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Chef Yuji Tani has found another home for his precision cooking at this tasting menu restaurant in the back of an industrial space in Brooklyn's Greenpoint.
The Brooklyn House follows the original house in Tokyo.Credit...Nico Schinco en The New York Times
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- brooklyn house
- NYT Critic's Pick
- French; Japanese
- Norman 50,Green Point
- no phone
In December, chef Yuji Tani opened the second edition of his high-season French-Japanese restaurant in Tokyo. The original, which is now 15 years old, is calledCasa. Nova, in Greenpoint, isbrooklyn house. For what it's worth, no house is within a house.
The first is in a black glass cube in the Nishi-Azabu district. The newer house shares a renovated industrial space called 50 Norman with two other Japanese companies. is on the lefta shop that packages ready-to-drink dashi tea bagsground with a powder of cracked-skinned mushrooms, hard diamonds of green seagrass, hollow-eyed sardines, and other things a retriever might run into at low tide on the beach. The shop's dashi features prominently in the traditional teishoku dishes it serves.
It is located on the right side of the building.arts and crafts storewhere you can find ceramic matcha bowls, delicate hand-blown glass bottles andordinary skateboardplanted with daisies.
The Brooklyn house is in the back. Behind sliding doors and walls, Mr. Tani prepares dinner for up to eight people at a time, watching from a counter a few feet away.
From time to time, the restaurant acts as a showroom for handicrafts. All the plates and bowls are handmade by potters in Japan, as is the huge vase in the kitchen that Mr. Tani fills with flowers and other cuttings he buys at Greenmarket. At some point during the meal, just before, say, the roasted venison tenderloin with kale appears, diners are asked to select a hand-forged knife. Some have cherry branch handles. The rest are attached to the deer's antlers.
In fact, none of House Brooklyn's dishes are for sale. Mr. Tani sources knives, plates and other items from his own network of artisans. If the plate breaks, it is given by aKintsugian expert he knows in New York who will put it back together with silver lacquered stitching.
After all the guests have assembled, the manager will introduce the other servers, the two chefs, and Mr. Tanija. In the restaurant's eight months or so, the staff have found a tone that is chatty and friendly, without being intrusive. They're good at engaging guests in conversations about the room, the kitchen, and the drinks: there are several types of sake rarely seen in New York, along with natural wines, a genre Mr. Tani enjoys when he's not around. service. You don't feel like you're in Mr. Tani's house, which I think is intended, but at least there's not the quiet awkwardness that so many tasting menu restaurants suffer from.
The meal begins with a mochi waffle sandwich filled with foie gras mousse and cinnamon apples that is perhaps a bit too reminiscent of Thanksgiving pie. Then the cooking begins. One night in March there was a piece of leek grilled in aluminum foil and smeared with miso sauce with egg yolk; Mr. Tani placed a thin sheet of freshly seared wagyu on top of the leeks before sprinkling panko and bottarga on top.
In April, the leek disappeared. Instead, a thick stalk of grilled white asparagus is topped with shoyu koji and sprinkled with pistachios; the sauce was anchovy mayonnaise, freshly whipped with enough egg yolks to turn golden.
Mr. Tani cooks Japanese seafood that is rarely found outside of New York sushi bars. He will gently sear the skin of savara bull, an extra-fatty winter-caught Japanese Spanish mackerel, until the rich oils ooze out. Anago, a more delicate eel than unagi, is prepared in an elegant grilled galantine, wrapped around cardoon root and scallop foam.
Galantine is obviously a French idea, but preparing it with grilled anaga is not an easy substitute; it has its own logic, rooted in Japanese cuisine. You'll sometimes come across attempts to merge Japanese and French cuisine that never go beyond the obvious shift, "one of the A pillars" approach. You get a revamped Japanese dish with a French main ingredient or vice versa. By intuition or practice, Mr. Tani seems to be thinking of both cuisines at once. I'm not sure where he got the idea to use cashew cream as a sauce for the Rare Venison Stuffed Cabbage, but I do know it's one of the best dishes I've had this year.
Most of the courses change with the seasons, but two are closed. The mozzarella and burrata salad seasoned with olive oil, fish straw syrup and pomegranate seeds will always remain, although everyone remembers the sweet and brittle strawberry tile that covers the bowl like a lid and breaks when hit with a spoon. .
Nor is rice off the menu, baked in a black enameled cast iron pot with a whole or almost whole lobe of foie gras. Impressive to see -almost everyone takes photos- and to eat. Before serving, puree and mix well, leaving the foie gras in small, almost invisible pieces. You test his memory.
The server can tell you that this dish was not easy for Mr. Tani because he doesn't like foie gras. plot, right? If he doesn't like it, why does he serve it twice in a meal that may be too long and plentiful? I'm far from hating foie gras, but I'd balk if the dinner price dropped below $180 per person, not including tax and all.
I know it's a fantasy, just like my old wish that cable companies and streaming services would charge me by the hour. (I do not watch much TV). Tasting menus can make you pay more than the asking price if you ask for a wine pairing, for example. However, you never pay less.
This layer of the restaurant landscape is clearly unscathed by the economic heartbeat of recent years. There always seems to be enough people to fill the seats (Brooklyn House has been hard to book since it opened) so the business model must be working. But filling the menu with foie gras, wagyu, caviar and other connotations of luxury is at odds with Tani's understated, understated style. I can't stop thinking how nice it would be to have another house in Brooklyn with a shorter menu and lower prices. The kitchen would be just as intuitive, fluid and impressionistic, if not more so. And more people could enjoy it more often.
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Pete Wells has been a restaurant critic since 2012. In 2006, he joined The Times as a food editor. @pete_wells
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