Cagen, East Village, New York – Restaurant Review

Chef Tomita at Cagen

By Jonathan Spira on 25 August 2015
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Bad news for the U.S. and Japanese airlines that offer flights from New York to Tokyo: It’s no longer necessary to fly halfway across the globe to enjoy the best sushi Tokyo has to offer.  All a diner has to do is visit Cagen, which opened two summers ago in the East Village.

Chef and owner Toshio Tomita, who spent 16 years working for Nobu Matsuhisa of Nobu restaurant fame, has built an establishment that vies with the best sushi restaurants I’ve been to in the Japanese capital.

Forget the menu.  Let Tomita decide what to serve and magic will follow.

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If you’re surprised to start a meal at a Japanese restaurant with Gazpacho – as my dining companion and I were – be aware that it’s better Gazpacho than I’ve had at a restaurant where one would expect it on the menu.  Be prepared for such twists and turns.  Some dishes will be exactly what you’d expect from a traditional Japanese chef and others are simply a surprise and a delight.

Select from three tasting menus that present from four to ten courses of a mixture of raw, fried, and cooked fish dishes.

The ingredients used at Cagen – the fish is flown in from Japan – are unsurpassed.  Tomita, whose son, Rei, is also a chef at the restaurant, grinds wasabi in front of the diner using a sandstone and has told me he is experimenting with growing it fresh in the restaurant, pulling out a wasabi root as evidence.  (Wasabi is reputed to be one of the most difficult plants to grow, requiring a humid environment with moderate temperatures, however the taste of fresh wasabi is unsurpassed so I wish father-and-son luck in their experiment.)

Click here to continue to Page 2Time to Make the Soba

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