Amie and I had a lot of spectacular dining experiences in Japan, but none quite topped our meal at Kaikaya by the Sea. When I shared on social media that I was headed to Japan, a few different people reached out, all with the same remark: you must go to Kaikaya!
So Amie and I made a reservation well in advance, and were so thankful we did. Because the restaurant was small and superb, and well surpassed our expectations.I will preface this entire post by telling you that the ONE thing I hate about traveling with Amie (ready to get heavy here?!) is that she doesn’t like seafood. I know – what?!
Okay, okay I actually get it. Seafood can be smelly and slimy, and the texture is like nothing else on this planet. I completely understand. But as one of my most frequent travel companions, this totally sucks, because we often end up dining al fresco along the sea, waves crashing on the shoreline below, and instead of sharing the morning’s catch, my girl wants a steak. Amie’s distaste for seafood has literally been the only thorn in my side when it comes to our travels together, so you can only imagine how SHOOK I was when she announced she was going to eat seafood in Japan. Whaaaaat??
And if you’re going to try seafood in Japan, there’s no better place than Kaikaya. Their menu s incredibly fresh and inventive. We ordered the complete chef’s menu for two, with all of the fixings, and a steaming carafe of sake (is it really served in a carafe?! Someone correct me here!) to get the party started.One thing I LOVE about Japan are the plates. Go to a rice house, and you will get a thousand tiny dishes, each created for a different sauce, pickle, or dollop of food. Every plate is perfectly shaped to hold its contents, and is put down and cleared away with a graceful ease that can only be found in Japan. The plates at Kaikaya were slightly larger than those we found in the rice houses, but were incredibly stunning, and made me re-think my entire Scandinavian style home. Japanese design is clearly where it’s at.However, before we could get too attached to our current dishware, a new set of plates swooped down onto our table, housing our first a few bites of heaven in the form of a deliciously thin octopus carpaccio.To my utter delight, Amie’s fork dove right in beside mine, and she declared it ‘pretty good!’ which basically means phenomenal coming from a seafood adversary!
The next course was whole grilled prawns in prawn sauce.Followed by the most epic tower of sashimi ever!The sashimi was absolute perfection, down to every minute detail. It literally melted in your mouth, and was the exact texture, taste, and experience I had traveled half way around the world to find!The following photo is PROOF that Amie does indeed eat seafood! And even cracks a smile while doing so :)Instead of going for the house wine or the very tempting house sangria, we kept the sake flowing, with almost 20 different types to chose from on the menu. Next up was a chilled sake, which the waiter poured into stout glasses that overflowed into a small square dish placed beneath. Unsure of the local etiquette, Amie and I were a bit perplexed – do we drink the sake that overflowed into the dish?! Or do we leave it there?! I’ll let you guess what we did . . . . At this point, we were both starting to get quite full, and so our eyes bulged when a whole fish dredged in flour, broiled, and smothered in sweet herb oil was brought to our table. . . challenge accepted!Our fish was soon followed by a large, deep fried wanton, stuffed with even more seafood.
And just when we thought we were about to burst, a fisherman’s soup that was richly seasoned from the day’s catch was presented to us.At this point, we were well and truly stuffed, but we summoned our second stomachs to make it through the lux final course.Which we also persuaded to help us finish some cherry blossom gelato. Holy moly, it was worth every painful stuffed final bite!We washed it all down with a refreshing Shōchū (a Japanese liquor) and soda.What a brilliant dinner experience! It was by far my favorite meal in Japan, which is saying a LOT – because the trip was filled with delectable food experiences that I will remember for the rest of my life!