Friday, April 18, 2014

J's Birthday

Last weekend, I was invited to celebrate my favorite friend's fiancĂ©'s last birthday in his 20s. We had dinner and drinks at EN Japanese Brasserie. Normally, I'd share this on my food blog but since there are some fun fashion-y party shots mixed in, I decided to just throw them all up on here.
We had a little private room upstairs that had a dining area and then an open area. The restaurant even personalized the menu! It was a prix-fixe meal ($65) for a decent amount of food.

Here I am, looking a little blurry. It was pretty dark in the room so it took a lot of stealth and steadiness to get a decent photo with my tiny cam.
We started with edamame, which was soaked in some sort of soy-sauce based seasoning. The edamame was super fresh and delicious.
Next, we were given another appetizer of "freshly scooped tofu" with a salty, fishy sauce. The tofu was also really fresh and silky. I didn't love it but I didn't hate it; it was interesting and different.
The third appetizer was the banzai trio. There was bracken (or 'gosari' in Korean), a mushroom medley, and the third dish was a mishmosh of random ingredients including chopped up snap peas, aburage (the sweet fried tofu skins used to make inari), and sliced seaweed. All the Koreans agreed that these were just components of bibimbap. T made a comment that in Korean restaurants, you get this stuff for free with your meal (banchan), haha.
After what felt like years (because I was so freaking hungry), they brought out the good stuff: the meat! The miso black cod was really good, albeit a bit salty. I didn't care much for the little mountains of shredded radish/turnips but the cod itself was tender and cooked perfectly.
After the cod, we got stone grilled chicken. The chicken was one of my favorites of the night. I have a feeling my tastebuds were biased because I was so hungry; I'm sure shredded paper would have been a welcome sight. Anyway, it was all dark meat, which was a plus in my book, and the chicken also came with three sauces. One was a garlicky soy sauce, one was a wasabi salt, and the third was some special salt, but I could really tell that it was special (sorry).
The final bit of savory food we received was a bowl of rice with bits of salmon mixed in. It was really good, but one of the girls pointed out that it reminded her of college days where she'd just grab one of those microwaveable rice packages and mix in canned tuna and it hit the spot, haha. The bowls came with toppings - salmon roe and shredded shiso leaves - which made the dish look a lot prettier but didn't add much in terms of flavor. I can't tolerate much salt and salmon roe is really salty, so I could only eat 1 tiny egg with a huge bite of rice. I'm also not the biggest fan of Japanese shiso leaves - they're quite grassy and don't offer much other flavor. But, I did appreciate the vibrancy of the colors that both the roe and leaves added to my bowl.
The last bit of the meal was a green tea ice cream with a butter cookie. The cookie was too dry for my taste, but the ice cream was perfectly creamy and delicious.
I have to say that despite the delicious food, some of us were less-than-happy with the service. The evening started off pretty nicely. The waiter introduced himself and let us know he'd be devoted to our party for the dinner as well as the open bar afterwards. He brought us hot towels to wipe our hands and filled our water glasses. From there, the service kind of went downhill. To be fair, a few members of the dinner party were late (and one was a complete no-show) so the dinner started later than planned because of that. However, I don't see why that should have affected the service so greatly. For one, each course took way too long to come out; I was feeling ravenous and so the little bites we received for starters just whet my appetite. And I feel like I digested each course before the next came out. We also have an inkling that our party-devoted waiter was also manning a few other tables because 80% of the time we looked for him, he was no where to be found. Also, when we asked the servers why the meal was taking so long, no one had any answers for us. It was frustrating.

However, we sucked it up and managed to have a fabulous time anyway. I think that when you're surrounded by good company, even the hangriest of situations can be salvaged.

Okay, so back to the fĂȘte. Of course, since this was a birthday party, we had to have a delicious cake. D ordered this one from Billy's; it was yellow cake with chocolate buttercream and it was sublime.
Cheers to the happy couple (who will be married in just a few short months!)
And even though you didn't ask for them, here are some shots of us enjoying the party.

Here I am with my favorite friend. Doesn't red lipstick suit her so well?
The ladies looking fly - we all love the color black, I guess. And as always, I'm the shortest of the bunch. My dress is from Nastygal, by the way. It's super comfortable and because it's black, a bra is not required! That's probably my favorite detail because not to bog you down with TMI, but I hate wearing bras; they're not comfortable. My only complaint is that it would ride up continuously as I was walking, so I had to keep tugging it down. Without the tugging, I suspect it would eventually turn into a crop top.
I can't manage to get my photo taken without sneaking in a weird face at some point.
Happy birthday, old man! You look great for a sixty-two year old.
D, you were a lovely hostess, as always.

Cheers!

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