I don’t know if you’re already aware of this, but if you are please spread the news: We can weather the storm of restaurants serving up guts and high fat, the in-your-face cuisine of kids raised by health conscious parents who stuffed them with carrots and celery at Little League and kept that sausage pizza away from them while growing up, who refused trips to fast food places because it was bad for the environment, employment, and puppies and kittens. That will pass: As people tire of the pork and the hearts, tongues, hooves on the plate, and as their blood pressure goes up and their cholesterol goes up, things deeply flavorful that don’t involve the egregious use of animal fat will be of greater interest.
Here’s the thing: Not only is the gutsy, high fat food a terrific ancillary outcome of a business plan that relies upon cheap cuts of meat, it’s also very satisfying immediately. It’s Text Message Cuisine. You taste, you feel good, you forget about it.
In today’s NY Times there was a lovely, well-written review of one of my favorite restaurants on the planet: Kajitsu. This is shojin ryori cuisine: All vegetarian, deeply seasonal to the point where some of the ingredients are available for only a few days, and so soothing and flavorful you eat with vigor. It’s memorable food that requires great skill and restraint.
And that, of course, is what we’re going to see more of in the future: Pan-Asian vegetarian dishes inspired by centuries of Buddhism that forbid the killing of animals to eat. The food has profound depth, looks beautiful on the plate, and is deeply satisfying. Sort of a relationship rather than a text…