Vegan Japanese food? Vegan sushi? I know, it sounds crazy, but Chefs / brothers Handry and Piter Tjan, of Sushiko and Kobo (the mini restaurant within Sushiko) are so talented they have transformed some of their signature dishes into vegan versions, without losing flavor, texture, or umami. I’ll tell you about what I ate, but honestly the pictures do the food so much more justice. If I could just add a way to include scent in my pictures I wouldn’t need words at all.
The dinner is a kappo, or traditional Japanese fare, meal. It features 12-15 courses and alcoholic drinks are not included (some non-alcoholic drinks like tea and sparkling water are complimentary). The menu changes depending on what seasonal and local ingredients the chefs are able to score. My meal opened with a warm green tea, made tableside, followed by a trio of flavored spheres (lychee, strawberry, and mango) that dissolve into liquid in your mouth. The experience of eating these little bubbles is like no other. Its like a liquid mango explodes in your mouth and takes over your taste buds for one blissful moment.
Then, house-made tofu (which takes days to make) served with little cans (whimsically engraved with the words imitation caviar) of black seaweed caviar. The tofu is so creamy it melts in your mouth and the caviar, which you sprinkle on top of the tofu, are little beads of seaweed flavor. It’s time to stop being afraid of tofu people, and if you still are, try this dish and you will realize tofu, when cooked properly, can be as creamy and full of flavor as cheese.
The next course was a tomato sorbet, served over tomato tartare and adored with oregano leaves. The combination of flavors, sweet, earthy, nutty and minty is a party for your senses. This course was followed by handmade fried soy yuzu cones, stuffed with basil and cucumber blossom and micro lettuce and crowned with edible flowers. Again, the trifecta of sweet-salty-spicy, all exploding in one single bite, makes this course one of the most memorable of the night. Visually, it is also one of the most stunning.
The sushi courses featured the most innovative sushi I have ever had in my life. One piece was stuffed with little tiny mini carrots. It was crunchy and sweet and wild. The next two courses were the heartiest: rice, cooked with and crowned with mushrooms, and matcha noodles swirled in a kombu dashi, are comforting and delicious. Finally we had see-through mochi. Reminiscent of a jelly-fish, it was sweet and cold and silky. Yup, you read that right, clear mochi. I told you, this dinner is a ride you won’t ever want to exit.
Important details: This dinner is not cheap. At $130 it will put a dent in your wallet, but if you are looking for wildly creative, incredibly delicious, and definitely memorable, this is the special occasion dinner for you. The price does include tax and tip, and they will accommodate any dietary restrictions/allergies. The vegan kappo dinner is only available at Kobo Monday through Wednesday. Reservations are required.