Good things come packaged small at this trio of intimates

NEW YORK: Kai, 822 Madison Ave., (212) 988-7277
Above sister tea shop Ito En, the serene 50-seat Kai is a Japanese jewel of exotic ingredients and artistic presentation. Named for kaiseki, the succession of small dishes traditionally served after tea, Kai specializes in prix fixe menus (from $55) with courses of salt-crusted black cod with tea leaves and dill, lily bulb soup with clams, or beef filet grilled on lava stone. For all the gingko and shiso on the menu, Kai’s intimidation factor is nil thanks to helpful servers.

SCOTTSDALE: Sea Saw, 7133 E. Stetson Dr., (480) 481-9463
The owners of Cowboy Ciao nabbed celebrated sushi chef Nobuo Fukuda to open Sea Saw next door. The itty-bitty 26-seater with a communal table provides up-close viewing of the chef at work. With emphasis on wine friendliness (Sea Saw diners can order from Ciao’s extensive list), Fukuda cooks traditional Japanese with Western flare (the raw salmon arrives in basil oil; foie gras is miso marinated).

WASHINGTON, D.C.: Café 15, 806 15th St. N.W., (202) 730-8700
By virtue of consulting on its menu, Michelin three-star consulting chef Antoine Westermann launches the 60-seat Café 15 in the new Sofitel Lafayette Square into foodie orbit. Executive chef Philippe Piel executes the French directive to stuff guinea hens with herbs and steam turbot with lemon and coriander. Dessert choices vault from cheese to — get this — beer ice cream. With a pedigree that’s more Bordeaux than beer, the lavender-and-gold-trimmed room speaks classic Parisian. —