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First-timers expecting a hushed temple of kaiseki may be surprised to find Nao Sugiyama’s casual café, where expense-account businessmen cluster in booths and “I just flew in from Aspen on my jet” types perch at the food bar. If you’re ready to splurge, order Chef Nao’s Choices (an eight-course modern kaiseki for $100). Sugiyama shows his genius in endless combinations, and gleefully answers questions about the tiny sawagani crab sitting on your plate or the cocktail of uni and mountain-yam foam in mirin-spiked dashi. Switching from raw to cooked and light to heavy to light again, dinner runs from a creamy sea-urchin-and-tofu “pâté” to an intensely grapefruity “wine jelly” finish. Call ahead for vegetarian kaiseki.
251 W 55th St
|Cross street:||between Broadway and Eighth Ave|
|Transport:||Subway: A, C, B, D, 1 to 59th St–Columbus Circle|
|Price:||Kaiseki dinner: $45–150. AmEx, DC, MC, V|
|Opening hours:||Tue–Sat 5:30–11:45pm|
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