Restaurant Review: Kajitsu

414 East 9th Street
(between 1st Avenue and Avenue A)
East Village, Manhattan

Vegiboys Rating (3.5/4)

A restaurant’s ambition generally reaches no higher than to feed you well in a comfortable environment. Kajitsu shows what can be accomplished when a restaurant aspires to something entirely differ.

Kajitsu’s dining room is clean and comfortable, but very plain. The isometric angles of the sheetrocked walls are muted with a caramel brown paint. A Japanese-style screen at the front of the restaurant and a fan displayed in a niche at the back of the restaurant are about the height of any decoration.

However, this unremarkable environment serves as the blank canvas for the meal to come. The understated interior reflects Kajitsu’s confidence that the meal will carry your experience, for to eat at Kajitsu is to simultaneously serve as actor and spectator in an amazing culinary performance, produced by one of the city’s most talented kitchens.

The service is impeccable with a total attention to detail. Staff approach and depart the table in timed perfection, treating the arrival of each course as the opening of an act. Newly arrived foods are quietly described with exactly the right number of words, as the placement of chopsticks and cups on the table are reset to form perfectly produced presentations. Questions are answered with careful responses (or sometimes deferred if the answer is part of the script to come), and tables are bused with exactly the right amount of time to ponder a completed course prior to the arrival of the next.

We began with frozen sake margaritas to drink, which can only be described as outstanding. While neither of us has a strong affinity for sake, this unique treatment rendered the drinks refreshing, unique, and delicious.

The menu offers two choices: a shorter tasting menu, or a longer tasting menu. The kitchen exercises all other control over the show you receive. We chose the latter.

To clinically break our review of the meal into an analysis of each course would not do justice to the culinary theater we experienced after ordering. Instead, it might be better to throw out some flashes of thought and emotion:

A warm cup of mushroom cream washed every taste bud with rich and savory flavors.

Within a summer vegetable mix, we encountered every possible iteration of pleasant texture, from the crispness of tempura, to the crunch of purple endive, to the softness squash blossoms, to the velvet of lightly-seasoned tofu.

One dish was accompanied by a thumb tip-sized slice of finger lime (a very rare ingredient to appear on plates in the US). When squeezed, alien pods with the aroma and flavor of lime were released onto the course.

A hollowed cross section of spaghetti squash was filled with fresh, seasonal vegetables, cooked and seasoned with such care as to render it perfect.

A crusty rice was softened by a broth poured from cauldrons, two wonderful dishes in themselves blending to form an extraordinary hybrid.

Our meal closed with hand-crafted candies in shell shapes imported from Kyoto.

Not one dish disappointed. Not one dish failed to build upon the experience, bringing us an entirely new range of creatively combined flavors and ingredients.

The cost of the performance isn’t cheap: at $104 each, this is among the most expensive vegetarian dinners to be found in NYC. However, for those seeking a transcendent culinary experience, the cost is well worth the price of admission.

Food (4/4)

Atmosphere & Service

Value (3/4)

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *


Copyright © 2012

Green Web Hosting! This site hosted by DreamHost.