Visiting Mifune in NYC: Japanese Dishes with French Flavor

INSIDE OF MIFUNE
Photo by Ron Rossi

At times we all want something new to taste. We consider what options are there for us. Is it something we know of, or is it something new? Is it Japanese? Is it French? Or is it something else? And, not only what it is, but who the Chefs are and what is their style. There are many ways to consider before you go. But there are times you have to try something different and experience a new path to enjoy. Welcome to MIFUNE.

This is the path to take when you want something that is to see, learn and enjoy. It is an experience that will entice you to try for the first time and many more.

When we went to visit MIFUNE we were excited to go. Once we stepped inside we felt warm and welcomed. The Chefs were cooking. The host greeted us and set us up for the meal we were here for. There is no difference as to the time and the meal. It is the same as if you were back in Japan. Or so we thought.

Our Tokyo Days

My wife and I lived in Tokyo many years ago as I worked over there. With our little daughter in hand, we fell in love with the city, the people, and the country. It was wonderful. We learned to do everything Japanese. Including the way, we learned to eat. Every day, and every way it was always Japanese. And that was whether we ate in our home or went out for a meal over the weekend. It was life. So, when we walked into MIFUNE we believed we had the same feeling we expected. But we were wrong. This time we had a new experience.

Executive Chefs Yuu Shimano and Tomohiro Urata invite you into their establishment to have a new experience in a special place that they create every day. These are highly skilled and imaginative Chefs who create meals that you believe you had before but most likely did not. They combine the concept of Japanese dishes with the flavor and tastings of French. It is done in such a way that you know it is not one or the other. Instead, it is a combination that is created with a taste that takes you down a new path to enjoy.

Having lived in both Japan and France we knew the difference between both. But when you visit MIFUNE you have a new path to take. It is one that combines the best of both and gives you something new to enjoy.

Start with a greeting to begin our MIFUNE Experience

We were met at the door by Manager Mayumi. We sat down and she started to explain to us the details.

MIFUNE was founded four years ago here in New York. Both Chef Shimano and Chef Urata had attended the Culinary Institute in Tokyo for their study and degree. Both became friends and worked to rise to the top. Once they had their degrees they were invited to attend the Culinary Institute in France. They attended there and received their degree once more. They also worked in France at a 3-Star Michelin Restaurant for several years. It was their way to perfect their skill and create a style that combined the simplicity of Japanese cooking with the flavor and taste of France. It was the first direction to move and try. They achieved their recognition before moving to New York.

As we discussed the history we were told about the menu for the evening. Being the time we are in, the menu had a few options for the evening. It was all fresh and based on what was available. There is no written menu. Instead, the options are discussed with you for the evening. This came to about four choices. Each version would consist of 8 to 12 courses starting with an appetizer to the dessert course. For us, we decided to ask for the choice of the Chefs. We were visiting their restaurant and decided it is best to let the chef decide what we should experience. It becomes their choice and your surprise.

Mayumi asked if we wanted a cocktail to start. The beverage menu was extensive. There were cocktails, wines, sake, and other options and Shingo Gokan is the Mixologist. I asked if they had a Japanese beer available and they did. I chose Sapporo, a true beer made only in Japan. It was served at the same temperature you would have in Tokyo. It is just the right room temperature to enjoy as your meal starts one course at a time.

A course of meals to taste and enjoy

As we were discussing the meals our first course arrived. It was a cool bowl of Chilled Corn Cream Soup. But not plain corn soup. It was fresh and tasty but had a few spices and flavors. You can taste the corn and the cream that make this a delight to have as you go through a portion that is just right to start. It is not too much, but just enough as you wait for the next course.

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The Corn Soup. Photo by Ron Rossi

With this, they brought out the appetizer that consisted of a spoon topped with Cured Mackerel, Yuzu Carrot Ribbons, Marmalade, Creme Fraiche-Dill, Hokkaido Uni, Savory Braised Nori, Marbled Potato Chips. It was just enough. Fresh, tasty, and firm. It complemented each other as you enjoyed the portion, and wasn’t too much and endless.

The Smoked Trout

After the soup and appetizer, you are now up to the next level. With this, we received some Smoked Trout (Masu is the Japanese name of the fish), Pickled Radishes, Pickled Yellow Beets, Trout Caviar, Parsnip-Kombudashi Puree, Yellow Beet-Kombudashi Puree that was a combination of a sauce and parsley. It had a nice and smoky flavor and taste. A simple mix and very easy to eat, very light, and provided a desire for more, But it gave enough so you would wait for the next course. It felt like a combination of Japanese and French styles. A little of each as you take each bite.

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SMOKED TROUT and MASU. Photo by Ron Rossi

Next, we had something we have never had, and this was worth the wait. It was a specialty of the Chef. Duck Leg Confit Rillettes, Pickled Vegetables, Celeriac Puree, Phyllo Dough. This is not a plain duck leg. Instead, it is a duck that almost looks like a piece of sushi. There is some fried taro with it.

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DUCK LEG PATTE. Photo by Ron Rossi

The Grilled Squid

This is like a Japanese concept with French design. You can try it and taste something that is well-flavored and not heavily spiced. It has a good combination that you can enjoy with each bite. It is enough to enjoy and wish you had more. But like both Japan and France, it is enough to have and not eat too much. As a specialty of Chef Tomohiro this is special.

Now we move on to the Grilled Squid brushed with Soy Sauce, Fried Artichoke, Bacon-Carrot-Turmeric Sauce with a small salad. It is slightly smoked, grilled, and firm. It rests on top of the artichoke tempura that is the right flavor and taste to compliment the truly fresh octopus that also has a flavor with a mix of celery and lemon. Nothing is too spicy. It is perfect and well received. There is also a slight topping with bacon, carrots, and turmeric. Nothing more. Nothing less.

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SMOKED OCTOPUS and ARTICHOKE. Photo by Ron Rossi

Halfway through the meal

Before you taste your course you inhale and can learn how fresh it all is. That is important as it prepares you for what comes next. This time it was the Oysters with Consomme Gelee. These are large and fresh remaining in their shell. It is right out of the ocean. It is topped with a mix of ginger, lemon and celery turned into a dip on top. As you would normally do, you lift the oyster and swall. That is it. And you will enjoy something that is naturally moist and fresh and at a slight chill as you can enjoy. When you enjoy it, you might want another. But, instead, something new comes in front of you.

This is now a Chawanmushi (Steamed Egg Custard), Porcini Mushroom An Sauce placed on an egg custard. It is delightful. It is warm and fresh. A taste you can enjoy. It is a small portion but rich in flavor. And the egg custard is something to enjoy. Each bite is a taste to enjoy as you want to have more.

The main meal is now

As you move through your meal you go from something very small and light in flavor to a course that is richer and has more of a taste to it. This is a gradual process so that the more you have the more you will enjoy. It is an experience more than a dinner.

Now we had the Grilled Bronzino, Sauce Vierge, Ratatouille with a slight pepper sauce. This is fresh Branzino that is simple, grilled, and excellent. The fish is white and has a little crust on it. That is it. Simple. Plain. But a flavor and texture you will want as you take a taste of it. This was a great way to have some fish as a meal.

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BRANZINO Fish. Photo by Ron Rossi

Smoked El & Foie Gras, and More…

Next is the Eel. This is not an ordinary eel. This is Smoked Eel & Foie Gras, Sunchoke Puree, Fried Sunchoke Chips, Coffee Sable. and it is on top of Forgo. The combination is not something you might expect, but here it is new and different. And with each bite, it tastes even better. It is slightly smoked in a sauce to give it a taste to relish.

Once you have finished this you would think the meal was finished. But it is not, Next up is one of the main items you do not always have when in the place. Tonight it is the Miyazaki Wagyu Beef (A5 Rank) Brioche Toast, Teriyaki Sauce, Roasted Seasonal Vegetable, Swish Chard Puree. This is a very special item that is sent over directly from Japan the day before. It is fresh to the market from around the world. This is grilled lightly.

The outside is dark but the inside is moist and tasty and medium-rare at most. Nothing less, but definitely it is more than expected. In Tokyo this is a special item, so to have it here makes it very special. This is a specialty of Chef Yuu Shimano. Perfection is all we can say. The Chef came out after we had it and we had to thank him for this meal. He was grateful for where we were. If you can have this it is worth it.

The Miso Soup with Uni Risotto

As we finished this entree we felt we were done. But we were not. We had one more course to try. And this was a traditional Japanese approach. This time we had Miso Soup with Uni Risotto. It is a special combination of two cultures. The miso soup was traditional and fresh. There is no denying that. The Risotto is made with fresh rice and mixed with fresh uni. Together it is special. But with a bowl of miso soup, you have something you can make an entire meal with. But the size and proportion is ideal. Just enough to taste and enjoy.

Dessert from a Chef

As we now finished our meal we had one course left. This was dessert. But this one was made by Chef Celia Lee, she is an excellent Chef of dessert. For us, she made something we had not had before. In this offer, we had a Caramelized Banana, Milk Ice Cream, Oat Streusel, Rum Anglaise, Banana Foam, Brown Butter Chantilly that was placed on brioche with some vanilla ice cream and a foam topping.

This was different and made us think after the first bite. We thought of it and how it made us think. It was unique and different. But with another bite, we realized it was something to enjoy as you tried it. Chef Lee personally brought the dessert to us and we discussed it with her. The ingredients were fresh in the morning. Nothing changes. Every day can mean a different dessert she might make. It was worth the wait as we savored the taste.

Of course, this is brought with a cup of fresh tea. In the end, it reminded us of being in Japan and having the taste and memory of being there.

A place to enjoy. A meal to remember. Chefs to thank

When you visit MIFUNE you will be visiting a time to and place to have a meal you will find is special and one to enjoy. It’s different. It is not like any other place you visit. Here you’ll experience something new. The Chefs have learned in Japan and in France. They have learned from other Chefs who taught what was important so you can learn how to create. In their instances, this has become a combination of Japanese and French. A touch of each.

When you visit there is no set menu. Your team will let you know what the options will be. It is up to the Chefs what they will be making for the evening. There is also no rush. The meal will take time. You can prepare for your visit from two hours to longer (I was there for three hours). As they mentioned, you can have from 8 courses to 12 courses. It depends on what you would like and what the Chef will create.

What you notice is that the French flavor elevates the Japanese flavor, the taste, and the concept. It is a very different experience at a home where the Chefs will create something you will never have had but what you will enjoy. To learn what they create is unique as you take your time and savor each meal.

Mayumi, the Manager, can help with any questions you might have. The team is there to help and serve you as you move forward. The price is to be expected from an adventure you have when you are here.

MIFUNE is worth the steps to take to be there and enter a home that will treat you with what you will enjoy.

Arigatō Gozaimasu…Merci...to the Chefs.

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Restaurant Name: MIFUNE

LOCATION: 245 East 44th Street
(Between 2nd & 3rd Ave.)
New York, NY 10017, PHONE: 212-986-2800
WEBSITE

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