Kajitsu

by Michael Tucker
Print Email

kajitsu-300x200To celebrate my vegan’s birthday, I called Kajitsu on 9th street in the East Village and made reservations. Actually, I had serious reservations. Kajitsu is Shojin cuisine, which means we’d be eating vegetables and grains as they are prepared for Buddhist monks. Now, I have nothing against monks of any stripe, but they do have a reputation for austerity and that’s never been my go-to word when scouting out dinner.

But this was Jill’s birthday, not mine, so off we went through the biting cold to see what the monks were cooking up. We were greeted graciously and austerely and led to our table in the back. I must say it was wonderful not to hear loud voices competing over pulsing music. Kajutsi offers us only the faint tinkling of a waterfall somewhere off in the distance.

You can order the four-course menu or the eight-course menu and we opted for four. I added a sake pairing with each course, of course. Jill sniffed each sample of my sake because she doesn’t imbibe. But she loved the sniff of each subtle fragrance — each one different, each one perfectly suited to the food it was paired with.

Okay: the food. It is very, very good.

white-asparagus-tempura-300x200Exquisitely prepared, perfectly presented and rich with taste and texture. The first course was a plate of raw vegetables, each one individually cut and coddled like a precious gem. This was followed by a soup with mochi that was very satisfying. Mochi is a Japanese glutinous rice cake that I only knew of as an ice cream substitute, but here it was floating in my hot soup. I actually like the texture; it gives you a run for your money, mochi does.

The third course was some of the best tempura I’ve ever tasted. Kajutsi knows how to fry. The white asparagus tempura was the best thing on the plate — as good a bite as I’ve had in my mouth in a long time.

Jill was glowing with happiness. This was the perfect birthday gift for her — because it demonstrated that I value her tastes and desires rather than sniping at them and belittling them the way I usually do. That was my present to her this year. I was glowing, too, bundled up in my warm sake buzz. 

KAJUTSI: 414 E. 9th Street, New York, NY 10009

Michael Tucker is an actor and author whose recent novel is "After Annie."  He writes about his love of food on his blog Notes from a Culinary Wasteland.

You have no rights to post comments

 

restaurant news

The Eastside Grill
New England
by Lisa Dinsmore

eastside-grill-logo.jpgWhile back home in Massachusetts for my father's 70th birthday – which is so hard to believe – my husband, older sister Sue and I wanted to take him out one night for a first-class, adult meal...

Read more...
Grill 23 . . . going on 30
Boston
by Kitty Kaufman

grill23barBack in 1983, Grill 23 opened with what was, for then, a great deal of fanfare. I don't remember being there in the '80s; to be clear, not my eighties. I mention to my sister-in-law Ellen that I'm...

Read more...
Quincy: Fuji 1546
Boston
by Kitty Kaufman

FijjibarI'm not sure who declared Fuji 1546 has the longest bar in Quincy; a local editor, reporting two years ago, or the website. Either way, it is major. If you want a seat, you can have one. High...

Read more...
Eating Around Ireland
London - British Isles
by Laura Johnson

irelandl.jpgIt's no secret that my best friend, Missy and I love to travel. We met 25 years ago in the parking lot of a Winn Dixie grocery store in Valdosta, Georgia. I was in college there and she was...

Read more...