Before we left for Japan, I read that Kaiseki dinners are the pinnacle of Japanese cuisine – of course I was hooked!
The best place to experience this special type of dinner is to stay in a Ryokan in Kyoto. Ryokans are traditional Japanese guesthouses, where the rooms have a tatami flooring and sliding doors. We chose to stay at a charming Ryokan called Gion Hatanka – a calm and friendly place where we stayed for two nights.
So a Kaiseki dinner is a multi-course Japanese feast. You can say it is the counterpart to Western haute cuisine.
Traditionally it was a vegetarian meal served during tea ceremony. Nowadays it also includes fresh local meat and fish. The single dishes are beautifully presented and garnished and resemble shapes found in nature. The decoration of the food also plays with flowers and leaves. Both the ingredients used for the dinner as well as the tableware change according to the season.
About three weeks ago we landed in Tokyo. I was absolutely excited about our Japan trip as I wanted to go for a couple of years now. Crazy Tokyo, the beautiful nature, the cultural wealth and of course the fantastic food made Japan a dream destination for me and I was definitely not disappointed.
We started our trip in Tokyo, the city of vending machines. On every corner you have the chance to buy a drink. Useful but also funny. This automatic thing is quite funny in general: What’s popular for quick lunches are some kind of ticket machine restaurants, where you decide what you what to eat based on plastic food displays or pictures. Then you press the appropriate number on a machine, insert money and recieve a ticket that you hand to a person behind a counter, who freshly and very quickly prepares your dish. We also went to a fully automatic Sushi restaurant, where we ordered via touch screen. While you were eating, the screen invited you to play games. Crazy world.
Tokyo is a crazy place – big and diverse.
The food options in the city are endless. A small eatery on every corner. The interesting thing is that often small restaurants specialize in just one type of food. For example Ramen, my favorite Japanese dish (first picture): noodles served in a miso or soy sauce flavored broth with various toppings such as meat or tofu, greens and seaweed. Other places would specialize in Soba (buckwheat) noodles, Yakitori (skewered chicken), Shabu Shabu (hotpot) or Sushi.
Of course we also had great sushi in Tokyo. At six in the morning for breakfast on the famous Tsukiji fish market. It was a bit unreal to see so many packed restaurants at that time of the day. It was not only tourists but mainly people from the market enjoying a hot soup or some fish.