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Enjoy a Bateman-approved Kaiseki Meal
Date night, no matter how good the company can become somewhat pedantic. You sit, you smile you drink, you order your favorite cut of steak and then you go home. Or continue drinking. Either one works.
But what happens when you’re tired of the blasé fine dining routine yet still want an elevated meal with your significant other or a Paul Allen type? Take a cue from our friend, Bateman. Of course not in the way he treats his dates after the meal – but in his advocacy for broadening their culinary and musical repertoire.
Which brings us to the tradition of kaiseki, the Japanese version of haute cuisine. By definition, this multi-course experience is a rare treat and only prepared with the freshest seasonal ingredients. This tradition began more than five hundred years ago and as legend has it, Buddhist priests who had to put up with strict fasting during zen training would place a hot stone (seki) in their kimono pocket (kai) to help stave off hunger. Unfortunately these methods have not been appropriated and adapted to best suit modern-day fashion week.
A culinary and aesthetic art form unto itself, each kaiseki course is prepared to not only complement the different components that make up the plate, but also its sake pairing. The end result looks almost too good to eat but, after about a good fifteen seconds of admiration (the extra five were for the benefit of your date), you’ll be ready to take the plunge.
An authentic kaiseki dinner begins with an appetizer, for example minced young fish and vegetables served on fine, hand-painted porcelain. Next comes a light soup in a lacquer bowl, accompanied with soybean cake, prawn bake mullet roe and udo. A rare lacquer box immediately follows containing sashami or another delicacy. Then comes hassun, an array of delicacies such as fish, bamboo shoot sushi or asparagus rolled with salmon and is typically followed by a boiled or simmered dish, perhaps with vegetables and fresh fish. A fried dish follows, think along the lines of teriyaki steak or pork – accompanied by aizakana, a selection of tidbits including bean curd, sea urchin and ginger. Clams dressed in miso are followed by a course of rice and pickles and finally, a light dessert or fruit finishes off the meal. While this may seem like an overabundance of food, bear in mind that each course is fairly light, with small and exquisitely prepared portions.
If you find yourself in Manhattan and are intrigued about experiencing an authentic kaiseki meal, look no further than Hakubai, the Japanese restaurant inside of The Kitano, New York City’s first and only Japanese-owned hotel. Executive Chef Yukihiro Sato presides and crafts each unique kaiseki menu, bringing this age-old tradition to the city’s residents and visitors alike.
So go on, Halberstram. Dorsia may not be accepting reservations at the moment but we can assure you Hakubai’s options beat out their sea urchin ceviche.
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