omakase or kaiseki: where?
I am unfortunately not gifted with the kind of wallet that some people enjoy, but I would still like to try a special and interesting multi-course Japanese meal. I have been to Nobu Next Door here in the city and Restaurant Tojo in Vancouver; I am considering the following and would like help deciding:
Kirara (which seems to be the most expensive of these and might be out of my budget).
Any suggestions? I have never been to any of these four places.
Friendliness, unique / interesting food and serving size are all important to me; I'd prefer not to go somewhere that will be cold / distant / severe with tiny portions, no matter how high-quality the preparation.
Which one do you prefer and how much are you willing to spend?
Or to put it another way, since kaiseki and sushi are two totally different things, what are you seeking to get out of the experience?
For kaiseki I would say Sugiyama or Kai, with set menus starting at $85. IMO Sugiyama is better, but you probably get a little more for your buck at Kai - which btw has a broader and more 'modern' interpretation of kaiseki by, for example, serving a meat course.
For sushi omakase I have heard great thngs about Ushiwakamaru but would personally recommend Shimizu. He's very friendly (though his english is not great) and I have often had awesome dinners (8-10 pieces and a roll, a beer or two, tax and tip) at the latter for less than $100. Nonetheless you can easily spend more. It's traditional style à la Yasuda but relatively more affordable, and I think he would be amenable to accomodating a specific budget. Have fun!
I love Shimizu too. Ushiwakamaru for both sushi omakase and non-sushi dishes- sazae-turbon snail over a hibachi cooked in its shell with sake or chawanmushi-steamed egg custard with shrimp and gingko-over Kirara or Aki (which is more creative than traditional in that it fuses caribbean ingredients).
I think I'll do Kai for kaiseki with our friends.
Here's an easier question:
these two spots are within a few blocks of our hotel:
Hatsuhana, at 17 E 48th
Aburiya Konnosuke at 213 E 45th
which do you recommend for a low-key,quiet dinner for two people who really, really appreciate very good fish and conservative sushi?
Cube 63 lets you specify how much you wish to spend on the omakase and prepares accordingly. Not Nobu level standards, but I've had nice meals there and it's BYOB.
Hatsuhana is pretty good but not great. I like Sushiden a little more. If you want someplace near your hotel you'll get pretty solid sushi at both of them, but If you have the time Ushi Wakamaru is worth the trip.
I haven't been to Aburiya Konnosuke but do a search. Some say it's pretty phenomenal.