Traveling to Tokyo is always an adventure. For a fast-paced city, it sure slows down in the culinary world but in a good way. Japanese people are known for preparing slow-cooked meals that remind you most of the comfy blankets, laughter in the sun, and of course, the feeling of being home. Often in disguise as simple looking, food in Tokyo will always surprise you for how big and bold the flavors are once you’ve tasted them. Served one by one with elegance and finesse, Kaiseki restaurants in Tokyo are something you shouldn’t miss.
Kaiseki is basically the art of preparing dishes which are served as multi-course on a Japanese table. For an outsider, it may look similar to the Western culture of serving courses of meal in a patterned manner but there’s something more than meets the eyes when visiting Kaiseki restaurant and being served with a kaiseki set meal. Historically, kaiseki was served among the royal noble class and was considered a big privilege in the culinary world back then. They were originally made simple with the finest ingredients on hand but because time is ever changing, kaiseki evolved and enjoyed even more by devoted guests. Though still slightly expensive and considered a big treat for anyone who’s looking for something extravagant and delicious, you can find a lot of Kaiseki restaurants in Tokyo and other parts of Japan as well. The people who practice the art of kaiseki possesses a wholehearted hospitality or what’s commonly known as omotenashi. It conveys respect which makes guests feel like they’re home and at ease in their own space. Chefs put a lot of thought, love, and devotion when preparing kaiseki and always strive for excellence. Kaiseki isn’t just meals served on a table but is also designed and created to make memories with the people you shared the moments with.
It is tradition, a way of going back to your original roots. Sentimental, beautiful, and incredibly delicious, kaiseki isn’t something you should miss out when visiting Tokyo.
Standard courses of kaiseki meals may vary depending on what the restaurants have in season. But traditionally, kaiseki meals are composed of carefully crafted and selected dishes for guests to enjoy. They are sakizuke (appetizer served with sake), nimono (simmered dish), mukozuke (sashimi dish), hassun (expression of the season), yakimono (grilled course), and lastly, shokuji (rice dish). Now, there are many Kaiseki restaurants in Tokyo where you can have your dose of traditional set meals and enjoy memorable moments with your family and friends.
Akasaka Eigetsu (Social Akasaka Building 4F, 3-11-7 Akasaka Minato-ku Tokyo) is a restaurant owned by a chef husband and wife. Absolutely light and delicate, their best kaiseki set meals include fourteen courses of Kyoto flavors in every bite. Their specialties usually depend upon the seasonal ingredients but you’ll be assured that every meal is as stunning as the next and given great execution of taste, presentation, and expertise. They have three different courses on their menu and if you want to enjoy it without so much hassle, keep in mind to call for a reservation since the restaurant is only limited to ten seatings.
If you prefer seafood dishes, Goryukubo (Misawa Building B1F, 2-15-1 Nishiazabu Minato-ku Tokyo) is the perfect restaurant for you. It’s owned by a father and son who combined their names to create the name of their restaurant. Everything served here is fresh and right off the bait. There’s always a delicate fish flavor in every dish which is perfect if you don’t like it too strong and there’s sense of carefully crafted tradition in every of the dish they serve to you. Their menu has two courses available and a reservation is a must.
Ryugin (7-17-24 Roppongi Minato-ku Tokyo) is a specialty kaiseki restaurant where every day the menu changes but you’re assured that everything they prepare and serve is absolutely stunning and delicious. They can carve out carefully prepared seasonal dishes to a la carte dishes. A firm believer of everything fresh, they don’t serve any chemical or artificial seasonings or flavorings to their dishes. One of their most popular dish on the menu is their wild blowfish which a lot of people really love. Their menu is only limited to a one-course meal and if you have any special requests or allergies, you can say it ahead of time. Reservation is a must for the restaurant only can seat 18 people.
Tsujitome (Toraya Dai-ni Building B1F, 1-5-8 Motoakasaka Minato-ku Tokyo) is famous traditional kaiseki restaurant which first opened in 1899 and has been serving some of the best kaiseki set meals ever since. One of the best things in this restaurant are the paintings hanging on the walls which resembles the masterpieces found in the dishes serve to you. The dishes served are simple and elegant but don’t fall short on flavors. Their kaiseki set meals are available for lunch and dinner so you can choose what’s the best time to come.
Ginza Kappou Ukai (Jewel Box Ginza B1F, 8-9-15 Ginza Chuo Tokyo) gives off a very traditional Japanese style, both found in their delicious food and interiors. They have private rooms which you can enjoy if you like it more intimate with family and friends but the chefs recommend that you sit by the counter area to watch them cook the best set meal of your life. The menu here changes every day and depending on seasonal ingredients, they can prepare something for you that they haven’t served yet to other people. You can have your truffles, zucchini, and beef tongue all at once and be surprised how they can complement each other.