414 E 9th St, New York, NY | Directions 1000940.727861 -73.984079
Neighborhoods: East Village, Downtown
It takes a certain temperament to come to Kajitsu, an ineffably fastidious Japanese vegetarian zen cookery. Don't expect to get bowled over by flavor, or to walk out especially full, but do expect a supremely subtle, umami-filled experience. This is a restaurant for very civilized people, or the elderly. I want to be able to appreciate because I can see how accomplished it is, but it's not my thing.
Not good if you're a meat-lover – My friends and I went with the 8 course Hana menu and two of us did the 5 sake pairing with our meal. The food was good for an all-vegetable menu though some dishes were bland. It's definitely not a place for you if you really love meat. The three of us were the loudest in the dining room, everyone else ate in hushed, somewhat, reverent silence. Each dish was brought out with quiet efficiency and introduced to us by the waitress. I guess so we know what we were eating. A bit steep in price but you can tell a lot of work went into the preparation.
Vegetarian Japanese haute cuisine in the East Village. – A seasonal four- or eight-course tasting menu based around the principles of shojin--vegetarian Japanese cooking based in Zen Buddhism--isn’t for everybody, but, then again, neither are Buffalo wings and pork belly. Shojin stresses balance and complimentary flavors, often including clear broths, tempura, rice, pickles and grilled vegetables, all served in a soothing dining room painted in gentle colors and adorned with minimal decoration. Kajitsu means “fine day” or “day for celebration” in Japanese; the choice of name emphasizes the care that’s taken with both the food and the vessels (the ceramic bowls, plates, and trays are patched rather than trashed when they crack). Suffice it to say, this isn’t your ordinary sushi or ramen joint.
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