En has something very few other restaurants in New York have: elbow room. Set in a space as large and high ceilinged as an old-fashioned train station, the restaurant has a serenity that most lack. That’s not why you come here, of course. It’s for the food, creative Izakaya cuisine (meaning Japanese small plates) that is exquisite and hearty by turns. On the delicate side is the house-made tofu, creamy as a cloud and sided with a tart vinagered soy sauce that adds just the right bit of oomph. On the hearty side are toothsome noodles in duck broth, fabulously ungreasy fried chicken, and plates of root vegetables in rich sesame sauce. But that’s just the beginning of the menu, which serves Japanese food of a complexity one rarely gets outside of Japan itself. It also has one of the widest selections of fine sakes and shochus (a vodka-like liquor) in the city.
- Pauline Frommer