In the latest episode of Omakase, Eater heads to one of NYC’s most exciting Japanese restaurants. At Shuko in Union Square, two former apprentices from Masa (the only three-Michelin-star Japanese restaurant in the U.S.) are creating their own interpretation of kaiseki, the Japanese culinary tradition of exquisite seasonal tasting menus.
Originating in Kyoto, the kaiseki tradition typically involves small bites intended to complement tea pairings. At Shuko, chefs Nick Kim and Jimmy Lau focus on creating a feast for literally all the senses, taking elements like color, aroma, and even sound into account when composing their menu.
“Coming from Masa and then opening our own restaurant, there’s definitely pressure — not just from the customer or the world but just from ourself,” Kim says.
The courses get richer and deeper as they unfold before diners: To start, the chefs present dishes like a sweet English pea chawanmushi with salmon roe and toast (made from house-baked milk bread) with bluefin toro tartare and caviar. Then it’s on to meatier dishes like grilled octopus and seared omi beef, followed by a dashi course to cleanse the palate before a procession of sushi.
The meal concludes with a highly unlikely pairing for dessert: housemade apple pie with a scoop of ice cream, ensuring that Shuko delivers surprises until the very last bite.