10 Places to Try NYC’s Most Luxurious Meal: Kaiseki
The latest fine-dining trend to take over New York is already big in Japan: Kaiseki, most often associated with Kyoto, is an elaborate multi-course meal made up of seasonal ingredients where every dish is precise and meticulous, from the preparation of the food to the beautiful plating. Here are the best places to try kaiseki-style dining in NYC.
Over the course of a two-hour meal at this minimalist space in Soho, you’ll sample a handful of raw and cooked dishes prepared by chef Hirohisa Hayashi, whose cooking style has been influenced by his time spent in Japan. Guests can choose between a seven- or nine-course menu, which includes things like savory crab with mushrooms and mustard greens, battered and fried blowfish tempura, and amberjack tuna tataki with ponzu. The smaller tasting menu will set you back $120, which is fairly reasonable by kaiseki standards.
73 Thompson St.; hirohisa.nyc
Forget that you’re really in the Meatpacking District, because a meal at this closet-sized upscale eatery makes you feel as if you’ve traveled to an intimate chef’s counter in Kyoto. Chef Toru Okuda ran several Michelin-starred restaurants in Tokyo before setting up shop in Manhattan. Here, an eight-course kaiseki meal is no bargain ($245 per person), but if you’re willing to splurge, this is a meal you won’t soon forget. Think luxurious plates such as cold udon with snow crab, crispy abalone tempura and Miyazaki Wagyu beef.
458 W. 17th St.; okuda.nyc
This Williamsburg spot, which boasts some of the coziest date-night ambience anywhere, is an ideal entry to kaiseki for first timers. At $75 per person, a meal here isn’t cheap, but it’s far more affordable than most kaiseki meals. The eight-course tasting menu changes seasonally, but recent standouts include miso-glazed black cod, scallop tartare with scallions and shiso, and beef shabu-shabu. If you’re looking to dive into the world of sake, the $50 sake tasting here is a great place to start.
77 N. Sixth St., Brooklyn; zenkichi.com
You’ve probably passed by this clandestine Flatiron spot without realizing it. Odo’s kaiseki counter is through an unmarked door, tucked behind Hall, a café-turned-cocktail bar on West 20th Street. If you’re looking for a special-occasion meal, reserve one of the 14 seats for chef Hiroki Odo’s memorable nine-course dinner. The menu changes—you guessed it—seasonally, but you might try anything from barbecued freshwater eel over rice to duck breast with eggplant to corn and egg custard with Hokkaido uni.
17 W. 20th St.; odo.nyc
This new Japanese tasting counter in the East Village comes from the team behind SakaMai and Bar Moga. There’s only one seating per night and 14 seats in total, so you know you’re in for an intimate meal with exceptional hospitality. The 12-course kaiseki dinner ($195) might include dishes like fluke on crispy seaweed and Kaluga caviar over uni and egg soufflé. If you really want to treat yourself, tack on the drink pairing for $125.
228 E. Tenth St.; tsukimi.nyc
You can go to Shuko and order just the sushi omakase, but if you opt for the more elaborate kaiseki meal, it’ll easily stack up among your favorite meals in New York City (and don’t worry, it still includes 16 or so pieces of insanely fresh nigiri). Indulge in plate after plate of Wagyu beef and caviar on milk bread, raw scallops with romesco, and egg custard with mushrooms. You’ll leave with your wallet much lighter, your stomach much fuller and an itch to return as quickly as you can save up for another meal.
47 E. 12th St.; shukonyc.com
While Midtown East isn’t usually our go-to part of town for an exciting meal, Hakubai—located in the Kitano Hotel just a stone’s throw from Grand Central—is an exception. You can order dinner à la carte, but for the best experience, opt for one of the kaiseki menus and leave things in the hands of the chef. The ingredients change constantly, but most meals here will include vegetable tempura, soup, velvety sashimi, grilled meat and rice.
66 Park Ave.; kitano.com
8. Shoji at 69 Leonard St.
There’s something you’ll probably notice immediately when you sit down at this sushi and kaiseki counter in Tribeca: The sushi chef is not Japanese. In fact, he was born in upstate New York, but don’t let that fool you. Chef Derek Wilcox honed his cooking skills in Japan, where he worked in kaiseki restaurants in Kyoto and Tokyo before returning stateside, and now he makes some of the very best Japanese food around. He might serve you bites of bluefin tuna dipped in egg yolk or firefly squid with pea shoots before moving on to the sushi portion of the meal.
69 Leonard St.; 69leonardstreet.com
This restaurant focuses on Japanese Shojin cuisine, a type of vegetarian kaiseki that originated in Zen Buddhism. There are two menus to choose from, one for $100 or the longer $130 omakase. The soba noodles, made from scratch daily, are a major highlight. Japanese vegetables are at the forefront here, so expect dishes like grilled matsutake mushrooms, kabocha squash soup and truffle rice.
125 E. 39th St.; kajitsunyc.com
From the looks of it, you might not expect much from this small Japanese brasserie on Orchard Street. But if you want to experience kaiseki without spending a fortune, Kaikagetsu is a good bet. You’ll find several set menus to choose from, ranging from $50 to $220 a person, all of which include some type of Hida beef, the restaurant’s specialty, along with other Japanese-inspired plates like fried snow crab croquettes, grilled yakitori chicken and sashimi.
162 Orchard St.; kaikagetsunyc.com