Thanksgiving 2016

Dining date: 11/24/16

As usual, this Thanksgiving was a tale of two feasts – a lunch at my mom’s side and a dinner at my dad’s side of the family. The day featured two turkeys, a large beef roast, lamb, lobster tails and a ton of sides and desserts. Below is the recap.

Fried Wontons

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Ishikawa (Tokyo, Japan)

Ishikawa
5-37 Kagurazaka, Shinjuku-ku
Tokyo, Japan
Dining date: 11/1/16

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Ishikawa is one of the most highly regarded restaurants in Tokyo, known for its kaiseki dining. Here, diners are served a pre-fixed menu either at the counter or at a handful of private dining rooms. About a dozen small dishes are served in a careful progression featuring plenty of local seasonal ingredients for 22000 yen. I’ve dined at sister restaurant and fellow three-star restaurant Kohaku once before and had a great meal, so I was eagerly anticipating this one.

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Itoh Dining by NOBU (Hakone, Japan)

Itoh Dining by NOBU
1300-64 Gōra, Hakone-machi, Ashigarashimo-gun, Kanagawa-ken 250-0408, Japan
Dining date: 10/30/16

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Hakone is a very scenic and quiet place in the Japanese countryside known for its onsen hot springs. It’s so quiet and quaint that there aren’t a whole lot of dining options in the area. We wanted to avoid the hotel restaurant and ending up opting for this place. It had high potential for being a tourist trap given its association with Nobu Matsuhisa and its ranking as the #1 restaurant in the area per TripAdvisor but we chose it nonetheless. And we were glad we did.

The restaurant is a teppanyaki spot, where chefs cook up the food right in front of you on the flattop. The specialty here is wagyu beef, of course, and the restaurant offers a couple of different varieties in both set menu form and a la carte. We opted for two set menus offering A4 beef, plus an a la carte dish of the top shelf Kobe beef.

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Kikunoi (Kyoto, Japan)

Kikunoi Honten
Shimokawaracho, Higashiyama Ward
Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 605-0825 Japan
Dining date: 10/29/16

Dining Room

One of the most notable dining styles in Kyoto is a kaiseki meal, a traditional dining experience featuring individual small plates using local and seasonal ingredients (not unlike a western tasting menu). The presentation are often as intricate as the foods – everything is thoughtfully presented and made to look beautiful. While in Kyoto, I visited one of the most well-known examples of kaiseki at Michelin three-star Kikunoi.

Each party that dines here sits in one of the 11 private dining rooms with a view of the grounds’ scenery, creating a very unique experience. It felt, at first,  kind of weird being in a private room as a party of 2 but I quickly got used to it.

Dining Room

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Eleven Madison Park (New York, NY) [2]

Eleven Madison Park
11 Madison Ave
New York, NY 10010
Dining date: 9/26/16

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This was my second time dining at Eleven Madison Park. There aren’t many restaurants more highly regarded – the Michelin three star restaurant continues to climb the list of the world’s best restaurants, currently at #3 in the 2016 list. I think my expectations were a little too high in my first visit and have been wanting to give EMP another try.

Dining Room

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Le Bernardin (New York, NY) [2]

Le Bernardin
155 W 51st St
New York, NY 10019
Dining date: 9/26/16

Le Bernardin

I’ve been to Le Bernardin once, dining on the chefs tasting menu in the main dining room. This time, I came to try more of Eric Ripert’s seafood-centric cuisine in the bar/lounge area.

The restaurant serves the full menu in the lounge, as well as a ‘City Harvest menu’ for lunch. This fixed menu offers three courses (two options for each) for $49, with $5 of that going to a local organization called City Harvest (which helps feed the city’s underprivileged). Given that $49 could be the price of just one entree in the main dining room, this seemed like a great price point to drop in for lunch on a few courses.

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