At Kenzo, a restaurant partnership between two powerhouses, you’ll feel as if you were transported to Japan for an authentic refined kaiseki meal.
Executive chef Hiroyuki Kanda has a three Michelin starred restaurant, Kanda, in Tokyo and owners Kenzo and Natsuko Tsujimoto have numerous fine dining restaurants in Japan as well as Kenzo Estate Winery in Napa. Together they opened Kenzo in Napa in 2016 which received a Michelin star less than a year later. Using the finest local ingredients and fish flown in from Japan, Kenzo’s kaiseki menu is a seamless harmony of delicate and rich flavors.
Sweet delicate snow crab meat was made into an immaculate “croquette” made from rice cracker making it extra crispy. The accompany gin-an sauce, a Japanese dashi based sauce, had a slightly thick texture with a subtle flavor that melded nicely with the crab.
Seasonal hassun was a compilation of various small bites: seasoned ehime iidako octopus with its head stuffed with potato; oceany short neck clam with bitter broccoli rabe and saikyo miso; crispy lake Shinji ice fish with Japanese red basil; shrimp soboro and Hokkaido salmon roe; and sweetened kumquat with lily bulbs. A lot of unusual yet enticing flavors.
I’d never had a dish quite like this as the cherrystone clam was almost made into a seafood dumpling floating in a dashi broth. Quite an interesting preparation. Warming and comforting.
Beautiful slices of seabream sashimi with bright yuzu, peppery mizuna, and crunchy radish. This was a favorite amongst the first few dishes with the subtle fresh fish and the pops of flavors from the garnishes.
Meaty bluefin tuna with creamy sweet yet briny Hokkaido sea urchin were highlighted even more with the accompaniments of grated Japanese yam, aromatic shiso leaves, and an umami bomb nori seaweed soy sauce. The “soy sauce” was a unique preparation as the addition of seaweed added texture and another dimension of flavor.
Succulent mackerel was grilled and served with a red miso sauce and braised chrysanthemum cress. Simple and delicious.
Luscious Satsuma wagyu beef just melted like butter in my mouth. Vibrant spring asparagus, napa cabbage coulis, and a rich Kenzo Estate wine reduction only enhanced the already spectacular beef.
The next few courses were various nigiri sushi, all delicious in their own way.
The majority of kaiseki menus end with some sort of soup.
The meal ended in three desserts that were light yet still satisfy your sweet tooth. Light airy meyer lemon mousse with candied lemon peel; black sesame chewy mochi with brown sugar sauce; and pungent ginger ice cream with brown butter caramel.
Kenzo offered a beautiful kaiseki menu with a few surprising dishes that showcased techniques and tastes that I hadn’t had before. While the experience was more than enjoyable, the price point is definitely on the higher side in comparison to portion size. However, when you factor in the impeccable ingredients they use, I do feel like the price can be justified. Therefore my overall rating is an 8-8.5/10.