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Report - EN JAPANESE BRASSERIE: Surprisingly chowish

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Report - EN JAPANESE BRASSERIE: Surprisingly chowish

Skillet Licker | Mar 10, 2005 09:16 PM

My first (pre-visit) impression of EN was that it is an industrial-sized, clamorous, hip, culinary trend-hopping theme park with a vaguely obnoxious name out to colonize and “meatpack” an otherwise low-key west village neighborhood.

My post-visit impression is that it is all of the above, plus a dining sensation.

First of all, the service is merely functional. The prices seem within the bounds of decency. And the noise level is acceptable. The seating is varied: everything from huge party tables to private tatami rooms to tables in the lounge dining area (crowed and noisy, with horrific techno music), to counter seats. We opted for the center square overlooking the sand garden. And although we arrived at prime time (8:00) the place wasn’t packed and we had some breathing space.

I was intrigued by the fresh scooped tofu. We tried both the warm and the chilled and loved them. I could’ve eaten ten orders of each.

The Tsukune chicken sausage with poached egg was fantastic.

The prosaic sounding EN house salad turned out to be an exotic treat as it was enveloped by a single large glorious sheet of yuba.

Grilled eggplant and uni in (coarse) mustard sauce was a tasty but somewhat tired conception. And I’m always a little peeved when something as precious as uni is draped in sauce or messed with in any way. I’m an uni purist.

Kakuni (braised pork belly) with hard-cooked egg and spinach in brown gravy was delicious and rich as all get-out. I think I prefer the Nagasaki style served in light broth rather than En’s gravied version. But who’s complaining?

Stone-grilled chicken with dipping sauce as well as a salt melange and a szechuan pepper melange was very good and graduated to excellent when the chicken on the still-hot stone was doused in the dipping sauce, sending the flavors soaring.

We ordered a special of filet mignon sashimi (sorry, forgot the real name). It was great, and so was the sweet-savory jam served with it.

Grilled onigiri rice balls were authentically burnt and generally acceptable.

The trio of berry-topped dessert puddings were a nice finale.

The matcha latte was a terrible idea. Green tea just should not be treated that way.

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