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Engawa A

esthetics: “the principles that deal with beauty and taste.” In Japan, there are nine of them. Transient beauty, grace, subtlety, simplicity and discipline are just a few. To understand Japanese aesthetics properly would require years of study. For a crash course, book a table at Engawa. The presentation of the food is nothing short of magnificent. The mind boggling array of porcelain, wood, bamboo and slate on which each course is served, provides a glorious framework for the works of art that taste every bit as good as they look. The five chefs that work in the open kitchen are exceptionally talented. Watching them is a privilege. The place itself is an enigma. Engawa means veranda, or rather, a narrow strip of wooden flooring. An apt name for the restaurant. It is small and so are the tables which can’t quite accommodate all the lovely dishes. The floor staff, flawless and extremely well informed about the food, have also developed an impressive agility that enables them to serve with grace. The tight space and open kitchen give

32 August 2015


Reviewed by Michael M Sandwick

a sense of immediacy. On the other hand, it feels a bit like watching grand opera on a cabaret stage. A stinger of sake, sugar and lemongrass (£12) was delicious and refreshing as we perused the three menus, three, five or eight courses at £60, £80 and £100. I felt duty-bound to choose the latter! All the menus feature sashimi, sushi and the absolute star of the show, Kobe beef. Each of the four Kobe courses offer a choice of two or three dishes. A flight of three sakes made an excellent pairing. There is also a small, expensive wine list as well as a fine choice of sake by the bottle. Our first course was perhaps the most impressive. Two great blocks of ice arrived, in each an embedded small glass dish. Finely chopped Kobe, yam and spring onion, like a fine Japanese tartare and slow-cooked Kobe with ponzu jelly, rich and flavorful with the zing of citrus. There were four more courses before we got to “mains”! Chawanmushi, an egg custard made with Kobe beef stock and shaved truffle

Kobe - star of the show MAGES © DAISUKE SHIMA, NACASA & PARTNERS

2 Ham Yard, London W1D 7DT

Embedded in a block of ice

TheAmerican American The

was a real treat. Agemono, deep fried prawns and asparagus with shiso and kumquat. Light and tasty. The sashimi course was impressive. A wooden box of nine compartments, each containing a fine porcelain dish of tuna, scallop, Kobe, salmon with roe, yellowtail, squid and sea bass. Sensational. Course 5 was Kobe sukiyaki, sweet and succulent, and slow cooked Kobe with daikon, tender and savory. Then the mains: two Kobe steaks, one lean, the other, the most marbled steak I have ever seen. All that fat gives a taste that can, literally, stop your heart. Served with white asparagus, watercress, courgette and three “dips”: rock salt, wasabi and ponzu. Hands down the highlight of the evening. I dream about that steak! As if that wasn’t enough, there followed a brilliant sushi course then one of the best Asian fusion desserts I have ever had, Deluxe Engawa Fondue: tofu cheesecake with seasonal fruits and a green tea infused white chocolate dipping sauce. Western taste with Japanese aesthetic. Transient beauty indeed! !

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The American August 2015 Issue 746  

The leading cross-media publication for Americans in the UK - and anyone interested in American culture

The American August 2015 Issue 746  

The leading cross-media publication for Americans in the UK - and anyone interested in American culture