Love, Japanese-Style

The fish entrees, on the other hand, arrive fully accessorized. Our gently poached salmon fillet ($16) was topped with a lightly browned, custardy streak of ginger "crust." It sat on a bed of baby spinach in a shallow pool of slightly sweet plum wine-based beurre blanc. Standing watch (until felled by our forks) was a minitower of irresistibly succulent risotto with a topknot of fried ginger shreds.

For a hotel restaurant, Anzu's wine list is relatively brief (perhaps 40 choices -- the hotel is too new to have built up a serious cellar). It's moderately priced, with bottles from $18 (Chilean merlot) to $63 (Puligny Montrachet), with most in the $35 range, and eight or nine selections available by the glass. Oddly, sakes aren't listed, but ask and you shall receive.

Desserts ($6.50) include various ice creams and sorbets, a tempuraed banana "split," and a seasonal fruit clafouti (fresh fruit chunks in a custardy pancake). The house specialty, a soufflelike bittersweet chocolate truffle cake, must be ordered at the start of the meal; this flawless version of the currently fashionable "chocolate lava" cake is very moist and not oversweet.

Having dinner at an elegant hotel restaurant carries a hint of escapist pleasure, like a two-hour luxury microvacation. Anzu's cuisine may not be in the same class as the Ritz-Carlton's -- but then it's a lot more affordable than the Ritz, and several dishes approach perfection. As for sushi and steak -- well, they're not like love and marriage: You can have one without the other.

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