Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Lan

The endlessly diverse culinary scene in NYC throws the old cliche of "when in Rome..." on its head. Who are the Romans here? Italians? Greeks? Germans? Irish? Jews? Japanese? Chinese? The answer is probably all and none of the above. Since NYC is so cosmopolitan it is possible to eat some of the best food from around the globe just around the corner. It is thus reasonable to assume that when a Japanese restaurant is consistently packed with Japanese ex patriots it is probably doing something right. Such is the case at Lan, a lovely little restaurant that has reinvented itself numerous times over the last decade.



Japanese Wagyu Sashimi

Indeed, it has transformed itself from a Japanese steakhouse featuring Sushi to a Sushi restaurant featuring steak and now falls somewhere in between. When they opened back in 1997 a huge grill and massive extraction hood dominated the restaurant. The smoking, sputtering, sizzling spectacle of a chef working the grill served as the theatrical focal point of the entire restaurant. Later the grill was moved to make way for a Sushi bar as Sushi gained a larger foothold on the menu. The grill eventually disappeared altogether along with most of the steak. But these days Lan seems to have reached a harmonious balance between beef and fish, offering a decent selection of char grilled steaks and Shabu Shabu as well as some top quality Sushi. Most intriguingly Lan features Japanese Wagyu on its menu, offering both sashimi and shabu shabu but alas not steaks. It is too bad because the Kobe they have is outstanding but they do have a number of other steaks on offer.



The Wagyu Sashimi is delectable



Shrimp dumplings



Fried Oyster roll



Spicey tuna roll, tuna sushi. The sushi at Lan is of a very high quality.



The Shabu Shabu pot.



The Japanese Wagyu Shabu Shabu.



I must admit a reluctance to boil such fine beef and it tasted great raw but when it was cooked it was very flavorful and tender. I am not sure that a less marbled cut would suffice after trying Shabu Shabu with Wagyu. Still dollar for dollar I would prefer to spend my cash on Wagyu in steak form.



American "Kobe" style rib eye. At 10oz for $55 it is competitively priced vis a vis the domestic Kobe at BLT Prime and Craftsteak but it ultimately fell short of those offerings. The outside could have used far more char. Never the less the beef was very flavorful and I appreciate the presentation, the Wasabi mashed and grilled vegetables make for a good accompaniment both visually and on the palate.




The outside may have needed more fire but the interior was cooked perfectly rare as ordered




White chocolate mousse with berries.

Lan is a wonderful restaurant and while it is mid priced it has a sophisticated menu. The sushi and the Japanese Wagyu are especially good but they also boast a comprehensive range of Saki as well as a chefs tasting menu. I am not as thrilled with the steak, although the beef is of a good quality I prefer a charred crust on my steak. If they could only achieve more sear, perhaps by offering thicker steaks I think they would really be on to something. I also wish the offered Japanese Wagyu steak since they obviously have a top quality Kobe supplier. Highly recommended.

Lan
56 Third Ave
NY NY
212 254 1959


3 comments:

Richard Bacchus said...

Lan has yet to fail to please. I've yet to try the wagyu sashimi, it looks out of hand.

Nick said...

Nice to hear from you Rick. How are you?

Howard said...

Nick,

I go to Lan all the time for their wagyu shabu. It is one of the most authentic and high quality shabus in the city. This method of cooking is actually one of the best ways to enjoy high quality japanese beef. I noticed from the picture that you overboiled the beef. The beef is only supposed to be "swished" three times, and it should still be very pink or slightly red when you take it out of the broth. Then it should go immediately into the sauce so it stops cooking. During the entire process, the meat should never leave your chopsticks. Many people mistakenly drop the meat into the broth and leave it to boil, but most Japanese people would be horrified by this practice, as it destroys the delicate texture and flavor of the meat. This is a long-winded way of saying that your initial instincts about not wanting to boil such high quality meat were correct. Enjoy.