living underground in the real world

beloved kajitsu

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An update on my favorite restaurant in the world: Kajitsu: my sweetheart Jacob has been there every month for the past three months, taking various friends and work mates every time, and everyone has loved it. Veronica is headed there tonight to check out the September menu (Veronique: report back!), and I’m hoping to get there in a few weeks when I’ll be in the city to be in an art show (!!! details to come!!!).

Veronique mentioned that she was checking out various internetty reviews of it before her visit, and she found some douchey reviews on Yelp. This made Jacob (who was hanging out at the kitchen at the time while I was making unbelievable hand-pulled noodles I spent eight hours on while Veronica made pretty much every other dish for the week) instantly go online to investigate, and inspired a long ranty conversation between the three of us about why vegans care so much about fuckin’ doughnuts and shit and not enough about, say, Kajitsu’s homemade soba noodles (yes, Jacob, as previously noted, embodies both sides of this debate). Basically, why Kajitsu isn’t getting major press in the vegan food world just blows our collective mind.

The outcome of this conversation is the brilliant manifesto below, written by my beloved about our very most beloved restaurant and posted at Yelp, SuperVegan, & Happy Cow.

As a long time vegan who travels for a living, I make it a point to go to vegan as well as haute cuisine restaurants all around the world, no matter the cuisine or cost. This includes an experience at an authentic vegan shojin restaurant in a Zen Buddhist monastery in Kyoto.

Having spent most of my time in New York I’ve frequented practically every vegan / veggie restaurant in New York City including Candle 79, Hangawi, Counter, Dirt Candy, Pure Food and Wine, etc. I make it a point to also dine at high end restaurants that accommodate vegans including Per Se, Nobu, Craft, Charlie Trotter’s and Alinea (in Chicago).

I’ve been to Kajitsu three times in as many months and have had the pleasure of experiencing their last three menus which change monthly to feature seasonal elements. Kajitsu combines high-end dining with truly unique authentic ethnic cuisine. The dining experience is exquisite with impressively informed and passionate servers and a tranquil and thoughtfully designed setting (including many antique place settings and furniture). It’s worth noting that, as the Kajitsu website indicates, shojin cuisine is considered the foundation of all Japanese cuisine, including kaiseki (which is derived from shojin), and has always been a vegan cuisine.

The menu, as pointed out by other reviews, is prix fixe at a $50 or $70 level and I’ve always gotten the 8 course meal as it really is the better deal and experience. Neither I, or the more than 20 people (vegan, veg, and none*) that have accompanied me, have ever left less than satisfied or hungry.

The sake selections are great and the seasonal frozen sake is a treat in the summer months (the spoon that it’s served with has a 1000 year old glass bead hanging from it!) The Nama Fu (something I’ve never had before in the US) comes from a multi-generational owned family shop in Japan and is a wonderful replacement for the typical seitan / tofu / tempeh ingredients.

At this price range it’s certainly a special occasion destination and definitely worth visiting each month to explore the new menu. Every dish is impeccably executed with flawless technique, masterful flavor pairing, and inspiring presentation. Each plate was a joy!

I look forward to our new monthly tradition of visiting Kajitsu.

(for pictures and a thorough review of my first visit to Kajitsu, please visit my partner’s posting** here)

*”Vegan, veg, and none” is a cute way to describe flesh-eaters, is it not?

**Jacob wrote “posting” because he REFUSES to write or speak or think the word “blog.” Once upon a time we were united in our hatred of the word blog…sigh.

14 Responses to “beloved kajitsu”

  1. Jen

    Thank you! I was looking for a nice vegan place to go in NYC that I haven’t been to before. Kajitsu looks fantastic!

    Reply
  2. veronica

    As usual, Kajitsu was amazing! We had a lovely late summer/early fall vegetable stew stuffed inside a spaghetti squash, among many other delicous things! I love the place so much. Oh yeah, the frozen sake was amazing! I had no idea about the glass bead hanging from the spoon, that is UNBELIEVABLE!

    I love Jacob’s review, I hope it inspires people to try Kajitsu.

    Also, I’ve been craving those hand-pulled udon noodles just about every single day! When are ya making them again? :)

    Reply
  3. veronica

    Oh yeah, one more thing: all of the people I’ve talked to about Kajitsu freak out when I tell them the price. I know it’s more than people are used to paying for a meal, but it really irks me that they automatically assume it’s a rip-off. I mean, for 8 courses $70 really isn’t that bad, especially if you compare it with the cost of other (1 or 2 course) meals that aren’t as satisfying and are in the $15 to $20 price range. Argh, it’s so frustrating!!!

    Reply
    • lagusta

      I know!!! Seriously WTF! It’s more like an event than just a meal to me anyway, you know?

      Reply
  4. ecclescake

    Oh, the Nama Fu! Knocked my socks off. Wonder whether I can find any here on the left coast? I, too, am often distracted by discoveries of fantastic doughnuts and the like (though there are apparently NONE IN LA), but really, there’s room for both Kajitsu and, I dunno, Babycakes or whatever in this world, right?

    Reply
    • lagusta

      Yeah. It’s a continuum, and if the entire world is going to become vegan, there has to be vegan junk food out there, I feel you. And there have to be snobby annoying people like me who look down their nose at overly sugary white trashy desserts…and still indulge in sugar bomb doughnuts and things a few times a year! If you want to drive a few hours Jacob says there are crazy doughnuts in Las Vegas!

      Reply
  5. Heather

    I’m eating at Kajitsu on Saturday and I’m sooooo excited! I just got a new job so this is my little celebration of that. I’ve tried out all the other vegan foodie places in NYC and so it’s good that I get to try out a new one!

    I keep wondering where else I should go when I’m in NYC, but I always seem to go to the vegan or veggies places I like rather than trying to deal with going to non-veg restaurants that might not know what to do with me. There should be a guide to eating good vegan food at non-veg places.

    Reply
  6. to do: FUN « resistance is fertile

    […] – Via Veronique. My new favorite restaurant I’ve never been to all my eating-out money goes to, oh, I love it so. It looks like it could be a contender for best meal ever (update: YES), which […]

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