KO­HANTEI

It’s revered in Ja­pan, but can the tra­di­tional din­ing rit­ual of kaiseki work in Dubai?

What's On (Dubai) - - CONSUME EAT // REVIEW -

hen the deca­dent Heian court ruled Ja­pan from 794 to 1159, life was very rit­u­al­is­tic. The aris­to­crats would eat del­i­cately pre­pared multi-course meals that would last for hours, their faces pow­dered white and their teeth black­ened. Th­ese court din­ners were the be­gin­ning of the mod­ern kaiseki, Ja­pan’s an­swer to the de­gus­ta­tion din­ner.

Rather sur­re­ally, there’s now a 28-seat, eight-ta­ble kaiseki restau­rant at the Opera Dis­trict called Ko­hantei. The team of seven are all from Ja­pan, and the space is very tra­di­tional. Kaiseki are meant to be served in hum­ble sur­rounds, and that’s what you’ll find here: shoes off at the door, tatami mats, bright light­ing, tiny ta­bles and kneeling ser­vice.

The first bite of our six-course Sakura menu (Dhs350 per per­son) was a rare sliver of wagyu paired with a warm­ing pick­led wasabi (none of that horseradish­dressed-up-as-wasabi tripe), and ev­ery bite there­after was as much of a de­light. Each plate was im­pec­ca­bly pre­sented, and all el­e­ments on the plate were bite-sized, ready to be picked up by a chop­stick.

It’s the de­tails that make Ko­hantei ex­ec­u­tive chef Hisao Ueda’s food so spe­cial: soy sauce is mixed with a tra­di­tional broth to add sub­tlety; sliv­ers of yuzu and ground white radish add tang and body to a broth; and on the sashimi plate a sliver of cu­cum­ber is cut into the shape of a tiny leaf, just be­cause.

Kaiseki din­ing is all about bal­ance, har­mony and sea­son­al­ity – so we’ll not talk you through each dish, as Ko­hantei’s team cook with what­ever pro­duce they have sourced that week, and the set menus change weekly, if not daily. The restau­rant’s pri­mary fo­cus is wagyu, and they go to great lengths to source from the best farm­ers in Ja­pan. With the Dhs350 Sakura menu you will sam­ple Grade A3

Wbeef from Aus­tralia, as well as Sendai beef from Ja­pan (the lat­ter re­ally does taste bet­ter). To sam­ple the crème de la crème – Ozaki – you’ll need to plump for one of the pricier set menus (the most ex­pen­sive is Dhs1,100). There is an a la carte menu for those who want to pop in for some sake, prawn tem­pura soba (Dhs58) and a

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