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Kyo Ya

photo by Reimy Gonzalez

Japanese cooking is a delicate art, each measured brushstroke producing symbiotic flavors and textures carefully and beautifully presented. There’s perhaps no better way to experience this art than kaiseki, a progressive feast tied to seasonality; there’s perhaps no better place in the city to experience kaiseki than at Kyo Ya, the pristine East Village restaurant that has hummed quietly along under the shrewd eye of chef Chikara Sono for seven years. Book your nine-, 10-, or 11-course meal at least a day in advance and move ritualistically through visually stunning and nuanced bites, or drop in on a whim and order à la carte offerings that likewise change with the seasons. Treat yourself to hoshi-gaki agedashi, savoring the chewy balls of mochi that swim with persimmon tempura in broth deeply savory from dashi. Move then to the botan shrimp and sea urchin, intricately arranged with shimeji mushrooms in tart, prickly wasabi kuzu sauce. If it’s monkfish season, perhaps you want some liver or the fish deeply fried. Let your server guide you, and don’t miss the sake collection, which runs deep in carafe offerings. One caveat: You’ll want to have the address handy when you set out — Kyo Ya is hidden beneath a staircase that bears no streetside sign.