Thursday, January 8, 2009

En, Marunouchi (だし茶漬け えん, 新丸ビル)

I swear that the current boom products are ochazuke and tsukemen. Both of these are, for me, in a class of "nice, but a little too subtle", and for some reason I want to describe ochazuke as 'pallid'. It's a very gentle sort of snack.

Anyway, En is a counter fast food ochazuke place that carries its 'light wood, fresh atmosphere' theme throughout (including laminating the rice cooker with pine-textured plastic!). Buy tickets from the machine, give them to the waitress, and service takes about 30 seconds. However, this being Japan, the quality was really very high, and the overall experience was quite good.

Choices range through chicken, bean, grilled salmon, and other staples of Japanese-healthy-cafe chic. I had yaki-mentai and was pleasantly surprised because the mentai was not over-cooked (still pink and cool inside), and tasted great, almost like it had been been further cured in kasu (sake lees, the dead yeast left over from making rice wine.). The rice, crunchy bits (I've forgotten their name), seaweed and green veg all came pre-mixed in the bowl (as opposed to the luxury places that let you mix your own), but that's in the interests of speed and wasn't a big problem to me. On the side were cold tofu in sesame sauce (good) and pumpkin with thick pork sauce (what do you call ankake with minced pork in it? The kind of sauce you'd get over a plate of roasted eggplant.)

This is a frankly overblown review for a 10-minute, Y750 lunch, but it really showed off why Japanese fast food is terrific - fresh, healthy, tasty, interesting, still cheap.

やっぱり, this is associated with the En izakaya chain - also known for cheap-but-tasty (I hear)

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