The chef at this 9-table spot gives nearly as much thought to the presentation of his kaiseki dishes as to the food itself. Named for a famous Japanese potter, the restaurant offers up its ever-changing cuisine in intricately carved ceramic vessels, plates, and chalices. Even the chopsticks are eye catching, hand-carved from red cedar in Kyoto.
Don't shy away from slurping your soup at Ganso––the staff encourages it, as both cools the noodles and aerates the broth, sending the savory aromas upwards. The signature Ganso ramen features slow-braised pork, egg, and seasonal greens, with most ingredients sourced from local farms or imported from Japan.
It’s almost as hard to snag a table at Kyo Ya as it is to find the notoriously tucked-away restaurant. A day-long waiting list reserves seats for the multi-course kaiseki menu, where seasonally-changing dishes such as silky egg custards or scallops in sea urchin butter are served in ceremonial-like procession.
This Japanese-style bakery specializes in imported "wagashi" sweets, which are high in plant protein and contain virtually no animal fats. Saccharine fillings made from red and white beans, sweet potatoes, and white peaches are folded into delicate cakes that could double as edible works of art.
The color-coded sake menu at Sakagura is more than 200 choices long, causing some heads to spin, even before the first sip. But there's reason to this rhyme: each sake pairs perfectly with a similarly color-coded dish. Still confused? No worries: the staff will gladly hand-select a sake for you.
Rice paper lamps and bamboo partitions make this tranquil space feel a world away from the busting streets outside. The dishes hail much closer to home, however, with local ingredients staring in entrees such as tea-smoked salmon or assorted, French-inspired pastries. A vast variety of green, black, and white teas are served in biodegradable cups.
Tokyo-born chef Akiko Thurnauer can thank her dad for introducing her to ingredients from Europe and the Middle East, and your tastebuds will thank him too after sampling her unique fusion fare such as lamb meatballs with ginger taztziki. Her husband's Swiss background also gets a nod in a fudgy chocolate walnut cake.
Guy Vaknin leaves out a few crucial ingredients when he makes sushi: fish, dairy, and preservatives. Those omissions have found him throngs of fans, among them vegans, pregnant women, and parents of picky eaters. Ingredients such as jalapeno wasabi, black rice, and sweet persimmon yield rolls that are as flavorful as they are colorful.
A wall of long, chalkboard panels displays the monthly sushi specials, scrawled beneath colorful seascapes and other pastel murals. The artistic touch extends to the kitchen, where tuna-wrapped heart and soul rolls emerge shaped like tiny valentines and quail eggs crown circles of tuna tartar dressed in rainbow-colored roe.
Call ahead for the yuba soba, as chefs only craft about a dozen portions of the popular, yet labor intensive ribbons of tofu skin. Don't worry though: there are plenty of hot and cold versions of the regular buckwheat variety. The notoriously healthy noodles become almost decadent in savory bonito broths with thinly sliced pork.
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