In the century of innovation and constant improvement, it is important to constantly adapt and offer customers something new. In gastronomy this means offering complex menus and constantly updating them; which is why one name resonating in the sushi business is Koyo – a New York restaurant specializing in Kaiseki inspired Omakase cuisine, using exclusively local and imported seasonal ingredients.
Few formal dining experiences are as revered or as intimidating as omakase, a form of Japanese dining in which guests leave themselves in the hands of a chef and receive a meal which is seasonal, elegant, artistic and uses the finest ingredients available. In many ways, omakase is a spiritual companion and counterpoint to kaiseki, the elaborate multi-course Japanese meal built around seasonality, quality ingredients and simple preparations. There is one key difference though. While kaiseki is a highly ritualized meal with a specific ebb and flow, omakase changes with each occasion, with the chef making decisions about what to cook mid-course. The truth of omakase lies in the word itself – directly translated, it means “I leave it up to you.”
The complexity of the name expressed in a single word Koyo explains the business model and the importance with which the entire menu is made. Koyo means “autumnal foliage”, referring to the changing leaves of the Japanese maple tree, which mark the transition from one season to another. With a strong focus on seasonality, using ingredients that are specific to each season, the Kaiseki-inspired multi-sensory dining experience comes to life. To this day, 95% of Koyo’s fish is directly imported from Japan weekly, ensuring the ingredients for every dish are as fresh and in-season as possible.
Koyo is the accomplishment of the man behind the entire restaurant, Jay Zheng, who as the Chef and Owner, brings over 20 years experience in the kitchen and at the sushi bar. Chef Jay learned from a young age that the little things in life are important. As a child he would go to the market from his home village every morning with his mother to pick food for one day. Due to the lack of electricity, this trip was repeated daily. Growing up in such an environment he understood that quality ingredients and their freshness are important to create a fabulous menu, while adding love and care results in customers returning to his restaurant over and over again.
The year is made up of four seasons, and at Koyo, the menu changes four times a year (every three months). With each seasonal menu change, not only are the dishes changed, but also the cooking styles the chefs are using. This follows the progression of a traditional Kaiseki, but is served in an Omakase format. Offering permanent diversity, success is guaranteed as guests can rediscover the menu, ingredients and new techniques to create an entirely unique experience throughout the year. Chef Jay’s approach to curating and preparing each seasonal menu strikes the perfect balance between premium ingredients and artful skill.
At Koyo, dining is available at the Chef’s counter, dining tables, or outdoor patio which offers a separate yet enticing alternative menu. The passion that is found within this restaurant is the culmination of years of experience, and we can’t wait to see what the future holds as Chef Jay works on his newest project, coming soon to Tribeca. Until then, expect to find us holding a pair of chopsticks in our hands at Koyo.