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Restaurants & Bars Manhattan


luckiestduck | | Oct 12, 2009 05:17 PM

I'm still marveling at the meal that I had at Kajitsu last week. This is a Japanese restaurant in the style of Shojin Cuisine. Shojin is described on their website as the following:

"Kajitsu serves shojin cuisine, an ancient Japanese cuisine developed in Zen Buddhist monasteries. Following the Buddhist principle of not taking life, Shojin cuisine does not use meat or fish. Meals are prepared from fresh, in season vegetables, legumes, wild herbs, seeds and grains, chosen at the moment in the season that best reflects their flavor. At Kajitsu we make our delicious and wholesome dishes from high quality ingredients prepared with traditional Japanese culinary techniques."

The food does indeed verge on a religious experience. The restaurant is quiet and serene, and the service is attentive and kind. There's a real sense of reverence for food and nature, and I was immediately drawn into the atmosphere of gratitude.

The restaurant alters it's menu monthly to reflect the season. The result is Japanese food as poetry at it's best. We opted for the eight course menu(only $70). This was possibly too much food for me, and, with the exception of their excellent soba noodles, my favorite dishes were those that are on the four course menu($50). Steamed tofu, maitake mushrooms and mushroom tempura in a clear broth was delicately flavored and warmly comforting. My favorite dish was the grilled eggplant with mushrooms prepared two ways and nama-fu over wild greens. The nama-fu is essentially wheat gluten, which was served in green cubes that had a chewy yet light consistency that was truly remarkable. It had a tangy sauce, which I think may have been miso based, that was a bright and lively contrast to the succulent eggplant and mushrooms, and the blander nama-fu. All of the dishes had incredible complexity of flavors and textures, while presenting it's star ingredients in their purest form. I wasn't drinking that night, but my friends tried several sakes and loved them all. Also, the glasses and flatware were all beautiful. This was an exceptional and elegant dining experience. I plan to go once a month to experience their ode to what the season has to offer!