Monday, October 25, 2010

Aburiya Kinnosuke Review

I'd long had Aburiya Kinnosuke, a Japanese restaurant in Midtown East not far from Grand Central, on my list of places to go. My impression of it had always been a serious place with Japanese businessmen; it turned out to be a more mixed crowd but with a very Japanese menu (as in, no chicken teriyaki). The menu is wide-ranging with interesting dishes that will intrigue intrepid eaters and simpler comfort food that would satisfy most. The server was helpful in navigating the book of a menu, which can be overwhelming.

My dining companion and I started with the wasabi leaf, small crunchy stalks that had the distinct sharpness familiar to anyone who has eaten the paste served with sushi. There is a brief moment when you taste the leadup to the spicy kick, but just before it reaches that point, it fades out and you feel relief. 

An appetizer sampler came with pickled jellyfish, pumpkin and more wasabi leaf. When the server realized that we had gotten more of something we had already ordered separately, he kindly offered to bring something else. We got a small portion of simple sweet potato.

The duck with ponzu sauce was thinly sliced and cooked medium rare. It was tender and delicious with a side of shaved daikon radish.

The fried lotus root was salty and seasoned well. And the lotus root's slightly dense crunch held up.

The organic Bershire pork served with brown sugar soju tasted like an Asian version of barbecue. It had the right balance of fat and meat and was just slightly sweet. More daikon here. Beware of the mustard paste — it's dangerously spicy.

The spicy beef stew was a hearty dish that makes you think of home cooking. It was simple, stewed meat mixed in with a variety of root vegetables.

The pork and ginger rice cooked in a stone pot is grandmotherly cooking, food you wouldn't expect out of a restaurant kitchen, even more so given that it takes 40 minutes to cook. It was a last-minute addition to our meal, at the suggestion of the waiter, and was our last dish of the evening. But I'm glad we didn't miss out on it.

We finished with a tofu cheesecake. It was blander and had a rougher texture than cheesecake made from cheese; I'll stick to the true dairy kind.

It takes several dishes to make a meal here, but the extensive menu will make you want to try lots of different things and after you have, you'll only want to come back to delve into the rest.

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