As you step down into the restaurant, the pace of life seems to slow down before your very eyes. The pleasantly lit interior reveals a long solid timber bar along with a dining room furnished and trimmed in traditional Japanese woods. Everything from the understated decor to the cedar-like smell in the air will convince you that you're in an old home in Kyoto, rather than a basement level East Village eatery.
Each course is a perfect balance of subtle flavours and colors allowing you to taste the quality of each ingredient without being too austere or simplistic. Watching Chef Nishihara behind the bar is like watching a sculptor working with clay. The attention to detail even carries over to the carefully selected dishes that the food is presented on, some of which are over two hundred years old!
Kanten_ (agar agar) is a gelling agent common in Asian cooking that's derived from seaweed, which makes it vegan friendly. The resulting gel isn't the same as gelatin though, with a firmer more delicate gel that's less resilient under pressure. If you can live with the slightly different texture, it's a great substitute for gelatin in desserts ranging from marshmallows to fruit jellos.
For blueberry sauce
- Put the coconut milk, red bean puree and kona kanten in a blender, and blitz until completely smooth. Pour this mixture through a double mesh seive into a small saucepan, discarding any remaining solids.
- Heat the saucepan over medium low heat, stirring constantly until it starts steaming (but not until it boils). Pour the mixture into individual ramekins and allow them to come to room temperature before putting in the refrigerator to set.
- To make the blueberry sauce, just add the thawed blueberries to the blender and blend until smooth. Taste, then add agave nectar as needed to sweeten.
- To serve, just unmold the ramekins and pour the blueberry sauce on top.