A few weeks ago we decided to try Tokyo House in Raleigh because I had read some good reviews and we were in the general vicinity. It is a nondescript strip mall in the Six Forks area. The space is simple but pleasant with two private rooms, a sushi bar, and several regular tables and booths. We sat at the large sushi bar and were greeted by the friendly wait staff and sushi chefs. Several of the others sitting at the bar seemed to be regulars and were chatting with the sushi chefs. It had quite a warm, neighborhood atmosphere to it.
We kept it simple and just ordered a few maki rolls. We tried two Special Rolls, the Celebration Roll and the Rainbow Roll. The Celebration Roll is spicy may mixed with shrimp and fish roe with cucumber and wrapped with tempura crumbs. It was delicious! It had a nice spice and crunch of the cucumber and tempura. The Rainbow roll is standard in most sushi restaurants and is shrimp and crab rolled with assorted kinds of fish on the outside. This one had tuna, salmon, eel and yellow tail on the outside and was wonderful. We also ordered three of our favorite go-to rolls; the umeshiso roll (Japanese plum and mint leaf), the spicy tuna roll and the spicy salmon roll. All of the rolls were very well prepared, with ample fish and nicely packed rice.
Given the friendly staff, the neighborhood atmosphere, and the great sushi we would be there more often if we lived in the area. And, we will most certainly go back when we are in the area.
7439 Six Forks Road
In preparation for our trip to Japan I read several food blogs with recommendations and suggestions. I still enjoy reading Kyoto Foodie when I want to day dream about revisiting! In fact, I follow this blogger on Twitter as well. Several weeks ago @kyotofoodie posted a picture from lunch at Izugu for Kyoto-style sushi before heading to Ebisu Shrine. This tweet made me realize just how many blog posts from the Japan trip I have left unfinished.
Sushi has grown in popularity in the US and as with anything we have made it our own. We have created rolls, added sauces and catered it to our own tastes. What is typically offered here in the U.S. is a variation of what is known as Edo style sushi. Edo style is what is typical of sushi served in the Tokyo area. Over the past few years G and I have been learning more about traditional sushi and tried some more authentic preparations when we can. One of our more memorable experiences was at Sushi Yasuda in NYC. I recall being so impressed by the simplicity of the preparation but completely wowed by the quality of the fish. I imagined that is what one would experience in Japan and indeed it was!
As we planned our trip we decided that we had to tour the world’s largest wholesale fish market, Tsukiji Market in Tokyo, to understand the fish industry and business in Japan (to be honest, worldwide since so much fish is sold here!). We met out tour group bright and early at 4:30am and began following our wonderfully knowledgeable guide around the market. He showed us primarily the inner market, with the different areas for the different types of fish and auction areas. He explained to us that those that work in the market are complete specialists in their particular fish. For example, those that work with the salmon know exactly what they are looking for in freshness and quality and can estimate the price it will garner in action but are not aware of the tuna market. It was a whirlwind of activity with trucks and carts coming and going, people preparing the fish, representatives from auction houses and auctioneers evaluating the fish. The biggest treat was watching a Blue Fin tuna being divided up after auction. It was purchased by two auction houses so they were dividing it. They are huge creatures! It took three men and a samurai sword to quarter it!
G and I just returned from two weeks in Japan. We had both been wanting to go to Japan and it seemed do-able in two weeks. Personally, my curiosity and interest in the culture was peeked after reading Memoirs of a Geisha and in the food (more than it already was) after reading the Story of Sushi. So, we booked our tickets and started planning! Our trip began in Tokyo where we spent 6 nights, 5 days. From Tokyo we took a day trip to the sacred mountain town of Nikko. Then we spent 7 days, 7 nights in Kyoto. We used 5 days to explore Kyoto and took two day trips to Osaka and Kobe and to the ancient capital city of Nara. Finally, we spent one day and night in Hiroshima before heading back to the airport. It was a whirlwind trip but truly wonderful!
Needless to say, we ate and tried as many various things as we possibly could! The food and the food culture in Japan is so interesting. There is a strong food tradition with elaborate meals and customs which is juxtaposed to the modern city life of fast food eateries and chains. But, all are completely Japanese. I have made many notes on our meals and various foods which I will write up slowly but surely. However, I wanted to post right away my primary observations about Japanese food and eating.
During our last visit to Boston our flight was canceled due to snow (in Raleigh, not Boston!) and we ended up having an extra night in town. We took advantage of the opportunity to try Oishii Boston. We have often eaten or gotten take out from Oishii in Chestnut Hill but this was our first time to the newer sister restaurant in the South End. The Boston version is nothing like the small hole-in-the wall version in Chestnut Hill. The Boston location has a sleek, modern interior with much more space and offers a full menu not only sushi.
We started with the Grilled Black Cod with Sweet Miso Sauce. It was delicious as usual! As I have mentioned, black cod is the perfect fish. It is delicate, yet firm with just the right oiliness. It was served in a miso sauce (which is how it always seems to be served). After this we tried some sashimi and a few specialty maki rolls. They were all very well prepared. The rolls were tightly wrapped and perfectly balanced in flavor. The presentation was elegant and simple. One highlight was the Oishii Spicy Tuna Tempura Maki which is bluefin tuna sashimi, fleur De sel and chives, wrapped with seaweed. It was delicious! All of the fish used was high quality and very fresh.
Overall, it was a truly lovely sushi experience! It is a much nicer space though the sushi is just as delicious as that of Oishii in Chestnut Hill. The dishes are not as inventive as O Ya. But, Oishii Boston it is definitely one of the finer sushi restaurants in Boston.
1166 Washington Street
Boston, MA 02118-4113
Regardless of preparation and technique the quality of the ingredients can make or break a meal. This was most certainly the case at Morimoto in Philadelphia. I had a conference in Philadelphia and we decided to capitalize and try Morimoto while we were there.
The restaurant is located right downtown on Chestnut St. The entrance is a white stone façade which leads you to large glass doors. As you enter you begin to get a sense of the über hip décor. The hostess led us past a huge, abstract black sculpture into the long dining room. The walls are a white stone, with sculpted curves which project slightly into the large dining space. All of the dining space is organized into booths which are all connected to a lighting system. The color of the lights is constantly changing from purples, to reds, to blues, to greens and casting a glow across the entire space.
San Francisco has a large Japanese immigrant population which supports a vibrant Japantown and therefore some wonderful sushi restaurants. After some research online, I decided we should try Kiss Seafood on the edge of Japantown. The area is residential and you are not expecting a restaurant in the block of apartments. Inside the space is tiny with 5 seats at the bar and three small tables (2 for two people and 1 for four people). The space is neat and clean with simple, elegant flower arrangements. We were seated at the sushi bar which itself is a light wood and each place is meticulously set on a wooden placemat with stoneware plates and a fish shaped holder for the chopsticks. It is a family operation with the husband behind the sushi counter and the wife running the front of the restaurant.