Yasuda, Craft and Aquagrill
I had the pleasure of attending these 3 restaurants all in one weekend, when my aunt visited me recently.
Yasuda: We were able to score a 7:30pm seating in front of Chef Yasuda. A couple of days before, I posted a concern of mine about the nigiri portion of rice to fish. I like very little rice, but didn't know how to approach this with Yasuda. I did not want to insult him. After some advice from the hounds, I decided not to say anything, but after a couple of pieces, he noticed that I had left a little bit of rice on the tray and warmly offered to make mine with less rice. In fact, we joked about it throughout the evening ('regular for the aunt, less for the neice!') He really is a very friendly, funny and entertaining man, and it was a wonderful experience.
We did the Omakse and everything was wonderful. However, at one point, we asked to try some of his delicious Uni (I generally don't like Uni, but LOVED it last time I was at Yasuda). It was creamy, sweet and salty all at the same time - AMAZING. A bit later we asked if he might be able to make us something with a raw quail egg (I hadn't had sushi with quail egg in years, but remember loving it) and he made us a piece that consisted of rice wrapped in nori and then topped with Uni, a raw quail egg and finished off with a pinch of sea salt and a squeeze of lemon. This was absolute heaven. I highly recommend to everyone who goes to Yasuda that they request this piece. The sweet, salty, velvety combination created a richness that will crave forever.
Craft: The next night, we went to Craft with my boyfriend and best friend. We started off with the cured fluke and blood orange, yellowfin tuna and lemon, crispy fresh bacon and apple, and the sweet potato and agnoletti pasta. The bacon was different than bacon you would normally see in a restaurant. It was very thick with mustard seed sprinkled on top and it tasted more like fatty pork than bacon, but that is not to complain! It was sweet, rich and tasty. However, the pasta was probably the best dish of the evening. It was buttery, rich and creamy. My boyfriend and I visited Craftsteak in late December and had one of their pastas and we felt the same way. This establishment really does to pasta quite well.
For our mains, my aunt and my best friend both had the sweetbreads. Fabulous as always. Craft really does know their sweebreads! This time, they were prepared with an orange jelly-like concoction, if I remember correctly (?) I ordered the quail and 50 year balsamic. (I'm not sure what prompted me to order game, as I am usualy a seafood person.) Though it could have used a touch more balsamic, it was wonderful - very moist and perfectly cooked. My boyfriend ordered the beef shortribs; Smoky and falling off the bone. Yum! We also split the gnocci and Jerusalem artichoke dishes as our sides. They were both delicious. The artichokes tasted almost like root home fries, if that makes sense. The gnocchi was buttery, moist and melted in your mouth. Service was attentive, knowledgable and friendly.
Aquagrill: We were greeted by a host that was quite the character! Has anyone else experienced this person? Very boisterous and outgoing with a great sense of humor. He even came over to our table a couple of times after we were steated and made random jokes - very entertaining (though I'm glad he didn't continue this throughout our entire meal :)). The bread and olive oil for dipping was superb (though the olive oil is infused with garlic, for all of those will allergies - my aunt being one of them). We decided not to get appetizers, as neither of us was incredibly hungry, so we went straight for the mains. My aunt ordered the simply grilled halibut with a side of sauteed bok choy. She enjoyed this very much. I *wanted* to order something light, but when I saw the truffle crusted chatham cod with wild mushroom ravioli, roasted hen of the woods mushrooms and creamed spinach in a truffle mushroom sauce, I had to order it. Light it was not. However, if you like mushrooms, which I do, you will LOVE this dish. It was fabulous and, though I was unable to finish it, I took it home and was able to enjoy the leftovers the following day.
So, folks, there you go: Three delicious meals at three fabulous restaurants in one decadent weekend. This was a great way to spend one of my last weekends in NYC, as I will be moving to Washington, D.C. in 2 weeks.
So, thank you so much to everyone on the New York Board for all of your help and be sure to keep eating well!