Just in time for the holiday shopping season, Demeter® Fragrance Library is selling the perfect gift for someone who likes sushi so much that they want to smell like it.
GloFish® are not a result of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, but instead are bred to glow. From the website: “GloFish® fluorescent fish were originally bred to help detect environmental pollutants.” The use of GloFish® has expanded from science to decorative use in aquariums to food, like sushi:
Sure, there are potential issues associated with these fish, such as (accidental or intentional) release into the wild, ethics and genetic technology, safety of ingesting genetically modified food, and on, but all that aside, does this look appetizing to you?
An unnamed Japanese master chef demonstrates why Tamago is such an art form:
Complete with recipe!
Tamago nigiri is considered by some to be the ultimate test of a sushi chef. The perfect tamago will have the right texture, a delicate layered structure, and just a hint of sweetness. Now that you’ve watched the video, you might have a new view of this often-overlooked menu item at your local sushi restaurant.
281 Rice Lake Square
Wheaton, IL 60187
Chicago Tiger Sushi made its second trip to the Chicago Suburbs, this time to visit Sushi House, tucked away in the sprawling, labyrinthine Rice Lake Square strip mall in Wheaton, Illinois. Team Tiger attended on a quiet Friday night. Although we had made reservations, this was not necessary.
Important note: As you walk in, you should check out the specials posted by the entrance. Our waitress didn’t mention them, and we only noticed them on the way out, and so we missed out on the seasonal Navidad sushi and the “Classy” roll.
Upon sitting down, we were welcomed with a warm greeting and warm towels. The décor was low-key, with light jazz playing in the background. Some semi-private booths, illuminated by Japanese-style paper lanterns, are available at the front of the restaurant near the windows.
The chopsticks were of the standard snap-apart variety. While Andutakusan prefers these– they give him a satisfying feeling of having to work for his food, like an ancient hunter gatherer– Hobiko and Monishimi prefer fancier chopsticks. The soy sauce dishes were plain, round, and ceramic. Low-sodium soy sauce was not on the table (although available). The bathrooms were clean but slightly dingy, with poor caulking and crooked fixtures.
We ordered the Garlic-Sautéed Edamame and the Hamachi Jalapeño as appetizers. Andutakusan thought that the garlic was a nice twist on the standard bean. However, all agreed that the edamame was too greasy. Additionally, Hobbiko thought that the application of garlic was a little heavy-handed.
The Hamachi Jalapeño was plated well, consisting of slices of hamachi overlaid with thinly-sliced fresh jalapeño. Although we struggled to pick up the flat hamachi (using chopsticks), our taste buds were rewarded by the crisp peppers contrasting with the firm fish, all brought together by a satisfying heat. Andutakusan declared this the best appetizer he’s had at a Sushi restaurant, however, it should be noted that we had started drinking at this point.
We were immediately intrigued by the Sake Tinis, which are similar to martinis, but made with sake and boldly-flavored liquors. We each ordered a different variation: Princess Monishimi got the Japanese Slipper, flavored with ginger liquor; Andutakusan got the Geisha, which featured peach liquor; and Hobbiko got the Zen, made with green tea liquor. They all were easy to drink, yet each was unique.
We followed that up with Sapporo ON DRAFT, something else that was unusual. Also available were red and white wines and other Japanese beers. Also, Miller Lite.
Princess Monishimi ordered the Red Crunchy Roll, consisting of shrimp tempura, avocado, masago, and tuna on top, drizzled with two kinds of sauce. This was her favorite roll, although the tempura could have been more crunch-er-riffic. She also got the Mixed Veggie Roll, which upped the crunch quota by one, featuring a crunchtacular crunchiness. ¡Crunch! Finally, she had the Spicy Aji: Spanish mackerel with scallions, ginger, and chili sauce. She thought this roll was somewhat lacking in flavor and crunch.
4 stars (out of 5).
Andutakusan had the Red Dragon Roll, which featured spicy tuna, wrapped in avocado, with spicy sauces, and crunchy crunches crunched all around. The spice was balanced perfectly with the coolness of the avocado. He also ordered various nigiri: fresh salmon, smoked salmon, maguro, and hamachi. All were reasonably fresh and not fishy-tasting. 4 stars.
As a new resident of the area, Hobbiko felt obliged to order the Wheaton Roll, which contained tuna, salmon, cream cheese, avocado, festive green tobiko, on a plate of spicy mustard and reddish soy-based sauce. The presentation was appropriate for the season, although the cream cheese was slightly overpowering. Hobbiko also ordered nigiri: maguro and hamachi. Compared to some of the other places we’ve reviewed, the fish was not as fresh as he expected. 3.5 stars.
Monishimi and Andutakusan also ordered the tamago, which Monishimi thought was of insufficient girth, but was long enough to satisfy her needs. Andutakusan thought that it was just fine. Tamago is all about the execution anyways.
Service was attentive, yet not overbearing. One slight nit from Hobbiko was that he arrived early but was not offered water while he waited.
The sushi experience, while not orgasmic, was quite satisfactory. Like someone you’ve been dating for six years. Just buy her a ring already! 3.83 stars.
Postscript: Residents of Wheaton should look for coupons in the local circulars. On this particular night, we got 20% off.
You’re going to need a good amount of soy sauce and wasabi as well as a giant pair of chopsticks as accompaniments to this whale of a sushi roll. TreeHugger reports (via the World Records Academy) that the Umewaka Restaurant in Japan has the world’s largest sushi roll on its menu, a roll made with over 24 ingredients like egg, vegetables and a variety of raw seafood including endangered bluefin tuna. It is rolled with 6.5 feet of rice and seaweed. The final product is about 8 inches in diameter and weighs about 13 pounds.
The restaurant also offers oversized (OVERSIZED) nigiri.
Take a look at their offerings:
Chicago Tiger Sushi receives a lot of coupons and deals in our mailbox, from Groupon, to Living Social, and lately something called Amazon Local. To be honest, most of them we just ignore, but this one caught are attention: a $40 coupon for Usagi Ya for $20. Not a bad deal, in particular since we’ve visited Usagi Ya on one of our first Sushi outings, and can highly recommend it.
Usagi Ya is located in Wicker Park at 1178 North Milwaukee Avenue, Chicago, IL 60622.
Note: This coupon expires on August 5th, 2011.
5547 North Clark Street
Chicago, IL 60660
Tanoshii is a small(ish) storefront restaurant in Andersonville. It was featured last year on WTTW’s Check Please, so reservations are a must, as there was not a free seat in the restaurant at 8pm on Saturday. One couple, who came in at the same time and didn’t have a reservation, was told they had over an hour wait. Ouch!
We also suggest you keep in mind that Tanoshii is BYOB. Conveniently, there’s a Jewel just across the street in case you forget. We opted for Sapporo and Blue Moon Winter Ale– yes, at Chicago Tiger Sushi we like to have a variety of beer with our raw fish.
For appetizers, we ordered Edamame and Agedashi. We had no complaints with the Edamame, but the Agedashi, which was listed on the menu as fried tofu in sauce, turned out to be lumps of tofu with soggy breading in a bland soup. Not very exciting.
Monishimi, being a tree-hugging environmentalist, noted that the menu offered Bluefin tuna, which is endangered. We were concerned that her head might explode but thankfully the Sapporo helped to ease the pain. She also had reservations about the gastrointestinal effects of Escolar, which we won’t belabor here. (We suggest this Grist article for more about Bluefin, and this Mother Jones article for more info about Escoloar.)
With that in mind, Andutakusan ordered the Kamikaze roll, an Alaskan roll, one piece of Hamachi nigiri, and miso soup. Monishimi ordered the Dragon roll and a Red Caterpillar roll. Hobbes ordered the “Chef Mike’s” special, which gives the sushi chef free reign to create a roll based on your likes and dislikes and is a popular option at Tanoshii.
Andutakusan liked the fact that the Kamikaze roll had lots of spicy mayo on top (but not inside), which made the roll both fresh and spicy at the same time, like the Spice Girls mixed with the Fresh Prince (but not that DJ Jazzy Jeff guy). The miso soup was served in a very shallow bowl, which made it hard to eat: Andy tried to spoon the soup, but the soup wasn’t having any of that. The Alaskan roll was standard fare, as expected, and the Hamachi Nigiri was fresh and delicious. 4 stars (out of 5)
Monishimi thought the Dragon roll was good but not outstanding. The Red Caterpillar roll, which was described as spicy in the menu, was not spicy at all. It was a salty roll and the fish on top of it was mushy. 2.5 stars
Hobbiko told the waitress that he liked his sushi spicy, and that he didn’t like shrimp, octopus, and squid. The “Mike’s Special” that came back was spicy tuna, Bluefin tuna, avocado, and cucumber. The presence of Bluefin earned Hobbiko many dirty looks from Monishimi, while Hobbiko thought the roll was “endangerlicious.” 3.5 stars
The hosts were friendly, but otherwise service was slow and abrupt, and the food did not come out at the same time. At one point we had to wait five minutes before we could flag down a waitress to ask for more soy sauce. Speaking of soy sauce, one particularly unprofessional touch was that, after our meal was finished, the waitress took the dregs of soy sauce from our bowls and consolidated it into one bowl. Hey, do that in the kitchen!
Tanoshii is nicely decorated, with red and pastel walls evoking a sense of calm, but was much too crowded to be a relaxed atmosphere. Whether this is a positive or negative is likely a matter of personal taste. We found it to be a bit chaotic inside, but some may enjoy the lively atmosphere.
The music was a strange mix of 80s hits: Poison (Every Rose has its Thorn), New Kids on the Block, Michael Jackson, Queen, and Tom Petty were just some of the music heard. Now, we’re not saying that every Sushi restaurant needs to be playing downtempo electronic, but… New Kids on the Block? You have to draw a line somewhere.
The bathrooms were small, cold, and disorganized. The soy dishes were too large/wide, and the chopstick were the standard wooden break-apart kind.
Although the food was above average, the waitstaff, music, and the speed of service made for a below average sushi experience. 3 to 3.5 stars for food, but only 2.5 stars overall. We recommend trying Tanoshii on a week night– it’s possible we caught them on an off night.
Groupon’s daily deal today is for Tank Sushi in Chicago’s Lincoln Square neighborhood. Buy this deal for yourself or for a friend, right in time for the holidays. Tank has many unique rolls, such as the Strawberry Benkan, which is tuna, mango & avocado, tempura battered, topped with soy & strawberry puree with orange tobiko and cilantro. Check it out.
207 North Randall Road
Batavia, IL 60510
For a change of pace, Chicago Tiger Sushi trekked to the western suburbs of Chicago through rain, rainbows, and tollbooths to convene at Swordfish in Batavia, IL. For those not familiar with Batavia, it’s in the western suburbs, not far from Aurora. Our first impression of Swordfish was that the restaurant was modern, roomy, and well laid-out. The waitstaff was friendly and the sushi chefs gave a warm greeting as we walked by, as though we were old friends reconnecting on Facebook. Overall, it was a welcoming atmosphere.
Most of the waitstaff were wearing headsets, which seemed odd (as it wasn’t terribly crowded) but then again, if it helps them get the sushi out faster, we can’t complain. Our waitress offered us tightly rolled towels which swelled when placed in hot water. For appetizers, we ordered edamame and Dragon Eyes: mushrooms stuffed with seafood and topped with a spicy sauce. The Dragon Eyes were served warm from the kitchen and had a definite kick to them.
When our food arrived, each plate had an individual tea light candle encircled in a thin swatch of wax. Decorative carrots were artfully crafted into swan shapes. The chopsticks were the standard wooden variety attached at one end. The music was eclectic and oddly middle-eastern-sounding at times– not your typical sushi restaurant soundtrack, but overall it wasn’t too distracting.
- Atlantic Salmon, Yellowtail, Red Snapper Nigiri – The fish was tender and fresh. The pieces of fish were a little large for my tastes. 4 stars.
- Rainbow Roll – This was a standard presentation: 8 pieces of maki with multiple types of fish on the outside of the rice. Although the fish was again tender, overall there was not a lot of flavor. Perhaps the roll could have used green onions or more wasabi. 3 stars.
- Atlantic Salmon & Yellowtail Nigiri – Unlike Hobiko, I was pleasantly surprised by the large pieces of fish. More bang for the buck! 4.5 stars
- Ocean Drive Roll – The presentation was excellent and the roll was enormous (as it should be, since it cost $18). It was filled with yellow tail, tuna, green pepper and cilantro, which was refreshing and distinctive, but it had too much rice for my tastes. The soy bean paper was unique. 3.5 stars
- Soft-Shell Crab Roll – A little too salty and oily for my taste. The soft shell crab could have been crisper. The flavor was rather bland. 2.5 stars
- Ocean’s 13 Roll- There were 13 large pieces to this order. Soy bean paper was used instead of seaweed, and four kinds of fish (tuna, salmon, super white tuna, snapper) were featured. The flavor combination was solid, but the rice was a little too soft. It was a filling plate of food. 4 stars
Beverages: The menu had an extensive variety of wine, beer, and sake. We ordered Kirin Lights.
Bathrooms: Clean and adequate.
Menu: The menu was deep, large, and orgasmic. We had sex all night with the menu. But seriously, it was an extensive menu with some unusual rolls. Some examples being the beef roll, which we had never seen before, and two rolls with melted mozzarella.
Four stars on food alone, but only 3.5 stars when taking price into account. Even though we didn’t order much alcohol, the final tab still came to over $40 per person (including tip).
Happy Easter to our readers celebrating the holiday today.