Kai Have Some Tea with That?

Written by Bryce

A couple weeks ago Matt and I had the pleasure of lunching at Kai, the amazing kaiseki restaurant on 69th and Madison.  I say “lunching” because that’s what one does there between the hours of 12:30 and 3pm.  Lunch.  It’s full of see-and-be-seen types, biz honchos, and people of good taste (so obviously I’d go back, seeing as I like to put myself in that last category).  The restaurant is on top of the fabulous ITO EN retail location, which has been one of my favorite Saturday afternoon tea shopping spots for ages.  When you venture upstairs to Kai, you’re transported to Japan.  There’s a distinctly non-American feeling to the layout, which is great, because I have no time for an actual international vacation at this point.

I had the Kai Bento box lunch, which for $40 is actually a steal.  I know the economy is rough, and you’re probably thinking “$40 for lunch? Ooph!” …but it’s worth it, and actually a really good value.  If you had to order all the items that come in the bento separately, you’d be way over $40, and nowhere near as delicious.  Hello, special occasion lunch.  Or lunch time date (ideal, because no one drinks at lunch so you’ll save a hefty number on alkie!).

Kai Bento Box includes:

Housemade Tofu
Marinated Red Snapper
Simmered Seasonal Fish & Vegetables
Simmered Beef with Rice dashi broth
Shrimp & Vegetable Tempura
Served with Mixed Rice, Housemade Oshinko & Miso Soup
Assortment of Sweets


Obviously the tea was delicious as well, since Kai shares its space with Ito En.  After dining at Kai, I’d totally recommend a little Ito En shopping spree.  Even if you’re on a tight NYC budget, you can find exotic loose leaf teas that will make you feel like a million bucks.

My personal favorites are the Kawane Sencha (a delish and robust green tea) for $6 an ounce, the Red Star (a spiced Darjeeling blend) for $5 an ounce, and the Paradisi (a delish, crisp white tea) for $5 an ounce.   And just so you know, an ounce of loose leaf goes a long way… so you’ll be able to make a gazillion cups of artisan tea for just a few bucks!  The Ito En store also carries handmade Japanese pottery and a gorgeous tea accessories that’ll make all your tea party friends jealous☺!

About the author


Bryce Gruber is a Manhattanite mom who can be found jet-setting off to every corner of the globe. She loves exotic places, planes with WiFi, summer clothes, & Sucre brown butter truffles. Bryce's aim is to do to luxury what Elton John did to being gay. Follow her on twitter @brycegruber

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