[Photos: Patricia Chang]
Joining the flurry of new restaurant openings today is Kusakabe, the new upscale Japanese spot from former Sushi Ran chef Mitsunori "Nori" Kusakabe. Designed by Shaum Mehra of ArcHive Architecture, the 31-seat interior that formerly housed Machka makes for a serene escape from the bustle of the Financial District, with clean, modern lines, warm wood accents and a tranquil ambiance that's a hallmark of high-end Japanese dining.
At Kusakabe, the focus is on sushi along with a few other dishes designed to reflect seasonality and harmony. It's all based on the kaiseki philosophy, which emphasizes being in the moment and follows a five-point set of tenets, including five colors (white, purple, yellow, red, green), five tastes (sweet, salty, sour, bitter, spicy), five senses (smell, taste, sight, hearing, touch), and five cooking methods (roasted, boiled, fried, simmered and raw).
Chef Nori aims to explore beyond Edomae-style sushi preparation (the most common form) and will experiment with a variety of traditional and lesser-known sushi styles. Examples of sushi items that might appear on the omakase menu include bamboo-leaf cured young sea bream temari-style with fish-bone cracker, line-caught flying fish with its own golden caviar and cedar-barbecued white eel, bou-sushi style with Arima sweet pepper sauce. (Here's a sample omakase menu.)
A la carte sushi will also be available, along with desserts like maccha crème-brulee with caramelized wasanbon sugar and yuzu and shiso-leaf sorbet with monaka crackers. (See the a la carte and dessert menu here.)
The drink menu spans local and European wines, Japanese beer and extensive sake options, and there'll be a sake and wine sommelier on hand to dole our pairing suggestions. (Here's the drink menu.)
Starting today, hours for the new spot are Tuesday to Sunday, 5pm-10pm.