Kaeseki ryori : A Royal Meal at the Ryokan

    While travelling to Kyoto, one of the most important cultural places of Japan, it is really a great experience to stay in a Ryokan. Ryokans are traditional Japanese style accommodations which offer a traditional Japanese style atmosphere. Kaiseki is a traditional dinner style of Japan. It was actually the meal associated with Japanese tea ceremonies in the ancient days. But now, it is an elaborated costly dinner style available in special restaurants and places like Ryokans. Eventhough it costs more than 10000yen per person, a one time experience of Kaiseki is unforgettable when you are in Japan.
      Kaiseki Ryori is prepared by special chefs and they decide the dishes to be included in the meal and the style of preparation. The meal consists of lot of items served one after the other. The method of serving the various dishes decorated with leaves and flowers is another important peculiarity of Kaiseki Ryori. Every dishes served at a Kaiseki has different names and I was actually unaware of the correct names of each dishes. I remember the types of dishes only. And there were some 12 or 14 dishes served for us in the Kyoto’s ryokan- starting from the simple appetizers to the fruit piece desserts served at last.
 
Kaiseki dishes
 The meal will be started with ‘Shizakana’, which are appetisers served along with a sweet wine or sake called ‘Shokuzen shu’. The appetisers or ‘Sakizuke’ of bit size will be served in plates called “Hassun” which are really long in shape.
The main dishes will include a “Suimono” which is the integral part of the meal. It is a soup of vegetables, seafood, tofu etc. The seasonal ‘sashimi’ or raw fish with wasabi and soy sauce served in a plate decorated with grated radish will also be served. It is called ‘Mukouzuke’. Boiled vegetables, meat and seafood will be another item served during this course which is called the ‘Nimono’. Next will be the ‘Yakimono’ or the grilled item which is usually fish or meat followed by a tempura with its sauce called the ‘Agemono’. ‘Mushimono’ or the steamed item like vegetables, fish or meat. The ‘Nabemono’ or the hot pots will be served in a dish with a lid accompanied by a spoon. It will be usually boiled vegetables, seafood, meat etc. Then some vinegered item named ‘Sunomono’ will be served in cute bowls.
Next will be the ‘Yakimono’ or the grilled item which is usually some fish or meat followed by a tempura with its sauce. It is called the ‘Agemono’. ‘Mushimono’ or the steamed item like vegetables, fish or meat. The ‘Nabemono’ or the hot pots will be served in a dish with a lid accompanied by a spoon. It will be usually boiled vegetables, seafood, meat etc. Then some vinegared item named ‘Sunomono’ will be served in cute bowls at the end.
You should be almost full with these all or you couldn’t complete these much items. But there are even more to come. That is the Shokuji including the rice, Miso soup and Pickle which is then followed by the dessert. The dessert will be some fruit or other items.
 
Kaiseki Bentos 
Kaiseki Bentos (lunch boxes ) are also available in some big shops. Cheaper than the original Kaiseki, they will be costlier when compared to other bento boxes. But, of course it will not provide you the real Kaiseki experience anyway. The food served in orderly manner and the tastes on your taste buds one by one should have to be enjoyed in a real Kaiseki. Even though Ryokans are places for accommodations, it is said that many people are going there only for dining and enjoying the great Kaiseki meals.