With a plethora of noteworthy Japanese restaurants operating throughout Manhattan, it sometimes takes an experience so special, that you actually sit up and pay attention as a diner. This was the case at a recent dinner I had at David Bouley’s Brushstroke in TriBeCa.
Sitting in a perfectly lit room at a counter made from the trees on Mr. Bouley’s farm in Connecticut, I was in a prime position to gaze out over the pristine kitchen. The decor, in true Japanese style, is minimal and heavy in white woods and stone. The main dining room is separated from a smaller, more intimate room serving strictly sushi. Each side holds a Michelin star.
Soon after sitting, my sommelier introduced himself and recommended a wine pairing for the tasting menu that was about to begin. I agreed enthusiastically. Each of the eight courses were paired perfectly with specialty and rare sakes from various regions of Japan. And, interestingly, a very unique Austrian vineyard made an appearance toward the end of the meal.
Course after course of well-executed food was presented – all cooked by talented chef, Isao Yamada. In true Bouley style, the presentation was just as yummy as the food itself. The first course, which consisted of a Scottish langoustine with sea scallop, late winter vegetables and tofu “snow”, was delivered under a giant leaf that had been frozen in time by means of preservation. And, as if I had been wandering through a forest outside of Kyoto and found it myself under a giant tree, the jewel of an amuse-bouche was served.
After came dishes like: golden crab chawanmushi with truffles, sashimi of fatty tuna and fluke, Canadian Fuji-pork belly confit with sweet apple vinegar and dungeness crab with Maine lobster and bamboo shoots over do-nabe pot. The flavors married nicely and the meal flowed like butter.
The staff are very attentive at Brushstroke. There are no less than three people ensuring your happiness at all times – but they don’t overwhelm you either. Each course was explained when served, too, making education a key part of this meal. As dessert was brought over, a delightful soy panna cotta, I actually didn’t want the meal to end. But, all good things do at some point. I guess I was lucky to end it on such a high and sweet note.