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.

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.

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

 

Din Tai Fung 鼎泰豐

As a sucker for dumplings, I was super stoked to make my trip to Din Tai Fung.

Din Tai Fung is a very renowned restaurant most well known for their soup dumplings, aka. xiao long bao, originally located in Taiwan.  Today, we can find several branches of this restaurant all over the world.  If you’re local to the Bay Area and haven’t heard already, they’re opening a branch in Santa Clara inside Westfield Valley Fair very soon.  And as for me, as I’m on another work excursion, I’ve found myself in OC in close proximity to a Din Tai Fung.  How can I turn down such an opportunity?

This particular branch is located in Costa Mesa, inside the South Coast Plaza shopping mall.  As for today’s review, it’ll be a bit different than usual because I ordered takeout as opposed to eating in.  I decided to dodge the lines, as I’ve heard every branch has approximately an hour wait .  I’m also not too keen on eating alone in restaurants (not that there is problem with that though…props to you if you do it!!).  One quick tip if you decide to follow my route and do takeout, they do take orders over the phone.  They don’t take reservations, though.  So what I did was call in with my order and then drop by 20 minutes later to pick it up.

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Din Tai Fung Entrance.  Look at that line!

What I found amusing inside the restaurant was the area where you see the chefs make the soup dumplings.  The process of creating the dumplings is very precise, from dumpling dough wrapper to the filling!  Everything was measured on a scale to ensure consistent weight before proceeding.

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A peek into the dumplings in the making – precision of measurement of the dumpling wrappers.

Now, onto the food!  I ordered a number of things.  Let me start with the most anticipated item.  The truffle and pork xiao long bao’s.  I was most curious about this item, seeing that it was the most expensive ($22.5) item for the least amount (5 pc) of food.  I guess, I am not too familiar with fancy ingredients, and truffle is definitely up there on the list.  The dumpling remained soupy, enclosed by the thin and sturdy dumpling wrapper.  The truffle was infused into the pork meat, with an occasional crunch from a large piece of truffle.  The flavour was light yet the aroma was strong.  I wouldn’t recommend dipping this in vinegar in order to taste the truffle flavour.  The verdict for this is that it was interesting to try.  However, if you’re here to be full and stay in budget, I would refrain from ordering this.  I probably would NOT order this again if I were to come back.

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The contents of the soup dumpling – truffle and pork thoroughly mixed.

Since this is known for their soup dumplings, of course one plate is not enough.  I also ordered a serving of crab and pork xiao long bao’s.  This one was a lot reasonable in price, 10pc for $11.5.  The divvy of ingredients for each dumpling was 1/3 crab and 2/3 pork.  The flavour was light with a hint of seafood flavour.  Unlike the truffle dumpling, I recommend dipping this in vinegar.  To me, it was so light it was almost borderline bland. Another critical point is that wrapper is so thin on the sides, I found the center which holds the wrapper together was hard and extremely doughy, which I didn’t really like (although this may have been because I did takeout and didn’t eat this immediately which resulted it to be cold).

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A closeup on the crab and pork dumpling.  Light with a touch of seafood in flavour.

On the side, I ordered some spinach to keep some green in my life.  Kids, don’t forget to eat your greens!  Haha.  This was a typical Chinese dish, spinach and garlic.  I originally tried to order the spinach with bean curd & wine, but this location was no longer making that dish :(.

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Nothing too special about this, but can’t leave out the spinach :).

And to top off this enormous order for one, I present the most delicious item!  Wontons in spicy sauce!  A Taiwanese friend told me this was actually his favourite dish from the whole restaurant and I completely agree.  I was originally debating if I should order it since I can’t handle spicy food, but after telling waitress to put in a note to try to lighten up on the spicy oil, I sure am glad I ordered it.  The wontons had that fresh-shrimp-bounchy-crunchy texture, if you know what I’m talking about.  The sauce was a pow in the face, flavourful, sweet and spicy sauce.  I chowed this down so quick I didn’t even realize I finished it!

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Wonton in spicy sauce – absolutely delicious!

 

All in all, it was a fun experience, and the soup dumplings were not a letdown seeing that the wrappers were thin and there was lots of soup inside.  If any improvements, I just wish there was a bit more flavour in the soup.  The wontons in spicy sauce are also a MUST GET.

I’m be looking forward to the opening in the Santa Clara branch!  Maybe there will be a comparison in food between the difference locations :).

Din Tai Fung Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

-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

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.