseki feast with us. We are a little bit hungry now though…