The Kaiseki dinner is food’s answer to the japanese tea ceremony: elegant, rarefied and focused on every detail. Scott took me to just such a dinner for my birthday this year.
He chose Kai Restaurant above Ito En Tea store on Madison ave. The setting was perfect. Our table for two was next to a floor to ceiling window looking down on the river-like flow of taxis up Madison. Across the street, Dolce & Gabbana had a huge flatscreen looping video of their latest fashion show. It really was beautiful – in a very New York kind of way.
The sake I ordered for us was the Nanbu Bijin Nama Junmai. The sake was presented in a very unique way. After the carafe was ordered, the waiter came over with a large shallow bowl filled with ice on which was displayed a selection of hand blown glass Ochoko sake cups of all different shapes and colors. We were to pick the chilled cup of our liking for our sake. very elegant and it really added a sense of ceremony to the evening. The carafe arrived on ice and was also beautifully presented.
This Nama from Iwate Prefecture was supple, and spoke to me of soft fresh fruit. Nama all the way without being brash or cheeky. The overall sake selection at Kai did not leave me disappointed in the least. Besides the special Nama I went for, they had a well curated list of fantastic sakes that includes: Nishi no Seki Junmai, Dassai Ginjo Nigori, Tsukinokatsura Yanagi, Kokuryu, Yuki no Bosha Daiginjo, as well as Koshi no Kambai Chotokusen.
The Kaiseki Dinner itself was 7+ courses of delicate and fetchingly beautiful food ending with one overstuffed birthday boy and a dessert platter to die for. They even wrote out “Happy Birthday” in chocolate. Well, it is true that I am another year older and definitely grayer, but a magical night of New York-tinted Kaiseki and nama sake certainly helped soften the blow. I’ll drink to that!