Continuing in my gluttonous ways, I recently dined on a very lovely 8 course Japanese vegan meal at Kaygetsu in Menlo Park, California. This style of meal service is called kaiseki. It has its origins in tea ceremony, where small multi-courses was served to compliment the tea.
The menu is carefully selected to reflect the season and is changed monthly. For the vegan/vegetarian menu, the restaurant requires 3 days advance notice.
The first course (pictured above on the left) is tomato water, mochi with grated cucumber, tomato marinated in kelp and pear with sesame cream. It’s a great beginning. I love tasting menus where you get a little taste of everything.
The second course (on the right) is a slow-cooked dish. Kabocha squash, wheat gluten, carrot, taro and spinach cooked in a clear broth. Very tasty, I ate everything including the broth (I want to make sure I get the whole experience).
The third course (above left) is tofu “sashimi” along with yuba and avocado rolls topped with seaweed “caviar”.
The fourth course (above right) is an amazing assortment of flavors: avocado, mizuna green, shiitake, tonburi and chrysanthemum in oshitashi sauce. Salad with avocado, orange, cucumber and wakame seaweed. Gingko nut and red bell pepper on skewers. Eggplant with miso sauce. Minced tofu ball cooked in soy based sauce. Once again, I devoured everything. Even the ginko nut and bell peppers which I am not a big fan of, but I ate it anyways.
The fifth course (above) is a steamed dish. Yuba stuffed with lotus root, shiitake, romano beans and topped with wasabi. It came with a lid on the bowl. My absolutely favorite course, so very flavorful. I would be happy to eat this everyday.
The sixth course (above left) is the fried dish, think tempura. Corn and onion, somen pine needles, potato gingko nut, seaweed, shiso, served with green tea salt and lemon. The waitress said the somen pine needles were for decoration and not meant to be eaten. I ate them anyways, they were actually quite good. I also really like the green tea salt which I never even heard of before.
The seventh course (above right) is the rice dish. Rice mixed with shiso served with house pickled vegetables and a clear soup with vegetables. Compared to everything else, the rice wasn’t anything special and probably the weakest dish. It’s also the only course where I didn’t clean my plate.
The final eighth course was dessert. Two different desserts. And it’s not either or, it’s both! A pear compote with sweet gelatin (above left) and house made sorbet (above right). It’s a nice, light, refreshing end to an awesome meal.
I had no idea there’s a restaurant serving this caliber of vegan food right here in my own backyard. Kaygetsu is now my new “go to” restaurant for special occasions as it’s a bit pricey. But it’s so totally worth it.