Monday, October 12, 2009

A last al fresco gasp at Tenzan

I'm wayyyyyy behind on posts at this point, but here goes one from the archives. It was a Sunday evening, a beautiful Sunday evening in fact, clearly one of the last nice weekend nights of the Indian summer. Once again, AV and I found ourselves on the UES looking for a bite. And so we ended up at Tenzan, a modern-looking Japanese restaurant very close to AV's apartment that we had not yet tried.

Despite the slight chill in the air, we chose to sit outside to take advantage of possibly the last al fresco dining experience until next spring. I was quite hungry and in an extravagantly tearful mood, so what better thing to order than dumplings? Ah yes, there would be dumplings. There would indeed.

But first, AV's miso soup. He's a fan of miso soup, it turns out. And as he declared, it's hard to screw up miso soup. (N.B. Hard, but not impossible. One experience with miso soup at the Harvard dining hall a few years back proved that.)
Warm and well-executed

And then came the vegetable gyoza. They were pan-fried, for a change, which was delicious, but for textural reasons I still prefer my dumplings steamed. The filling was white and undefinable and delectable. The dipping sauce that came with the dumplings was citrus-inflected and curious; after a few bites, I switched over to soy sauce and was much happier. These dumplings were also accompanied by about a half-tablespoon of sweet and mysterious pickles. I gobbled them up and still don't know what they were.

Perfection, and pickles

Then came the entrees. AV had selected chicken teriyaki. Overall verdict was quite standard and a huge portion.

Unexplained broccoli

My choice was the "vegetable appetizer," described as "sauteed mixed vegetables." It ended up being a large plate of mixed stir-fried veggies (peppers, onions, zucchini, broccoli, mushrooms) with a hint of soy sauce umami and a sprinkle of sesame seeds. Delicious and verrry filling (I emerged from dinner pretty stuffed).

Huge portion of veggies

Overall, if I ever have a yen (har har har) for Japanese food on the UES, I'd definitely go back to Tenzan. The classics were well-executed and not insanely expensive, and the gyoza were craveable, if you're in the right mood. We experienced solidly executed three Offset Spatula fare and were happy because of it.

1714 Second Avenue (at 89th Street)

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