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Kyo-ryori (Kyoto Cuisine)

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Refer to Kyo-Ryori (Kyoto Cuisine).
In Kyoto, it is said that the three most sophisticated cuisines in the world are French, Chinese and Japanese; and among these three, Kyoto Cuisine, or Kyo-ryori is the pinnacle of sophistication, visual beauty and subtlety of taste.
Kyo-ryori is not just to eat, it is to be experienced by all the senses.
It includes aspects of ikebana (flower arrangement) and sado (tea ceremony).
Dishes are created with an emphasis on natural beauty and the seasons. Sophistication is achieved by subtlety, restraint and simplicity, not decoration.
This article is a part of our Japanese New Year’s Osechi Cuisine series done in cooperation with Kichisen restaurant in Kyoto. Here we introduce the main aspects of Kyoto Cuisine with photos of Kichisen’s Kyoto Kaiseki Cuisine.

What is Kyo-ryori? (Kyoto Cuisine) 京料理 京懐石 吉泉


Kyoto has a history of more than 1,200 years and was the capital until the beginning of the modern era. Artisans throughout the country sought to refine their skills to come to Kyoto to serve the Emperor.
Chefs were no exception.
It is often said that Kyoto was the emperor’s kitchen for more than 700 years.

What is Kyo-ryori? (Kyoto Cuisine) 京料理 京懐石 吉泉

There are four types of Kyo-ryori:

Yusoku Ryori (有職料理): Yusoku Cuisine is ‘court food’ and was eaten by the Emperor and other high ranking nobles and aristocrats.
Kaiseki Ryori (懐石料理): Kaiseki Cuisine is ‘tea food’, originally Chakaiseki and developed with the tea ceremony. Small portions of food were served to a guest to accompany bitter tea. Kaiseki’s soul comes from the tea ceremony. Chakaiseki is one rice dish, one soup dish and three side dishes. Modern Kaiseki usually includes many more dishes.
Shojin Ryori (精進料理): Shojin Cuisine is ‘temple food’, vegetarian food eaten by priests and monks.
Obanzai (おばんざい): Obanzai is ‘home food’, Kyoto style. Though casual cooking, Kyoto vegetables are a central element and seasonal ingredients are presented in a refined, yet natural way.

New Year’s Kyoto Kaiseki

What is Kyo-ryori? (Kyoto Cuisine) 京料理 京懐石 吉泉

Spring Kyoto Kaiseki
What is Kyo-ryori? (Kyoto Cuisine) 京料理 京懐石 吉泉

Summer Kyoto Kaiseki
What is Kyo-ryori? (Kyoto Cuisine) 京料理 京懐石 吉泉

Autumn Kyoto Kaiseki
What is Kyo-ryori? (Kyoto Cuisine) 京料理 京懐石 吉泉

Tenets of Kyoto Cuisine
・Bring the natural taste of seasonal ingredients ‘to life’.
・Don’t overcook, avoid using excessive heat.
・Present the food in the context of the season.

By J.S. on Feb 3, 2010
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