A new quick service Japanese-themed restaurant opened in the Shops of Fairlawn strip mall about a month ago, named Enso Rolls and Bowls. This is one of two branches, the other in Fairview Park west of Cleveland.
The restaurant was modern, clean, well lit, nicely decorated and had a warm atmosphere. My dining partner and I decided to eat in to get the full experience of our meal.
We went straight up to the counter and contemplated our choices which were listed on menu boards above the food bar.
Enso’s menu was easy to read and understand and allowed us to customize our roll or bowl as we wished or order something their chefs created, like “Surf & Turf” or “Meat Lovers” rolls.
Our first interaction with the staff was tepid at best. The person who took our order appeared to be less than enthused and was impatient while waiting for us to order our personalized bowl (even though there was nobody in line behind us).
Another staff member was pleasant, though, interacting with us about our choices, asking for feedback on the food after we were finished and generally just interested in our dining experience at the restaurant. Apparently, the owner of Enso also owns the Menchies Frozen Yogurt store a couple of doors down. Sweet!
I was not too happy when I was told that their soda machine did not dispense any plain water and that if I wanted water, I would have to purchase their bottled water. I had hoped that the staff member had offered to get me a cup straight from their tap but no such offer was made. This must be their way of getting a higher check average but I don’t believe it’s a good business practice.
Pictured on the left is the Shredded Pork bowl that I ordered, with green onions and mushrooms in a sweet soy sauce. Pictured on the right is the Salmon Bowl that my partner ordered with a few other vegetables in the General Tso’s sauce. Both were topped with crunchy wontons.
I am sad to say that I did not enjoy my bowl. The chef in the kitchen stir fried the meat and vegetables in the sweet soy sauce and put it on top of a bed of white rice. I would have preferred if the rice was also stir fried with the other ingredients for one, and for another the home-made sweet soy sauce was unfortunately too strong and overwhelming for this dish. My partner’s bowl had the sauce pooled at the botto, and it was not spicy as the menu had indicated. They might do better if a more savory (less sweet and sour) sauce was offered for their bowls. I also had a side of Teriyaki and Garlic Edamame as part of a combo (plus $3.00 for a side and soft drink). It was the best thing I ate during the meal, although it was rather bland and the garlic/teriyaki flavors were subtle at best.
I believe all their ingredients are geared toward their rolls (shredded pork, minced salmon, sweet sauces) and less suitable for rice bowl dishes. It is also my opinion that the food they serve is to appeal to the general American palate and not very authentic, sadly. Obviously, there’s nothing wrong with “Americanizing” Japanese food if that’s what the public enjoys. However, I did not like it that much.