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Oct 29, 2008 04:30 PM

phx - anyone try sens yet?

its johnny chu's of fate fame's new spot.


we rsvp'd like good kiddies for last wednesday's event. which im not sure even made a difference since they were accepting both reservations and walk-ins for seating in the restaurant portion. so it went from 'vip event' to 'come on down the doors are open'. whatever, i mean lets give it a shot, right? let's try the appetizer's and sake and see if we can get a feel for the place and the food. right?


so we got there, it was packed. they were seating people in the restaurant, who in theory were waiting to eat. but sens and its open kitchen didn't appear to be cooking food. there were no appetizers being passed, as per the invite. no sampling taking place. and no food being cooked, or coming out of the kitchen.

even worse - its packed bar didn't seem to serve anyone a drink in the 20 minutes we were there.

so we left. after a group of people who had also given up. and followed by another group of people who'd also given up waiting to buy some drinks.

its not often you leave a free food and sake tasting event. but there was no sake or food to be seen. and we would have paid, we were STARVING

so we went to cheuvront's, which i have to say has turned in to my 'never let me down' spot. their frommagier is spot on, and they have some amazing cheese on the menu.

so i digress, the evening did end perfectly.

but sens start? not so much. at least not for us. anyone else have a different experience or even try it yet?

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    Sorry to yell, but, yes, the decibel level at Sens was unbelievable. Must be the acoustics and the cramped layout of the room.

    Anyhow, we found the food to be overpriced and generally oversauced (or just too salty). The duck was dry and just too sweet (plus 2 pieces of duck for $9??), the sizzling beef was seasoned well but the beef was too stringy, and the hot and sour shabu was just salty -- not hot or sour.

    The drinks were good, but the food was so off-kilter that they almost ruined the drinks.

    I'm going to let this place a couple of weeks to settle in before trying it again.

    1. A couple friends and I were on a little bike ride and decided to stop in to try a couple items and check the place out. The server indicated that they had only opened to the public the night before. It wasn't as crowded as described, and we were sat at the last open table just after 7pm. Ordered a small bottle of the sake and a couple dishes to start with while we took a better look at the menu. The service was quite acceptable, leaps and bounds better than the piss poor service that I've always received at fate. The food was only fair - nothing really good, nothing horrible. After a little snacking, we ordered a couple more items. Prices were pretty steep for the extremely small portions (even for appetizer sized dishes). I might stop in there in another month or two just to see how they're coming along if somebody else suggests it, but not because I'm dying to go back anytime soon. We figured that if we were to go there in hopes of having a complete dinner's worth of food and drink, we probabably would end up spending somewhere around $150 for the three of us before tip (that includes a little sake, but not any serious drinking). For $150, we all agreed that there are countless other restaurants we'd rather go to. I'll stick with the izakaya/asian tapas joints in LA.

      1. I went for dinner last weekend and was quite pleased. No problem with the noise level, even though I'm not normally a fan of techno music.

        The food at Fate has always been just okay to me, but Sens seemed to pack more flavor into the small servings.

        Some highlights:

        shumai -- beautifully presented, although in my experience shumai is shumai; it's hard to differentiate between versions at different places

        mango-papaya salad with shrimp -- very nice; not overly sweet as at some places

        mushroom special -- shiitake, enoki, etc. -- earthy in flavor and filling despite the small size

        sesame tofu -- I normally think tofu is a waste of time, but this dish really makes it work. The tofu was soft on the inside, crispy on the outside, and paired with a spicy dipping sauce. This dish became our unexpected favorite.

        sides of rice and noodles -- well prepared but small portions

        "Lust" martini -- my wife's drink; strong and decadent

        rosewater / blood orange infused sake -- not a big sake aficionado, but this was good

        Our total was about the same we'd pay for this quantity of food at Lola or any other tapas place. When we left, we weren't starving, but we had enough room left to enjoy some gelato at Chill Out on Roosevelt. For those with hearty appetites, Sens is best enjoyed as part of a pub crawl or as a prelude to dessert elsewhere. As with Fate, it's hard to stuff oneself at Sens.

        705 N 1st Street 120, Phoenix, AZ 85004