Sunday, March 16, 2008

EN? Maybe out.

New York is known for a lot of things when it comes to its restaurant culture. One trend that seems to be ever-present and always popular is the uber-modern, high-end Japanese/Sushi joint. I'm sure a few come to your mind...Bond St., Nobu, Tao, Megu, and where I dined last week...EN Japanese Brasserie. This restaurant is newer to the scene, although it's been open for a few years now.

I went to EN when it first opened and had a great experience. I was blown away by the design of the restaurant and its decor. It's a huge, loft-like space with an open kitchen. Everywhere you look there is a really cool design element, from the soy sauce to the chopsticks, from the concrete slab floor to the furniture. The meal I had there was phenomenal, and the service was excellent.

So, it's safe to say that this prior experience set my expectations at a pretty high level for my visit last week. In addition to that, there were a few things that were out of our control that made this meal turn out the way it did. First off, we were seated in the bar dining area, rather than the main dining room. This had a cool atmosphere too, but paled in comparison to the main room. The tables were more lounge tables with arm chairs, which made it sort of uncomfortable, especially if you're really tall.

Now to the food. The menu changes semi-annually, so you can never be sure as to what will be featured when you get there. We decided to order a few dishes to split...some good and some not so good. EN is known for its homemade tofu. While I'm not the biggest tofu fan, I figured having some served on top of a salad would be a good way to try it without ordering an entire dish of it. Unfortunately, that was a bad call! The EN House Salad was made up of greens that were more stems than leaves, walnuts, tofu skin, and a soy milk dressing. The entire thing was bland and gross. Now I wasn't expecting your typical ginger dressing green salad served at every sushi place, but this was just too much. I was tempted to ask for soy sauce to pour all over the salad, but decided to just stop eating it.

Luckily the next dish offered some redemption. The Sea Bass Kara-Age was small pieces of fish marinated in sake and then lightly fried, which were delicious. We also ordered the EN Garlic Shiso Fried Rice. It had a great taste without the garlic being too overwhelming. My friend had heard that the duck at EN was a dish not to miss, so we got that. I don't eat duck, but he enjoyed it. It was topped with grated daikon that had been cooked in a ponzu citrus soy that was so flavorful I ended up putting some on top of my rice to give it a little extra kick.

Overall, I wasn't blown away by this experience. The waiter was MIA most of the time, and the busboy ended up getting us a few things that we needed. I had hoped for a great night with fantastic food, but no such luck. I think all of this would have changed, though, if we had been seated in the main dining area and ordered a few different dishes. I wouldn't rule EN out from recommending it to friends, but I would highly suggest asking the waiter/waitress for good suggestions and descriptions of each dish.

EN Japanese Brasserie
435 Hudson Street
b/t Leroy & Morton Street
website
Menu Pages listing

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

miss menu,

you are hot. can i take you on a date? is nycfoodguy your boyfriend?

-mister menu

Anonymous said...

i fuckin HATE when restaurants let my glass of ice water get empty.

Anonymous said...
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