Naka – Seattle, WA

When my husband and I went here last month, we had the choice of two menus, the a la carte menu or the kaiseki menu (a traditional multi-course Japanese dinner).   With the kaiseki menu we then had three choices, the Tasting Menu (5 or 7 courses I can’t remember), the Naka Kaiseki (10 course tasting menu) or the Chef Kaiseki (15 course menu which requires a weeks notice).  We went with the Naka Kaiseki because why not?!  We were also told that the chef’s intention was to eventually limit the menu to just the kaiseki one and have the a la carte become the bar menu.  Looking at their site right now I see they’ve made that transition.  I hope this doesn’t discourage people from trying this restaurant because the tasting menu was outstanding.  When you hear 7-15 courses, I think most people think that sounds like a lot but some of the courses were just one bite.  Very simple clean food so we both left feeling satisfied and not the least bit full, refreshing actually.

The presentation was stunning and the flavors were outstanding.  I highly recommend Naka if you appreciate great Japanese cuisine.  The bill can get a little steep so it’s the perfect place for a special occasion.  I should also mention that we enjoyed the wine pairing as well and the pours were very appropriate seeing there were 10 courses to be had.


Sugarfish – Beverly Hills, CA


My mouth is salivating as I think about my meal at Sugarfish.  Honestly, it was the best sushi I’ve ever had.  I may not know everything about sushi but I will tell you that I’ve eaten it around the world.  From The Tsukiji Market in Tokyo to Seattle, I’ve sampled a lot of “the best” and this by far is THE BEST out there!

There are three menus to choose from: Trust Me/Lite, Trust Me and The Nozawa.  Think of it as small, medium and large.  You can order a la carte but price-wise, you get more for your money with the prefix menus and you will most definitely want to add more to it once you’re done.  I chose the Trust Me and my husband got The Nozawa.  Each included edamame, tuna sashimi, albacore sushi, salmon sushi, yellowtail sushi, halibut sushi, a toro hand roll and a blue crab hand roll.  The Nozawa also included a “Daily Special” as well as a few more pieces of the sushi.  My favorite was the tuna sashimi and the albacore sushi.  The sushi is served nigiri style (fish on top of the rice) and the rice was warm (I’ve never experienced that and it was such a great surprise).  The fish couldn’t have been better quality.  It seriously melted in my mouth.  I remember 1) being speechless as I ate it, 2) telling my husband that you wouldn’t even need teeth to eat this sushi and 3) that if I had to choose my last meal on Earth this would be it!  They don’t take reservations so go put your name in and have a drink or walk around.  Worth the wait for sure!

IMG_8411 IMG_8412   IMG_8415 IMG_8416

Kondo – Tokyo, Japan

I knew this was a 2 Michelin star tempura restaurant but I didn’t know much more than that.  Surprisingly I was able to make reservations just a day in advance for 6 people which was even more shocking when I saw how small the place was.  There was absolutely no English signage so had it not been for our taxi driver pointing it out to us we probably never would have found it.

Once inside we were seated around the tempura bar with a front row seat to tempura delights being fried in front of us (also Chef Fumio Kondo unbeknownst to us).  With three menu choices to choose from, we decided to go big and ordered the largest of the three, the “Yomoji” menu which included – an appetizer of 2 Japanese dishes, sashimi, tempura (7 vegetables, 4 fish, 3 shrimp), and Kakiage (a mixture of scallops and honewort fried in batter).  It was an aggressive order but our thought was “go big or go home!”.

Highlights were the shrimp, tuna sashimi, and tempura vegetables.  My least favorite dish was hands down the first appetizer which included two types of raw fish (which were very good) and then a large snail and fish liver.  I’m not a fan of liver to begin with and this one didn’t do anything to change my mind.  That being said I tried it to be polite and moved on:)

With each piece of tempura that we were served, we were told to eat half with a little salt and the other half dipped in the tempura sauce which had fresh diakon in it.  Overall I enjoyed the simplicity of the salt.  Everything was so fresh and cooked to absolute perfection.  Watching the chefs delicately prepare each dish was a treat.



Sashimi, fish liver (I believe monkfish) and sea snail



Steamed tofu with yam, gingko nuts, and potato



Tuna sashimi



Shrimp heads






Lotus root



Kisu – flat white fish



Shiitake mushroom



Some sort of fish/eel wrapped in shiso









Fruit for dessert


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.

Shishito peppers

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:)

salmon sashimi

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

Assorted Tempura

Gobou no Karaage – deep fried burdock


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