This NYC Omakase Nails the Kaiseki Concept

by Tom Lavecchia

I recently experienced the new spring menu at Tsubame Omakase, a Kaiseki-inspired gem in Tribeca. Kaiseki is a traditional Japanese multi-course meal that emphasizes seasonal ingredients and artful presentation. It is meant to showcase the chef’s skill and attention to detail in every dish. Chef Jay Zheng’s dedication to the Japanese concept of Shun—using ingredients at their peak seasonal freshness—shows his commitment to a remarkable and memorable dining experience.

nyc omakase

Chef Jay Zheng | Tsubame

The intimate atmosphere and understated elegance of the restaurant set the tone for a special evening. The 18-20 course omakase, following a carefully calculated progression, is a masterclass in culinary storytelling.

The Hassun course, an appetizer sampler, introduces the hyper-seasonal menu. This curated selection of small bites is designed to be eaten in a specific order, paying homage to Chef Zheng’s sentimentalism for spring. Each component blends flavors and textures, showcasing the chef’s skillful use of premium ingredients.

The Hotaru Ika (firefly squid from Toyama) comes with a delicate sake miso. The Zuke Hotate (Hokkaido soy-marinated scallop) is enhanced by yuzu kosho pepper and wrapped in nori. The tea-braised Ankimo (monkfish liver) with ponzu and fresh wasabi from Shizuoka stands out, while the Toro Caviar Tart, with its generous portion of Osetra caviar, is a decadent delight. Each bite excites your palate, while preparing you for your next course. 

The Omakase Counter | Tsubame

Omakases of this style showcase skill in the purest form: complexity created by simplicity. It’s this outlook on food that is perplexing enough to have you hooked immediately

The Sakizuke course, a small appetizer, subtly introduces the remainder meal. The Mokuzuke course, a selection of small dishes, highlights the chef’s attention to detail and use of fresh ingredients.

The Yakimono course, a grilled dish, is a meal highlight, with each component cooked with simple seasonings, meant to bring out and liven the natural flavors of each ingredient. The Gohan course, a traditional rice dish, is a comforting conclusion to the savory portion of the meal.

Yakimono, a Japanese preparation of grilling fish, meat or vegetables over charcoal | Tsubame

Finally, the Mizumono course, a sweet dessert, contrasts the rich flavors before. Each dessert component showcases the beauty of seasonal ingredients, leaving a lasting impression of culinary expertise.

Tsubame Omakase is a must-visit for food enthusiasts seeking an exceptional experience. Chef Jay Zheng’s dedication to Shun, combined with his skill and attention to detail, creates a culinary odyssey not to be missed.

About the Author/s

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Tom is a lifelong New Jersey resident, Rutgers and FDU alumni and the publisher of The Digest.

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