MIFUNE New York

Ever since this restaurant opened up in July of this year, I have been very curious about them. Then, when I was in Japan during late Summer, I met with chefs who knows and worked with the Executive Chef at Mifune! So, I really had to go for a visit. It had a clean, modern exterior with traditional Japanese wood design. Simple but elegant. The restaurant is named after Toshiro Mifune, the famed Japanese actor who appeared in almost 170 feature films from the 1940s to 1990s. He won some prestigious awards for his work, and this restaurant is going to make him proud with amazing and delicious creations of their own.

Right after the first door was a small entry area. Here, they provide a very smooth transition from the outside to the interior environment. The first thing that we saw was a counter table with chairs. It is always good to have a counter seating for customers who comes to eat alone, or likes to order just sushi/sashimi items.

Then the vast, large space opened up in front of our eyes. The dining room is again clean, simple but yet elegant. The design is a mix of modern and old-fashion Japanese style, with pretty cool light fixture and wooden wall around the bar. I saw many Japanese patrons here, a really good sign that the Japanese food offered here is getting a seal of approvals from other Japanese foodies.

I especially liked the large tree design on the wall, which I think is a real tree. The ceiling is really high, making the room to feel much bigger. The height of the ceiling also helps with scent control. The light was soft and low, creating calm, relaxing and even romantic atmosphere.

They had a cloth napkin and chopstick at each seat. I appreciate their original cloth napkins with their name embroidered, much more than if they used some paper napkins. Once we seated, a staff brought us hot towels to clean our hands. Love hot towels before the meal!

We started off with some cocktails. They had nice selection of wines, sake, Japanese whiskey and more. I chose Oharu ($16), made with lychee-cello, nigori sake, grapefruit, and orange blossom. It had a lychee on a pick as well. I have a weakness for lychee, so when I saw this cocktail, I knew I was going to get this one. It was really nice, I loved how it is made with nigori sake, which is a sweet, cloudy sake instead of water-like, clear sake. The sweetness of lychee and nigori sake was controlled by the grapefruit flavor, went really nicely together, creating an elegant drink.

My hubby chose Rasho-Mon ($17), made with vodka, ginger cordial, bitters, gari, and soda. All the cocktails are named after movies and characters from movies that Mifune was featured in, which is pretty clever. This drink was nice and refreshing, with the sparkling from soda and ginger. Sophisticated adult drink that goes down really smooth.

For main, we decided to go with one of their course menus, MIFUNE Tasting Menu ($80/person), which is a six-course meal. They also have eight-course, and vegetarian tasting menu. The first course was Truffle Egg Custard and Hokkaido Uni.

Truffle egg custard, or a chawanmushi, which is a Japanese egg custard dish, cooked in a steam pot. It was super velvety and light, airy and smooth. I loved the truffle shavings on the top, providing wonderful truffle aroma and flavor. Chawanmushi is a typical, old-fashion comfort dish, but here, it was more elegant and sophisticated. Excellent!

Hokkaido Uni is a sea urchin from Hokkaido. To be honest, I am usually not a fan of uni, had my share of uni from different high-end restaurants in my life. But, none of them ever captured my heart-until now. The way they prepared the uni was amazing! It was placed on a bed of white rice with some kind of tasty sauce. It was very fresh, and not fishy in any way which I don’t know how…I was in awe. Incredible!

Second Course was Smoked Butter Fish with Garlic Green Sauce and Organic Radish. It came in a beautiful red plate, holding a jewel in the middle. The presentation was really nice, looked like a flower or crown.

The fish was very fresh and great firm texture. The radish was sliced thin yet had awesome crunch to it. Loved the sauce, hint of garlic flavor that was not overwhelming. It is made with garlic, spinach and onion. This was a great, refreshing dish. The portion is small, but clearly, this place is about quality and not quantity, and I am perfectly fine with that.

Third course was Crispy Arare Batter Scallop with Bonito Dashi Sauce. Arare is a type of bite-sized Japanese cracker made from glutinous rice and flavored with soy sauce. Scallop is coated with arare, like how people use bread crumbs on fish before baking or frying them. I have never seen anyone use arare before, very creative! Now, I mentioned dimmed lighting in this restaurant, which makes it very difficult to take a good, sharp photos…but I did my best.

There were three scallops, and placed in a pool of warm dashi soup. It had small turnips in it, which was really nice addition to the dish. They soaked up the dashi flavor, soft but still holding onto nice firmness.

Scallops had a nice crunchy texture with arare on the top, where it had not been exposed to the dashi soup. The dashi soup was very warm, earthy, and comfy flavor, had excellent depth to it. Scallops had a great texture, soft and plump.

Fourth course was a choice of Broiled Gindara with Parmesan Foam or Roasted Magret Duck Breast. My husband I chose one of each so that we can taste them both. Gindara is a black cod. It came with crunchy lotus root chips and brussels sprouts.

 

The fish, oh my goodness, just melted in my mouth. Best, cod, EVER! Parmesan cheese gave a hint of earthy flavor, went great with the cod. It was flaky and yet juicy. Symphony on your tongue. Brussels sprouts were great tough. Cooked just right with nice firm texture without being too hard. Lotus root chips were amazing too, and I am not a big fan of lotus roots either. I heard a chef says once that there is no ingredients that taste bad, just a bad tasting dish. So, if you are talented and creative enough, you can make anything and everything delicious. Here, I believe they have found the magic of doing so…

The other choice of the fourth course, Roasted Magret Duck Breast came in a shiny black plate. It enhanced the deep pink color of duck breast. It was marinated in some kind of sweet and tangy sauce.

The duck was really good, generously sliced and cooked to perfection. Soft, juicy, and satisfying texture. The veggies were fresh and crunchy, creating nice contrast to the duck. The sauce had deep and comfy flavor, enhancing the natural flavor of the duck.

Fifth course was Salmon & Ikura Takikomi Rice. This was a bit of surprise. The waitress brought out this tray with one small, old-fashion rice hearth to the table! Takikomi Rice is basically rice that is cooked with other ingredients like meat and seafood with soy sauce based seasoning, dashi, and other ingredients.

Inside the hearth was this glorious salmon fillets and ikura over rice. My goodness I was so happy to see this beautiful dish! Then the waitress quickly mixed them all up and separated them in bowls.

She didn’t put all the rice mixtures out, but a small portion into each of the bowls. This way, we can give more to the ones who wants more. And yes, I wanted and more and more of it! It was so flavorful, the rice had all the flavors from the salmon and seasoning. Great depth to it and really comfortable flavor. Loved the little burned rice on the bottom of the hearth… The salmon was cooked just right, not overcooked in any way, so they were still moist and juicy. We love ikura, so we were super happy to get a generous amount of ikura. And it is fun to share the hearth with your loved ones. I truly loved this one!

The last course was a dessert. It is set as “Today’s Dessert” so that might change on a daily bases. On this day, it was Soba Tea Blanc-manger with Strawberry Compote.

Blanc-manger is a dessert made with milk or cream, and thickened with gelatin or similar ingredients. It was creamy, milky and velvety. Did not have too strong soba tea flavor, but subtle, elegant and delicious. Strawberries were sweet and juicy, and the thick sauce was both tart and sweet. Nice combination of the fruity dish and milky dish.

Throughout the delectable and mouthwatering course, we also had several additional dishes, outside the course meal.

We had Seared Red Shrimp with Ossetra Caviar ($35). It had French salt, pepper, lemon juice and fresh chives on top. Again, the portion is small, but the quality…it is out of this world good.

After one bite, I was in heaven. My goodness it was amazing! The shrimp was plump and fresh, meaty and really tasty. Caviar was wonderful, simply divine. They were not fishy at all, and very refreshing.

We also got Braised Lamb Shoulder Mifune Style ($30), with ginger almond crust and lamb broth.

It was so tender and juicy, they melted in my mouth. They were cooked to the point they easily fell apart with a simple touch… Delightful and just perfect. Ginger almond crust was awesome, added extra crunchy texture against soft meat. Ginger had a nice kick to it, but not overpowering.

Before the dessert, we got a small Porchini Mushroom Soup. It was in a small cup, like the ones used for hot sake. The soup had wonderful deep and earthy flavor. Great mushroom taste that warms your soul. It was a perfect thing to have after a long day, or actually, any day really.

For dessert, we added Soba Tea Blanc-manger with Kibito Caramel Ice Cream ($12). This is almost the same dessert that was included in the six-course meal. The one we ordered off the regular dessert menu does not come with fruit compote, but is much larger, and has Kibito Caramel Ice Cream on top. Kibito caramel had great caramel flavor that went great with the milky Blanc-manger.

All in all, it was an amazing dinner. We enjoyed every bite of every dish. There was not a single dish that let us down. I had high expectation, but this place surprised me with such incredible dishes, surpassed my expectation completely. Our waitress, Fatima was so sweet, polite, friendly and wonderful. She took a great care of us. All the other staffs who took care of us were really nice too. They have both Japanese and non-Japanese servers, and they were all top of the class.

The Chef Yuu Shimano was remarkable, who clearly shows his culinary skills he acquired both in Japan and France. I wish him a continuous success at MIFUNE. I heard they seem to change their menu seasonally, in order to provide the best and freshest ingredients available at that time. I would love to go back again each time they change the menu so that I can taste their amazingly delicious food again and again and again…

 

MIFUNE New York – 245 E 44th St, New York, NY 10017

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