Posted by: Hungry Korean | July 29, 2011

Brushstroke

Brushstroke is David Bouley’s newest high-end Japanese venture down in Tribeca. It sits in his former restaurant, Succession, and the very once long ago, Danube.  But when you walk into Brushstroke, it’s totally been redone and very different looking than its predecessors.  Brushstroke is getting alot of high marks for it’s wonderfully inventive and beautifully executed kasakei-influenced menu.  “Kasakei” is the formal Japanese priced fixed way of dining and apparently a dying form/art of eating.  I’ve had it once before at Sugiyama (the other well known kasakei restaurant in NYC). The menu only offers an 8-course meal for $85 or 10-course for $135.  If you want straight sushi, you must eat at the sushi bar. Here is an interior shot – lots of light wood and simple lines:

With that said, when Page Six forwarded Cookie Monster an email from Zagat: “Brushstroke and Zagat Presents:  Summer in Osaka”, we were definitely in.  It’s a set menu of 5-courses with sake pairings.  Upon seating, the waiter provides us with the menu for the night:

The first course, the appetizer course, was a kampachi sashimi with vinegar tomato water: (note the presentation)

There is a cherry tomato to the far left corner and the thing in the middle wrapped in what looks like a leafy dried casing is something many of you probably haven’t tried before: it’s a gooseberry. I’ve blogged about it before here and it’s actually quite a popular berry served in Japanese restaurants.  But the sashimi is where the action was.  It was incredibly fresh and the vinegar tomato water was so interesting. It had very slight hints of tomato and the sharp acidity of the vinegar paired very well with the fish.  We all noted that the fish had a slight tacky/sticky quality to it in the mouth which I attribute to its extreme freshness.

Here’s a close up:

Beautiful isn’t it? The colors, the visible textures…

The next course was the soup course: mountain yam mousse in summer corn potage.

The corn soup was served chilled and incredibly sweet and “corny” – it was so good. Eaten alone, the consistency is quite watery so you are supposed to place the yam mousse (which is viscous in texture) into the soup and stir – it renders the soup thicker and almost creamier. Very interesting play on textures and the creation of a new consistency with the inclusion of yam was innovative.

For the third course (fish course), we were served the miso marinated black cod with walnuts and peach puree:

I love miso marinated black cod because the fish is always incredibly buttery and flaky at the same time. The light texture of the fish paired with the darker notes of the miso is just wonderful. I had never been served miso cod with such a sweet sauce however (the peach puree) and it was interesting and enhanced the sweetness of the fish. But again, as I’ve mentioned, not a fan of sweet mixed with my savory so I could have done without the sauce. Cookie Monster and Page Six liked the sauce however.

In between the fish course and our fourth course (the meat course), the kitchen served us a freebie: their famous steamed chawan-mushi egg custard served with dungeness crab and black truffle sauce.

The presentation served like a gift:

The gift opened:

As described, chawan mushi is a very delicate egg custard. It literally disintegrates on the tongue.  You can’t see it but there were chunks of sweet dungeness crab and the truffle sauce wasn’t a sauce really but more like an ingredient to enhance the soup.  This was a big hit with the table. We were spooning it up in silence minus the occasional “oo and ahhh”.  I’m not normally a fan of chawan mushi as I find it pretty bland but this was quite excellent.

The fourth course was wagyu steak with sansho pepper and garlic sauce joined by braised wagyu tataki with ponzu sauce and daikon sprouts:

THIS WAS MY FAVORITE!  Wagyu is a very fatty cut of meat – I mean it’s marbled in fat and incredibly tender.  Because of the high fat content, the meat almost melts when it hits the warmth of your mouth.  Served these two ways was amazing.  The wagyu to the left was served cold like sushi – over vinegar seasoned rice while the wagyu to the right was braised and served hot.  Both versions were delicious and although they were prepared with accompanying flavors/ingredients, the flavors of the meat still shone through. More please…..

For dessert, the final course, we got Brushstrokes much raved about soymilk panna cotta with matcha green tea sauce.

I’m not sure what the little cake was but I think it was red bean cake based on taste and texture. It sort of makes sense because when you dipped into that sweet creamy panna cotta, you found red bean at the bottom:

I have to confess = at this point, we are all pretty tipsy. Each of us had a drink prior to dinner then we added five glasses of sake on top of the meal. Conversation became blurry and so did the end of the night but it was so worth it. The food was amazing.  I know that this is not the standard menu served and this was a special presentation but if the food nightly served is anything like this, you should definitely go.  I should advise you, nothing served that night was a blast of flavor.  Everything has a very delicate and muted aspect to it – borderline bland.  The kasakei at Sugiyama was similar. Not sure if that is how kasakei is supposed to be but if you can appreciate things that aren’t overpowered with garlic or salt or what have you, you will enjoy Brushstroke.  What a wonderful meal and experience.

Brushstroke, 30 Hudson Street, New York, NY

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