One of the best things to do when travelling is immersing yourself in your destination’s culture. And we all know that the best way to do that is by trying out local dishes. If you’re planning a trip to Japan, going on a foodie trip sampling the best of Japanese street food in Osaka, is, of course, a must-do. But if you want to indulge yourself a bit more, have a kaiseki meal in Kyoto and bring your taste buds to a luxurious journey.
Kaiseki or kaiseki-ryōri is a traditional Japanese dining experience regarded as an art form. It involves a sequence of multiple courses, with the dishes all plated artfully in small portions. The sophisticated meal is prepared meticulously and, with the use of only the freshest seasonal and regional ingredients, the harmonious balance of taste, colour, texture, and appearance is achieved.
A kaiseki restaurant in Kyoto serves fresh and simple dishes.
The roots of modern kaiseki can be traced back to imperial court cuisine, as well as other cooking traditions that popped up at various points of Japan’s history. That’s why Kyoto, once the home of imperial nobility, is quite popular for their kaiseki. So, if you’re willing to splurge and try out the best of the best, read on to see the must-visit kaiseki restaurants in Kyoto.
Given the quality of ingredients used, as well as the amount of preparation devoted to a kaiseki, it’s no surprise that a meal can be quite expensive, with it costing up to JPY20,000. Ease into the world of kaiseki without hurting your pockets as much by dining in Gion Karyo. Set in the historic geisha district of Gion, the kaiseki restaurant in an old house will transport you back to Japan’s past. Though they serve traditional kaiseki here, their menus are all available in English, and English-speaking staff will gladly offer you help should you need it.
Newbies hoping to step into the refined world can also begin dining in Kiyamachi Sakuragawa. This Michelin-starred kaiseki restaurant in Kyoto is accessible, as it is nestled in the central district of Nakagyo. Kiyamachi Sakuragawa specialises in fresh seafood dishes that incorporate the best seasonal vegetables to give their guests a feel of Japan’s seasons. What’s great here is that you can watch in awe while waiting as the chefs prepare your food with their masterful techniques.
Take your experience up a notch by taking a relaxing dip into a hot spring before having a fine meal. Thankfully, you don’t need to travel far to do that. At the heart of Kyoto lies Kinmata, a kaiseki restaurant and a ryokan (a traditional Japanese inn) that dates back to 1801. Despite being a step away from fast-paced districts, the family-managed establishment offers a quiet solace for travellers and city dwellers. Stay a night and enjoy a sublime kaiseki dining experience in a relaxed, traditionally homey atmosphere.
Kyoto Kitcho Arashiyama
For those who want to treat themselves and spare no expense, Kyoto Kitcho Arashiyama is really the only place to go. With three Michelin stars, this kaiseki restaurant in Kyoto offers the best luxury dining experience you can look for. Be one with nature and dine while surrounded by the lush scenery of Kyoto’s Arashiyama district. Indulge your senses with the restaurant’s exquisitely fresh food and elegant atmosphere.
Niku no Takumi Miyoshi
No longer a stranger to kaiseki? Try out a modern take on the Japanese fine dining experience in Niku no Takumi Miyoshi. This kaiseki restaurant in Kyoto serves up something refreshingly bold by incorporating wagyu beef into their dishes. Miyoshi serves only grade-A beef like Kobe and Matsusaka beef, so you can enjoy melt-in-your-mouth umami goodness.