Let’s be honest. Tasting menus can be pretentious and comically strenuous (not to mention exorbitantly expensive). There was a moment in the food world, where it seemed almost a competition for who could have the most courses packed in a single dinner (we’ve seen upwards of 100 dishes testing the limits before). In recent years, there’s been a little pushback towards the rigidity of this menu format. With the rise of the centuries-old omakase trending in New York (a Japanese dining experience in which the chef selects dishes for you, custom to your preferred flavor profiles), there’s also a desire for more customization, more choice, and dietary accommodation.

At South Williamsburg’s casual Middle Eastern spot, Samesa, a new tasting menu parodies the format, serving up 10 vegetable-only dishes for just $10. At Samesa, neon laden decor is as lurid as the Space Jam-themed Samesa shirts on display and the beet pickled eggs, avocado hummus, and turmeric dyed pickled cauliflower that splatter the plates in full saturation. Which is to say, Samesa likes to have fun.

"Our tasting menus are fast, casual, lighthearted, accessible, delicious, memorable and insanely affordable. The whole point is that the Samesa tasting menu is egalitarian," says co-owner Eli Sussman. And while there will be meat-centric tasting nights, too, Eli and his brother and co-owner Max Sussman wanted to create entirely vegetarian nights to meet the rising demand from their customers' lifestyle choices, and be “the model and standard bearer of what a dynamic and progressive fast casual chain can be."

The 10 for $10 vegetarian version of the tasting menu (which debuts this month) remains the neighborhood’s hidden gem. Guests sign up for the special tasting nights by emailing eli@samesanyc.com to be able to attend the next one (and yes, there’s already a waiting list).

Prior to running the permanent Samesa location off the Lorimer L train stop, the Sussman brothers left their formal restaurant jobs (Max at The Cleveland, and Eli at Mile End) and took their Middle Eastern concept to pop-ups at Berg’n, Threes Brewing, and Ruschmeyer's in Montauk. Last year, Samesa launched a second permanent location in East Williamsburg, running the food program for Grimm Taproom (where experimental beer flavors include babka-infusions).

Dishes on the upcoming vegetarian night might include items such as the tempura cauliflower with red zhug mayo, smoked savoy cabbage with toasted paprika fennel vinaigrette, seared cheese with vegan kale pesto, baked apple with orange blossom, Samesa’s take on the Chinese dry pot, lentil pistachio dip on pumpernickel pita with pickled turnip, beet pickled egg "sabich," zucchini croquette with avocado hummus and garlic sauce, among others.

The Sussman brothers concede that 10 dishes for $10 does sound like an absurd feat. "After a year of pop-ups and two years open in Williamsburg, sometimes you need something new to inject into the noise to cut through and get people excited," Eli Sussman says. "Sometimes you just want to cook and try to be creative and profit isn't the absolute be all end all priority."

In 2019, Samesa will add a third location, by expanding into the new Essex Market.

Samesa HQ is located 495 Lorimer Williamsburg, Brooklyn. To get on the list for their next tasting menu, email eli@samesanyc.com.