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Best Small Plates: An evening of rarefied bites 

Hanazen

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.
(Sorry, no information is currently available for other years in this same award category.)

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