25. March 2009 East Village, Japanese 0

94 East 7th Street between First and Avenue A
$130 for two, with drinks, with tip
♥ ♥

I’d like to think that kaiseki is Japan’s answer to Spain’s tapas if only a pincho is served in bejeweled bread held together by a hand-carved toothpick. The most basic types of food need to go a long way in a kaiseki meal, so presentation is key to make them more appealing. For the Japanese, it’s an aesthetic experience.

I remember my first meal at Morimoto where a selection of fine sashimi was served on a large porcelain square container. The tub was so ridiculously big that it took attention away from the fish. Sometimes, you only need the most humble utensil to appreciate a skillfully-executed dish, no? At Kyo-ya, however, the attention to both food and presentation are pretty much equal: both are of very high quality. A very simple mackerel roll was beautifully presented with edible flower petals, while the uni came on top of a miniature bale of hay. The fish was served on a small mat woven together with a soft piece of thread while a twig of what looked like mistletoe stuck out of the crushed ice. Even the wasabi was on onion-skin paper I’ve only seen used for truffles. The accessories seem unnecessary, but Kyo-ya makes them so delicately that they don’t come off cheesy. Each order, even our very simple udon soup and plate of grilled sardines, came out looking like very special gifts.

Related post/s:
Morimoto was so long ago
You know what was long ago? Naka Naka!