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Aug 12, 2013 08:20 AM


My lovely wife, who is not a vegetarian, wanted to try Kajitsu's vegan tasting menu for her birthday. I would be a fool to say no!!! Divorces are so costly!!
They offer a 4 course $45 and an 8 course $85 tasting menu along with a Sake pairing for $45.
They also offered a special $100 tasting menu but we both were required to order it. We opted for the eight course. We also ordered a special eggplant and truffle side dish $40. For some reason I don't appreciate the subtlety of truffles but she loved it.
Being a carnivore I wondered how a vegan meal could cost so much but I was willing to go with the experience with an open mind.
The dining room is sparce/simple in the Zen Buddhist style. The only color in the room is a painted Japanese fan on display. Simple but lovely wooden tables.
The service was extraordinary and friendly.
We shared a bottle of Pellegrino, $6, with the meal.
The birthday girl loved each and every dish and commented that the portions were perfect, which they were. There was something I liked in each portion but some tasteless offerings too. I particularly enjoyed the onion soup (cooked for 4 days), vegetable lasagna and the Portobello tempura sushi.
I love Iced tea and they had two choices, barley and green tea. I tried both, very tasty. She had the sake pairing. It was interesting to compare all of the different styles of sake. All pleasant and tasty. They seemed to get stronger as the meal progressed.
All in all a positive and memorable meal. It's a "one and done" for me but she may try it again. She'd get the 4 course next time as she thought the 8 course was too much food.
Two minor "bumps in the road." For such a serene setting the A/C was making a racket. There is no background music to mask the whining of the A/C.
The server presented the check, almost $300 before tip, and took my credit card. She came back a few minutes later and sheepishly apologized because they forgot to charge for the $6 Pellegrino. Being in the retail business it seemed seriously petty to me.

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  1. Thanks for the report. I had recently made a reservation at Kajitsu for my upcoming trip (less than a month now) and was looking for an up-to-date review.

    I've wanted to check out Kajitsu for some time now but it just hadn't worked out so far. It's too bad I missed the previous chef, who was supposed to be amazing, but I've read that the new chef is quite good too. I'm glad to hear that you had a generally good experience (except for the water).

    I would like to know, is your wife a dainty eater? I'm trying to decide if 4 courses is enough food for us. I would like to do the 8 course but I'm not sure what my companion will want. I don't want to leave hungry.

    2 Replies
    1. re: chefhound

      Trophy wife is not a dainty eater but the 8 course even left me needing a nice walk. Take a look at the online menu and decide.
      Perhaps one 4 course and one 8 course. The portions are not big but they are large enough for two to "taste."

      1. re: chefhound

        i would do the 8 course. my wife has never failed to finish everything served to her at Kajitsu and she's not typically a big eater. there's usually a filler course of rice or noodle served towards the end of the meal that could be left partially uneaten if too full.

      2. I hate when restaurants are jerks about things like the Pellegrino. I've had that have happened to me. Sometimes I wonder if they leave something off to get a bigger tip, but the other night I noticed i wasn't charged for a cocktail and mentioned it to the waitress and she changed the bill and charged me for it. Another time a waiter gave me a glass of wine in error and he fought with me , and told me I ordered it. He wouldn't take it off the bill, so I took it off his tip and never returned.

        1 Reply
        1. re: foodwhisperer

          I have been in retail for 40 years. If I noted a similar error I would have considered the client and the amount of the total bill and said: "we forgot to charge you for the Pelligrino, it's on the house!"

        2. Well it sounds like you did well to make her happy! Thanks for the report, it sounds like a great meal aside from the petty water issue

          1 Reply
          1. Maybe a lot of you don't agree with me but I don't understand why you felt that they were being petty by asking to change the bill amount given that there was a mistake.

            4 Replies
            1. re: Monica

              As a retailer I devote a huge amount of energy and $$$ to keep current clients satisfied and bringing in new clients.
              The best advertising can not be bought. It's called "word of mouth."
              The profit on the Pellegrino was probably $4. The bill was close to $300. The amount of "good will" generated by saying to the client: "we made an error but the Pellegrino is on the house" would have far outweighed the $4 and returned much in client referrals.
              There is a saying we use: "a happy client will tell 10 people but an unhappy client will tell 50"
              Why take that chance for $4? I.M.H.O. "petty."
              It was not a deal breaker for me.

              1. re: Motosport

                I'd recommend a restaurant based on their food..not based on the free water i received.

                1. re: Monica

                  That's why we love Olive Garden so much!!
                  Free breadsticks!!

              2. re: Monica

                It's petty because it makes the customer remember something negative instead of something positive about the restaurant, and for so little cost.

              3. Just got back from my trip to NY and I just wanted to report that my dinner at Kajitsu was wonderful. We didn't notice any A/C sounds and had very good service.

                Initally, I had ordered the Hana, 6 courses plus dessert and matcha/candies and my friend had ordered the Kaze, 4 courses. After sampling the first dish, she decided she wanted more, so she asked to switch to the Hana. They accomodated the change with no problem.

                The food was beautifully presented and so delicious. We didn't think about meat at all. The dessert was a bit strange: mochi with sweetened edamame paste. It wasn't bad but wasn't a satisfying dessert. I can't single out any specific dish for praise. They were all wonderful. The thin crispy eggplant was a revelation. The eggplant was so crispy and not soft like eggplant usually is. The grilled mochi was such a wonderful texture - chewy and crispy at the same time. Every dish was a wonderful reminder that a vegetarian meal can be as complete and satisfying as a non-vegetarian meal.

                8 Replies
                1. re: chefhound

                  I've never eaten at Kajitsu, but the restaurant is run by Atsushi Nakahigashi. Atsushi's father runs one of Japan's most celebrated restaurants, Sojiki Nakahigashi in Kyoto, which is one of those life-changing experiences.

                  1. re: Uncle Yabai

                    The original Kajitsu in EV i loved. I haven't been to the new location But I'm glad to read the good review by chefhound

                    1. re: foodwhisperer

                      I'd like to hear from regulars who have been eating there in the last few months if the new chef has improved at all before going to the new location.

                      1. re: foodwhisperer

                        i was at the new location for the first time last night. i had a strong attachment to the EV location and wasn't happy to hear that Masato Nishihara was leaving and that the restaurant would be relocating to midtown.

                        while the decor is similar and the dishes were interesting and enjoyable, i feel like a lot was lost in the move. the space doesn't have that secluded, intimate feel and the dishes lacked the purpose that was so evident in previous visits.

                        1. re: coasts

                          that's an interesting observation. your comment about the feel resonates with me, as I've had that experience with favorite places moving/expanding. curious, however, what you mean about purpose of food: did you feel the menu was dumbed-down, or less adventurous?

                          also, if it's possible for you -- or anyone else -- could you draw any comparison to kyo ya, one of my favorite dining experiences in recent years? I realize that kyo ya incorporates fish, and kajitsu is strictly vegan, merely referring to the vibe, pacing, amount of food, service, etc.

                          1. re: debinqueens

                            my first time ever at Kajitsu was in a fairly warm February several years ago. the starting course was a mound of parsnip puree served over a vegetable crisp with various seeds below it. on top of the parsnip puree was a single green bean. it was meant to replicate the spring mostly trapped below the ice of winter but just starting to bud.

                            it was a dish i'll never forget. every ingredient was chosen either to elevate the flavor or the story. nothing was wasted in excess and nothing was absent. it was balanced and, in that one plate, quickly defined what Kajitsu was about. it was Zen.

                            in contrast, what should have been my favorite dish last night - sizzling mushrooms in ponzu - was totally out of balance and became almost unenjoyable. the ponzu was overpowering and masked the natural earthiness of the mushrooms. i felt the same about other dishes, wondering what purpose an ingredient may have served where previously it was so clear.

                      2. re: Uncle Yabai

                        Atsushi Nakaigashi is a very nice guy. And he seems to have a good feel for kaiseki cooking. I had the Chef's special seasonal dinner, $185 with sake pairing. ( you seem to get substantially more sake if you buy a bottle instead of pairing.) . This8 course meal is quite filling, and as Coasts said, the rice or noodle dish at the end you don't have to finish. Actually they gave us a "to-go" bag with our black truffle rice. The soba dish was out of this world and served cold. The first course was based around tomato, which included tomato mouses, a pretty and very delicious dish. I'm having computer problem so can't post any pics. The meal in general was very good. The vibe eating at the counter was better than at the original location. I strongly recommend the counter over a table. The interaction and observing the chef prepare each dish is an important part of the experience. The meal was pretty much traditional , as compared to what you would get in a restaurant of this type in Kyoto. Although, I liked the food a lot, it wasn't as good as what I've eaten in Kyoto. As far as the presentation, many of the dishes looked nice, but some could have been somewhat more artistic or creative or prettier,,, maybe a couple of flowers.
                        In any case, I strongly recommend Kajitsu. They opened a restaurant downstairs that does ala carte and serves fish. They also have a tea shop in this location on 39th Street.

                        1. re: foodwhisperer

                          Atsushi Nakaigashi not there anymore he left end of March. From what I have heard the new guy is more like Nishihara, more willing to work with local seasonal ingredients.