Mihoko’s 21 Grams: Franco-Japanese Cuisine in a Renaissance Setting

Table Setting Mihoko's 21 Grams
All Photos by Francesco Tonelli

Here at The Worley Gig, we like nice things. And we are always ecstatic with gratitude when writing this blog affords us the opportunity to enjoy nice things, which we can then share with you. Last night we were invited to attend a cocktail party celebrating the grand opening of a new restaurant in the Flat Iron district, called Mihoko’s 21 Grams. Mihoko is a Japanese restaurateur (and former ballerina) and 21 Grams is her first restaurant venture in New York City. In case you missed the 2003 movie starring Sean Penn and Naomi Watts, “21 Grams” refers to the supposed weight of a human soul. So, is this place soulful? I would say so.

21 Grams Shop

When visiting 21 Grams, you can prepare for an opulent experience the second you enter the front door. Mihoko is something of a collector (obviously, she likes to have nice things as well!) and instead of entering from the street directly into a traditional foyer, bar area or dining room, guests enter into what looks like a narrow museum shop, where shelves display tiny colorful teapots, aperitif glasses and various exotic glass items, dishes and table top collectibles, all of which are for sale at prices that will definitely make you think you are in museum.

The elaborate entrance hall will pique your curiosity for what comes next, and it’s doubtful you will be disappointed once you enter the main space. I hate to fall back on corny descriptive phrases like “A feast for the eyes” but it’s appropriate when describing the interior of 21 Grams. Designed by Bruno Borrione, who has worked with Philippe Starck, the dining and bar space has a French Renaissance feel, with etched mirrors, school-of-Rembrandt-style paintings and fabric screens surrounding most tables, offering a welcome sense of intimacy. The restaurant also as a downstairs lounge flaunting a completely different, but equally gorgeous, décor. There’s a sushi bar at the rear of restaurant’s main room, and more screened-partitioned seating. No matter which direction you turn there is some object of beauty to fall in love with.

Main Dining Room Front 21 Grams

21 Grams’ broad menu, which includes modern interpretations of classic bistro fare as well as an extensive sushi menu, is “derived from the essence of contemporary French fare and the lightness of Japanese cuisine.” At Tuesday night’s event, we sampled the Wagyu Beef skewered with spiced carrots (find it on the menu under “Wagyu Beef Ribeye” at $21 per ounce) as well as amuse-bouche portions of other tempting menu items including the Heirloom Tomato Salad (with crisp, refreshing watermelon), Alaskan King Crab Croustillsant (with luscious avocado and dried citrus) and Chawan Mushi – an elegant Snap Pea puree with crème fraiche and porcini mushrooms – delicious! Miniature paper cones of Chick Pea fries (we guess they were a combination of pureed chickpeas and tofu, fried crispy) served with red pepper coulis for dipping were also a favorite, as were the many trays of passed sushi rolls that boasted unusual fillings like Eel & Foie Gras, and Asparagus & Black Truffle. For those with a Black Card,21 Grams offers two and three-course seasonal menus ($75 and $95, with dessert), and a nine-course tasting menu ($150). Be assured I’ll be saving up for a return trip.

Mihoko’s 21 Grams is Located at 16 West 22nd Street, West of Fifth Avenue, in the Flatiron district. Phone (212) 741-0021 for Reservations. The restaurant is currently open for dinner only.

Rear Dining Room with Sushi Bar at 21 Grams

French Room Lounge

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