Matsuhisa – Aspen, CO
On our recent trip to Aspen for the Food & Wine Festival, I made sure to secure reservations at top restaurants in town to ensure an amazing culinary adventure from morning to night. On our second night there we ate at Nobu’s Matsuhisa which was PACKED! And full of culinary celebrities which was a fun treat. Our meal was incredible from start to finish. I would definitely order everything we had that night if we went back! Earlier in the day when we went to see Bobby Flay do a demonstration we happened to sit next to Nobu himself so I leaned over and told him we were eating at Matsuhisa that night and he couldn’t have been nicer. Talked to us for a while, even showed us photos of his granddaughter. Needless to say he was so friendly when he saw us there that night and even sat down and chatted us up for a while.
Rock shrimp tempura with creamy spicy sauce
Mixed mushroom toban-yaki
King crab tempura “Amazu” sweet ponzu
There were so many different mochi flavors to choose from but we settled on root beer (amazing!), mango and green tea. Perfect dessert!
How cute is Nobu?! Love him!
Morimoto – Napa, CA
My husband and I were lucky enough to have Morimoto do the sushi for our wedding welcome party but we had never been to the restaurant in downtown Napa itself. I recently went with a friend and I’m already dying to go back. I didn’t even have any sushi! I started with the Spicy King Crab with tobanjan aioli and micro-cilantro…wowzers!!! I can see why my friend had me order my own and didn’t want to share:) It was rich but not too crazy of a portion if you go with a lighter entrée which we did. Otherwise it would be a great starter to share with a group.
For our entrée we split the Tempura Calamari Salad which was perfect! The calamari was cooked perfectly and not too heavy considering it was fried. Yum!
To end the meal we splurged on the “S’mores” which I think was new to the menu. Definitely a great choice…I don’t think there was a morsel left on the plate:)
Japonessa – Seattle, WA
Located in the former Union spot on Union and 1st, this new sushi spot doesn’t seem to have a problem filling the large space. We went on a Wednesday night and the place was packed! Before I get into the food, I will say that my one serious complaint is that it’s so noisy it’s hard to hold a conversation which is a shame.
The food however was great and the expansive menu made it hard for me narrow down my roll choices. We decided on the Barcelona Sunset and the special Spanish Lover roll as well as the Salmon Sashimi and the Ahi Tuna Tartare which came a bit late but was so fresh and satisfying.
Worth it for the great food but just beware of the loud atmosphere. Not a place to take your grandma:)
barcelona sunset - spicy yellowtail, avocado, cucumber, topped with yellowtail, tobiko, habanero aioli
spanish lover - creamy scallops, avocado, snow crab legs, topped with chili seared white king salmon, chili oil, cilantro aioli, tobiko
ahí tuna tartare - balsamic soy vinegar, yuzu citrus aioli
Zen – Hakuba, Japan
Although Zen is known for it’s Soba, their Japanese small plates are a great option as well, especially for larger groups. Reservations are recommended although not necessary. Typically tatami mats can be a little uncomfortable but here they have seat backs to help your back and make it a little more comfortable. Below are my favorites dishes of the night. The menu is quite large so if you have a good group you can get away with ordering a lot of dishes for everyone to try.
Sashimi – Salmon and Tuna Sashimi
Tataki Kyuuri – cucumber with spicy Japanese sauce
Chicken Karaage – Fried Chicken
Agedashi do-fu – deep fried tofu in soup
Yanaimno – yanaimo and spicy roe pizza
Tako no peperonti-no – octopus with spicy olive oil and garlic sauce
Gobou no Karaage – deep fried burdock
Robataya (Roppongi) – Tokyo, Japan
This is by far the best meal I’ve had in Tokyo. I honestly couldn’t be more enthusiastic about this place! The experience was so fun and entertaining and the food couldn’t have been fresher and more delicious. There isn’t a menu because the ingredients are bought in fresh everyday and gone through every night assuring that nothing is old and needing to be sold off the next day. I don’t think you can make a bad order here. All the ingredients are recognizable so just order based off of what you like and you’re safe! The preparation is simple…lightly seasoned and grilled right in front of you. I highly recommend this place. There are only about 20 seats in the whole place and reservations are necessary!
The amuse bouche – tuna sashimi with fresh tomatoes, onions and a light vinaigrette
The sashimi plate
Waygu beef – seriously the best I’ve ever had!
Fresh grilled peppers
Whole fried snapper (if I remember correctly:))
Cinnamon and sugar mochi that was made right in front of us!
Le Vin sur la Table – Otari, Japan
We found this charming little restaurant from the staff at our lodge in Hakuba. The chef had spent a couple of years working in the south of France before opening his own restaurant in his hometown of Otari, about 30 minutes from Hakuba. It’s not very convenient unless you happen to be in the Cortina area. If you ski there I highly recommend making the 15 minute drive to this spot for an impressive meal. My dish, the trout, was $16.25…a steal considering the quality of the food and overall experience, not to mention it included soup and dessert. This was such a special lunch. I totally recommend this place to anyone in the area.
Pork Minced Meat
Wild Boar Stew
Dessert – panna cotta with espresso caramel, fresh seasonal fruit and persimmon ice cream
Our chef and his wife
Maeda – Hakuba, Japan
Every year we go back to Hakuba my husband and I make this restaurant a must for lunch. It usually happens on our first day in town because we’ve been thinking about it for a year and just can’t wait any longer.
The tonkatsu is to die for. The breaded pork cutlet is so tender and with the egg on top and the perfect rice underneath, this dish disappears fast! Another favorite is the tempura udon and most recently for me the tempura soba…same dish just with buckwheat soba noodles instead of the udon noodles.
I’m not sure what this was but it was so tasty. Some sort of pickled or fermented vegetable. That’s a vague description but I really have no inkling as to what it was. Most likely a veggie we don’t have in the states.
This was some of the BEST Kimchi I’ve ever had! I could have eaten this whole plate by myself. Next time:)
My tempura soba…DE-lish! I couldn’t eat even half the noodles but I loved everything about this. You could tell the noodles were made fresh…they were incredible! I’m probably going to be dreaming about this until the next time we get back here.
My husband’s tempura udon…you can’t go wrong with this one!
Mmmm…the tonkatsu…this is unbelievable – that is assuming you eat pork. I’m afraid to try this dish in the states assuming it might not live up to my expectations. I don’t want to ruin it.
Sushi Village – Whistler, BC
I have a few key spots in Whistler that I have to go to every time I’m in town and this is one of them. I love it just as much as Sashi Sushi but prefer it when with a group of people. There’s a very lively vibe and they have killer strawberry daiquiris to get you lubed up before dinner:)
If you go with a group try to reserve one of their rooms. You’ll need 6 or more people but it’s the way to go with friends.
One of the best things I’ve discovered…spicy tofu deep fried with fresh shiitake mushrooms in their legendary spicy sauce…AMAZING!!!Salmon sashimi – I get it at every sushi restaurant and this one in particular is very generous on size and the quality couldn’t be betterThe Super Hero roll (spicy tuna roll wrapped with thinly sliced avocado on a bed of tempura bits) and the Tempura Roll (shrimp tempura, avocado and cucumber)Another must when I’m there – the SASSs Roll – shrimp tempura, scallop, salmon and avocado wrapped with a soya bean sheetThe Rainbow Roll – shrimp tempura rolled with a soya been sheet topped with the chef’s choice of seven different kinds of thinly sliced fish
Kintaro – Vancouver, BC
Back in July my husband and I went on a eating tour of Vancouver with the chefs from Revel. Talk about my perfect weekend:) We started off with some of the most satisfying ramen I’ve had outside of Tokyo at Kintaro in West Vancouver. Open for lunch and dinner (closed on Mondays), this place is known to be one of the best ramen houses in Vancouver however don’t expect much for decor. People come here for the food, not the ambiance. And know that once you order there’s no going back…everything is already set in motion.
The first time we ate there we were seated at the bar overlooking the whole production line of what was to become our bowls of ramen. I’m not a big “fat” person so I opted for the vegetable ramen (safe I know) rather than the fatty pork ramen which everyone else in the group ordered. You have the choice of how fatty you’d like your meat and how fatty you want your broth to be. At least there are options:) *On our second trip there we ordered the gyoza which are delicious…I definitely recommend those!
Don’t expect to finish the whole bowl…it’s endless but you can take the rest with you to go.
All the broth working awayAll of our bowls being assembledTah-dah…my ramen!
momofuku noodle bar – New York, NY
I’m a big fan of David Chang’s and have been dying to try one of his restaurants. What’s funny is that the whole time we were in NYC I thought we were going to momofuku ssåm bar but when I googled the address this one came up instead so we went there by accident but things happen for a reason and this was a great mistake.
We got to the restaurant at 11:50am only to be greeted by a line. Luckily it wasn’t too large and by the time the doors opened we got a prized spot at the bar overlooking the kitchen. In any restaurant that has counter seating by the kitchen, I LOVE sitting there. I enjoy seeing the chefs at work, hearing their conversation and jokes and as one of my culinary instructors once said, “the ballet”, referring to the chefs working together in a small open space without talking but avoiding getting in each others way.
Back to the food:) Everything we ordered was so good! My favorite thing of all were the shrimp buns. Wowzers…I could eat a lot of those! I also ordered the special ramen of the day – a red miso ramen with prawns and arugula. Great choice by me:)
Next time I’m in NYC I’d love to try the ssåm bar since we missed it but so far I can say David Chang is living up to my expectations.
Brussels Sprouts – spåetzle, sausage, mustard (there was also some fresh cubed apple on top which added a nice touch of acidity)Grilled Octopus – scallion kimchi, Chinese sausage, squash (pepitas and arugula added a nice touch to this dish as well…fresh greens and a little texture is always good)Shrimp Buns – spicy mayo, pickled shallot, iceburgI love you!Red Miso Ramen – Mayan prawns, hijiki, arugula