Note: First Looks give previews of new dishes, drinks, and menus we're curious about. Since they are arranged photo shoots and interviews with restaurants, we do not make critical evaluations or recommendations.
The newly minted Sen occupies an ambitiously large space on 21st street in Manhattan. The menu is a congruous blend of traditional and modern: classically prepared sushi and a broader, more eclectic kitchen menu with pan-Asian focus. Mongolian dumplings and coconut curries find a home next to more traditionally Japanese dishes from ingredients such Wagyu beef, Kurobuta pork, and sashimi-grade fish. If the concept sounds less than original, it's worth mentioning that Sen is an offshoot of the nearly two-decades-old Sag Harbor restaurant renowned for their sushi.
Toranosuke "Tora" Matsuoka is the second generation owner of Sen and worked his way through every position in the kitchen of the original location starting at the age of 13. 19 years later his sumo wrestler father deemed him ready to manage a restaurant of his own.
His experience aside, Tora quips that he has an emperor and a hero as his secret weapons—Chef Bryan Emperor runs the kitchen and Chef Hiro Sawatari the sushi counter. Emperor has over 20 years of culinary experience with a strong focus on Japanese cuisine that includes stints at Nobu and Jean Georges. Sawatari has over 30 years of experience, having worked first in Japan and in the U.S. since 1984 at Morimoto, Megu, and other establishments.
Take a look at the slideshow for a first look at some of the dishes from the kitchen and the sushi counter.