Chopsticks, sushi and sticky rice; these were the three things that first hit my mind when it comes to Japanese cuisine until a few weeks back. My recent visit to En – the Japanese restaurant broke many myths I had about the cuisine. When we received a mail to review the place, I was both apprehensive as well as excited. An apprehension of another pan-Asian restaurant, and excitement of finding the contrary. En means connection in Japanese and this restaurant has a magical spell to keep you connected for many days. So, let us take you on a pictorial journey of the place which surprised us in more ways than one and helped us enhance our knowledge of Japanese cuisine.
Sherry Anne Sudan, director of public relations and communications at En, was our host for the afternoon.
Built by restoring an old haveli, En is a quaint place with subtle colours and minimalist interiors. The setting is perfect for letting the food talk.
Room with a view. It is the most occupied and in-demand area of the restaurant. With a capacity of occupying two people and the historic Qutub Minar for a view, this remains a favourite with couples.
En is an upscale restaurant with an approx cost for two around Rs. 3,500. But if you want to enjoy some booze with friends and live yakitori (Japanese skewered chicken) with a relatively lesser price then you should opt for this area of the restaurant as En has a separate menu for this section.
And this is the terrace area with the Qutub Minar in the backdrop. As it was quite windy the day we went, we decided to sit indoors.
After a round of the restaurant, it was time to get acquainted with the Japanese food. Our host, Sherry told us some interesting things about Japanese cuisine and the restaurant. En is the only restaurant in Delhi where the head Chef is from Japan. The raw materials are imported from Japan to keep the authenticity of the food intact. She also told us that like in India there is a drastic difference in cuisine based on the region, similarly, there is a lot of difference between the cuisine of north Japan and south Japan. Sherry also guided us how to use chopsticks properly (it is an art that can be mastered only with practice). We decided to try the En special lunch course.
Assorted starters were our first serving. Classily placed over a glass tray were Kinpira (lotus stem fried and boiled down in sugar and soya sauce), Today’s Goma-ae (the restaurant picks different vegetables every day for this and we got to try green beans marinated in sesame sauce) and the Potato Salad. Our pick among the three would be the potato creamy salad, mild in flavours and refreshing to eat.
En equally concentrates on its drinks and serves nice mocktails with a Japanese twist. We tried Sakura Blossom, Yokohama Punch and Wasabi Mary. Sakura Blossom is the signature mocktail of the restaurant which is made of sakura syrup and lemonade. Sakura is the un-announced national flower of Japan and hence the inclination. Wasabi Mary is the Japanese non-alcoholic version of our favourite Bloody Mary and a word of caution for this one is to take smaller sips.
Vegetable Garlic Soup is a wholesome meal in itself. A clear soup with small diced vegetables and garlic is a steamy beauty.
Coming straight from the Chef’s corner is the Qutab Vegetable Tempura Roll. The restaurant tries to depict the magnificence of Qutub Minar with this asparagus rolled in tempura, based with sushi. Sherry told us that unlike other pan Asian cuisines, Japanese food is mild in spices.
Another tempura delicacy that we tried is the Vegetable Kakiage Tempura. Made with mixed vegetable strips, Kakiage is a popular casual dish in Japan, especially in households. At first look, it gives a Deja vu feeling of the Indian bhajiya sans the greasiness. If one is looking to enjoy a flavourful and healthy meal, En is the place to head towards.
Before we move towards our next dish, we were presented with the Japanese sorbet made with lemon. As Japanese food can make you feel full easily, this sorbet helps in digestion and simultaneously cleaning your palate.
For the main course, we tried the Teppanyaki. We tried the silken tofu and sautéed vegetables in soya sauce and served along with were plain white rice and sticky rice.
While our discussion with Sherry we came to know that Japanese are extremely particular about their alcohol and give extra attention to food and alcohol pairing. We decided to try a Japanese alcohol and we were presented with Choya Martin. It is made using Umeshu (Japanese fruit liquor) with some vodka and lime peach. Trust us on this, it is so strong in flavour that a single glass is more than enough even for an alcohol lover.
No meal can be complete without desserts and some herbal tea if it is Japanese. We tried this assorted dessert platter with Japanese herbal tea served in a very elegant and colourful kettle. The green tea sorbet was new to us and the Indian palate will take some time to get accustomed to this one. To sum it up, it was a delightful afternoon at En. But you got to try it to believe us.
Name: En – The Japanese Restaurant
Address: H-5/1, Ambawatta One, Kalkadas Marg, Mehrauli, New Delhi
Phone Number: 011 33105772
Text and images by Supriya Aggarwal