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Best Kaiseki option?

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  • verka Oct 6, 2011 07:46 AM

I am looking for the best, most authentic Kaiseki option in Manhattan. Right now I am looking at:
Sugiyama, Rosanjin or EN Japanese. Can anyone comment on the best option of the 3? Or recomend anything else I am overlooking? I'd like to spend 200 to 300 for 2 people (not including any sake pairings) and would also like a place with a really nice, special setting. I prefer Lower Manhattan.

Thanks !

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  1. I haven't been, but Kyo Ya has been highly praised on this board.

    I'm curious to know the answer as well. I hear that EN Japanese Brasserie isn't on the same level as the others, but I wonder who is the best among Sugiyama, Rosanjin, and Kyo Ya.

    -----
    En Japanese Brasserie
    435 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014

    Sugiyama
    251 W 55th St, New York, NY 10019

    Kyo Ya
    94 E 7th St, New York, NY 10009

    Rosanjin
    141 Duane Street, New York, NY 10013

    1. I would skip En, I have been a few times, while not bad, I wouldnt really consider it kaiseki, its closer to obansai ryori, the space is big, open, a bit loud, not really a serene kaiseki setting. Kyo Ya if you make a reservation in advance, or even Kajitsu would be much better options. Havent been to Brushstroke yet, but that might be an option as well.

      -----
      En Japanese Brasserie
      435 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014

      Kyo Ya
      94 E 7th St, New York, NY 10009

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

      Brushstroke
      30 Hudson St, New York, NY 10013

      1. Sugiyama is quite good, and a bit less expensive than the other options (if you don't add the Wagyu course). There's a 6 course traditional, an 8 course "modern" kaiseki, and an omakase kaiseki. Apart from the omakase version, all the others will be within your price range.

        -----
        Sugiyama
        251 W 55th St, New York, NY 10019

        1. I love En, but not for authentic Kaiseki. They have a lovely tasting menu, which they call Kaiseki, but it is not a classic Kaiseki menu. It does not have raw/soup/fried/vinegared/grilled/braised courses in the classic progression (don't remember the order but they're not doing it.).

          Sugiyama is fantastic. For me, it is one of my top 3 NYC restaurants. I have been going there for years. (once every year or so, on alternating visits to NYC). It is my favorite kaiseki place in the US (which, granted, are hard to find). I always order the "Chef Nao's choices -- 8 course modern kaiseki" which is $136 per person. I have not tried anything else but the Wagyu version ($198) which to me was not worth the price difference. I actually preferred what the other menu has instead. The meal I mention is long, wonderful, and very filling. A glorious progression of delicious and beautiful food.

          I have not been to Rosanjin or Kyoya. But I have heard wondeful things in particular about Kyoya. I plan to go there my next NYC visit. Only then can I compare them. :-)
          Also, Kajitsu is supposed to be a wonderful vegetarian option.

          -----
          Sugiyama
          251 W 55th St, New York, NY 10019

          3 Replies
          1. re: pauliface

            Thanks for the description of Sugiyama. I pass it all the time on my way to Yakitori Totto. For a non-kaiseki meal, would you recommend Sugiyama's Five Course Dinner for $58?

            -----
            Sugiyama
            251 W 55th St, New York, NY 10019

            1. re: Tommy D.

              The problem with the 5-course is that your main course is basically a steak. Also, you miss their "kisetsu kobachi, " which is excellent. Spend the extra $7 and go for what they call their "authentic course dinner." It's better.

              -----
              Sugiyama
              251 W 55th St, New York, NY 10019

              1. re: Tommy D.

                I have only had the menus I mentioned above.
                It's so good that I've gotten stuck!

                But I would certainly try the 5-course if that's your inclination. I'm sure it's delicious and beautiful

            2. I haven't done the full kaiseki at Kyo Ya but the a la carte food I've had there is all amazing. I also like the setting (basement level in the EV, feels kind of hidden), the spacious seating, and the incredibly nice service.

              -----
              Kyo Ya
              94 E 7th St, New York, NY 10009

              1. You can drop EN right away - it's definitely not on the same level with the rest. I'm not a fan, personally. Add Kyo Ya to the list instead, as others recommended.

                1. Definitely Kyo Ya. Just make sure to let them know two days in advance you want the kaiseki - I believe they fly in ingredients special for it. Their sake selection is pretty incredible as well.

                  Kajitsu is another interesting option - it's a bit cheaper than Kyo Ya ($70 vs. $120, IIRC) and all vegetarian - but truly amazing vegetarian. Grant Achatz is a big fan, actually.

                  -----
                  Kyo Ya
                  94 E 7th St, New York, NY 10009

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

                  1. Honestly, I can not think of truly awesome kaiseki places in New York, although I find tons of other superb cuisines in this city. However, some of better ones may include, like other chowhounders said, Rosanjin, Kyo Ya, and Kajitsu. I personally think Sugiyama, while good, is not really kaiseki (Although the three places I just mentioned are not 100% kaiseki either.. but they are quite close).

                    My blog has full photos about these three places, but I will not leave any links, as the administrator seems to delete postings with personal blog links. I am attaching a few sample photos though.

                    * For their ultimate kaiseki courses, you need to reserve at least 1 to 2 days in advance for Rosanjin ($200) and Kyo Ya ($150). Kajitsu ($50~70) does not require any advance reservation.

                     
                     
                     
                    6 Replies
                    1. re: kosmose7

                      >My blog has full photos about these three places, but I will not leave any links, as the administrator seems to delete postings with personal blog links

                      I don't think so, as long as the links are relevant to the topic? I see links to personal blogs all the time here.

                      1. re: uwsister

                        I think you need to post the text content of the blog post on this board, then link to your post for the pictures.

                        1. re: Cheeryvisage

                          I leave & see links all the time, don't think there's any issue as long as it's not to anything commercial.

                          1. re: sgordon

                            CH moderators have the discretion to revoke the privilege to link if you are:
                            "only participating in the conversation when you have a relevant blog entry to refer to, even if the individual links otherwise fit within the guidelines" and/or
                            "only posting your reviews, never asking or answering questions."

                            From the Guidelines
                            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/367605

                            Sometimes there is relevant, on-topic information on your blog that you want to share with your fellow hounds. We ask that you not link directly to individual entries on your blog, but rather, copy and paste your information to Chowhound, so people can read it and reply here. It keeps the conversation from being split across multiple sites, and avoids the appearance that you're trying to promote your blog. (If you're hoping for an SEO boost, you should know that user-submitted links are tagged as no-follow.

                            )

                            We make an exception to this rule for blog entries which contain multiple relevant photos, videos, or other supplementary information which is formatted in a manner that can't be be posted on Chowhound. In those cases, if you include all of the relevant text from the blog entry in your post, we'll generally allow you to link to the individual blog entry at the end of your Chowhound post so people can find the supplementary information. If the entire entry is in a format that can't be included on the site, like a video or a chart, please don't simply post the link -- take the time to offer an explanation or summary of the information contained in the entry.

                            1. re: kathryn

                              Ah ha. Thanks for the clarification!

                              1. re: kathryn

                                kathryn, as always, is so encyclopedic! :)

                      2. Thank you so very much for everyone's awesome input and recs. I've made a reservation for Friday at Kyo Ya for the 10 course dinner :) Will report back !

                        -----
                        Kyo Ya
                        94 E 7th St, New York, NY 10009

                        1. Kyo Ya in my opinion is the most authentic and best in manhattan. The Kitano hotel restaurant Hakubai is 2nd,( the chef from Kyo Ya came from there). Brushstroke is next. Rosanjin has real kaiseki service but the food lacks greatly. En is not real kaiseki,even if you get the private room, just not the real deal.

                          -----
                          En Japanese Brasserie
                          435 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014

                          Kyo Ya
                          94 E 7th St, New York, NY 10009

                          Rosanjin
                          141 Duane Street, New York, NY 10013

                          Hakubai
                          66 Park Ave, New York, NY 10016

                          Brushstroke
                          30 Hudson St, New York, NY 10013

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: foodwhisperer

                            I stopped going to Hakubai after they changed their name from "Nadaman Hakubai" to the current "Hakubai" since I was wondering whether they had no relationship any more with that famous kaiseki restaurant in Japan. Are they stll good? May be it is time to visit there again! :)

                            -----
                            Hakubai
                            66 Park Ave, New York, NY 10016

                            1. re: kosmose7

                              there's a place in Tokyo ( GInza) called Kubai that has amazing sushi

                          2. I'm a little late to the posting since you've already made a res at Kyo Ya but I've actually had Kaiseki at every single restaurant listed in this thread (what can I say, DH and I love kaiseki), so I'll add my thoughts to the discussion.

                            I love Sugiyama. Have been several times. Outstanding experience sitting at the bar.

                            Rosanjin's food is delicious (or at least it was when I last ate there which was a few years ago, so maybe it has gone downhill since) and room is gorgeous but it has a very stuffy, quiet atmosphere, so I prefer Sugiyama as it is brighter and livelier.

                            Kyo Ya is delicious, too. Great atmosphere and food is delicious.

                            Below these three I would put Kajitsu. I thought the presentations were all gorgeous, but I was not blown away by the entire meal. Plus a friend dining with us got violently ill immediately after dinner, so that wasn't ideal.

                            I had high expectations for Hakubai but was not impressed at all.

                            Brushstroke was my most recent kaiseki experience and I have to tell you I was very underwhelmed, especially since I enjoy most of Bouley's other restaurants. We were seated at the bar and it was great to watch the chefs. However, our service was quite poor. We ordered a bottle of sake and after a long time our first course arrived and our sake still hadn't. We inquired as to whether it was coming, which was followed by a lot of unorganized chatter among all the servers. Still no one came over to us so we inquired with another server, who finally alerted the sommelier who came over and said they were out of that bottle. (OK, fine, but why did it take close to 30 minutes and several follow-ups to find that out?) Service aside, I was just not impressed by the food. I thought the compressed char entree was great, but my biggest problem with the meal was that I could not see how all the dishes connected together. It just seemed like the chefs tried to create some dishes that were good and then threw them together as a tasting menu without giving thought to how they related. (I am by no means a kaiseki expert so my assessment could be wildly off the mark, but I'm just relating that I did not think the progression worked like in the other restaurants I mentioned.)

                            Lastly is EN, which wouldn't even cross my mind when contemplating a kaiseki restaurant.

                            So, in conclusion, great pick with Kyo Ya (makes me want to go back there soon!). Please report back!

                            -----
                            En Japanese Brasserie
                            435 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014

                            Sugiyama
                            251 W 55th St, New York, NY 10019

                            Kyo Ya
                            94 E 7th St, New York, NY 10009

                            Rosanjin
                            141 Duane Street, New York, NY 10013

                            Hakubai
                            66 Park Ave, New York, NY 10016

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

                            Brushstroke
                            30 Hudson St, New York, NY 10013

                            8 Replies
                            1. re: ManhattanLawyer

                              Wow, it's awesome that you've dined at all of these places. Do you mind giving more details comparing Sugiyama to Kyo Ya? I hope to do a kaiseki dinner at one of these two in the near future. What do you like / dislike about each? Which one would you choose if you were to only dine at one? Any thoughts would be appreciated. Thanks!

                              -----
                              Sugiyama
                              251 W 55th St, New York, NY 10019

                              Kyo Ya
                              94 E 7th St, New York, NY 10009

                              1. re: Cheeryvisage

                                I will do my best although with so many courses it's difficult to keep everything straight. I have only had kaiseki at Kyo Ya once and it was shortly after it opened. I had been to Sugiyama several times, including more recently.

                                One big difference is the ambience. Sugiyama is in midtown and feels like it (lots of people on corporate accounts in there). however, you can sit at the bar, which I always love because it enables you to interact with the chef and Chef Sugiyama is really fun to talk to. I like that you can choose from a few different kaiseki menus. I've almost always gotten the modern with wagyu but I have sampled the other dishes from the non-wagyu menu and they are good as well.

                                Kyo Ya's atmosphere is much more downtown. I have never eaten at the bar there. I think the food feels more inventive/modern here than at Sugiyama but, as I said previously, I am not a kaiseki expert. Plus the way they serve the courses is different because Sugiyama will put 4 or so different items on your tray at once. Kyo Ya separates out into like 10 or so courses.

                                If I could only dine at 1 it would probably be Sugiyama as evidenced by the fact that I've eaten there more than any of the other kaiseki restaurants. That said, this thread has me wanting to go back to Kyo Ya now since it's been a while :)

                                -----
                                Sugiyama
                                251 W 55th St, New York, NY 10019

                                Kyo Ya
                                94 E 7th St, New York, NY 10009

                                1. re: ManhattanLawyer

                                  Thanks a lot, this helps. Sounds like Sugiyama's food is more traditional versus Kyo Ya's, which is good since I'd like to see what a more traditional meal's like.

                                  Which restaurant is more brightly-lit, by the way, if you remember at all? Since I'm interested in taking photos of my meal... would be good to know.

                                  1. re: Cheeryvisage

                                    Kyo Ya is fairly bright as far as restaurants go.

                                    Example photos:
                                    http://www.flickr.com/photos/alifewor...

                                    -----
                                    Kyo Ya
                                    94 E 7th St, New York, NY 10009

                                    1. re: kathryn

                                      Thank you!

                                  2. re: ManhattanLawyer

                                    Ah.
                                    Just reading your posts has filled my mind with lovely memories of Sugiyama.
                                    I have not tried Kyo-Ya yet, but it's top on my list of places to try.

                                    One other thing I love about Sugiyama is their presentation.
                                    The meal starts with a real jaw-dropper.
                                    If I remember correctly, it's a box filled with maybe 7 smaller dishes, all gorgeious shapes and colors and sizes. (I feel that surprise is important with meals like this, so I won't say more, but there are a cuple of other really lovely presentations as well, one of which I've tried at home for my fancier dinner parties....)
                                    It seems like they have a real collection of servingware, like the finer Japanese kaiseki places in Japan.

                                    For example, Kitcho Arashiyama is almost as well known for their serving dishes as for their food. They have antiques, and dishes made by famous Japanese potters. A lot of it, if I understand correctly, is museum quality. It's almost like the kimono collections that used to be owned by rthe old Geisha houses.

                                    Sugiyama is the only place I've eaten in the states that puts me in mind of that.

                                    Does Kyo-Ya score well on that point?

                                    -----
                                    Sugiyama
                                    251 W 55th St, New York, NY 10019

                                  3. re: Cheeryvisage

                                    Back when Yasuda-san was still at Sushi Yasuda, he'd always say his favorite restaurant was Sugiyama. Just something I remembered about the place.

                                    -----
                                    Sushi Yasuda
                                    204 E 43rd St, New York, NY 10017

                                    Sugiyama
                                    251 W 55th St, New York, NY 10019

                                  4. re: ManhattanLawyer

                                    ML
                                    Sorry to hear you had bad service at Brushstroke, i eat there weekly and the service usually is great. They seemed to have had alot of staff changes. New waiters, new chefs. Yamata-san is still the exec chef and doing a great job. The managers are great, the hostesses, the sommelier is excellent ( he used to be a Kyo Ya). They have a sushi chef there now that is one of the instructors at one of the famous Japanese culinary schools, the name escapes me. However, they changed their menu for the season. The sushi tasting menu is weak. The sashimi course is fair, the sushi course is weak. The otoro was still frozen, the lobster roll was flavorless, the fluke and spanish mackerel were fresh but nothing special. The new autumn menu, had good pork belly, both menus had decent chawan mushi, the crab mushroom rice, is not great, i enjoy Robataya's rice or Kyo ya's better. The pork belly was great. I miss the pork cheeks. I did get some extras from the chef that were exceptional. I did not try the vegetarian tasting menu. I've also had great service at the bar( liquor), and you can pick and choose specific a la carte dishes there. Kyo Ya is the most authentic Kaiseki I've had in NYC, that I know of. Kajitsu is temple style kaiseki, and the dishes are prepared nicely, the check will be a big one, and if you really want good temple style kaiseki, a visit to Kyoto is recommended. Kajitsu isn't even close.

                                    -----
                                    Kyo Ya
                                    94 E 7th St, New York, NY 10009

                                    Brushstroke
                                    30 Hudson St, New York, NY 10013

                                  5. Anyone been to Jukai yet? My wife goes there for lunch weekly, she says its the best Japanese quality lunch deal and loves it, but cant really comment how dinner is.

                                    -----
                                    Jukai
                                    237 E 53rd St, New York, NY 10022

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: Ricky

                                      I also like Jukai's lunch menu, because it is really a good deal. But dinner is far better than lunch quality-wise. I have been there 4 to 5 times and each time I had a great experience. The chef acquired Japanese cooking skills under his father who runs a restaurant near Mt. Fuji, and he also built up his career (or studied? I'm not sure) in France. Thus, his dishes are Japanese in basic, with a little touch of French style.

                                      I particularly like his abalone steak in uni & daikon sauce. Fresh abalone is cooked rare, which still has the aroma of fresh abalone, while its fishy flavor is gone.

                                      His chirashi sushi is another surprise.

                                      70 to 80% of its customers are Japanese.

                                      Attached photos are from several visits to Jukai.

                                      -----
                                      Jukai
                                      237 E 53rd St, New York, NY 10022

                                       
                                       
                                       
                                       
                                       
                                       
                                       
                                       
                                      1. re: Ricky

                                        Have never heard of this place and googled around and found a pretty critical take on this restaurant by a Japanese blogger named Rio--> http://nyblogjapanese.salontoryo.com/... . She had the chef's course and said nothing was bad but nothing was great and she had a hard time thinking of one of the dishes she would in particular, return for. She does note that she reviewed it close to when the restaurant opened in April. At the bottom, there's a link to a second review of a shabu-shabu meal there. She complained about the homemade suaces and preferred the chef's course as a meal alternative.....The photos of the chirashi do look appetizing for sure.

                                        1. re: Silverjay

                                          Whenever I went there I tried chef's course and I recommend it of course! I never tried their shabu shabu.

                                          She complained that the shabu shabu sauce was too spicy as if it were a Korean sauce and said it might not be proper for good quality meat. And she further commented that a huge piece of kombu in shabu shabu overpowered the dish with its strong aroma of glutamicacid, which could only be neutralized by 'Korean sauce'. LOL

                                          She said she tried shabu shabu because she heard that the father of Jukai New York's owner Hiro san (His full name is Watanabe Hirofumi, 渡辺博文), runs a shabu shabu restaurant in Japan. However, from what I found on the net, it seems Hiro san's father is operating a restautant specializing in kaiseki, sushi, and shabu shabu: http://r.tabelog.com/yamanashi/A1903/...
                                          This could be another restaurant under the same name, but it certainly is in the same city as Hiro san said he is from.

                                          Uh well..

                                          Again, I think the overall quality of Japanese restaurants in New York, unlike many other superb cuisines available in the cty, leaves a lot to be desired. Even in Korea, I could enjoy Japanese foods looking like this: http://www.theworlds50best.com/momoya...

                                          So in NY standards, esp. at $100 for chef's course, I was quite satisfied with it,