Monday, May 9, 2011

Good Eats NYC: Rosanjin Kaiseki

Japanese is probably one of my favorite cuisines. So when the hubs surprised me with a reservation at Rosanjin for a kaiseki tasting menu, I was stoked. Kaiseki is a traditional multi-course Japanese dinner balancing taste, texture, and appearance. The chef focuses on fresh seasonal ingredients prepares them in ways to enhance their flavor and arranges the dishes like mini works of art.

Rosanjin is on a quiet street in our neighborhood and I've never noticed it before. It's a small restaurant of 7 tables in one room. It was intimate, quiet, but not deafeningly so and kind of felt like you were being served in the privacy of your own dining room.
Our kaiseki consisted of 9 courses. They also offered larger and smaller menus as well.

The first course, sakizuke, was like an amuse bouche of savory egg custard made with cod broth. The custard was very light and fluffy with a delicate but sweet fish flavor. Yum, off to a good start. It took a lot of energy to enjoy each bite and not chow down.

The second course, hassun, is typically a kind of sushi with other smaller bites. This was certainly one of my favorites including fish liver, octopus roe, mini sushi balls of tuna and yellowtail, octopus tentacles, and in the lower corner was a skewer of snap pea, shrimp, and a nugget of dried caviar.
A closer view of the karasumi (orange piece on left) which was my favorite. It's a Japanese delicacy of sundried salted mullet roe which seemed similar to bottarga.
The third course futamono is translated to be a "lidded dish" typically a soup. Here we have a gilded cod ball in a light broth.
The fourth course (are we on four?) was mukōzuke of seasonal sashimi, here served on a bed of crushed ice with homemade soy sauce (not shown) and real wasabi grated on shark fin. It was the creamiest wasabi I've ever tasted, not grainy and not overly spicy. The soy sauce was tasty and almost caramel-like. Yeah, I dipped my chopsticks in soy sauce a lot.
The fifth course was yakimono which was a broiled seasonal fish dish. Here ocean perch with a mini squid and slice of onion or shallot.
Our sixth course was shiizakana which is supposed to be a substantial dish such as a shabu shabu or hot pot like ours was. This shabu shabu ingredients included black pork which tasted like fatty prosciutto, fresh shitake and golden mushrooms, and tofu. The heated broth was a white miso from Kyoto. It was very sweet and thick. We cooked the ingredients in the hot broth. This was the hubs favorite dish. My favorite part of the dish was the yuzu hot pepper in the white dish. It was citrusy and spicy which was so fun. 
The seventh course is what I like to call "living room tempura" because it looks like a little living room diorama with a cast of tempura characters (prawn and some veggies). The waiter brought out the white box and then removed one side to reveal the tempura. Oh, there you are!
The last course before dessert was gohan - a rice dish made with seasonal ingredients. Ours was sea urchin rice. If you've ever had sea urchin before, you know it's a very pungent and strong taste of the sea. Mixed with the rice, it was more palatable (for me) in smaller pieces. Alongside our rice was a dish of pickled vegetables and tome-wan, a miso-based soup. The dish was prepared table-side by our waiter.
Finally, the dessert or mizumono. On the right is red bean creme brulee. On the left is matcha ice cream with a cheesecake bite and fruit. Served with dessert was a warm cup of earthy green tea.
The whole meal took about 3 hours. The waiter took the time to explain each individual ingredient on the plate (it's unfortunate I didn't take notes b/c I couldn't remember everything). It was a meal where you could see the chef take care with each detail. I would definitely go again though maybe for a special occasion. Rosanjin offers kaiseki menus ranging from $80 to $150 and additional for sake pairings.

Which dish do you think would be your favorite?

141 Duane Street
New York, NY 10013
(212) 346-7807


BigAppleNosh said...

Yum, everything looks SO good. I love sea urchin and would totally devour that!

Alice said...

It all looks so good, not sure I could pick just one!

Try Anything Once Terri said...

That looks FUN and tasty! I don't eat enough Japanese food besides sushi. I need to change that.

lavenderpug said...

oh i've always wanted to have a kaiseki meal--this looks wonderful! that living room tempura is adorable.