One of the best parts of writing this blog is that it keeps pushing me to explore new spots and try new things. I've eaten at Japanese restuarants once or twice before, but most of my familiarity with the dishes began and ended with animated depictions. (Unless we count instant ramen, in which case I am an expert) So when the hubby and I showed up at Edo, it was with no particular expectations.
We were seated quickly in a small room with just two tables. A shelf ran around the edges full of paperback books in Japanese, a doll, a few cassette tapes and framed prints of fish done in ink and watercolor. It had a cozy effect, as though we were dining in someone's home.
After placing our drink order, we surveyed the menu, weighing entrees vs make your own combos, udon, salads, nabemoni, an array of appetizers, and a tempting selection of ice creams (green tea, plum wine...). Ultimately, we both settled on combo dinners which came with your choice of items plus miso soup, rice, and (not listed on the menu) salad. I opted for yakitore (grilled chicken) and gyoza (pot stickers) while the hubby chose spring rolls and chicken teriyaki. We also ordered a small edamame appetizer.
Our order placed, we leaned back in our chairs and relaxed. There was a low hum of talking from the dining room on one side and the sushi bar on the other, but the overall ambiance was peaceful. As we sipped our drinks, our edamame arrived.
I showed the hubby the trick of pulling the pods through your teeth to remove the beans and salt, placing the heavy skins on the accompanying platter. The beans themselves had a slightly dry, crumbly texture, much like a lima bean, but the mild flavor went well with the lightly applied salt.
Our soup arrived not long after the edamame. Suspended in a clear broth were small bits of miso (google tells me this is generally fermented soy). Because of their small size, the miso particles would furiously dart around when stirred, then quiet and settle to the bottom of the bowl. In addition to the miso, the soup included a few flecks of green onion and small squares of spongey tofu. Although spoons were available, it was simplest to drink the soup from the bowl, sampling the the mild flavor, reminiscent of soy sauce.
Our surprise salad arrived mid-soup. With a simple base of iceburg lettuce, shredded cabbage and carrots, the star of the salad was clearly supposed to be the dressing. Thick, with a hint of graininess, I expected the brownish orange dressing to be ginger based. However, the flavor was so mild as to be hard to identify, it reminded me of some coleslaws--sweet with a hint of vinegar. Our server was unsure what the dressing was.
Our entrees arrived while I was still puzzling over the dressing. In addition to the soup, salad, and separate bowl of rice, our selected items were plated with three sides and an orange slice as garnish.
I happily tucked into my combo (shown at the top of this post), starting with the goyza. It's hard to go too terribly wrong with fried dumplings. The goyza were tender and juicy from frying with the sealed edges being slightly crispier. The filling was made of minced pork and had a nice mild flavor. They were served with a soy dipping sauce, but I found the sauce over powering.
The yakatori was chicken coated in a teriyaki sauce which had soaked in enough to create a tougher, outer layer. The interior of the chicken was more tender and relatively sauce free. The sauce had a nice balanced flavor, not overly sharp as can sometimes happen with teriyaki.
The side dishes came were arranged in small piles along the back of the plate. On the left, fermented bean sprouts with green onion. These had a chewy texture that I wasn't a fan of. The dish itself reminded me strongly of Korean food. To the right, glassine noodles with fermented cucumbers. I always have texture issues with these noodles, so I was not surprised to find that I wasn't crazy about this dish. In the center, a pile of shredded cabbage topped with carrots. I am not sure if I was supposed to mix the cabbage in with something, but it seemed a very plain and lonely dish.
The sticky rice and the fresh orange slice, were both fairly standard.
The hubby declared his spring roll "decent" and the chicken teriyaki "okay".
With a quiet atmosphere and a dedicated sushi bar, Edo is a pleasant spot for a meal. The food however, is rather underwhelming. Ingredients that seem like they could be fabulous (like that ginger dressing) instead fall flat. I wouldn't be opposed to trying them again, but I don't be going out of my way to do so. Our server, though friendly and on the ball, was unable to answer our questions about the dishes and seemed to know very little at all about the food.
Total for the meal: $26.42 (includes two combo dinners and two soft drinks)
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