As I was greeted with a calming jazz music, I took in the beautiful interior of EN Japanese Brasserie. The soaring ceilings and large windows along the two sides allow ample amount of sunlight to pour into the rich wooden tables and details against the stone walls. At the very center, was a traditional Japanese garden serving as the island to the bar styled table and chairs. By the kitchen was more bar seatings, and along that were tatami rooms for a more private dining. On the other side was EN Shochu Bar was an impressive collection of different Japanese spirits to taste.
|Interior shot by Peshean Zhang.|
Although EN is a modern twist on traditional Japanese cooking, they kept a lot of traditional details such as providing a hot towel for customers to cleanse our hands before dining. The Restaurant Week menu consisted of two appetizers for each customer, one entree out of three choices, rice, miso soup and dessert (ice cream or sorbet of the day). The dishes were mainly traditional dishes one would recognize from Japan, but with slight additions they created a more nontraditional taste to it.
We started off with their famous freshly made (handmade daily at the restaurant!) scooped tofu with light wari joyu (fish broth with soy sauce). The tofu was firm enough to be picked up with chopsticks, yet it still maintains the silkiness of a soft tofu.
The O-banzai allowed us to taste two of the chef's choice of Kyoto-style appetizers. The Kinoko Kiriboshi Daikon Ohitashi was an assortment of Japanese mushrooms with sun dried daikon mixed in yuzu sauce. With just the right amount of Yuzu, it created a refreshing taste which I can imagine would be perfect for spring time. EN's Hijiki seaweed salad was different from any I've tried before. With snow peas, green beans, shirataki and soy beans it was simmered in shoyu sauce. Unlike other ones, it was not too salty and had an unique mixture of vegetable flavors that worked well together.
Since the appetizers were served chilled, they arrived promptly however, the entrees took a bit longer. I don't usually enjoy pork belly as it has a lot of fat content, but EN's Kurobuta Kakuni did not. The Berkshire pork belly was marinated in sansho miso and was the perfect fusion of flavors. It was simmered so that the meat became tender and full of flavor in each bite. On the side was spicy mustard, adding a modern taste into the traditional dish. To balance the dish, the bork belly was accompanied by cooked (though interestingly had the texture of raw) spinach, radish and boiled egg. Be sure to drizzle your rice with the sauce!
The Grilled Washugyu from Lindsay Ranch, Oregon is the Japanese version of Angus steak, but more tender and rich in flavor. The strip lion was pre-marinated, making it salty on its on, but dipped in the light ponzu citrus soy sauce gave it a nice tangy taste. The meat was well done so it was a bit more chewy.
To my delight, the dessert was my favorite, Black Sesame Ice Cream. With each scoop, you can bite into real sesame seeds and taste its rich flavor.