Eating a Kaiseki meal is like slipping on a soft silk kimono: a long intimate process that moves you through impeccably designed steps that awakens your senses.
We walked into the very small dining space of Kappo Hana to find our reserved table set for the special menu we were about to experience. We pulled our chopsticks out of the paper covers being careful to abide by the chopstick etiquette.
Among the whispering tones of the other guests, the quiet calm of the room was the beginning of our meditation on tonight's food. Our choice of the shochu tasting to pair with the Kaiseki may have sounded strange to our kind Japanese waitress at first but she caught on very fast and throughout the meal our table was decorated with a selection of beautifully cut miniature glasses.
Appetizers started with a combination of lobster and white fig in a creamy yogurt sauce served with a "welcome drink" of fragrant apples. This unexpected combination of tastes and textures was a foreshadowing to the most delicious dishes that would pour onto our table from the chef's imagination.
Next set of appetizers ranging from Sea Urchin to Sesame Tofu to Lotus Roots to Squid Wasabi to Chicken Matsukaze were delicately positioned on a small tray inside small dishes.
The sashimi dish was arranged like a small garden with a pond in the middle. Even the littlest detail was thought out to not only feed your appetite but all of your senses.
Broiled dish was a large warm piece of Potato Stuffed Salmon resting in a sea of white sauce and carefully arranged vegetables and caviar. Even the selection of the plates the food was served in beared the careful consideration of the chef.
Next was the fried dish hidden inside a hexagonal mesh basket. The almond crusted shrimp was the jewel of the seafood and vegetable treasures under the cover and a touch of the "green tea salt" served with the dish added enormous amounts of flavor to each piece.
We were halfway through the Kaiseki menu when the refreshment was served. Marinated slices of Abalone were nested inside a half shell reflecting beautiful colors of the mother-of-pearl from around the edges. The green innards served on the side complemented the colors, taste and the texture of the Abalone meat.
Crystal Eggplant and Yam Stems were the more interesting pieces of the steamed dish adding subtle colors to the Tai served in broth. The little wooden spoon was a nice decorative and functional touch to this hot dish.
Our dinner reached its climax when the rice dish came to the table in its very authentic container. Opening the wooden lid, we found meat and vegetables covering the rice.
We spooned some into our bowls that was complemented with the red bowl of soup.
We were the only ones left at the restaurant when the dessert was served at the end of the three-hour feast. The miniature glass of Soymilk Pudding surrounded with mochi icecream and pieces of melons, nectarines and strawberries looked like another tranquil garden through which we strolled hand-in-hand yet to another week of culinary adventures.
ご馳走さまでした (gochisōsama deshita)