Sushi Sukiyabashi Jiro – Tokyo, Japan
If you’ve seen the documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi then you’re well aware of who Jiro Ono is. I’m completely convinced now that it’s nearly impossible to get into his sushi restaurant. However, we DID get a reservation at his son Takashi Ono’s restaurant, Sushi Sukiyabashi Jiro in Roppongi. There are 8 seats at the counter and rules to go along with dinner. No perfume and you must be on time or they will cancel your reservation after 30 minutes. The rice is purposely prepared so that it’s warm when you eat it (side note – if at any time you feel yourself getting full, tell the chef and he’ll make your rice serving smaller going forward – big help considering how much you have to eat!). The ambiance is not that of your typical sushi restaurant in the States. No music or mood lighting. It’s all about the sushi. Anything else is purely a distraction. Chef Takashi Ono was very personable and talked to us during the whole meal. Was it worth the price and hype? Absolutely!
Our dinner consisted of the following: Flounder sashimi, clam sashimi, abalone (awabi) sashimi, marinated mackerel sashimi, flounder nigiri, squid (ika) nigiri, needle fish (sayori) nigiri, lean tuna (maguro) nigiri, medium fatty (chutoro) tuna nigiri, fatty (otoro) tuna nigiri, sardine family fish nigiri, large scallop (hotate) nigiri, raw horse mackerel (aji) nigiri, Ikura nigiri, tiger prawn (kuruma ebi) nigiri, Japanese geoduck (mirugai) nigiri, octopus (tako) nigiri, sea urchin (uni) nigiri, hard shell clam nigiri, small scallops nigiri, saltwater eel nigiri, egg nigiri.
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!
Andina – Portland, OR
Where do I start?! This place is amazing!!! My good college friend took me here while I was in town for 24 hours and she couldn’t have picked a better place. I now see why it’s hard to get a reservation. What blew me away is how accommodating they are to Gluten Free people. They have a completely different menu that’s not just a couple of items but rather a whole menu full of options…very impressive! We started with the Sacsayhuaman (sounds like Sexy Woman) – habañero pepper vodka shaken with pureed passionfruit and cane sugar, served up with a sugar rim and a cilantro leaf garnish. HOLY CRAP…this drink is to DIE for!!! I would go back just for that:)
For our non-liquid dishes we ordered the “5 Elementos” cebiche (spelled with a “b” there) which was perfect. So flavorful and fresh, I could have eaten just that all night. The A La Chalaca (sashimi-style fish in an ajî Amarillo vinaigrette served with a corn salsa) was so delicate and clean tasting even with the vinaigrette. Yum! Whenever there’s octopus on the menu I have to get it so we ordered the Anticucho de Pulpo – grilled octopus kebabs served with chimichurri served over caper potatoes…yum! Cooked to perfection and exactly what I was hoping for. Last we got the Pescado al Rocoto y Kyon – roasted fresh fish topped with ginger, rocoto (Capsicum pepper) and scallion, basted with sizzling sesame oil served over shiitake mushrooms and bok choy in a smoked pork broth, served with asparagus quinoa fried rice…DE-LISH!
*Because the lighting was so dim, my pictures turned out horribly so I’m just giving you a teaser with our delicious drink:)
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!
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