From a distance, Shibumi looks a little like the fanciest dive bar in America. The new downtown restaurant is not a dive bar at all. That it feels like a lair you could slither into adds hugely to its appeal, but the dark minimalism of the place speaks to a more meticulous ambition than just making your dive-bar-loving soul feel ecstatically at home. While original plans for Shibumi focused on more formal kaiseki, a ritualized multi-course Japanese meal, Chef David Schlosser has settled for now on kappo-style cooking and service, which shares some of kaiseki’s focus on seasonality and various cooking methods but not necessarily the set course menu. The one defining aspect of a kappo restaurant is that the chef cooks in front of the customers, usually at a bar or counter.
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