Ãn Restaurant, Cary

G and I finally got a chance to try Ãn when we found ourselves with a free night during the busy holiday season.  It is a large restaurant in a quiet, slightly out-of-the-way part of Cary.  The entrance is a dramatic drive thru. The interior is just as dramatic with high ceilings and a sleek design.  Throughout the restaurant there are elegant modern design elements such as large mirrors, a stainless steel bar and glass dividers.  Since this was a last minute plan, we didn’t have a reservation and they were full that night but we were content sitting at the bar.

We both ordered a glass of wine and began to peruse the menu.  Ãn is an Asian fusion restaurant and the tag line is “new world cuisine”.  We decided to start with two appetizers: Tuna Four Ways – Sashimi, Soy Seared, Spicy Tartare, Torched, Cucumber, Avocado, Blue Cheese and the Imperial Rolls – Traditional Vietnamese Crispy Spring Roll, Shrimp, Chopped Pork, Wood Ear Mushrooms, Scallions, Carrots, Noodles, Nuoc Cham.  The tuna was wonderful!  Each of the four preparations beautifully highlighted the tastes and textures of the fish.  The spring rolls were delicious.  The wood ear mushrooms added a rich earthiness to the otherwise light filling.

Originally, we were planning on sharing an entrée however we were unable to decide what to get.  So, we settled on two and figured we would just have leftovers for lunch.  We tried the Kakuni Pork Shank – Braised Five Spice Niman Ranch Pork Shank, Ginger, Sake, Garlic Egg Noodles, Spicy Mustard.  The pork was tender and full of flavor and the garlic egg noodles were a perfect compliment.  The large dollop of spicy mustard on the pork was however a bit of a distraction for me; the spice of the mustard seemed to fight with the ginger and garlic.

The other entrée we tried was the Saigon Street Vendor Noodles – Beef Filet Mignon, Lemongrass, Onions, Imperial Roll, Peanuts, Cucumber, Rice Noodles, Nuoc Cham, Scallion Oil, Pickled Vegetables.  This was a nice dish.  The beef was well marinated and sliced thin so it practically melted in your mouth.  The noodles themselves were a bit bland.  All of the vegetables were arranged on top of the cooked noodles without a sauce or anything to combine all the flavors.

Finally, for dessert we decided to try the Belgian Chocolate Macadamia Cookies.  They are freshly baked so they require an additional 15 minutes. We were in no rush so we enjoyed a glass of port while we waited.  They were delicious; warm and melt-y with large chunks of chocolate!  Not necessarily the most creative dessert but a nice sense of whimsy for an elegant restaurant and perfectly executed!

Overall, it was a lovely meal and I am sure we will be back.  But, I couldn’t help but compare it to Lantern, an Asian fusion restaurant in Chapel Hill.  Ãn offers a lot of variety with a large menu and nicely prepared dishes.  Whereas Lantern offers a seasonally changing menu, with innovative and inspired dishes.

Ãn Restaurant
2800 Renaissance Park Place
Cary, NC 27513

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