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The Art of Kaiseki with Niki Nakayama

For chef Niki Nakayama, local ingredients and presentation are important elements to consider when preparing a Kaiseki dish.

Kaiseki is a traditional Japanese multi-course dinner that features an assortment of rich flavors and ingredients. In recent years, the concept of Kaiseki has evolved to incorporate more elaborate, sophisticated dishes.

The traditional Kaiseki primarily consists of vegetarian-based ingredients and Japanese seasoning, while the modern version contains much more complex flavors and ingredients that are found outside the realm of Japanese cuisine.

"One of my favorite parts is the plating aspect. There are no rules about it. A lot of it is based on feeling; it's not something that I've thought through," said Nakayama.

Nakayama prepares Kaiseki dishes while being cognizant of local environments that may play a role in the cuisine preparation process.

Chefs often look to local foods as inspiration in preparing the multi-course plate. These local dishes can range from abalone from the Abalone Bay in Sea Ranch, Calif., or uni from Santa Barbara. These are fresh ingredients and meals that are representative of what's local to residents and chefs, explained Nakayama.

When preparing Kaiseki, chefs pay attention to the consistent flow that exists between one dish to another for aesthetic appeal. "It's consistently connecting every dish with each other without being overbearing. We have to be thoughtful throughout the course."

Featuring Interviews With:

  • Niki Nakayama, Kaiseki chief-owner, N/Naka

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