By Chris Ellis
Your humble correspondent ends each week with a dilemma. A first-world dilemma, sure, but a difficult one nonetheless. To dine in New York is to be presented with such a vast array of options that it is nearly impossible to choose one without feeling as though you’re missing out on something better or more exciting.
Not so when you’re dining at Brushstroke, David Bouley’s collaboration with Tsuji Culinary Institute in Osaka. Brushstroke serves a Kaiseki dinner (and recently converted their lounge into a Sushi counter after popular demand), in the old Danube space on Hudson Street. A sleek minimalist theme sets up an atmosphere that encourages diners to focus on the meal, its ingredients and the kitchen. Approximately sixteen seats at the counter overlooking the kitchen are available and nearly thirty more at tables throughout the space – skip the tables, you want to watch the chefs expertly preparing your meal and the meals of those around you.
Brushstroke has three menus: a simple tasting, a vegetarian tasting and a seasonal kaiseki tasting. Your correspondent and the Mrs. always go for the seasonal kaiseki. It’s the perfect way to sample the best of what the kitchen has to offer. Now, even though this is a set menu, we were afforded some leeway with our meal. After starting with a cold seasonal vegetable dish and a crab chawan mushi custard, we opted for the chef’s selection of sashimi. Two fish courses followed; a salt water eel and then we were presented with four different fish selections from which to choose. We opted for the somen noodles with lobster, uni broth and uni flakes (pictured) – which was an unbelievable seafood explosion of flavor and the akamutsu (sea bass).
To round out the main course, we were offered a choice of meat and rice dishes. Both of us had the pork belly and then we selected one crab rice porridge with uni and sake-kasu broth and one mushroom rice bowl. The crab zousui was heavy, rich and amazingly flavorful. However, at that point after seven courses and with desert on the way, I was happier with my wife’s mushroom rice dish. To me it was a more delicate way to end the meal.
Throughout the meal we were treated to see the skilled chefs from the collaboration with the Tsuji Institute (pictured). The setting is extremely calm and it is amazing to watch the assemblage of the dishes before our eyes.
A few of the tasting options if you plan on dining at Brushstroke:
Early Autumn Kaiseki menu, $135
Tasting and Vegetarian menus, $85
Sake and wine pairings start at $100 for the Kaiseki menu
If you go to Brushstroke, let us know what you think. I highly recommend the experience.