by Mr. Wonka
Brooklyn, New York
November 28, 2004
Space is certainly a rare commodity in New York, and there’s plenty of it here, with a large, high-ceilinged bar in the front and an open, airy dining area enclosed by grey-brick walls and golden-brown wood paneling. The whole place practically drips with feng shui.
We sat at a square, black table that wrapped around a large column lined with what resembled towers the Doozers tirelessly built from vegetable protein sticks on Fraggle Rock. We could also see into the bustling, raucous kitchen, which replicated the energy of Kitchen Stadium on Iron Chef.
From the kimono-clad hostess and friendly manager to our busy server who was more than happy to make recommendations and answer our questions, the service at EN was top-notch. No pretentiousness, no attitude, and none of the bullshit too often experienced at some upscale New York eateries. After handing our coats to the manager, who returned with a numbered claim ticket, we were given the single-page menus, which are cleverly fastened to thin wooden plaques.
The aforementioned homemade tofu, served either warm or chilled with wari-joyu, is served fresh daily at 6, 7:30, 9, 10:30, and 11:30pm, so plan accordingly—this is a must-try dish. Our server used a wooden spoon to scoop a small piece of this creamy goodness onto each of our plates, and poured a splash of wari-joyu on top. Together with that sauce, which tastes like a smokier, sweeter soy sauce, this simple presentation of what many consider an aesthetic nightmare turned plain tofu into a gastronomic delight. Another bowl, please?
EN’s menu offers an excellent selection of sushi, sashimi, and seafood, as well as appetizing rice and noodle dishes. To no fault of theirs, I don’t eat meat or seafood, and with my choices somewhat limited, I ordered the fresh tofu ($7), miso soup ($5), and En garlic shiso fried rice ($7), which was more than enough. All were served in "mod Japanese" bowls and dishes, and the rice, which was perfectly fluffed and topped with thin shavings of Japanese basil, was nearly as good as the tofu. Trixie also gushed about the grilled black cod ($12).
For dessert, we split the soba tea pudding ($6), another seemingly simple dish that reveals a surprisingly complex flavor. Simply put, EN Japanese Brasserie is one of the top restaurants to open in the Big Apple this year. Get there before the secret gets out.
From journal The Big Apple... and Beyond!