Best kaiseki in Los Angeles
Need to take visitors to an excellent kaiseki restaurant in Los Angeles. Does anyone have any sugguestions?
re: Professor Salt
Professor: thank you for the link and clarification. However, you neglected to make a recommendation about a good kaiseki restaurant. Can I deduce that you don't think one exists in Los Angeles? That is certainly fine, if it is the case. Do you agree/disagree with any of the other mentions on this posted topic?
Kaiseki ryori isn't an aspect of Japanese cusisine that particuarly interests me, so it's in my blind spot. They are out there, but 1) I haven't paid much attention and 2) I'm skeptical about how hard line traditional they can be given the compromise for locally sourced ingredients I discuss in the link above.
The only kaiseki ryori I've had was in Japan (on expense account). Have never tried it stateside, so can't relate any personal experiences here. I was aware of the Newport Beach place that ks mentions below, but never tried it.
Next time I pore through the Japanese language publications like Bridge or Lighthouse (you'll find those at Mitsuwa, or restaurants where Japanese expats congregate) I'll see if any advertise in them. You might also ask Japanese chefs at the more hardcore sushi places when you have some face time with them. Good luck on your adventure.
I don't want to be pedantic, but just in case it matters to your guests, how are you defining kaiseki?
When I had a kaiseki meal in Kyoto it was a formal, seasonal 6-7 course meal with each course featuring a different preparation style: raw, grilled, boiled, fried, etc. We never saw the chef, had a private room, etc, etc. When I hear Urusawa referred to as kaiseki I'm a little confused because I think his is so much more with the large number of courses and sushi preparations. I understand that he refers to it as such himself, but I don't get it. I would looooove to check it out myself and discuss this with him in person! I'm sure it is an amazing dining experience.
That said, the more strict definition of kaiseki doesn't seem to be that common here, if available at all. Here's a link to a chowhound post that is the closest I've heard to the type of kaiseki I ate, but it's in Newport Beach:
re: ks in la
I was fortunate enough to experience a cha kaiseki meal in Kyoto as well. In our own private tea room - one of a handful that were placed strategically throughout a vast garden where each tea room had a wonderful view yet none of each other - was and still is the most memorable dining experience I have personally encountered. The rituals, the incredible preparation, attention to detail, and flawless presentations of the small yet perfect dishes that consisted of the best ingredients in season at that time. Is there anywhere like this in or around LA? I would guess that the price for such a memorable experience around here would make Urasawa's seem very reasonable.
ks in la and bulavinaka are right in that kaiseki involves all the senses, and not just a parade of courses eaten in a normal restaurant. Having eaten kaiseki in Tokyo, Osaka & Kanazawa, everything from the shodo scroll hung on the tokonoma to the hundred yr old yakimono dishware is chosen with care to reflect the seasons and whatever theme the chef/proprietor has in mind. So, strictly speaking, traditional kaiseki can't be replicated here in the States, except maybe in a bed & breakfast or private chef's home? And no kaiseki will offer 30+ courses, unless it's an Americanized home-style buffet version!
I got this off the Thousand Cranes (in the New Otani) web page and it's pretty close to my experience with kaiseki in Japan:
Shiizakana (Appetizers eaten with sake)
Mukouzuke (Mainly sashimi)
Kuchitori (Side dish)
Nimono (Simmered dish)
Aemono (Dishes dressed with sauce)
Hassun (Morsels from the mountains and the sea)
Sunomono (Vinegared dish)
Yakimono (Broiled fish)
Mushimono (Steamed dish)
Nabemono (Pot dish)
Dessert (eg. Ice cream or Fruit!)
I've eaten at Thousand Cranes and the food is above average, but not the freshest nor the most daring; so I can't recommend it unless you really need to have a garden setting. If I had the $$$ and needed to impress guests, I would rent out the Japanese Garden Tea House on Woodley and hire a private caterer to create an authentic kaiseki experience!
The kaiseki at TC is amazing. I absolutely love it. Each item is prepared beautifully and everything is scrumptious. The setting is beautiful, and I'm not just saying that because I got married in the garden last year!
This isn't the kaiseki, but it does give you an idea about the tenshin sampler lunch:
Somewhere I have photos of the actual kaiseki, but I can't find them right now.