A Taste of Japan in New York
Kai Seki is the most formal and intricate of Japanese dining experiences. The meal lasts several hours and consists of several beautifully plated courses, which all focus on seasonality – the freshest ingredients available during that specific time of year – as well as a particular method of cooking. While kaiseki vary, there are usually some standard courses served and the chef decides the order. These courses include: an appetizer served with sake, a simmered dish, a sashimi dish, a grilled course, and a rice dish. The aim of a kaiseki dinner is to convey respect to patrons through the culinary arts.
In Japan, Tempura is a fine-skilled, revered culinary art influenced by numerous factors such as oil temperature, ingredients within the oil, seasoning of the tempura, and batter. During a tempura meal, diners can expect to have a variety of tempura vegetables and seafood. The notion of fine dining tempura was foreign in the metropolis of New York City until the opening of Tempura Matsui in 2015. With the opening of the restaurant, Americans could finally taste what tempura was supposed to taste like opposed to the heavy battered, undercooked tempura they were used to. In late 2016, Tempura Matsui was joined with another fine dining tempura restaurant, Secchu Yokota.
SHABU SHABU & SUKIYAKI
Shabu Shabu and Sukiyaki are two forms of Japanese nabemono, hot-pot, where guests cook their own meals at the table. Shabu Shabu – which loosely translates to “swish swish” in English – consists of quickly cooking thinly cut slices of meat and vegetables in a pot of boiling water seasoned by kombu (seaweed kelp). Once cooked, diners dip their meat and veggies in either a ponzu sauce seasoned with daikon and scallion, or a sesame based sauce. Sukiyaki differs from Shabu Shabu in that diners cook the food in a sweet and salty soy sauce based broth and full of bold flavors straight from the pot. Shabu Shabu and Sukiyaki were introduced to the New York City dining scene in the 1970s with the opening of Shabu Shabu 70 in the Upper East Side. The restaurant became a neighborhood staple. Shabu Shabu 70 sadly closed its doors in November 2016, but there are many places to still indulge in this Japanese dining experience. For a more formal dinner, venture to Hakubai and order the Miyazaki beef – 100% purebred Japanese Wagyu from the Miyachiku chop. The beef just melts in in your mouth!
Yakinku translates to grilled meat in English. One of the most beautiful aspects of Japanese cuisine is that nothing goes to waste. That means guests are served the so called “undesirable” parts of the animal such as the heart, liver, and tripe. New York is starting to embrace this concept in their Yakiniku restaurants, as guests become more adventurous. At Yakitori Tori Shin, in Manhattan’s Midtown, yakiniku is offered in a fine dining setting. For the adventurous eaters, be sure to be seated at the chef’s counter.
With the recent premiere of the third season Chefs Table on Netflix, there has been growing interest on Buddhist Temple cuisine. Buddhist temple cuisine focuses on solely seasonal vegetables. The goal of the meal is to achieve balance and a Zen mentality through the consumption of food. Kajitsu is the only restaurant in New York that offers this sector of Japanese cuisine. The restaurant offers two menus to choose from, both of which present the vegetables in a beautiful manor.
March 2nd 2017