I took Lon to Japonais on Monday night as half of his birthday present. The theme was Japanese cuisine so the other half was a yanagi-ba, sashimi knife.

Only 5 nights after their opening, the wait staff was still nervous and looking to their superiors for instructions. The space had obviously been well thought-out, especially the wavy wood panels of the ceiling and the unique lights hanging by the bar. Disappointingly, Lon said the bathroom was nothing interesting.

We had to wait a little bit for our table (even though we had reservations) but we had a peach sake sangria in the lounge. It was good but had the hugest chunks of ice. The manager had just started chatting with us when the host prompted us to our table on the other side of the restaurant.

Our waiter had a really soft and deep voice so he was barely audible and he looked extremely nervous, but I give him an A+ for effort cause he was definately trying. We ordered way more food than necessary which is a result of the way the menu is set up and described. There is no real indication of portion size in the several different sections of a slightly confusing menu and the waiter explains that dishes will come as they are ready, tapas-style. The assumption is that tapas-style means small dishes but with the exception of one of our “appetizers”, the rest were much larger than expected.

So this smaller dish was the brisket ravioli. It was the only dish we both completely disliked. 3 ravioli’s float in a beer broth that tastes like beef broth, soy sauce, and 2 handfuls of sugar. I didn’t taste any beer but that amount of sugar could’ve masked anything.

Luckily, the next dish was one of our favorites….an unagi salad of different charred vegetables (romaine, radicchio, pimiento, onion, etc) with chunks of eel in a very mustardy vinaigrette that was delicious. It was slightly over-dressed but I was so impressed by unique fusion.

Our crunchy shrimp and salmon roll appeared next. Nothing unusual….a shrimp tempura roll, iside-out, with salmon layed on top. A mayo based sauce with a little bit of crunchy roe and a hint of wasabi sauce was used on top. Good sauce!

Next, the seafood toban-yaki (cooked in a Japanese clay pot) was presented. The seafood looked beautiful and every piece was cooked perfectly in a wonderful yuzu butter. The oyster was one of the juiciest I had ever eaten and the scallop, clams, shrimp, and crab were all delicious. We raved about it to each other as we were eating.

I had almost forgotten that we ordered a side of Satsumaimo Pommes Frites (Japanese sweet potato fries). They were fabulous! Perfectly fried, nicely spiced and herbed, with a slightly fruity mayo dipping sauce. I may go back just for these!

By now, we’re both very full, and the biggest dish comes out: Maple Leaf Smoked Duck.
It was a very large portion of duck which came with the Chinese pancakes and fixings like Peking duck plus a mango chutney. The Duck did have the nice smokey flavor but I didn’t care for the mango chutney. The duck was also a bit over-cooked and Lon pointed out that they made the slices very thick, but he still liked it a lot. I enjoyed it less but appreciated the concept.

Normally, we would have passed on dessert being so stuffed, but it was Lon’s birthday and the Apple Toban Yaki sounded so good. It was a great idea, similar to the Amercian Apple Crumb with Vanilla ice cream. The Apples were cooked with a ginger crumb in the toban-yaki and opened at your table where the waiter placed a scoop of honey ice cream on top. It was very good but could’ve used half the amount of butter.

Lon and I talked about our meal throughout and as we walked home and both of us definately enjoyed the experience, even with the few bumps and fumbles….The prices suit the experience. I was satisfied and more importantly, Lon enjoyed his birthday dinner.

posted by jessica at 01:56 PM Filed under Fusion or Mixed, Restaurants. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.