What is Yakitori?

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Yakitori is a Japanese type of skewered chicken. Its preparation involves skewering the meat with kushi, a type of skewer typically made of steel, bamboo, or similar materials. Afterwards, they are grilled over a charcoal fire. During or after cooking, the meat is typically seasoned with tare sauce or salt.  Image from Just One Cookbook.  See their Recipe.

Manhattan, NY: Inside Kaikagetsu, A Lower East Side Restaurant

 

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The Lower East Side never ceases to amaze me, rich in the spirit of immigrant histories.  Known for hosting art galleries, nightlife, variety in eateries and fine dining restaurants representing cuisines from around the world, I was pleased to discover one of the latest additions to the community, Kaikagetsu.  The picturesque restaurant is located at 162 Orchard Street.   Passersby peak into the inviting dining establishment complete with white curtains draped over gargantuan open windows.  Meanwhile patrons savor bites and people-watch.

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Kaikagetsu strikes a balance between upscale and a rustic lodge feel, lending to a sense of calm and relaxation.   The romantically dark ambiance further accentuates a warm environment quietly whispering in your ear to get comfortable and enjoy what Japan has to offer.   Menu items are influenced by cuisine in Japan’s Hida Region.

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The superb service began with my guest and I given a choice from a wonderful set of sake glasses to drink from.  What I enjoyed the most was a particular sake. I asked the server to choose for me. He chose the Tenryo Hidahomare.  It is a junmai ginjyo sake crafted from Hidahomare rice local to the Hida District as previously mentioned the menu reflects cuisine from the region as well.   I found it to be divinely light and crisp just like I like it.

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Let’s get down to the food which included no shortage of scrumptious surprises.   The restaurant graciously provided a five course meal.   Lotus root chip showed up in my appetizer and entrée , adding incredible texture to my dish.  Honestly, I’d devour the chips with everything.   Quietly, I wrapped my brain around eating sashimi, usually I am no fan of sashimi when it comes to  Japanese fare; however, this selection was very fresh and really paired well with their homemade soy sauce. The tuna topped my list out of the three types of fish offered to me.  I sampled whitefish and salmon too.

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Japanese curry is one of the most popular dishes in Japan.  Never have I had a curry at a Japanese restaurant so I didn’t know what to expect. The rich bold flavors and the different textures from the vegetables didn’t disappoint, pleasing to my tongue more and more with each mouthful.   My guest ordered the beef rice pot, a dish more on the sweet side and lacking contrasting flavors.  The artist in me, appreciated the artful and exquisite presentation of our dishes.   All and all, even down to the coffee tiramisu  drizzled with pear sauce, we enjoyed our experience at the Lower East Side’s Kaikagetsu.  I’d go back and I’d definitely order the beef curry again with extra lotus root chips please!

*Reservations placed at least 48 hour ahead, strongly suggested.

Written by Nataki Alexander-Hewling

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Phone(646) 590-3900

Click Here to Visit Kaikagetsu’s Website

Tofu Steak and Shitake Sauce

Japanese dish that's great for vegans!

Japanese dish that's great for vegans!

Ingredients

2/3cupSliced Shiitake Mushrooms, by Dynasty

1pkgFirm Tofu, by Silken

2tbspPotato Starch, by Hinokuni

3tbspSoy Sauce – all purpose, by Marukin

1tbspManjo Aji Mirin, by Kikkoman

1/8tspWhite Pepper Powder

4tspVegetable Oil – divided

2cupsRice, by Calrose

2 Carrots – julienne cut

1 Yellow Onion – cut into thin wedges

Directions

  1. Soak shiitake in 2 cups hot water, 25 minutes.
  2. Drain tofu. Halve tofu horizontally and vertically to get 4 equal size “steaks.” Place tofu on paper towels, in single layer. Let drain 30 minutes, changing towels when wet.
  3. Drain shiitake, reserving liquid.
  4. Combine shiitake liquid, potato starch, soy sauce, mirin and pepper; stir until potato starch dissolves. Heat large frying pan, preferably nonstick, over high heat.
  5. Add 2 teaspoons oil; coat inside bottom of pan. Add tofu steaks, in single layer. Cook 2 to 3 minutes on each side, or until lightly browned. Remove from pan; keep warm.
  6. Heat remaining 2 teaspoons oil in the same pan. Add carrots and onion; sauté 2 to 3 minutes, or until tender crisp.
  7. Mix in shiitake, shiitake-cornstarch mixture. Cook and stir 1 to 2 minutes, or until mixture boils and thickens. For each serving, place a tofu steak on serving plate. Spoon 3/4 cup shiitake sauce over tofu. Serve immediately with rice.

Recipe and Image from Asian Food Grocer