In Water Mill, Kissaki is taking social distancing to an exceptional new level. The traditional Japanese restaurant, which opened for delivery on June 18th and for outdoor dining on June 30, has employed two robots to complete its delivery and takeout orders. The Maki Maker and Nigiri Robots are both solely responsible for the work once tasked to humans.
The restaurant, which began as a Manhattan hotspot, operates under the watchful eye of executive chef and partner Mark Garcia, who learned the traditions and practices of sushi making through a mentorship with Chef Kaze Chan of Sushi-san. In 2016, Garcia opened Astoria, Queens’ Gaijin—a word that translates to “outsider,” since Garcia sees himself as an outsider who appreciates the trade, though is, himself, a student, rather than a master, of the culture.
The level of precision in the delivery alone is humbling. When my own dinner arrived last week, in perfect blue boxes, I opened them to find jewel-toned fish, saucer-sized rolls, and even a tiny cake, with layers of raspberry and lychee aching to be eaten straight from the box with a spoon. The rolls I sampled tended toward inventive, with ingredients like kale and cilantro making an appearance. Pieces of sushi could have arrived that day on a flight from Japan—they were that fresh. It was hard not to fall instantly for the toro (who wouldn’t?), though a briny, fat sea scallop, splayed over rice and dressed with a lemony condiment, was equally compelling.
Mackerel, sea bream, fluke, tuna, salmon: all the big players were there, all dressed with individual accouterment (a dab of caviar here, a wash of horseradish there). A miso soup was so rich that it hardly resembled any miso I’ve ever tasted before. And while we ordered omakasé, you can order dinner and lunch a la carte, too. The restaurant even offers traditional maki rolls (as opposed to the giant futomaki “fat rolls” I sampled): bluefin tuna, salmon tartare, avocado, spicy tuna, shiitake mushroom, asparagus tempura, ume-shiso, and more. There are even other cakes, like a blueberry-Earl gray chiffon cake, or a matcha-red bean cake, dulce de leche cake, or even a black tea boba cake.
If omakasé in the comfort of your own home is not luxe enough for you, consider an upgrade. Kissaki also sells Kaluga caviar, Ikura roe, and up to 250 grams of Hokkaido uni trays. In other words, you can travel deep—and well—without going anywhere at all.