We have almost finished my self established goal of playing all 50 states. I believe we only have a couple states left, but I definitely thought Alaska would come a lot later than it did. I'm not sure if it is like this for everyone, but I fell in love with Alaska a lot quicker than I thought it was to fall in love with a place. The horizons all around you are beautiful, everything is an Ansel Adams photograph. It's expansive, wild, romantic, and there is a sense that it's is truly the last frontier.Read More
After a marathon day of eating, guided by my long time friends Pam and Alvin. We came across Pam's favorite sushi spot in San Francisco. Mind you, at this point in the day I've already eaten some 6-8 meals, but Pam insisted we stop in for some Uni(sea urchin). She spoke with the owner and convinced him to open up a new package of uni from Hokkaido. The uni was so buttery and smoothe, the flavor so barely briny, creamy, and not even a trace of fishiness.
The chef also made a beautiful piece of sushi that utilized a fired piece of Ankimo(monk fish liver) that is glazed and was just beautiful. The flavors all work so well with each other. I thought I was going to be done there, but the chef had something else in mind. He gave me a piece of tuna, followed by hamachi, and finally a wonderful piece of halibut. With that last piece of fish, my dining experience for the day was over.
Check out Akiko's Restaurant website for more information.
A quick post about this spot in Providence, RI we came across while walking around. If you know anything about me, I get that itch for some comfort food while I'm on the road. While I'm all for some bacon mac and cheese, nothing can replace my craving for some good ole Korean food. Sura, fit the bill for some good ole deliciousness.
What is "bibimbap"? It's rice topped with all sorts of goodies from spinach, roots of various kinds, some sort of protein, and an egg. Then you pour over it a sweet and spicy pepper sauce. It's a great one bowl meal.
I'm constantly on the lookout for new noodle soups everywhere. I make it a point to order noodle soups in as many different places as possible from as many different regions as possible. Champong from Korea, boat noodles from Thai Land, ramen noodles from China, and of course, shown above, udon noodles from Japan. The most important components of udon are the broth and consistency of the noodles. The trimmings such as shiitake mushrooms, tempura shrimp, spinach, fish cakes, etc. are secondary. The udon from Asuka had a nice clear broth and a taut noodle. The trimmings were equally amazing. This is a great winter dish so I hope you'll try to find some in your area. If you're in my area though, go check out Asuka.
Let me attempt to explain the flavors here. The above is a picture of simple miso soup. Miso soup is simply "dashi" (a broth of kelp and bonito flakes) with fermented soy bean paste. Miyake does a different kind of miso soup on fairly regular basis and tonight it was snapper broth miso soup!
I guess the reason I'd call this Japanese fine dining is because the emphasis is really on the food and its ingredients. This little amuse bouche was just slightly salty and briny with a nice crunch to it's texture. The piece of fish (which I don't recall the type of) was just fishy and rich enough that it get your salivary glands in action. Drooooool!
I had a difficult time deciding what to order when I took a look at the menu. At first I thought, maybe I'll go with the sashimi omakase. Omakase roughly translated means "your choice". I tend to gravitate towards omakase tasting menus because it opens the door to flavor opportunities that I may have not experienced. Be warned though, if you have food allergies, or just don't like certain types of food, you may be getting dishes that you can't stomach.
The above was my first course. 4 types of sashimi with real wasabi. Real wasabi is very difficult to come by. It's very expensive and therefore most sushi restaurants won't carry the stuff. If you're lucky enough to get a glob of it, don't waste it and eat every bit of it regardless of how much it hurts, because you never know when you'll get it again.
Now the etiquette with omakase meals is to leave it the way the chef intended. This is not the kind of meal you fill a little ramekin with soy sauce and dip away in. The chef has intended these dishes to be eaten the way they are presented to you. That being said, sashimi is a slightly different case. It is not an insult to lightly dip your sashimi in some soy sauce. However, I choose to go au natural. Nigiri on the other hand is a different story.
When am I ever going to get around talking about the food right? Alright, so the above was a FINE selection of raw goodies. All the fish at Miyake tastes like it just came off the fish and there is so much distinction between the cuts. I took great care in making sure I went UP in order of richness when I ate the above pieces of fish starting with the fish directly to the right of the lobster and making my way towards the right and then finishing with the lobster. I know that might sound a bit OCD of me but I wanted to get the most out of the fish and I knew the lobster would stand up against any of the rich fish.
Maine Lobster! That's really all I should say about it. It's just a different kind of food from the lobster we get sent down from ME that has had time to get depressed and thin and shocked into submission. The lobster up there is meaty and still full of flavor. This one was served with just a simple garlic oil and the fresh flavor of the ocean. Absolutely perfect! This lobster was so good I had to make it it's own post.
I really wish I could eat seafood this fresh all the time. These scallops are just barely seared in butter and served with super fresh spinach and fresh peas underneath them. These are such delicate flavors all meshing together to make an ultimate second course.
I forgot to mention that I ended up going with the 5 course omakase. They had a three and a 7 course as well but I didn't want to leave hungry or have to be rolled out of the place. I'm definitely going to make my way up to Miyake again and get the 7 course next time. It's just something I have to experience. That being said, these meals are not cheap. That's all relative of course. I've eaten some meals that are three times this price and half as good. Just the same I've eaten meals that are 3 dollars and just as good for different reasons.
This isn't the kind of restaurant you go to every day. I actually feel bad for people who do eat like this every day. For me, these kinds of meals are like rewards for hard work, or for catching up with old friends. To eat like this every day would just take everything special out of the moment.
Anyways, like I was saying, it's not cheap but in my honest opinion it's definitely worth the money. Remember how there is no ambience in this place? Well, they are obviously putting the money towards the amazing cuts of fresh fish and trimmings.
Back to the food. This fish was flaking apart as I ate it. The little bites of green were just slightly spicy in your mouth and the green onions give you a bite of freshness to the dish. I wish I had my notebook so I could have written down the kinds of fish that were part of this meal, but at the same time, the offerings here change so often it wouldn't have mattered anyways.
I'm guessing you could call this the "main course" since it is the heaviest of the dishes and most substantial. This is duck prepared two ways. To be honest with you I was kind of shocked to get duck in the meal. I mean, I was expecting some sort of vegetable course or an egg course like my meal at Kiss Seafood in San Francisco. (another amazing Japanese restaurant) Who am I to turn down some duck though. The fois gras mousse was amazing and the sweet fruit sauce complimented the duck so well.
This is nigiri. It's a handful of rice topped most of the time with fish or egg. It's definitely my preferred way of eating sushi. I realize that most people love the rolls that you get in your big sushi restaurants, but rolls tend to mute the flavor of the fish substantially. This way of giving you the sushi makes the fish the star. Each of these pieces was breathtaking. I didn't want to eat them all they were so delicious, hoping that they would somehow regenerate the bites that I had already taken. How weird is that? I guess it would have been even weirder if they had regenerated.
Anyways, that concludes my meal here at Miyake. My compliments to the chef for making absolutely amazing food out of a very unsuspecting restaurant. And one more thing, word to the wise, they don't serve alcohol here so if you like a little sake with your meal, it's BYOB.
I found it difficult to name this dish because I don't know what the actual translation would be of the Korean word. For all your speakers out there this is my version of 두부 조림.
I took a sort of Japanese take on one of my favorite Korean side dishes. The process takes a while but it's not difficult at all. If you've never been a big fan of tofu then this is definitely the way to try it.
Prep Time: 40 minutesThe reason this dish takes as long as it does is that you have to remove as much water from the tofu as possible. I do this by taking the whole block of tofu with paper towels on both sides and putting it between two cutting boards with a can of tomatoes on top for at least 30 minutes to an hour.
Rest Time: 6 hours
Cook Time: 10 minutes
1 pack firm tofu
3 tbsp canola oil
2 tbsp high quality soy sauce
2 cloves of garlic
1 green onion some reserved for garnish
a dash of toasted sesame oil
red pepper flakes or sriracha to taste
That's it for now, just let it rest and you can get the rest of the ingredients ready. Coursely chop up the garlic and makes little rounds with the green onion. Put the soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic and green onion along with 1 tablespoon of water into a small bowl and set it aside, you'll be using this later.
Remove the tofu and cut it in half making two blocks of tofu the same size as the original piece just half as thin. Now cut those in half width wise and making 4 smaller rectangles. Now cut those four pieces in half again making 8 pieces. Now cut along a diagonal making 16 triangles. Shoot me a message if that doesn't make sense. Pretty much just try to make the shape I have in the picture.
Now put the canola oil in a nice non stick pan or well seasoned cast iron and bring it up to heat on medium heat and drop in the tofu all on the same side. You may have to work in batches. Evenly brown all 5 sides of your triangles and remove the tofu onto a plate and let them cool to room temperature.
The last and final step is the part that I guess is like a quick braise. I know that's kind of an oxymoron but I just don't know what I'd call it. In a medium sauce pan make a layer of tofu with your fried tofu and spoon over your soy mixture from before. Now put another layer of fried tofu on top of that and spoon over some more of your soy mixture. Repeat this process until you've put all your tofu in the sauce pan and you have used up all your soy mixture. Now put the pan on the stove on medium heat and heat the tofu through spooning the mixture over top of the tofu from the bottom of the pan. 10 minutes later you'll have a nice salty/spicy tofu dish that'll be great with a side of rice and kimchee!
Hope you like the dish. It's a bit much for some tofu but I find pleasure in the dishes that take me a long time to make.
Atlanta, Georgia . . . The city seems like a huge metropolis to someone like the likes of me from Durham, NC. In fact I consider it to be one of the top 10 biggest cities in the US. Maybe I'm just naive. Atlanta is currently only the 33rd largest city in the US by population but packs more quality restaurants than some of the big boys. Shoya belongs in the big city, it produces super fresh seafood and yakitori while seemingly at full capacity at all times.
This is a long post so bear with me, I promise that some of these foods, as bizarre as they may seem, are truely delicious and deserve your attention if you stop by this strip mall eatery.
You may or probably have no clue what I'm talking about when I talk about Izakayas. Think of an izakaya like your local sports bar that you frequent that also sells fresh grilled chicken hearts. Izakayas are drinking establishments through and through, they just happen to serve up substantial Japanese eats. But don't come around here looking for wings and/or fries or you'll be sorely disappointed.
Tako Wasabi - Raw octopus with marinated with pickled wasabi leaf
I will say this, the order that these pictures show up are purely the order that we ordered this gargantuan meal. My cousins know how to eat. My girlfriend Em, she knows how to eat. We start with the palette cleansing raw octopus that has been marinated with pickled wasabi leaves. It's pungent to the nose, but nice and subtle to the palette. Think of it like drinking ocean water while someone shoves wasabi up your nose. It's pleasant, trust me.
Sea Cucumber Sunomono - Variety of seafood, cucumber and seaweed with vinaigrette
A lot of what Asian food is is texture. A lot of times we use the main piece in a dish as the medium for the sauce that surrounds it. If the main piece has a great texture it's like a win win for us. Sea Cucumber is light in flavor when fresh, and almost crunchy while being soft at the same time. The classic soy vinaigrette that comes with this dishe is nice and over powering to work in harmony with some of the "interesting" flavors of the sea cucumber.
Mountain Root Salad - Shredded mountain root, scallion, daikon radish, baby greens, and seaweed
And speaking of texture, sometimes, the texture of some dishes is just too hard to swallow. This is one of those that is a bit much for me. My cousins seem to love it, but I just can't seem to get around the consistency of the mountain root. It seems all crunchy like an Asian pear when you bite in to it, but then the slimey, mucous, consistency starts right in. It's like the inside of an okra without the seeds.
Ankimo - Steamed monk fish liver with ponzu sauce, scallion, and chili radish
I know the idea of eating a steamed fish's liver seems a bit far fetched. After all usually the experience we have with fish liver is cod fish liver oil. Supposedly really healthy for you but also some of the fishiest nauseating smell, am I correct? Well ankimo doesn't hold true to this assumption. The flavor is very mild, and the texture is much like a firm pate. This dish is extremely rich so don't go popping several into your mouth or you may just ruin your meal. The flavor is very much like a particular, but once you forget that it's monk fish liver, you actually start to like it a lot.
Ko Mochi Shishamo - Grilled half dried smelt fish(with eggs) with sea salt
I don't know how to explain to you that these dishes are not as odd as they seem. If I didn't grow up eating fish roe, then the idea of eating an impregnated fish would seem far fetched and gross. But I know how delicious fish roe is. Yes these fish are grilled whole with their egg sack intact. Yes they still have the head attached. But trust me, if you get beyond all of the aesthetics of it all, it's an extremely delicious dish.
Gindara - Grilled marinated silver cod with dashi soy sauce
I just realized I may have come to the first "normal" dish on this list of food. Silver cod is a nice oily fish with tons of flavor and there is an almost molasses-y sweetness to this fish. I can only say one thing umami(delicious).
Shishito Peppers - Served with lemon and sea salt
I wonder if these thin skinned peppers are in season. Eating Shishito peppers is like playing Russian roulette. You may or may not get one that's really spicy and will turn your mood south. At the same time though, maybe you can just consider it a reason to keep eating! There isn't much much that needs to be done with shishito peppers, just pop them in a broiler and get them a little charred sprinkle some sea salt and a squeeze of lemon and that's it. Simple.
Chicken Heart and Japanese Conch - Served with lemon and sea salt
This was only my second experience with an izakaya. My first time was at Yakitori Totto in NY, NY. And my first time I had to eat chicken hearts as well. Remember I was talking about texture and how important a roll it plays in asian cuisine. Well, chicken hearts are nice and chewy and have a very meaty flavor to them.
Funny enough these two dishes came out at the same time and seem to have very similar textures. Though the flavors couldn't be farther apart, the texture is very similar. Conch tastes a bit fishy but in that steamed clam sort of way. Not offensive, just good.
Chicken Meat Ball - With Cheese
Funny enough, when I was going through these pictures to create this post, I got to this picture of the chicken meat balls and was more grossed out than any other dish. Just the thought of putting american cheese on what looks like a glorified hotdog made me a little grossed out. I can say though that this meat ball is safe for the kiddies. They'd probably love how it comes on and stick and has cheese on it. Very juvenile, but also comforting in the same way.
Pork Onigiri - Two rice balls with bbq pork
Onigiri comes in all different variations with all sorts of fillings. I obviously gravitate towards anything pork. I am what I eat I guess. I wasn't so fond of their preparation of this onigiri. I was expecting a grilled rice ball with a nice crusted outside and a smokey flavor, but instead these were wrapped and grilled and lacked all that I love about grilled rice balls. However, another not-so-difficult to eat dish. Easy on the palette and the texture is quite easy to stomach even for beginners.
Chicken Skin - Served with lemon and sea salt
How many times have you wanted to eat the chicken skin off of a nice fried chicken wing only to be told that it will give you a heart attack? Well this dish is for all those times. It's just what you think it tastes like. Crispy, fatty, goodness. And oddly enough, it's not as rich as you would think. In other words, they remind me more of a potato chip fried in lard (YUM!) than a stick of butter.
Chicken Gizzard - Served with lemon and sea salt
If I were to hand you a skewer and said "here eat it, it's chicken gizzard." Would you? Well I guess that's not fair, you'd be out of your mind to eat a skewer of chicken parts from who knows what source and eat it. I digress. Anyways, what I'm trying to say is, if you don't give it a try on your own account, then you may never know the wonders of odd chicken parts. The gizzard is almost 100% texture. The flavor is light and what flavor you do get from it can easily be covered with the lemon and salt that goes along side the dish. The texture is crunchy though. At first you don't think that any meat product should be so crunchy but then you forget what you're eating and the next thing you know you're snacking on gizzard.
Tonkotsu Ramen - Egg noodles in creamy pork soup with roast pork, boiled egg, and more
And so we get to the final two courses, noodles and dessert. Kind of. So it's no secret I love noodles. So easy to eat, filling, and portable. These are the japanese versions of the famous ramen noodles. Don't get the water boiled out and set your timer to 3 minutes for these bad boys though. You're never going to get the richness of creamy pork broth without a ton of effort and time. I want to believe that tonkotsu ramen is one of the more classic ramens because I love to eat it at any chance I get. The broth is nice and creamy and the trimmings are superb. Now if I could just get this to dehydrate well.
Tan Tan Ramen - Egg noodles in spicy soy-chicken soup with pork, boiled egg, and more
Just based on the flavors going on in this ramen dish, I would venture to say it's influenced by chinese cuisine. The broth has more kick and the ground pork reminds me of chinese dan dan noodles. Either way, I'm in love with this dish and would probably go back to Shoya just for these noodles.
Okonomi Yaki - Japanese pan cake with pork, egg, and vegetables
The first time I heard about okonomi yaki was when I was studying to be a food lover watching Anthony Bourdain's show, No Reservations. His episode on Japan really opened my eyes to a lot of Japanese cuisine. I called this dessert only because it was so late in the game showing up to the table, what else could it be? Think of okonomi yaki as a japanese "Rooty Tooty Fresh and Fruity". It's a pancake of sorts, filled with all sorts of savory goods, fried on the griddle, and topped with bonito flakes and japanese mayo. I also like to call it a cardiac arrest. It's dangerously decadent and probably should come with a warning label for the roof of your mouth.
Anyways, I'm sorry you had to sit through that one. It was a long road but you've made it. Now go out and get some good eatin' done!
For more info on Shoya click on this link.
As soon as I walked out of Coco Noodle Express I walked right upon this spot. Of course you can imagine the thoughts that were going through my head. "Am I still hungry?" "Could I eat more right now?" "Can it really be as good as it smells and looks?" "How do I tell my friends I want to eat again?"
SO anyways, it all got worked out. Ingrid, Lucas, and I went walking around Vancouver to walk off some of our late lunch and by the time we had gotten back to the bus it was much too late to get a proper sit down meal. (no I didn't plan it that way...or did I?) So I HAD to go step in to Kushi Box and order me up some food!
Onion P-toro Box - Pork toro on rice with onion sauce and half boiled egg
If you like salty meats and perfectly gooey half boiled eggs over some nice rice, you're going to love this place. The prices are a bit high especially for the combos. BUT, for the kind of food you're getting and considering it's in Vancouver, you're doing alright at about $7 Canadian.
I don't recommend getting the karaage combo, only because the karaage was nothing special, but then again I'm quite picky about my karaage. I don't recall how much more it was, but it definitely isn't worth the extra dough.
All in all I'd definitely go back. It's good for your soul to eat there, and that's enough to make me a return customer.
NOTE:Take cash, they don't accept US debit cards or credit cards.
Karaage - Japanese Fried Chicken
I'm a sucker for any sort of fried chicken, karaage happens to be one of my favorite fashions. The japanese really know how to do a nice crispy, light and flakey outside.
Shrimp and Veggie Tempura
Tempura is just any sort of battered veggie or protein usually dusted with panko, a Japanese bread crumb. It's too often that you get tempura that is over cooked, undercooked, soggy, tasteless, cold, or any other number of travesties that can ruin a good tempura. I was pretty shocked at the lightness and clean flavor that I found here. To be honest with you it may have just been luck. A combination of a lot of variables, and the planets lining up for me at that very moment.
Pork Ramen - Japanese noodle soup
The noodle soup exceeded my expectations and fulfilled my itch for noodle satiation. The noodles were nice and chewy and not over cooked and the broth was rich and hot. You can't go wrong with the chicken ramen or the miso ramen here. Make sure to add plenty of hot pepper because it only enhances the flavor!
For more info on this restaurant click here.
My cousins and I showed up to this small restaurant at 6pm at night and already there was a 45 minute wait. Needless to say try to make a reservation or show up early to grab a table in time. As we waited outside I took a look at the menu and it's extensive. All sorts of exotic things are on the menu like chicken hearts, gizzards, soft knee bone, and skin just to name a few. I thought to myself I HAVE to try those. I'd later come to find most of those "weird" parts are the first to go.
Now I will put in this disclaimer. If you think you're gonna get out of here spending a few bucks on a brew and an app . . . go ahead and come back when you're ready to throw down. THIS IS NOT A QUICK MEAL. You have to give yourself some time to try all the distinctly different foods here. I hope you'll have the chance to check this place out.
If you'd like to follow along with the restaurants menu you can download it here.
Tako Wasa (raw octopus marinated in fresh wasabi). We started our meal off with this light appetizer. It was perfect for getting your mouth ready for what's to come.
Hatsu Heart (chicken heart). I figured it was time to get funky right off the bat and ordered this. It has a distinct sanguine flavor and the texture was similar to that of overcooked meat. Chewy in all the right ways.
Miso Dare Mune Niku (chicken breast with scallion and miso) I didn't think chicken breast could taste this good.
Kuro Buta Karashi Lemon (grilled pork belly served with spicy mustard). You know how much I love pork belly. This is EXACTLY what I needed to get my feet off the ground.
Kuro Buta Negi Pon (organic pork with scallions and ponzu sauce). This is another pork belly dish with a twist. It ALMOST fools you into thinking you're eating something healthy. But it tastes too good to be good for you too.
Mune Breast (chicken breast) with Wasabi. This was pretty boring and I don't recommend getting this one.
Shiitake. Simple shiitake mushrooms grilled and topped with bonito flakes and ponzu sauce. This dish has such a rich flavor you'd think you're eating meat.
Hokuhoku Garlic (grilled garlic). This is just plain ole grilled garlic. We weren't sure how to go about eating this one so we just popped the meat out and just ate them plain. Needless to say we weren't too popular that night.
Hotate (great scallop). This was served with lemon, salt, and pepper. So simple, bright, and delicious! Would be a great appetizer at any dinner.
Momo Thigh (chicken thigh). Thigh is a lot tastier than breast and you can tell it has a higher fat content. It's so good just like this.
Kawa Skin (chicken skin). The chicken skin is grilled and made crispy. The flavor, the texture, the smell . . . it's all there! Just what you would expect out of grilled chicken skin.
Tokusei Yaki Onigiri (grilled rice ball). I dunno how they did it, but this was fantastic. It's crispy outside from the caramelized rice gives it a nice crunch to the smokey flavor of the grill. There are a variety of fillings available.
Shishituo Tsukune Tsume (chicken stuffed peppers). This is one of those dishes you wish you could eat for breakfast every day for the rest of your life. It's THAT good.
Asparagus Bacon. Something tells me these aren't really japanese. Nonetheless someone thought it would taste good if you wrapped bacon around asparagus and grilled it. They were right. But bacon just tastes good by itself . . . does it not?
Enoki Bacon. Another questionable Japanese dish. I personally wouldn't get this one again mostly because you don't have ANY resemblance of enoki mushrooms in there after the bacon flavor coats your mouth. Whatever, bacon's bacon. Bacon bacon bacon.
Negi Tori Don (chicken with scallions and raw egg over rice). This is one of the larger dishes they offer on the menu. It's easily eaten by yourself but it would fill you up. We shared this among 5 people.
Did I mention we shared the last one among 5 people. We needed more. It was too good to just have one! We also ordered our egg steamed but you can get it raw as well. I recommend it raw.
Tako No Kara (deep fried octopus). At this point of the meal we're all getting quite full. SO of course we had to bring out the heavier dishes. They prepared this octopus dish so well. The batter was perfectly crunchy AND crispy. There's a difference.
Sato Yosuke's Inaniwa Udon (udon noodle soup served with chicken, vegetables, and seaweed). The japanese really know how to do noodle soups. They are always so light and leave you feeling perfectly full. Unless of course you just ate the above 18 courses first.
Nagaimo (Japanese sticky yam with soy sauce). Alright so if you get this dish I will warn you, these are not the kind of yams you are used to. They are instantly slimey in your mouth and have a crunchy texture and little sweet flavor. Not my favorite. In fact my least favorite dish of the meal.
Amakare Age (sweet and spicy chicken). Nearing the end of our meal, we decided to go out with a bang and order the richest things we could find. "Fried chicken . . . yeah that's a good idea!" is what we thought to ourselves. We were wrong. This taste very similar to general tso's chicken you'd get at a chinese restaurant so it didn't leave me wanting much more.
Croquette. There is something very comforting about a croquette filled with cheese and rice. Why? I guess it reminds me a lot of my childhood eating these delicious balls of filled fried dough.
Yakimiso Tofu (deep fried tofu topped with yuzu and miso paste). This is a great dish I wish we would have ordered earlier in the meal. It's got a nice citrusy, sweet flavor and the texture of the deep fried tofu would have been great with rice.
Ice Banana. This was our desert. I'm personally not one for desert, but this was a great way to end our meal. The little balls of tapioca sitting in the bottom are fun to eat and the coconut milk and frozen banana are a perfect combination.
Well that's it folks.
I eat too much maybe. Dang! It's scary to look up at a meal after you've eaten it and see how MUCH you ate. Who needs to go for a run? See ya out there!
For more information about this restaurant check out the Google page here.