Showing posts with label japanese. Show all posts
Showing posts with label japanese. Show all posts

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Wagamama Seaport (Boston, MA)

Wagamama is a chain of restaurants serving Asian food - primarily Japanese - which started in UK. I wasn't familiar until I moved to Boston 3 years ago, and I actually only tried it for the first time recently. Wagamama had opened a new location in the Boston Seaport district and invited some bloggers and instagrammers to try them out.

We started with a plate of Chili squid (crispy fried squid, shichimi, chili cilantro dipping sauce, $9)
Wagamama
For calamari lovers, this squid dish is a great variation. It's crispy but tasted light and spiced just right. I couldn't start eating them.

We also had some dumplings, both steamed and fried. Our favorite was the fried duck gyoza ($8)
Wagamama

The drinks at Wagamama are better than I would've expected from a chain restaurant. While a lot of them tended on the sweet and fruity side, they're not overly sweet and fairly well balanced. What I like most is the fact that they use spirits from Asia as much as possible.

For example, the Wagamama Mai Tai is made with Tanduay rum which is from the Philippines. They also use Iwai Whisky from Japan
Wagamama

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Michael Mina and Ken Tominaga's PABU Opens in Downtown Boston

PABU Boston at Millennium Tower from Chefs Michael Mina and Ken Tominaga officially opens today, November 1! PABU is located on the second floor of the Millennium Tower in downtown Boston, right by the Downtown Crossing T station. The restaurant will be serving sushi, izakaya-style dishes, robata, hot pot, and plenty of cocktails and sake.
PABU
Chef Michael Mina was a fan of Chef Ken Tominaga's original restaurant, Hana, in Sonoma County, which opened more than 2 dozen years ago. They finally partnered for the opening of PABU in San Francisco, and the partnership continues since.

The cold plates section includes the "Happy Spoon Oyster", of which we got a whole tower of during the opening party.

PABU

Happy Spoon oyster (uni, ikura, tobiko, ponzu creme fraiche, $9)
PABU
Among the hot dishes, you'll find okonomiyaki, chawanmushi, seared foie gras and more. We tried the Chicken karaage (ginger-soy marinade, spicy mayo, $12)
PABU
During the party, we also had the lucky chance to see chef Ken Tominaga in action, breaking down a 240-lb blue fin tuna for our consumption (we didn't eat the whole thing, don't worry).
PABU

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Roku Sunset, IDG's Newest Flagship Restaurant in West Hollywood

by Bryan Tsunoda @btsunoda

West Hollywood or “WeHo” has become an interesting intersection for me. More of my co-workers select WeHo as their place to call home. In addition, I have been receiving way more invites to dine at WeHo restaurants. I was fortunate to be invited to one of the hottest restaurants, Roku Sunset.

Due to the large front windows, the interior is full of natural light. Combined with the fact that their is spacious seating available, Roku Sunset is extremely welcoming. It’s certainly bodes well for someone trying to impress their date.

I typically lean towards sake when I eat Japanese seafood. After perusing the drink list, I decided it was only fitting to start with a sake flight. After all, it was an easy way to sample different types of sake.
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The traditional sake sampler consisted of three premium samples: Ken Sword Daiginjo, Yuki No Bosha, and Shichi Hon Yari. The Ken Sword Daiginjo was probably the driest of the group. The Yuki No Bosha was fruity and had notes of banana and strawberries. The Shichi Hon Yari was the most interesting as it was very rustic and earthy.


I began my meal with the bluefin tuna.
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 It was combined with diced avocados, tomatoes, shaved parmesan and shaved truffles. I was initially skeptical about mixing bluefin with parmesan, but overall the combination of flavors worked very well.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

An Authentic Izakaya Experience at Izakaya Ittoku (Boston, MA)

If you've met me in real life, you may have heard me complain about the lack of good ethnic food in Boston (with the exception of Brazilian and Jamaican food). Well, that's not quite true, because at least there is one authentic izakaya. Izayaka Ittoku in Allston offers what is probably the only authentic izakaya experience in Boston, with a large menu, great food, and cheap beer pitchers!

On top of the already large menu, they sometimes have special dishes, like this stir fried squid with green onions. So good we ordered another helping.

Izakaya Ittoku
Agedashi tofu ($5.75) - a classic, of course.
Izakaya Ittoku
Cucumber sunomono, another great dish to share and a great palate cleanser in between other plates.
Izakaya Ittoku

Friday, April 3, 2015

Good and Cheap Sushi in Boston! Ebi Sushi (Somerville, MA)

Have you heard me complain about the lack of cheap sushi in Boston yet? Sure, you can get good sushi at O Ya, but I don't really feel like dropping $200+ all the time. I tried a couple other highly rated places that were either not good or pretty good but overpriced - but I kept hearing about Ebi Sushi and finally made it out to Somerville, now that the snow is (mostly gone).

I normally don't order "sushi combo" but I made an exception here and it turned out to be a great deal!

Ebi Sushi
The reason I made an exception was because I was talking to the sushi chef (Jose, whom I later found out was actually one of the owners. Yes, he's not Japanese, but he's got quite a few years of experience behind sushi bars). He told me the specials for the day and I started asking him whether or not I could get this fish in the combo or that fish or this cut. And he said yes to all of them.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Jiro-style Ramen at Yume Wo Katare (Porter Square, Cambridge, MA)

As you exit the red line T stop at Porter Square, you will soon notice the line going towards Yume wo Katare, a place popular for the fatty pork ramen in the style of Jiro in Mita.

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Buta Ra-man!
Yume wo Katare is supposedly one of the first (if not the first) US shop to serve Jiro ramen, which is a really fatty pork broth that is completely different from a tonkotsu, topped with a big pile of bean sprouts and some cabbage. With that, some thick chashu (more pork fat!)
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Being from LA, I initially snuffed at the Boston ramen scene, but this small shop is one of the very few that looked promising and I was happy to see this particular style, which you can't even find in LA until Tsujita Annex opened just a couple of years ago.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Dami Sushi and Izakaya (Buena Park, CA) and $100 Gift Certificate Giveaway!

by guest blogger @bstunoda
PS. Be sure to scroll to the end for a giveaway!

At an Izakaya restaurant, drinking is primary and eating is secondary. People go to izakaya restaurants to socialize much in the same manner that the Spanish drink wine and eat tapas. Like the current trend in dining, small plates dominate the menu and the plates are meant to be shared.
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Dami Sushi and Izakaya is located in the brand new Village Circle on Beach Blvd in Buena Park. After entering the restaurant, I found it to be beautifully decorated in modern Asian design. A high open ceiling, beautiful lattice wall coverings and effective lighting gave diners a comfortable experience.
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Whole grain salad
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The dish wasn’t calling my name, but I tried it anyway. It consisted of endive, black rice, Indian millet, lentil, kidney beans, fresh mozzarella in a soy vinaigrette. I was pleasantly surprised at how well the ingredients worked together. I think the soy vinaigrette brought all of the disparate flavors and textures together quite nicely. I’d choose this salad over most green salads as the kidney beans and lentils gave it quite a bit of substance.

Jawanmushi was next up and it turned out to be a version of chawanmushi (steamed Japanese egg custard).
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Sunday, December 1, 2013

Top 12 Spots to Get Uni and Ramen in Los Angeles

These two "collections" of favorites list I made for Foodie.com are for those looking to pig out!

You should know by now how much I love uni or sea urchin, so here are my 12 favorite spots to get dishes made with uni, or just to get fresh uni in the shell.


Best ramen in LA? That is a controversial topic indeed, but to create a list of the top 12 was actually pretty hard! We have a lot of great ramen places, but apparently there still can be more. Some of these places are actually my favorite places for tsukemen and not ramen, but close enough :)

Monday, May 20, 2013

Osawa Upgrades Old Shaab Location in Pasadena

When Shaab shuttered it left Pasadena devoid of shabu shabu. Now Osawa has taken over the exact same spot, serving shabu Shabu, sushi, and otsumami (small plates). Osawa is owned by Sayuri Tachibe, the wife of Chaya's corporate chef, Shigefumi Tachibe.


I went with Wandering Chopsticks who I know doesn't drink much so I ordered something sweeter that she can enjoy, a yuzu sake called Aladdin. Definitely easy to drink.
There's also blood orange lemonade for those who don't drink at all.
We started with some otsumami. I had been eyeing the beef tongue with Furofuki daikon radish and shaved kelp ($11)
I wondered if this was a common combination. I've never had shaved kelp (as opposed to dried) and like bonito flakes, when they get wet they clump together making it hard to separate with your chopsticks, but overall I liked this interesting dish. The beef tongue was quite tender and I'm partial to daikon.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Hironoya (Gardena, CA)

I got an email from Utopia, a South Bay-based Japanese-focused gift certificate store offering discounted certificates for South Bay and Japanese local businesses like Gaja (the okonomiyaki place), Robataya on Sawtelle, and Izakaya Bincho. They asked if I wanted to try using one of their certificates to visit a restaurant, and I do love Japanese food so why not! I was tempted to go back to Bincho but I figured I should use it to visit a restaurant I've never been to before so I opted for Hironoya in Gardena.

Hironoya sits in Tozai Plaza and seems to be visited by mostly Japanese. When I was there there was a reunion for some university in Japan and they proceeded to sing their alma mater song. Hironoya serves sashimi, sushi rolls, tempura, udon and various other dishes, but no nigiri sushi.

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They did have some fresh fish, though so I tried their blue fin tuna toro sashimi ($18 for 4 pieces). Not as fatty as some other toro I've had but definitely fresh.
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Also tried sea bream sashimi ($9) and a salmon roll, which were both pretty good. I haven't had sushi rolls in a while but enjoyed this one.
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You can get almost everything tempura'd here it seems, from broccoli and eggplant ($1.95, 2pcs each) to sea urchin ($12.95) and oyster ($4.95, 2pcs)

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Build Your Own Bento at Chaya Downtown's Cherry Blossom Festival

Now until April 19, Chaya Downtown is celebrating Cherry Blossom Festival with a build-your-own hanami bento. You can choose among ten items ($22 for 3 items or $28 for 4 items) including vegetable tempura served with pink salt, maple leaf duck confit spring rolls, or snapper temari sushi.

Chaya Bento
I would recommend the Coffee BBQ mini pork shank with chipotle miso, or the salmon gravlax with sakura creme fraiche and vegetable pickles (both pictured above).

For $4 more you can also substitute the items with a Koji Marinated Black Cod with bok choy and soy balsamic ginger broth (this and the pork shank were probably my two favorites!)
Cod

You can also substitute for the grilled Black Angus flat iron steak with wasabi butter and haricot vert.
Steak bento

Sakura Bellini
There are also two cherry cocktails for the festival. We all preferred the refreshing Sakura Bellini (cherry sorbet, luxardo, champagne, $12), perfect to wind down after a day of work. They also have a Cherry Manhattan with Tullamore Dew, sweet vermouth and cherries.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

LA's Ultimate Tempura Bowl: Hannosuke

Tempura had always been an accompaniment to soba or udon for me, not a meal to order by itself .That is, until Hannosuke opened inside the food court of Mitsuwa Marketplace on Centinela. Hannosuke is an outpost of the tempura specialist in Tokyo, and the thing to get here is the Edomae Tendon ($12.95) (meaning Edo-style, Edo being the other name for Tokyo), a tempura rice bowl that comes with miso soup.
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This upgrade from the Original Tendon that's $8.95 gets you anago (seawater eel) from Tokyo. See the longest piece of tempura up there in the bowl? That's the anago! Well worth the extra spending.
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Both the seafood and vegetables inside and the batter outside are much better than other tempura you' d find in the area, and the tendon comes with a deep fried, soft-boiled egg that just brings everything together once you break it. Hannosuke is definitely the place to go for tempura in West LA.


IMG_3847Hannosuke
3760 S Centinela Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90066
(310) 398-2113
Hannosuke on Urbanspoon

Thursday, March 21, 2013

25-Layer Pork at Kimukatsu (Honolulu, HI)

With the number of Japanese tourists swarming Hawaii every year, it's no surprise that Honolulu would have great Japanese food. From ramen to handmade soba, you can find pretty much everything here. One of the places I had my eye on was Kimukatsu, famous for their pork katsu made by stacking 25 layers of pork slices, then deep frying it. This way, the katsu is supposed to retain more of the juices than a thick piece of pork cutlet.

Now, Hawaii is also not cheap. An order of pork Katsu set (with rice, cabbage, miso soup, pickles) would be $19 normally but they do have a special menu during lunch. The regular tonkatsu order is not on this menu but you can get a katsudon set ("The Original Kimukatsu Bowl") for $16 or the Kimukatsu Curry for $13.
Katsudon

Friday, June 15, 2012

Tasting Menu at Shunji (West LA)

Shunji is one of the hot recent restaurant openings, with Chef Shunji Nakao's serving his "contemporary" omakase in an inconspicuous stand-alone building on Pico Blvd. There are only a handful of tables and a few seats at the sushi bar, and the chef prepared most of the dishes personally (some get fired in the kitchen).

His printed menu looks like the standard Japanese restaurant, but we had read about his omakase (the omakase was not printed on the menu) and just asked for that.

As an amuse bouche, a small bowl of jelly with cucumber and vinegar sauce

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Next is a plate of small bites of vegetables, ankimo topped with caviar, a ball of purple potato with blue cheese and persimmon, and sweet potato with feta and truffle
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Unsure if we were supposed to eat these in a particular order, we moved in one direction and it moves from rich (ankimo) to the palate cleansing, crisp, unadorned vegetables to the creamy potatoes

The scallop sashimi, topped with arugula flower, was so fresh
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Thursday, October 6, 2011

Modern Kaiseki at n/naka

My first kaiseki experience was at Wakuriya in San Mateo, and I was very excited when I found out that Chef Niki Nakayama from Inaka had opened up her own spot in Palms and was serving modern kaiseki.
While there is a seasonal menu posted online, Chef Nakayama may change a few dishes any day depending on what looks good in her garden that day. The restaurant was a little hard to find, sitting in a dark corner of Overland Ave. There's no sign, just the number. On my visit, we opted for the 9 course Chef's Tasting ($110) with wine pairing ($55).

Saki Zuke (a pairing of something common and something unique)
Chef's garden eggplant puree, Scottish smoked salmon, Osetra caviar, creme fraiche, chives
The dish was paired with a sparking wine: Jean Philippe Cuvee
Eggplant Puree
This was one of those item the chef decided to put on after seeing what looks good in her garden that morning, and indeed the eggplant puree was excellent. The combination of eggplant and smoked salmon is not one I would've expected, but it worked wonderfully.
Cuvee

Zensai
Blue crab stuffed sword squid, mushroom sautee, bacon powder, balsamic reduction
Paired with 2010 Morgadio Albarino, Rias Biaxas, Spain
Zensai

Monday, May 9, 2011

Chew, Bow, Sip. Watching a Japanese Tea Ceremony (Sado)

I have always wanted to be a part of a Japanese tea ceremony (sado), but I wasn't able to find a place to do so until the Kulov Tea Festival last year. They had a tea ceremony workshop held by Mrs. Soshitsu Nishimura of the Edo Senke school. They have different school/styles of tea ceremony, and unfortunately I have no idea what the differences are. The workshop was held at Royal/T and they had quite a few attendees so we did not sit on tatami mats and participated fully. We sat in chairs and watched and partook in wagashi and the matcha that Nishimura sensei's student prepared.

The tea ceremony is all about purity and hospitality, so the first thing the host does after kneeling (or sitting) down is clean all the utensils and bowls that will be used (after the fire for the water is lit, of course). Afterward, she transfers some water to get it cooled down to the proper temperature.

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Before tea, the guests are served a wagashi (traditional Japanese snack).

Monday, March 21, 2011

Vegan Feasting and Boozing at Shojin

I am never one who'd decide to go vegetarian one day, but I've heard many great things about Shojin, the organic/vegan/macrobiotic Japanese restaurant in Little Tokyo from fellow bloggers (mainly LA-OC Foodie and inomthings).

Seitan Steak
Seitan Steak Marinade
I've been meaning to try it for a while and an invitation to a blogger dinner provided the last push and I finally made it there!
Shojin's Dining Room
Shojin's dining room was much nicer than I had expected, especially for being in that neglected mall in Little Tokyo. White tablecloth, chandelier, and all.

Shojin also recently started serving alcohol and we tried their "Mojito" made with unprocessed cane sugar, mint, apple juice, cranberry juice, vegan sake (Ichigo)

We started with a tasting of the three most popular appetizers:
Spicy rock shiitake tempura, spicy wasaby mayonnaise
Yuzu ponzu Seitan (pan fried sliced seitan with grated daikon and yuzu citrus sauce)
Spicy fried tofu (fried marinated tofu, spicy soy sauce)
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The shiitake tempura was chewy and meaty. I loved the tofu which had a light yet crispy breading. Apparently the batter was made with whole wheat and arrow roots which makes it stay crispy for a long time. The seitan was unremarkable compared to the other two.

Shojin also makes sure to serve vegan wine and sake. Wine isn't always vegan? Nope, apparently most wines are filtered using egg whites or egg shells. The appetizers were paired with some Nottage Hill Chardonnay from Australia.
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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Harajuku Crepe: A Bit of Rolled Up Tokyo in Beverly Hills

A recent Groupon for 50% off at Harajuku Crepe piqued my interest to try this Tokyo-style creperie. Mochi in their batter? Green tea or Earl Grey flavored batter? As a tea and sweets lover, count me in.

Harajuku Crepe took over the small former Fulfilled space along the rows of high end shops of Santa Monica Blvd in Beverly Hills. Street parking is hard to find but there is a metered parking lot behind the building one block over.

Harajuku Crepe offers organic crepes, sweet or savory. They add mochi powder in their crepe batter, giving it a more elastic and chewy consistency that I really liked.

Choose among four batter flavors: original, buckwheat, green tea, or earl grey tea. Fill it with fruits, red beans, nutella or chocolate sauce, and ice cream - or for the savories choose between tuna/ham/egg/turkey/etc.

I tried the green tea crepe with red bean, banana, whipped cream, and vanilla ice cream. All the crepes here are rolled up into a cone so you can just grab it with your hand and eat it that way. No need for forks and knives!
As I've said, the batter here is unique and worth a try.

Harajuku also has a small but good selection of teas which are all brewed at the right temperatures for the right amount of time. And the topper? Free wi-fi!


Harajuku Crepe
9405 S Santa Monica Blvd
Beverly Hills, California 90210
(310) 285-3946
http://www.harajukucrepe.us/
Harajuku Crepe on Urbanspoon

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