Enso, East Lansing

Andrea and I ate at Enso  recently. Wow, we were both impressed. In the space that used to be Maggie’s (oh, how I miss the deep-fried pickles) is a completely different restaurant. Instead of a giant lizard staring down at entering patrons, there are now brick pillars topped with flames, which means they are serious about keeping people out. No jumping the fence there.

Before we arrived, I thought we would be greeted and served in a snobbish place where we were treated like we shouldn’t haven’t been there, like our last experience at Troppo. Maybe is was the horizontal bar over the “o” in Enso, or the Zen-like terminology on the menu. The interior was beautiful and well thought-out, but it seemed, I don’t know, too fancy for East Lansing. We’re used to nice-nice, not chic-nice.

But that impression ended quickly. Everyone was very friendly, and our server was attentive as he could – he did have a big table that kept him busy on people besides us. Andrea commented that everyone smiled there, and yes, everyone did smile – even the people in the jazz band – and there was no air of condescension. It was un-Troppoesque.

Okay, the food. Enso serves what it calls American Sushi. They had a variety of rolls, from vegetable to chicken to bulled pork. Pork sushi, who would have thought? We chose with a General Tso’s chicken roll. It was alright, but I would not order again. It was a little plain for my taste, and the sauce didn’t have the kick that I expected from something called General Tso’s.

However, the flatbread chips with queso and salsa were fantastic. They were crispy and plentiful, and we were offered more when we polished off the first batch. We declined – we were already coming close to being full, and we had lots of food left to eat. Our dinner had not even arrived!

For the main course, I had the Asian chicken pasta, noodles and chicken topped with Julienne-sliced veggies. It looked like a mini-mountain of pasta and greens, and it tasted great. Andrea had the shrimp and cantaloupe salad which she really enjoyed, though the bowl seemed challenging. It was an odd looking dish which sat on an angle and just didn’t seem to set on the table right.

For dessert, we split the mousse cups. The menu listed four mousses, but we actually received five: lemon cream, chocolate, raspberry, orange sherbet, and the bonus mousse, vanilla,  They were good, but not over-the-top, gotta have it again good.

We were both very impressed with Enso and talked about going back again very soon. I am reserving full judgment until my second visit, but it could crack my top 5 restaurant list shortly if I have another great meal like the one I had last night.

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