By Donna Ward
One of The NEast’s best-kept secrets is You Zen, a fabulous authentic Japanese restaurant and sushi bar at 2455 Grant Avenue. I was surprised at how amazing and fresh the food was at this quant Japanese eatery. If you are looking for a propaganda-style restaurant this is not a place for you. However, if you are looking for traditional Japanese food that includes fresh tasty sushi, You Zen is the right place to go.
From the moment you enter you can see the difference between You Zen and chain restaurants. The tables are kept very clean, as are the floors and counters. The wait staff is very friendly and personable, and the sushi bar is alive with laughter and ambiance. For those of you who are not sushi fans, there is also a wide variety of other tasty treats on the menu that do not include seafood.
The décor will make you feel as though you stepped into another world with the wooden structures, kimonos and pictures of sumo wrestlers on the walls. The music is soft and elegant and once seated, I was served promptly and efficiently. For an appetizer I sampled the Salmon Cucumber Roll, which was delicious. The fish was fresh, the cucumber was crisp and the sauce had a citrus flavor, which added to the medly of tastes in this starter treat. Next I tried the Spicy Tuna Roll, and it was equally done to perfection. The NEast is not known for its fabulous sushi restaurants, but once you venture to You Zen your opinion will change.
For meat lovers, there is an assortment of hibachi and teriyaki dishes that will satisfy the palate. Vegetarian dishes, as well as entrées with noodles, are available and prepared in the kitchen. Salads and soups are also another tasty way to start off your meal if you are not found of sushi, however, if you venture to You Zen I highly recommend you try the sushi; it is the best I have tasted in The NEast without dispute.
The prices are reasonable for the quantity of food and the quality is first-rate. You are welcome to eat with chopsticks to add authenticity to your meal, or if you prefer, silverware will be provided upon request. You Zen is open for lunch and dinner and offers a takeout menu with most of their eat-in delights. There is plenty of parking in the lot out front, but I highly recommend you make a reservation if you come on a weekend, because You Zen gets very crowded.
I was very impressed with this delightful Japanese eatery, and I highly recommend a visit when you are in the mood for authentic Japanese cuisine. The establishment is suitable for crowds but has a more romantic and intimate feel for close gatherings. You Zen has been around for a little more than five years and accepts all major credit cards. There is no Web site available, but for reservations you can contact You Zen at 215-969-8225.
Food For Thought is a NEast restaurant review column written by Donna Ward that runs every other Thursday.