Kaiseki at Ryokan Motonago

Our meals at Ryokan Motonago are as wonderful as our stay there. Each day we look forward to the upcoming meal and come away impressed by how the ingredients are delicately prepared and served. Each tiny dish focuses on one ingredient in its truest flavor. Extravagance is not the word here but instead simplistic methods of cooking are used to bring out the taste and flavor of that ingredient.

Kaiseki, an elaborate and traditional course-by-course Japanese meal, is a highlight at anyone's stay at a ryokan so having at least a kaiseki meal at the guesthouse is highly recommended. We wake up every morning to having kaiseki breakfast served in our room. On our first night we have the kaiseki dinner also served in the comfort of our room. Each time a course is brought into the room, the room maid carefully kneels by the low wooden table and gently places the food on the table.

A Japanese breakfast traditionally consists of grilled fish, rice, and miso soup. At Ryokan Motonago, our breakfast is brought up a notch with a different preparation of tofu everyday--braised or boiled. On one of the mornings, we are served soba (buckwheat noodles) as an addition to the usual suspects. A side of pickled gobo (burdock root) and daikon (radish) are essential sides. Tamago (egg) is cooked and folded into thin and delicate layers.



The more elaborate affair is at dinner when the food is presented course by course. Within a course, sometimes 2-3 small items make up a course. The food is prepared with the idea of being refined while showcasing its delicate taste.


Aperitif: plum wine.

First Appetizer: Tofu, kani (crab)

Main Appetizer: Quail balls, potato, daikon, uni (sea urchin) on whitefish with potato filling, sea cucumber with minced daikon.

Sashimi: Tai (sea bream) and maguro (tuna). 

Boiled and seasoned food: Boiled hamachi (yellowtail, daikon, and mochi.
One pot dish: Rare wild boar, nappa cabbage, and mushroom



Broiled fish: Tai (sea bream).
Hot food:Minced wild duck in potato ball sitting in a starchy broth with shredded carrots and negi. 

Fried food: Ebi (shrimp), moroko (river fish), and red pepper tempura.

Vinegary delicacies: Cured saba (mackerel), oshinko (pickles).
and miso soup with yuba (tofu skin) and fish cake.

Dessert: Pudding

One practical tip we learnt about the way the Japanese incorporate wasabi and soy sauce when eating sashimi is that contrary to what we see people in America doing i.e. mixing wasabi in the soy sauce, people in Japan dab some wasabi onto the piece of sashimi and dip the fish into the soy sauce. According to our room maid at the ryokan, only children mix the wasabi into the soy sauce.

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