Eatery - Ennar Calasian Grill (CA)

Ennar Calasian Grill on Urbanspoon

16161 Brookhurst St., Fountain Valley, CA 92708
Pricing - $/$$ | Dining - Casual | Cuisine - Japanese

I came upon Ennar quite a while ago but only now have been able to get my review post up for them. To link everything, I heard about them through Duc whose friend's friend's friend is good friends with the owners (following me still?). Anyhow, curious as to this Fountain Valley izakaya-styled restaurant owned by Vietnamese people and prepared by a chef trained in French cooking came about, I had to visit them myself. Oh and yes, this sounds as convoluted as I've been saying. However, what isn't complicated is the business itself once you go in and check them out. Tucked away in a plaza, this location may be hard to spot but you'll like the quaintness of the interior. I got a chance to speak to Chef (and co-owner) Bryan briefly who gave a little background in his traditional French cooking and talked about how much he liked the precision involved in Japanese cooking.

That specialization needed to properly prepare and serve yakitori gave me some insight into how Ennar runs. They focus on good ingredients and making a great experience for each guest. Don't plan on coming here for a quick bite to eat! The restaurant is definitely for those looking to relax and eat good food without feeling rushed. A point that Chef Bryan emphasized as we spoke was how their food is cooked in 100% rice bran oil which may be costly for a restaurant owner to use but speaks volumes in the cooking itself. It was even more obvious that they aren't messing around there when he showed me how they make their own citrus chili sauce with zests only of grapefruit, oranges, lemon, and other citrus fruits, all removed by hand. It was very tasty.


Our drinks for the night were the Lychee Soju Dirty Martini & Orange Mint Green Tea (he was feeling a little under the weather). The martini was very cloudy as its name stated and had a strong lychee taste which was great. I'd have to say that it was a little stronger in alcoholic smell and taste that I was expecting of soju but that's not necessarily a bad thing. The tea was a great iced mix of citrus and mint, perfect for my coughing dinner mate. Our starters were their Starter salad, quite the disappointment in its too-sour dressing and choice of cabbage. It was almost a slaw but too limp to be one. We also had their grilled squid with sea salt, a beautifully presented dish with plenty of extra flavors piled around for however we chose to eat. It came out as a whole squid sliced up neatly and generously topped with green onion. I think that it was just the tiniest bit overcooked as it teased at being rubbery but otherwise, a good dish to share with others looking for something different.


Two of my favorites were the American Kobe Beef skewer and Pork Cheek skewer. Yes, I know that you can't really get Kobe beef outside of Japan but the one that can be labeled such here is so succulent, you can forgive the semantics. I love the cuisine style because as both Chef Bryan and I agreed, cooking is in large part a way for the ingredients to stand out for themselves. The beef was fantastic in its own right. The Pork Cheek was even juicier and a real treat (possibly my favorite for the whole night?). We also got the popular Quail Egg Wrapped in Pork Belly and the Chicken Hearts. I felt that the pork belly slices were so thin on the quail eggs (which normally have large yolks) that the flavor was lost. They were a bit forgettable so I guess I didn't react the same way about these ones. The chicken hearts were good though with their slight char and hearty bite (har har).

Duc really loves corn anywhere so we got the Corn on the Cob halves which he ate 75% of. I didn't particularly enjoy it since they were the sweet kind and had gotten a little mushy when grilled. What I did enjoy, however, was the Soft Shell Crab Tempura, a "morbid" plate that had the deep-fried creatures in their natural stance. I got over it quickly though as I'm used to eating worse as an Asian person (seriously, we eat everything!). Their crab was impressive and the tempura batter seasoned well. We both also found the crunch to be just right. A round of quail also came with reasonable portions. The barest of seasonings were sprinkled atop the well-prepared little fowl to let the meat and its natural flavors shine through and shine they did. You should give this one a try yourself. Then when we felt nearly fit to burst, a beautiful bowl of monkfish liver came out. If you haven't had this before, think of foie gras from the seas - briney, fatty, creamy, decadent. These were some lovely buttery pieces and a must-have here.

Last but not least was dessert - their Banana Brulee with Red Bean Ice Cream. A good dessert but I don't think it necessarily lives up to all the hype I saw on Yelp previously. Maybe that's just the lack of a sweet tooth talking though. The brulee on the banana was great and gave a nice crackle in your mouth when you ate it along with the ice cream. However, the ice cream was a tad too hard and overall the plating made the ingredients slippery to handle with a spoon or when trying to break off bites. Despite this, the meal was wonderful all in all, and I'm looking forward for the next time we drop by. After all, the ingredients were given the full ability to let their natural good traits be at the forefront, something I love to see and do with my own cooking. Thumbs up.

Photography by Duc Duong.