213 E 45th St New York, NY 10017
There’s a category of Japanese restaurant where you’ll see an elaborate open charcoal fire in the center of the room, and various configurations of meat, shellfish, and vegetables are run through with skewers or placed on spits and arranged like funeral spectators, at varying distances from the center of the pit, glowing like enchanted orbs of deliciousness. This is called Robata, as if you needed another reason to think it was awesome.
Let’s back up.
Japanese food is comfortably within its element in NYC, so much so that former Iron Chef and current global celeb chef Masaharu Morimoto credits his years in NYC for helping him develop his expertise. In New York Japanese food is readily available, less expensive than in most other places, and – and this is the hallmark of a surplus – available in subtle varieties.
Sure, there are stict sushi joints, and there are great ones. (See our other reviews.) There are izakayas, drawing inspiration from the ubiquitous after-work watering-hole/eateries that serve beer and grilled meat on skewers. There are hot pot joints, and ramen restaurants. There’s soba, katsu, and yakiniku.
And then there’s Aburiya Kinnosuke, which, though it employs the aforementioned open charcoal grill, doesn’t have a gimmick, and doesn’t need one. What it does offer is melt-in-your-mouth, eyes-closed, profundity. It offers variety – from the ala carte grilled options, to sushi, to don’t-ask-the-price wagyu beef – but it’s carefully curated variety. The menu changes by the day, and according to which ingredients are available, there’s an option to eat whatever the chef decides to serve, which, provided you can afford it, I always recommend.
Though it’s every-inch Japanese restaurant, I feel Aburiya also warrants inclusion in the molecular gastronomy, flavor-deconstruction category, and while it ain’t cheap, it’s a great value for the quality and uniqueness of the experience.