“Originating from the tea ceremony, kaiseki is a multi-course meal in Japan that highlights the skills of the chef and the finest seasonal ingredients. The kanji characters to write “kaiseki” (懐石) literally mean “breast-pocket stone” and are thought to have been incorporated by Sen no Rikyū , to indicate the frugal meal served in the austere style of chanoyu (Japanese tea ceremony).” – Wikipedia.
Nowadays, the intricate kaiseki is anything but frugal and has evolved into a fine dining meal served in beautiful plates and vessels that reflect the season and the fine taste of the chef. Kitcho in Arashiyama, Kyoto is an institution in Japan and one of the most legendary kaiseki restaurants, transmitting the tradition for almost 100 years. It is located in a traditional house (a former house of an antique dealer) on the shores of Oi river and has 6 private rooms, all facing immaculate gardens. The scenery and colours of the trees change with every season, so as the dishes, such as the “hassun”,an appetizer plate that reflects autumn at the moment. (in the first picture)
While presentation is essential at Kitcho, sourcing the best ingredients is an obsession. The vegetables are harvested from the nearby farms, while such staple ingredients as kombu or katsuobushi might change every season. Everything from plump otoro sashimi, to large white chunks of matsutake mushrooms, were some of the best I’ve ever had. So as the rice served at the end, which is chosen every autumn by the chef Tokuoka and his staff through a long a meticulous process.