[New York] Kura (Dinner)

[ A+ ] /[ A- ]

Kura | Yelp
Address: 130 St Mark’s Pl (East Village), New York, NY 10009
Date visited: 2013.04
Total bill: $84 + tip for one
Verdict: Anything Miyake-san hands you is good
Will return: Definitely

No signs, no windows, no menu. Good luck finding this place. Actually, I hope you don’t so I can eat in peace. I am kind of kidding but not really.

I feel conflicted writing this review because the next thing I know, I will have to make a reservation weeks in advance to eat here. I think everyone who has eaten here wants to keep it a secret from the public.

But okay, I am under obligation to share good food with the world so here is how to find Kura: it is located close to the corner of Avenue A and St Mark’s Pl. Look for an unmarked store front with all wood paneling, wooden door, and tiny window the size of your face to the left of the door. Once you are inside, you will find a bar that seats 12 people and a table to the side that seats around 4-5. Seating is limited and I recommend calling to make a reservation.

Kura is purely omakase style, meaning you leave your meal entirely up to Chef Miyake-san, who will serve you a combination of sushi and cooked dishes over multiple courses. The omakase starts at $65 (and up), which is unheard of in New York and elsewhere for the quality you are getting. You can choose what price point you want to start at and they will tell you when you are close to hitting the limit. At that point, you have the option to increase your price ceiling or stop. Of course, the higher your price point, the higher the market value of ingredients will be used (real talk, the $65 tier isn’t going to get you lobster sashimi but a higher tier will). Know this: no matter what price point you choose, you will always get the freshest and highest quality ingredients. That’s the point of not having a set menu–what’s being served is what’s freshest that day. I wouldn’t be surprised if they raise the prices next year; I will still go.

I opted for the $65 tier during this visit because I had already been stuffing myself with macarons earlier. I ate solo but I didn’t feel like I was alone. Chef Miyake-san and his left-hand (who is actually the owner SURPRISE) love to talk to customers.

Dassai Sake (Glass $12; price varies depending on selection)
You can get sake by the glass, carafe, or entire bottle. If you are unsure, just ask the owner for a recommendation. He suggested pairing this Dassai sake with my meal. It was sweet, smooth, and a perfect complement to my meal.

Every time I come here, I end up eating food that I: 1) always wanted to try, 2) didn’t think I would like, or 3) didn’t know existed. It always ends up tasting delicious. That is the effect Miyake-san has on the food he makes.
Marinated Flounder
I started off with a marinated flounder, which was tangy and spicy.

Tuna with Mountain Yams
I didn’t think I would like this but I did. Mountain yam is either a hit or miss for me because it has a slimy consistency after it is grated. It can taste really good or really weird, usually the latter, depending on what it is paired with. With a hint of wasabi, the mountain yams in this dish tasted great. After you finish the tuna, you can drink the remaining mountain yam from the bowl.

Duck with Eel, Taro, and Shrimp Wrapped in Bean Curd, and Japanese squash
I never had eel, taro, and shrimp wrapped in bean curd and it reminded me of dim sum; I especially liked the taro part.
The duck was tender and juicy with hint of lemon flavor. 

Miso Soup
Fifteen years of speaking English and I still cannot describe what umami (鲜味) is but it was in this soup. This miso soup was cooked with fish bones, which made it very 鲜, and contained a piece of Spanish mackerel.

Tokyo Style Tamagoyaki (Egg)
This was made with mountain potato, shrimp, and egg and was slightly sweeter than regular tamagoyaki. My only complaint was that I would have liked this to top off the sushi pieces at the end. I got another egg dish soon after this so it was a little too much egg in a short span. Just a minor order detail.

Monkfish Liver
Ah, monkfish liver–foie gras of the sea. This is something I have wanted to try for awhile. I was so happy when this appeared in front of me.
Chawanmushi (Steamed Egg)
There was shrimp, fish cake, chicken, and mushroom in the egg custard, and was topped with yuzu peel. The boy climbing the bowl was funny. 

Green Tea Soba Wrapped in Spanish Mackerel
This dish was served warm and it was fantastic. Hands down the most beautiful dish of the night. Definitely a highlight.

Sushi time. There was no real need for soy sauce or wasabi on the side because it was already brushed on or incorporated into the sushi. All the pieces were fresh and delicious.

Akami (Tuna)

Marinated Aji (Jackfish)

This piece actually came from a larger dish that was given to the couple sitting next to me. I literally saw Miyake-san turn the whole jackfish into sashimi before my eyes. This is why you sit at the bar.

Chef Miyake-san

Hamachi (Yellowtail)

Ika (Squid)

Uni (Sea Urchin)

Alright, let’s pause for a sushi lesson. Look here noobsicles, this is the real way to eat sushi. Flip your palm up and grab the sushi by your index and middle finger. Put the sushi into your mouth upside down with the fish on the bottom and rice on top so the fish lands on your tongue. No need for chopsticks.

Hotate (Scallop)

Akami (Tuna) Handroll
Miyake-san handed this right to me. Simply delicious.


Pressed mackerel with a layer of translucent seaweed on top
After this, Miyake-san asked if I was still hungry. No more, I said. The owner asked if I wanted dessert. Of course. Dessert goes into my second stomach.
Green Tea Ice Cream
That concludes my very satisfying meal at Kura. While some courses are a stable and may be similar from time to time, there is no telling what surprises await you during your visit. Like I said, Miyake-san always ends up introducing something new to me during every visit. To give you an idea, below are some dishes I have received during previous visits (not all at once):
Duck Soup
Very hearty and full of flavor.
Tuna Tataki

Fried Blowfish
I am still alive. American blowfish is not poisonous.

Stuffed Squid
Utterly insane O_O.
TL;DR: see other Kura post, less words and more pictures.