ABURIYA KINNOSUKE


When Food & Wine magazine's Editor-in-Chief Dana Cowin set out to gain a better understanding of Japanese food, she visited a handful of restaurants that specialized in a few of the fundamental concepts of traditional Japanese cuisine: tofu, robata, yakitori, soba and kaiseki.




Reading through her self-guided journey, I was intrigued. Notably I was curious about the concept of robata, which is a uniquely Japanese method of grilling. With robata grilling, a variety of food items from Japanese yam to whole fish are skewered and fashioned around a fiery pyramid shaped construction of binchotan charcoal, which imparts a subtle smoky flavor to the food. To satiate my curiosity with this cooking method, my husband and I visited the restaurant, Aburiya Kinnosuke, for our own lesson on traditional Japanese cuisine.



As a starter we began our dinner with homemade tofu, which was simple, and silky with a delicate soybean creaminess.  Accompanying the tofu was a trio of salts: wasabi, ponzu and kelp, which brought out  subtle nuances in the tofu.  The whisper of flavors reminded me of what Dana wrote on her experience with tofu,  "The delicacy of Japanese flavors made me work harder to understand them." In my view, it is this type of exercise that is necessary to truly appreciate the beauty of traditional Japanese cuisine.


We followed with karaage, which are minute pieces of chicken marinated in soy and ginger sauce and deep-fried. This entree closely resembles popcorn chicken. I can see why this might be appealing but I thought the chicken was rather dry. 


Our first item from the robata grill were sliced Japanese sticky yam accompanied by wasabi and nori. While the flavors were bland against a subtle smoky canvas, the texture of the yam was a novel and interesting experience, yielding a delicate and sticky crunch. 


We continued our sampling of small plates with roasted duck, which was served cold and tasted very similar to roast beef in both flavor and texture. It was accompanied by razor thin slices of scallions completing the dish so simply and deliciously.  


While waiting for additional robata grilled items, we snacked on ribbons of burdock chips, which were similar to potato chips sans the potato flavor.


Tsukune, ground chicken with teriyaki sauce grilled on a wooden paddle over the robata and served with a lightly poached egg was one of the more interesting grill items. The flavor and textures are similar to the stuffing of a meaty egg roll.


Also from the grill was sea eel served with its bones deep fried to a crisp, accompanied by wasabi and lemon. In my view, fish is where the robata grill technique excels, creating succulent soft textures against a sheet of crisp and smokey flavors. The eel bones were also quite good, and best described as a seafood chip.


Our last and final entree from the robata grill is one of the most ferocious fish of the sea - the barracuda, which was excellent for its freshness and like to the sea eel, wonderfully succulent and smokey. If you've never had barracuda, it's very similar to mackerel, which has a moderate briny fish flavor.

All in all an interesting experience that I am looking forward to revisit.


213 E. 45th Street
(between 2nd and 3rd)
New York, NY 10017
(212) 867-5454

34 comments:

The Diva on a Diet said...

What a fascinating post! I was unfamiliar with this concept/technique and now I'm dying to try it. Thanks so much for pointing the way to something so unusual and interesting!!

KennyT said...

Sounds you had a nice dinner there. I am especially interested in that silky tofu, love enjoying tofu at its simplest form. Thanks for sharing.

Jennie said...

Fantastic post! The entire meal sounds delicious! I have to say though, Barracuda aren't the most appetizing fish to look at! I'm sure it tasted good though!

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

I know very little about traditional Japanese cuisine and techniques. I'm guessing that most of what I have tried is Americanized Japanese. This looks like quite a culinary adventure!

Fresh Local and Best said...

Jennie - Yes the barracuda is scary looking, but it was quite good.

Diva, Kenny and TW - This place is definitely great for an authentic experience, and if you're seeking some adventure in a different cuisine.

Nancy said...

Great post! I have never heard of robata, what an interesting technique. The fresh tofu looks amazing too.

Simply Life said...

Wow, once again amazing photos! I had never heard of this style of grilling before - thanks for sharing! Looks great!

Mari at Once Upon a Plate said...

Such an interesting dining experience ~ I had never heard of this method and I'm so pleased you shared it with us.

The care in preparation, presentation and the simplicity of the food truly exemplifies Japanese cuisine I think. Nicely done!

Fresh Local and Best said...

Nancy, Simply, Mari - I'm so glad to know that this is a novel technique. I wish I had taken a picture of the actual grill because it quite interesting. The coals were long like pieces of wood that emitted less smoke than say Kingsford, imparting a wonderful subtle smokey flavor. It looked like a white burning tee-pee with skewered food leaning on it.

Gera @ SweetsFoods said...

I enjoy learning new methods of grilling. You've had wonderful times...but now I've a problem I want a Japanese dish like these mmmm :))

Cheers!

Gera

Meals by Misty said...

Ok, this post is creative and so full of juicy adjectives! I'm singing Barracuda and making a mental note to tell my coworker about this post...she is a language teacher at my school. They are working on descriptive essays. You would get an A for sure!

Pam said...

Looks like a fun and interesting dining experience. I've never had barracuda before.

Fresh Local and Best said...

Pam - The barracuda was interesting, similar to grilled mackerel.

Misty - I'm glad you like my adjectives, I try to be precise with my words whenever possible, some words bring so much more color and texture to the description. And I proactively try to write more creatively in this blog, so I appreciate your comment.

HoustonWok said...

Oh neat!!!!I liked the presentation of the food and not to mention how delicious this all looks. So thats where nemo went, he ended up on your dinner plate. =)We are coming to dine w/you guys when we come to Neeww York!

Amanda said...

Oh YUMMY. Homemade tofu? Never had it, bet it was good..

El said...

It looks like an incredible meal. After hearing about the homemade tofu, I realize I've never really had it - only out of the package. Sad, really. Great pics!

Fresh Local and Best said...

Houston - would love to meet you guys and the new addition.

Amanda - fresh made tofu is interesting, you should try it at least once.

El - Thanks! Your photos on your blog are amazing!

Joanne said...

What a unique eating experience! All of this sounds so delicious, although I think my favorite would have been the yam. I love experiencing new cuisines/ways of cooking. Where is this restaurant?

5 Star Foodie said...

I haven't had anything prepared with this robata grilling method, would love to try, sounds really delicious!

Fresh Local and Best said...

Joanne - Apologies, I just added the information and links to Aburiya. It's located in mid-town east.

Dolce said...

The plates are beautifully laid! I tried Butani right by Union Square specializing in robata and I liked it very much.

Fresh Local and Best said...

Dolce - Thanks for the recommendation! I'll have to try it in the near future!

unconfidentialcook said...

This looks great....If you're in LA there is a wonderful Japanese grill (all sorts of fantastic things!), every little thing on skewers. Sakura House in Culver City.

Fresh Local and Best said...

unconfidentialcook - I do visit southern California from time to time, I'll keep this recommendation for the next visit. Thanks!

Cinnamon-Girl Reeni♥ said...

What a delicious meal from start to finish! I'm inspired to eat Japanese food now!

Natashya KitchenPuppies said...

Very adventurous! We don't have anything in the way of authentic Japanese in my town.. but an alarming amount of all you can eat sushi joints.

girlichef said...

ooooooooh, Barricuda! How awesome...I love that you went to this restaurant and set your mind to learnin'...my kinda gal :D Great post!

Selba said...

Everything looks so delicious... and the last dish the robata grill definitely looks very interesting! Look at the expression of the fish, it looks so hopeless and sad but in a funny way :D

the ungourmet said...

looks and sounds like a great place. I'd love to try freshly made tofu sometime.

Sook said...

My husband always brags about how good Japanese food is in Japan!

This restaurant you went to, it looks like they have very authentic Japanese food. I'm glad you got to go!

Ashwin Nicholas said...

Wow that was an interesting post :) thanks for the compliment btw! My blog's new so I'm glad that you liked it :D

Chow and Chatter said...

looks goods like the lil fishie, just posted your guets post love ya Rebecca

Debinhawaii said...

What a wonderful dinner. We have a couple places here that do the freshy made tofu--it is so good.

and this blog said...

this place looks awesome! i must go try it ASAP =)