NEXT || Kaiseki

Huge fans of NEXT Restaurant, we eagerly awaited the opportunity to explore Japan on the tour. The Kaiseki – traditional Japanese multi-course meal – is prehaps the most visually appealing experience we have seen at NEXT [so far]. The Autumn colors smells and flavors were delightfully presented in elegant japanese serving dishes, and played a huge part into the enjoyment of what we ate. Here is the feast for your eyes:

‘Corn Husk Soup’ – simply made like tea from – well – corn husks. This heightened our sense for the Autumn journey we were about to embark on.

This next course was surprising and good – ‘Chestnut Tofu with White Miso & Apple Butter’ accompanied by hay aroma [burning in a vase on the table].

The presentation on this next course was fantastic – a ‘Japanese Maple Forest’ – where we had to forage for food on the plate – finding fabulous morsels like: fried lotus root & a dipping sauce; yuzu with corn pudding & salmon roe; fried prawn legs & heads; dried fish roe; I know I forgot something, but it was stunning & delicious.

Chef Dave Beran & Rene prepared this citrus tasting when we enquired about the difference of a Yuzu to a Lime – remarkable difference when you get to taste citrus side-by side. Such a treat. Thanks for the culinary education between courses.

Now this has got to be the tasty sashimi ever to be consumed. Chef Dave Beran explained that the salmon came from Washington, caught by hand on a line, video taped and streamed to the kitchen for Chef’s selection before being shipped.

Holy-sign-me-up-for-another! That is – another serving of ‘abalone, cucumber, & red sea grapes with kinome leaf’. 

These little bowls packed a whole lot of flavor into an almost clear broth. The ‘Anago [saltwater eel], Maple Dashi, & Shimeji Mushroom’ where a nice warming bowl of happiness.

Hmm not sure what to think of this dish. It was interesting paired with a beautiful warm sake, accompained by fresh pine needles releasing their oils on hot rocks. Still I am not sure about the ‘Matsutake Chawanmushi’ a savory egg custard.

This dish of ‘Ayu’ was extra special, as the fish came from Kyoto, and is reported to soon to be out of season. Not a morsel went to waste the skeleton & head was fried to crispy crunchy perfection, not a hit with everyone, but I was fine with eating their fish heads.

This 350 year old vessel is the only duck serving dish in the restaurant, and is served only at the ‘Kitchen Table’. Within it was a delicious, although shocking, medley of ‘duck hearts, soba noodle, and shallots’. It must not have offended too many, as it left the table empty.

Everything you saw was edible – this dish was ‘Fried Chrysanthemum, Eggplant, with fresh Nasturtium flowers’ There was another leaf in there, it escapes me. Refreshing none-the-less.

Chef prepared what was later determined the ‘winning’ dish of the night, pumpkin three ways: ‘Roasted Pumpkin, Pumpkin Seeds, & Pumpkin Noodles’ ok – I am not clear on the third way it was prepared, but this pumpkin did start off as our centerpiece on the table when we arrived so many that was its third use?

Whole-load-of-food! At this point we are filled to the brim, but there was of course a beef dish to be had. ‘Red miso soup with wagyu beef and vegetables’ served on the side was some extraordinary rice and house-made pickled vegetables. A good dish .. but a scene from a Monty Python film was creeping into my head at this point … “$%ck – off I’m full” … and then some ‘wafer thin chocolate’ causes the man to explode .. kind-a-scene.

This dish of ‘Roasted Fig, Yuba (tofu skin), & Grapes on a drizzle of reduced Soy Milk’ not sure it was a favorite. The tastiest thing was the maple leaf.

The end of an amazing dining experience rounded out with some ‘Warabi Mochi’ and table side prepared, in a very traditional way, some lovely ‘Macha’ green tea. The evening was exquisite in flavor & visualization, some challenging mouthfuls, but it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience. It ended with six content diners exiting the building, looking forward to return for the NEXT adventure.

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