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EN Japanese Brasserie


Todd36
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Ate at EN last night, on Hudson. With a Japanese friend who had eaten there before and does a lot of high end NYC Japanese dinign for business purposes.

1. Atmosphere. It's a big slightly loud place. They play nice jazz. It's a 30-40 year old trendy crowd. It's an attractive place, with tasteful and expensive furnishings. People are clearly coming here for the way it looks. On the down side, sat at the counter that surrounds a large water pool, a somewhat dirty and scummy looking water pool.

2. Service. Not good. They lost chunks of our order and seemed generally disorganized. Too many people working, and running around. They need a firmer hand.

3. Pricing. Not too bad for food. Terrible for Sake. They get around $8-12 for a two ounce glass of mid range stuff. Costs more per ounce than say Bar Masa. The most overpriced sake by the glass I've seen in NY.

4. Food. Mixed. Fresh tofu was the best I've had in NY. Omlet was terrible. Sashmi was above average. Crab and rice pot had not so fresh crab flavor and was salty. Eggplant with Uni was fair at best, and while I could see Uni, it tasted like nothing. Duck was good. Had some Japanese cold dishes and they were good.

Overall, its a pretty place with a crowd attracted by atmosphere. I think they want to serve good food, but they are not being sucessful. And they need better management. It's also possible to spend $100 plus on dinner here.

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I agree with Todd. En is a pretty and trendy place, and food is not as memorable as you hope for. Sake is definitely overpriced, but not as much as Megu.

When I was there a few weeks ago, kitchen stuff members, who were wearing Ninja-like outfits, greeted everyone with the chorus of "irasshaimase," meaning "welcome" in Japanese. It was a little too loud and overwheleming... (When I went to Cafe Grey recently, a man, who was clearly and embarrassingly drunk, kept telling me "irasshaimase." He must have been to EN....)

I don't remember what I ate, but Tofu was good. Red Miso braised Daikon was not impressive. Croquette was a little soggy with oil. Deep fried Japanese sea bass was good.

They seem to have a nice selection of Japanese sake, but a little overpriced as mentioned above. They also have a selection of Shochu and interesting sake cocktails.

Check out the latest meal!

Itadakimasu

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Overall, its a pretty place with a crowd attracted by atmosphere.  I think they want to serve good food, but they are not being sucessful.  And they need better management.  It's also possible to spend $100 plus on dinner here.

Is that $100 per person???

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Overall, its a pretty place with a crowd attracted by atmosphere.  I think they want to serve good food, but they are not being sucessful.  And they need better management.  It's also possible to spend $100 plus on dinner here.

Is that $100 per person???

Yes, you could spend that. You don't have to, but it can get a little pricy. We spent about $75 a person and we didn't drink very much. It's a typical high end Japanese ala carte place, where you order many dishes. Depending on what you order, that can get expensive.

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  • 4 weeks later...
With its tofu and its house-made miso pastes, its julienne of burdock root and beef tongue hot pot, En promises an especially authentic, home-style Japanese dining experience. It also claims to channel the spirit of the izakaya, a Japanese pub devoted to what might well be called Japanese comfort food. The Japanese restaurateurs behind En run several dozen similar establishments in Japan. En marks their American debut.

But what is so paradoxically striking about it is how familiar and redundant it feels, how faithfully this transglobal tweaking and translation of an izakaya obeys dining trends in New York and how perfectly it encapsulates a certain kind of Manhattan restaurant today.

:shock:

En Japanese Brasserie (Frank Bruni)

Soba

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  • 8 months later...

i know this is maybe a different thread, as is different restaurant, but i really like komegashi, a japanese french fusion place on broadway between 21 and 22nd i belive....near the flatiron building.........

their miso cappuccino rocks! (but the little fried tofu tidbits that came with it were mediocre at best, actually i didn't bother eating them...)

marlena

Marlena the spieler

www.marlenaspieler.com

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I attempted to take over the pastry department at En during an interem between my old job and my current job. That lasted for about a week.

I was pretty much disgusted with the way they (mis)treated food, and did business in general.

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I attempted to take over the pastry department at En during an interem between my old job and my current job. That lasted for about a week.

I was pretty much disgusted with the way they (mis)treated food, and did business in general.

Would it be possible for you to elaborate (without getting yourself in potential trouble for libel)?

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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I attempted to take over the pastry department at En during an interem between my old job and my current job. That lasted for about a week.

I was pretty much disgusted with the way they (mis)treated food, and did business in general.

Would it be possible for you to elaborate (without getting yourself in potential trouble for libel)?

Disgusted might be the wrong word. Disapointed may have been more appropriate. Its not like there's anything gross or unsanitary involved.

I just get surprised by how impressed new york foodies (and critics!) can be with really mediocre operations. You can put a party dress on a horse, but its still a horse. In this case I'd chalk it up to lack of comparison. En is supposed to represent some specific style of Japanese cuisine the 99% of its customers and critics have no experience with or expectations for, so it basically gets by on buzz.

Now I sound all sour-grapes.

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Sethro - your post reminds me that I need to get up to Montreal to try the horse tartare at Aux Deux Canailles.

Anyways, I just got back from Japan a couple of months back (where I was also unable to try the horse sashimi found at so many izakayas, but I did have lamb sashimi) and ate in similar restaurants there. I'm hoping for the best, but fearing the mediocre.

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Tried this place with five friends last night and I was quite impressed, though not blown away. First off, the room is HUGE, with 20+ foot ceilings but yet a nice, warm feeling. (A central pond with bar-type seating around it helps break up the room.)

The service was fine, but a little pushy on the amount of food to order. He kept saying that we'd need to order more food, we didn't - we were all pretty stuffed by the time we left.

We ordered:

2 orders of the fresh tofu (it's made every half hour) - it was fantastic. Served with a healthy dose of warm soy milk and a soy-based sauce (though not soy sauce) for pouring over top, it's warm, custardy texture and delicate flavor won over the carnivores in our group, even an Argentine who "hated" tofu.

Our edamame was very nicely done, as well - it had been cooked in a bonito-based broth and served ice cold. Very tasty.

The beef tataki was eight pieces of thinly sliced, slightly seared beef served with scallions and a miso-based dipping sauce. The beef was nicely cooked filet mignon, and this dish was quite tasty, but rather smallish for being $18. (It was the most expensive item we ordered.)

Other dishes we really enjoyed were the ebi shinjo (very dense shrimp croquettes), tuna and avocado salad (nice large hunks of raw tuna in a wasabi dressing), and the age dashi yuba (yuba-wrapped eel with grated mountain yam in a soy-based sauce).

For entrees (served in a sharable, but small portions) we had the miso-grilled black cod (perfect), kakuni - Berkshire pork belly with potatoes in a miso sauce (mmm... bacony and fatty and good), the special of duck wrapped in seaweed and baked in salt (anything that requires a hammer to serve it is OK in my book - not very salty, but slightly tough - good flavor though). The only disappointment was the pork shoulder, which was tough, stringy, and not very flvorful. The food was all very competently prepared, served at the right temperatures, and well presented, but nothing - aside from the fresh tofu - really knocked my socks off...

It's hard to imagine that it had come out of the same kitchen.

With two 720 mL bottles of a Miyu Zakura junmai sake (I had just recently spent a night in Gifu, where this sake was produced - the sake was very mild and bright, just as I like 'em...) the bill for the six of us came to $305 including tax and the added tip (for parties of six or more).

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  • 1 month later...

Two friends and I had dinner at EN on Wednesday evening. EN is part of the city's new hip trend for big-box Japanese restaurants with Nobu-inspired menus. It is one of the pleasanter destinations in that genre. Our reservation was at 6:30, a time when the restaurant is still comparatively empty. However, we were impressed with the high ceilings and the wide spacing of the tables. Even at peak time, I suspect my companions and I wouldn't have had to shout (as we did at the comparatively claustrophobic BLT Prime).

Someone upthread complained about the service, but we encountered no problems. Indeed, the service was about as efficient as one could hope for. Obviously it helped that the place was nearly empty at that hour, but I've found that a sparsely-populated dining room is no guarantee of the server's undivided attention.

As at other restaurants in the genre, you're encouraged to order a variety of small plates, and share. One is never sure precisely how many of these plates are enough to make a meal. Our waiter naturally advised us to err on the high-side; his upselling wasn't unctuous, but certainly we were aware of it. Anyhow, we chose four items, and once those were finished, ordered a fifth.

We had two types of sushi rolls with different tangy dipping sauces, shrimp fritters, a tempura sampler, and the obligatory miso black cod. The latter didn't erase memories of the signature dish at Nobu, but all were wonderfully prepared. The tempura batter was crispy and light; the sushi rolls crisp and flavorful. This is definitely the way to order at EN, as I don't think any of these dishes would have been nearly as successful as one's only entrée.

If we had any complaint, it was the speed at which the dishes arrived. The trend at these "small plate" restaurants is to deliver the food at the chef's convenience, instead of the customer's. After we ordered, it seemed we barely had time to blink before the food came trooping gaily out of the kitchen. It's not that they needed our table; I just think it's the way the restaurant is put together.

EN has one of the most ridiculously over-engineered, yet simultaneously unhelpful, websites (http://www.enjb.com/). The menu shown there is far from complete. Frank Bruni complained of "an extremely long, confusing menu" in his one-star review. It appears there has been some simplification since then. The menu is now a single page, which makes it shorter than the Nobu menu.

As at any Japanese restaurant, it's easy to spend a ton of money in a hurry. But our experience at EN showed that it is by no means necessary. We were out of there for $35 a head, including tax and tip, but without any alcohol.

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  • 1 year later...

I was there when I did my foodblog a few weeks ago. I have some pictures of the food here.

It was decent. Some things stand out more than others, like the salt fried chicken, tofu and their fried shrimp balls.

Personally I think the price of the food is cheaper than Nobu -- the quality of the food is slightly less, but still very well prepared for the price.

John

John Deragon

foodblog 1 / 2

--

I feel sorry for people that don't drink. When they wake up in the morning, that's as good as they're going to feel all day -- Dean Martin

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Anyone been to this place lately?  I am thinking of taking the Mrs. there for the anniversary.

Not worth it, IMO. For the money, you could do Nobu

Nobu is more expensive and a lot harder to get into.

Certainly its harder to get into, but you can easily spend the same amount at EN

And what amount is that? The last time I went to EN, it came out to be about 50 per person, including drinks and tax and tip.

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Anyone been to this place lately?  I am thinking of taking the Mrs. there for the anniversary.

Not worth it, IMO. For the money, you could do Nobu

Nobu is more expensive and a lot harder to get into.

Seems strange to me that everyone is trying to compare EN to Nobu. Irrespective of price, they are totally different types of restaurants. While Nobu is part of the Japanese fusion (mostly with South American) style, EN is a straight up Japanese restaurant. Also, EN serves almost no raw fish items, since this is not their thing. It's also incorrect to lump them in with all the big box pan-Asian joints (Tao, etc.), since EN is a legitimately Japanese institution, with multiple branches in Japan that preceded the NY outpost. If you like this style of food, EN seems to do a nice job of it (their freshly made tofu is especially good), but comparing them to some of the other places mentioned would be like comparing Babbo to Sugiyama...totally a matter of taste, and ultimately pointless.

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