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.

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

Shiso Tree Cafe

Hey all!  Sorry for the hiatus :(, but I’m finally back with another review!  Actually, I’ve been meaning to make lots of reviews – I’ve been taking many many photos of food, but I just haven’t had the time to write the blog and post pictures.  Since I’m more available again, hopefully I’ll be able to share some pictures of succulent (or not) food and my overall opinion.

This post will be dedicated to my visit to Shiso Tree Cafe with C.  The unique thing about this restaurant that it it’s a Japanese-Italian fusion restaurant, specifically famous for their Italian pastas mixed with a spice of Japanese culture.  C and I were really looking forward to going here because it just seemed so one-of-a-kind type of thing.  Also, being a Torontonian, I always find it quite amusing because the vast majority of Japanese restaurants are actually not owned by Japanese people.  However, this restaurant is actually owned and served by Japanese people – it’s authentic!

Here are some pictures of how it looks:

This restaurant is tucked inside…you won’t be able to see it on the street. Walk into Jtown, and keep going inwards 🙂

Interior~

The interior. It’s really nice and cozy, but a little small in my opinion. It’ll probably be difficult to find a spot during busy hours.

For you curious monkeys out there, did you know what shiso is? It’s actually a Japanese herb related to mint and basil, with an aroma of cinnamon, anise, basil, and citrus. How cool is THAT?

When we saw the menu, we just wanted to try everything because everything just sounded so interesting! Here’s a glimpse of the pasta menu:

This is the pasta menu (you’ll have to tilt your head to read this, sorry!) Soo much to choose from *-*

Less talking, and more pictures!  Here’s what we ended up ordering!

For starters:

Okonomiyaki fries. I love the flavour of okonomiyaki, so this would be my bias. But the flavour did get a bit salty after a while.

Free complimentary salad. I’m not a big salad fan, so this wasn’t too spectacular.

Shiso clam vongolé – white wine, olive oil, garlic, bacon, tomato, fresh Manila clams & shiso

In my honest opinion, this was sort of a disappointment for me. I found it quite bland and lacking in flavour. I didn’t taste the wine at all and it just felt like I was eating a load of oil ><. Haha, I think I'm making it sound worse than it actually tasted. Nonetheless, the toast was goooood :D.

Sukiyaki – thinly sliced beef rib eye cooked in house made Japanese soya sauce (shoyu)

This, was no question, the best dish that I had that night. It was so flavourful, and again, to my bias, I love the original sukiyaki :D. The beef was juicy and cooked well. Oh yes, the toast dipped in the sauce is a perfect combination!

I asked C for her opinions about the dishes, and she felt the same :D. Sorry, I don’t have the prices for the things we ordered..I forgot them :P! I approximate that the pastas were around ~15-20 and the okonomiyaki fries was ~10. Finally, for dessert, C and I shared a (matcha, if I recall correctly) green tea toast. I wouldn’t say this dish was too special, but the toast was good and it was a nice close to our meal.

Toast with (matcha?) green tea syrup.

In conclusion, I think I would come back to this place – the dishes are fun, unique and interesting. In my opinion, I would return to satisfy my curiosity of the other dishes than my taste buds, though.

Here’s my rating:
– atmosphere: 8.5/10
– value: 7.5/10
– food: 8.5/10

Stay posted! I’m planning to make more posts soon~

Shiso Tree Cafe on Urbanspoon

-ksdn

Matsuda Japanese Cuisine

To celebrate my sister’s upcoming birthday, my family decided to go out for a luxurious dinner.  We ended up going to Matsuda Japanese Cuisine for dinner, an all you can eat (AYCE) restaurant in Toronto.  One thing that I recommend, especially if you’re planning to go on a weekend, is to make reservations!  The wait time can be so brutal there!  Regardless, their wide menu selection gives reason as to why there are so many people there.

I didn’t forget to bring my camera with me, so I actually have a lot of photos to share :).

The store banner/logo from outside

Interior of Matsuda. Lights are dimmed. Spacious and cozy :).

Check out http://www.matsudasushi.com/alldin.html for the full dinner menu!  Some of the items on the menu that left a good impression:

One of the more unique items on the menu. It's super delicious, and yes it's raw! It also tends to be harder to find on menus of other AYCE restaurants
Mango Roll: tempura bits, kani, cucumber roll w/ avocado on top and mango sauce. What I liked about it was that it tasted so fresh and all the ingredients complimented each other very well.
Steamed egg: Another rare item that is served at AYCE restaurants. I love how they steam the egg perfectly, and the complimented ingredients - shrimp and enoki mushrooms
Sashimi Platter: This is just a few from the selection of sashimi they have on the menu. The star of the platter, I would say is the sweet shrimp, which is so difficult to find! One thing to bear in mind is that they only serve sweet shrimp on Fri-Sun.
Grilled Beef Skewer: Although it doesn't look very special, I have to say that it tasted so delicious when I bit into it. Flavour was strong and meat was very tender.
Takoyaki: Who doesn't love takoyaki? And...ALL YOU CAN EAT? *gasp*
Salmon Roses: One of my all-time favourite sushis.
Grilled Mushrooms: My mom loved this the most. Who has ever seen mushroom caps so big before?
L-R: Ginger milk, taro mousse, tiramisu mousse, mango yoghurt. So much selection (these are only a few on the menu) and all tastes fairly decent! If I had to pick one though, it'd go to the famous mango yoghurt.

By the end of the meal, we were all filled to the max, and were complaining about how full we were xD.  The meal was definitely very satisfying and delicious.  Orders were generally took a reasonable time before it came and were processed pretty accurately.

My rating for Matsuda:

– atmosphere: 7/10
– value: 8/10

I don’t think it’s fair to rate food for this trip because it is an all you can eat place after all.  Instead I put my “food” criteria in value because the menu variety reflected on the value of what you were paying for.  And because we went on a weekend for dinner it costed $23.95 + tax.  It may seem a bit pricy, but there was a great variety in selection, and quality was fair for an all you can eat.

Matsuda Japanese Cuisine on Urbanspoon

Until next time!  And Happy birthday sis!!!

-ksdn.