I am a former military brat from Fayetteville/Fort Bragg (when not overseas as a military dependent). Went to college down there then left N.C.
The best restaurant back then was the "Hotel Europa" (now the Sheraton Chapel Hill of all things) restaurant; I went there a few times with friends when it first opened back in 1981. I was easily impressed by the pretension of the hotel and its restaurant, which was a glorified steak-house with linens. But what did I know when I was 19.
To learn that the Triangle has an authentic kaiseki restaurant - - owned and operated by actual Japanese (as opposed to other Asian groups, which is very common with "Japanese" restaurants) - - is a surprise. It's really something, as even NYC / LA / SF have at most 2 or 3 places that do kaiseki (sushi bars all over the place, of course; but kaiseki isn't that common).
If you can get authentic kaiseki for $90 a head (organically-sourced ingredients, ingredients flown in from Japan, etc.), prepared by an authentic and trained Japanese chef, then you are fortunate. Again, you'll find kaiseki in NYC / LA / SF, but you'll be paying around $200 to $250 per, maybe more.
And no, it won't be a meal to "fill you up". As can be read in just about any description of Japanese food, it is food meant to be eaten with the eyes (something like that - ambiance, presentation, and the highest quality ... as opposed to mere "quantity" ... are all key).
The other commentators did a great job of disabusing the whole "if there's no meat then what's the point" thing. Kaiseki is an outgrowth of Japanese-style Buddhism and if you want to know how 19th-century (pre-Meiji Era) Japan felt about animal slaughter you can google "buraku-min". Not taking a position as to whether kaiseki ryori "should" or "should not" contain, e.g., fish; the chef's interpretation of kaiseki is going to differ from chef to chef (and Buddhist priest to Buddhist priest, if you go to Japan). In any event, one takes the culture and the food that goes with it, and the chef preparing the food, for what they are. I look forward to eating at "Yamazushi" when I get down that way.
Indy Week • 201 W. Main St., Suite 101, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
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