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Soto (NYC) – Uni Please

While others continue to argue the merits of New York City vs San Francisco cooking1, it can’t be debated that NYC clearly excels at high-end Japanese. Ducking into Masa, Yasuda, or Kuruma generally makes a NYC trip worthwhile, satiating needs that can’t be met in the Bay Area. Restaurants like Kajitsu, kyoya, Soto, and Ushiwakamaru intrigued me, with recommendations from very qualified sources. Then, out of nowhere, Michelin bestowed two stars last October on both Soto and Kajitsu, and ratcheted up the urgency. Vegetarian kaiseki or composed uni plates? Kajitsu was closed, Soto was open – an easy choice this time.

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Roberta’s (Brooklyn) – Frontiers

The incongruity of Roberta’s begins somewhere in Manhattan for many, where the island’s sheer density assaults the senses. One does not fare much better on the subway, fighting for a seat, while the car jerks and screeches toward points unknown.1 Emerging from the Morgan Ave stop, on a cold eve before snowfall, the bustle is replaced by a calm grey stillness, desolate rows of shuttered warehouses, and empty streets. Random lights sparkle in make-shift lofts. There is a marked dearth of human activity. You could almost imagine, somewhere under the river, the bomb dropped – and this is the brave new world.


photo by Roboppy of The Girl Who Ate Everything

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Masa (NYC) – My Best Sushi Meal

How much would you pay for perfection?

Conventional wisdom (mine included), among those who have eaten at both restaurants, says Urasawa (LA) is a better experience than Masa at one-half the price. It was a case of the student, Urasawa, surpassing the teacher, Masa. The Masa experience has been derided for its exorbitant price and short duration. If you factor these two variables out, and just focus on the food, I had the best sushi meal of my life at Masa this past February.

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L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon (NYC) – Midtown Michelin Meal

Joel Robuchon was named “chef of the (last) century” by Gaunt Millau; garnered more Michelin stars than any chef; and, yet, he might be the single greatest danger to fine dining today. Joel Robuchon, the chef, has influenced countless chefs worldwide with his focus on perfectionism and taste. It is, however, Joel Robuchon, the businessman, whose seems intent on building an empire of L’Ateliers in every major city worldwide. The menus are mostly interchangeable. The restaurants are just homogeneous units, iconic of modern-day capitalism, the same experience no matter where one happens to be. In a world where everything will be merchandised, we can already taste the future today.

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Jean Georges (NYC) – Bombastic Fantastic

Memories can often conspire against one’s enjoyment of food. My last Jean Georges meal did not remind me of that glorious dinner six years ago. However, the pricing for lunch 1 is too cheap not to try it again. On its own terms. I changed my approach with this visit. The flavors would not be subtle; instead, they would be bombastic. I would accept that and eat the meal from that perspective. 2

The Wandering Eater recently ate at Jean Georges and her meal is similar to my report below. The dishes don’t change much so older reports can be just as reliable when planning.

The amuse bouches, Sunchoke & Cranberry, Shitake, and Salmon Belly, laid the blueprint for the meal – sharp tastes with an emphasis on textures.

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