Best Small Plates: An evening of rarefied bites
Most nights, Hanazen is a sleepy sushi joint with better-than-average nigiri. But once a month, husband-and-wife owners Kenji and Coco Horikawa put on a special multicourse dinner that pairs premium sakes with small portions of food in Japan's kaiseki tradition. At a recent dinner the five courses included warm black cod with an ethereal miso sauce, a salad of delicate young okra slices, slabs of foie-gras-like monkfish liver topped with black shoyu tobiko, and an amazing deep-fried halibut roulade that contained asparagus and anise-scented shiso leaves. Seating is limited to sixteen, and meals can run well beyond three hours. Since Coco never lets your glass sit empty, a night of brilliant tastes can go all foggy next morning. The price tag is significant ($80 per person), and you can get on the invite list only if you've dined at the sushi bar and signed the guestbook. But kaiseki nirvana is worthy of your patience.