NYCReview

photo credit: Kate Previte

Spread of tasting-menu dishes at Restaurant Yuu.
8.4

Restaurant Yuu

FrenchJapanese

Greenpoint

$$$$Perfect For:Fine DiningSpecial Occasions
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Restaurant Yuu puts on a show. At the start of every seating, a curtain swishes open to reveal the chefs standing shoulder to shoulder in front of the kitchen. Would it be appropriate—or awkward—to applaud? We briefly agonize over the decision, but choose to play it cool, along with the 17 other diners at this Greenpoint chef’s counter.

The 13 lavish courses that follow showcase Japanese ingredients prepared in a French style, with more tweezers in action than your average brow salon. There's an emphasis on technique and performance so serious that it borders on goofy—the signature duck pie even has its own walk-up music, like a Major League Baseball player. It's corny, yet somehow endearing.

The curtain closed over the kitchen at Restaurant Yuu.

photo credit: Kate Previte

The counter seating and kitchen, curtain open, at Restaurant Yuu.

photo credit: Kate Previte

The corner of the L-shaped counter seating at Restaurant Yuu.

photo credit: Kate Previte

Lounge seating at Restaurant Yuu.

photo credit: Kate Previte

Restaurant Yuu image

photo credit: Kate Previte

The curtain closed over the kitchen at Restaurant Yuu.
The counter seating and kitchen, curtain open, at Restaurant Yuu.
The corner of the L-shaped counter seating at Restaurant Yuu.
Lounge seating at Restaurant Yuu.
Restaurant Yuu image

Sometimes, Restaurant Yuu's obsessive attention to detail delivers a truly singular dish, like an abalone risotto so gorgeous you may hardly notice the glistening Hokkaido uni plated alongside it. Sometimes, it’s a little distracting. Consider the theatrics of the wagyu shabu-shabu course. One chef steps forward to spoon dashi over your beef. A second chef expertly applies drops of baby-pink raspberry ponzu. Then a third chef arrives, on chive oil drizzle duty. Last but not least, a fourth chef delicately deploys some lime zest. The wagyu was delicious, but—figuratively speaking—this could’ve been an email.

Restaurant Yuu image

photo credit: Kate Previte

Still, we’d rather eat at a restaurant that’s doing too much than one that’s doing too little, especially at this lofty price point. (At $250, the nearly three-hour meal works out to about $1.50 a minute, which, if you think about it that way, is kind of an amazing deal.) And when Restaurant Yuu does hit the right notes, it’s worthy of a standing ovation.

Food Rundown

Tasting Menu

Restaurant Yuu occasionally hosts special dinners, but the $250 tasting menu is the standard option. (It's also available in vegetarian form, with notice.) There’s a shorter $150 menu available at the bar, and drink pairings start at $120 for a non-alcoholic option. Dishes may change, but here are a few highlights from our last meal:
Abalone risotto with Hokkaido uni.

photo credit: Kate Previte

Abalone Risotto

The abalone is pressure-cooked in kombu dashi, and that liquid is incorporated into the risotto—which is further thickened by the abalone's liver, then dusted with nori powder. It's stunning, the kind of dish where you can taste every second of the labor and care that went into it. If our plate were collected with even a single grain of rice still on it, we would have climbed over the counter to retrieve it.
Salt crust-baked lamb.

photo credit: Kate Previte

Lamb

The lamb is baked in a salt crust with lemongrass and mint, then finished with mustard and brioche crumbs and a salty but bright tomato and clam sauce. Upon taking our first bite, we softly, involuntarily uttered an expletive.
Restaurant Yuu image

photo credit: Kate Previte

Oyster

A technique-forward dish that gets in its own way. A pea-flavored gel—compelling in theory, but in practice not particularly pleasant—smothers an oyster we would’ve loved to have gotten to know in a different context.
Caviar supplement with cream cheese on brioche.

photo credit: Kate Previte

Caviar Supplement

For $60, you may supplement your meal with quite a formidable quenelle of caviar—decorated with a delicate spine of purple flowers—on toasted brioche, atop tiny piped beads of cream cheese. We can’t believe we’re saying this, but it’s a little too much caviar, and overpowers all the accouterments. (File "Too Much Caviar" next to "Didn’t Need That Uni" in the cabinet for opinions we never expected to express.)
A slice of duck pie.

photo credit: Kate Previte

Canard

Before it’s sliced and served, the spectacle that is the duck pie (a decadent cousin to the Wellington, with layers of duck that’s been dry-aged for a month, mushrooms, and foie gras) is paraded around the dining room like the Stanley Cup. As it should be! Chef Yuu Shimano presents the dish himself, while music from the Netflix series Chef’s Table plays—unironically. We wouldn’t blame him if he marched it out the front door and demanded passersby on Nassau Avenue pay their respects. The duck pie ultimately isn’t our favorite bite of food at Restaurant Yuu, but it’s a hell of a thing to behold.
Sakura meringue with strawberries and dehydrated petals.

photo credit: Kate Previte

Sakura

Dehydrated cherry blossom petals are sprinkled over a meringue shell ready to burst with rosé gelee and sorbet. A beautiful encapsulation of spring.

FOOD RUNDOWN

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