Sushi Kaito

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A couple of months back, S and I went out to dinner with our friends from Kirbie’s Cravings and One Gal’s Path. We picked Sushi Kaito, since I haven’t been there before.

Sushi Kaito

The restaurant is a small, unassuming place with a sushi bar and just a few tables. We went for an early-ish dinner (~5PM), and it’s a good thing we had reservations because it was actually pretty full.

SEAWEED SALAD
Seaweed salad

The seaweed salad was a nice, refreshing start to the meal.

BEEF TONGUE
Beef Tongue

The beef tongue was grilled lightly and had a lightly smoky taste. The slices were thick-cut – S and I prefer the more thinly-sliced type, which is less chewy, but these were still quite delicious.

CHICKEN KARAAGE
Chicken Karaage

The chicken karaage (fried chicken) here was nice and crispy, but I still prefer the version from Yakyudori Yakitori or Yokohama Yakitori Koubou.

AMBERJACK SASHIMI
Amberjack Sashimi

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Sushi Mura

Sushi Mura, located in Liberty Station, opened about a year ago and has been recommended to me several times. Finally, S and I decided to go check it out along with our friend who’s been here before.

Sushi Mura

Sushi Mura

The place wasn’t too big, but also didn’t have many customers that day. I briefly thought about sitting at the sushi counter, but decided that I wanted to have a good view of the TV, which was playing the Chargers vs. 49ers game. (I’m still sad about the Chargers’ season. But go Cowboys! Also, how many readers did I just lose from that?)

Their menu included a bunch of sushi options, as well as rice and ramen. We got an assortment of different items, but mostly focused on sushi.

Miso soup

Miso soup

Our meals came with miso soup… I didn’t enjoy it too much, though – I remember it being really salty.

Tonkotsu ramen [$10]

Tonkotsu ramen [$10]

S’s tonkotsu ramen arrived first – we had heard that the broth was pretty good and wanted to try it. The broth was pretty rich and flavorful, not too salty (in fact, I thought it could have used a tad more salt), and the noodles were decently spring-y. The toppings were fairly standard, and overall we thought this was a good, but not super exciting, bowl of tonkotsu ramen.

Mura Mini Omakase [$29]

Mura Mini Omakase [$29]

S chose the “mini” omakase, which includes 10 pieces of nigiri. I can’t exactly remember what all of them were, boo, but I know that S really enjoyed the salmon, amberjack, and halibut.

Monkfish liver (ankimo) [$5]

Monkfish liver (ankimo) [$5]

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Izakaya Sakura revisit

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Izakaya Sakura is one of our go-to Japanese restaurants – they serve a variety of bento lunch and dinners, as well as good quality sushi and sashimi. S and I like visiting for weekend lunch, since they offer reasonably-priced lunch specials. We recently visited with a couple friends, and I thought it’d be fun to do a revisit post since my previous one was during dinner.

We ordered a variety of food… S chose the Chicken Katsu Don:

Chicken Katsu Don [$9]

Chicken Katsu Don [$9]

It was basically an oyako-don (chicken with egg and onions in dashi broth), but with fried chicken cutlet. Both of us really like this dish, especially the lightly sweet dashi broth. 

Lunch Special Bento [$12]

Lunch Special Bento [$12]

Every day, there is a “Lunch Special Bento” consisting of a ton of different items – there are only about 10 of these bentos available each day, and I was lucky enough to get one that day. The bento of the day included (starting from top left): sausage and bacon braised with cabbage, potato croquette, spaghetti with mentaiko, omelette, grilled salmon, chicken croquette, and pork with ginger and onions. It was certainly a very fulfilling bento! I enjoyed all of the items, especially the pork with ginger and onions, and the spaghetti with mentaiko. Also, there was enough food for another meal for me, so it was definitely worth it!

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Shimbashi Izakaya

S and I were recently invited to check out Shimbashi Izakaya, located in Del Mar. We were quite excited since Japanese food is one of our favorite cuisines, and I’ve actually had Shimbashi on my list of places to visit for a while.

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The restaurant is located in the Del Mar Plaza, same building as Del Mar Rendezvous and Pacifica.

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The restaurant boasts an impressive sake list, and the menu features a large variety, from appetizers to grilled and deep fried items, to sushi and sashimi. We were recommended to try a sake flight – since neither of us have much experience with sake, we went with the basic sampler, which includes one each of three different sake varieties: nigori, honjozo, and junmai.

Basic Sake Sampler

Basic Sake Sampler

The three sakes that we sampled were, from front to back: Shochikubai, Yoshinogawa, and Oigame. They varied quite a bit in sweetness/dryness – the Shochikubai (nigori) was definitely the sweetest, while the Oigame (junmai) had the most distinct rice taste. In the end, both S and my favorite was the Yoshinogawa (honjozo), but we’re still noobs when it comes to sake, so there’s definitely room for us to learn!

Onto the food. Recently, they have been doing a new “Taste of Japan” – for two weeks at a time, there is a three-item set menu (priced at $28) that highlights a certain regional Japanese cuisine. We were there to preview the “Taste of Nagoya”, created by Chef Nohara – one of Shimbashi’s chefs. It will run from November 17-December 1.

Maguro Akamiso Nuta: fresh tuna and scallion with red miso sauce

Maguro Akamiso Nuta: fresh tuna and scallion with red miso sauce

This was the 1st course in Taste of Nagoya – it reminded me a bit of poke, actually. The tuna tasted really fresh and paired well with the savory miso sauce.

Ebi Fry: panko-fried shrimp

Ebi Fry: panko-fried shrimp

Second course in the tasting was this fried shrimp – according to our waitress, shrimp is a favorite in Nagoya, and they prepare it in all sorts of styles. Here, it was battered with panko and deep fried, and served with a wedge of lemon and mayonnaise for dipping. It was fried perfectly – the batter was crisp and golden brown, and the shrimp inside was cooked perfectly. And, since S doesn’t eat shrimp, I got both pieces to myself, hehe.

Hitsumabushi: grilled eel on rice with tea

Hitsumabushi: grilled eel on rice with tea

The last course in the tasting was the hitsumabushi – grilled eel over rice, served with a mini kettle of tea to pour over the rice.

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Sushi Diner (revisit)

Sushi Diner is one of S’s and my favorite restaurants in San Diego – it’s famous for Americanized sushi rolls, but they’re way above average in terms of creativity and flavor. We’ve pretty much loved every roll that we’ve tried thus far, but recently one of S’s friends told him that the nigiri and sashimi here are quite good, too – and with a relatively affordable price tag. So, on a recent visit with a friend, we decided to try it out.

I’ve written a couple of posts on Sushi Diner already, so I’ll make this one short and sweet…

Sashimi Salad

Sashimi Salad

The sashimi salad is one of the specials on the board – unfortunately, I forgot the exact price, but I believe it was around $15. We were surprised to see the generous amount of raw fish in the salad, and of pretty decent variety – there was salmon, scallops, tuna, albacore, yellowtail… all atop a bed of cucumbers, lettuce, and tomatoes, with a very light sesame dressing with mentaiko (roe) scattered throughout.

Nigiri Sushi & Roll Combo: tuna, salmon, albacore, snapper, shrimp nigiri, spicy tuna roll [$10.95]

Nigiri Sushi & Roll Combo: tuna, salmon, albacore, snapper, shrimp nigiri, spicy tuna roll [$10.95]

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Onami Seafood Buffet & BBQ

Recently, my good friend Y celebrated her birthday at Onami Seafood Buffet & BBQ. She and her boyfriend are always on the hunt for good deals for food, and her boyfriend loves all-you-can-eat places! S and I have never been to Onami before, so we were quite curious about what the place would be like.

Onami Seafood Buffet & BBQ 

The restaurant is located inside the Westfield Mission Valley mall, near the Macy’s Home Store and food court.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get very many good photos of the buffet lines – most of them turned out quite blurry. (Sadface.) So, I’ll just share pictures of S’s and my plates:

Assorted sushi, sashimi, nigiri

Assorted sushi, sashimi, nigiri

My friends like this place because of the variety of sashimi and nigiri. We were initially a bit wary of eating raw fish at a buffet, but it turned out not too bad. The salmon was the freshest, out of all the sashimi. I also liked the salmon skin nigiri and went back for a couple more of that later in the evening. 

More sushi

More sushi 

I’m not sure what’s at the back of this plate… Looks a bit like chicken teriyaki, but I’m pretty sure I didn’t get that. The seaweed salad was not bad.

Cold soba noodles

Cold soba noodles 

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[Las Vegas] Sushi Mon

I’ve had All-You-Can-Eat sushi in Las Vegas before and wasn’t super impressed – the fish was just okay, service was slow, and the rolls weren’t too good. However, at my friends’ urging, we visited Sushi Mon on this past trip to Vegas. There are two locations – Sahara and Silverado Ranch – and we visited the Sahara one, which is located off the Strip, sort of near the “Asia-town” area.

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We visited on a Saturday, right as the place opened (11:30AM) – there was no line, huzzah! Why we were already awake at 11 in the morning in Vegas, I’m not so sure, but nevertheless, we arrived with hungry stomachs.

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As you can see, above is the sushi bar. We caught part of the Brazil-Chile World Cup game. The restaurant is mid-sized, with about 10 four-top tables and some seating at the bar. But like I said, it wasn’t busy at all during my visit.

Looking at the All-You-Can-Eat lunch menu, there are a variety of nigiri sushi to choose from, as well as rolls and side dishes. We mostly ordered nigiri – for the best value, and because we weren’t sure how tasty the rolls would be. The price was reasonable – $21.95 per person (before taxes). Below are some of the things we ordered… We definitely ate way more than what’s pictured, but I either forgot to take a photo, or it was “repeat” order because we liked the item so much. 

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Tuna, Albacore, Salmon

Clam, Cajun Albacore

Squid, Cajun Albacore

Of the fish, we really loved the salmon and albacore – they were the freshest and most tasty, in my opinion! The Cajun albacore was quite interesting – it was seared and seasoned on the outside with Cajun spices. It was a tad too salty and overpowered the delicate albacore.

Albacore and "Super White Tuna"

Albacore and “Super White Tuna”

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[LA] Maruhide Uni Club

When I first heard about Maruhide Uni Club, I immediately added it to my “Restaurant Bookmarks” list since I love uni (sea urchin), and this is a whole restaurant dedicated to it! On a recent trip to LA, I finally got the chance to try it out.

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I heard that the lines for dinner can get pretty long, but I visited for a late lunch (around 1:30pm, half an hour before they stopped serving lunch), and there were plenty of available seats and tables.

I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted to order, and a quick glance at the menu confirmed my selection: the Nigiyaka Bowl, served with four preparations of uni.

Salad

Salad

Soup

Soup

I was brought some soup and salad to start… the salad was a little sad as you can see – a few pieces of iceberg lettuce and a wedge of tomato, with barely any dressing. I think there was uni incorporated into the dressing, but there was so little of it that it was hard to tell. The soup fared slightly better – there was a sizable piece of uni in the soup, but the overall flavor was quite mild.

My disappointment about the soup and salad quickly faded, though, when this arrived:

Nigiyaka Bowl [$23.95]

Nigiyaka Bowl [$23.95]

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Snapshots from Taiwan, Part 2

Continuing with my Taiwan trip, I wanted to share a few more food-related adventures…

In S’s hometown, Fengyuan, there’s a downtown market/shopping area called Miao Dong (廟東). There’s a hidden gem inside that S’s parents discovered a couple of years ago…

Sashimi Platter

Sashimi!

Sashimi in Taiwan is really delicious, and really cheap compared to the US, so S and I always try to get our sashimi fill in Taiwan. A 10-piece sashimi platter here costs about $10 USD (240 NTD). As you can see, there’s tuna, yellowtail, salmon, squid, and – something I’ve only seen in Taiwan – marlin (旗魚). My favorite pieces were the marlin, which had a pleasantly chewy texture, and salmon. The salmon was really fatty, and I loved that they wrapped it around the onion slices to give it some crunch and kick. Similarly, the squid/cucumber combination was delicious as well.

Vegetable medley

Japanese-style salad

I’m not sure what to call this in English – in Chinese it’s called 醋物, literally “vinegar object.” Basically it’s sliced vegetables in a vinegar-based sauce, and very refreshing. Corn and tomatoes were really sweet, which went well with the vinegar.

Hana Sushi

Hana Sushi

Another Taiwanese invention – hana sushi (literally “flower sushi”), which is made with not-so-traditionally-Japanese ingredients. The rolls often include cooked or canned salmon and tuna, pork floss, shrimp tempura, etc. Also as you can see, purple rice can also be used. I actually really like these non-traditional sushi rolls – the flavors usually work pretty well together.

Cute sushi clock!

Cute sushi clock & sushi chef with fish

We decided not to eat too much at the sushi place to save room for some takoyaki (octopus balls)…

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Probably one of my favorite street foods in Taiwan. These little takoyaki balls are made of a flour-based batter with chopped octopus and cooked in the special molds that you see, and served with plenty of mayonnaise, bonito flakes, and a special BBQ sauce. We asked for garlic-flavored takoyaki, so we also got a generous helping of garlic salt.

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There’s a variety of delicious food stands in Miao Dong, and I wasn’t able to document them all. But some other things to try if you’re ever in Fengyuan are: Qing Shui pork chop noodles and oyster pancakes. The oyster pancakes in Fengyuan are probably the most famous – the sauce is quite unique and different from the sauce on any other oyster pancakes.

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[LA] Sushi Go 55

On the last day of my mini-college reunion LA trip, we decided to get sushi for lunch. We had originally planned to try out the popular Sushi Gen, only to find out that they are closed on Sundays. My friend found this place using Yelp, so we decided to check it out. It’s located in the Japan Center in downtown LA/Little Tokyo – and as it turns out, it was a great location because there was a Beard Papa’s in the same building, and Ozero Cafe nearby! So even before lunch, we had dessert and afternoon tea/snack figured out… haha. (Actually, there is one more dessert place that we went to in the nearby area – post coming in the future!)

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We were initially worried about not being able to get a table since we had a party of five during lunch hour, and the restaurant was quite tiny, but we were seated right away.

They offer chirashi for $17, which we all thought was a really reasonable price. There’s also a more premium chirashi that includes uni (sea urchin) and ikura (salmon roe), for $24. Given my love for uni, I decided to splurge and order that.

Green Tea & Appetizers

Green Tea & Appetizers

To start, I had a cup of green tea, which our waitress kept refilled throughout the meal. We also got some complimentary pickled veggies & seaweed as appetizers, which were nice and refreshing.

Miso Soup

Miso Soup

Each of us also got a miso soup, which was also quite good. 

Sashimi Lunch [$16]

Sashimi Lunch [$16]

One of my friends ordered the sashimi set, which came with albacore, whitefish, yellowtail, tuna, octopus, and salmon. It was served with rice.

Chirashi [$17]

Chirashi [$17]

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