Fugetsu

As you guys may already observe with the ongoing trend, I love Japanese food.  When I heard about the original hype of a local okinomiyaki specialty store opening up, I was stoked!  As possible it is to find this dish in some Japanese restaurants around, there has yet to be one that specialized in okinomiyaki, until today – Fugetsu!

For those of you who don’t know what okinomiyaki, it’s a Japanese pancake that originated mostly from Kansai prefecture and Hiroshima.  The variety between the okinomiyaki’s can vary very greatly, but the primary ingredient is made up of a batter of cabbage and nagaimo (Japanese yam).  It’s coated in a okinomiyaki special sauce that tastes similar toWorcestershire sauce and Japanese mayo…just the thought of it makes me hungry!

The restaurant is quite small, and cozy. I would definitely recommend going with a small party of 4 or less.  The tables are not really portable, they all have heated trays on them for your food to keep warm. This follows from original traditions of Japanese okinomiyaki restaurants. Usually in Japan they will cook it completely in front of the customers at their table. However, as we learned from the restaurant owner, because of health regulations in California, this was prohibited, so they could only put the cooked food displayed on a heated pan to recreate the experience as closely possible. To try to replicate the experience and fulfill the curiosity of people who want to see how it’s made, they’ve opened up the kitchen with a glass wall to watch the chefs cook the okinomiyaki first hand. Another observation about this restaurant is that it takes some time for the food to come. The owner is well aware of this and is working to optimize the process, but because all the food is raw to begin with and made to order, it will take a bit longer. Please be patient!

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Okinomiyaki spatulas and hot griddle setting.  So fun and interactive, right?

Ok, enough about logistics of the restaurant, let’s get onto the food.

N and I went for lunch and we went at around 1pm (dodging the main lunch hours as it gets really busy).  Fugetsu has a specific lunch menu with the opportunity to try many different things at once for a reasonable price.  Each dish was under $15 dollars during lunch.

I opted in for the lunch special of half an okinomiyaki and a small portion of yakisoba.  I’m a huge fan of okinomiyaki, so I’ve got to say that was the better of the two, but both are similar but unique in their own ways.  The noodles that are found in the okinomiyaki are actually different noodles that are used to make the yakisoba.  The yakisoba noodles are more firm and textured whereas the okinomiyaki’s noodles are more soft and resemble a mochi like texture.  The shop owner was explaining to us that it took around 3 months to engineer the desired texture and flavour.  The noodles come from an original recipe brought from the Japanese Fugetsu!

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Lunch combo #1: Small portion of yakisoba and original okinomiyaki ($11.95)

N went for the modan order of okinomiyaki, specifically the negi tsukimi, which is okinomiyaki topped with an egg and generous amount of green onion.  Upon trying this one versus my original okinomiyaki, I really felt that the negi tsukimi is the definition of a hot mess, haha.  The thick layer of okyinomiyaki, crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, along with the gooeyness of they egg and freshness from the green onion, really was a complexity of flavours and textures.  These modan okinomiyaki really don’t mess around.  Would definitely recommend it!

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Negi Tsukimi Modan ($13). Green onions for days!

All in all, I thought it was a refreshing and fun experience that is different from other restaurants around.  The wait is long, I agree, even when the restaurant wasn’t full of people, but I truly felt it was worth it.  The store owner was welcoming, and humble — looking for criticism in order to grow customer satisfaction.  If you are thinking about coming here, you can read more about the menu and ingredients here!

– ksdn.

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Yayoi Japanese Teishoku Restaurant

After having several thoughts about returning to Japan, I’m glad a restaurant like this popped up around the Bay Area.  There are two locations open today, one in Palo Alto, and one in Cupertino.  During this trip, we visited the Palo Alto location.  It’s really neat to see that the restaurant culture and the technology behind this place really reminds me of Japan.  Behold, travels to Japan in the blink of a second!

The whole atmosphere of the restaurant is super simple and minimalistic – very similar to the “muji” look, y’know what I’m saying?  It can get pretty busy though, so if you wanna sit down ASAP, I recommend giving them a call before heading there.  What’s really cool about the menu is that all the prices that you see in the menu (and in this post) are all tip inclusive, meaning you don’t have to worry about how much tip to give them and just pay the taxes on top of the prices.  I’m SO glad something like this finally exists in America!  This really follows how the restaurant etiquette in Asia is like, and I’m so sick of trying to math how much tip I should give TT.  So grateful for this!!

The ‘technology’ side of Japan is demonstrated by the way you order the food.  Each table is accompanied with a tablet, an electronic menu.  Customers will then go through the menu and choose the items that they want, add them to the cart, and order when ready.  The ordering style is much like AYCE sushi tablet ordering (at least back in Toronto)…except not AYCE..haha.

The process is all very seamless.  Ordering is quite self explanatory, with detailed descriptions and nice pictures.  Everything looked very appetizing and it was hard to decide what to eat.  Food didn’t take long to be served.

Self ordering technology

For starters, N and I got a salmon carpaccio to share.  The kick of flavour in the ponzu and thinly sliced red onions, along with the texture of the pea sprouts, went very well with the thick slices of raw salmon.  I think the amount served in the appetizer was really a balanced amount to begin the meal.

Salmon Carpaccio ($9 USD)

For mains, I ordered myself the Hatsumabushi, which is a meal with eel served Nagoya style. Although ingredients very similar to the Eel rice which was a couple dollars less, I chose to go for this dish because it was a little more creative and it almost seemed like it was three individual dishes. The meal comes with an instruction card, showing you how to eat it in different ways.

  1. You can eat it plain eel with rice as it is already served in the bowl.
  2. You can add the condiments (green onion, wasabi, pickled vegetable, soft tofu) to the eel rice.  What I thought was interesting was the tofu on the bottom right, the dish was a cold dish and the tofu was very fragile and soft.
  3. You can eat the eel rice along with dashi stock on the top right.  Eating it this way reminded me of a very yummy congee.
Hatsumabushi ($22 USD).  Eel over rice in 3 different ways 🙂

My favourite way to eat it was to eat it in the 2nd way.  Dry and with the condiments.  All the condiments added a new depth to the dish, and I thought it was very fun in general.  Don’t forget to add the mountain pepper, it’s an awesome addition to the dish!

N got a Yakiniku Ju, a simple grilled slice beef rice dish.  It is served with a miso soup on the side, which is super flavourful (and in my opinion, almost too salty ><).  You can replace the miso soup for asari miso soup for a couple of dollars, which is a clam miso soup.  This dish was a bit of a disappointment to me.  The mushrooms were very tasty, but I found that since the beef slices were so thin, it would easily overcook (which I thought it was), which in turn resulted to be a bit too dry for my liking.

Yakiniku Ju ($17.50 USD)

We ended our meal off with some matcha warabi mochi, which is what I like to call a “water mochi”, powdered in matcha.  The texture of warabi mochi is very interesting.  It’s not dense and chewy, but it feels like gummy water that isn’t very wet..if that makes sense at all..haha.  For extra flavour, it comes with brown sugar syrup which you drizzle on top of the warabi mochi.  Such a light touch to end the meal – I really enjoyed it.

Matcha warabi mochi ($6 USD) (omg sorry for out of focus-ness)

All in all, I really enjoyed my visit.  It really felt like I was reliving in Japan for a moment.  Although a bit disappointed in the Yakiniku Ju, I really enjoyed the Hatsumabushi and will definitely be back to try out other items on the menu.  And let me take a moment again to express how grateful I am that a restaurant that includes the tip into the price exists in North America!  Amen, sista!

-ksdn.

Nom Burger

Happy New Year :D!

Since I’ve moved to the Bay Area, I realized that I’ve never actually posted anything about any restaurants nearby.  Well, we’re about to change that!  Sunnyvale has been doing a lot of revamp for their downtown area, and a lot of local restaurants have recently (recently, is within the lifetime of 2016) opened.

 

Upon entering Nom Burger, I wasn’t sure what kind of expectations to have.  The decor was really nice, and everything was really modern.  Prior to coming here, I read about how the buns are all handmade – but y’know, you don’t believe until you see it.  Right where we were seated, there was someone working on glazing the buns with egg.

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He noticed we were taking photos of him, hehe.  Glowing buns being glazed *yummeh*

I would classify this restaurant as one that served gourmet burgers.  Prices were all within the range of $15, which is kinda expensive in my opinion given that you have to pay additional for sides…that is, until the burger came.

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Every month they have a special burger.  This month they have the Hella Dank Burger ($15).  This is a banh mi inspired burger
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California Love ($14)

Do you see how huge these burgers are?  They really were a mouthful to eat.  And as much as they were delicious, I would definitely not recommend on your first date.  You will be a mess!  Our waiter knew this ahead of time and presented us with a ton of extra napkins xD.
Of the two burgers, N and I both ended up agreeing that the California Love was the better of the two.  Its freshness of local ingredients, balance of sweet and salty, and of course, avocado, definitely won my love.  That doesn’t put the Hella Dank out of competition, though.  If you’re up for a challenge and want to try different, I would definitely go with this burger.  The compilation of the pickled radish and pate brought out its own type of umami.

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Nom Fries ($5)

We ordered one side for the two of us, and wait a minute, did you guys hear what I said – SIDE?  This is huge!  We order Nom Fries, which is essentially garlic fries.  So apparently, this photo is taken when the food arrived, which a waiter dropped by telling us that we have been lied to, and splat on some sort of sour cream, which went really well with the fries (such great service, right?!).  The fries are chopped finely, and really good…*drool*.  The aioli sauce on it was a tad spicy, but totally tolerable.

I honestly feel like this place is not here to jip you.  The food is good, service is wonderful (shoutout to our waiter, he really enhanced the experience), and atmosphere is great.  It’s nice to know that more of these kind of restaurants are opening up around the Bay Area.  I would definitely come here again.

-ksdn.

All Around Japan

As you guys already know, I like to take my camera around everywhere I go and capture the moment.  As I’ve gotten older though, I’ve found that I’m falling out of the habit and it’s just so much easier to live in the moment.  I’ve always battled between whether or not I should bother taking time out of enjoying myself to capture the moment.

Pictures are nice, but videos capture the mood so well and can really allow people to relive the moment.  This is more so for myself than for anyone else, but I’m trying to get into the habit of vlogging on my traveling adventures.  Vlogging really isn’t easy though – from capturing content during the time of the trip, rewatching your clips and awkward self (xD) a million times, deciding what content is quality and sharable content, and putting it all together in one clip.  The most satisfying though, is when the video is compiled all together – and rewatching the entire length of the video is like being in the moment all over again.

Since there are so many things that I like doing on my spare time (of course, blogging as one of them).  I thought it was still slightly relevant since there are lots of clips of eating involved with the vlog.  So without any further ado, I would like to share my first (and very late) ever vlog of my friends and I traveling around Japan!  This includes – Tokyo, Sapporo, Osaka, and Kyoto.

Please enjoy our adventure in 2015 and let me know if you would like any detail reviews on any area specifically!  We ate and tried a lot of cool stuff.  Here’s just a little sneak peak of some good food that I would really recommend you hit up if you ever have a chance!

 

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Wagyu beef in Kyoto.  While very expensive, you will never get a chance to indulge in such fatty and delicious meat that simply melts in your mouth!
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Tsukemen at Menya Musashi, Shinjuku.  All noodles are handmade.  Dipping the warm ramen into the cool soup was an explosion of flavour and texture.
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Osaka version of sushi – pressed sushi.  Did you know that the beauty of Osaka sushi is that it’s has lots of layers of different ingredients?  And yes, all fish in true Osaka sushi is COOKED!
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Shirako. Shudders, still building up courage to take this one on.  Anyone have guesses on what it is? Cod milt!  Find this in some revolving sushi restaurants if you want to give it a try.

-ksdn

Delarosa

I’ve finally got some time around to stick around home, back in NorCal.  Over the weekend, we decided to take advantage of this weekend and head over to the beautiful city of SF.

The original intent was to go visit the Japanese Cherry Blossom Festival, but it was too gloomy and cold that we decided to keep the activities more indoor.  For those of you who don’t know, the event runs this week as well, until tomorrow 4/17 5pm in Japantown!  Make your way if you have time and are in the area, it is a beautiful and lively festival!

Back to business…food!  Like I mentioned, it was cold and gloomy, and was getting late, so we were hopping around the main Market/Westfield area trying to find some food.  Which is where we stumbled across a “secret” inside street (not exposed to any street roads) Yerba Buena Lane.  This street hosts a couple of restaurants, Delarosa being one of them.

The nice thing about it was that there was no wait to be seated during the peak hours of a weekend.  The restaurant is a casual, lively restaurant with a nice ambiance.   I would recommend this restaurant for an occasion with friends.  Another note about this restaurant is that although it is an Italian restaurant, all if not most of the items are portioned smaller, similar to tapas.

Upon looking at the different food rating apps, it seems that everyone was raving about the honey bruschetta.  So, we did!  And boy, was it a good decision!  This is the true definition where sweet meets savory.  With a load of olive oil smothered on the sourdough bread (which was the only thing which I was meh about), there was a slab of mozzarella (YUMM) drizzled with some hazelnuts and pepper.  This was where complimentary things really came together!

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Burrata bruschetta, hazelnut & honey ($8)

We ordered a couple of pastas after, my choice was the crab linguine.  However, I think I end up preferring the pappardelle and chicken parmesan dish better.  The linguine dish is light in flavour and mildly bland for me, since it was mostly spices and no sauce.  But, I did enjoy each bite of meaty crab!  All the pastas were well made, cooked to al dente.  The red sauce in the other two dishes were really tasty and bold in flavour.

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Dungeness crab meat linguini ($16)
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Papparadelle napolenta ($11)
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Maccheroncini pomodoro with chicken parmigiana al forno ($14)

The last thing we got was a simple magherita pizza.  Ingredients are quality and simple.  To be frank, I think this is the aspect of food enjoyment that I still need to learn to enjoy.  Although a classic, I couldn’t really find justice for the plate I was paying for.  However, the pizza was made with care, basil evenly placed, olive oil carefully outlining the tomato sauce.  The dough was also very thin, but I found the crust a bit big.  Nonetheless, it’s very photogenic :).

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Margherita pizza ($12)

I think this restaurant has a lot of vibrance and is a great selection for people to try different foods, but I would say proportion for price is a little unbalanced.  However, I’ve always got to keep in mind that I am eating in a restaurant in San Francisco, where standard of living is generally higher than other places.  All in all, it was a good experience and I enjoyed my meal fed by Delarosa.

-ksdn