The Great Noodle Tour: Shabu Shabu and All That Jazz

This was one of our favorite experiences in Tokyo.

Shabu shabu. In English, this translates to “swish swish.” It consists of dipping raw meat, vegetables, and noodles into boiling hot water or broth. We went to the large, bustling Shabuzen for this experience.

20150424_062720 There are burners on the table and after you order, your server puts pots of water on the table until they start to simmer away. 20150424_063940Two sauces – one bright and tangy, the other nutty and sesame-sweet. Both utterly delectable.
20150424_063954 Salad

Because in Japan there were shockingly few non-pickled veggies at our meals. This was VERY welcome. 20150424_064723 Premium beef

Yes it is expensive. And yes, it is worth it. Impossibly tender and rich, with a taste that is unmistakably beefy. It nearly falls apart in your mouth without chewing since it’s so tender. It doesn’t taste fatty or muddy, just incredibly satisfying and rich. It’s as close as I got to eating Wagyu or Kobe steak and it is sensational. 20150424_064746 A plethora of veggies – tofu, cabbage, mushrooms, bean threads, and a million other goodies. They don’t just taste good on their own, they also flavor the cooking water. 20150424_065024 Just drop the beef and veggies into the pot20150424_065026 Swish swish till it’s cooked to your liking (for me, that’s just a few seconds), then dunk it into your sauce of choice (us smart kids mix the two), eat and enjoy. It’s so light and yet so delicious. Each ingredient is piping hot and tastes totally of itself – bright, earthy, meaty, vegetal…it’s just so fun and delish.

But don’t get too full!

Because when your platters are emptied…20150424_072743 The server comes and brings fabulous noodles and rice cakes for you. 20150424_073026 The noodles are long and springy and the rice cakes are addictive – doughy and chewy. They soak up all of the flavor that the meat and veggies left in the pot. Its a comforting, delicious way to end the meal. You don’t want to be too full to enjoy. 20150424_080147Shabuzen is the place to go if you have a large group and want a reservation. Or if you are dying to try some premium Japanese beef. Or if you have a big appetite and want to do all you can eat (your appetite would have to be huge…gargantuan).

Or if you just want an experienced that really can’t be mimicked elsewhere.

I reckon that anyone would love this place. Anyone I like, at least!

The Great Noodle Tour: Ginza Numazuko for Awesome Kaiten Sushi

Don’t worry, we ate plenty of sushi while in Japan.

In fact our first night there, we went to Ginza Numazuko for arguably the greatest value of the trip. 

Six of us ate until we could eat no more. Toro, uni, the sweetest shrimp imaginable…all for about $20 a person. Including some fabulous sake.

Wait, I’m getting ahead of myself.

Sushi Numazuko is a kaiten sushi restaurant; a revolving sushi bar. 

In America, these places aren’t super popular and they definitely aren’t known for their freshness or sushi artistry.

In Japan, they certainly aren’t thought of as “high end” either, but in Japan there is no such thing as food that isn’t incredibly clean and fresh.

image (6) Our lovely server poured us sake the traditional Japanese way, into glass set inside a wooden box until the sake overflowed into the box. Once you were done drinking hte glass, you just drank out of the box. And then you got very tipsy on top of jet lag, which makes for very few pictures and an 8 pm bedtime. 

image (7)We sat at a counterside booth with a hot water spigot and green tea box to make fresh green tea throughout the meal. There is a large, rotating conveyor belt upon which the sushi chefs put plates of sushi as they are made. The plates are all color coded – as you take them off of the belt and eat them, you stack the plates and the server bills you at the end by counting the number and color of plates that you acquire. Tamago is obviously cheaper than uni, and so on and so forth. We did a mixture of ordering from our extremely friendly and English speaking server and taking plates off of the conveyor belt. The place is so busy and the chefs work at such a furious place that there is no risk of the sushi being too old.

image (9)Just about everything there was, for the price point, exceptional. Velvety toro. Sweet shrimp. Savory soy inari. They even served us some of the softest, mildest salmon belly I have ever had – such an American order. 
image (8)The uni isn’t as ethereal as it is at Tsukiji, but it’s still LEAGUES better than most of the really expensive stuff here. 

image (11)Before we knew it, we had built up QUITE the stack of plates. 
image (10) And, of course, left a major mess. 

Ginza Numazuko is PHENOMENAL. It’s casual, the food is wonderful, tons of Japanese people eat here, and the price is right. It’s open all day and ideal for a quick lunch or casual dinner. You can eat until you are stuffed for a very reasonable price, including some super tasty sake.

Somehow, I just haven’t been able to even look at supermarket sushi since I got home. It seems my standards have irreversibly risen. 

The Great Noodle Tour: The World’s Best Tonkatsu at Butagumi

When we wanted to get tonkatsu, I imagined that we would enjoy it at Maisen.

I was so, so wrong.

We ended up at Butagumi…and I have been praising the culinary G-ds ever since.

20150423_050723 Butagumi is a small, quirky restaurant located in a residential neighborhood near the now-chic Roppongi Hills complex. It’s actually an old house that was converted to a restaurant. And it’s pork-a-licious. 20150423_050730 That entire menu is chock full of pork that you can get tonkatsu style – lightly fried in panko breadcrumbs. All that they serve is pork. Many, many breeds of pork. Imported Iberico and Mangalitsa pork. Specially fatty Japanese pork. Especially lean pork. Sirloin which is fattier and tenderloin which tastes more purely porky. It’s pork heaven. 20150423_052023 Pickles

Not my favorite start to the meal the way that I thought it would be. A little bitter and a little too funky, even for me. 20150423_053435Minced pork tonkatsu
20150423_053606 Now THIS is an appetizer. The chicken nugget of my dreams. An impossibly, thick, shaggy crust concealing the juiciest, porkiest patty I have ever enjoyed. It’s so sweet and juicy that I could eat this with honey and be totally satisfied. However, if you dip it in some of the accompanying thick and sweet tonkatsu sauce, you won’t be disappointed. Amazingly delicious. 20150423_060618 Cabbage

The classic tonkatsu accompaniment. Douse it with the addictive tangy vinegar at your table to cleanse your palate and allow for maximum pork consumption. This, plus rice and miso soup, are all unlimited during the course of your meal. I defy you to eat more than one bowl. 20150423_060623Pickles for tonkatsu

Unlike their predecessors, very good. 
20150423_060742 The pork…the pork! We got several different cuts and each was a gem. 20150423_060816 The golden boar pork was my favorite since it is so fatty and rich. The fat melts like the fat at the bottom of a pan of meatloaf. Just golden, buttery, rich. Not at all bouncy or weird tasting. 20150423_061006 The tenderloin is no slouch either and was cooked until it as just barely rosy so it was still juicy. 

The biggest shock here is the taste of the meat. It isn’t at all robust or barnyard-y. It’s gentle and elegant – sweet, even. It would be perfectly at home at an elegant dinner party. How can this be peasant food?!20150423_061313The miso soup is just he best I’ve ever had. Chock full of flavor and these tiny, adorable, sweet clams.

Butagumi is a MUST VISIT in Tokyo. It’s up there for my favorite meal of the trip. The service is delighful, the surroundings are unique, and the food is fabulous.

You could really make a pig of yourself here. 

The Great Noodle Tour: Uni Donburi at Tsukiji Fish Market

If you are a foodie…or even a person, really…you need to visit Tsukiji when you go to Tokyo. It’s the world’s most famous fish market. We took a fabulous guided tour (for another post) and by the time we were done seeing gigantic tuna, live scallops, and eels wriggling around in buckets, it was time for lunch. Tsukiji has some of Tokyo’s freshest, most reasonably priced sushi, and though it may not be Jiro, it is pristine and fantastic.

20150422_233401 After winding our way through the alleys, kitchen shops, and multiple restaurants that surround the large fish market, we ended up climbing the stairs at just one of dozens of spots promising mouth-watering chirashi, sushi, and the like. We emerged into a beautiful, upscale restaurant that belied its humble exterior. It looks similar to Sushi Yasuda here in NYC – blonde wood, quiet, fastidious service, and a clientele that is almost entirely Japanese. There is a brief English menu and the servers, who aren’t necessarily fluent in English, are phenomenal at somehow delivering exactly what you want to eat. And what we wanted to eat was donburi, a classic Japanese dish of rice covered with various toppings. Katsu, vegetable curry, eggs, or – in our case – premium raw and cooked fish. 20150422_234703 Tuna, toro, uni, and ikura donburi

I’m crying looking at this. It is beyond merely delicious. It is perfect. Each fish compliments the other. The tuna is fatty but not overly so, to allow the buttery, delicate flavor of the toro to shine. The uni is creamy and SO mild, letting the almost fluorescent ikura handle the salty, briny component. There isn’t too much toro, since that would overtake the entire dish. The ikura itself is gently cured so it retains some brightness and isn’t at all bitter.

And that uni…YES. Hokkaido uni now reigns supreme even over Santa Barbara uni in my book. It’s really that sweet and clean tasting. Even the ginger is excellent, a nice palate cleanser in between bites of seafood.

20150422_234713 Tuna donburi

An embarrassment of riches. Similar to the above lunch, but this time with different cuts of tuna, each highlighting a different aspect of this impeccably fresh sashimi. The tekka is smooth and lean, with a mild, not metallic taste. There are no odd sinews or bloodlines as there are in other sashimi. The maguro is much fattier but it doesn’t taste fatty. It just tastes…lush. No other way to describe it. Not too rich, but certainly more full and deep than the tekka. Then the toro. That buttery, smooth, decadent toro that needs just a hint of fresh wasabi to make it a full flavor experience in one bite. This is excellent. 20150422_234723 Broiled seafood donburi

Salmon, red bream, scallops, Botan shrimp, and sea urchin. This is usually made with tuna but my mom is allergic to that and through a flurry of Google translate, rudimentary Japanese, and hand motions, the server somehow understood this and substituted salmon (which I think is what all Japanese people assume that Americans like to eat). It’s just amazing at what lengths the servers went to accommodate my mom. At one point, during the rather busy lunch rush, there were 3 servers bent over my mom, smiling, chattering in Japanese, and trying to figure out what she wanted. It was much appreciated and so amazing to see this level of service in the equivalent of a hole in the wall restaurant. 20150422_235025Tsujiji Itadori Bekkan is a GEM. Lunch like this isn’t cheap – each bowl averaged between $18 and $25 – but the portions and quality of the food make it worth it. Big time. The surroundings are lovely, the service is fantastic, and the food is just what I dreamed it would be in Japan – simple. Fresh. Delicious.

Don’t worry, there’s lots more about Asia coming up next week!

The Great Noodle Tour: Yakitori Fest at Birdland

Yakitori is one of Japan’s finest cuisines. It consists of skewered chicken and vegetables, often grilled over charcoal underneath the elevated subway tracks.

Of course, this being Japan, you can go high scale as easily as you can go low scale.

And when a place offers opentable reservations, a Michelin star, and 2 very reasonably priced tasting menus – why not take the high road?

20150422_054633 Birdland is one of Tokyo’s premiere yakitori restaurants and it’s all centered around a large grilling pit. The action is really there at the counter, but if you have a large group like we did, you will be seated at one of two large picnic tables, slightly removed from the action. 20150422_054651 The room is filled with smoke and for once it isn’t the cigarette smoke that pervades the city. It is chicken and it smells GOOD. You can order a la carte but we went with the large tasting menu. And it was really, really large. I would actually recommend going with the smaller tasting menu and adding the cheese (the cheese is that good…really).20150422_055511 Amuse bouche

From the top left, clockwise:

Gizzard – a little chewy but rich and pleasantly minerally in flavor

Seaweed salad – um, no

Other vegetables – another um, no

Chicken skin – a little rubbery – not my fave.

20150422_060258 Medium rare chicken breast

Juicy, light, sprinkled with green onions. Not at all slimy or raw, just rare enough to be juicy. Seasoned with pepper and enough salt to be mouth-watering. That’s right, I just called grilled chicken breast mouth-watering. 20150422_060755Chicken liver pate

One of my favorite courses of the meal. Rich and coarse with buttery undertones. It’s intensely minerally but seasoned enough not to be off-putting – it reminds me a lot of the liver at Sammy’s.
20150422_061517 Chicken breast with wasabi

Not medium rare, but still juicy and sweet next to the tiny dabs of searing fresh wasabi paste. 20150422_062030 Chicken liver skewer

The favorite of many at the table. Juicy, tender, and almost creamy in texture. Mild in taste and liberally sprinkled with coarse sea salt. Fabulous. 20150422_062435 Chicken with scallions

Plain but delicious. The chicken is so fresh that it’s almost impossibly tender and more sweet than barnyard-y. 20150422_062914 Tofu with micro tomato.

I mean…a micro tomato. Do you see how tiny and adorable that is? This doesn’t taste different from a regular tomato, but it is SO much cuter. The tofu was a little bland for me but my husband loved it. 20150422_063219 Gingko nuts

Nutty and a little creamy, with a texture similar to chestnuts. I loved this as a mid-way chicken break. 20150422_063420 Teriyaki chicken thigh

They didn’t all it terikayi, but that’s what it was. This meat is almost gamy in its darkness. Its juicy and rich – much more wild tasting than the breast meat.20150422_064506 Tsukune

These Japanese meatballs are a perfect bite. A crispy, thin crust outside a tender, juicy, well spiced and salted meatball. Delicious. 20150422_064942 Dark meat with crispy skin

One of the only pieces of the night that I didn’t enjoy. Just too gamy and rare for my tastes. 20150422_070632 Grilled mushrooms

YES! Mushrooms are such a natural complement to meat. They are meaty themselves but not rich and don’t compete with the chicken at all. They are smoky from the grilled and sprinkled with soy. When doused with lime there is a certain light, bright aspect to them that mushrooms rarely seem to have. 20150422_071406 Chicken thigh with spring onion

Mmmmmm! Love it!20150422_072154 Grilled cheese

The extra course you have to order no matter what. Stretchier ad creamier than halloumi but with a similar salty taste.

20150422_073257 Oyako don

Just the most perfect dish ever. Creamy egg, sticky rice, juicy chicken. A few strands of savory green onion. I absolutely lapped this up.

20150422_074321Creme caramel

A good dessert, but not memorable.

Absolutely every other thing was, though. The service is excellent, with a staff fully versed in English and a menu that has something for even the pickiest of eaters. It isn’t cheap but it isn’t super pricey either and if you don’t get that cheese and oyako don, you are crazy.

Japan – it’s not all raw fish after all.

The Great Noodle Tour: Noodle Nirvana in Kyoto

One of my favorite afternoons in Tokyo didn’t even take place in Toyko. 

20150424_211442It took place in Kyoto. We took the bullet train for a very comfortable 2.5 hour ride to one of the oldest preserved cities in Japan. Almost all of Tokyo was destroyed in WWII, so the chance to see the ancient streets, gardens, and temples of Kyoto was something that we couldn’t miss. 20150424_213927Plus, there is a lady who comes by on the train selling things like Chip Star, green tea ice cream, and Pocari Sweat (a mix between lemon Gatorade and carbonation-free Fresca that my husband found addictive).20150424_230059When we arrived at the train station in Kyoto, we were shocked to see that people simply left their backpacks and luggage in the main hall while they shopped or used the facilities. Crime is so low in Japan that it didn’t occur to anyone that someone might try to steal their things. And, indeed, no one did. Amazing. 

20150424_235207We saw a gorgeous temple. 
20150424_235257Spied a few women in full, exquisite kimono getup (not geishas, though Kyoto is the epicenter for seeing genuine geishas).
20150424_235353 And decided not to pay for a fortune. We already knew we were pretty lucky. 

Then it was time for lunch. So, we walked down the main drag of Gion, Kyoto’s historic district. And walked. And walked. We must have been on 5th Avenue or something because for 40 minutes we could not find a single place to eat that wasn’t an ice cream or sweets shop. They were all closed or…nonexistant. I was getting hangry. Finally, we found a little udon shop teeming with both tourists and locals and got the last empty table. 20150425_002343 The requisite hot spices (Japanese food is woefully lacking in heat).20150425_002351 The simple, crowded shop. Don’t even think of trying to order soda here. 
20150425_002610 Accouterments for the soba

Bitter grated radish, sharp green onions, and a tiny quail egg to enrich the dipping sauce. Did you know that a raw egg can enrich a cold sauce? I didn’t!
20150425_002803Buckwheat soba

So hard to find in NYC. And so amazingly delicious. 20150425_002929Tempura

20150425_002434Vegetarian udon with fried tofu and green onions
20150425_003109 The greatest noodles of my life. Yes, I mean that. This is noodle nirvana. Chewy, bouncy, earthy, and profoundly wheaty. They suck up the umami dashi broth and are slippery flavor vehicles. The fried tofu and green onions are nice but not necessary. This is all about that light but fully flavored broth and those thick, wonderful noodles. I never really order udon, but they seemed to be the specialty of this shop and I am so happy that I indulged. 20150425_004248 Wouldn’t you like to know where I went? Well, so would I. We were so hungry, hot, and tired that I didn’t even ask for a business card. This sign is my only clue to this glorious restaurant. I couldn’t even tell you how to get there, except wander around Gion aimlessly, turn down a side street, get lost near somewhat of a red light district, and then it’s on your right hand side. 

Kyoto is a beautiful, historical side trip from Japan. It takes most of the day to get there, walk around a bit, and get back, but it’s worth it. 

And be sure to get the business card if you try some restaurant’s fabulous udon!

The Great Noodle Tour: Japan Airlines First Class SFO-HND

This post covers food and drink. For a more comprehensive review of the product, check out this excellent post.

This was the latest flight that I had ever taken – or maybe the earliest? At 1:35 am it’s definitely one or the other. By the time that we were ushered into our seats by the fabulous JAL crew (honestly..they couldn’t stop bowing or apologizing for things that hadn’t yet, and never would, go wrong), we were almost asleep. 20150420_041404 Luckily, a glass of Salon 2002 perked us up. This is one excellent champagne. It has a full, toasty aroma with tight bubbles and an aftertaste that is a little sweet without too much acidity. I far prefer it to the more buttery, heavy Krug.  A perfect way to pep me up for a gourmet late night snack. 20150420_051309 Sushi and chawanmushi

Beats the hell out of the stuff at Whole Foods, and this is at 35,000 feet in the air. The rice is a little clumpy and dry but the fish is almost amazingly sweet and lush. The chawanmushi is even better. It’s creamy and deeply savory without being too salty or heavy. It’s so comforting and full flavored without being rich or greasy. 20150420_051457 I mean, just look at that beautifully cooked shrimp!20150420_051752 A little caviar never hurt anyone, though the blinis are strangely leaden and they could use a little more sour cream. It’s still some damned fine fish egg. 20150420_052230 Fish crackers

Do not, under any circumstances, eat, or even open. It smells like the deep blue sea in a baaaaad way. 20150420_104259 A few glasses of champagne in and I thought that some $400 per bottle whiskey might sound good. Luckily, my husband finished it off – I’m just not a whiskey gal. 

I settled in for a nap (complete with a blanket, pillow, and a freakin’ MATTRESS…amazing.) and when I awoke, I enjoyed some espresso and a plate of buttery sugar cookies. 20150420_134400 Not to mention the full Japanese breakfast of soy simmered sablefish (tender like salmon but twice as mild), roasted duck, chawan mushi, pickles, perfectly steamed rice, and fresh miso soup. Americans do breakfast all wrong. I think I like omelettes and then I have some miso soup and freshly broiled fish and I’m like “no way…this is where it’s AT!”
20150420_144736Special iced tea over which my husband kvelled

Icy bathwater slightly reminiscent of hay. I just don’t like tea.
20150420_151000But I DO  like a large selection of Bollywood movies on the AVOD.

JAL offers a phenomenal first class flight product. For a red eye flight, they offer more choices than I could even try (damn, I wish I could get my hands on that vegetable curry right now), the alcohol is a class act, and the service is absolutely unmatched. It is deferential tot he point of making you feel uncomfortable, but get used to it. Because when you land, you are in Tokyo – it’s not Kansas anymore, Toto.

Kura – Hidden Entrance, Unforgettable Omakase

I had an awesome sushi meal the other night.

It was pricier than I thought it might be…but it was really good. In fact, I think that it was worth the extra cost.

If you see an unmarked door on St. Mark’s, don’t pass it by.

Unmarked doors are often the best kept secrets.

20150318_182838 Kura is a small restaurant that delivers big omakase. At 3 set price points – 85, 105, or 125 dollars – your only decisions are if you want sake (you do) and how many pieces of sushi you want (even the smallest set really delivers, thanks to amuse bouches and dessert). The vibe is casual and friendly but you can see that the sushi is serious. There is just one long, blonde bar and a single table. We walked in,but make a reservation to be sure that you aren’t turned away. The chefs are kind and jovial and the music is relaxing – a great place for dinner with a friend or loved one.

Though there were some dishes I’m not featuring here, including a wonderful amuse bouche of delicate samon roe over warm rice and crisp nori and a TO DIE FOR toro hand roll at the end of the meal, here are a few highlights:20150318_183453Medium fatty tuna

I was surprised to start the meal with this fatty fish, but I liked it! It wasn’t too fatty or full flavored – it was just fatty enough to be indulgent without overwhelming my tastebuds.
20150318_184029 (1) Scallops

An impeccable scallop. Buttery, soft, mild. Atop crispy nori for a textural contrast and vinegary rice. A bit of sharp ginger to cleanse the palate and I was in heaven. 20150318_184331 Fluke

Cool and clean tasting with a zing of lemony, spicy yuzu underneath the fish. Delicious. 20150318_184806 Clam

The most tender clam I have ever had in the sushi arena. Usually it’s crunchy – not my fave. This is tender and smooth. It tastes gently salty and very fresh. 20150318_184901 Mackerel

Broiled mackerel atop warm sushi rice. More like eel than mackerel I have had before in sushi – meaty, rich, pleasantly oily. 20150318_185537 Eel

Excellent! No need to hide eel this succulent, soft, and buttery beneath a shellac of sugary sauce. This eel stands for itself and it’s phenomenal. 20150318_185753 Uni

My favorite sushi of the night. Simple, clean uni (must be Santa Barbara) brushed with soy and served on lukewarm rice and crispy nori. Cold, warm, salty, sweet, crunchy, soft. Beautiful synthesis of flavors and textures. 20150318_190428 Miso soup

Astounding, largely because it was unexpected. Miso soup at the end of a sushi meal is pretty common, but THIS miso soup isn’t. This miso soup tastes nothing less than gourmet. It’s gentle and deep, with an intense umami taste but nothing too salty or bitter. There are tender, sweet clams. Clouds of red miso. It’s just phenomenal and really filling. 20150318_191525Mochi with sweet soy glaze

Less of a dessert, but hey – it’s Japanese, right? Chewy, sticky rice balls in a sweet and salty teriyaki-esque glaze.

Kura is sensational. The fish is sublime, the service is lovely, and though it’s not cheap, it’s a great splurge meal.

Unmarked doors are ALWAYS the best.

Wasabi Doesn’t Bring the Heat

My sister and I checked out Wasabi for lunch the other day.

20150312_112325

It’s a cool, easy concept – pre-wrapped sushi, miso soup, katsu, and other assorted Japanese-y dishes that you put together to make your own inexpensive lunch or dinner. It’s very minimalist and modern without being cold – IKEA would do well here, and so would your co-workers.

Unfortunately, there was a weird, fishy smell to the place which turned us off trying any of the sushi.

20150312_112831Vegetarian gyoza

Surprisingly delicious. I haven’t ever had room temperature dumplings, but these are surprisingly delicious! Served atop baby greens and drizzled with a sweet and spicy glaze, these are crispy and stuffed with soft vegetables, toothsome soybeans, and a healthy dollop of spice. The gyoza are crispy outside and because they are both room temperature and vegetarian, they are refreshing – not often a word hat I associate with gyoza!

20150312_112932Chicken katsu

Nothing revelatory, but fine. A little dry, a little undersalted, but I love katsu of any sort. I actually also love cold friend chicken, so this pseudo-warm stuff works for me. The dipping sauce is a little too sweet for my liking, but the chicken is tender and tasty enough to enjoy all on its own.

20150312_112334I had high hopes that Wasabi would be the cheap sushi holy grail, but it really isn’t. It’s cheap, clean, and serviceable, but not much more.

It’s okay that I ate lightly, though, because I’m headed to New Orleans this weekend. LORDY, please help me maintain some cholesterol stasis there.

Zuma – Bring the Black Card and Expect Fabulous Food

I have been to Zuma in London and Hong Kong, so I knew what to expect.

Basically:

1)Wear your trendiest duds.

2) Have a reservation.

3) Leave your cash at home, just bring your credit card and prepare to pay a LOT.

4) The vibe is sexy. The drinks are really well made. And the food is mother-freakin’ fabulous. This is the perfect place for a blow out birthday meal or bachelor/bachelorette experience.

20150209_191953 Old fashioned

Whistle Pig bourbon and an entire shaved iceberg in the glass. I don’t even like old fashioneds and this was excellent. Side note – they need to stock their bar with all of the booze that’s on the menu. The one murky spot in otherwise awesome night. 20150209_195543 Soft shell crab

Where the hell do they get soft shell carb so great in the off season?  Creamy, crunchy, and buttery with the slightly salty taste of the sea. Flash fried and greaseless, well salted and served with a tangy yuzu dipping sauce. 20150209_202229 Wasabi scallion scallop sashimi

Light, soft, velvety and punctuated with sharp scallions and a tiny hit of wasabi. One tasty sashimi dish. 20150209_202647Negitoro maki

Excellent, though for the price, I would get another fusion dish, like the excellent miso black cod. This is really great, don’t get me wrong – I just prefer to do my sushi eating at the bar. I know, I know – I’m snobby and I like it that way.
20150209_204303Ginger-ponzu asparagus

Oh yeah, this was the night’s sleeper hit! Who would have thought that some simple, char-grilled asparagus could be so satisfying?! Meaty, fresh, crispy, and topped with a tangy-sour-sweet sauce that was so good that we ended up drizzling it all over everything else at the table.
20150209_211208Steak

A HUGE portion and a really satisfying steak. Grilled to a succulent medium – totally pink with no bloody red or overdone gray. Cut into bite sized pieces and served in a sweet teriyaki marinade. This really satisfies those red meat cravings.

Zuma is super pricey but also super beautiful with great service and an interesting, utterly crave-worthy menu. Think Morimoto with a location that’s more convenient to uptown with a sexier, darker decor. I would come here again as soon as I could either apply for another credit card or at least justify the expense.

How does tomorrow sound?