Ph.Ds of FOOD

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En Japanese Dining Bar

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Happy Hour Daily Special 6-8pm – 50% off sushi and sashimi!

With such a great deal offered at En Japanese Dining Bar, off to River Valley we went on a Friday night. We reached the place at around 7.40pm and realized to our excitement that the 50% offer was valid as long as the sushi/sashimi orders were placed before 8pm! Just a note, there are certain dining places which promote similar offers, but the catch is that you have to finish your meal, settle the bill and leave the place before the end of the stipulated period. Otherwise the offer would be invalidated and you would be charged the full price. So thankfully En Japanese Dining Bar adopts a different policy; as long as you place your sushi/sashimi orders before 8pm, it doesn’t matter if you leave after 8pm.

We ordered the Sashimi Nana Ten MoriNigiri Hachi Kan, Godzilla Roll and Kushimori.

Sashimi Nana Ten Mori

Sashimi Nana Ten Mori

7 Kinds Sashimi Platter

(clockwise from top left) Tako, Sake & Mekajiki; Kanpachi; Shimesaba & Hon Maguro; Hotate

Sashimi Nana Ten Mori – a platter of 7 kinds of sashimi. The Sake Sashimi (salmon) looked rather queer, the colour was a bit too dark and dull, unlike the salmon sashimi we tried at Kinki and Sakuraya. Texture wise, nothing too out of the ordinary. It seemed to be lacking in taste;  there wasn’t the strong typical salmon taste. The Tako (octopus) was as usual, chewy with a slight tinge of saltiness. The Mekajiki (swordfish) was pretty good, it had a strong flavour, adequate chewiness yet not too rubbery. The Kanpachi (yellow tail) on the other hand, had a faint fishy after taste, which was left lingering in our mouths. The Hon Maguro (tuna) was something that surprised us. We don’t usually like Maguro as it tends to have a strong fishy taste and the texture wasn’t too our liking. But surprisingly, the Maguro at En was a bit different. There wasn’t any fishy taste and the texture was similar to the Mekajiki, with adequate chewiness. Shimesaba (mackerel) tasted all right, nothing too surprising or out of this world. But the Hotate was really good. We’ve always had this soft spot for scallops. We like seared scallops a lot, where the inside core was slightly uncooked, while the outer flesh was charred. In this case, it was just Hotate sashimi, which was very fresh, and simply melts in the mouth. Splendid.

Nigiri Hachi Kan

Nigiri Hachi Kan

For the Nigiri Hachi Kan (8 kinds sushi platter), the variety was similar to the sashimi platter, only that there was also the Tobiko, Ebi and Ika sushi. A bite into the Tobiko (flying fish roe) revealed a burst of saltiness and seafood taste. The Ika (squid) was rather strange. Typically, Ika has a chewy, rubbery and smooth texture. But this time round, the Ika had a starchy and sticky texture. Seemingly, it felt like it wasn’t very fresh. The most disappointing part of En’s sushi was the rice. Well, for sashimi, the first and most important criteria is that the raw fish must be fresh. But for sushi, other than the sliced raw fish, the rice is a crucial part! Otherwise, why bother having sushi when we can just have sashimi? But it seems that En Japanese Dining Bar has neglected this important part. The vinegared rice was a huge disappointment. Firstly, the rice wasn’t sticky enough. When we picked the sushi up with our chopsticks, the rice simply felt apart. It wasn’t sticky enough. There was barely any taste of rice vinegar. In fact, it seemed to be nothing different from normal rice, other than the fact that the grains were shorter. The sushi rice simply killed the entire platter. The standard was similar to the sushi counters at supermarkets. Simply disappointing. Not to mention, little effort was put into the plating and presentation of the platter. It was rather slipshod, not very appealing and pleasing to the eyes.

Kushimori

Kushimori

 

Kushimori

(from left to right) Enoki Bacon, Prawn, Cherry Tomatos with Cheese and Bacon; Tsukune and Hotate Bacon

The only cooked food we had for the night was Kushimori – a platter of 5 sticks of skewers. The bacon wrapping the Enoki (golden needle mushrooms) wasn’t very salty. Hence, it tasted more like pork meat, rather than bacon. But the huge lump of enoki was very juicy and flavourful. For the cherry tomatoes wrapped with bacon and topped with cheese, we felt that the cheese didn’t really accentuate the taste of the skewer. The bacon was already salty enough, adding the cheese didn’t seem to make the dish any better. But the tomatoes did add a refreshing taste as when we bit into it, the burst of a fruity flavour encompassed our taste buds. It kind of reduced the richness from the bacon. The Tsukune (chicken meat balls) was juicy, not too dry, but a little on the oily side though. The best skewer has to be the Hotate Bacon. Well, we really do like scallops a lot. The thing about scallops is that not much marinating needs to be done. The juiciness and freshness of the scallops is the essence. When you grill scallops together with bacon, the saltiness of the bacon infuses into the scallops, giving it a slightly savoury taste, but yet not overpowering its original juiciness and seafood flavour. Overall, the skewers platter at En is worth a try.

Godzilla Roll

Godzilla Roll

Godzilla Roll

Godzilla Roll

The last dish of the night was the Godzilla Roll – Unagi, Avocado, Cucumber, sprinkled with Tobiko. I think we regretted ordering this. Like we’ve said, the sushi rice was very bad. Godzilla roll was made up of sushi rice. Hence, it was bad enough. Unagi was nothing special. It didn’t blow us away. To say this is a chef’s recommendation did make us scratch our heads and wonder why.

The worst thing of the meal was that the food took AGES to be served. We placed our orders for the sashimi, sushi and godzilla roll at 7.50pm. Well, the restaurant was pretty crowded that night, perhaps cause of the happy hour special. But still, our orders were largely raw dishes, which required no cooking, hence we thought we would get served pretty quickly. To our huge displeasure, our first dish, the sashimi platter, was only served after 1 hour 10 minutes. We had our first bite of food only at 9.00pm, a whole 70 minutes after our orders were placed. The sushi platter came only after 15 minutes, at 9.15pm, a whole 85 minutes after we placed the orders. Being rather hungry, we added an order for the skewers at 9.20pm. We were watching other tables, and saw that they had arrived later than us, but with their food (mostly cooked food) being served earlier.

Well, ever since our sushi platter came at 9.15pm, we asked 2 different waiting staff to check on our Godzilla Roll. And none of them got back to us. That is until we asked the same waiter a 2nd time, and he assured us that our Godzilla roll was on priority now. By 9.30pm, we were getting frustrated at the fact that our elusive Godzilla Roll hadn’t arrived. It has been more than 90 minutes since we made that order!!! I had enough of waiting. I walked right up to the cashier and told her that we have been waiting for a Godzilla Roll ever since we placed our orders at 7.50pm. The waitress who took our orders agreed that our orders were taking very long to be served. Do all the customers have to wait so long for their raw dishes? We weren’t very pleased, the staff kept apologizing, but offered no reason or explanation. All they said was that they would hurry the kitchen. But apparently, hurrying didn’t not work. And just as I was about to return to my seat, a plate of skewers appeared at the cashier and the waitress who took our orders immediately said that we had placed an order for the skewers platter. I acknowledged that and all of a sudden, this plate of skewers was ours.

The elusive Godzilla roll finally came, only after we finished our plate of skewers. And that was already close to 9.45pm. In short, it takes close to 2 hours for a Godzilla roll to be prepared and served. And you would expect great things from Godzilla? No! It was the worst dish of the night. It was not even worth a 5 minutes wait. Period.

The waitress who served us offered us a discount. But well, don’t expect much. The discount was only 10% off the price of the skewers platter, which turned out to be a mere $1.50.

We understand that the crowd was pretty big that night. But no, there wasn’t any queue. And there were still a few empty tables. We do know that good food needs waiting time. But the quality of food at En is definitely not justifiable for the long waiting time. The food was average, it wasn’t all that fantastic. So it definitely wasn’t worth the wait. In fact, if it weren’t for the 50% happy hour, the price wasn’t worth the wait either. But is it really justifiable to have such a long waiting time because we were having discounted food?

One more thing was that we specifically asked for non-smoking outdoor seats. And somehow, halfway during the meal, 2 ladies stood barely a metre beside me, smoking. I wonder, were we really given non-smoking outdoor seats?

Value for money, but the waiting time was way too long.

En Japanese Dining Bar
207 River Valley Rd
#01-57 UE Square

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Written by foodphd

February 26, 2011 at 12:40 pm

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