This month, as you know, the New York Botanical Garden is showing off its "Kiku: Art of the Japanese Garden" installation in the magnificent glass Enid A. Haupt Conservatory. I've lived in NYC almost twenty years and had never actually visited the Botanical Garden until last week, which I now realize is a tremendously stupid oversight. Just setting foot in the vast, lush grounds makes you feel that you've left the city far behind, even though you're still very much in the Bronx.

I didn't have time to explore much of the vast 250-acre property (which is fully owned by the city) but, thanks to an invitation from the publicist, I did get to marvel at the spectacular Kiku show and grab a bite at the new Japanese Pop-up restaurant from big shot restaurateur Stephen Starr. (His restaurant Verde in Miami's Perez Art Museum is quite good, if you're ever down there.) Located in the Garden Terrace Cafe a stone's throw from the Conservatory, Starr's temporary Japanese restaurant is serving a menu of fresh sushi and sashimi, bento boxes, soba noodles, and specialities like Tuna Tataki served with seaweed salad, avocado, and yuzu ponzu. There's also a small selection of sake, which you can serenely sip under Japanese lanterns after savoring the intoxicating beauty of all the Japanese flowers.

Kiku, I learned, is the Japanese word for flower, and the highlight of the exhibit is the chrysanthemums, many of which are remarkably grown out of a single stem:

Kiku at the New York Botanical Garden from Gothamist on Vimeo.

The restaurant is open Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. until the end of the Kiku exhibit on October 26th. We're told this is the last time the Botanical Garden will present the Kiku show in the Conservatory "for the foreseeable future," so get up there while you can. The New York Botanical Garden is just 20 minutes from Grand Central via Metro-North, and the train station is right next to the grounds. (The B, D, and 4 train go there too.)