Mihoko’s 21 Grams, NYC
October 8, 2013
Mihoko’s 21 Grams, opened last year, is named after the purported weight of a human soul. Linda and I went for dinner on July 11, 2013.
The restaurant’s website says:
“Mihoko’s 21 Grams is Mihoko Kiyokawa’s introduction to American society and her arrival in the hospitality industry. 21 Grams is the first restaurant conceptualized and designed by Mihoko, a classically trained ballerina, philanthropist and collector. The restaurant reintegrates Franco-Japonaise cuisine into modern dining, a style first popularized in the 19th century as Japan and Europe saw the rise of cosmopolitanism that allowed all classes to enjoy the flourishing food culture. The innovative menu is derived from the essence of contemporary French fare and the precision of Japanese cuisine.”
Googling Mihoko Kiyokawa in English doesn’t produce anything but references to this restaurant; so Mihoko’s background is somewhat vague to me.
The décor is quite grandiose. The first photo below is the view of the bar from our table. The second is of the back section of the dining room as we left. We were the only diners the evening we were there.
We started with glasses of Zardetto Prosecco while we looked at the menu and tried to get oriented.
A bowl of spicy rice crackers was served.
The amuse gueule was a warm chicken velouté served in an eggshell to be drunk through a straw.
It had a good, rich chicken flavor with a tinge of lemon grass.
The hors d’oeuvres were: peas and mint in cream; a hot potato truffle croquette; finely diced cucumber, tomato and radish under a foam.
The menu looked complicated, but became quite easy to understand. For $85 one could choose from eight dishes in each of four courses. After we made our course selections, the genial sommelier came over. The wine list had an extensive offering of French and American wines. When I asked about the sakes in the reasonable price range, he brought us three to taste. We chose two, which were offered in half bottles. The first, the house sake, was more elegant with a surprising light taste of fennel. The second was more assertive with a typical sake flavor.
21 grams, Abekan Shuzo – Hyogo
Yamada Nishiki Rice polished down to 40%
Nanbu Bijin Shuzo-Iwate
Ginginga rice polished down to 50%
Linda’s first course was
She said that the salmon was melt-in-your-mouth tender and flavorful. The toro, yellowtail, hamachi and campachi tuna were good.
My starter was
Alaskan King Crab Millefeuille
citrus – espelette pepper – sweet potato – green apple
The crisp layers were made from fried brick. The crab was nicely garnished to bring out its flavor. On the right was a rice cracker shaped and flavored like a small crab. Cute and good. The ring of spicy red pepper was pretty and well conceived to be optional.
Linda’s “sushi” course was
Bbq eel Foie Gras Roll
She said that the combination of eel and foie gras was very good and the effect of including them in a sushi roll was luscious.
My sushi course was
Shrimp Uni Avocado Ceviche Roll
avocado – cilantro
The core was described as shrimp, but I think it was lobster. This was really luscious and good. The sea urchin on top was lovely excess. Bowls of white soy sauce and salt were offered for dipping.
Linda’s main course was
uni – yuzu kosho – mustard greens
She said that the beignet crust was unusual to her, used to beignets in the south of France, but it was light and its crustiness combined well with the turbot and sea urchin interior. The mustard greens added a nice, contrasting, slightly bitter effect. Very good.
daikon – fresh herb – scallop mousse
Flaked lobster meat in a scallop mousse had been encased in a shell of softened Japanese radish. The green leaves created a nice visual effect, but did nothing to reduce the lovely, decadent richness of this dish.
The pre-dessert was a granite of sudaichi, an elegant small Japanese citrus.
Refreshing and good.
Linda’s dessert was
soy milk ice cream – raspberry syrup
She said that it was a good light dessert with a small amount of peach melba and slices of fresh and dried peaches.
Coconut Ginger Pannacotta
tropical fruit – mango sorbet
This dessert was as delicious as it was pretty. The tropical flavors were nicely captured.
The mignardises were: a cheesecake lollipop, a chocolate yuzu truffle and fruit jellies.
A good finish.
Our meal was excellent from start to finish. The dishes were imaginative and well conceived within the Franco-Japanese parameters. The service was always efficient and friendly without the pomposity one might have expected in this ambience. Mihoko’s 21 Grams remains a mystery to me. Who is Mihoko? Why is the restaurant so little known when it has been open for over a year serving excellent cuisine at a reasonable price?
The restaurant’s website:
The evening of August 22, 2014, Linda, and I went back to Mihoko’s 21 Grams with Russell. We had the Sashimi & Nigiri menu and two bottles (37.5) of the house sake.
The nigiri sushi was (clockwise from the upper left):
an avocado cylinder with caviar topping avocado mousse on top of rice;
smoked salmon with salmon roe;
fluke; shrimp with shrimpy rice;
wagyu with wasabi.
Our meal was very nice, an elaboration on traditional Japanese concepts with very good ingredients. There were about six other tables of diners.