En Japanese Brasserie, 435 Hudson Street at Leroy, 212-647-9196
As my SUV pushed through a Petri dish called House Causeway Road in Delhi, India, past cars, buses, scooters, motorcycles, bicycles and green and yellow 3-wheeled taxis called tuk-tuks, past lorries -- trucks -- adorned with elaborate paintings of gods and signs that read "I love India" and "Horn Please," past a blue concrete building called "Sulabh Toilet Complex," past two woman dressed in golden saris picking their way across this four lane road, past humpbacked holy cows ambling along the shoulder, past a carriage drawn by three white stallions, past a man astride a massive bull elephant -- my conversation with fellow passengers turned, improbably, to Japanese food.
A passenger asked me if there's anything to Japanese cuisine besides sushi. I told them about a magnificent meal I had in New York right before I left for India, a meal that lasted four hours, a meal that traversed eight sublime courses, a meal, or rather a feast, at the fantastic En Japanese Brasserie. It was a meal that I enjoyed with the gracious owner, Reika Yo, and her boyfriend Jesse. I told them about fresh tofu we dipped in a fragrant and citrusy Yuzu sauce, about slices of beef grilled over Japanese cedar charcoal on a tiny table hibatchi -- the beef flavored with red miso and scallions and resting on a long Magnolia leaf that smoked it as it cooked -- about sweet, delicate steamed King Crab legs served in an earthenware vessel, about dipping slices of red snapper in a shabu-shabu hot pot, about the simple, delicious rice at the end of the meal. I told them what I know about the depth and complexity of Japanese cuisine -- and about this modern, stylish restaurant where you can encounter it.