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.

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

 

Sushi Kashiba

It’s been a while since I’ve last posted (eek, in 2015!), but life has been very busy and I’ve been doing a lot of traveling for work.  But by all means, that means…more opportunities to try out some fancy food spots!

This time, I’ve made my way all the way to Seattle, with the greatest anticipation of making a visit to Chef Shiro, the disciple of well known Chef Jiro of “Jiro Dreams of Sushi”.  If you guys haven’t had a chance to check out the movie, it’s a must watch!  It demonstrates the beauty of sushi-making and emphasizes the complexities and aspects of sushi that are not often acknowledged.  Haha, I mean, let’s be real, sometimes it’s hard to see beyond a piece of raw fish slabbed over a small rice ball.

To provide a little bit of background, this restaurant is in Seattle.  In fact, the original restaurant was called “Shiro’s Sushi Restaurant”.  This was where I had originally planned to go to.  Fortunately, a local told me that Chef Shiro doesn’t actually serve sushi at that restaurant anymore!  Ironic, given it’s name, right?!  After some further investigation, I found that he recently opened a new restaurant, which is *drum roll please*….Sushi Kashiba!  And if you are interested in SEEING Chef Shiro, he has Tuesday’s off..so don’t go on a Tuesday if you care to see him!

The atmosphere was surprisingly Americanized, I found.  There were also a ton of people, which was a lot noisier than what I had expected.  In terms of dress code, I would recommend looking you know, presentable.  There were quite a number of business casual dressed people.  And for you people going on dates, this the perfect place ;).

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Located at the Seattle’s signature Pike Place Market’s entrance.

Ok, time to cut the chit chat, let’s get into the actual meal.  We all ordered the Seattle Sushi dinner each, which comprises of 11 different nigiri’s along with daily rolls and some chef selected appetizers and dessert.

The appetizer consisted of two different dishes.  First came a sampler dish, comprising of a compilation of conch & broccolini and a the other being a bite of red snapper gelatin fat jello served over a slice of cucumber.  I’m not such a big fan of conch to begin with, but that bite definitely had a punch of several textures.  The snapper gelatin, on the other hand, was super delish!  If I had to describe it as another food, it’s almost similar to the Chinese cold cut turkey gelatin, but with red snapper!  I love fish, and the gelatin melted in my mouth with the soft perfectly cooked texture of fish.  I wish I had more than just one of those on my plate :'(.

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Broccolini & conch brushed with sweet soy sauce (left), with red snapper gelatin over cucumber (right).

Following the sampler plate came the salad which was what the chef named “New York Chowder Salad”.  The base of the salad was made of prosciutto.  The clams were topped over the salad with some braised leeks, fried onion rings drizzled with a creamy sauce and accompanied with some tomato jam.  I found this very light and delicious!  I’m not a big fan of salads but I managed to finish this no problem.  Though, the fact that I loooooove prosciutto helped a lot, hehe.

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“New York Manhattan Clam Chowder” Salad.

And the long awaited!  Main course!  We were all so stoked for these to come!  For those who don’t know, nigiri is style of preparation of sushi with, usually, a slice of fish over a ball of sushi rice.  If served properly and traditionally, nigiri should contain a small slab of wasabi between the fish and rice, glazed with a brush of soy sauce.  With that said, it should not require any additional dipping of wasabi/soy sauce.  We were served two rounds of nigiri’s.

For the first plate, the fish was mostly comprised of the tuna selection with a few additional fish.  We were told to eat them from left to right, top to bottom.  Throughout our journey of this dish, we found that the fish textures went from left to right, soft to bold/thicker/meatier.  My favourite, no question, was the fattiest tuna, toro.  It was so creamy and buttery, it literally melted once it entered my mouth!

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Plate 1 (L-R, top T-B): Albacore tuna, bluefin lean tuna, maguro seared zuke, toro, thai snapper, flounder.

The second dish, comprised of a larger variety of fish.  The server also introduced us to where the seafood was originally from – ranging from the Americas, to Europe, to Japan itself.  Salmon, which is always my go-to sushi, and never a letdown.  I also loved the fresh water eel.  The daily rolls, though, were kinda meh. I’m not that big of maki rolls, especially “spicy”anything roll.  I guess it just doesn’t come off as very classic to me.

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Plate 2 (L-R, T-B): Ebi big shrimp (from Hawaii), hamachi (from Japan), salmon (from Scotland), in-house smoked mackerel (from Japan), sea water eel (from US), spicy tuna roll and some type of white fish roll.

A lot was going on, because even after, we were served dessert!  So many mini courses, right?  Haha, well, dessert was quite simple, ending with a warm toasty miso soup and a sweet tamagoyaki.  It’s hard to make a standout miso soup, but this was good thanks to the tofu.  It was extremely smooth.  The tamagoyaki, also the last thing I ate, was so satisfying!  What a great finale to a memorable meal.  The presentation of the egg was so cute, cut in half, in a very clean brick shape.  The texture of the egg was also very dense but fluffy, if that even makes sense.  Aside from the texture, the flavour was also a lot sweeter than usual tamagoyaki.  This really was a good cherry on top of a sundae.

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The oh, so simple tamagoyaki.

And that ends the entire meal!  This tallied up to a total of $75 USD + tax, which I find it really reasonable given that it is sushi served by a renowned chef.  One last tip, I strongly recommend making reservations.  It was extremely crowded even on a weekday night, even at 8:30pm.  You don’t need to make reservations a lot in advance, I changed mine a couple of times even the day before my reservation.  As busy as the restaurant is, I was surprised to see that they even take reservations!  So make them to guarantee your spot!

Hope you guys had as much fun as me during your visit!

Sushi Kashiba Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

-ksdnlee

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

Jane Bond

Here’s another edition of my food journeys in Uptown Waterloo!  This time T and I decided to fill our stomachs at Jane Bond, a vegetarian restaurant!

To be honest, I was kind of iffy about the whole idea of going to a vegetarian restaurant because I am such a carnivore and I absolutely love meat, but I heard quite a few good things about this restaurant so I decided to sacrifice my daily intake of meat and give this a try. How I would describe the restaurant is one that is more indie and underground.

Jane Bond entrance. It's not very hard to notice nor a long walk from King street.

As we stepped inside it was a dimmer setup with indie music playing in the background.  I would say the atmosphere is very casual and I would definitely recommend this place for friends to meet up for a drink and finger foods. Our waitress was friendly and nice, which added to the nice atmosphere.

Dim lights, small round tables with indie music playing in the background.
The bar side of the restaurant. Menu lists a variety of alcoholic drinks.

As for the menu, I have to say I was quite disappointed. Although I had already prepared myself for a meatless meal, I was quite brought down by the limited variety of items they had on their menu. The majority of the menu was filled with drinks.

In the end, T ordered a quesadilla while I ordered coconut curry. Here are photos of our orders:

Quesidilla: chipotle black bean, avacado and monetary jack, served with salsa and sour cream ($9 + tax)

This was a very delicious dish and I would definitely come back and order this. Everything was made fresh, including the roti and salsa. What I liked about it was that it wasn’t too salty, and the peas were a good substitute for the meat. The quesidilla was a tad spicy and the salsa had parsley in it (T was not a fan of it…). Generally though, it tasted pretty good!

Coconut curry: cauliflower, chick peas, potato and peas over rice ($10 + tax)

As for my dish, it was okay. Rich in spices, but a little too spicy for my liking. As you can tell from the appearance, it wasn’t too appealing. The potatoes were super filling, and sometimes they put so much curry that sometimes I wasn’t sure whether or not I was eating cauliflower or potatoes, haha. Also, the rice seemed to have been not completely cooked (which sometimes I enjoyed because it added a slight crunchy texture), but eventually I decided that it was rice cooked from before and reheated. Generally, I think it is definitely a filling meal, and if you like a tad of spicy and sourness, this is the dish for you. I don’t think I’d come back here and order this though..

A final review of Jane Bond…
– atmosphere: 9/10
– value: 8/10
– food: 6/10

I guess it was decent, but I’m not sure if it wins the heart of a carnivore.

Until next time~

-ksdn
The Jane Bond on Urbanspoon

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.