Japanese - Fine Dining
I have an annoying habit of summing up a place much before I have dined there. The reason I continue to do it is because, well most of the time I am right. But, once in a while, a place I prematurely dismissed, makes me bow my head in shame - En was one such place . En meaning 'synchronicity', opened rather quietly without the celebrity fuss, (perhaps, I should have put more faith in it, for that alone), by Raji SJB Singh Sandhar. Sandhar has been living Japan for the last 30 years and has a few fine-dining restaurants there. He brought 6 chefs from Japan, including executive chef Katsuya Honda, to set up and run En.
En has made its home in an old haveli that has newly opened as Ambawatta One. The setting is regal without losing elegance, along with a nice alfresco terrace. The only fusion you are to find at En is in its decor - harmoniously merging Indian and Japanese aesthetics. There are a few nooks and crannies for private dining experiences too.
Fish Carpaccio w/ Salad - Salmon and Yellow tail (normally comes with salmon and tuna but we asked for the change, we had a non tuna supporter) - Dressing of Olive Oil, Vinegar & Lime Juice A simple yet divine dish. I could taste black olive in the dressing almost like a runny olive tapenade. I just loved the combination of fresh fish with the salty olive vinaigrette - could have easily eaten this plate by myself.
As for the food? En is for purists. If you're looking for modern twists or gimmicky Japanese cuisine this place is certainly not for you. Not that I don't love my share of fusion rolls and sashimi pizzas! But if you want to come close to an authentic Japanese experience, kept intact to its truest form, do visit En.
- Seafood Tartare w/ Caviar. Dishes like this make control freaks like me very happy. You get sheets of nori that you stuff with your combination of prawns, salmon, tuna, yellow tail, raw egg with scallions, tamagoyaki - Japanese omelette, caviar and boiled okra (which I have to admit I avoided like it was .. well.. slimy boiled okra!). And to add more flavour there were two sauces, to drizzle your custom made rolls with. I like putting one piece of each thing in a line so every bite is different.
- Tempura - We got the assorted bowl - veggies, prawns and squid. The tempura was light, crisp and delicious. And the only ones who get the tempura sauce just right!
- Buta no Kakuni - Braised Pork Belly. If you like bold robust flavours, and often find things bland, this dish may not be for you. I personally loved the mellowness of this dish. Beautifully braised pork belly, with few yet defined flavours.
- Beans Gomae - This came with the appetiser tasting plate. Didnt see gomae with beans otherwise on the menu, but sure they could if you asked. The beans were perfectly crunchy and the gomae was the best I have had thus far in the city. Unlike, the other overly creamy renditions that suffocate and lose any site of the actual veggies, this was light, yet packed a punch of flavour.
- Teppanyaki Chicken w/ Teriyaki Sauce - So, so many, poorly done versions of this dish, have really undermined, the kind of joy one can get, eating well made teppanyaki teriyaki chicken with a warm bowl of rice. For me, when done right, this is comfort food. So take a bow En, because you are the only one, who has managed to do this dish justice, thus far in the city. It's funny how the simplest things, get butchered most often. First En uses thigh pieces which is the basic rule to any teppanyaki chicken, I believe, because it is when that fat meets the hot grill that magic happens. "Keep the skin on and for god's sake get it crispy" - at least I didn't have to send the dish back with those words - well seasoned crisp skin with juicy bits of meat underneath. Lastly, the teriyaki sauce - just the right amount of viscosity - enough to glaze it, without making it sickeningly thick, nor were the flavours mixed up for maple syrup, and the chicken wasn't required to come up for gulps of air . Well balanced flavours - the sweetness, the mirin - Oh dear I think I'm hooked.
Resting on Average
- Today's Fish in Miso Spicy Sauce - before I tell you why not let me tell you why - the fish was delightfully fresh, I had to take a quick peak out the window, to make sure that wasn't the sea I saw in the horizon. And that was precisely what got them in to trouble. For every bit a success the fish was the sauce was not. Firstly, it was almost inedibly salty, nor did I taste much miso in it (minus the saltiness!). To be quite honest, I don't know what I tasted but the flavours needed to be a lot cleaner.
- Ebi Tempura Roll - Yes of course there was a plate of Ebi Tempura Maki on my table, some things never change. So not that the sushi is average - it was certainly above that, but I didn't see the dire need to insist you all try it. Take your own pick of the sushi you like. I even had an order of unagi nigiri - which is also a constant for me - and I was quite happy with that too.
- Chef's Tasting Plate (appetisers) - Asparagus w/ Cream Cheese, Ryu-yu-gi, Beans Gomae - Again everything here was quite nice but I preferred our selection from the a la carte menu. The gomae you have my review of further up, and the asparagus, to be quite frank, I can't remember a bit of! The Ryu-yu-gi had lovely subtle flavours of ginger - though I couldn't taste any of the truffle promised, and soggy chicken skin gives me the shivers - I'm quite positive, it is in some way, linked to my childhood but I havent quite figured out the details - until then I stay away. And that is completely subjective, so if you haven't been scarred by unknowing circumstances, go ahead and give it a shot.
- Vegetable Garlic Rice - Up until now I happily threw the word authentic around, until basmati graced our table. I love Japanese fried rice - especially when done on a teppan. But this was a mistake I didn't expect them to pardon.
Good Lord What Was That?
- Teppanyaki Foie Gras w/ Scallops and Braised Raddish - I have a serious weakness for Foie Gras, I may be inviting a lot of finger wagging by saying that, but gosh darn-it you can't hide love like that! Actually the dish was delicious, I loved the unsuspecting combination of the foie gras with braised raddish. That tiny bit of sweetness in the raddish made it all work. Then why is it labeled "average" you ask? Because serving seafood that tastes anything but fresh at those prices is not acceptable. And those scallop were not acceptable.
- Assorted Chef's Desserts - We got a tasting platter of 3 desserts - (top left clockwise) - Gateau Chocolat, Baked Cheesecake, Chef's Chiffon Cake (I think) - All were nothing short of an abomination! Maybe patisserie chef's were right - anyone can cook but not anyone can bake. It brought back more awful childhood memories in Singapore of dessert bought from cheap Chinese bakeries - That tasted nothing short of wax and plastic. Unless, they get entirely new pastry chefs, I suggest skipping dessert and grabbing a mango-duet on the way home!
Over all, a great meal, in a lovely setting - I do recommend En. I hope more people visit because the food deserves a chance. Plus your visits, will ensure me fresh produce and them staying in business (which I would love because they're also right next door!)
Budget: Expensive -
Avg. Meal for 2 - Rs. 4500 (excluding alcohol & taxes)
5/1 Kalkadas marg,
(Near Olive Qutub)
Lunch (1200 – 1500) hrs. Dinner
(1830- 2330) hrs.
Open all 7 days
Credit cards accepted. Valet parking
Labels: Favourites, Healthy Options, Japanese, Outdoor Seating, Romantic