Feasting in Kusatsu
Kaiseki at Hotel Sakurai
Typical Kusatsu food fare includes onsen manju and onsen tamago ( eggs boiled in the onsens). But it is at the resort hotels and ryokan, that visitors can really be delighted with what Kusatsu has to offer.
Hotel Sakurai offers a delicious 9 course kaiseki traditional dinner.
A wonderful marriage of soft flavours and delicacies awaited us as we discovered each course.
Our hostess provided us with a translation and explanation of each dish whenever we needed. And she was able to accommodate my food allergies quickly and efficiently.
Our first course was accompanied by shokuzenshu (食前酒 )or aperitif, a delicious local plum wine called Hana Plum (草 ぷらむ).
When we arrived, the settings were already in place with Zensai （前菜） hors d’oeuvres and Suimono（吸物） hot pot. The pot was filled with kinmedai (red snapper), and shellfish.
Next followed the Tsukuri or sashimi dish with red caviar, and a quartet of steamed mountain vegetables, duck and ginger -a kind of Takiawase （煮合）。The Shiizakana （強肴） or main dish was Joshu beef steak, cooked just as you please on your personal grill. The Yakimono （焼物）was chicken and fish, softly grilled Kusatsu style, with slightly sweet nuanced flavours. Agemono(揚物 ) or tempura of mountain vegetables followed. The next course consisted of rice and an absolutely delicious cold dish of salmon encrusted with a miso and sake kasu paste*. The meal ended with a delicate blancmange for Mizukashi （水菓子） or dessert.
Kaiseki is a balance of flavours. It is an event in itself. And kaiseki at Hotel Sakurai was a wonderful way to discover the culture and traditions of the Kusatsu area.
*Sake kasu (酒粕 )are the lees leftovers from making sake. There are some great recipes on the English language version of Cookpad.
Cookpad recipes https://cookpad.com/us/search/sake%20kasu