I have been wanting to dine at Aburi Hana
the last couple of years and then Covid got in the way, then I kept making excuses because quite honestly I didn’t want to be disappointed. We finally made it in for our wedding anniversary and I can’t think of a better choice.
Guided by the Japanese culinary ethos of seasonality, our late summer menu showcased the colors of nature’s ever changing vista from summer to autumn. From the moment we entered this hidden, serene, elegant restaurant at 102 Yorkville (entrance is down an alleyway and the restaurant is on the basement level) we knew we would be in for a memorable evening. We entered a room with a 14 seat chef’s counter looking into an exhibition kitchen. The lighting is dim, the counter a beautiful white, smooth as silk wood. There is no menu, but each of our 14 or 15 courses were meticulously explained to us by a well trained staff member. Aburi Hana is in the capable hands of executive chef Ryusuke Nakagawa, who grew up on the island of Shikoku Japan. He began cooking at a young age and worked under many master chefs in Kyoto as well as a three star Michelin restaurant. He learned the obsession with quality and tradition. He has developed his own modern style of Kaiseki cuisine, which is a series of very small, intricate dishes. It is a Japanese haute cuisine if you will. He approaches cooking like an art form, and changes his menu every two months according to the season. He brings in many ingredients from Japan to enhance his dinner. And each one of his dishes have so many wonderful components.
The meal and the service are Michelin star worthy in my humble opinion. The focus is on “omotenashi” service, the Japanese philosophy to serve wholeheartedly and to anticipate the guests needs. Dinner was perfectly paced, and there was not one disappointing dish. It was imaginative and attractively presented, but it also tasted superb. There were so many standout plates, it was difficult to name just one. But we did remark it was the best soup we ever tasted at a Japanese restaurant. They compose the menu around any allergies or dislikes, and even the chef’s substitutions were brilliant.
We selected a sake pairing by sake director Amy Lee. If you have read any of my articles regarding wine or sake pairings I’m most often disappointed. But Amy’s choices and expertise on the subject of sake was impressive. She guided us beautifully with excellent pairings and told stories behind each bottle she poured. It was some of the finest sake I have tasted and her choices paired perfectly with our dinner.
Chef appreciated the current season and expressed it through his creative artistry, his approach to harmony and balance and appealed to all the senses. It was the epitome of Japanese Kaiseki haute cuisine and a wonderful celebratory meal. They truly are deserving of a Michelin star.
Highly recommend. Happy dining,