Report on Last Weekend's Family Meal (Makanai) at EN Japanese Brasserie
The tofu salad gave one an opportunity to scarf huge quantities of EN's signature substance. (click to enlarge)
Last Saturday evening at 10 pm En Japanese Brasserie hosted a makanai, or restaurant family meal. The food was presented buffet style at the sold-out event in the resetaurant's barroom and lounge.
Seating at this special event was in EN's commodious barroom.
The vibe was laid back, except when Japanese food fans early in the meal stormed the buffet over and over as new dishes arrived. They needn't have been so aggressive--plenty of food was provided and, by the end of the evening, the tables were still groaning with heaping platters of salads and stews, and fresh tureens of soup.
The $45 charge included all the food you could stuff down, and unlimited Sapporo beer. That beer was dispensed from a pair of taps in a novel system I'd never seen before, but which seemed oh! so Japanese. One spigot filled the pint glass with beer, while a squirt from the second delivered a thick mantle of pure foam. "I wonder if you could just get a glass of pure foam," one of the guests at my table wondered.
The beef stew was heavy with vegetables like lotus root and winter squash.
The buffet included several familiar dishes served in superior versions. Butajiru is a thick stew of pork in miso paste, with a slightly sweet edge that made the meat come alive. A fish head soup that bubbled over its Sterno flame provided a contrast with its subtle flavor and much thinner broth.
There was a wonderful rice salad featuring laver and snippets of sashimi, and a hearty stew of beef, lotus roots, and other winter vegetables. Still, the triumph of the evening was a tofu salad festooned with scallions, sprouts, and delicate bonito flakes. Homemade tofu is En's greatest speciality, and this salad provided an opportunity to bolt huge quantities of it. I wish it were on the regular menu.
The rice salad was dotted with bits of sashimi.
Finally, we loved the salmon skin salad, especially when we sprinkled another of the dishes over the top of it: crisp fried eel bones (see below). Dinner with the family doesn't get any better than this. Here's hoping the restaurant does it again.
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