June 21, 2024
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June 21, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

I often get asked about what the best restaurant is that can cover two different requirements.

“What’s a place that’s very nice but also not that expensive?” Or, “Is there a restaurant that’s both casual but also not that loud?”

Well, if you happen to be looking for something with a trendy vibe but also really interesting food, let me introduce you to Anju.

Anju is slated as “modern Asian fusion.” The menu is well crafted with dishes that fuse all kinds of things together. Different Asian cuisines, American food, Jewish foods … it’s all there. And the decor provides a very nice modern vibe that gives you the feeling that you’re in a place that many other people would like to be in. And that’s not just because of the line of people waiting for a table. (Don’t forget to make a reservation. Trust me.)

When I was invited to experience Anju, the first thing I ordered was the Anju Caesar. For those who read this column regularly, you’ll know that I don’t often order salads at fleish restaurants, and it’s even more rare when the salad doesn’t include meat. But I decided to make an exception here because the description was tantalizing enough that I just couldn’t turn it down. With a base of romaine and napa cabbage, the salad featured cashews, strips of wonton wrapper crisps, imitation parmesan, and a ginger caesar dressing.

First of all, the ingredients in this dish are brilliantly chosen. The salad certainly gets into the Asian category with the cabbage, the croutons being swapped for wontons, and the ginger giving the dressing a really nice kick. The cashews being the added salty component (instead of capers) was also a nice touch given that the imitation parmesan was made with cashews. Starting with this dish also gave a clear entry into one of the types of fusion that Anju was trying to accomplish by taking something that isn’t Asian and making it so. It was a great salad; just be prepared for that ginger in the dressing.

Anju caesar

For a cold appetizer, I’d recommend the Wagyu Beef Tataki. The slices of beef were perfectly seared on the outside, rare in the middle, and served cold to allow the taste to come through better. Each slice had a dollop of truffled tofu to add a note of creaminess along with the sukiyaki vinaigrette (a hybrid of a gravy and a dressing). The flavor of the beef was able to come through and impress on its own, but the added elements certainly enhanced the experience. The texture of the tataki made for a great mouthfeel and the garnish of the spiced watercress provided a nice added kick that could be avoided if needed.

Bao Buns are certainly becoming a slightly more common menu item in kosher restaurants. In Anju’s style, their version takes the Asian original and fuses it with classic American food. Served folded over, it’s stuffed with barbecue brisket and some lightly pickled cucumber. The sauce is a garlic hoisin that reminds you that while this pulled beef is American, you’re still in an Asian restaurant. The cucumber has just enough acidity to balance the sweetness of the beef, while also being the perfect crunch to go with the mush that is the bun and beef.

Matzo ball ramen soup

On to another type of Asian fusion … the Matzo Ball Ramen. Here, Anju strives to fuse classic kosher food into Asian cuisine and the result is delightful. The matzo ball is a medium-sized dense ball with good flavor, the char siu chicken is an interesting choice as it is roasted before being added to the soup, the ramen noodles step in to pinch hit, and the miso broth and Japanese scallions cement the Asian flavors. There’s a lot going on in this bowl, but the textures and flavors are on point. The chicken isn’t just boiled in the broth and therefore has that char siu flavor that you’ll appreciate, the mix of textures between the ramen and the matzah ball provides a great contrast, and the miso soup has a saltiness that many of us crave as the main function of a traditional chicken soup.

Spicy dan dan

Sticking with ramen, let’s talk about the Spicy Dan Dan. This is a bowl full of things I love and the presentation shows you everything before you mix it together. First there’s the bed of ramen noodles, in this case served mixed with a szechuan pepper sauce. Next is a stripe down the middle of the bowl of chili crunch. A recent supernova in popularity in the non-kosher restaurant world, this is one of the first menus in a kosher restaurant where I’ve seen the crispy fried clusters of spicy deliciousness. The next stripe over features some stir fried onions to provide some depth of flavor to the bowl. This is followed by the chili ground beef that makes this bowl a full meal if you want it to be. Lastly, some scallions garnish the top of this beautiful masterpiece. Mixing everything together will get you an amazing combination of textures and flavors that you won’t soon forget. Just make sure you’re fine with the level of spice.

Wagyu beef tataki

With so many sections on the menu, I honestly recommend that you piece together your meal in many courses at Anju. For instance, they also have a full sushi section of the menu if that’s what you’re looking for. But if you came with a real entree in mind, I’d order the Korean Kalbi Short Ribs. These marinated “miami ribs,” as we’d call them in America, are salty from their soy marinade, but also have that unmistakable flavor of Korean barbeque sauce. The dish comes with a pile of blistered shishito peppers, which are very bitter (on purpose), but tasty if you can get past the bite. As somebody who loves ribs, this may have been my favorite thing on the menu. It’s easy to pop the small bones out of each slice and savor the meat as you eat through the pile of ribs.

If it’s a trendy ambiance and interesting food you want, search no farther. Anju is certainly a spot that can satiate both of those needs.

Oh, and also your hunger.

Bao buns

Nati Burnside is a freelance writer living in Fair Lawn and is a man of many interests. He can be reached at [email protected].

Korean kalbi short ribs

Anju

Meat – Modern Asian Fusion – Waiter Service

Sunday-Thursday:
noon-4 p.m., 5-10 p.m.

Saturday: 9:45-11:30 p.m.

(516) 837-9684

128 Cedarhurst Ave.

Cedarhurst, New York

anjuliny.com

Vaad Hakashrus of the Five Towns and Far Rockaway

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