Kobe may be famous for its beef, but the city is a culinary center. While you’re in Kobe, you should consider having a kaiseki dining experience.
Kaiseki is a traditional style of dinner in Japan consisting of multiple courses. Initially, you would only find these meals in ryokans. However, kaiseki is becoming increasingly popular in downtown restaurants.
The meals themselves have also changed over the years. The first kaiseki meals consisted just of miso soup and three side dishes. Today, they tend to include simmered, steamed, and grilled courses, an appetizer, sashimi, and a dessert. The chef chooses dishes to prepare that best show off their cooking skills and techniques.
As kaiseki meals tend to be quite expensive, most people only go to kaiseki restaurants for special occasions. However, you can save money by eating lunch instead of dinner. Plus, most of the time, restaurants have three different price levels — and even the lowest price will be delicious at a high-quality kaiseki restaurant.
You have numerous options to try kaiseki in Kobe, but a few restaurants stand out as the very best.
What sets Jiki Miyazawa apart is the attention to even the smallest details — down to the plates and sake glasses. Each dish brings out the flavors of individual ingredients. Plus, as everything is fresh, seasonal, and local, the chef can prepare unique creations that change every week.
Location: 1-minute walk from Karasuma station
553-1 Yaoyacho, Nakagyo Ward, Kobe 604-8123 (map link)
Hours: 12:00 p.m. to 1:45 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. (closed Thursdays)
Another high-end kaiseki restaurant, each course at Kozaru is elaborate and different from the one before. As well as being delicious, dishes are visually pleasing. The main area seats just seven people, but you can also choose to dine in a private room to enhance your experience.
Location: 7-minute walk from Sannomiya station
1-25-6 Nakayamatedori, Chuo Ward, Kobe 650-0004 (map link)
Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Kitanozaka Eita serves high-quality food at a more accessible price than many other kaiseki restaurants in Kobe. It’s another restaurant with private rooms available. Throughout the restaurant, the atmosphere is relaxed, and the setting attractive.
Location: 8-minute walk from Kobe-Sannomiya station
1-22-13 Nakayamatedori, Chuo Ward, Kobe 650-0004 (map link)
Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Arrive at the kaiseki restaurant with a good appetite because meals can consist of anything from six to 15 courses (although nine is now the standard number). As the restaurants are small, it is always best to make a reservation — you may need to ask someone to call for you if your Japanese is limited.