Since EN Japanese Restaurant finally opened people by and large have been very impressed! Great care and patience was taken to build this restaurant, which had previously been home to our good friend Stanley Miller (RIP), proprietor of Stanlee's, which for years was a Tumon landmark destination. The new owners bring a new legacy and restaurant concept, and should be in business for a very long time.
There is no existing Japanese restaurant that I can compare EN to as it has developed its own personality and spirit. The aesthetics are quite good, with a very inviting exterior facade with bold and well-defined lettering establishing its brand. Once inside, you will see the amazing artwork and murals of koi on the wall – something that gives a fluidity and animation to this place.
If you are planning on going to EN, you should make reservations. They are open for lunch ( 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.) and dinner (5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.), and can be extremely. But this is not just any restaurant. They have studied the market and are creating their own niche by offering a very focused menu of appetizers, soups and salads, maki, en's signature selections and entree's. They have only been open for about three months.
I was able to get a single seat at the counter, which is near the entrance on the right. It's a neat first impression when you walk in as you see the chef's cooking on grills before you see the dining room! This is not a sushi counter, it's a cooking and grilling counter and it's actually fun to watch and interact with the chefs.
For this first visit, I decided to try out a few items to gauge their food. Bear in mind that new restaurants still have service issues that are being worked out in time. I'm not grading or judging this – just the food. I ordered the Kimchee ($4.25), which is Chef Kadowaki's original recipe. Chef Kadowaki has marinated his napa cabbage in kimchee base for two weeks. It is surprisingly fresh and crisp, but not overly spiced. It's pleasantly light and you can taste all the blended flavors.
I also had the Yakko Tofu ( $4.30), another appetizer that is served cold, with soft Kinugoshi Tofu that's topped with shaved dried bonito, grated ginger and green onions. This is a traditional way of eating tofu, however, I guess the tofu may be a better quality. I enjoyed it.
I wanted to try their Aburi Salmon Roll ($13.80), which has kani kama crab, cucumber, avocado, mayo on the inside and salmon, ikura, Yuzu-kosho mayo outside. (The MAKI section on the menu features seven rolls and designates ingredients with "IN" and "OUT" for inside and outside respectively.) This Aburi Salmon Roll is definitely a winner, as the salmon has been torched to partially cook the top and give it a little browning.
Every bite of this is quite good and they were smart to feature it on their menu. There is a line of yuzo-kosho mayo on the platter. When you taste this it has a pronounced citrus spice taste. It pairs well with each sushi roll instead of using wasabi, but I did both. Other rolls available are the California, Spicy Tuna, Crunchy, Fire Roll and EN Roll.
The entree I tried was Chicken Namban ($15.00), which features fried chicken thighs dipped in Namban sauce and dressed in a light creamy tartar sauce. Namban is a vinegar (Nanbansu) and the sauce uses sugar, vinegar and red pepper. This is a popular taste in Kyushu Japan and this chicken dish is essentially a crispy chicken in a sweet and tangy sauce.
The tartar sauce is a tasty, richly flavored sauce that reminds me a little of Thousand Island dressing. Also on the tray are “oshinko” (pickled vegetables, steamed rice, 'Aka-Dashi' Miso soup (a red miso soup using Red 'Hatcho' Miso paste with tofu and wakame). Along with the Namban Chicken on the plate are marinated asparagus spears, a potato flour fritter (fried but gooey texture), shredded cabbage and a grilled red pepper.
I noticed one of my neighbors eating a Chicken Salad ($12.50) which is served in a huge, over-sized glass bowl. Other salads include the Caesar and sashimi, as well as green. There are also compelling entrees, such a Hamachi Kama - very popular here - Rib Eye Steaks, Salmon Steak, Black Cod Saikyo, and Okonomiyaki (Japanese savory pancake, Osaka-style).
A must-try dessert specialty at EN Japanese Restaurant is their Green Tea Tiramisu. This is literally divine! The serving ware and plating at EN are superb. They also feature a selection of fine wines, sakes and shochu. I will have to make a return soon with more people so I can try a few more dishes!
Ita dake masu!