Kaygetsu kaiseki dinner 9/15/07
Much has been posted already about this restaurant in Menlo Park and this type of dinner but for anyone who might not have read them: this is a style of presentation that has its basis in the tea ceremony. According to a note on the menu "Our style of kaiseki...is designed to delight the mind and the spirit as well as to satisfy the appetite. We have carefully selected ingredients and an array of tableware to reflect the seasonality of Japanese cuisine. Our kaiseki menu is .... changed every six weeks". Please excuse the quality (or lack thereof) of my pictures (apparently I can only post 4 pictures...)!
Four of us enjoyed the kaiseki dinner last Saturday night. Here's the menu "Early Fall 2007":
Sakizuke (starter) (first picture from left)
Seared kobe beef with eggplant sauce
Snow crab, rolled with yuba and deep fried
Fig with sesame cream
Brussels sprout with miso sauce
The kobe beef is American Wagyu: very tasty; eggplant sauce very subtle and intriguing to me. The snow crab in yuba was crispy and crunch without being heavy or greasy; liked it very much. The fig with sesame cream is in the cup under the sesame sauce with the sugar snap pea and almond slices on top; perfectly ripe black fig with (for me) the unexpected flavor of the sesame sauce - delightful to me as I love figs and sesame - could have eaten several of these! Brussels sprout with miso didn't make a big impression on me; it was fresh and tasty but can't recall much else other than it was a very tiny brussels sprout...
Takiawase (slow cooked dish) (second picture from left)
Eggplant, flash fried and cooked in broth, shrimp, maple leaf wheat gluten, broccoli, shitake, gingko nut, grated daikon
Loved this: inch thick slice of eggplant, tender and flavorful in a lovely broth with mentioned garnishes; shitake was luscious.
Tsukuri (sashimi) (third from left)
This was the chef's selection and I have absolutely no recollection of what it was but it was very fresh tasting and beautifully served...
Mushimono (steamed dish) (fourth from left)
Steamed salmon and mushroom served with thickened dashi sauce
Again, looked great but I have little memory of taste...
Yaki mono (grilled dish)
Grilled duck with miso/walnut sauce, apple, potato and carrot served on a magnolia leaf
Love duck so I enjoyed this course. The miso walnut sauce was a new flavor for me and I liked it. The apple was a logical accompaniment. Served on a large dried magnolia leaf; again lovely to look at and good to eat.
Gohan mono (rice dish)
Gingered rice, topped with tai snapper, dark red miso soup with nameko mushroom, house pickled vegetables
About 3 Tbs of rice, very flavorful with a small slice of cooked snapper on top - I thought the fish was overcooked. The red miso soup was something I've never had; tasty and the nameko mushrooms were very good. Pickled veggies made a good counterpoint.
House-made original dessert: masumi "arabashin" sake creme brulee with fresh fruits (I didn't take a photo)
Very nice creme brulee with good crackly top garnished with 2 raspberries. Sake flavor was pronounced. Good dessert, not too sweet.
Vital statistics: This dinner is a set price of $97/pp. Sake pairing $34/pp (4 generous pours). A smaller tasting of 3 smaller pours is $18/pp. A service charge of 17% is automatically added to the bill. Service is gracious but simple. The restaurant is small so reservations are a must especially if you have a party of 4 or more. On a Saturday night you should reserve for 4 or more at least 3 weeks in advance (check Opentable.com)
The sake pairing was as follows:
Umenishiki daginjo from Ehime, "refreshing aromas of tangerine, peach and apple"
Nishida "kikuizumi" (ginjo) from Aomori, "silky and smooth, with notes of peach and muscat"
Otokoyama "sasaori" from Hokkaido, "lightly cloudy sake with fruity aroma"
Ohyama nama sake from Yamagata, "refreshing, nicely balanced dry sake"
I had the 3-pour tasting: have very little experience with sake but enjoyed these very much especially the daginjo selection - can't remember what it was but it was very nice. My second taste was the same as the second selection in the 4-pour taste: I believe we all liked that one a lot!
There is a large ala carte menu available as well so the kaiseki dinner is just one way to go. I've had lunches here several times and have enjoyed them very much. The quality of the raw ingredients is excellent and is very evident.
This was a lovely evening: to me this was a very civilized experience in an increasingly uncivilized world...