For the month of September, 2008
I love sushi. Duh, Allison, of course you do. Well yes, my adoration of sushi is just a wee bit obvious. After all, I wouldn’t have this sushi blog if I didn’t love it, now would I? As with any trip I take, my first thought is of what sort of good food can be found in the area, specifically great sushi bars. Hearing that Mitch’s Fish Market has the best sushi ever? Obviously, I had to try.
We arrived at Mitch’s after a day that included a yummy breakfast, a visit to the botanical gardens, and various beaches and tidepools as we drove the big loop around Oahu. We were tired and definitely hungry. When you walk into the sushi bar, it’s obvious that the primary business is the fish market – the sushi bar is almost an afterthought. The restaurant is very small… it could easily have been an office that was turned into a restaurant. There are two or three tables, and a sushi bar that might seat four, at most. You don’t go to Mitch’s for the ambiance… nope, you go there for the sashimi.
We had heard that Mitch’s was one of the few places you could get lobster sashimi, so of course we had to order that. We also decided to get the Chirashi Deluxe, so we could try their wide array of sashimi accompanied by a seasoned bowl of rice. As an afterthought, we also decided to get an extra order of hotate (scallop) sashimi… I’m a wee bit addicted to hotate.
The sashimi was undoubtedly the best sashimi I have tasted. Ever. Since you’re eating at a fish market, you know it’s fresh, but there’s just no way to describe how amazing the sashimi was. The shrimp were sweet, the chu toro (tuna, just one level below toro) melted in my mouth, the yellowtail not even close to how stringy it normally is. The hotate were a scallop-lover’s dream come true, and the sweet tamago almost fluffy. The salmon was amazingly soft, the uni incredibly smooth, the tako (octopus) slightly chewy, and the ikura incredibly fresh. As for the chirashi rice that came with the plate of sashimi, I enjoyed it immensely. Something about the mushroom pieces, nori strips, and other seasonings sprinkled on top made me think of New Year’s. I believe the flavor may have been something that I am used to tasting in the various dishes we used to enjoy at the New Year’s celebrations at my great aunt’s husband’s parents’ house. It was delicious.
And now, the lobster! After we ordered but before our meal, we were surprised to see them bring out a live lobster for us to approve of for our sashimi. Talk about fresh… you can’t get much fresher than that. The lobster sashimi was… interesting. We rather enjoyed it, although for the price ($52) I’m not sure we would purchase it again. The sushi chefs sliced up the lobster tail for us to eat, accompanying it with the typical wasabi (the real stuff!) and gari.
The flavor of the lobster was very clean, fresh, and although it was mostly flavorless, it was just a little sweet. The texture is crunchy which is a little odd at first, but easy to get used to. Overall we enjoyed the lobster sashimi… but wait, there’s more!
Once we finished the sashimi, the waitress came and took the shell of the lobster tail, “to put in the soup.” Huh? I hadn’t heard anything about any soup. What’s this? Not too long later, she came back with two bowls with the rest of the lobster parts sticking out of it. They sure know how to use a lobster… not a single part went to waste. The lobster miso soup was similar to regular miso soup, except that we got to pick the lobster meat out of the head and claws. Delicious! It was a very nice surprise to end our meal at Mitch’s.
The cost of the meal totaled $130, including tax and tip, for the two of us. Mitch’s only serves tea and ice water, so if you want alcohol or other drinks with your meal, you have to bring your own. They will, however, gladly provide glasses for you. If ever in Honolulu, I highly recommend visiting Mitch’s. Everyone who works there is incredibly friendly, and will make you feel like family. Heck, they’ll even let you take a picture of the lobster you’re going to eat! Besides, who can resist such amazing sashimi?Continue Reading
Ever since I was very young, mochi has been a special treat for me. My mother would take us to the Japanese part of town every once in a while to stock up on the Japanese foods that she liked, and we would always stop by the little bakery in the shopping center. We each were allowed to pick one piece of mochi to take home with us and eat later. I usually picked the striped mochi – a piece with white and pink stripes, but although sweet, it lacked any specific flavor.
As I grew older, I learned to love a wider range of mochi. As a young girl, I wouldn’t touch the pieces with azuki bean paste (red bean paste) in the middle. Now I’ll go out of my way to get sushi with azuki bean paste in the middle. (Although I haven’t gotten around to making any yet. I’m working on it, for sure.) I love flavored mochi – especially orange-flavored mochi, and I’ve even tried making my own. (That was a yummy experiment!) So of course, when I saw a mochi stand in the mall in Hawaii, and read about a mochi ice cream store online, I knew I had to visit both.
Kansai Yamamoto – Mochi
Kansai Yamamoto is a small stand in the food court of the Ala Moana center – the same food court where I ate at Coco Ichiban Curry House. We had been walking through the mall after dinner at the Curry House on Sunday, and like a magnet I was drawn to the stand.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen this many flavors of mochi in one place. We had quite a bit of trouble deciding which types we wanted to try. Never before had we seen mango or honeydew mochi, so it was easy to decide to buy those. On a whim, we also decided to try the chocolate peanut butter mochi, since the typical plain mochi with azuki bean paste in the center was nowhere to be found.
The chocolate peanut butter mochi was… interesting. It consisted of chocolate-flavored mochi, with a chunky peanut butter filling. By itself, the chocolate mochi wasn’t anything I would want to spend money on. But if you can get a bite of the chunky peanut butter with every bite… that’s what makes it special. The contrast of the sweet and the salty, the soft and the crunchy… it’s rather delicious.
Even more special were the honeydew and mango mochi. Never had I tasted mochi so flavorful. Neither of these flavors were very sweet, but the honeydew and mango flavors were very strong. Not overwhelmingly so, but just right – almost as if you were eating the fruit, except in soft mochi form. Perhaps these have a lot more extract or juice in them than the ones at home, or perhaps it’s just that everything seems to be more flavorful in Hawaii. I wonder if the Los Angeles smog has been dulling the flavors of foods all these years? No matter – these mochi were delicious.
Bubbie’s – Mochi Ice Cream
This place is hell to find. After dinner at Yotteko-Ya on Monday, it must have taken us a good half-hour to find Bubbie’s, even though it wasn’t that far from Yotteko-Ya. As much of a pain in the butt this place is to find (it’s hidden from view from the street, and you have to take a little side-street to get there), it was entirely worth it.
Of course, I have had the mochi ice cream that you can find at Trader Joe’s or Japanese supermarkets before. The normal flavors – strawberry, chocolate, vanilla, etc. can all be found here. But what takes Bubbie’s above and beyond are the other flavors. After several minutes gawking at the menu, we decided on chocolate peanut butter, guava, sakura (cherry blossom), and azuki bean. The chocolate peanut butter mochi ice cream was alright, I liked the guava mochi ice cream, the sakura mochi ice cream was a new flavor I am very glad to have tried (and enjoyed)… and then there was the azuki bean. Oh my goodness, the azuki bean. Bits of bean were flecked throughout the ice cream, and the flavor was very prominent, unlike some of the other flavors of mochi ice cream. By far my favorite, I immensely enjoyed the azuki bean mochi ice cream. So yummy.
We enjoyed the mochi ice cream so much, we got four more pieces to go. We got almost the same order, except instead of the guava, we got green tea. Quite good choice… Son loved the green tea mochi ice cream. Although the mochi ice cream did melt a little in our hotel “freezer,” I actually enjoyed them better like this. The flavors are stronger when the ice cream is slightly melted, so the azuki bean mochi ice cream was that much more enjoyable for me. Yum.Continue Reading
When Son and I booked our trip to Hawaii, we knew that in addition to trying all the best local food, we wanted to have sushi. Lots of sushi. There are many other sushi restaurants we are looking to try (one can never have too much sushi) but since it is close to our hotel, we decided to try Sansei Seafood Restaurant and Sushi Bar first.
We decided to get a table outside, which was wonderful. Amazing view of the sunset, warm but not too hot, and mostly quiet. Our waiter was fantastic – always knew when we needed a water refill or our next course, but was never overbearing or in the way. As our meal, we decided on the Chef?s Omakase Tasting Menu for Two. At only $75 and including everything we would have ordered, we found it to be a great choice.
The first dish out were our miso soups. The soup was nicely flavored, had a sufficient but not overwhelming amount of seaweed in the bottom, and included many small cubes of tofu. It was a bit salty, but both Son and I love salty flavors so we both enjoyed the soup.
Our first course consisted of the Sansei Special Roll and Sansei-Style Poke, accompanied by a bowl of edamame. The Special Roll was made up of spicy crab, cilantro, cucumber and avocado dusted with furikake and accompanied by a sweet Thai chili sauce not unlike the one I used on the last sushi I made at home. We both adored the roll, although I found it to be spicy – almost too spicy. The furikake on the outside was an excellent addition, and the sweet chili sauce added a wonderful sweetness to the roll.
The poke was composed of ahi tuna, salmon, tako (octopus), sweet Maui onions, wakame, and kaiware sprouts, in a spicy poke sauce. I found this to be delicious, although Son undoubtedly enjoyed it more. It was not spicy, but rather tasted of shoyu and sesame oil. Son would not have changed a thing about the poke, but I was displeased to find the sauce masked the fresh flavor that I enjoy so much in the tuna.
After the first course, we could already feel ourselves filling up. Had we known before-hand that we would be eating a three-course dinner, we would have definitely eaten considerably less during the day. Our second course consisted of mostly fried foods, so we tried to take it easy on our stomachs and not finish every last piece of each dish. For course number two, we received Panko-crusted Fresh Ahi Sashimi, Japanese Calamari Salad, and Asian Shrimp Cake. Of those three, the Asian Shrimp Cake was easily our favorite: a black tiger shrimp cake crusted with crispy Chinese noodles, served with a ginger-lime-chili-butter and cilantro pesto and topped with two miso marinated shrimp. Just the Chinese noodles eaten with the sauce were amazing. Sweet, crunchy, yum. I wasn’t a huge fan of the actual shrimp cake, but Son adored it.
The calimari salad was amazing as well. This consisted of “Calamari fritti tossed in spicy kochujang vinaigrette served over Kula greens in a crispy won ton basket” The vinaigrette had the flavor of a sweetened cocktail sauce, but wasn’t at all thick. It clung perfectly to the calimari. We did not eat all the calmiari, but had the entire course not been fried and if we didn’t have a third course to look forward to, we would have easily finished it.
The last dish in the second course was our least favorite dish of the night. We found the Panko-crusted Fresh Ahi Sashimi – fresh Island yellowfin tuna wrapped with arugula, and flash fried topped with a soy wasabi butter sauce – to be too bitter. Considering the other two dishes were both sweet, the bitterness of the arugula was too sharp on our tongues. The ahi, however, was soft, melt-in-your-mouth delicious, and dipping it in the soy wasabi butter sauce was amazing. Anyone who doesn’t mind bitter foods would probably love this.
Normally, we would have stopped at this point in our meal. (Actually, we would have stopped after just the first course – we were already stuffed by then!) We did our best to save room for the last course, and oh my goodness are we glad we did. This was by far our favorite course of the evening. This last course included Matsuhisa-Style Miso Butterfish and Lobster & Blue Crab Ravioli. The former was Son’s favorite dish of the night, the latter my own favorite. We could have easily had an amazing dinner with just these two dishes.
When Son tried the miso butterfish – butterfish marinated and seared in sake and sweet miso – he commented that it made him think of bread, but he couldn’t figure out why. I gave him a bit of a confused look, until I tried it myself. “Hawaiian bread.” “Yes!” Imagine the sweet, buttery taste of Hawaiian bread, and then apply that taste to smooth, melt-in-your-mouth fish. I believe I only got a bite or two out of the entire dish – Son couldn’t stop eating it.
Just as Son adored the miso butterfish, I fell in love with the ravioli. These were ravioli stuffed with sweet lobster, blue crab, and shrimp in a rich truffle butter sauce. Oh, that sauce. Even after I finished the ravioli, I couldn’t stop dipping into that amazing truffle butter sauce. Quite frankly, to heck with the Lobster and Blue Crab ravioli. I found the lobster and crab filling to be unenjoyable – it seemed to me that they overcooked the seafood. Yech. Just give me the pasta covered in that sauce… I’ll die happy. Buttery, rich, slightly earthy in such a perfect way… Son had better watch out – I may have found a new love.
Overall, this was an amazing, delicious, romantic meal with a great view of the ocean. The street down below is filled with little shops – a perfect place to walk off the big meal.
Sushi isn’t the only thing I’ve eaten while on vacation! Want to know about my other delicious meals? Hop on over to my new blog, where I’ll be writing all week about non-sushi meals that I eat here.Continue Reading
Bacon. Anyone who knows me even the least bit knows that I adore bacon. Sometimes, a little too much. So why not put it in sushi? Seriously… bacon in sushi is amazing. My family knows that if there’s bacon in something, there’s a good chance I’ll eat it. (Gah! So bad for me, I know. Honestly, I’m working on the whole healthy thing. Slowly, very slowly, but I am.)
Obviously, if I find a sushi roll involving bacon, I’m going to try to replicate it. Such was the case with the “Hog Tied King” roll from Tex Wasabi’s. The cool cream cheese cut through the saltiness of the bacon and salmon, and the Sriracha gave it just the right kick. To top it off, the fried and green onions over the sweet chili sauce gave it an unexpected sort of Vietnamese twist – very delicious. Perhaps not the most traditional roll, (but really, it’s not like many of the ones I make are) but certainly a scrumptious combination.
In other news, I’m excited. Excited, excited, excited. Have I mentioned I’m excited? Want to know why? Hop on over to my latest post on Fridgg, and you’ll see why!Continue Reading
For nearly two years now, I have been sharing my love of sushi with you. Every week, new sushi recipes or restaurant reviews. From reading Sushi Day, one might assume my entire life revolves around sushi – many are surprised that it does not.
Sushi is only one of many things I make in my kitchen. I love to bake, and I cook many other dishes as well. For quite some time now, I’ve been wanting to share my other food adventures with you, but I’ve found that Sushi Day isn’t quite the right forum for this.
So now, I begin a new chapter in my food blogging life. Don’t worry – Sushi Day won’t change one bit – but now when I want to write about something other than sushi, I have somewhere to do so. Thus I give you my new food blog…
While I have moved many of my non-sushi recipes over to my new blog from Sushi Day, I’ve also posted several new ones – my grandmother’s cheesecake recipe, a carrot cake recipe, my other grandmother’s spaghetti recipe, the recipe for deviled eggs that my mom uses, and my mother’s zucchini bread recipe.
I’ll still be the sushi girl, but now you get to see another side of my kitchen.Continue Reading
Not long ago I was, quite frankly, an internet noob. Sure, I’ve used the internet for email and instant messaging since the ’90s, but aside from researching for school papers, my internet use rarely went beyond that. Of course I was on MySpace and Facebook in high school and college – everyone was on such social networking sites, and that was often the best way to stay in touch with my friends after we graduated.
Little did I know, there was an entire world I was unaware of.
On November 1st, 2006, I entered the world of blogging. Up until then, I had never subscribed to or commented on a blog – I didn’t even know what an RSS feed was. The internet was a scary place – who knew what sort of people were behind the avitars and screennames… for all I knew, these were weirdos trying to decieve us all into thinking they were really the people they pretended to be online.
Little by little, I learned that this was rarely the case. Ralph Whitbeck and Yvo were two commenters who have been with Sushi Day from the beginning. They started as complete strangers, but slowly I have gotten to know the real people behind the blogs.
This was just the start to a wonderful community of real people I have gotten to know over the internet. There are some I’ve been lucky enough to meet in person, and so many more I hope to be lucky enough to meet someday.
However, the food blogging world was just the start. Although vast and full of amazing people, some of my closest online friends have come from blogs completely unrelated to the food blogging world. There are so many fantastic bloggers I want to tell you about, but for now I’ll limit myself to introducing you to Karen Swim. One of the strongest women I know, she writes inspirational posts that help you live your life to it’s fullest, and always make you think.
Not to long ago, she was lucky enough to work with Harry and James from Men with Pens, who made her a beautiful new design for her website. You really should go check it out… it’s incredibly elegant, and suits her perfectly. In celebration, I promised her I’d make a new roll, just for her. (Because really, what’s more awesome than having your own roll, made just for you? ) I used all my favorite ingredients – green onion, scallops, tuna, avocado, tempura shrimp, and spicy mayonnaise – and combined it all to make one of the prettiest rolls I have ever made. The ingredients all meld together to create a delicious explosion of sashimi flavors in your mouth, accented perfectly by the avocado, green onion, and spicy mayonnaise. Truly amazing – enjoy!Continue Reading
Many things can happen in a year. A year ago, I was in Santa Barbara for my cousin’s wedding – one of the most beautiful weddings I have ever been to (and I’ve been to quite a few!) That was one of the only times I had ever been to Santa Barbara.
A year ago, my brother relapsed. He has been undergoing treatment for the past year, and should be cancer-free a year from now.
A year ago, I was beginning my last year of college. To not have to worry about scheduling classes, buying books, going to lectures, and taking tests – it’s a wonderful feeling to have graduated.
A year ago, I had never tried sashimi. Now, a year later, I use sashimi in nearly every recipe I make. I’ve got to make up for all those years without sashimi, right?
A year ago, Son and I were designing the Sushi Day shirts, hoping and praying that people would actually buy them. A year later, we’ve sold many of the shirts, and we still have a few left, if you’d like to buy one!
What has happened for you in the past year? What are you looking forward to in the next year?
If nothing else, your next year should definitely include these Santa Barbara Rolls. All the ingredients come together to make a delicious piece of sushi, and yet the hotate (scallop) still manages to shine through. I couldn’t stop eating them… even now, I’m craving more!Continue Reading