I first went to Enso Asian Bistro and Sushi Bar back in the summer, accidentally stumbling in for some quick cocktails and a nosh – I was so blown away by the Rock Shrimp appetizer, I’ve been looking for an excuse to head back for more and see what else Enso had in store. My birthday was the perfect excuse to spend way too much money on sushi.
The ambiance is certainly impressive – however, it doesn’t make up for the absolutely mediocre, insanely overpriced “sushi” (more like fushi – fake sushi) that they offer – but back to the ambiance.
The place has a very big city sleek vibe, reminiscent of highbrow sushi restaurants I have gone to in Miami, LA and New York. Dark, sexy and VERY metropolitan, this restaurant definitely provides the ideal backdrop for an adults only night out. That is until the food was served.
When I look at a sushi menu and a “Specialty Roll” is priced around the $18 mark, you better believe that my expectations are going to be through the roof. There are sushi items I have had in the past, namely at Katsuya and Nobu, that I HAPPILY pay that kind of money for because it’s so insanely good. I figured if it costs that much, it has to be good! Wrong I was.
Although our waitress was extremely knowledgeable, nothing peeves me more than when you ask for a recommendation, and they start ranting and raving about the most expensive item on the menu. No exception here – except I cut her off mid sentence and ordered a Surf N Turf and a Crazy Red Flying Dragon Shrimpamagigy (ok, that’s not what it was really called but you get the point.) We also put in an order for Rock Shrimp (I mistakenly stopped my husband from ordering 2 orders – why do you listen to me??) and a tuna tartar.
I love tuna tartar for its cool, subtle sliminess – these were curiously perfect little squares of tuna – texture was not at all what I was expecting, and then came the heat. I am crazy about spicy food, this was borderline inedible – and since when is tartar spicy? I thought about returning it, but realized quickly my husband was going to town on the ONE ORDER of Rock Shrimp, and I was going to miss out if I didn’t move quickly.
What is it about this dish? It’s a party in your mouth – lightly breaded shrimp tossed in spicy, creamy, buffalo-ish, chipotle-esque goodness. The order is too small – order two. Sorry honey. This dish is Enso’s redemption – and worth the trip (I must say they also know how to pour a proper scotch, another highly redeeming quality).
Out comes the fushi. The Surf N Turf featured shrimp tempura, cucumber, avocado, topped with blue crab mix & slices of seared (aka soggy and tough) filet mignon, eel sauce and scallions. Conceptually, what a dish! Expectations were high as I love fake fusion sushi as much as the real deal. In actuality, it was a roll of mush. Soggy, pasty, bland, muddled mush. And oddly, the other roll tasted exactly the same as this one. It took one bite for me to realize this fushi had been rolled earlier that afternoon if not the day before. Disgust. Such potential I tell you, thrown by the wayside.
They did bring out a complimentary chocolate cake that was delicious. So all in all, not a total waste. If you happen to find yourself in the Epicentre (which I otherwise try and avoid at all costs), needing a cocktail and some rock shrimp, grab a seat at the bar (they play black and white bruce lee movies behind the bar which is a nice touch), get TWO ORDERS of Rock Shrimp and then get out of dodge. Quick.
@ the Epicentre
210 East Trade Street
Charlotte, NC 28202