Mon-Sat, noon-4:15pm and 5:30pm-10pm; Sun, closed
4, 5, 6, 7, S at Grand Central-42nd St.
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In the Shojin, or Japanese vegetarian kaiseki tradition, devised centuries ago by Buddhist monks, vegetables weren’t transformed to mimic meat, but celebrated in all their seasonal glory. And so it is at Kajitsu in the East Village space formerly occupied by Ebisu. Chef Masato Nishihara mastered his ancient craft at Kitcho in Kyoto, where he also studied the affiliated arts of the tea ceremony and flower arranging, and plans to expand his Shojin horizons here by incorporating American produce in his set menus ($50 and $70). They also feature soba, made daily, and fu, the protein-packing building block of Shojin cuisine made from gluten and rice flour. (Kajitsu’s owner is heir to a 250-year-old fu manufacturer that once supplied the imperial court.) The 28-seat restaurant evokes the ceremonial tea rooms its designer has built in Kyoto, with a long counter carved from a single slab of Japanese zelkova, just one of the various woods used for the custom furniture, and antique Japanese dishware that’s historically restored rather than replaced.