We stayed at a Japanese-style room whilst we were in Hakone, a two-hour train ride from Tokyo. It was a cultural experience staying in a traditional room, wearing a yukata, sleeping on the ground and chatting with naked strangers in an onsen pool whilst admiring the magnificent view of Mount Fuji.
As part of our package with Fujimien, we enjoyed a Kaiseki dinner which is a traditional multi-course Japanese meal. Originally, Kaiseki consisted of a bowl of miso soup and three side dishes. Nowadays, these meals have evolved to include a whole lot more.
Unlike many multi-course meals where courses come out one after another, our entire meal (except the soup, rice and dessert) is laid out in front of guests. Perhaps it is a way for us to appreciate the chef’s work and enjoy the all the different ingredients, techniques and presentation before digging in.
The aperitif was a sip of Japanese Plum Wine, this was a sweet liquor and I loved it. Looking at the menu, it seems like the chef wanted us to start and end with something sweet.
Steamed Rice with Red Beans wrapped in a Cherry Leaf was our second course, apparently the 2nd course is meant to set the seasonal theme. We were there in Spring which is the season for cherry blossoms so this lovely rice dumpling dish with cherry leaf sums it up well!
Ginger Bean Jam Rice Cracker Mugwort fu – unfortunately, this was one of those dishes in a degustation meal that you have no recollection of but a photo…
The next course, Seasonal Sashimi – Tuna.
Then it got a bit tricky, this is what was written on our menus- Boiled Sansai with shavings of dried bonito, Green Vegetables with Sesame, Grain shellfish with Carrots, Halfbreak Bamboo Leaf Sushi with Boiled Salt Beans, Small Spiny Top-Shell with Boiled Butterbur(?) Sprout, Konnyaku Cauliflower Vinegar Carrot Prawns.
Even though the menu didn’t make much sense to us, each element in the box tasted delicious and it was evident that the chef spent a lot of time putting everything together.
Boiled trout with Spring vegetables, Asparagus Seaweed Broccoli Pod peas, Bamboo shoot dry tomato was a Western-inspired dish of the course…that still tasted very Japanese 😛
Whilst enjoying the different courses, we also had a hot pot boiling on the side – Chicken steamed in wine, lemon, cabbage, turnip and onion. The chicken and veggies tasted a little bit bland but we were also quite full by then.
I normally don’t like pickles, but Japanese pickles taste quite good!
And finally, a seasonal dessert. It looks like tofu but it was a sesame pudding resting on a sweet thick sauce and sprinkled with roasted soybean flour.
The Kaiseki meal was a beautiful culinary experience. A trip to Hakone was a great way to temporarily escape the hustle and bustle of Tokyo and enjoy the scenery that Japan has to offer.
1245 Sengokuhara, Hakone-machi, Ashigarashimo-gun, Kanagawa Prefecture 250-0631