MICHELIN Guide’s Point Of View
Kenzo Tsujimoto made his fortune developing thrilling video games like Resident Evil and Street Fighter, but his Napa Valley temple of traditional Japanese cuisine is a place to hit pause and wash away worldly cares. Designed by Tsujimoto’s wife, Natsuko, this 25-seat arena is spare and minimal, incorporating traditional woods, maple trees and river rocks to create a peaceful sanctuary. Though Kenzo offers a handful of tables, the best seats are at the lengthy counter, where diners can chat with the chefs and watch their meal being prepared firsthand. The kaiseki experience is beautifully composed, elegantly paced and may feature such exquisite presentations as the seasonal hassun—unveiling poached eggplant in dashi and seared Sonoma duck breast. Other courses have included straw-smoked Hokkaido scallop sashimi with jidori egg yolk sauce; Wagyu beef tenderloin with a reduction of the estate's own Bordeaux-style blend; and the chef's selection of Edomae-style sushi. There is an outstanding variety of sake showcased here, but savvy diners may want to sample Kenzo Estate's own California-grown wines, which are available by the flight. If on offer, the sauvignon blanc, is highly recommended.