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Kaiseki-ryori: Japanese haute cuisine


Japan’s finest style of cooking, kaiseki-ryōri, comprises a series of small, carefully balanced and expertly presented dishes. Described by renowned Kyoto chef Murata Yoshihro as “eating the seasons”, this style of cooking began as an accompaniment to the tea ceremony and still retains the meticulous design of that elegant ritual. At the best kaiseki-ryōri restaurants the atmosphere of the room in which the meal is served is just as important as the food, which will invariably reflect the best of the season’s produce; you’ll sit on tatami, a scroll decorated with calligraphy will hang in the tokonoma (alcove) and a waitress in kimono will serve each course on beautiful china and lacquerware. For such a sublime experience you should expect to pay ¥10,000 or more for dinner, although a lunchtime kaiseki bentō is a more affordable option, typically costing around ¥5000.

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