136 Main St, Southampton
Ambiance: Trendy, Expensive, Yet Stunning
RESTAURANTS IN THE HAMPTONS are often the ultimate mixed bag operations and the striking new Kozu epitomizes this. It’s a spacious beauty of soaring beamed ceilings, colorful giant-sized art, fresh flowers, scorched ash tables, a fireplace and an expansive patio that seats 150. And often, but not always, precisely plated, refined food. More than anything else, Kozu strives (and often succeeds) to be trendy. Weekends it features DJs in its upscale lounge and the lovely receptionist is clad in a cowboy hat and bare-midriff outfit.
Unfortunately, it is also part of an escalating price trend in the already pricey Hamptons and most portions here range from small to virtually miniscule. (Patrons should be alerted about portioning so they can plan accordingly.) The lowest priced bottle of wine fetches $55. The smallest tab for sake is $40. What is perhaps the Island’s tiniest portion of anything—two teeny, one-inch size pieces of foie gras sushi—costs $24. My starter, two bland smoked pork belly buns without their promised ginger hoisin sauce and pickled daikon ($16), was far larger than that.
The menu’s highest priced dishes are also not necessarily its best. A salmon toban ($42) for instance was impossibly salty. And although there was nothing wrong with a fresh sashimi combo ($48), there are many elsewhere as good or better for considerably less.
Yet the more modestly priced soft-shelled crab tempura ($28) a tangle of thin, delicate fried strips with wasabi aioli delivered both a superb taste and crunchy texture. And most of the salads are refreshing and interesting. The Tuscan kale shaved salad for instance, harbors hearts of palm, cucumber, celery, carrots, red onion, red and yellow bell peppers and yuzu dressing ($15) while the little seaweed salad is enlivened with Japanese pickles and toasted sesame ($14).
Diners cannot go wrong ordering any of the desserts ($14). The yuzu mascarpone is dominated by fruity blueberry compote. The banana tatin, the size of a burger patty, delivers substantial flavor of banana crème pie. And the intense Kozu chocolate lava cake is not diluted by crumbled peanuts, sea salt or coconut ice cream.