Kyoto is famous for kaiseki cuisine. Kaiseki is an exquisite multi-course meal. It can even be considered as an art form, where one tries to balance the taste, texture, appearance, and colors of food. It goes without saying that only fresh, seasonal ingredients are used. The dishes are served in carefully selected bowls and plates, that enhance both the appearance and the seasonal theme of the meal.
The word kaiseki may also be used to refer to the meal served at a tea ceremony, although one may also add term ‘cha’ (as in chakaiseki) to indicate the difference with restaurant kaiseki.
One rainy October day in Kyoto, friends invited me to a kaiseki lunch. We walked through a few bustling, touristic Kyoto streets and ended up at this little place:
Our meal was comprised a multitude of mouth-watering courses, several of which involved tofu. Now, before any Western readers start turning up their noses, you must take into account that Japanese tofu is nothing like the tofu you can get in the West. Western tofu is often tasteless with a rubber-like texture. Japanese tofu comes in a wide variety of delicious tastes and has textures ranging from silky to firm. And I have the impression that Kyoto is famous for tofu as well as for kaiseki.
All this exquisiteness comes at a price. While the standard price for a lunch in Japan is about 1000 yen, a kaiseki meal will easily set you back 3000 yen or more.
i’ve had both kaiseki meal as well as tofu nabe, separately, and both were equally good. from all the places i’ve been in japan, kyoto has always been my favorite. and the experience i had with kyoto ryori was excellent. though i probably won’t be having any of these anytime soon, i’m excited for my tokyo business trip in 2 weeks time. though it’ll be short, i can’t wait to once again eat in japan, no matter how simple the food will be.
I notice that each dish has its own size and shape. Is there any reason for that?
Originally, Warabi Mochi was served in spring at a tea ceremony. So, Warabi Mochi is a seasonal word for spring in Haiku(俳句). Haiku is a Japanese poem of seventeen syllables. Nowadays, Warabi Mochi is popular in the summertime.
Because its cool appearance is suitable for the hot season. It’s restaurant name is ‘美登幸 :mitokou’. There is 季節のわらびもち on the menu at this restaurant.
It means the Warabi Mochi of the seasons. For example, sake lees(酒粕:sakekasu) is kneaded in the Warabi Mochi in January. Japanese citron(柚子:yuzu) is kneaded in it in December.
Thank you so much for this! I learned a lot from your explanation. Exactly what I needed to know 🙂
I was in Kyoto about 10 days ago, actually! I’ve been following you for a long time. It has always been my dream to visit Japan, and your blogs about Japanese culture have always been fascinating and fun to read. I finally got the chance to go to Japan, and I’m actually here now. Thanks for all your wonderful blog posts!
Good for you that you finally got to visit Japan! Here’s to living the dream 🙂 And thanks for your encouraging words.
That looks absolutely delicious. Definitely one for the list for when I’ll visit Japan. 🙂
Thanks for the great tip!
One of these days I’ll write about the tofu restaurant I visited in Kyoto. Beautiful setting and the best tofu I had in Japan.