The Prince Kitano New York, the first Japanese-owned hotel in New York City established in 1973, announced the opening of hakubai, a new Kaiseki fine dining restaurant nestled in the lower level of 66 Park Avenue. Kaiseki, rooted in the spirit of gathering and imbibing enhanced by a curated menu of many hyper seasonal dishes, traces its origins back 680 years. Each course captures the philosophy of “shun,” where every ingredient is enjoyed at the peak of its flavor. From the craftsmanship expressed in the cuisine to elegant dining vessels created by Japanese artists, hakubai combines traditional Kaiseki principles with modern approachability. 

The Seibu Prince Hotels Worldwide, a renowned Japanese hospitality group, hand-selected four of the award-winning chefs from their most celebrated restaurants in Japan to guide the Kaiseki culinary journey at hakubai. Executive Chef Jun Hiramatsu and Head Chef Keisuke Otsuka have created an 11-course tasting menu ($195 per guest), highlighting traditional Japanese techniques such as decorative cuttings of vegetables and “Kama” pot rice cooking. 

The hakubai experience begins with the Sakizuke course, a Hokkaido snow crab miso, cloaked in its own creamy tomalley, with finger lime pearls and sweet alyssum flowers held within an Edo-kiriko glass, a crimson patterned traditional cut glass originating in Edo (present day Tokyo). A visual and textural story unfolds in the Zensai course. These Small Delicacies feature Ezo Awabi (Abalone), Komochi Konbu (Herring Roe on Kelp) and Ankimo (Monkfish liver) on delicate ornamental plating imported from Japan. Hand-carved vegetables, transformed into edible art, take center stage in Takiawase, the Steamed fifth course. A tender braised turnip is sculpted into a delicate Chrysanthemum, Japan’s national flower, and bathed in a silky, savory dashi broth. The traditional Kaiseki rice course, Oshokuji, is introduced by a delicate miso soup, a marriage of aka-miso and shiro-miso, rich and balanced by earthy notes of tofu, nameko mushrooms and scallions. This is the eighth course presenting Tsuyahime rice from Yamagata, its pearly grains and gentle sweetness showcased in three ways: pure and unadulterated, crowned with grilled eel as Hitsumabushi, and enveloped in another comforting sencha flushed dashi broth. Each variation celebrates the essence of rice, exploring its different textures and subtle flavors.  

The final dessert course, crafted by Head Pastry Chef Tadashi Netsu and Chocolatier & Pastry Chef Mariko Hosokawa, is a Strawberry Shortcake, featuring gluten-free rice flour cake with a light, airy texture, dotted with Oiishi Strawberries, grown locally by a Japanese farmer. 

General Manager Kevin Anderson, formerly of Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare and Aska, has curated a sophisticated wine and sake pairing experience, offering selections from small producers in France, California and Japan. This thoughtful pairing ($160 per guest), highlights small growers and producers that best complement the culinary team’s approach.  

The elegant 71-seat restaurant was designed by award-winning firm Modellus Novus (Saga, Crown Shy, Masa, Tatiana). Unexpectedly intimate in scale, hakubai captures the essence of The Prince Kitano New York’s timeless character. The space encompasses two dining counters, a 20-seat dining room, luxurious cocktail bar, and two unique private dining rooms. hakubai’s distinct dining areas are unified by unfilled travertine floors and a metal grille ceiling, as wall paneling modulates between sapele, bronze and mirror. Modellus Novus imagines hakubai tied to a different time of beautiful, understated modern dining; most of the furniture references come from the 1940s to 60s, leaning on a considered Modernist canon. 

hakubai’s overall creative direction and brand design, led by Polonsky & Friends, is inspired by the avant-garde Gutai Art Movement. The menus embrace a combination of handwritten and hand traced sans serif typographies, abstract compositions and primarily monochromatic color palette with pops of warm orange. This artistic approach mirrors the embodiment and connection of the artist to the art, resonating with the expertise and creativity of hakubai’s culinary team and their Kaiseki creations. 

hakubai is open for dinner only, welcoming guests from 5:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. from Tuesday through Saturday. An a la carte menu will be available in the future.

Casual Dining, Industry News