Friend and I went here before the new Sushi Nakazawa - again, unfortunately still in office so limited time for a review - but wanted to get a few thoughts out.
Truthfully, the main issues with JUNI involve its "packaging". Being touted as vegetable-forward is deceiving at best, and to be candid, this new fine dining establishment doesn't reinvent the wheel entirely - but all that said, its still really freaking good.
Amuse started a bit strange when me and my buddy were asked to split three amuse bouche - with one on each of our plates and one in the middle to "fight" over
(Cold) Foie Gras with Frog Hollow Peach Tartare, Pistachio Dust and Housemade Brioche - 4/5 - delicious and perfectly done, although nothing we have never seen before. I'm a sucker for peach and the beautiful foie made it all the better
Haas avocado – peekytoe crab – californian caviar – coriander
A reiteration of flavor combinations I've seen before, the addition of perfectly cooked quail eggs on the edge of the plate, and the perfect execution of an albeit tired theme, still worked for me and was thoroughly enjoyable 4/5
summer squash – langoustine – naval orange reduction – marigold
Langoustine was great, and addition of squash blossoms (I believe?) inventive, but I found the reduction and squash combination a bit sweet.
anise hyssop – grimaud duck – chef’s garden candy beets – hibiscus jus
I will say, outright, that for traditional "fine dining", especially with appetizers, that despite delicious, seemed to stay within the lines a bit too much for my liking - the entrées were spectacular.
This is a great duck dish - super flavorful, and unfortunately, I don't remember quite enough about it, as however it good it was, it was overshadowed by the venison to follow
quinoa – veal tenderloin – burdock – mizuna – hon shimejis
I will go out and say it. After being served the duck, we had resolved that this was a talented kitchen (plating as beautiful as the best in NYC) that needed to just think a bit more outside the box. I'm okay with traditional, especially when it tastes this good, but it wouldn't hurt to show us something, within the premise of restaurant, that exemplifies a willingness to take a little risk - or do something a bit different.
This venison dish did just that. Pickled hon shimejis, black truffle emulsion, perfectly cooked veal tenderloin, I have to put it out there - this is one of the best entrees I've had in awhile (even though the veal could have used a tiny bit more salt for my liking) - The earthiness, and umami in this dish is crazy - and fitting as a perfect cap to the meal, I would come back just for this dish
I think, with a few more risks taken, this can join the ranks of the top echelon of the better, refined, fine dining in the city
Crab Salad with Avocado and Quail Eggs