[Hakone] Yama No Chaya – Ryokan Kaiseki

During our visit to Japan, we wanted to experience a Ryokan stay and at the same time, being able to break the language barrier. We found out that many of the Ryokans didn’t even have English websites, and so making a reservation was a problem. Even if we could make a reservation, there was no guarantee that the Ryokan staff would be able to converse in English!

Thus, we did our research and eventually booked a stay at Yama No Chaya via Ryokan Collection. The review on the excellent Yama No Chaya will be posted at another time. Meanwhile, let me share the fantastic Kaiseki-style dinner at Yama No Chaya – no doubt the highlight of our stay.

Kaiseki : A traditional multi-course Japanese dinner.

[box type=”info”] The actual visit to Yama No Chaya was in November 2011. This is a back-dated review.[/box]

[learn_more caption=”Yama No Chaya Official Website :”] Creative dishes with carefully selected seasonal ingredients are prepared to provide you with the most wonderful taste experience. Using the hotel’s homemade soup stock as the base for our dishes, we serve breakfast and dinner using only the freshest fish, meat and vegetables from the sea and mountains surrounding Hakone. Our menus change monthly. Our delicately flavored breakfast, which includes homemade dried fish, porridge of staple grains and cooked rice, is really delicious.[/learn_more]

Instead of a restaurant or dining area, dinner is served in individual rooms! Before dinner commences, the staff who was assigned to serve our food first prepares our dining table. Unknown to us, we were just about to start a two-hour dinner – a heavenly experience.

Written in Japanese, this piece of paper is the menu. No, we’re not going to choose from the list of items. Instead, we are going to have all the items listed on it! Well, we don’t understand Japanese, but the English-speaking staff would be giving us more information on each and every dish when it is served.

The sweet lady who is serving us for dinner :

To be honest, there are a lot of food that I can’t remember eating, or what they are. I’ll just throw out some details as long as I can recall them.

Brightly-colored appetizers laid out exquisitely on the serving tray. We’re just getting started and there is already eight items being laid out on the tray, and this is just the appetizer!

Sashimi with what looks like deep fried prawn “whiskers”.

To keep the sashimi cold and fresh, it is being placed on top of a bowl of ice, separated by a piece of leaf –  exquisite.

Clear and refreshing soup.

Grilled saba (mackerel) with assorted side items if I’m not wrong, placed on top of a piece of leaf and twigs.

Even the vegetables are yummy-licious.

Food-stacko! One of the more unique plating I’ve ever seen. Yup, that’s beef. You can always let the Ryokan know if you do not consume certain food, they would be happy to change the menu specially for you.

First time in my life eating fugu (pufferfish) and it’s the deep fried version! In case you don’t know, pufferfish can be very lethal if not handled properly. This is why restaurant preparation of fugu is controlled by law in Japan, and only qualified chefs are allowed to serve the deadly fish.

Meanwhile, our rice has been cooking in the individual pots for quite some time already.

The end product?

Aww-so-lovely looking rice!

After a heavy meal, cold and light dessert to end of the marathon, two-hour meal.

Without a doubt, this is hands down one of the best meal I’ve ever had – perhaps rivaled by only Volando ABU at Volando Urai Spring Spa & Resort. Stay tune for the review on Ryokan itself.

[button link=”http://www.yamanochaya.com/” color=”green” newwindow=”yes”] Yama No Chaya Official Website[/button]


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