Sunday, October 10, 2010

A Shojin Vegetarian in New York - Kajitsu

Masato-san is the Executive Chef at the new Shojin restaurant in New York City. His wife is the Maitre-de and this is their maiden attempt at a Shojin restaurant.

To get the basics out first, their web site is at They are near Tomkins Square Park and usually need advance reservations. Better to call ahead.

Shojin is a type of vegetarian cooking (Shojin ryori) that originates in Zen Buddhism. As an avid fan of Japanese cooking and being a vegetarian, Shojin cooking is our version of Carnegie Hall.

Once I arrived, I was seated in the “bar” area in the restaurant, which has nearly 8 tables facing Masato-san. The service, which was very attentive, didn’t waste time taking my order for the 5-course meal without any alcohol.

The first course started with Taro Dumplings with Black Daikon Chive shoots, Soy sauce, and ginger. The presentation was outstanding and the texture of the taro dumplings was exquisite. A great start and it made me wait anxiously for the 2nd and 3rd courses. It didn’t disappoint.

The next course was clear soup with tofu shaped as Chrysanthemum and taro tempura. I almost didn’t want to eat the tofu and just enjoy the tofu creation for its beauty. This was the highlight of the day for me.

The third course was vegetable medley, plated on very unique plates; I enjoyed the plates more than the food. The lack of spice on the vegetables made it quite bland and not a highlight.

The last course was Gomoku rice with rice flakes on the side and daikon, and other assorted vegetables. Again, this was nothing to write home about. I didn’t order the dessert as I personally believe Japanese dessert is an oxymoron and besides, I am trying to be on a low-sugar diet.

As a fan of Japanese simplicty, I would like to say that the chef’s table was cleaner than the Tokyo railway station. This display was worth the price of entry to see how Japanese think about food and plating them. The food was not as tasty as I have had in other Shojin restaurants, but I am hoping the new Chef will get his gear going in the future.

(This was a post by V. I am glad he has taken to trying new vegetarian restaurants every time he visits the Big Apple!)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am waiting to visit this place. Was it difficult to get reservations?