Known for being the highest form of Japanese fine dining, kaiseki (会席) is a traditional multi-course meal consisting of seasonal dishes pre-selected by the chef. Kaiseki originates from Japanese tea ceremony practices dating back to the 16th century but has since evolved to suit the modern palate.
While kaiseki and omakase (お任せ) meals may sound similar, the difference between kaiseki seatings and omakase seatings is that during the latter, the dishes may be adjusted according to the diner’s preference and the chef doesn’t stop presenting food until the diner is full.
But for kaiseki meals, the menu is fixed by the chef in advance and is strictly unknown to the diners until they sit down to enjoy it. This type of gastronomy is also considered the ultimate fine-dining meal in Japan, with chefs showing their flair for intricacy, creativity, and overarching culinary skills.
A traditional kaiseki meal consists of eight courses, each with its own meaning. The sakizuke course, consisting of a light appetizer, whets the diner’s appetite for the courses to follow. Next comes the hassun course, which sets the tone for the seasonality of the meal. This course is unique because each dish is made with traditional ingredients sourced during the summer, fall, or winter, depending on the specific season diners are having the kaiseki course.
To cleanse the palate, the suimono course is typically a soup dish. It is perceived as the most important dish in the kaiseki course, because it can mark the chef’s culinary ability. Following the suimono course are the tsukuri, yakimono, takiawase, and shokuji courses, featuring sashimi, grilled, vegetable, and rice dishes, respectively. The mizumono course ends the meal off, with Japanese desserts or fruits being served.
Diners may choose to pair their kaiseki meal with sake or tea, depending on the courses served or the functionality of the kaiseki seating. For occasions such as company dinners, sake would be served, and for occasions such as a wedding, tea would be served. In recent years, the concept of kaiseki has gained some popularity in Singapore, with more Japanese chefs opening kaiseki restaurants in Singapore.
Here are some restaurants around town to satiate your kaiseki fix if you’ve been craving this kind of culinary excellence.
Keiyaki is one of Singapore’s premier kaiseki restaurants, helmed by executive chef Shinichi Nakatake, who has held positions in Michelin-starred restaurants. Tucked away in a cozy dining nook in Pan Pacific, Keiyaki has won praise for its immersive Japanese dining experience, from the Japanese-inspired design of the restaurant and garden to the service and freshness of the food.
The restaurant offers two kaiseki dining options, with its signature kaiseki menu featuring lobster and wagyu beef dishes, as well as a vegetarian kaiseki menu highlighting vegetarian creations. Reservations are required in advance for kaiseki seatings.
Address: 7 Raffles Boulevard, Marina Square Singapore 039595
Opening Hours: Monday-Sunday from 6:00 pm to 10:00 pm
Contact: [email protected]
Ushidoki Wagyu Kaiseki
Ushidoki stands out from the other kaiseki restaurants with its specialty in wagyu. This dining concept by Muneharu Ozaki, a Japanese farmer and chef, imports his beef from his farm in Miyazaki Prefecture, Southern Japan, where each cut of beef is carefully selected.
Helming Ushidoki’s Singapore restaurant is executive chef Hirohashi Nobuaki, who opened his own kaiseki restaurant in Japan before making his Singapore debut. Ushidoki is best known for its wagyu kaiseki menu, named after Ozaki himself, which takes diners on a culinary journey from the “Tongue to Tail” of the cow. Ushidoki is highly acclaimed, and has been featured in the Michelin guide and awarded two stars in the Singapore Top Restaurant awards.
Address: 57 Tras Street, Singapore, 078996, #01-01
Opening Hours: Monday-Saturday from 6:30pm-10:30pm
Contact: +65 6221 6379 or [email protected]
Yoshi Restaurant is a dining concept by Chef Yoshiyuki Kashiwabara, who was honored as an Excellent Chef of Diplomatic Missions by the Japanese Foreign Service. This Japanese dining establishment was conceptualized as a dining experience to showcase the finest ingredients of each season.
The restaurant’s ingredients are sourced directly from Japan’s Toyosu market, and the menu changes with the seasons. Yoshi Restaurant has established itself as one of Singapore’s premier kaiseki restaurants, with the Peak Awards and Asian Masters’ Best Asian Restaurant among Yoshi’s accolades. Dining at Yoshi is by appointment only, so do make a reservation before you visit.
Address: 583 Orchard Road, Forum The Shopping Mall, #B1-39, Singapore 238884
Opening Hours: Monday-Sunday from 7:00 pm-9:30 pm
Contact: +65 8188 0900 or [email protected]