i just had one of the most incredible dining experiences at sugiyama tonight. i went with my mom, my sister, and my sister's fiance and we all ordered the 8 course kaiseki set.
the seasonal appetizer to start was homemade tofu with monkfish liver. soft, creamy, rich with the flavor of the liver, but not overpowering. it was truly a taste of what was to come. delicious!
the next course was the sashimi course. sugiyama is by no means a raw fish japanese place. but, having been at yasuda just a few days ago, it compares with the city's top tier sushi places for sure. i was quite surprised, actually. the sashimi was RIDICULOUS! it was served on a plate in a tray of ice, beautifully presented. there were two pieces of amberjack from japan that were so fresh, melt-in-your-mouth, yet rich in the mouth. two pieces of tuna that also just melted in my mouth. the uni was crazy good and full of flavor and not just texturally delicious as most uni is. there was a kumamoto oyster that was great, though i have to say i enjoyed the peace passage oyster at yasuda more. the ika was great as were the two pieces of red snapper, fresh as could be. the highlight was definitely the raw sweet shrimp. words cannot describe this..... not too sweet, and the texture was orgasmic. the wasabi was SO fresh and made such a difference. and the ginger was homemade and beat even the ginger at yasuda. it was SO flavorful and so fresh. my sister and i both said that we could take a bowl of rice and eat it with sugiyama's ginger and it would be satisfying.
course three was the seasonal fish and vegetables. there was a small baby crab the size of my thumb - crunchy, full of flavor. i had the flash-fried version of these as a special appetizer at yasuda and it was better there. but then there was a small shrimp, a small fried shrimp (delicious!), two edamame, baby japanese sardines, boiled sweet giant black beans (DELICIOUS, PERFECTLY cooked), wine jelly with a small apricot-like japanese fruit inside (very interesting, very delicious), tuna cake, and another fish cake. beautifully presented, very delicious.
course four was a clear soup that was so refreshing and perfect for the winter. it had tofu skin and a lobster filled fish cake. it was just wonderfully balanced.
course five was a choice of either steak or seafood with vegetables to cook on a very hot stone that they brought to the table. i got the seafood and it was squid, shrimp, a fish (i forget which), shiitakes, long green pepper.
course six was oshitashi with one piece of a vegetable roll (burdock, pickled carrots, etc. - DELICIOUS! we all thought this would be our least favorite, but it was my mom and sister's favorite of all of the oshitashi), red snapper sushi with pickled carrot (this was my and ryan's favorite - fresh, perfectly textured red snapper with the added textural contrast of the crunch of the pickled carrots and also the contrast of the acidity of the pickle flavor with the smooth taste of the snapper flesh, YUM), crab with yuzu jelly (delicious!), fried fish with vegetable pickles on top (as my sis said, only they could make something fried taste so refreshing!).
course seven was a small piece of japanese sweet potato (PERFECTLY cooked, creamy, delicate seasoning) and a tofu fish cake - again, delicious....
course eight was miso soup with enoki mushrooms, small button mushrooms (a japanese variety i don't know the name of, but so good....), seaweed, spinach, etc. and sticky rice with small bits of fish and vegetables along with japanese pickles.
the dessert was a grapefruit wine jelly with a drizzle of fresh cream on top that was the perfect ending to an amazing meal. the dessert was SO refreshing, yet the hint of cream on top provided that nice richness that gave enough of a sense of indulgence for dessert, but didn't punch you in the gut after such a large meal. it was one of the best desserts i've had in a while.
on top of that, chef nao and his wife, kaori, were delightful and so warm. it was like stepping into japan for a few hours. when we left, we were a bit disoriented to find ourselves on the streets of new york rather than in japan. this place is a GEM and truly one of the best restaurants in new york. if you haven't been, GO GO GO GO GO!!!
i just had to share with my fellow chowhounders. if you go, please post here and let me know how you liked it!!
251 W 55th St, New York, NY 10019