Well Dined

2Feb/170

Japanese Shakshuka with Kabocha Squash

Well Dined | Japanese Shakshuka with Kabocha Squash

I get a lot of emails with recipes from blog subscriptions, magazines, etc...  Some I delete, knowing they aren't my style.  Most I archive to make later.  Very few inspire me to make them ASAP; this recipe was one of those few.  Shakshuka is a dish of Egyptian, Tunisian, Algerian, and Moroccan origin that consists of eggs poached in spiced tomato sauce.

Well Dined | Japanese Shakshuka with Kabocha Squash

This recipe, from Bessou restaurant in NYC (via Tasting Table), puts a Japanese spin on the dish.  It was that fusion element that caught my eye.  The tomato sauce is spiced with Japanese curry powder and cumin.  Roasted kabocha squash is added, along with poached eggs.  The original is topped with miso marinated tofu - I went for miso flavored labneh, instead.  Lastly, it is sprinkled with pomegranate seeds, and served with toasted Japanese milk bread.

Well Dined | Japanese Shakshuka with Kabocha Squash

The tomato sauce is so fragrant and spicy (the original recipe uses harissa, too, but the curry powder was enough heat for me).  It is counterbalanced by the sweet squash, tart pomegranate seeds, cool labneh, and creamy egg yolk.  The squash and the pomegranate add varying texture, too, along with the crispy toast.  And the miso adds this funky umami note that adds to the complexity.  Dipping that perfectly crispy toast into the runny yolk and velvety tomato sauce is just so insanely satisfying.

31Mar/160

Try The World – Japan; Okonomiyaki

Well Dined | Okonomiyaki

It's time for another Try The World Post!  Finishing up my Japan box, I used the okonomiyaki mix to make... okonomiyaki, of course!  It's a savory pancake made with flour, yam, eggs, scallions, and cabbage; and topped with all kinds of things, but most commonly pork belly, bonito flakes, seaweed, okonomi sauce, and mayonnaise.

Well Dined | Okonomiyaki

The kit came with batter mix, powdered yam, shrimp tempura crisps, and dried seaweed.  Plus instructions in Japanese and English (thank goodness).

Well Dined | Okonomiyaki

First step, chop cabbage.  It really should have been finer than this, like shredded, but I was lazy.  Add scallions.  In a separate bowl, make the batter according to package directions.  Then combine it with the veggies, tempura, and eggs.

25Feb/160

Try The World – Japan; Zaru Soba

Well Dined | Try The World Japan

It's time for another Try The World review (see my first here)!  In my Japan box, I had: Otafuku Foods okonomiyaki kit; Aoi Tea blueberry match tea; House Foods ginger paste; Takaokaya seaweed snack; Akagi soba noodles; Kasugai gummy candies; and Morinaga milk caramels.  I thought that those butter coconut cookies came in the box, but I actually must have picked them up at the Asian grocery store.  So, ignore those (but really don't, cuz they are super awesome and yummy).

The caramels are are firm and not super sweet, I like them a lot.  I haven't tried the tea, gummies, or okonomiyaki kit yet; but I used the rest to make Zaru Soba.

Well Dined | Zaru Soba

Zaru Soba is a cold soba dish usually made in the summer (whatever, don't judge me).  The noodles are cooked, then rinsed, chilled, and drained.  Normally, you would serve them on a woven bamboo mat that lets the extra water drain out; but I don't have those!  So I dried them on paper towels.

Well Dined | Zaru Soba

The noodles are topped with seaweed and sesame seeds just before serving, and dipped in a sauce made of dashi, soy, mirin, sake, sugar, and ginger paste.  Wasabi and scallions are served on the side and mixed into the sauce to taste.

6Nov/140

San Francisco

Well Dined

You guys, I have been in such a writing funk since I have gotten back from vacation.  I don't know what is going on!  But I do want to tell you about the restaurants we visited while we were in San Francisco, and I will try to post more frequently from now on.  Kailey, my sister-in-law (who we were visiting), is a chef in SF (here; that's her at 0:35 and 1:35), so we let her take us on a culinary tour of her favorite spots.  But I determined on our first day that I was just going to enjoy the vacation and not worry about taking photos.  So I don't have any food photos to show you, sorry!

Well Dined | View from Hotel Drisco

View from our room

Before we get to food, I should mention that we stayed at the Hotel Drisco and really enjoyed it.  We had a corner room on the top floor and the views were amazing - we could see Alcatraz, the Golden Gate Bridge, and most of the city.  All the windows really helped because, like many older buildings in the city, Drisco has no air conditioning.  Opening all the windows made for a lovely cross-breeze, though it was too noisy to leave them open at night.  The hotel includes a continental breakfast, and I am not talking about just cereal and muffins.  They have all kinds of pastries with homemade jams, spreads, and toppings.  Also fresh juices, cereal, yogurt, bagels, fruit salad, hot oatmeal, smoothies, salami and cheese, hard boiled eggs, and antipasto style veggies.  In addition to various coffee blends, they will also make espresso drinks to order.  It is a very nice perk.  They also have a wine tasting every evening with cheese and salami, coffee all day, free wifi, free bikes, and the staff are very friendly and helpful.

Well Dined | View from Hotel Drisco

View from our room

18Feb/140

Restaurant Week – Kaz Sushi Bistro

I know, I know - Restaurant Week was last month.  I'm slow, get over it.  So I had heard that Kaz was some people's favorite sushi joint in town and we hadn't tried it out yet.  Well, that's what RW is for!  Except that we got to there and Jasper promptly threw out the RW menu, crying "I want to eat whatever I want!".  This is not the first time this has happened.  Oh well.

First thing's first - the sake.  They have a couple of sake tastings, and one of them is all nigori, so of course we ordered that!  It was fun to try out a couple different ones, and all of them were new to us.  We picked out favorite of the three and ordered a bottle.

Well Dined | Kaz Sushi Bistro

First up - pork belly appetizer.  Yummy, I mean - it's pork belly.  Liked the presentation, too.

Well Dined | Kaz Sushi Bistro

Okonomiyaki - Japanese pancake with cabbage, bbq pork belly, mayo, and bonito.  I scarfed this down before taking a photo, so obviously I liked it.  But I did think it was too heavy on the bbq sauce.

Well Dined | Kaz Sushi Bistro

Next up, sushi - lots of sushi.  Standouts were the Hawaiian Walu special with wasabi leaf  (top center), lobster with wasabi mayo (bottom right), and seared salmon belly (bottom center ) - though the salon belly was not as good as Kushi's.  Toro, uni, and unagi were standard.  The foie gras miso on the tuna and masago and creme fraiche on the salmon didn't really add anything, I wouldn't get them again.

22Nov/130

SushiKo (Chevy Chase)

I don't really know what to say about this place. The reviews were all great, and my husband really liked it, but I wasn't impressed.

Well Dined | Sushi Ko

We tried plenty of sushi, as you can see, and I thought it was just average (especially for the price).  Taro and Kushi are way better in my opinion.

Well Dined | Sushi Ko

I was more impressed with this creamy lobster and scallop dish, but not enough to make me come back.

There was nothing really wrong with any of it, but it didn't stand up to my expectations.  My husband might disagree, but I found it to be overpriced for average sushi.  The pear martini, however, was delicious.

http://sushikorestaurants.com/

8Aug/130

Sushi Prince, Fairfax VA

Ah, the ever-continuing quest to find good sushi in VA.  The menu for Sushi Prince had such unique stuff on it that I had to try it out.  A few good items, but mostly this was a disappointment - not worth a return trip.

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This is the item on the menu that really caught my eye - the Viagra Shooter.  Sea urchin, salmon roe, and raw quail egg in ponzu and sake.  What?!  It was really good, but impossible to actually shoot.  I had to get my chopsticks in there and pull out the uni, then shoot it.  Super fun, though.

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Another super weird combination - Monkey Fingers.  These are bananas wrapped in basil, then beef, then fried and topped with a creamy sauce.  It does actually work, somehow, but not perfectly.  Very interesting, but I don't know that I would order it again.

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This was probably my favorite dish - big chunks of white tuna with avocado and nuta (sweet miso sauce).  The tuna was fresh and I liked the thick, sweet sauce with the avocado.

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BBQ eel bowl with rice, avocado, and tamago.  This was pretty good (it's hard to mess up unagi), but the tamago was AWFUL - you can tell just by looking at it.

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One of their creative rolls - a BLT made with shrimp tempura, asparagus, bacon, and tomato with balsamic glaze.  Cool idea but it didn't really work - the bacon wasn't cooked enough and it was too big of a bite.

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Another creative roll that fell flat.  The carbonara roll has scallop and shrimp with tamago, bacon, asparagus, and creamy masago with balsamic glaze and pesto.  The flavors didn't really come together, it just didn't work.

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We did order some normal sushi, it was pretty "meh".

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The kushi yaki was alright.

All in all this was pretty disappointing and below average, I wouldn't recommend it.

3Apr/130

Valentine’s 2013 Pt 1

Yes, yes - I know I am way late in posting this, sorry.  This year for V-Day we went to Sushi Taro for their special tasting menu.  It's what we did for our first Valentine's together in DC 3 years ago and I wanted to go back.  I loved the whole meal, but Jasper was a little disappointed.  I think he wanted more sushi, but I liked the combination of hot dishes and raw fish.  Anyway, here's what we had:

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Taro's signature tofu with uni.  I love this stuff, it has the best texture.  I always look forward to this dish at Taro.

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This was a mixture of different raw and pickled vegetables with some gelees and monkfish liver.  I thought it was playful and interesting; I think this is one of the ones Jasper was disappointed with.

22Oct/124

Kata Robata, Paris Crepe, and Rice’s Centennial – Houston, TX

I recently returned to Rice University, my alma mater, to celebrate their centennial - 100 years since the founding!  There were all kinds of events - a football game (which we won!), parties, galas, picnics, speeches, lectures, you name it!

And our first President - Edgar Odell Lovett - finally got his own statue!  About time!  William Marsh Rice (Willy) may have provided the money for the institution, but Lovett provided the vision for what it should be.

For something really incredible, click HERE to see a video of the Spectacle - an amazing work of art combining architecture, history, and technology into something the likes of which I have never seen before.  Seriously - watch it.  For real.

Ok - moving on.  Most of my food was provided for me at the events, but I did have the chance to eat out one night and was fortunate enough to go to Kata Robata - a sushi restaurant and Japanese grill.  Headed up by Manabu Horiuchi (aka Chef Hori), my favorite sushi chef from college, the concept is Japanese tapas and the food is AWESOME.  The service is pretty incredible, too.  Our server, Thai, was very knowledgeable and comfortable making suggestions.  The pacing was good and we always felt like we were being taken care of.  I tried to order a good balance between sushi and tapas to get a really good idea of the place.

21Mar/121

Japanese Braised Salmon

More salmon!  I am always questing for tasty salmon recipes so that we will eat more of this super healthy fish (note that it is only super healthy when it is wild caught Pacific/Alaskan; farm raised Atlantic salmon is full of toxins).  This recipe makes super tender, super moist salmon that is packed with sweet and salty flavors.