Rosanjin, NYC 2
December 22, 2007
Our Kaiseki meal at Rosanjin last March was memorable in several ways:
1. The quality of the ingredients, many of them unfamiliar to us, and their excellent preparation;
2. The artistic presentation and the lovely serving dishes;
3. The gracious welcome from Mr. Park and the time he spent explaining things to us;
4. The interesting blogpost I was able to do afterwards, my first really good one.
When Linda and I returned to Rosanjin on December 20, 2007, Mr. Park greeted us warmly and thanked us for the blog posting. You might enjoy this report more if you take a few minutes to read the previous one by clicking here,which will open our first Rosanjin post in a new window. We had already ordered the regular Kaiseki menu when we made our reservation. Rosanjin requires this now; the ingredients cannot be bought, assembled and prepared on short notice and so the chef must know early in the day how many meals he will be serving.
We looked at the sake menu with its ample descriptions and ordered a bottle of Gassan Yuki, a crisp dry sake. This was to be followed later in the meal with a bottle of Ugo no Tsuki, a richer, more fragrant sake.
The first course had three small dishes:
1. Abalone and scallop in sort of a light mayonnaise with pomegranate seeds.
2. Monkfish liver combined with tofu, cooked and served in a cube; this was superb. It has some resemblance to the sea urchin pannacotta at Picholine, one of the best starters in New York.
3. Mackeral with various little vegetables and a tasty little Japanese confection.
The second course was a large chunk of lobster meat and one of fried tofu with green beans and a wedge of lemon zest in a seaweed broth. The flavors were excellent, but I had trouble eating the dish as the lobster and tofu fell apart as I tried to take a bite while holding it with my chopsticks, but Linda managed well.
Third came a selection of sashimi on ice: flounder on a sphere of shredded daikon, slices of excellent tuna, firm white cod. Soy sauce, ponzu sauce and wasabe, all made in the house, were served with it. There was also a purple Japanese flower that one mixes with the soy sauce to give it a lovely aromatic effect. Alongside the bowl of sashimi was a martini glass of salmon roe which we were asked to enjoy by drinking it; this idea really worked for me. I plan to try it at home.
The fourth course was two pieces of sushi with a special toro which Mr. Park says he can only get a few times a year as 95% of it goes to Japan. Linda and I both thought it was the best sushi we have ever tasted. Ethereal. (You may wonder about the glob of wasabe on top in the photo; it is made in the house, is very mild and goes perfectly.)
The fifth, or tempura, course was a slice of lotus root and a portion of ground Kobe beef served with shiso leaves. Excellent. (Sorry about the washed out photo; I was in a hurry to eat the tempura hot.)
Sixth came a piece of broiled fish, which Mr. Park said was best translated from the Japanese as snapper; it was served with hot Gingko nuts in the shell and a green chili pepper with a mild heat that didn’t linger in the mouth.
The seventh course was cod in a broth with a bundle of greens, tofu skin and a big piece of cooked daikon..
1. Two pieces of salmon sushi cooked wrapped in persimmon leaf, which added a nice sort of leafy flavor. Rosanjin’s sushi rice has a finer texture than what we are used to.
2. Unagi, or smoked eel, sushi.
3. Little chopped Japanese pickles.
4. Miso soup in a lovely black lacquer covered cup. .
The ninth course was dessert: a chocolaty cake, ice cream made with a lot of fresh vanilla, some berries and a glass of fruit juice alongside. This was a big improvement over our dessert here last March and seemed to have a somewhat Japanese effect, although we were told before that only fruit is really correct for dessert.
Green tea followed.
We had an excellent time. The amazement factor which we experienced on our first visit was missing, of course, but all of the aesthetic and ambience factors were still there. However, there was one surprise to me: there were only seven diners that evening and we were the only ones not of Japanese origin. In March the restaurant had only been open for three months, but now it has enjoyed a year of good reviews, which probably would have been higher without the dessert weakness. Mr. Park told us that he had more American than Japanese customers, but it seemed to me that the cuisine made fewer concessions to American taste this time. There was no meat course, just a bit of Kobe beef in the tempura. The very high price, the need to reserve and the far downtown location may put off some people, but this is New York and those are not real barriers here. Fortunately Rosanjin has a big lunch business, including a lot of catering for Wall Street, which can bolster its finances. We’ll be back and we urge you to go too.