Change at Kabuto. Gen-san is gone.
Went to Kabuto last night after it had been closed for ~2weeks for "renovation." When making our reservation, we were told Gen-san was taking some time off. Last night we discovered he is gone for good. The samurai behind the counter has even disappeared! I must say I felt very sad during the dinner. I really liked Gen-san, even if the rice was at times too warm and the fish progression always without rhyme or reason.
His number 2 (whose name escapes at the moment) was in charge with the general manager of the restaurant group (Monta, Goyemon, sushi mon) overseeing, literally, the entire bar peering over the chefs' shoulders. Fish was good, not great, but the cutting and saucing were widely variable. Some cuts, specifically bluefin group, were noticeably different sizes. Also, the chef saucing the nigiri was very heavy-handed - to the point of drowning out snappers, etc. A plus, the rice temp was consistently ok. It will be interesting to see how Kabuto holds up without Gen-san's quality control and dedication.
In all honesty, I'm not that excited to return any time soon. I will miss Gen-san and wish him luck. If anyone has further info, please share.
Was undecided between Kabuto and Raku and decided to go with Kabuto without realizing this... Now torn between canceling my reservations (to go to Raku) or staying on course? Help, anyone?
Ate there about a month ago and enjoyed another phenomenal meal. Gen was on his game. But this news is stunning, disappointing and I'm just not sure what it means.
As for rice, fish progression, I've only had a few experiences at Kabuto and did not feel that way at all, and particularly with respect to the rice. Every bit as good as Michelin starred spot I ate at in Tokyo . . . and better than others.
But I'm sure something will be said eventually.
snow78, Raku is a great restaurant and very different from Kabuto. Raku does a terrific job with sashimi even though it is usually known for its robata-grilled items. Given this news, if you can only visit one of the two, I'd go to Raku. If you can visit Kabuto, you may still want to go - there's a $40 omakase that won't set you back so much. But this will undoubtedly have a huge impact as Gen was the one who ordered the fish, preserved the fish, decided when it was ready to serve and maintained every aspect of the operation.
I'll be curious to read your thoughts. Gen was a very hands-on trainer and I believe Kabuto has a lot of talent among the assistants. I'll bet they've learned a lot about preparation and the like. But ordering, preserving, selecting the soy sauces, etc . . . those are the things Gen did and I'm not sure he trained anyone in those aspects. He was responsible for selecting and judging the rice available from Japan, and spent considerable time settling upon a nori provider. Gen's father was a master sushi chef in Tokyo and obviously a lot of his father's knowledge was passed on. Without Gen or someone with those kinds of skills, Kabuto may be a good sushi restaurant but not one of the top in the US, as I believe it was.
I am not a connoisseur of good sushi (having had limited good sushi experience), but my dinner at Kabuto over Memorial Day weekend was pleasant.
My husband went for the nigiri course and I went for the Yoroi course. The tuna appetizer was amazing, and coated with the right amount and high quality soy sauce. The memorable items in the sashimi was the surfer clam and oyster. I could have passed on the grill, as it wasn't particularly memorable.
As for the sushi, I think they finally heard the reviewers and ensured that the rice was of proper temperature (just slightly warm and good texture to complement the fish). I didn't quite like what they did to the otoro and kamashita mince over rice (as I felt that it was a waste of good fish) but when I ordered a piece of kamashita nigiri, it was literally melt in the mouth. The least favorite part of the sushi course was the ikura as I felt that it was heavily salted. Otherwise, if given half a chance, I would go back again.
The dessert at Kabuto (green tea tiramisu) was excellent as well and gave the desserts in Sweets Raku a run for their money.
Overall, appropriate price for something good. I would love to visit Gen-san's new place when it opens but I won't turn Kabuto down too.
P/S: The menu in Kabuto still talks about Gen-san.