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Have you ever had a perfect dining experience? As food connoisseurs we live for stellar service, delectable dishes, and architectural astonishment and as bloggers for alliteration obviously. At Chanto, an upscale Japanese restaurant in the West Village, we found what we were looking for. A friend, whose taste in Japanese food is more than trustable (she’s a “taste bud” for us, and also provided the pictures on this post) recommended we go. She had read in a Japanese newspaper that Chanto was offering a discount on its tasting menu to celebrate their one year anniversary: a great idea from this massive, global restaurant company. When we arrived we all ordered the seven course version (actually they require that everyone at the table have it if person wants it), not that the regular menu wasn’t enticing.

We planned on dining with three other guests, but when we arrived no one else was there. Jessica and I sat in the open-air, front window and people watched the southern seventh avenue folk as we sipped the house drink called “Chantotini”, a delicious, semi-sweet, lime-accented vodka drink. We wondered why more people weren’t packed in by 7pm, the time we got there, noticing only a small crowd at the other window. A few minutes after 7 Sara showed up and we found out our two other guests were not going to make it. The hall manager was flexible and arranged a great table for the three of us.

Before talking about the food, let’s just quickly cover the style. Downstairs is a stylish bar, with stairs rising into a small dining area. The dark black walls make the environment look cozy. But as the manager guided us to our table, we rose along a dark stairwell, with animated flames projected along the wall, into a new area that is not visible from downstairs. There were 12-foot ceilings, with floor-to-ceiling windows, huge chandeliers, and jazz playing low in the background. We all commented on the style as staff helped us to our seats and covered our laps with napkins.

While browsing the menu, Sara ordered a drink, and we received a free salad: hand shaved baby carrot, baby beet, baby zucchini, celery, and a simple dressing of olive oil, miso, and anchovies. The overly hard beets were not as young as they appeared, but it was clear that attention and energy had been spent in the carving, and the rest of the salad was great. During the salad we ordered the tasting menu and waited for Sara’s drink; the waiter’s only question was how we wanted our meat course prepared. was the only bump in otherwise great service. We had to re-request her drink twice before it was delivered. It was tasty though, I believe it was a passion fruit cocktail.

The first course arrived, three plank-cuts of fatty tuna, served carpaccio style with watercress and soy sauce. The three of us moaned in synchronicity and savored those omega-3s. With excellent timing our plates were cleared and the second course, tebagyo was delivered. This was what Jessica had been waiting for: a chicken wing heartily stuffed with pork dumpling filling. It was very lightly glazed with teriyaki sauce, that added a bit of sweetness. I found this course more of an experiment in stuffing than in taste. It was a bit bland but presented beautifully and executed well.

Course after course was timed perfectly. As one course was cleared, the silverware was set for the next, then a few minutes later the course would arrive, along with an explanation of what we were about to enjoy.

The third course arrived, a black cod that was absolutely perfectly cooked. Seared to perfection on the top and bottom, and exactly medium rare in the center. The sake kasu sauce was remarkably rich for a fish sauce, but didn’t go too far. Actually, the sauce was a perfect match for the two spears of asparagus (one white, one green) that accompanied the fish, as well as for the microgreens. And the greens had the right taste to match the fish. It was a well assembled course that was cooked to perfection. Both Jessica and Sara thought the fish tasted like Chilean Sea Bass and it turns out that Black Cod is actually a frequent stand-in for Chilean Sea Bass (a.k.a. “toothfish”) and can be caught in the same waters.

Because of the rich sauce, I was really glad to find the fourth course to be a palette cleanser: Yuzu Sorbet. However the sorbet was really more of a sherbet and the portion was more of a dessert than a cleanser. We all savored it though.

We moved on to the fifth course and Sara was getting full, but my mouth was watering as the perfectly cooked sirloin (to our earlier requests of doneness) arrived, pre-sliced with a selection of eating accoutrement including two types of spicy mustard (wasabi and something else I don’t recall), soy sauce, crispy garlic, sea salt (or perhaps it was grey), and awesome potatoes. I had a fun time trying different combinations of the bites on the plate and craved more.

But even I was starting to feel full after the sixth course: omakase sushi. We enjoyed three pieces of blue fin tuna maki (sadly one of my pieces had split open), and three pieces of nigiri: fatty tuna, blue fin tuna, and fluke. The ginger was remarkably strong and the wasabi quite weak, especially swimming in the vast amount of soy poured for each of us.

The final course, dessert, was a common combination of chocolate cake and green tea ice cream. However, again, it comes down to execution and Chanto pulled off this combo better than any other I had ever experienced. For some reason, they called the cake a “fondant” on the menu and “flan” when it was announced table-side, but it was neither. It was a soufflé with a molten center and it was chocolate sensation pairing perfectly with the matcha green tea ice cream. The sugared alm
onds were also enjoyable in the dessert plate, but didn’t add much.

Overall, the seven-course menu food was fantastic and the service sensational. It is a great value at the regular price of $80 and a steal at the anniversary price of $55. You need to go to Chanto.

posted by Lon at 10:36 PM Filed under Closed, Restaurants. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.