New York

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.

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m.-wells-dinette-300x225That’s a loaded statement so let me describe the dish before we go any further. It’s a pot of clam chowder — with a light cream base — with succulent, dinner-sized hunks of pork, rosy-pink and tender as a clam, floating in the broth. You spear the pork onto your plate with a fork and then ladle up the soup from the bottom of the pot where the spiced and diced potatoes, clams and vegetables are lurking. Oh baby, oh baby.

This all took place at MoMA P.S.1 in Queens where we caught an early dinner at the M. Well’s Dinette, which serves as the museum’s commissary. It’s not easy to catch dinner there because the Dinette is not open for dinner, but I guess we qualified as a very late lunch.

Whatever.

The M. Well’s Dinette is the second incarnation of this concept from Hugue Dufour and Sarah Obraitis, who are partners in life and business. Hugue came to New York via Montreal’s Au Pied De Cochon and first opened M. Wells, where he dazzled and shocked New Yorkers with his fun, fat and filling take on the eating experience.

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