As the final leg of a through and exhaustive week of birthday celebrations, Kevin and I went to New York this weekend with a couple friends to have dinner at Kajitsu, an entirely vegetarian Michelin star restaurant. As an entirely vegetarian person, this was extremely exciting.
Kajitsu serves Shojin cuisine, which Kevin and I had had before at a Buddhist monastery in Japan, so I was pretty sure I knew what I was in for.
I was wrong.
There’s a world of difference between hearty, every day food and fancy haute cuisine, no matter the style.
We sat down in an undecorated room (so it wouldn’t distract from the food) and were served eight courses (plus a sweet birthday extra from the chef) over the course of three hours. Even the dishes were fancy- the soup tureen that the white miso was served from was worth $20,000 dollars.
I can safely say that I’ve never been anywhere this fancy and immediately felt overwhelmed by it all. Thankfully, the restaurant anticipates people like me, so the server told us how to enjoy each dish.
Every detail was covered, including the chopstick rests, which were designed to mimic the Kajitsu symbol. In between each course a whole array of servers would descend on the table and clear away the dishes and, if someone had been so gauche as to spill or leave crumbs, the Sponge of Shame came out.
After five courses of things like “Light of a Firefly” and “August Colors” (the menu changes seasonally) and a palate cleanser of fancy foam and jelly, we had the sweets courses. (I can heartily recommend peach daifuku.) The chef sent out cava (Kevin drank mine, thank goodness) and a plate of fresh fruit, carefully arranged, to celebrate my birthday.
I’ve never experienced anything like Kajitsu before. It’s less like going somewhere expensive to get the best version of your favorite food and more like participating in art. If I’m being perfectly honest, I’m too much like my dad with his meat-and-potatoes preferences to be completely comfortable with Michelin star dining, but it’s an experience I’m glad I had.
And back in our hotel room, I ended the day with room service fries and ice cream.
Anyone else discover that their palate just doesn’t include formal fare? Or have a favorite Michelin restaurant? Or a fantasy one? Let me know in the comments!
P.S. my manuscript is at 7,000 words!