Washington DC: Sushi Taro

This Christmas I had the brilliant idea of changing things up a bit. It seems as if I struggle each year to come up with a wish list as D-Day nears. Rather than request unnecessary ‘things’, I thought we could each choose a restaurant and host a foodie Christmas for three. First up was Sushi Taro, a longtime neighbourhood local go-to for Japanese food in downtown DC. Sushi Taro We opted for the Traditional Kaiseki menu – meaning a multi course Japanese dinner. Japanese cuisine purists look away now, as owner Nobu Yamazaki, who took over the restaurant from his father, has attempted to change things up a bit in terms of modern flair.Sushi Taro The evening started off with a sip of Champagne with yuzu and chrysanthemum. I kindly donated mine, but it looked beautiful and smelled citrusy.Sushi Taro This was followed by their signature dish, sesame tofu with urchin and wasabi, a thing of textural wonder. Each bite was soft, gummy and tender with a subtle, but spicy kick.Sushi Taro Isn’t this bowl beautiful? Every plate was so attractive that I considered finding a way to slip them into my bag. Don’t worry Sushi Taro, all your dish-ware are safely where they should be. (or are they?)
Yes. Yes, they definitely are. Sushi Taro Next was a long, zigzagged plate of perfectly cooked scallops with pickled mushrooms and egg sauce.  Sushi TaroFollowed by a little red pot, which revealed Spanish mackerel, kasu-jiru sake lees soup. Sushi Taro Fine cuts of yellowtail and tuna arrived with another enviable object. How cute is that soy sauce pot? Sushi Taro Sushi TaroA generous portion of sweetened miso marinated louvar fish was accompanied by a delicate monkfish liver fish mousse. I really enjoyed this, it was sweet and meaty, and just look at that plate! Sushi Taro Sushi Taro Fish & chips and ‘renkon’ dog was the only course I didn’t enjoy. It wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t good, and the fried batter was too heavy this far into the meal. Sushi TaroNext to arrive was a selection of nigiri, including unagi, tamago yaki, raw scallop, octopus and salmon roe.  Sushi TaroSushi Taro Sushi TaroSushi TaroAnd a soft shell crab roll. All of which was delicious, but by now, we were sufficiently stuffed. The arrival of our final course brought on mixed emotions. A steaming, flaming, beautifully presented cast iron bowl of sukiyaki was placed in front of each of us. Within this bubbling cauldron of love, was fleshy chunks of tofu, tender onions and several types of Japanese mushroom.
Sushi Taro

I could’ve cried.
I was Christmas feast full. The kind of full where you’re not sure whether or not you’re going to be sick, explode or fall peacefully into a food coma. And yet, here sat this steaming bowl of deliciousness.
Sushi TaroTo make matters worse, or obviously better, slices of Australian kobe beef, a poached egg and udon noodles were served on the side to be dunked into the Japanese stew. Sushi Taro Sushi Taro Sushi Taro Sushi Taro

Fear not my fellow foodies, I persevered. I dunked that beef into my sukiyaki and slurped a big mouthful of noodles.

Sushi TaroSushi TaroAnd then I surrendered. This is the face of food failure. Happy to be filled with such good food, but behind those eyes lie disappointment in my inability to complete the final course. Sushi TaroDespite any level of fullness, there is always room in my dessert stomach. You know, the second stomach that is reserved for all sweet treats. Unfortunately, none of which were particularly worthy of further stuffing myself with. There was a coffee roll cake.
Sushi TaroA Hoji-cha pudding. Sushi TaroAnd although not amazing, my favourite of the three, matcha brûlée.

Sushi Taro is definitely worth a visit if you’re in Washington DC. Maybe give the desserts a miss, but the tasting menu is reasonably priced and the perfect option to try different styles of cooking. We truly enjoyed the entire experience and I would happily fulfil my Japanese cravings here again.

Now, before you scurry off to the kitchen for something to snack on, I’ll leave you with some wise words.
What did the sushi say to the bee?
………..

Wasabi!

Insta-Catch Up

I’ve been quite the busy bee lately. Lots of late nights and busy days.
Have you been the same?
I thought we’d do a quick little catch up of what’s been going on.

I was wandering around Camden the other day on some very official business, and had to take a minute to stare at the beautiful Camden Lock. There are certain parts of London that make you feel as if you are no longer in a bustling, cosmopolitan city. Camden Lock is one of those places.
If you haven’t strolled around Camden Lock on a Sunday afternoon, you now know what you’re doing this Sunday.
Wander the food market and sample dishes from all over the world, shop around the strange little shops and stalls, and be sure to get your fill of people watching with the funky crowd that calls Camden home.

Along with the goths, hipsters, and strange individuals forever adding flavour to Camden, I found these feathery friends floating along the Lock.
During the week, I had the lovely opportunity to dine in the Italian Room at Novikov. The room is massive and airy with a modern, Tuscan decor. We had a lovely three course meal of Beef Carpaccio, Flat Stone Roast Chicken with Rosemary Roast Potatoes, and a delicious Tiramisu. Then we wandered through the “Market Place” in the Asian Dining Room which had  beautiful vegetables, spices, and seafood displayed in front of the kitchen. The best thing about October: Pumpkin flavoured everything.

Had a lovely Whole Foods date with lots of sushi.

Found some stunning artichokes displayed at Whole Foods. Aren’t they beautiful? I also found a stand jam-packed with “Thanksgiving Essentials.” I can’t wait for this year’s feast!
Another stunning display at Whole Foods of Mushroom Madness. I see a theme developing here involving displays of food…
I tried Vita Coco’s new Tropical Fruit flavoured Coconut Water. I’d recommend trying it, but definitely prefer Coconut Water without flavouring. Natural goodness. I’ve been getting excited for Halloween and loved these spooky cupcakes from the amazing bakery at Whole Foods.
I just love the simple fresh flavours of Thai Summer Rolls. The Thai Basil and Peanut Sauce pack such incredible flavour. I may just have to do a Recipe Post on these. Look what I found! These truly are the Brit version of an American favourite: Sour Patch Kids. The kids look and taste different, but are still delicious! 

I’m glad we caught up. Anything exciting that you’ve been up to that I should try in LDN?

Insta-Catch Up

I got the job! I got the job!
Well, sort of.

After months of job researching, CV fixing, and application filling, I finally landed the internship at the dream PR Firm. The firm I had my little heart set on since day one of University.

I’ve been plunged into the chaos that is the daily life of PR, and am loving every second of it. Even the Dry Cleaning, Post Office, and Soy Cappuccino runs, because it all means my foot is in the door.

With the new 9-5, and moving mid-first week of the internship, I have been crazy busy. I’ve been completely exhausted, but have thought about you everyday. I missed you and would love to do a little insta-catch up to get things back on track. If you follow me on Instagram, I’m sure you’ve seen some of my latest adventures. But, for those that don’t, here’s what I’ve been up to.

A surprise Feng Sushi Feast.

The best. homemade. lasagne. ever! The recipe: I’ll never tell. Incredible, creamy Truffle and Porcini Risotto to kick off an eventful dinner party. You know the Dinner Party has gone on too long when…
Queen Nonna taking charge of the table games. The night ended with a game of International Poker. An incredible, inspiring day at the Paralympics.
The day started with Women’s Wheelchair Basketball at the O2.
Followed by a ride on the Cable Cars to the other side of the river. And finished at the Olympic Stadium for some Paralympic Athletics.

Team GB! 

Posing with The Olympic Torch! 

Posing with Mandeville, the strange Olympic Mascot.
Did you know he was named after Stoke Mandeville Hospital who created and held the first Paralympic Games?
Naughty Midnight Milkshakes Mussel Men Chips at The Real Food Festival on Southbank before the Thames Festival FireworksA late night ride on the Eye before the Thames Festival Fireworks
Stunning display of Thames Festival Fireworks Rainy Day curled up watching movies with Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate Celebratory MeatLIQUOR burgers
Come to Mama
MEATliquor Madness. Pierre Herme Macarons

How cute are these!? I found them for sale in Selfridges. Brits, say it with me: A-le-SSahn-draFrae Frozen Yogurt after a lovely walk down King’s RoadA Golden MagnumI really love your peaches, wanna shake your tree
Lovey dovey, lovey dovey, lovey dovey all the time…

Homesickness cure: Chipotle Burrito Bowl
Homesickness Cure: Pinkburrrry
I’m glad we’re all caught up!
What have you been up to?

Whole Foods Market

After a day of errands or wandering the streets of London, there’s one lunch that never fails to satisfy my hunger: Whole Foods sushi.
I frequent the South Kensington location as a cure for homesickness. One step inside the world’s largest Whole Foods, and you’d think you were still in America. With similar interior, some of my favourite food products, and even several employees from across the pond, a trip to Whole Foods gives me a quick America fix before getting back to being a happy, little Londoner.

As i’m sure you’ve heard, the Soho Whole Foods location has relocated across the street to a much larger venue. I couldn’t wait for the opening, and grabbed the lovely Innas to come along. We each got our box of sushi and sat at their outdoor tables to enjoy the spring sunshine.

Whole Foods sushi isn’t the most innovative i’ve come across, but it’s the best tasting and most reasonably priced with the freshest ingredients i’ve found. The brown rice with spicy tuna and spicy salmon is my favourite.

Yashin

Yashin Sushi prides itself on their “Without Soy Sauce” concept. Chef Ikeda witnessed customers dunking their rice and delicate fish into their dishes of soy sauce, resulting in any flavours aside from soy being masked. Yashin specialises in serving its sushi already seasoned with different toppings and sauces that enhance the flavour of the fish.

Located in South Kensington, Yashin can be a bit pricey. But, if you’re in need of a special treat and would like to have some of the finest sushi in town, Yashin gets the job done. Be sure you make reservations in advance as the restaurant has limited seating.

This was most delicious Miso Soup I have ever had. I wonder if it being served in a dainty tea cup had anything to do with it. Edamame with Himalayan Sea SaltSalad with an incredible ginger-miso dressing and garlic chips
Mich, my favourite sushi eating companion. The foodie moment of happiness: when the most incredible meal is placed in front of you.
Omakase Eight:  Yellowtail with Salsa, Salmon with a Tangy Jelly, Tuna with Pepper and Salt, Fatty Tuna with Seasoning, Salmon with Jalepeno, Grouper with Garlic Jam, Tuna with Chili, Sea Bream with Spices

Six piece Salmon Miso Roll

Love Boat Sushi

Hi, my name is Alessandra, and I am Love Boat Sushi addict.

It started out as a simple flirtation, lead into a bit of an affair, and ended up with me being head over heels in love. By now the staff greet me by name and sushi chefs nod my way with a smirk, i’ve practically tried every roll on the extensive sushi menu, and I do believe I’m the only customer to insist they allow me to purchase their LBS mug to take with me back to London. When I am home from London, I manage to slip in for a roll at least every other night to attempt to tide me over until my next trip back.

Love Boat Sushi is located in San Diego, California and has, hands down, the best sushi ever. It’s not just the freshness of the ingredients, mesmerizing presentation, or friendliness of the staff that makes this place my open obsession, it’s the rolls themselves. Each roll is a masterpiece, completely different from the next with its own flavors and textures creating individual perfection. Did I mention its very reasonably priced? I could detail and drool over every roll on the menu, but that would take too long and would leave you overwhelmed. I’ll describe a few of my favorites as long as you promise to try Love Boat Sushi for yourself if you’re ever in San Diego. Deal?

Let the food porn commence!

The TNT Roll is on fire, literally. The enormous roll is presented with a flaming cucumber in the middle of the plate providing breath taking presentation. The roll consists of spicy tuna and cucumber, is topped with seared tuna and avocado and is covered in spicy sauce. As you try to stuff a monstrous piece of this roll into your mouth, the spicy sweetness floods your tastebuds bringing a smile to your overstuffed, hamster cheeks. Not ideal for a first date…

The Geisha Roll is fascinating presentation wise as you’re presented with a lime green and hot pink coated sushi roll surrounding a nest of fire. Inside is chopped salmon, crab, cream cheese, and avocado and the outside is covered in colored popcorn crunch before the roll is…wait for it… deep fried. This roll is delicious and sinful, but must be shared as it is incredibly filling.

The Sunshine Roll is my favorite of the Love Boat concoctions. A California Roll topped with salmon and tuna sashimi smothered in fiery chili and a sweet and sour ponzu sauce. It burns your mouth and tantalizes your taste buds in a confusing, delicious experience unlike any other. The textures and flavors melt together creating bliss in your mouth.

To support the best American Football team, the San Diego Chargers, the Chargers Special Roll is a local favorite on the menu. This roll is more of a stack of fresh shrimp tempura topped with spicy tuna, albacore, and avocado kissed in spicy ponzu and garnished with a spicy salsa. It’s enough to convert anyone into a Charger’s fan!

Pause for dramatic effect…….The Jackson. Read on with caution, this is not for the faint of heart. This roll is absurd. This monster takes tempura tuna, combines it with sweet potato, stuffs it into a roll, layers sashimi and avocado on top before smothering it all in fried onions and ponzu sauce. So delectable but so naughty.

The Hurricane Roll is a beautiful combination of crunch shrimp, crab, avocado, gobo, cucumber, and topped with tuna tataki. The tanginess of this roll makes it light and enjoyable versus some of Love Boat’s heavier rolls. The spices coating the tuna tataki miked with japanese vinegar burst with flavor in your mouth.

The Rainbow Roll is a lovely combination of soft shell crab, cucumber, and avocado topped with five different types of fresh sashimi. Perfect if you’re having trouble choosing between ordering a roll or sashimi – best of both worlds if you ask me.

I’m guessing you’re hungry now. If you’d ever like someone to accompany you to share some rolls and i’m in town, i’ve yet to turn down an offer!

Sushi of Shiori

My London partner in crime, Michelle, and I decided we needed a sushi fix. This is a frequent occurrence between the two of us, but we wanted to try something different. We found a tiny sushi restaurant, Sushi of Shiori, in Camden and decided to give it a try. The waitress and sushi chef greeted us and told us to sit wherever we’d like, seeing as the restaurant was empty. We chose to sit at the bar facing the window for some rather interesting people watching.

The waitress explained the layout of the menu, the Nigiri Sushi, Hosomaki, Futomaki, Oshi-zushi, and Sashimi. Feeling rather indecisive, we chose the 12 piece tasting Canapè style sushi. The waitress told us it would take a bit of time and that usually they prefer you order in advance, but seeing as the restaurant was dead, they decided to make it for us.

We nibbled on some edamame and commented on the interesting fashion taste in this part of town. After about twenty minutes of anticipation, the server brought us a beautifully displayed boat of sushi, each one a piece of artwork. The waitress explained the sushi: imported fish from Japan, japanese peppers, and several sauces that had been specially created for each piece were among the listed. Each piece was a completely different flavor and texture, creating an incredible experience. We loved it and are looking forward to our next visit.