Posts Tagged ‘japanese’

All sushi is good sushi. I guess.

June 20, 2011 - 9:39 pm No Comments

Well, I was gonna clear out all my spam comments but I got really bored with that so instead I’ll talk about two things I really love:

Food and Pittsburgh.

More importantly, food in Pittsburgh.

A good friend of mine had a birthday this past Friday and since nobody doesn’t like hibachi, he held his party at Saga, which is that new sushi/hibachi in Settler’s Ridge (that’s where the Giant Eagle USS Market District Starship Food Emporium is, and that is another tale for another time).

I’d mentioned the gathering to my boss, and though he had not personally eaten there, many of his friends had, and he had… well, let’s just say, not heard good things.

And now I know why.

Let me say on the face of it, Saga is not a bad place to eat by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, I’ll say up front that the hibachi chefs themselves are the best I’ve ever seen.  Those who ordered hibachi (see: everyone but me as I am a pescatarian, though I regretted my decision upon finding out there was swordfish hibachi and I’ve always wanted to try swordfish) said it was good, though I’ll get into that more in a moment.

First I ordered iced tea.  Let’s forget I’m a tea snob for a moment, but when my iced tea arrived it was very much warm tea and very little ice, and I was the only one at the table who didn’t get a lemon.  The waitress also forgot to mention that the tea is unsweetened and you have to ask for sugar and you’d better damn sure want that sugar because it’s gonna take a good ten minutes for you to get it.  It also tasted less like black tea and more like burnt.  That about set the tone.

I ordered sushi, two different rolls, with a sashimi appetizer.  My sashimi arrived with everyone else’s appetizers and was possibly the most gorgeously plated dish I’ve ever seen.  It came with the standard bean sprouts and ginger, but the whole thing was served on a sasa no happa (a large bamboo leaf) with an orchid bloom and was arranged immaculately.  It was cheaper than most sashimi plates at only $9, but for obvious reason: I only got nine pieces of fish, which I considered reasonable.  But though all the garnish was beautiful, there was a hell of a lot more of it on the plate than there was food, and it left me thinking I’d missed something somewhere.

Though I got my appetizer at a reasonable time, I also got my first sushi roll at… exactly the same time.  Now, I’m not a fan of warm sushi, and I’m also not a fan of being done with all of my food by the time everyone else has, well, started, and I wanted to watch the hibachi being cooked, so I had to sit, and let my sushi get warm.  That was the first real problem.  The second was that the sushi was far too huge.  Proper sushi etiquette (and if you don’t care for that, simple ease of eating) dictates that you don’t take bites, you put the whole slice in your mouth at once.  Let. Me. Tell. You. What.  I would have to have been a tyrannosaurus to fit one piece of this sushi in my mouth at once.  They were huge!  Bigger may be better, but when your sushi is the width of a pepperoni roll and so loosely configured that if you do try to take a bite it all falls apart in your soy sauce dish, you become aware that there may be a problem.  These, despite the impossibility of such a maneuver, were three-bit pieces.  And that is not cool.  I’m sure they would have been delicious if I could have fit them into my mouth in one go, but as it stood, I had to pick them apart and eat them bit-by-bit.  Warm.

I also stole the husband’s ginger-dressed salad since he’s anti-ginger (but loves red-heads, I promise), and I have to say…  Well, there’s good ginger dressing, and there’s bad.  They tried to make this gingery enough to soothe those who actually know what ginger is supposed to taste like but palatable enough for those more familiar with ranch dressing, and they failed.  The dressing tasted like nondescript orange vegetable mash.  And that’s bad.

The husband, having ordered hibachi, informed me that the food was fine but had perhaps a bit too much teriyaki.  Take that with a grain of salt, as he likes his food a bit blander than most.  What he was right about were the sauces.  The traditional sauces, being the shrimp and steak dipping sauces, were both a little bit off.  The shrimp sauce was not creamy enough and a bit too tangy, in an effort to be more akin to cocktail sauce.  It didn’t work.  The steak sauce was a good sauce all around, but not a shining example of hibachi by itself.

I was left with the feeling that Saga had gone out of their way to hire the very best chefs they could get their hands on, who put on the best food-related show anyone had ever seen, and hoped that that would cover for the mediocre nature of absolutely everything else in the restaurant.  So if you want a good show, by all means, give Saga a try.  But if you just want some delicious and reasonably-priced sushi or hibachi with good service and a good atmosphere, for heaven’s sake just go to Yokoso.

Vegetarian Japanese Polka-Dot Rice

June 15, 2010 - 8:41 pm No Comments

Welcome to a segment I’m going to call Adventures in Being a Dirt-Poor Foodie.  Today I bring you a recipe I just concocted.  The inspiration for this was how much I love veggie dogs and how lazy I truly am.  What it is is pretty much the title: white rice with Japanese clear soup mix and polka-dots (maybe this is a Pittsburgh thing, but ‘polka-dot macaroni’ is when you cut up a hot dog and put it in a bowl of mac n’ cheese.  For this, I used a veggie dog, being the meatless sort I am, and put it in rice instead. Because, that’s why).


1/2 cup white rice (though I’d imagine any grain or variety of rice would work just fine)

2/3 cup water

1 veggie dog (if you’re a veggie person, go ahead and use whatever hot dog you please)

1 packet Japanese clear soup mix (though, once again, I’d imagine you could use miso mix or even a packet of ramen powder, butthat would seriously up the sodium content.  Additionally, it may make a difference that this mix is one packet to eight ounces of water.  It’s Sushi Chef brand, if we’re getting super technical)

Baby spinach leaves (as many as you like; I used four big’uns)

White mushroom caps (again, as many as you like, and probably whatever mushrooms you prefer. I used three)

1 medium garlic clove, chopped

2 tablespoons shallots, chopped (or onions, though you may want to use more, especially if you’re using white or sweet onions)

A pinch of habanero (if you’re into spicy food like me)

Margarine or butter (or vegetable oil or non-stick spray, it’s not really the flavor that matters here, it’s the fact that garlic is sticky)

Sounds yummy, now what do I do?

In a small to medium sauce pan, melt about a tablespoon of margarine (or butter).  Over a medium-low heat, saute the shallots, garlic, and habanero lightly.  Add as much margarine as it takes to keep the herbs scootin’ across the pan.  As they begin to brown, chop up the mushrooms and put them in.  You may need more non-stick.  Saute them, but only very lightly, since they’re going to continue to be cooked.

Splash in your 2/3 cup of water.  Now, I know most rice only requires as much water as rice, but there’s a lot going on in this pan already, so it might get soaked up.  Let the veggies mix in a bit with the water, then add the rice.  Mix it up, and add the packet of soup mix .  While that cooks, prepare your veggie dog.

Cook the hot dog however you prefer; boil it, fry it, grill it (though that would be a lot of work for one stupid hot dog).  For the record, I put mine in the microwave wrapped in a wet paper towel and nuked it for 45 seconds, because i am truly lazy.  Then, just let it hang out and cool.

Now, de-stem the spinach and chop or tear it up, and put it in with the rice.  Don’t forget to stir occasionally.   Let the spinach cook down just a smidge, and turn the heat down to low.  While that last bit of water is cooking away, get a bowl.  Chop up your cooked veggie into bits (I like mine dime-sized) and put it in the bottom of the bowl.  Then just pour the rice on top and voila! Dinner!  With plenty of food groups!  Enjoy with a spoon or chopstick and milk or Coke or whatever.  I’d imagine this would also be good as a side for something, though perhaps sans hot dog.  It might even be good with fish.

Now, as you figured, pretty much everything in this recipe is optional except for the rice and the soup and the hot dog, hence it being Japanese Polka-Dot Rice (don’t even hafta be vegetarian).  It’s really whatever you like; add carrots, celery, potatoes, whatever, just be mindful of individual cook times.  Pretty much everything in this recipe cooks up fast, but say, potatoes, not so much.

Since I am a giant foodie (read: a huge pig), I’m hoping to include more recipes in here, of my own styling, and maybe even of yours!  If you want to send me a recipe to try and/or post, just email it to me or even leave it in the comments (though if it’s got meat in it I can’t promise I’ll try it, though I may use Chris as a guinea pig).  And, if you’d like to be on my much neglected blogroll, hey, just drop me a line and let me know.  I’d love to get some affiliates, which I’m under the impression are internet friends.  I love friends!

That’s all for now.  I’m off to continue playing Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure on my pink DS, because secretly I’m nine years old.