For my birthday Kevin kindly took me to Zenkichi, a Japanese brasserie in Williamsburg. Thought I refuse to divulge my current age, let’s just say it’s almost time to call the geriatrician.
Zenkichi features individual booths concealed by beaded curtains, providing a uniquely intimate dining experience. Whenever you wish to attract your server’s attention, you simply press a button on the table.
For our meal we selected the 8-course Omakase, or chef’s tasting menu.
To begin, our server presented us with miso soup. Though the soup did not deviate from the standard broth, tofu croutons elevated the dish to a higher pedigree.
Next came the sashimi platter featuring hamachi, oyster, and an okra-agar salad. Though the okra salad possessed a slimy texture reminiscent of certain bodily fluids, the yellowtail tasted extremely fresh and smooth.Given my mollusk allergy I did not sample the oyster, but Kevin seemed to enjoy the dish. I can also attest to the bivalve’s aphrodisiac effects, as Kevin immediately whipped out a violin and attempted to serenade me.
Next came the (unpictured) salad topped with a silky homemade tofu and sesame vinaigrette.
After appeasing our arteries with fresh greens, we bombarded them with the fried softshell crab course.
This was hands-down one of my favorite courses. The miniature crabs burst with juicy flavor and the accompanying ponzu sauce with roe added an extra element of umami.
From this point on the courses continually improved and surpassed my expectations. Take this black miso cod, for example:
Nobu essentially transformed miso cod into a culinary cliche, making it synonymous with upper class Japanese cuisine. Since the advent of Nobu’s signature dish, black miso cod has appeared on many Japanese menus across the country. Despite the cliche, this dish hit a home run. The delicate, yet meaty, cod balanced the salinity of the miso and delicate sweetness of the mirin.
As though 8-courses was not enough, we additionally ordered the grilled lamb chops as a supplement.
Despite our tightening belts, this addition proved a wise decision. See those grill marks? Yeh, you could taste them too. Perfectly charred and juicy, this dish was another winner.
Migrating back to the tasting menu trajectory, we were presented with Kakuni, or pork belly simmered in a dashi broth.
Oh baby. Tender pork belly. Umami-infused dashi broth. The incredible tastiness of the dish induced silence as we savored every sip and morsel.
The next course sadly deflated our brief revelry from the previous dish.
Though I really wanted to like this salmon and rice bowl, this dish simply tasted bland. Even the accompanying shredded wakame and scallions could not revive the muted flavors. Though I always love ikura, the flaked salmon tasted dry and lifeless.
Next up: Dessert!
Kevin selected the chocolate walnut pudding while I went with the frozen black sesame mousse.
The chocolate walnut pudding constituted everything one seeks in a dessert: richness, the perfect amount of sweetness and a nice array of texture. My mousse tasted more savory than sweet, but provided a wonderful conclusion to a magical meal.
This was truly a very special birthday meal and I thank Kevin for the great experience. I would recommend Zenkichi to anyone seeking a romantic dining locale with interesting Japanese cuisine.I also thank Kevin for taking all of the above photos:)