Named after the Japanese tradition of “moon viewing”, Tsukimi is an intimate dining destination designed to embrace the essence of this beautiful tradition of gathering.
During Tsukimi in Japan, family and friends often gather under the full moon with seasonal food and sake as offerings to the moon, traditionally as a prayer for a good harvest. Inspired by the act of gathering over great food and wine, Tsukimi brings a new seasonal and modern Kaiseki experience to New York’s East Village neighbourhood.
The discreet storefront evokes a mysterious allure that piques the curiosity of passersby, featuring semi-transparent windows and minimal signage that weave into the existing brick-clad structure. Upon entry, you are welcomed into a posh, yet intimate setting designed by the local, award-winning design team, Studio Tack. The elegant interior is highlighted by two brass counter tables facing each other. Each table offers 7 bar-style seatings for guests, a design concept commonly found in Japan to encourage interactions between restaurant staff and guests. In between the two tables is a path leading to the kitchen. This design allows a closer connection between diners and the food as they observe the delicate preparation process of their Kaiseki creations in the kitchen.
Much like the rustic exterior facade of the 1920 building that houses Tsukimi, the original classic mosaic floor in the restaurant remains untouched. The sympathetic restoration retains select design features of the heritage structure, bringing together the old and the new in perfect harmony. The untouched details are also a reminder to Executive Chef Akiyama and General Manager Karen Lin of where they first met and worked together in this exact same place years ago.
Behind the seating area there are intricate mirror panels with wooden detailing lining the length of the wall. The lighting design throughout the space was inspired by the way Japanese view the moon during Tsukimi - by looking indirectly at the reflection of the moon on water or diffusion of light across the landscape. The warm and slightly dim glow from various light installations is reminiscent of moonlight, evoking a sense of comfort and intimacy to bring diners closer together. Throughout the restaurant, diners can spot various design details inspired by the moon, such as the circular mirrors along the wall, the crescent-shaped archways, and the perfectly round illuminating bulbs that shine like a full moon. To imitate the reflection of moon light on water, the serving counter even features a glazed surface to reflect the various moon-like lights across the back walls.
Meticulous care goes into the presentation of the food, and plate-ware rotates seasonally to compliment the Chef’s ever-changing creations. The large plate-ware collection on display includes ceramics made by renowned ceramic artist Hitori Wada from Japan, known for his modern take on traditional techniques which harmonizes with the restaurant’s Tsukimi theme. Other ceramic pieces and lacquerware from local and international artists and brands include Brooklyn-based artist Minami Takahashi, Kimoto Glassware from Tokyo, and Zalto from Austria. If you’re lucky, you may even spot hidden gems including rare vintage pieces from General Manager Karen Lin's parents.
While the Kaiseki concept is nothing new to the diverse food scene in New York, the elegant dining setting and decor of Tsukimi sets itself apart from other traditional Japanese restaurants in New York. The restaurant’s romantic central theme of moon viewing also brings a new and refreshing concept to curious city dwellers and tourists alike looking for a one-of-a-kind dining experience within the city.
The cuisine at Tsukimi prepared by Executive Chef Takanori Akiyama follows the traditional flow of Kaiseki, but Chef’s interpretations go beyond the traditions with the incorporation of bold and dynamic flavours and ingredients.
The twelve-course tasting menu starts with a light Sakizuke appetizer, then after a series of seasonal dishes, a rice dish, followed by a selection of desserts. Highlights include Chef Akiyama’s elevation on his own SakaMai signature, “egg on egg on egg”, which is Kaluga Caviar, Uni and Egg over a small bed of sushi rice.
The Hassun course is a stunning assortment of Japanese delicacies, which guests are encouraged to savour with their favourite glass of sake, or maybe two. The rice course is prepared in a donabe pot with over 30 seasonal vegetables.
The beverage list, including sake, beer, and wine, is curated by the Co-owner and General Manager Karen Lin. The flavour profiles are meticulously selected to pair with the punchy flavours of Chef Akiyama’s creations.
Tsukimi offers a Kaiseki tasting menu for $195 per person, with a beverage pairing option for an additional $125. The restaurant is open from Wednesdays through Sundays and reservations can be made here, up to 30 days in advance. There is currently one seating only starting at 7 pm. Tsukimi will offer two seatings at 6 pm and 9 pm later in the year.
Location: 228 East. 10th Street New York, NY 10003
Interior Design: Studio Tack
Executive Chef/ Partner: Takanori Akiyama
General Manager/ Partner: Karen Lin
Photography by Read McKendree