New York City has long been the epicenter for food trends. And while most make headlines across the globe, there's one food fad that's secretly been brewing in the Big Apple. Over the past year, several kaiseki restaurants have opened, each one with a more haute take than the next.
Tsukimi in the East Village only allowed one seating a day for 14 guests and was closed two days a week, making it very difficult to nab a spot for the 12-course, two-and-half-hour dinner. Icca in Tribeca also just opened its doors with little information except that you must call to make a dinner reservation for one of their two dinner seatings. And o.d.o by ODO has a 14-seat chef's counter hidden behind a bar in Flatiron, where chef Hiroki Odo whips up a carefully orchestrated culinary journey starting with a welcome tasting of Brooklyn Kura's sake served from an original ODO bamboo bottle.
If you're not quite sure what kaiseki is, here is a brief rundown. The traditional Japanese dinner is made up of multiple courses using the freshest ingredients and plated in an art-worthy way. It's often been considered one of the original examples of fine dining, and even today, a kaiseki meal can cost hundreds of dollars per person.
With that in mind, it seems New York would be prime to take on such a high-end dining experience. But the concept is still very much in its infancy. "I feel that kaiseki is still in its early stages, not only NYC, but the U.S. as a whole," chef Hiroki Odo, Owner/Head Chef, o.d.o by ODO, told Departures." Americans have fully embraced sushi with its omakase, but kaiseki is still something not fully understood by the average foodie. Classic traditional style kaiseki might be too pure or simplistic for most people to understand. Many might just find it bland because the flavors are too delicate."
As for why chef Odo decided to create a kaiseki experience in New York, he said it's about making the concept more approachable to a new audience. "I'm trying to open a door for guests to experience a different side of Japanese cuisine," he said. "I feel like sushi and ramen are peaking right now. Japanese cuisine has so many interesting treasures, and I believe kaiseki will be the next big thing for Japanese culture abroad."