Friday, October 8, 2010

New York City Day 6 Part 2

After the High Line, we went back to the hotel to rest up before the highly anticipated Shuen dinner at Aburiya Kinnosuke.  If you plan on having the Shuen course, you must make reservations days in advance so that the chef can have enough time to plan and prepare for the multi-course dinner.  The Shuen dinner is $60 per person, which is a steal considering the super high quality ingredients, the number of courses, and the expensive location.  This makes me sad how Uchi's omakase dinner is way overpriced when compared to this equally amazing New York Japanese restaurant.  To be fair, there is a major difference in that Aburiya Kinnosuke specializes in traditional Tokyo bar food, which features food from the robata grill, while Uchi is more high-end Japanese fusion. 

Aburiya Kinnosuke

Our table was in an enclosed booth with curtains that shut us off from the rest of the restaurant save for the chatters of Japanese businessmen from the booth across from ours.  I loved the privacy because it made me concentrate on the gorgeous food before me.

I ordered a Shochu with fresh kiwi and club soda.  The distilled version of sake in cocktail form was very refreshing.

Shochu with Kiwi and Club Soda

Course 1: Appetizer Trio
The first course consisted of aloe with ponzu sauce, fried lily root with salted seaweed, and baby micro carrots and daikon radishes with miso.  This first course introduced us to Aburiya Kinnosuke's emphasis on the natural flavors of a few uncluttered ingredients.  Sometimes, in an effort to make innovative and fanciful dishes, we take for granted the taste of ingredients in its natural state.  

Fried Lily Root with salted seaweed, Aloe with ponzu sauce, and Baby Micro Carrots and Daikon Radishes with miso

Fried Lily Root with salted seaweed

Aloe with ponzu sauce

Baby Micro Carrots and Daikon Radishes with miso

Course 2: Chef's Selection of Sashimi
My mom has eaten her share of Japanese food around the world, and she said that the sashimi that night was the freshest and highest quality sashimi she had outside of Japan. I've never been much of a sashimi fan, but the quality of the fish was exquisite.  I especially liked dipping the sashimi in the Japanese fish sauce soy sauce.

3 Kinds of Soy Sauce and Sashimi Condiments: seaweed pearls, wasabi, microgreens, and salted seaweed

Sashimi and 3 Kinds of Soy Sauce and Sashimi Condiments: seaweed pearls, wasabi, microgreens, and salted seaweed

Red Snapper Sashimi


Sea Bass Sashimi

Course 3: Scottish Salmon Covered and Baked in Salt
This was the first time I had fish baked in salt, and it really is amazing.  It's simple yet the result is a piece of moist, gently seasoned, and light and almost fluffy salmon instead of a block of heavy and dry solid that usually happens when you bake salmon.

Baked Scottish Salmon

Baked Scottish Salmon

Course 4: Simmered Sea Eel with Daikon Radish
This unassuming eel was my favorite dish of the evening.  It was naturally sweet (not drenched in thick unagi sauce or teriyaki sauce).  The eel melted in my mouth, and I was transported to heaven.  Again, simple, yet beautifully prepared dish.

Simmered Sea Eel

Course 5: Miso Washu Beef Grilled on Hoba Leaf
The previous courses were light and understated, the grilled miso washu was unabashedly loaded with flavor. The hoba leaf gave the beef an earthy tone, the generous coating of miso sealed in the beef's fat and juices, and the raw green onions brightened each bite of the smoky meat.

Course 6 (add-on): Grilled Pork Cheek
I insisted on adding the grilled pork cheek to our Shuen dinner because I wasn't sure if we would have time to come back the next day (our last day in NYC), and I really had to try it!  The pork cheek was texturally pleasing; it gave a nice snap with each bite.

Grilled Pork Cheek

Course 7: "Tidbits for Drinking" Jellyfish and Cucumber Salad with Seaweed Noodles
The jellyfish served as the "intermission" palate cleanser.

Course 8: Rice with Chicken and Burdock Root Rice Cooked in Earthenware and Miso Soup
Next came a hearty home-style rice and soup pairing.  The portion of the rice was huge.  The leftover rice became an awesome breakfast the following morning.  The rice and chicken were sweet and fragrant.  This would be a perfect winter dish to make back home.  

Miso Soup

Rice with Chicken and Burdock Root Cooked in Earthenware

Rice with Chicken and Burdock Root Cooked in Earthenware

Bowl of Chicken and Burdock Root Rice with Trio of Rice Condiments: Pickled Cucumbers, Parsley, and Fried Seaweed

Course 9: Tea and Tofu Strawberry Cheesecake
We didn't return to Aburiya Kinnosuke our last day, something both mom and I regret.  I really wanted to try their homemade tofu and was too full to add it to the Shuen dinner.  I was glad to at least have tried their tofu in the tofu strawberry cheesecake.  It really isn't gross!  I actually prefer this to the heavy cream cheese cheesecake.  It's just as smooth and creamy, but better for me!

Because the Shuen dinner is different each day, the restaurant doesn't have a printed menu of the courses.  Kanae, our wonderful waitress wrote out all the courses in Japanese and in English. 

Thank you, Kanae!

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