Friday, February 25, 2005


In December my family went to Japan. We started out in Kyoto and after three days took the Shinkansen to Tokyo. The food was amazing - not just how it was prepared, but how it was served, and the fact that even though we ate the same type of food three meals a day, 7 days straight (well, there was a Mos burger, but that story comes later) it was so yummy we never got sick of it.
It's interesting - I've seen lots of japanese TV and thought I had a handle on what typical japanese cuisine is like - but it really is amazing. So simple! Simple preparation, simple flavors, simple presentation - but all together, totally yummy and aesthetically pleasing. I am now obsessed with japanese pickles, and hot tempura soba, and broiled fish, and egg custard. There's a line in Lost in Translation where Bill Murray is on the phone with his wife and he says "I want to start eating like the Japanese..." or something like that. But it's totally true. A week of this and you're hooked.
In Tokyo is a huge fish market - the Tsukiji market. We went at 8:30am I think, and it was "slowing down" because all the professionals had already come and gone, so all that was left were civilians. We saw huge slabs of tuna belly, whole tuna (probably weigh more than me!) and all sorts of sea creatures. But what was really amazing were the rows of restaurants - most were packed, and had a huge line out the door. At 9am!! We chose a sushi place because the price was extremely reasonable (not just for Tokyo) and waited. And when we finally got in, it was....incredible.
First of all, I was a little skeptical because...sushi in the morning? Yew. But everything was so fresh that after a couple bites you just had to have more. I had all my favorites - salmon, tuna, bonito, yellowtail - and nearly tried horse (thank goodness somebody translated that for me) but the two things that stood out were the yakitoro (grilled fatty tuna) and ankimo (monkfish liver).
Imagine a huge slab of fish, marbled pink like beef because of the fat streaks. Then, a blowtorch is used to brown the top surface. And when the bones of the fish have been pulled out, they leave these little nubs that get really brown and crispy. And it's been salted, so there is no need to dip it in soy sauce. And when you finally eat, you *literally* roll your eyes because it *is* the most amazing thing you've tasted.
And the ankimo - it's my new favorite thing. Foie gras of the sea. :) Creamy, without the organmeat smell you find in cow's liver. And served with a citrusy sauce and grated radish, which helps bite through the richness. Apparently, it's easy to prepare, so I might try doing it here at home.....
So, all I can say is, if you ever go to Tokyo, you will of course find yummy sushi anywhere, but for the price and experience, just go to Tsukiji. The only bad thing is that you'll be so spoiled it will be a long time before you can go back home and eat sushi there without sighing and thinking of Tsukiji.....

Monday, February 14, 2005


I love breakfast.

I could eat breakfast food all day long. You know those huuuge plates of food at the Pork Store? I can finish one all by myself. And *still* pick at everybody else's plate. That's how much I love breakfast food.

So of course, I was excited to try out a new place. I needed to pick up a chocolate mousse cake at Schubert's Bakery (which is so yummy it will get its own post later) on Clement, and we were hungry and passed by a full diner with people waiting outside. That pretty much sold us, so we put our name on the list and prepared for a 25 minute wait.

The place is called Eats, at 50 Clement st.

Looking at the menu, it has your typical breakfast diner food - omelets, pancakes, etc. In addition to their buttermilk pancakes, they also have ricotta, blueberry, and conrmeal pancakes (all separate items ) - yum! But I was feeling like I wanted a little bit of everything, so I chose the pancake special - two eggs, two pancakes, and bacon or sausage, just $4.50! Rich had a veggie omelet with hash browns and toast.

I know the place was fully, but it wasn't *that* big, and we had to wait *forever* for our food. I'm pretty patient, especially when it comes to waiting for breakfast food, because then I figure the extra time equals extra yumminess. But I was disappointed when our food came out.

Not that it was horrible - my pancakes were pretty good, and the omelet was excellent - full of yummy things like spinach and avocado and tomatoes. But his potatoes looked really greasy and had too much prapika. I like nice crispy potatoes. Also, my scrambled eggs were fake!! You'd think with the amount of time they took, they would have at least cracked open a couple real eggs, but no, I got the rubbery out-of-the-box stuff. Ew. The omelet was made with real eggs - why couldn't they just do that for scrambled eggs??

So hit or miss. I'm definitely going back to try the ricotta pancakes, and if I order egg dishes again it will definitely be omelets or fried eggs.

Thursday, February 10, 2005


I didn't take advantage of Dine About Town as much as I would have liked to, but I was very happy with the one place I did go. We went to Bacar and it was very yummy! They also treated us nicely, which is important because I feel like I've been to a string of nice restaurants lately where they have treated us like crap because we look young, and therefore, are unworthy of decent service. Blargh.
Anyways, what I had:
Wok-roated PEI mussels: this dish was amazing. First of all, it was a "starter" but could have easily been an entree because it was a *bucket* of maybe 30 or so mussels. I've never had PEI mussels before, I'm only used to the frozen New Zealand kind, so I don't know if it's the way it was prepared or the natural flavor, but they were very sea-tasting. Not everybody's favorite flavor, but the intensity of it, plus the garlic, was very good.
Pan-roasted poussin: almost too cute to eat! A little difficult to carve up your own tiny chicken, but the flavor was good. It came with spinach and mushrooms. Not just any mushrooms, a whole assortment of wild ones, with the really earthy flavor.
Caramel panna cotta: a little too much gelatin, perhaps, so it wasn't as creamy as I would have liked, plus the caramel sauce (while good) was a little overkill, but the dark chocolate saved the dish.

Definitely worthwile - it's a place I would go to again, even though it's not really in my grad-student-budget. :)