Tagged: Japanese Restaurants

Mar 06

An Unexpected Find, Ramen at Oidon

Okay okay, we decided to go to Ramen Dojo again, and again, there were about 15 people ahead of us! It’s unbelievable how busy this place is! Anyways, we left and decided to try something new, we were yelping in the car and as we made a decision and  began walking to the restaurant, we noticed Oidon so we stopped to look at the photos, they have ramen, udon and champon! So, why not, we decided to give this place a try!  It’s located upstairs, very small, plain, and not busy at all, there were a total of 4 people dining in the restaurant.  I got the Tonkotsu Ramen, the hubby got the Chicken Karaage with Soy Ramen and we also ordered a Takoyaki. One thing about this place, they do not serve stewed pork, so don’t expect to have it. After we sat, they gave us a small bowl of Edamame. I couldn’t help but think how other restaurants would have charged me for a bowl of Edamame, so it was a nice touch to get it complimentary.  After we ordered, we  checked yelp again and that’s when we realized they were known for their Champon, but it was too late, we already ordered.

We got our big bowls of ramen and YUMMY, to our surprise they were very good! Both of ours were flavorful, the ramen and the soup base was good!  My Tonkotsu had cha shu, bean sprouts and bamboo shoots. My hubby’s Chicken Karaage with Soy had the Shoyu soup base with Chicken Karaage, the pieces were huge but were not fried well, even though they tasted good the batter fell apart fast!  The Takoyaki had too much batter and not enough Tako (Octopus). One thing people must realize is that my hubby and I always compare our ramens to the ramens we’ve had in Japan, and then we compare it to the ramens we’ve had in the States. Of course places are never as good as Japan, but this place is not bad, it is pretty good. The other plus side is that there was no long wait and they didn’t charge us an arm and a leg for add-on’s, everything you would want is already in the bowl! However, I think that I should start carrying fried garlic in my purse, it’s definitely a flavor missing in my ramens. We will definitely return to Oidon, I’ll have to try the Champon next!  One thing I did just learn, they are not opened for dinner, so lunch only!

Oh, and one more plus about this restaurant, they have a great Japanese market located just downstairs, the Suruki Supermarket.  They had so many Japanese products as well as prepackaged cooked cuisines and fresh sashimi! Don’t think I left the market empty handed!

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Feb 12

Izakaya at Kasumi

Last night I had catch up dinner with a few friends! We decided to try Kasumi since some of us have never tried it and heard that it was pretty good. And after reading some yelp reviews, we thought it was worth checking out.  It was a Friday night so I had made reservations, but when we got there, I realized that reservations were unnecessary, the place was pretty slow and quiet. The space featured comfortable earth tones  furnishings.  When you look at the ‘Specials Menu’, some of the dishes do not specify how many  people the dish serves, so I recommend asking, we actually went through the entire menu with the server who was very attentive and sweet. She actually gave us some great suggestions, everything she suggested were very good.

I have to admit, I feel like we were the guinea pigs trying out everything on their menu, we ate a lot!  We ordered the  following skewers (2 skewers per order): Enoki wrapped with Bacon, Quail Egg wrapped with Bacon (Uzura), Pork Cheek (Tontoro), Beef Tongue (Gyutan), American Style Kobe Beef, Meatball (Tsukune) and Chicken Skin (Kawa). For the  small plates to share, we ordered: the Deep Fried Octopus (Geso Age), Capelin Smelt (Shishamo Age), Hama-Chile (Yellowtail Sashimi), Beef Tataki (Seared American Kobe with Ponzu and Fried Shallots) and the Potato Croquette. For our individual plates, we ordered: the Seafood Chawan-Mushi, Spoon of Power (Uni, Uzura, Tobiko, Negi, Kaiware, Ponzu) and Tag-Team (Pan Seared Scallop with Uni Sauce and Ankimo with Ponzu).  Ummm, yes, we ordered a lot!

Dishes we really enjoyed (the dishes that made our eye pop out and say “wow, this is good!”): American Style Kobe Beef skewer was fatty, tender and juicy, Beef Tataki which is Seared American Kobe offered tender meat and great flavors!

Dishes that we thought were good but not great (the dishes that made us say “yeah, that was okay, that was good”): Enoki wrapped with Bacon featured crunchy Enokis, Quail Egg wrapped with Bacon was an interesting concept, Beef Tongue was tender, Deep Fried Octopus was fried and salted well, Hama-Chile was fresh but nothing too spectacular, Spoon of Power was not bad but I thought I tasted more Ponzu than anything and I didn’t personally order the Tag-Team but heard that the Ankimo served was not that smooth.

Dishes that we thought were not that great (the dishes that made us say “that was not impressive”): Chicken Skin was bad and all we tasted was the grill. We found ourselves dipping it into sauces just to force ourselves to eat it. But, the biggest disappointment of the night was the Seafood Chawan-Mushi! We read really good yelp reviews and saw the pictures on yelp for this one popular dish! This was one of the reasons some of us wanted to try Kasumi. When we got it, it looked like the picture, but when we tasted it, it was not salty enough, pretty much flavorless, all of us had to put soy sauce into the steamed egg.  It was not impressive at all!

Would I go back? Maybe only for the dishes I enjoyed but sadly there are not enough reasons for me to return unless I wanted to do all you can drink beer and sake at just $15.00!  Maybe I just expected too much.

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Dec 22

Comfort Food at Tani’s Kitchen

We went to Tani’s Kitchen again last Friday night, and this time, we went early to avoid the lines! Again, this place is very small, with approximately 8 seats for the table seating and 6 seats for the bar seating.  If you do come here, just know that they get a lot of calls for to go orders, so don’t expect to be served immediately!

During my last visit to Tani’s Kitchen, I ordered other delicious dishes, this time I decided to try something different. On this cold rainy night, I decided to get the California Rolls and the Curry with Tonkatsu, deep fried breaded pork cutlet, over rice.  My hubby got what I normally order, the Spicy Hamburger Steak over rice! Tani serves fresh crab in their California Rolls, none of that fake stuff, I love that! I usually get the Uni Nigiri here since it’s a good deal, but since I wanted to share an appetizer with the hubby, I got the California Rolls instead! We actually also shared a side of the simple Macaroni Salad, but we ate it so fast and I forgot to take a photo! I really enjoyed my delish breaded deep fried tonkatsu and rice in the curry, with just a hint of spice, it warmed me up on this cold cold night.

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Nov 22

Ramen from Japan

When I was in Japan, I had to eat the heavenly ramen! When people tell you that the ramen in Japan is hella good, they are not lying, it is seriously the best ramen you’ll ever eat!   (And yes, I used the word ‘hella’)  So while I was at the Kyoto Isetan, on the restaurant floor that has about 7 ramen restaurants, I bought a box of ramen at one of the restaurants. Believe or not, the packaged soup base tasted better than some of the ramen restaurants in the Bay Area! Since it was about to expire, we had an excuse on a cold rainy night to slurp a hot bowl of ramen, I’m just sad that it was the last bit of it!  If you are in Japan, buy yourself some ramen home, you won’t regret it!

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Oct 31

1 Year Anniversary Dinner at Alexander’s Steakhouse

For our 1st year anniversary, we really couldn’t figure out where to enjoy dinner. I have to admit that I made 2 other reservations prior to deciding on Alexander’s Steakhouse. There are just too many restaurants to choose from in the Bay Area, new restaurants are popping up everyday. Since my hubby and I do not splurge a lot, we decided to do it for this special occasion.  Alexander’s Steakhouse recently opened their San Francisco location, recently being 6 weeks ago. We’ve heard great things about their Cupertino location, and just this week  their Cupertino location was awarded 1 Michelin star! I made reservations on Opentable and requested a nice table for our anniversary, once we arrived we were greeted by a really nice host who congratulated us on our 1 year anniversary.   We were seated at a nice table for two, but I have to admit that after sitting there for 4 hours, my butt began to hurt and because both of us are very tall, our legs began to feel cramped, I felt like I was on a bad flight. I think that was the only bad thing about the dinner.

Once we were seated, our server came over, and really, a server is not what I should call him, he was a very knowledgeable food guide, assisting us on the perfect food pairings from one dish to the next. There are wine sommeliers, and he was like our personal food expert. My hubby and I are not big drinkers, so he just gave us the best food recommendations instead. And even though he figured that we were not big drinkers, he gave each of us a glass of champagne to start the night since it was our anniversary, which was very sweet of him, I don’t drink but I do love a good glass of champagne.  I wish I had pictures of all the tasty food we devoured, but the lighting was dim and I didn’t want to be flashing my camera in a high end restaurant.

We started with our order of Hamachi Shot, the fish was fresh and tasted so good with the truffled ponzu sauce, I loved it with the  ginger. Because white truffles were in season, we decided to try the Foiewan Mushi, which was a steamed egg dish with shitake mushrooms, white truffles and a little bit of foie gras. It was really really delicious, it wasn’t on the regular menu but was on their 9 course tasting menu, I’m really happy they let us order it a la carte.  After our Foiewan Mushi, we enjoyed a salad, the Ohitashi Spinach served with crab, the flavors were very citrus and refreshing.  Then came the Steaks…we ordered the humongous Tomahawk and a Dry Aged Rib Eye topped with blue cheese and yes…I added the the Seared Foie Gras on top of my rib eye. Wow, the meat was tender and the flavors were incredible! We also ordered two sides,  Creamed Spinach and Truffle French Fries.  We didn’t finish the Tomahawk, but we finished everything else!

After the entrees, we decided to get a Cheese Platter for dessert. We selected all three of their  Cow Cheese Selections, the very pungent Red Hawk, the fruity Landaff that brought out a floral taste and the stinky and delicious Stilton Blue Cheese! While we  thought we were ending our dinner with a great cup of coffee, they came out with a complimentary cake for our anniversary! And after the cake, we got their signature cotton candy, not just any cotton candy, it was grape flavored cotton candy!

This dinner was definitely expensive, but wow, it was so worth it and such an experience! We loved it, it was a great way to celebrate our 1st anniversary!!!

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Oct 16

Yummy Ramen at Himawari

Okay, I have to admit, I went to Ramen Dojo first, but the line was so long and we were sooo hungry,  so we left and went to Himawari.  My hubby tried this restaurant with a friend and told me that it was pretty good, so hey, what the heck, why not give it a try! When we got there, there was no line, given that it was still 6:30pm on a Saturday so we were still pretty early. Just so you know, there was a line at about 7:00pm. Having a bowl of ramen was taking a chance for me, I just got back from Japan where I had the best ramen on earth, so yes, I honestly didn’t expect too much.

We ordered a tuna poke appetizer and we both ordered the Tonkotsu Deluxe Ramen which was the pork flavored ramen with stewed pork, sliced roasted pork and egg. I found their menu inclusions and prices a bit odd, not because I was being cheap or anything, but this Tonkotsu Deluxe Ramen was the most expensive bowl of ramen, yet, they make you add 50 cents for the egg noodles  instead of thin noodles. What the hell are thin noodles anyways, everything else came with ramen noodles?! And yes, of course I had to add the egg noodles. And, the inclusions for all their regular menus came with bamboo stems  but why is it that the Tonkotsu Deluxe Ramen didn’t and I had to pay another $1.00 more to add the bamboo stems. This was all so strange to me! Again, not because I was being cheap, but I did feel like I was paying additional for things that were included with the regular ramen options.

Anyhow, besides all this, our tuna poke was really tasty, served with onions,  soy sauce, sesame oil, some greens and capers. It came the same time as our ramen, which kind of sucked cause we were trying to eat the tuna poke while making sure our ramen noodles didn’t get all soaked and thick. But, besides this, I thought the bowl of ramen was wonderful, I was super impressed by the soup and the ingredients, especially the stewed pork and egg. Usually, the egg is pretty much fully cooked at most ramen joints, but Himawari actually served the egg soft cooked! They also offered fried garlic on the dining tables, and adding this definitely made it taste even better!  So although the price is odd, and although they served us the appetizer and ramen at the same time, I will definitely be going back to Himawari for their bowl of Tonkotsu Deluxe Ramen!  Afterall, it’s all about the food.

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Aug 23

Spicy Ramen at Ramen Dojo

I’ve been meaning to try Ramen Dojo, sounds like the new ramen place to be! It’s actually at the old Santa Ramen location, and I think it’s actually the same owner as Santa Ramen too, but I’m not definitely sure, it’s just what I heard.  It’s funny to be back at the old Santa location, they’ve done a great job transforming the tiny space with new furnishing. When we got there, there was a short line and we sat at the bar, lucky for us, there were only two of us so we were easy to accommodate. During our meal, the place was full the entire time and when we left, there were lots of people waiting outside. So it’s pretty apparent that this place is busy!

They specialize in Spicy Ramens, offering Spicy Soy Sauce Flavor, Spicy Garlic Pork Flavor and Spicy Soy Bean Flavor. When you order, you may select Mild, Regular and Extra Spicy. All the Ramens are served with Roasted Pork, Fried Whole Garlics, Kikurage Mushrooms, Fresh Green Chives and 1 Small Quail Egg.  They also have an assortment of appetizers. We saw someone sitting next to us eating something that looked really good, turned out to be Fried Oysters so we had to order one too!  We both ordered the Spicy Garlic Pork Flavor Ramen in Regular Spicy with Extra Ramen. I have to admit, I have never ordered a ramen at Santa’s with the regular serving, I always order it with extra ramen. I have no idea how much ramen is even served in the regular order.  Since I was starving, I just had to continue the tradition, extra noodles please!

We got our fried oysters first and they were damn good, the batter was perfect and the oysters were delicious! We then got our spicy ramen, we didn’t know what to expect but we were served a very pretty bowl of ramen. And wow, it was spicy, I think we will order the mild spicy next time! But most importantly, the ramen noodles were REALLY good, they were so fresh and every bite was crunchy, we loved it! At first we weren’t sure why they served this with chives, turns out this ingredient balanced the spice just right! I was also very surprised with how tender and tasty the roasted pork was, I’m usually not a huge fan because most places serve dry pieces.  I can’t wait to return for my next ramen fix!

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Jul 03

Yummy Ramen at Katana-Ya

I know that there are mixed reviews about the ramen at Katana-Ya , but I personally enjoy this place! The only downside is the line. Since we were downtown catching a movie, we wanted to stay downtown for dinner and Katana-Ya was a great choice since it’s closes late.  Plus, we thought a warm bowl of ramen would be great for a chilly night. When we got there around 9:30pm, there was still a line, but we were hungry and craving it so we decided to wait. It’s a VERY small place, so don’t even think about bringing more than a group of 5 people, you will wait forever! We learned from a friend from our first time here that the Toro was really good, and it was.  So this time, we decided to see if they had Toro Nigiri again, and they did, so I was super happy cause I couldn’t wait to eat all that fatty goodness! And of course, we also ordered my favorite Uni Nigiri! And both of these were extremely fresh and delicious. If I didn’t order my big bowl of Deep Fried Chicken Ramen with Miso soup, I probably could have ordered more Nigiri! Until next time…..we shall meet again!

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Jun 26

Shabu Shabu Me at Shabu House

Okay, yes…I admit it, I am a pig, I’ve never denied that. After eating half my Tikka Masala Burrito at Curry Up Now, we went to eat shabu shabu at the Shabu House.  We went to the Burlingame location since there is more parking and less of a wait than their location on Geary.

This restaurant serves three different soup bases: Traditional Water, Spicy Miso and Ginger Chicken Broth. My favorite soup base to get is the Spicy Miso, it’s really not that spicy but it’s better than the Traditional Water.  The meal comes with your choice of meat, assorted vegetables and udon. And of course it comes with two dipping sauces, the ponzu and goma (sesame) sauce. I always add lots of green onions, garlic and chili sesame oil to my ponzu.

Since I ate beforehand I didn’t want to order the All You Can Eat menu, but it turns out that it’s all or nothing. If your group orders All You Can Eat, then everyone has to. The restaurant  has encountered groups sharing food by the middle of dinner, so this became a regulation at the restaurant. So yes, I had to get the All You Can Eat ,and this time, I didn’t get my money’s worth. However, I still ate quite a lot and my tummy spent Friday night fuller than expected.

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Jun 11

Japanese Small Plates at Naked Fish

We normally go to Naked Fish, the Millbrae location,  for quick lunches on the weekends. When we come here for lunch, we normally get the simple bento box lunches with an order of their butter fish nigiri.  The bento box is a deal and tastes good, we’ve always wanted to come back for dinner, so today was the day. Sushi is always a great idea on hot days! When we got seated, we got a nice  free small bowl of edamame to start us off, that was nice since I was starving.

We ordered a few small plates-Butterfish Nigiri, Uni Nigiri, Ankimo, Poke, Deep Fried Soft Shell Crab and Miso Seabass.  We were hungry and I thought that this was not enough, but I’m glad we stopped when we did cause this was perfect for the two of us! The butterfish and uni were really fresh, the cold seafood flavors were perfect! The ankimo was very smooth, it was a bit fishy at first but after I dabbed it with the spicy radish ponzu and scallions, it was delicious! I thought the deep fried soft shell crab was not bad either, but the one small dish that was REALLY good was the miso seabass! It was a very small piece, but the sweetness of the miso seabass was delightful, I will definitely order that again and try to make it at home too! I was eating every bite slowly, trying to figure out what the secret ingredients were.  I was really disappointed with the poke, it was not really good, it tasted a bit weird, there was a mesquite BBQ flavoring.

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