Review: EN Japanese

by gigi on January 26, 2009

Jenkins and I ventured over to EN Japanese Cuisine near UBC one cold winter evening for dinner. Pick had gone there a while back and enjoyed it quite a bit so he recommended it to us. We had made reservations prior to going but the restaurant was quite empty throughout the night even though it was a weekend so reservations might not have been necessary.

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The menu at EN is organized into appies, mains, and sushi items. Jenkins and I decided to order a variety or dishes to share.  One thing that we noticed at EN almost right away was that the service was very slow and inattentive.  We ordered some tea and not only did it take a long time to come, our server placed our tea at our table without even telling us what it was. Normally, we would not need help in identifying tea but it was served in a small bowl, which left me unsure as to what it was. :) Have a look at the picture below and judge for yourself… :p

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We decided to start with some aburi salmon nigiri. After such a great first time experience with aburi sushi at Miku, I really wanted Jenkins to try it to see what he thought. The aburi salmon came plainly served and looked a bit dry as a result. The salmon was seared a bit too much for my liking and only left a small part of the salmon still raw. I’m not sure if the traditional method is to serve it plain like EN or to have some sauce like at Miku, but I definitely enjoyed the Miku version more. I should note though that it was Jenkins’ first time trying aburi sushi and he thought the EN version was quite tasty.

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Next, Jenkins and I had some ebi gyoza. Although the plating was not very fancy, this dish was quite tasty. We liked how the entire prawn was wrapped into the gyoza and it had a nice grilled taste to it. The gyoza sauce had a slight vinaigrette taste to it but was mild enough to make the ebi the main star of the dish.

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I’m always a fan of unique twists on traditional sushi so we decided to order the crunchy EN sushi roll. Instead of using a crunchy coating for the sushi, the entire roll was deep fried. In theory, I think this could have worked but the deep fried sushi rice made the roll too chewy on the outside and a bit difficult to digest. I also felt that the accompanying sauce of black bean and sesame to be too salty and didn’t allow the fresh flavours of the veggies and seafood in the roll to come out.

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For our “main” courses, Jenkins and I chose the crispy rice with deep fried ginger tuna. Perhaps it was due to the tempura coating of the tuna or that it was sitting out too long, but by the time the dish reached our table, the tuna was no longer crunchy. The menu description for this dish also boasted of a strong ginger flavour but we could hardly even taste the ginger. Despite this, Jenkins thought this was the best dish of the evening.

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I’m a big fan of mackerel so I couldn’t pass up the grilled saba. Although parts of the saba was a bit burnt, the fish itself was grilled almost quite well and was JUST cooked enough inside. My only complaint for this dish was that it was way too salty. Jenkins and I had to order some rice to go with both the saba and the tuna because of their saltiness. Once we had the rice to temper the high salt content in these dishes, it actually was not too bad.

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Although the food at EN was not the best, it certainly wasn’t the worst that I’ve had. However, for the price that we paid for our dishes, the value and presentation detail certainly wasn’t there. I noticed that quite a few people mainly ordered items from the sushi bar so I wonder if that is more of their forte than the cooked items. Both Jenkins and my largest complaint though was the service. It took a lot of effort each time we needed to get the attention of one of the servers and we noticed that we weren’t the only ones with this issue. We may have been able to excuse them if the restaurant was busy, but it was half empty the entire time we were there. There was even a couple of times when we wanted to ask our server a question and she just stayed at her post and raised her voice from where she was standing so we could hear her instead of just walking over. That was certainly something different for us! :)

I was so unimpressed with the service that I diligently filled out the comment card that came with our bill. A few weeks afterwards, I received an email from EN thanking me for my comments but still hoped that I had an enjoyable experience at EN. Perhaps they did not read my comments carefully? :p In any case, I was promised a free maki roll if I returned but I’m not sure if that was enough to entice me to return, at least not for a while. After we returned from EN, I checked the reviews online and saw that people either really enjoyed EN or did not like it at all. Has anyone been to EN and has a positive experience to share?

Details:
4422 W. 10th Ave, Vancouver
Tel: 604-730-0330

Summary:
Food: [rating:2]
Service: [rating: 0.5]
Price: $$$

En Japanese on Urbanspoon

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