Teisui, located in the Flatiron district, just opened about a month ago and it has been attracting a bunch of good reviews. When I first read about this restaurant, before my trip to Japan, I was intrigued. It wasn’t until I came back from Japan and was feeling “Japan-sick”, that I knew we had to go here for our belated 6th Anniversary dinner. Teisui was designed to recreate the traditional Japanese Ryokan experience in New York City. In fact, Teisui will feature a roaster of visiting chefs as well as in-house chefs from her sister hotel in Akita, Japan, where many of the ingredients come from.
True to its design, Teisui serves a 10-course seasonal menu ($150) that’s modeled after a yakitori kaiseki meal that’s typically served in Ryokans. And like all restaurants in Japan, hospitality is included – something I really appreciated and wished we had more of! Wine pairings are an extra $90 and sake pairings are $95 – but don’t feel pressured to participate. We ended up ordering individually off their impressive list since we’re a bit picky about our sake.
We were the first to arrive so we had the sole attention of the staff for a while. We were seated at the corner of the bar so we had full view of the cooks, which is a sight to behold. They took notice of my note that we were celebrating our anniversary and offered us a generous pour of champagne. How sweet! Our waiters was also not pushy about picking the sake or wine pairing and let us choose our own pace when it came to beverages.
Our meal started off with a hot towel to clean off, which I really came to appreciate during my time in Japan. It’s great to be able to clean off the dirt from outside before starting our meal! Then came the amuse bouche of chawanmushi with edamame purée and foie gras and topped with Hokkaido uni. The chawanmushi was super creamy! Since chawanmushi and the lighter edamame purée was so lightly seasoned, you could really taste the foie gras and uni. I could literally sit here and eat this every day!
Our first real course was the Hassun, or a mixed plate of king crab, kiritanpo, or smashed rice that is oval-shaped and cooked yakitori-style, chicken burdock, and watercress goma-ae, or watercress tossed in peanut sauce. The chicken was very tender – but the standout was definitely the kiritanpo, which was chewy on the inside and crispy on the outside from the grill.
The next course was Tsutsumi-Yaki, which featured tender chicken and mushrooms cooked in plastic wrap. You are presented the dish fully intact so you can unravel the plastic and catch the full aroma of the chicken and mushroom soup-like dish. People always say that you don’t just eat with your mouth – but with your nose and eyes too. This dish definitely appealed to all three!
Our next course was the Rabbit Miso Cappuccino, which featured two pieces of rabbit meat and Kyoto miso cappuccino. The course was presented to us in separate cups – the rabbit in one and the miso cappuccino in the other. We were instructed to pour the cappuccino into the rabbit cup and have it with the rabbit meat. To be honest, I was a bit thrown off by the words, “miso cappuccino”, but I was pleasantly surprised when it paired so well together. The cappuccino flavor was light and very smooth and creamy. We ended up scooping the leftover out with a spoon.
Next up was Tsukune, or chicken meatball cooked yakitori-style with egg yolk. The meatballs are meant to be dipped into the egg yolk, which was interesting. The meatballs were very tender and juicy – not a dry patch in sight!
After the Tsukune course, our utensils were cleared and we were given a palate cleanser containing ikura and a new hot towel. Our waiter called it intermission, which I thought was pretty neat. After a brief break, we proceeded to our next course – Tori-Mune Konsai, or chicken breast yakitori with beets, an arugula-wasabi sauce, and a dash of salt from Akita on the side. The chicken was tender and cooked so that it had just a hint of smokey-ness.
The next course was the Kamo Mushi-Yaki, which featured duck breast, a red wine sauce, and seasonal vegetables. Our waitress told us that there is citrus jelly drizzled over the season vegetables of tomato, pepper, and radish. The citrus was indeed a nice contrast to the savory red wine duck. This was a standout dish of the night – the duck breast was cooked to perfection and the red wine sauce was not overpowering at all.
Our next course was perhaps my favorite of the night – Tori-Momo with Couscous, which featured chicken thigh cooked yakitori-style with mashed potato, eggplant, and couscous. I’m not normally a huge fan of couscous, so for me to say this was the star of the night, it means it was pretty darn delicious! The presentation itself was gorgeous with a gold plate topped with perfectly squeezed dollops of mashed potato. A piece of thigh meat paired with the airy and light couscous was a burst of flavors in my mouth.
The next course was more subtle in flavor, since we were winding down for the night. We were presented with the Chef’s Special Selection of sushi, a piece of nigiri and a piece of a roll. The flounder nigiri was good, but I really enjoyed my tuna roll piece that was topped with Hokkaido uni and ikura. The uni was creamy, salty, and sweet at the same time – the true butter of the sea!
Our last savory course was named after the restaurant – Ishiyaki Teisui – or miso soup with red snapper, king crab, and Tokyo scallion. The chef beings over the soup in a huge bamboo bowl and then explains that he will heat the soup with rocks from Mt. Fuji that are heated to 700 degrees. He drops the rocks into the soup, which brings it to boiling temperature almost immediately. After a few seconds, he removes the rocks and serves us each a bowl of soup. The soup is enough for each person to have at least 3 servings. I had a huge piece of red snapper in mine, along with copious amounts of Tokyo scallion. I remember seeing the size of the scallions while I was in Tokyo and marveling at how big they are. Now I know how they taste! The soup was light and rich in miso flavor – not too salty at all.
Our grand finale was the Anmitsu with yuzu jelly, red beans, a scoop of honey milk ice cream, and topped with a sugar cookie. This was a light and refreshing way to end our meal – the dessert was a nice change to the otherwise savory meal without being too sweet or lingering.
I thoroughly enjoyed my meal at Teisui and cannot wait to find a reason to go back! The service was impeccable – our waiter and occasional waitress were both very attentive without being overbearing. Our waitress even noticed that the Boyfriend was left-handed and started placing his settings on his left side. What a small attention to detail that he’s never received anywhere else! They also open the door for you when you enter the bathroom and then listen to you to come out so they can open it again for you. It’s really these small little things that can really add up to making the evening. I highly recommend a visit to Teisui – whether you’re just looking for a good meal out or celebrating a special occasion!
Ps. They’re on OpenTable so reserving a counter seat – or even a table for a larger party – is super easy!