One of my best friends from Japan came to visit me in NYC. He currently lives in Kyoto, and he wanted me to take him to a Japanese restaurant offering Obansai. Obansai is a traditional style of Japanese cuisine native to Kyoto. The cooking/dishes are mainly comprised of vegetables and seafood – and are prepared very simply. I thought it was a challenging request when compared to the availability of sushi, ramen, and bento – Obansai is a quite a new concept for Americans and not so sure if it is fully accepted as most people would confuse this style with traditional bento.
After some research I discovered that En Japanese Brasserie offered a surprisingly impressive variety of Obansai. I heard from other local Japanese friends that En is always busy on the weekends so I booked a reservation in advance. The seating area is spacious and contemporary, and the environment replicated a feeling of being in Japan but on a much larger scale. Upscale restaurants in Japan have similar designs but are generally confined to a much smaller footprint.
We ordered an Obansai plate with three choices: Hijiki (hijiki seaweed, snow peas, green beans, shirataki, and soybeans simmered in soy), Nasu & Zucchini Agebitashi (fried Japanese eggplant and zucchini, chilled and marinated in dashi, with katsuobushi), Buta Bara to Renkon Kimpira (soy-braised thinly sliced pork belly and lotus root). We both were fully satisfied with the taste and then ordered the Stone Grilled Beef and a selection of sushi for entrees. Since this is a food blog I think I need to describe the food with detail vs. of only saying you liked it. But, we really did not recall anything other that we liked all of them. I think because this is we enjoyed the whole package as a great Japanese experience.
En is pricier than other Japanese restaurants but the quality of the food and elegant, cozy atmosphere are well worth it. I highly recommend this restaurant for entertaining out of town guests or for special occasions.
Price: $160 for our selection including tip and drinks
Neighborhood: West Village
Dress code: High-end casual
Dining alone: Yes — bar and counters are available, however, I recommend enjoying this beautiful restaurant with others