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Archive for the ‘Sushi’ Category

Sorry for how long it’s been since my last post, but nowadays, leisurely meals at a restaurant become a huge production once you add a toddler into the picture. Let’s just say Cherry and I have become meticulously selective of if and when we decide to eat out. Last night happened to be my birthday, so we figured that was a reason as good as any to dine out. We also had fortune of Grandma watching Rylie for the evening! Cherry surprised me with a dinner at a spot I’ve had on my radar for quite some time; Mashiko! Mashiko is a sushi restaurant that practices and focuses on sustainability. Making sure the fish they serve is not only fresh and local, but responsibly caught and not of the massively farmed variety. It is a small restaurant with simple décor that shows the sushi bar in the back along with the daily specials. I will also preface this post by saying that a majority of my experience with sushi/sashimi/nigiri is from AYCE sushi spots in the Seattle area as well as Vancouver BC.

mashiko entrance

entrance off california ave

The Food:

Cherry and I opted for the omakase or “chef’s choice” meal. At Mashiko, they have four different omakase meals. We ordered Nami ($70 for two) , which included an assortment of sashimi, ten pieces of nigiri, one grilled fish, rice and dessert. I could tell Cherry was a little apprehensive, since anything raw beyond ahi (tuna) is outside her comfort zone. But she handled everything like a champ and I’mvery proud of her. Next time I’d like to step it up to their Honkaku meal; which has the disclaimer,“Novices need not apply.”

 

mashiko tako sashimi

first course: tako sashimi over a bead of sunomono

All of the tako I have ever consumed prior to this meal has been chewy and relatively flavorless; however it’s always been one of my favorite foods. However, the tako here threw everything I knew about it out the door. It was outrageously tender and simply delicious. I felt like Neo when he was unhooked from the Matrix and using his eyes for the first time in the real World.

 

mashiko.sashimi

second course: (from top going clockwise) white king salmon, tombo, gulf prawn, red tuna, rainbow trout, saba,(middle) tako (hood) mussel with wasabi mayo

Each piece of sashimi was incredibly fresh and very delicious. I won’t go into detail into each piece of sashimi, but I will highlight a few of my favorites. The gulf prawn had a pleasantly sweet flavor and the saba was very rich and flavorful. The mussel was also extremely fresh and the wasabi mayo added a creamy texture and additional layer of flavor. My absolute favorite piece on this plate was the white king salmon. It had a wonderfully subtle flavor that you find with fresh fish but had the texture like butter! It literally melted in my mouth. Experiencing such a delicate texture flushed all  preconceived notions and past experiences of sashimi down the drain.

 mashiko.nigiri

third course: (clockwise from back left) uni, sanma, iwashi, tombo, coho salmon

Again only highlighting my favorites, which happen to be the entire back row. The sanma, or Pacific saury was local and had a very rich fishy flavor. The iwashi or sardine was also locally caught. Like the sanma, it carried a richer fishy flavor that I thoroughly enjoyed. “Fishy” flavors tend to carry a negative connotation in Western culture, but that isn’t so much the case in Asian culture. There is also a big difference in stinky fish flavor and fresh fish flavor. Both these fish had the latter. The uni was probably my favorite. Behind the gelatinous texture that may hinder people from trying it, it carried such an awesome flavor that I can only describe as, fresh & clean ocean.

 

mashiko.ling cod

fourth course: grilled ling cod with miso sauce on bed of sunomono

This dish was more down Cherry’s alley. Simply and perfectly grilled fish topped with a savory sweet miso sauce and a side of rice. Ling cod is already a light and subtly sweet fish so it doesn’t need much done to it. The miso highlighted the sweetness of the fish while also adding umami to each bite.

 

 mashiko.brownie

fifth course: coconut tempura brownie & green tea ice cream

Our meal concluded with a perfect desert. The brownie, which is from a local bakery, was rich but not overly sweet. The coconut tempura was fried perfectly with the batter providing great crunch and texture. The green tea ice cream was great in adding a contrasting creamy texture and earthy sweetness.

My Conclusion:

Everything about our experience at Mashiko was excellent. Our server was extremely attentive and did a great job explaining what each item within each course was. The food was fantastic; expertly prepared and impeccably fresh. Chef Hajime is definitely master in his craft and his team truly exudes that excellence.

 

 

 

 

 

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Seeing as it was Labor Day weekend, Cherry and I decided to make take a day trip north, to visit the United States’ red-headed step sister – Canada. Oh, we also have family in Vancouver, so aside from a day of eating; we actually had a reason to visit  Our first stop after the crossing immigrations… Richmond! Just to give you an idea of how great Richmond is, it is essentially your local “Chinatown” district stretched over 49.91 sq mi (127.3 km² for the rest of the World.) The streets are lined with Asian influenced shops, restaurants and businesses (primarily all Chinese.) One thing in particular that Richmond has over Seattle, I’m sad to say, is a much larger selection of All-You-Can-Eat (AYCE) Sushi spots. As a matter of fact, unless I’m badly mistaken, I can count on one hand how many AYCE sushi restaurants there are in Seattle – what’s up with that Seattle!? During my undergrad years at WWU, my father and I would regularly come to Aji Taro and in reminiscent fashion, I decided to bring Cherry here as well. Located off No. 3 Road in Richmond, Aji Taro is a moderately sized Japanese Bistro. Contrary Americanized Sushi (what’s becoming more and more popular in the States) you won’t find fancy and spruced up rolls or sushi. No tempura fried sushi. No spicy mayo. Just Japanese food as it is meant to be – simple.

small sushi bar

make your selections

 

 

The Food:

house special roll (salmon, krab, cucumber, avocado), dynamite roll (tempura shrimp, cucumber, avocado, lettuce), california roll, spicy tuna roll

 The first worth noting is the amount of filling used here. I have eaten at many sushi places that give a minuscule amount of filling and an enormous amount of rice. Particularly in the House Special Roll, there’s a nice slice of salmon sashimi, and a generous amount of krab filling. In the Dynamite roll, two pieces of tempura shrimp are used as opposed to the one piece that you will find in a majority of other places. All the rolls were tasty and really satisfy. The spicy tuna roll had a perfect amount of spice and left a subtle heat on your tongue.

 salmon and tuna sushi

 Both the salmon and tuna were very fresh and clean. They served albacore tuna instead of the more common yellowtail which is a little fattier and traditionally has a lighter flavor. Both were generously sliced and very delicious.

 chopped scallop

 spicy tuna hand rolls

 Hand rolls are exactly that – shari (vinegared rice) and filling wrapped in nori. They usually come out in a cone shape and are fun to eat! The chopped scallop was fresh and had a creamy flavor and texture from the mayo and tobiko  that it was mixed with. The spicy salmon also had great flavors. The spice level was nice and did not overpower the salmon at all – the freshness of the fish was not masked.

 clockwise l-r: agedashi tofu, ika karaage, shishamo karaage, beef short ribs

The agedashi tofu was deep fried and carried a light flavor, but there was virtually no tentsuyu sauce (tempura dipping sauce.) The ika karaage (deep fried squid) was not very tasty. It had a pretty fishy flavor – I’m guessing due to them using the same oil to deep fry all their fish. I can tolerate most flavors, however Cherry was hugely turned off by how fishy the calamari was. There were also flavors of salt and pepper that I could taste that was most likely tossed in before serving. The short ribs were flavorful and tender and one of the better non-sushi items served. The shishamo karaage was also average – lightly battered and deep fried little fish with roe intact providing a salty and fishy bite.

  

clockwise l-r: sanma shioyaki, yaki tori, shime saba

 The sanma shioyaki (pacific saury) had very clean flavor and nice char from the grill – not fishy at all. The yakitori was also very good and simple – skewered and gilled chicken brushed with some teriyaki sauce. My favorite of the three was the shime saba (mackerel.) Extremely clean flavors and the grilled skin of the fish was like a crispy chip – providing a nice salty crunch. I had to exercise caution when eating these fish due to the small bones throughout.

My Conclusion:

Not the pinnacle of the sushi world but that’s ok by me. Everything is made to order and literally within five or ten minutes of handing the server your selections, its on your table straight from the sushi bar. With a price of $14.95 (CND) per person (for lunch), it is a bargain – even with the US dollar being worth less than the Canadian dollar these days!  Aji Taro did my father and I well from 2006 – 2010 and still continues to satisfy my sushi fixins’ anytime we visit! 

Ohh.. and this was our lunch… stay tuned for what we had for dinner!

 

 

 

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With a constant hankerin’ for sushi, Cherry and I decided to try Edina Sushi in Lynnwood off 44th Ave W. We came in on Sunday evening and it was pretty slow – only 3 other parties inside. The servers were very polite and immediately greeted, seated and given our menus. It is a quiet restaurant that can accommodate 40-50 patrons and has a single flat screen TV above the sushi bar. Looking around, it is very clear that all the fixtures and furniture is old and worn – from the sushi bar to the carpet.

sushi bar

The Food:

spicy tuna roll $4.95

The spicy tuna roll was mediocre at best. I personally prefer a sushi roll filling that has chucks of fish you can see and taste – especially a fish like tuna! Edina isn’t the only place that serves a spicy tuna roll like this; spicy tuna filling that looks like a purée or even paste. No texture from the fish whatsoever – the only elements giving this roll any texture was the cucumber for crunch and avocado for a firmer creamy texture and flavor. The spice was mild and the big thing I noticed is that they did not use sushi rice! Sushi rice differs from regular rice in that it is mixed (or cooked) with rice wine vinegar giving it a nice subtle sweetness that is milder and less acidic than regular vinegar. It is key to sushi and it was lost here.

spider roll $7.95

too much sauce

saturated and broken

I wasn’t impressed and quiet honestly, disappointed with the spider roll served here. The biggest critique I have is with the overuse of ponzu sauce. Each piece was sitting in what seemed like a puddle of ponzu sauce, and for good measure, more was squirted atop the entire presentation. As a result, having soaked up all the sauce, the deep fried soft shell crab had no crunch or texture at all, the batter was soggy, and the nori fell apart when you tried picking up a piece. On top of that, the ponzu sauce (which normally has a sweet and tart flavor) had a smoky and almost bitter flavor to it.

 

sushi l-r: saba $4.95, suzuki $4.95, aji $5.50

The first thing I wanted to point out is that their menu says aji sushi is Spanish mackerel. However, upon further research, I found that Spanish mackerel is actually called sawara. In Japanese, aji refers to horse mackerel. Nevertheless, they’re both mackerels and they were both fresh and tasty. I wasn’t able to notice a flavor or textural difference between the two mackerels. The only difference was visually, the aji was a dark pink and the saba was a lighter peach color. The suzuki also had a very clean and fresh flavor. Here at Edina, the sushi chef topped each piece of sushi with shoga (grated ginger) and negi (green onions) instead of putting some wasabi between the rice and fish. Both options add a nice level of flavors but I prefer the strong and bold wasabi to the bright and light flavors of the shoga and negi. Unfortunately, again, sushi rice wasn’t used.

chicken teriyaki $10.95

This place was presented nicely with a generous portion of chicken. The salad was tasty and I enjoyed their dressing. It tasted like a vinaigrette of some kind – light with a subtle tanginess to it. The chicken was nicely grilled and the teriyaki sauce was also very tasty. Not too sweet and not too tangy. The sauce was squirted atop all the chicken and for me, that was the perfect amount. However, there was also a hidden pool of teriyaki sauce underneath all the chicken that I didn’t enjoy so much. For me, good teriyaki is about the perfectly marinated and grilled meat with a touch of additional teriyaki sauce as an accent – not the dousing of teriyaki sauce over everything. This itself is the blasphemous to essence of Japanese cooking – simplicity.

My Conclusion:

 The only real thing that stood out was their service – prompt and polite. Edina made a nice effort to provide tasty sushi and teriyaki but fell short. Their overuse of sauce in the spider roll and teriyaki negatively overshadowed the entire meal.  In a region that’s packed with sushi restaurants, Edina just can’t compete. The prices are fair but in this case, you do in fact, get what you pay for.

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Cherry and I finally went to a “Non All-You-Can-Eat” sushi place in Rumble Fish Sushi. Located on the top level of a small strip mall offAurora Ave North(across from Costco), you can easily drive past if you’re not carefully looking. As soon as we entered, we were immediately greeted and seated in one of the “private” rooms. The sushi bar is in the back of the restaurant and there was also a large flat-screen TV above and behind the bar set on ESPN.

The Food:

miso soup & salad

These two dishes are standard appetizers for any Japanese – think chips and salsa at a Mexican Restaurant. The element that  makes the salad is the dressing. The dressing  had a nice combination of sweet, savory and even smoky! Much better than the creamy and extremely sweet dressings you get at Teriyaki spots. The miso soup was what you’d expect: savory, soothing.

spicy tuna roll: spicy tuna, cucumber

Cherry’s favorite roll is the spicy tuna and this did not disappoint. The Tuna tasted fresh and the chef was generous with the spice – there was nice heat in each bite. One thing I enjoyed about the spicy tuna roll here at Rumble Fish was the adding of cucumber. In many places I’ve been to, the only filling used is the spicy tuna – in and of itself is already a winning ingredient. However, the simplicity of a cucumber really adds great flavor and texture, which can help cut through the spice and adds a subtle crunch.

tempura shrimp roll: shrimp tempura, crab meat, cucumber, & avocado

 This is a very popular and safe choice for those squeamish about eating raw fish. The only thing raw in this roll is the cucumber and avocado – the shrimp is fried in tempura batter.  There is a tasty creamy blend of flavors between the tempura shrimp, crab and avocado. Unfortunately, there was a lack of crunch you would expect to find with tempura shrimp. Nonetheless, all the flavors work very well together.

seattle roll: fresh salmon, cream cheese, cucumber, avocado

If I was given the task of creating a “bite” of food that represented the city of Seattle, the Seattle roll would be it. The fresh salmon and cream cheese make for a very enjoyable bite with the cucumber and avocado adding creamy and crunchy texture. The flavor profile of a Seattle roll is not as bright as a spicy tuna due to the natural subtleness salmon and cream cheese carry.

uni sushi

This was my first time ordering uni (sea urchin gonads), and needless to say, I was like a kid eagerly waiting his/her first day of school as I waited to try it.  I’ve definitely had my fair share of fin fish sashimi/sushi such as tunas,salmon, saba, and unagi. Tako (octopus) is even one of my favorites as well. However, I consider Uni on another level of sushi – simply because it is not as common as the other types of sushi and you generally only find it at more traditional sushi restaurants. It can be a little intimidating upon first glance if you’ve never seen it before. It looks like an orangish-yellow sponge atop rice and wrapped in nori. I just dove in! The first thing I noticed was the gelatinous and creamy texture. It was very different from anything I’ve ever eaten. After the texture, I noticed the flavor (or lack there of), it did not have a fishy flavor at all. It was very fresh – think fresh seawater minus the saltiness. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed it and will definitely order it again!

My Conclusion:

My overall dining experience was good. The service was polite and prompt and the sushi was fresh. I was able to step out of the common sushi goers level and into the next tier with the not so common uni! They also have a very enticing happy hour menu that is offered daily from 9pm until close. On a highway with what seems like thousands of restaurants, diners, and food options, Rumble fish definitely made some noise!

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We have a new restaurant in my Toppings for Top Sushi Buffets! Congrats to Trappers Sushi for consistently making yummy and extremely creative rolls, offering excellent customer service and providing anoverall wonderful dining experience! The location I have frequented is the one in Covington – however there are also locations in Puyallup, Bonney Lake and Bremerton. The location in Covington is a good sized restaurant with TV’s on different walls usually airing a sports game. Upon looking through the sushi menu, the first thing I noticed, is expansive selection of rolls. Popular rolls such as the; California, Seattle and Spicy Tuna are of course on the menu, however the popular rolls here, are the ones that are unique and exclusive (albeit “Americanized”) to Trappers such as ; Bonney Lake, Trapper, Timmy and Trump rolls. The hot spot in this restaurant is definitely  the sushi bar – this is where all the magic happens!

The Food:

torchin’ the trump

trump roll: crystal shrimp with cream cheese covered with salmon topped with torched garlic sauce

This roll is limited to one per customer when doing the all you can eat. The torched sauce on top added a unique sear and flavor to the overall bite of the roll – definitely Americanized, delicious nonetheless. The shrimp and cream cheese gave it a nice texture and when combined with the sliced salmon sashimi atop – it was truly Trump worthy.

sounder roll: spicy crab, cream cheese cucumber, topped  salmon and avocado and spicy mayo sauce

This roll is a newer roll from the menu and also our sushi chef’s current favorite roll. To me, cream cheese is kind of like bacon. Adding it as an ingredient only makes it that much tastier! The taste-bud tantalizing combo of the spicy crab, cream cheese, cucumber and salmon sashimi was out of sight! Although I have yet to try had the caliber of sushi you would find at Sukiyabashi Jiro’s highly exclusive establishment, this sounder roll is possibly one of my favorites and is a great roll for everyone – for a first time sushi eater to the omakase enthusiasts.

barackade roll: crystal shrimp, garlic cilantro sauce, white onion, avocado, rolled in fried onion topped  seared albacore, ponzo sauce, and Japanese pepper

Yet another Trapper creation! The thinly sliced raw white onion and cilantro garlic sauce added a different flavor to this roll that was somewhat sour. I wasn’t a huge fan of this role but the one thing I did enjoy were the ingredient on top: seared albacore, ponzu sauce and Japanese pepper.

spider roll: spicy soft shell crap, cucumber & tobiko

The spider rolls here at Trappers are great in that you actually get crab! I’ve had spider rolls at other sushi establishments and they seemed like a deep fried skeleton of a crap wrapped in rice and seaweed. However, you can even see by the pictures that these are generously sized soft shell crap with a hearty portion of meat! This is also one of my favorite kinds of rolls.

hamachi nigiri

Nigiri represents the epitome of simplicity. The Hamachi was extremely fresh and had little to no fishy flavor – just the taste of freshness! The only thing simpler than this would just the slice of fish by itself known as sashimi.

seaweed salad

Typical seaweed salad you would find in any Japanese or Korean restaurant – the same kind you find at any asian market.

My Conclusion:

Is Trappers the be all end all of sushi restaurants? No. However, you will walk out having thoroughly enjoyed the experience. If you decide to brave the long waits for the sushi bar, it is totally worth it. Everything you order is made to order in front of you by chefs that exhibit the upmost professionalism and are extremely polite. Each time Cherry and I have been there, we’ve had a different sushi chef and each are equally polite and prompt! They are always asking “You guys doing Ok? What can I make for you next?” It is extremely evident that all the workers behind the bar (making sushi, preparing dishes, dropping items into the grill and into the fryer) all enjoy being there. Not once have I seen a lackadaisical employee and as a customer and consumer, this is very appealing. The only gripe I have about Trappers is that they’re sooo far away from Seattle! Can you please open up a location closer to Seattle!?

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