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Jan 10, 2011 02:56 PM

Makanai (Staff Meal) @ En Brasserie

Every first Thursday of the month, En Brasserie offers dinner under the heading of "fish heads, eel bones & beer," inspired by the meals had by the staff after a long day - makanai. It's $45pp, with unlimited Sapporo. This sounded exciting, perhaps intriguing: a glimps into inner working of a japanese kitchen.

Having made reservation a couple of weeks in advance, I went to this last Thursday with my wife. I was told that the reservation was filled for the day. It was served buffet-style, and the line/time to get the food, amount of food, and service in general were all reasonable. Except the food.

In retrospect, it was indeed makanai- a staff meal: delicacy of fish-head soup nor the flavor of the fried eel/fluke bones came through. Mostly what I tasted in sake-marinated tuna collar was the teriyaki sauce. Bamboo shoot was over-powered by massive amount of bonito on top. Sashimi ends over vinegared rice, and two salad plates were reasonable. Only dish that saved the evening was, which I think they are the best in NYC, fresh Tofu. I visit En now and then - my mother loves the place- but I don't think I will return for their makanai meal again as it was so mediocre at best.

Some of the Chinese restaurants offer similar things if asked I was told. Does anyone have experience of this in any Ctown restaurants?

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  1. thanks for the head-up. this is something we've been meaning to try. from what you described it would have been a disappointment.

    1. I once worked in a restaurant in CT where the kitchen was entirely run by Chinese (though the menu didn't have any Chinese dishes on it). Odd, but true. The meal you describe sounds utterly authentic. Did they make you scrape the plates before you left?

      1. It sounds like a typical "staff" meal - leftovers made as palatable as possible. I've never been impressed by EN anyway.

        1. I guess I was looking for some creativity, as it mentions the origin of this meal as inspiration from makanai. I feel there's a lot you can do with tidbits. They should have just called it a Makanai. The meal certainly was not worth the price IMO...