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Monday, July 28, 2014

Ensō Lets Diners Design Their Own Sushi Rolls and Stir-Fry Bowls

Posted By on Mon, Jul 28, 2014 at 10:45 AM


When the folks at Stark Enterprises travel, they don’t return with souvenirs and gifts — they come home with new restaurant concepts. At Stark properties like Crocker Park in Westlake and ETON Chagrin Boulevard, both national and proprietary retail concepts attract diners looking for something not often provided by the local, independent restaurant scene.

The latest concept, unveiled on July 21 at Westgate Shopping Center in Fairview Park, is called Ensō (3091 Westgate Mall, 440-356-0543). Billed as a “create your own sushi roll and stir-fry bowl experience,” Ensō draws inspiration from similar but not quite identical fast-casual Asian concepts.

“It’s an original concept,” says Lisa Schwan, Director of Communications for Stark. “Our owners and development team travel a lot and visit lots of stores and restaurant concepts all over the country. They’ve seen similar things but nothing quite like this. It’s somewhat of a hybrid of different things they’ve seen — and something that doesn’t exist yet in our marketplace.”

In a format made popular by Chipotle and one million knock-offs, guests work their way down the line, customizing their “roll” or “bowl” with various meats or fish, veggies and sauces. In addition to typical ingredients like spicy salmon and tuna, there’s beef brisket and shredded pork. Sauces like spicy mayo, teriyaki glaze and eel sauce work well on either rolls or bowls. Featured dishes leave the decision-making process to the menu planners.

“For sushi connoisseurs who know what ingredients they like, they will find them here,” says Schwan. “For people who might be intimidated by sushi or think they don’t like fish, there are non-traditional ingredients here that open up the possibilities.”

A nifty piece of tech called a “sheeter” lays out an even layer of sushi rice on the nori, which is then topped by the staffer with one’s choices. It is then rolled by hand and cut into 10 pieces.

“That’s definitely the most time-consuming part of the sushi process,” Schwan says of the time-saving sheeter machine.

Schwan notes that “ensō” translates to “hand-drawn circle” in Japanese. “No two ensōs will ever look the same — it’s all about individuality and creativity, which is what we’re about too.”

Look for the second Ensō to open at the Shops of Fairlawn this fall.

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