Apart from its glorious hot springs, one of the main attractions offered by KAI Matsumoto is the incredible food that they serve; the meals are undoubtedly a form of entertainment in their own right.
In the evenings the restaurant serves ‘kaiseki ryori’ (traditional Japanese multi-course dinner), which consists of 9 courses in total. It might sound like an awful lot, but each course is small and manageable, and left me feeling just the right level of full but not stuffed. Kaiseki ryori gives diners the opportunity to try a huge variety of tastes within a single meal, and the attention given to the taste texture, fragrance, and presentation of each course is really something that needs to be experienced to be understood.
The menu changes in line with the seasons, and incorporates an abundance of fresh, locally produced food from the Shinsyu area. I ate so many spectacular dishes that it’s hard not to mention them all, but if I had to narrow it down to a few favorites I would include the ‘foie gras covered with persimmon’, the ‘sashimi assortment’, the ‘Japanese beef with apple sauce, wasabi jelly, and salted soybeans’, and how could I forget the ‘cheese souffle drizzled with raspberry sauce’ for dessert. I won’t even try to put the taste of these incredible dishes into words – I’ll just show you the photographs and leave your imagination to do the rest. In addition, the hotel has an impressive menu of over 300 locally produced wines, along with a large number of beers, sake, etc. to choose from.
Aside from the mouth-watering food we were treated to, one of the things that really impressed me was the high quality of the English translation of the menu. I have often gone to Japanese restaurants which claim to have English versions of their menu available, only to be disappointed by a menu that is awash with Japanese words just written in English and vague descriptions like ‘fish with Japanese sauce’. At Hoshino, however, they do an excellent job of translating the menu so that the details of each dish are clearly and easily understood by English-speaking guests, allowing them to enjoy their meal all the more.
It’s not the food and drink alone that makes dining at Hoshino the experience it is - guests are all given their own private dining room, Japanese style of course, with a stunning view of the courtyard pond, and are free to take as much time as they like enjoying both the view and the carefully prepared dishes . When I dined there, I found it to be such a relaxing, calming, and peaceful experience; the food, the atmosphere, and the pleasant waitress who carried dishes in and out from the kitchen and gave us a detailed explanation of each dish in perfect English each time she placed one in front of us. For those who would like to experience real Japanese cuisine at its finest, KAI Matsumoto is certainly the place to go.