122017May

Dipping Those Chewy Ramen Noodles

2pm. That’s about the perfect time, for those who hate waiting, to arrive at Tsujita LA Artisan Noodles Annex. This was of course an additional restaurant to the one across the street. However, at this time, the original location incurred a lower health score, so I decided to try the annexed location. There was a small line at 1:30pm which cleared up after I finished lunch. And by cleared up, I meant no lines, and several open tables.

Inside, the majority of the place is dedicated to the ramen bar that surrounds the noodle chef with some individual tables off to the front of the store. At the bar, you can watch the masters in action and see how those heaping bowls of ramen are prepared. They are quite the sight – very Instagram worthy. I wish I had ordered one, but the day was a little too warm. So the final choice was the tsukemen, dipping ramen, with an additional small rice bowl. Yeah, I was very hungry. Sitting at the bar, watching things get prepared and carted off was brutal. Though, the wait wasn’t too long. That’s because when you’re the next party to come in, they will take your order outside. By the time you’re seated, all you’re doing is getting a nice cold beverage to cool you off from that LA heat.

Man I love ramen places that are this efficient.

Tsujita LA Artisan Noodles Annex

2050 Sawtelle Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90025
+1 (310) 231-0222
tsujita-la.com

Verdict: Want honest to goodness noodles, then get yourself here.

112017May

Enjoying Sawtelle Nanbankan Style

If you know Sawtelle Boulevard in West LA, you may know about all the wonderful Japanese restaurants there. Well, if you head a few blocks north and turn left on Santa Monica you can find Nanbankan. A restaurant serving up great Japanese izakaya at a surprising price. While they do have your classic dishes, including your favorite skewers, they do have specials which will have you coming back for more.

It was late, 9pm to be exact. Parking was pretty easy at this hour. Inside, the place was still packed, but we had reservations and our 8 person table was at the ready. Ordering was easy, so easy we had round after round of getting as much off the menu as possible. That’s izakaya for you. And even with a party of our size, we couldn’t cover the whole menu. Probably about half of it. And only one dish was a meh while the others were pretty damn good.

The service was great. Food came out in ample time and our server was never hard to find. Oh that was perfect to keep the drinks flowing.

My only wish was for this place to be open a bit longer. Their hours from 5:30pm to 10:30pm really makes it your starting off point for a Friday night. I guess if they’re opened even later, they’ll have to deal with stupid drunk patrons like myself. But how can one resist pairing drinks with such lovely dishes. I sure can’t. I guess next time I’ll have to start right after work, a happy hour, kinda like how they do it in Japan. Oh wait a second… I see what you did there.

Nanbankan

11330 Santa Monica Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90025
+1 (310) 478-1591

Verdict: For an affordable and delicious izakaya experience, you will want to give this a try.

212017Apr

A Taste of Hitachi Japan

Can you imagine a craft beer from Japan opening a gastropub in the states? In San Francisco of all places? A city where people flock to the latest micro breweries, eagerly anticipating a new flavor discovery. Well, Hitachino Nest Beer stepped up to the challenge. Not only did they bring their beers, but they brought food and ingredients from Hitachi, a city in the Ibaraki Prefecture. Their noteworthy gift, Hitachigyu, a well known brand of wagyu in Japan, and a cooking style that’s got people curious for a taste. One thing to note is that they now have an online reservation system. A great upgrade to the previous lottery system requiring you to sign up to their newsletter.

Friday dinner here we come!

Currently, they offer a $79 tasting menu with a $30 beer pairing that’ll give you three 10 ounce pours with one full beer at the end. Tempting, but given beers were $10 a piece, we decided to make our own selections on beer… and sake. After ordering, it took a bit of time to get started. But once it did, each dish came out at a good pace. Though, each course you could finish within minutes. There were a few misses but the ones that stood out, knocked it out of the park. You’ll wish you had more. But alas, it was after all, a tasting menu.

Overall, you will like the unique flavors, both in the dishes and in the beers. But with only a tasting menu, you might leave hungry. Unless of course, you order more. I’m hoping they will switch to a full dinner menu.

Hitachino Beer & Wagyu

639 Post Street
San Francisco, CA 94109
+1 (415) 792−6160
hitachinosf.com

Verdict: Stick to the bar and order those sous vide jars of goodness. You might not get to try the wagyu though.

142017Apr

Omakase at Sushi Yoshizumi

If you pay careful attention, you’ll notice Chef Akira Yoshizumi and his staff are carefully timing the courses. Each time you’re finished, within minutes you’re presented with the next along with a detailed explanation. That is how you should be treated during omakase. Include amazing food and an intimate atmosphere and you got yourself Sushi Yoshizumi, a modest and unassuming establishment in the heart of downtown San Mateo. Sure, you may walk by it. Except with all the rave reviews and that prestigious Michelin star, you’ll be seeking this place out. I sure did.

Once we got inside, you’re up close and personal with the chef and owner. The seating around the sushi bar was everything one would expect from a place that specializes in the traditional ways of sushi. Minimal. There’s no fancy flowers, refrigerated cases of fish, or even soy sauce between you and the chef. It’s his journey he’s prepared for you. Just sit back, relax, and enjoy.

The Yohei Omakase was priced at $145 USD. It included six types of otumami (small snack size dishes), twelve types of nigiri, owan (soup), and dessert. We also added a mini sake pairing at $50 USD. The whole meal was a little under 2 hours to complete. Most of the time was probably due to my awe of each dish and making it a photo op. So I’m pretty sure you’d finish in less time. Not to say you should eat and go. This place is a place for you to get to know the food and the person behind creating it. Chef Yoshizumi is a very friendly guy and makes time for you. He was more than happy to answer questions. And throughout the meal, he was calm and collected creating each dish. Never rushing to complete things. We basically had front row seats to watch a master at work. All of that, made this dinner spectacular.

I sure am looking forward to coming back here again.

Sushi Yoshizumi

325 E 4th Ave
San Mateo, CA 94401
+1 (650) 437-2282
sushiyoshizumi.com

Verdict: A must try for sushi enthusiasts who doesn’t mind that price tag.

312017Mar

Mara Premium Hand Roll Bar

What exactly is a premium hand roll bar? Well, at Mara it’s a casual restaurant that serves good quality fish wrapped up in a nori. You might think of temaki, the cone shaped hand roll. But it’s not a cone. You may think it’s an uncut futomaki, made with several ingredients. But that’s not it either. The hand rolls here are made to emphasize the crispness of the nori while giving you the same sushi quality of fish and rice. All while being tucked inside The Market within the Twitter building. I guess this place must get lots of business during lunch. And I have to say, they are optimally set up for the lunch crowd.

When I got there it was easy to find a seat. The place was only open for six weeks and it was Friday after five, most people were on the way home or to a bar. I happened to need a bite to eat before starting my weekend. I ordered the five hand roll set for $21.95 (a reasonable price in my opinion) and my first round came out quick. The chef kept an eye on me and made sure once I finished a roll, I had another ready. This was perfect for my situation. An eat and go establishment similar to their sister and neighboring place, Poke Bar. All in all I spent about fifteen minutes there and ordered some food to go.

Once I was done, I paid at the register and was on my way. I won’t compare it with a similar venue down in Los Angeles, but I’m sure glad this concept is here in San Francisco. Though it’s kinda in a tough location, an area you don’t find yourself in or seek out. But if you’re around, you may want to stop by.

Mara Premium Hand Roll Bar

1355 Market Street Ste 100
San Francisco, CA 94103
+1 (415) 767-5130
themarabar.com

Verdict: A great place to grab a quick bite to eat without sacrificing quality. Can this please be the bar for fast casual?

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