Serious, formal and precise, Japanese cuisine at this level is much like classical music. Just as the score for a symphony is already written, the parameters of a kaiseki meal are fixed, and any variations in nuance tend to be subtle.
Where Shichi Jyu Ni Kou stands out from others in its class is in Saito’s embrace of organically grown ingredients. This includes not just his vegetables — sourced from market gardeners he trusts around the country — but also the seasonings that are the fundamental building blocks of his cuisine. He takes this enthusiasm for natural foods an extra step too: He will also (by prior request when making your reservation) create versions of his kaiseki menus that are macrobiotic and entirely vegetarian.
Saito’s full-scale multicourse kaiseki feasts are intricate, drawn-out affairs that can last three hours or more. But at lunchtime he also offers abbreviated versions — the ¥3,500 bentō boxed lunch is feasible to eat in an hour or so, though you will need rather longer if you’re having the ¥5,000 “light kaiseki” meal.