Kaiseki: Exploring The Art of Beautiful Japanese Cuisine

By Anthony Galasso

 IMAGE: Zen Sekizawa

IMAGE: Zen Sekizawa

Most of us love Japanese cuisine, but Kaiseki is far more elegant than your average sushi or hibachi dish. This traditional dinner consists of multiple courses arranged in a way that’s almost too beautiful to eat.

Food porn? No. To label Kaiseki as such would disgrace the art.

"Kaiseki" translates two different ways. One translation means “stone in the robe,” which depicts stories of ancient Zen monasteries whose inhabitants used to put warm stones in their robes to ward off hunger pangs. The other translates to “formal occasion,” proving kaiseki to be a highly sought after, often expensive meal.

The practice involves choice seasonal ingredients meticulously plated in a wonderfully delicious manner, an art that comes easy to kaiseki chef Niki Nakayama. She practices this traditional art at her Los Angeles restaurant n/naka, adding a bit of modernity and flair to her menu. She and her restaurant have received much praise over the years, including a nice little write-up from the Wall Street Journal boasting of her talents and the fact that she happens to be one of the world’s only female Kaiseki chefs.

Watch below as Nakayama plates her 13-course meal for The Art of Plating and explains what kaiseki means to her. Learn more about Kaiseki and what it is here.

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