Pronounced “kaiseki“, it can be written in two ways, with different kanji (Chinese characters) and two different meanings. One (懐石) has the same kanji as chakaiseki (茶懐石), which is the formal tea (cha) ceremony, with kaiseki a modest meal with strict rules, served as a preliminary to enjoying matcha. In fact, kaiseki means “stones in the bosom” which refers to the stones (seki, or 石) that ascetic Zen monks were placing in their robes (kai, or 懐), on their stomachs, to fight hunger.
Today, kaiseki (会席) is known as a social meeting (kai, or 会), with seating (seki, or 席), that pays respect to sake as much as tea. Relaxed in its rules, this form of kaiseki has become luxurious and elaborate compared to its humble roots and is now the Japanese version of Haute Cuisine, the ultimate in Japanese fine dining.
With your food expert you’ll learn about the history of Japanese gastronomy and taste small seasonal plates served in succession, that balances the taste, texture, appearance, and colors of food, pushing rice to the end not to conflict with the sake.