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:)
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!
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.
Momiji – Seattle, WA
We heard about this new sushi restaurant from an acquaintance and just had to try it. It’s owned by the same people that own Umi Sake House in Belltown. The space is warm and minimalistic. There’s a very serene vibe about the place which I love.
All of the servers are very friendly and are helpful in suggesting rolls if you don’t know where to start. Our food came out quickly (in a good way…not rushed) and everything we ate was so delicious. Each roll tasted so different and was complex in it’s own way. I have to say, this is by far one of our favorite sushi spots in Seattle, if not our favorite now. The location is great, parking isn’t horrible and they’re open from 4pm-2am daily! The fact that we went 3 times in the span of about 10 days should say something:)
*Pardon the photos…as the night went on I lost a lot of light so they’re not that great but I think you’ll get idea
Beautiful little courtyard in the middle of the restaurant
Madai Jalapeño – snapper sashimi, jalapeño, garlic & cilantro with citrus-yuzu ponzu…one of the specials that night…so fresh and flavorful
Crunchy Seattle Roll – salmon, avocado, cream cheese fried and drizzled with teriyaki sauce and sweet chili aioli…best roll I’ve had like this!
007 Roll – spicy tuna, avocado, cucumber & cilantro, wrapped with yellowtail, lime, shishito peppers and jalapeño
White Tiger Roll – spicy yellowtail, cucumber & asparagus topped with wild white king salmon, lime, tobiko & yuzu citrus sauce
Denenshi – Hakuba, Japan
My fiancé and I were in Japan this March when the 9.0 earthquake struck. We honestly couldn’t have been in a better place at the time considering the magnitude of it. We were sitting on an airplane on the runway in Tokyo getting ready to take off for Sapporo when the plane starting violently shaking. Long story short we were fine but as you can imagine it changed the rest of our travel plans a bit.
Leading up to it though we had a wonderful few days in Hakuba, skiing our brains out in the backcountry and eating the most delicious food during the day and night. A favorite of ours in the area is Denenshi. We had one of the best meals of our lives the year prior and made the effort to go back this year.
The restaurant is run by a husband and wife duo out of their charming French inspired home. There are two set menus to choose from; Japanese and French. We always choose the Japanese as we should when in Japan. If you’re ever in Hakuba this place is a must. You’ll be so thankful you discovered it.
Baked mushroom marinade
Cold pasta with sliced bream
Curried flavored crab and vegetable gratin
Deep friend yellowtail with brown rice sauce
Roast beef with miso sauce
Green tea ice cream