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Kajitsu

I booked a table for early February. Who's been?

I go to Japan often and have written about kaiseki dining so I'm expecting that this place is...the real thing.

Is it?

www.shrinkinthekitchen.com

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Kajitsu
414 East 9th Street, New York, NY 10009

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  1. My review from two weeks ago: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7563...

    I don't have much experience with kaiseki so I can't really make a comparison. The last kaiseki meal I had was back at Kai above the Itoen store which no longer exists I think.

    1. I'm interested to hear an in depth review on the food at Kajitsu from someone who goes to Japan often and writes about Kaiseki.

      Please do report back!

      4 Replies
      1. re: Notorious P.I.G.

        Yeah, I'll post something. I just hope it's good 'cause it's so expensive. I'm going to Tokyo and Kanazawa on Thursday and then will head over to Kajitsu when I get back to the States. The vegetarian menu @ Kajitsu will be interesting. My pieces on kaiseki--one ran in September, the next will run in March.

        www.shrinkinthekitchen.com

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        Kajitsu
        414 East 9th Street, New York, NY 10009

        1. re: scotty27

          I don't know if I would call it expensive, of course that's all relative to what you consider too much money. However, if you compare it to similar places in Japan then it's kind of middle ground for what most Shojin Ryori places will charge. Most are around the price range of Kajitsu in Yen (for a dinner set) so maybe a little more in USD. At the high end you'd probably pay something like Y15,000 at a place like Daigo for example.

          Kajitsu is not housed in the middle of a beautiful garden inside an old temple either so I guess they can knock a bit off the price for that.

          I think the bottom line for me is that in NYC you're lucky to have a chef with his background (ten years at Kitcho Arashiyama Honten) who imports Wagashi from (my personal favorite) Kagizen Yoshifuza in Kyoto and who obviously cares a ton about the food that he is serving. Teas are from Ippodo and they have a pretty good Sake list. The dishware is all very nice and the next time I go I would definitely like to find out who some of the pieces are by, especially some of the Imari that he had if it's aurthentic. His pairing's between the dishware and the food worked well in harmonizing and complimenting the food served which is a very important element of Kaiseki. Nishihara's food arrangement is also pretty flawless but that's an element of Kaiseki that you could write a book on, so I will stop here.

          Do you plan on trying Shojin Ryori this trip? May be fun to note the differences between Chef Nishihara and another great Chef in Tokyo or Kanazawa of the same cuisine...

          1. re: Notorious P.I.G.

            Your bottom line is right. Sounds great.

            Should I go to Shojin Ryori? I'm going to "the pig gang" and a few favorites, but am open.

            www.shrinkinthekitchen.com

            1. re: scotty27

              I think you're in for a great time at Kajitsu. I'm back there at the end of the month as well so maybe we'll be having the same menu.

              Up to you on the Shojin Ryori. My thinking is that if you eat Shojin Ryori one day, then that justifies going extra crazy at Butagumi the next day as you will have had your fill of vegetables. Any excuse to go crazy at Butagumi is a good one. If you're into Tonkatsu, you should try Tonki as well if you get a chance. (if you haven't already)

              You could even do Shojin Ryori at lunch as a lot of the places have good deals compared to their more expensive dinner sets.

      2. I think its very good, although I've yet to eat shojin kaiseki in Japan. My main complaint is that sometimes theres 2 fried courses, would prefer just one. I also think they have the best tsukemono in NY.

        1. Just went last week and had a good meal, despite waiting 40 minutes for a table because the diners before us wouldn't leave. Did you enjoy your meal?

          As usual, full review with photos at the blog: http://ramblingsandgamblings.blogspot...

          BRAISED BAMBOO SHOOTS WITH GRATED CELERY ROOT and arugula, mitsuba, phyllo dough, butterbur puree, edamame shoots, baby celery root, wasabi. This was a truly spectacular first course. The top layer of celery root and puree had a subtle earthy flavor and covered a thin layer of phyllo dough underneath which were the bamboo shoots and edamame. A wonderful construction of textures from soft to crunchy. The wasabi added a nice gentle kick that managed to help bring out the subtle flavors.

          CLEAR SOUP WITH YOMOGI-FU AND SOFT BRAISED KABU TURNIP with lotus root and yuzu zest. This was my least favorite dish of the night, even though it was beautifully presented with the lotus snowflakes and the tiny yuzu zest squares. I would think that many people who don't regularly eat as light as I do would consider the soup downright bland, and I continue to not be a fan of the texture of the yomogi flavored nama-fu

          Trio of tastings:
          GRILLED SOY BEANS AND STEAMED SPINACH WITH SAKE-KASU TOFU SAUCE with carrot, burdock root, baby breakfast radish, and sesame paste. Another wonderful combination of textures, and I actually liked the flavors of all the individual components. The sauce was ok, and I'm not really sure how necessary it was to the dish. STUFFED POLENTA WITH MOCHI AND CORN MISO with yellow bell pepper. An interesting play of textures, with the featured flavor being the sweetness of the corn. The sweetness is evident yet manages not to overpower. This came with some truffle salt to dip in and the combination of the sweetness with the salt and truffle flavor was fantastic. DRIED PERSIMMON WITH BALSAMIC VINEGAR AND GRILLED WALNUT. Just ingenious. Another great play on sweet with savory, but this time with a third component of just a hint of lime.

          HOUSE-MADE HOUTOU NOODLES AND STEWED WINTER VEGETABLES IN MISO BROTH with nappa cabbage, taro, shimeji, enoki, kabocha, carrot, snow pea, shiratama-fu, and shichimi. The main course consisted of this wonderful and earthy stew of vegetables in a flavorful miso broth. The wide flat udon noodles worked well with the broth that had some grittiness from the cooking down of the taro and other root vegetables. There were also large pieces of leek tempura which was a definite winner.

          CHILLED NAGA-IMO WITH MOZUKU SEAWEED and ginger and yuzu vinegar. This was a welcome palate cleanser, considering there was still another savory course while we had just finished the heaviest course of the night. It was refreshing and tart with a nice crunchy texture. It reminded me of the first course I had at Masa, without the addition of crab. In fact, I could see either crab or uni working very well with this to create a wonderful first course.

          STEAMED RICE WITH FRIED TOFU AND TEA INFUSED SOY SAUCE with grated daikon and scallion AND HOUSE-MADE PICKLES. This was tasty and satisfying, but I wasn't convinced that it was anything special. The pickles were good, but the tofu did not have a standout house-made flavor, and I couldn't really discern the tea flavor in the soy sauce.

          STEAMED MANJU with white bean paste, japanese sweet potato. Another lovely presentation, with the dotting of the eyes to resemble a rabbit, since it is the year of the rabbit after all. Another well crafted dessert that wasn't too sweet or too sticky in texture.

          MATCHA TEA WITH CANDIES BY SHIOYOSHIKEN. The sugar/meringue-like candies were ordinary. The matcha was a good way to end the meal.

          Also, some mixed berry ice cream with a rice wafer was sent over by the chef because we'd waited so long. The fruit was fresh while the ice cream was nice in that it was less creamy than regular ice cream while being creamier than a sorbet. It was a nice gesture, but we were pretty stuffed by then.

          1. According to various sources (like http://ny.eater.com/archives/2012/02/...), the current chef of Kajitsu, Masato Nishihara, will be leaving the restaurant in April. Ryota Ueshima will be replacing him. The restaurant may also relocate to Midtown in the future.

            Reservations have all of a sudden become difficult to come by. I just managed to snag a dinner spot in March. I imagine a lot of people will be trying to make their way to Kajitsu before the current chef leaves.

            7 Replies
            1. re: Cheeryvisage

              I am so sad that chef Masato Nishihara is leaving. I thought he was one of the most talented Japanese chefs in New York. February menu I tasted a few days ago was awsome, reflecting the theme of Setsubun, which is a festival falling on February 3rd or 4th, one day before the start of spring in Japanese lunar calendar.

              This dish composed of celery, daikon, avocado, egg plant, snow peas, potato, lotus roots, wasabi, and soy broth, expresses snow-covered ground. The tiny lotus slices look just like snow flakes, don't they? :) Amazing!

               
              1. re: kosmose7

                breaks my heart to read this. i proposed to my now-wife at Kajitsu last February and returned there in May to celebrate our last anniversary as singles. we're booked for late Feb. to celebrate her birthday, but didn't know of possible changes.

                1. re: coasts

                  You'll be okay through end of March, Chef will be changing in April, location this Summer.

                  http://newyork.grubstreet.com/2012/02...

                2. re: Cheeryvisage

                  Did you try calling? They only hold like 3 tables for opentable users each night.

                  1. re: Ricky

                    No, I didn't try calling. I already managed to book via Opentable.

                    But thanks, that's very good to know. :)

                  2. re: Cheeryvisage

                    has anyone tried it since the new chef started? my friend and i made reservations recently since we are coming to town for a short visit.

                  3. Kajitsu serves excellent "temple style" kaiseki. The dishes are presented beautifully. The service is excellent. Is it the real thing? It is fairly close to the real thing , like Kyo Ya is close too. But neither are comparable to the kaiseki in true kaiseki restaurants in Kyoto, Japan. I think you will enjoy it .

                    1. Hello! Has anyone been to Kajitsu recently? I have a reservation in March and am just curious how the dishes are for the Hana menu this month.

                      Also, any opinions on the sake pairing option?

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: bluesky22

                        I think you will enjoy the meal. The chef's presentation of the dishes is pure art. I am sad that the chef will leave and just as sad if they move from that very convenient ( for me) location. I do not personally like sake pairing in general. I like to choose sake that I like and drink it throughout.

                        1. re: bluesky22

                          We were just there last Friday and the Hana menu was awesome. There wasn't a course with soba so we added that in (and glad we did). We also did the sake pairings (we love sake) and felt they did a much better job then we could have at choosing the right sake. It was also nice to speak with them about the idea behind why a particular sake was choosen for a course. If you haven't already asked see if you can get seats at the counter so you can watch Chef compose the plates.

                          1. re: Spiritchaser

                            Thanks for the replies! I'm really excited about going (even more so now) and am glad I was able to get a reservation before the current chef leaves. Adding the soba is a wonderful suggestion--would you recommend getting one order per person or sharing one order between two people?

                            I didn't know about the chef's counter but that sounds awesome! Will definitely call today to see if we can get seats there.

                            Neither my dining companion nor I know much about sake, so it seems like we would be best off doing the pairing as opposed to choosing our own.

                            1. re: bluesky22

                              We split an order of soba but I wished we hadn't (it was gooooood) and it wasn't huge.