Navigating New Year’s Eve is a young man’s game. At some point, you turn the streamers and horns over to your children, and simply hope for a decent dinner with good friends. And, so, armed with a bottle of wine and 10 of my closest friends, we headed to chaiko, tchi-co-tapas, chi-cho-tops, Estihana. The place was packed like Times Square. Here’s why.
The menu doesn’t try too hard. It offers an eclectic, if everyman’s, selection. And, the food is excellent. Estihana quietly sets the standard for culinary excellence in the greater Teaneck area but maintains a relatively low profile. It has not yet received the local following it deserves.
Start with the crispy beef. It lands atop the list of best appetizers in the area. The ribs, dumplings, and spring rolls are a close second. The chicken satay and wings were less impressive. If you like a kick, you must try the fried jalapenos. I loved them (though they could have been served a bit warmer—more on that in a minute).
The soups—all of them—are souper. Humongous bowls that could moonlight as small swimming pools. Beware: if you order the soup you may not have room for anything else. Either skip it or share it.
The main courses are thankfully smaller but just as good. The steaks at other establishments are bigger and some are just as good. But, unless you only order a steak, you have a better chance at finishing the Estihana steak and for most people the trend towards smaller courses is healthier for your body and wallet. All of the steaks are worthy, but shout-out to the Thai, Portobello, Mongolian, and Ribeye. You won’t be sorry. The aged ribsteak is also good, but if you order it, you missed the point.
It’s hard to isolate the better entrees; most are great. Highlight the Orange Chicken, Lotus Chicken, Chicken Lettuce Wrap, and short ribs, which were devoured long before everyone got their main courses. The oxtail and steak frites were disappointing but necessary menu items. And, to put an exclamation point on the night—even the sesame-crusted tuna steaks were tasty.
There is a fancy but unnecessary sushi menu. Teaneck has no shortage of sushi options and even the best in town—and this isn’t—cannot compete with your memories of great sushi joints. It’s not bad here, but pales in comparison to the rest of the menu. Unless you are in the mood to sample, I’d skip it altogether.
Nothing is perfect. Contrary to conventional wisdom, even the best restaurants have soft spots and the better ones are always looking to improve. In the case of Estihana, it’s the service. Which evokes memories of the DMV, except much more frustrating. You could wait for weeks before you are served, and the chances that all of your table’s food will arrive at the same time are minimal. Sometimes the delay can be measured by the lukewarm food. Curiously, we were served faster when competing with a full house than other times when the restaurant was empty, but even so if felt like an entire year had passed between our order and its delivery. It is unfortunate because it casts a pall over an otherwise excellent dining experience. They need to hire more (or better) servers.
If you haven’t tried Estihana, you need to. If you have tried it, try it again. It’s good.
Grade (out of 4 stars):
In a hurry?: No stars
515 Cedar Lane
Teaneck, NJ 07666