Concept of the Kaiseki Style
Kaiseki is a traditional multi-course dining that is comparable to Western haute cuisine, possibly comparable only to that of French haute cuisine. It comes from the Japanese tea ceremony tradition that emphasizes seasonality and being in the present moment. It follows a five-point set of tenets, including five colors (white, purple, yellow, red, green), five tastes (sweet, salty, sour, bitter, spicy), five senses (smell, taste, sight, hearing, touch), and five cooking methods (roasted, boiled, fried, simmered and raw). The style balances the taste, texture, appearance, and colors of food.
Kaiseki dining is formal dining with a set course of menu items, served with strict attention to detail. You’ll dine in a screened off room, sit Japanese style, kneeling on mats on a tatami floor at a low table. Your food is prepared in the kitchen and brought one-by-one in succession by dressed servers. There is no direct diner to chef interaction, unlike what you’ll find at sushi bars or even when you dine omakase.
Omakase, as you know, is trusting your chef to prepare the meal for you using whatever ingredients he has on hand. The style is not only common in sushi restaurants but in other Japanese eating places as well.
Kaiseki style is only done at dedicated sushi restaurants. It uses only very fresh seasonal ingredients from the local area, not even ocean fish is served. It employs precise knife techniques, meticulous preparations and creative presentations in selected plates to make the dishes really eye-catching and beautiful. The experience is so formal and also quite pricey It may be hard to find kaiseki restaurants in the US which really toe the line of tradition.