Chef Masato Nishihara is neither a Buddhist nor a vegetarian, but you couldn’t tell by eating his shojin cuisine at Kajitsu, with its exclusively vegetarian pantry built on the principles of Zen. With the kind of quiet modesty that belies intense focus, Chef Nishihara creates kaiseki dishes out of each season’s bounty. The result is both a gift to the diner and a revelation of seasonal identity. What differentiates Chef Nishihara, who learned the art and craft of kaiseki in his native Japan, from other chefs is his ability to create compositions that are both elemental and unified. The whole dish transcends the sum of its parts, but each element—whether it be a fried mountain yam or a chilled piece of nama-fu—is distinctly essential to the harmony of the whole.