Monday, June 7, 2010

Review - En Izakaya - $-$$$ - V

I have a confession to make. When En Izakaya debuted with 3 stars in Cheap Eats this year I didn't understand what the fuss was all about, but that was because I thought it was a different place on Carlisle Street. Some foodie local I am - woops!
Clearly I am the only person that didn't know the location, because rocking up late on a Wednesday night without a booking was a little naive. It was packed. But the waiter had the good grace not to roll his eyes at me and instead took my number, shooed us out the door for a drink down the road and promised to call me within 30 minutes. And he kept his word.
As he showed us to our table I didn't know where to look. The dishes listed on the specials board grabbed my attention first. Then there were the celebs from various rock'n'roll quiz shows at different tables. But what I couldn't stop staring at were all the drunk people! Everyone seemed to be smashed. On a Wednesday! Totally rock'n'roll and completely understandable when consuming sake.

Miso soup with pork belly

The wait staff here are on the money. The woman who looked after us for the evening discouraged us from ordering too much and made it clear that if we needed more, then we just ask. This is because the dishes are designed for sharing - a Japanese version of tapas if you will. And it was sage advice, because we were full at the end of our mini feast.
Miso soup with pork belly for $4 was a great start. We followed this up with a spinner crab omelette with shiitake, shimeji and field mushrooms. The dish was a little cold to be honest, but we were hungry by this stage and I couldn't wait. The egg was fluffy and the different mushrooms did add to the layers of flavour.

Spinner crab omelette

Next was another cold dish - but it was supposed to be. Okara salad - mashed soybeans and miso mayo. I LOVE this dish. I could have eaten just a big bowl of it and the miso soup and been quite happy. It tasted kind of nutty and fresh and not like anything I've had before. Very hard to explain but super good.

Okara salad

In addition to the salad and served at the same time were: sticky rice coated steamed dumplings of prawn, chicken and ginger with a mustard and vinegar dipping sauce; and tuna sashimi laced with spring onion and soy and wasabi dressing.

Sticky rice coated dumplings

I was getting a bit cross about the slow service by the time the food arrived, but apparently the sashimi was the culprit as they dress it and then let it marinate for half an hour. It would have been good to know this beforehand, however the fish was truly melt in the mouth and worth the wait.


I thoroughly enjoyed our meal at En Izakaya. Mr Tea was not as impressed as me but he admitted to liking traditional-style when dining Japanese and this food is modern and all about sharing.
And it's rowdy! People are eating and drinking and being merry and taking their time; because you have to. Some of these dishes take a while to prepare and it's for this reason there is a good chance you'll have two drinks under your belt before having eaten and then you'll seem drunk to new arrivals.

En Izakaya on Urbanspoon


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