Kaiseki meal in Kyoto

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:

kaiseki restaurant in Kyoto
Kaiseki restaurant in Kyoto
Kaiseku menu Kyoto
There was a choice between two menus

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.

kyoto kaiseki meal tofu
To start things off, two tofu appetizers.
kyoto kaiseki meal tofu
Then some broiled tofu, in a beautiful paper container
kyoto kaiseki meal tofu
Yet another way to prepare tofu, in a kombu broth, served in a cherry blossom themed donabe
kyoto kaiseki meal
After all that tofu, we got the main course, full of gorgeous, seasonally themed little pieces of food. And two of the dishes (top right and middle right) are once more different tofu preparations.
kaiseki meal kyoto
Our table full of food. There was also all-you-can-drink tea included in the meal. We were sitting on the floor, but cleverly hidden below the table was a recess for our legs, so that we more or less sat in the position of sitting on a chair.
kaiseki meal kyoto
The meal was concluded with a generous serving of rice, some pickled vegetables and a bowl of soup. Nobody left the table hungry, that’s for sure!
kaiseki meal kyoto matcha
To top off the meal, a delicious bowl of matcha tea with a Japanese sweet. I think the sweet might be some type of mochi, perhaps warabi mochi? I am not sure though, because warabi mochi feel to me a bit summer-like and don’t really seem to match the autumnal harvest theme of the meal. If anyone knows more, please leave a comment below.

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.


9 thoughts on “Kaiseki meal in Kyoto

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  1. 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.

  2. 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.

    sited from;

  3. 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!

  4. That looks absolutely delicious. Definitely one for the list for when I’ll visit Japan. 🙂

    Thanks for the great tip!

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