Wednesday, February 07, 2007

1/29/07: Dinner at EN Japanese Brasserie

This Monday evening was not just your typical dinner out, as I had an appointment with Mr. Sakurai from Asahi Shuzo, someone who seems to show up in this blog quite often as evidenced here (scroll down to the second entry), here (scroll down to the second entry... again), here (you know what to do), most certainly here, was in attendance here, served me some saké at this event, was't in town for this event unfortunately, but did help pioneered a new dessert for this very noble cause, and explored Andromeda terroir saké this night. Unfortunately, he was in town briefly for a week, so this would be the only time I could meet him on this visit. Fear not, he will be back late February for a month and half stay.

He recommended having dinner at EN Japanese Brasserie, where they hosted a portfolio of Banzai Saké the last time I visited in September.

Since I arrived before Sakurai-san, I sat at the bar to check their saké by the glass menu. The menu offered decent selections covering wide range of styles, but of course, was no match for the beverage menu inside the restaurant. I ordered a glass of Sougen Junmai (SMV: +3, Acidity: 1.8, Rice: Yamadanishiki, Seimaibuai: 55%, Yeast: N/A) from Ishikawa Prefecture, a saké I have seen but never tried before. Sougen turned out to be a pretty intense saké, with fruit/rice on nose and expressive, sharp fruity flavors on the palate with a lingering minerals on the finish. I thought this was very similar to Ryusei Tokubetsu Junmai from Hiroshima.

Once Sakurai-san arrived, we headed to the main section of the restaurant. EN has a very minimalistic, yet effective decor. The stone influenced room is rectangular in shape, with private tables on the sides and one big communal table in the middle, with a big centerpiece in the middle, offering both enough glimpse at neighboring diner's dishes while maintaining privacy.

To start the evening, Mr. Sakurai ordered his pride and joy, the bottle of Migaki Niwari Sanbu. With the restaurant featuring special menu in the honor of the NYC Restaurant Week, we decided to order that Tasting Menu as well as several appetizers including Yuba (tofu skin) Sashimi, raw oysters with tobiko, and of course, my favoirte, boiled daikon with miso sauce, the braised pork "kakuni." The tasting course started with three styles of assorted Napoleon, but the highlight was the parchment paper steamed Chilian sea bass.

Dassai went very well with most of the dishes. I was surprised that it went well with daikon and miso, as I figured miso might overpower the saké, but the miso was exceptionally round and mild, making me believe that they added some white miso. The sea bass was moist and tender, making it a perfect accompaniment.

As the night wound down, and bottle became empty, it was time for a last round. Sakurai-san went with Bishonen, while I went with what I perceive as the best choice by glass: Biho from Hiroshima.

While the finer details of the evening cannot be stated yet, it was a great night. I learned quite a bit about Sakurai-san's work overseas, including his recent visit to Hong Kong, which sounds like an incredibly profitable venture. I also got to see my former coworker Courtney, and I was also introduced to the manager of the restaurant. It was definitely great coming back to EN, and I hope to be back soon!


Paul said...

KC, Great site, very informative and professional. I am new to Sake and have started my own blog. There is so much information out there but so few experts who are willing to share. Feel free to contact me. If it's alright with you, to share the info, I have linked you up from my site. Hope that's ok. Take Care. Paul

KCinNYC said...

Thanks for stopping by & linking my blog to yours; I have duplicated the courtesy.

Good luck with your site, and we'll keep in touch!