Tag Archives: japan

Fit’s Movie Review: The Wolverine

For once, (Alana aka “Fit“) am writing the movie review for the superhero movie. I personally don’t think I’m qualified because I’ve never read the X-Men comic books (although I really want to *ahem*). So let me just say, if you haven’t read the comic books, you will enjoy this movie. At least I did. A few reasons include Hugh Jackman’s performance (duh), awesome battle scenes, and interesting plot. And I love anything Japanese too.

Let me doubly preface this by saying I didn’t watch X-Men Origins: Wolverine. I heard it was great–haha, just kidding, heard it was terrible. So I haven’t seen Wolverine’s past, but I did watch all the “X-Men” movies with the whole cast and all. So this movie is set after those X-Men movies. Jean is dead, but reappears constantly to talk to him and goad him into death so that they can finally be together. She gets pretty annoying, kinda creeps me out. But it was interesting, kind of letting the audience see what was going on in Wolverine’s head during this whole movie.

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To make a long story short, Wolverine goes to Japan to visit someone he saved long ago. There are a few famous Japanese actors here such as Tao Okamoto, Hiroyuki Sanada, and Will Yun Lee which were a pleasure to see. They delivered excellent acting, creating believable roles whom you actually felt for. Hugh Jackman always steals the show, though. In any movie I’ve seen him in, he gives his all, emotion and body. It was great to see Wolverine be his badass self with the softie inside, always “playing the hero” as Jean taunts.

This movie really kicked butt in the action, battle scenes. They were fun, fast-paced, and exciting with settings like on top of a bullet train and in a huge laboratory with tons of stories. It didn’t leave you seasick like many jerky-camera action scenes in other movies, but stayed to the point and hit it where it hurt. It left me gripping Chris’ hand, hoping that she escaped, or that he didn’t get his head ripped off by a cable.

Speaking of gripping, this movie had a plot that had me guessing. I kept thinking I had it (obviously that Viper girl is evil), but then another twist would appear and throw me through a loop! I really appreciated that, it makes movie-going a more active activity, if you will, for me. The movie combined the perfect mix of suspenseful plot action in the middle of huge battle scenes, giving the audience the feel of anxiety and curiosity and even some sense of emotion for these characters.

All in all, if you aren’t picky about the background of X-Men comics, I believe you’ll enjoy this movie. Sure it’s not going to win the Best Picture at the Oscars, but it was worth the $7 ticket we paid for. I’d even get it on DVD, though I’m not sure Chris would. Fit gives this movie a definitely thumbs up. Watch “The Wolverine” to stay hungry and fit (seriously, it made me want to do some beastly workouts and learn martial arts)!

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Hungry Eats… SUGARFISH (Los Angeles, CA)

I love sushi! My favorite food is probably a toss up between sushi and ramen. It’s hard to say depending on how I feel, one being hot and one being not so much. If you’re going to find warm sushi anywhere in Los Angeles, it would be Sugarfish. I talk about the movie Jiro Dreams of Sushi all the time. It’s one of my favorite films of all time and it highlights the way that traditional sushi is made. The rice should be fresh and warm, the fish is fresh and cool, and the combination is not tainted by the addition of soy sauce, ginger, and wasabi. Any of those are applied only by the chef so that they compliment the fish perfectly. Sugarfish follows these standards and, although the have those condiments on the table, they recommend not using them. So let’s back track and start from when we entered.

Editor’s Note: WARNING: DROOL ALERT AHEAD FOR ENTIRE POST

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Fit’s family and I, along with Fit’s brother’s girlfriend (confusing right?) stopped by Sugarfish in downtown Los Angeles at 11:00 a.m. right when it opened on a Sunday (I think). Kai had recommended it and knowing that we are in Boulder where good fish is hard to come by, he decided to treat us to a nice meal. Not nice–amazing is more like it. Their quality control in their recommended dishes is second to none. The six of us were seated immediately and service was very good throughout the meal. It was quite empty but they took dirty dishes immediately and all of our dishes, or nearly all, were delivered warm. One hand roll had soggy seaweed but the rest were crisp and well toasted.

Sophie, Fit's brother, and Fit's mum

Sophie, Fit’s brother, and Fit’s mum

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Hand roll

Hand roll

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Nearly all of us got the recommended “Trust Us” with one person ordering a la carte, one getting the Trust Me Lite and me getting the super trust me (extra… for hungry, as always). The meal is not fresh in my head but nearly everything was great. The tuna sashimi salad was one of the highlights. Its dressing was spectacular and I must have licked the plate clean. The edamame was normal and the rice was always warm. The nigiri was all high quality with the exception of the unagi, which was just slightly off for me. Not quite sauced or toasted properly, but still tasty. It just didn’t match up with everything else. The seaweed on the handrolls were almost all toasted and I even enjoyed the blue crab handroll, which is typically something I would not order. Fit said it was the best hand rolls she had ever had. We drank water and it was refreshing and helped keep my mouth cool and fresh.

Tuna sashimi salad

Tuna sashimi salad

Edemame

Edemame

Unagi

Unagi

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All in all, I would say that Sugarfish is a very high-quality restaurant that utilizes the Nozawa style of creating simple but elegant sushi. If you are interested in complex rolls then you should venture elsewhere. If you are looking to get full on a budget, this is not the place either. The atmosphere is unfortunately very industrial and cold, despite efforts to warm it up. The concrete ceiling is hard to cover so I would advise couples that romantic dates might not be the best here, but they can still be great due to the food. It probably looks nicer at night so that might be a good time for a date. If you find yourself here I would almost certainly tell you to only get either the Trust Me, Trust Me Lite, or the Nozawa depending on how hungry you are. I did the math and the amount of food you get on the Trust Me for nearly 25 dollars would be over 35 dollars if ordered a la carte. Not only is it their best deal but it also highlights the dishes they do best. That is what I got out of our visit and I hope it helps you on yours.

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So mouthwatering I can't even handle it. One of the best dishes -Alana

So mouthwatering I can’t even handle it. One of the best dishes -Alana

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Perfect

Perfect

The obesity rate in Japan is over 30% lower than the United States so eating sushi is certainly one way of staying hungry and fit!

Editor’s Note: I made sure to keep all the pictures nice and big to emphasize the drool effect. Can’t wait to eat there again. -Alana

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Hungry Eats… Ramen (Little Tokyo, Los Angeles)

If you read the title you know that there are a lot of good things going on so this has to end well. Hungry’s favorite soup and potentially his favorite food is ramen. Most of you are probably thinking why would Hungry love ramen; it’s not good for you and it’s disgusting. That’s what a lot of people I know say until I get them some real ramen. Ramen is a type of noodle popular in Asian cultures such as Japan and Korea.

You can find it in American supermarkets made by Maruchan and Top Ramen for anywhere from 15-25 cents a package. It’s almost completely nutritionally void or negative with dead calories and large amounts of sodium and abundant processing. But I love it. Ever since my sister ate ramen in high school, I have loved it. Luckily, I live a generally healthy lifestyle so I do not feel guilty or see the negative effects of eating it, even in excess, but you need to be careful consuming these supermarket brands (but the real stuff is okay!). BUT this all is going to be saved for another time because I didn’t mean to say this much about ramen. This is a restaurant review for Men Oh Tokushima Ramen in Little Tokyo, Los Angeles.

Little Tokyo

Little Tokyo (you can see Fit on the left corner!)

Daikokuya is the most popular ramen spot in Japangeles. It is always packed and it was very busy when we went with our party of 6. We decided to pass it up and continue to Men Oh because of reviews on Yelp. It is not in the main drag of Little Tokyo and is hidden in a strip mall so it can be hard to find. You need to find it. The 6 of us (Fit’s family and family friend) walked in the Sunday night before Memorial Day. It was empty but by the time we left it was completely full although it is small. The menu is tiny but I can assure you that nearly everything is amazing since we had nearly everything. Everything we had was amazing so we figure everything is just as good.

The Menu

The Menu

The atmosphere mimics a perfect, small ramen shop but not ramen stop. It was very clean and cute. The staff was organized, kind, professional and efficient. The food was ridiculously filling, delicious and cheap as dirt. It also was much healthier than your store-brand ramen. Their theme is ramen influenced by Tokushima Prefecture on the smallest of Japan’s 4 major islands, Shikoku Island. The industry here is based on raising pork so the ramen has broth heavily flavored by pork bones and filled with pork meat. We got 4 of their 3 ramen dishes available (custom) and all were nearly flawless. I was the only one with great ramen experience but even people having it for the first time were as thrilled as I was.

Awesome painting

Awesome painting

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My dish

My dish

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Fit's dish (without meat or pork broth)

Fit’s dish (without meat or pork broth)

I can’t say much more than this is the perfect spot. You get a cheap, delicious, and filling meal that is quickly served by an efficient and kind wait staff in a clean and enjoyable environment. We will go back whenever we can and bring whoever we can. Michelin might not give this place a star, but I certainly do. And that says a lot. Really. Hungry approved. More to come about my obsession and history with ramen in the future!

Hungry & Fit chowing down

Hungry & Fit chowing down

 

Double-fisting...finishing everybody else's broths

Double-fisting…finishing everybody else’s broths

Using Other Cultures: Being Smart with Food

I’m going to draw upon two cultures to make up a smart food philosophy. They can either be put together or separately, whichever you choose. I simply think it is good to keep an open mind to other cultures to see how they deal with food and use the opportunity to look at our own food habits. The two cultures I will focus on are Spanish (as in from Spain) and Japanese (as in from…Japan). Let’s look.

Spanish

The Spanish have many different eating habits, including a tiny breakfast, but I’m going to focus on their lunch. The Spaniards have a time called a “siesta” around noon or a little later. This means lunch time. And lunch time is a big deal in Spain. Shops will close down for a few hours and many Spaniards will go out to restaurants for a few hours for up to three courses. I’m not saying–ditch your work for three hours and go get a five-course meal for lunch, no! You can pack a big lunch, I know that I sure do.

And this more so points to the focus around the middle of the day when our metabolism is in full gear, ripping and roaring through the food we give it. In America, most of us have our biggest meal at the end of the day, when our metabolism is starting to slow down and our body is beginning to tire. This is what I want to adopt from the Spaniards. Move the biggest meal of the day to LUNCH where your metabolism has plenty of time to break everything down rather than waiting until dinner to stuff your face and leave yourself overnight to try to digest it all. The Spanish may be wild party-ers, but they sure do know how to eat.

Japanese

Another polar opposite of the typical United States eating culture, however instead of time of eating it is PORTION CONTROL AND SIZE. If you don’t know, Chris and I have a big love for the Japanese culture and plan to live in Japan for a period of time pretty soon. And that means a big love for Japanese food. Now, of course, the United States has turned small Japanese portions into all-you-can-eat sushi (opposite of portion control), and we are lovers of that too. But for everyday life, everyday eating, the Japanese set a beautiful example of eating the right nutrients in the right portion size. Why do you think the Japanese obesity percentage is so much lower than the United States’?

Protein. Vegetable. Carb. Have you heard of the bento box? Click here for an excellent blog with tons of creative bento boxes. A bento box is basically a Japanese lunch box, usually packing in rice, some kind of vegetable, and some kind of  protein (usually fish or tofu). It isn’t very big, and has no high fructose corn syrup packed into it. So instead of jumping to the supersize (a beloved American meal size), let’s try the “Bento” size. It has all the nutrients we need without stuffing ourselves to the brim. And maybe we’ll just drop the obesity rate to a more reasonable number for the US.

So let’s open our minds and our mouths and try different habits from different cultures. Who knows–it could be your next favorite thing. I sure know that I’m transfixed by the bento box. I love eating, but I love eating without feeling extremely full afterwards as well. So try it out! Cheers! Salud! 万歳 !

BONUS KITTY PIC 

sajah fire

Sajah’s first fire

Cinema 2012: the Movies We Watched this Year

Throughout 2012, there were a healthy amount of movies that Alana and I saw in theaters. Even though tomorrow is the last day of the year and we might see a movie (Les Miserables, most likely), this post comes now.

Here are the 30 movies that we saw in theaters this year, basically in order. There were plenty of movies that we saw out of theaters as well; the first one that comes to mind is actually Kung Fu Panda 2. Also, we just recently watched Safety Not Guaranteed. Throw Alana’s first time seeing Nightmare Before Christmas and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation to that list.
It’s funny because we’ve already seen so many of these movies, but this was the year of the re-release in 3d, or at least it feels like it.

I’ll just throw a few words about each movie, some we did actual reviews for and others didn’t make it in time.

Beauty and the Beast 3d: Arguably my favorite animated movie, and feature film, of all time, it’s easily in the top ten if you ask me any day. We had seen The Lion King re-release last year and this was a no brainer. Alana had to stop me from singing along throughout the movie. It’s always in the discussion and usually the front runner for favorite Disney movie of all time.
The Grey: It was about Liam Neeson and wolves so we had to see it. Plus, I love snow and the cold. This movie was such a let down with an awful anti-climatic ending and a series of ridiculous deaths. The scenery was beautiful and the soundtrack was intriguing though.
Star Wars Episode 1: Phantom Menace 3d: Even Alana’s hatred of the new trilogy couldn’t keep us away from this one. It’s my favorite of the new trilogy because of Qui Gon, Darth Maul, and Duel of the Fates, thank you John Williams. The 3d felt non-existent but we enjoyed it being loud and large.

Cover of "Star Wars - Episode I, The Phan...

The Secret World of Arrietty: Continuing the streak of seeing anything related to Hayao Miyazaki whenever possible. It’s not one of his classics, but that still ranks it as an amazing movie. We loved it, the soundtrack was out of this world good.
Jiro Dreams of Sushi: Arguably my favorite movie of the year and the simplest one at that. I love sushi and Japan and Jiro Ono is the master of serving the finest. This was a masterpiece, perfectly put together with the most amazing images. We got sushi outside Lincoln Center right after it.
The Hunger Games: We did not enjoy this one even though one of us read the book prior and one didn’t. Obviously Alana read it. Mainstream trash in my opinion, although there were a few good special effects, costumes, and performances… Stanley Tucci.
Wrath of the Titans: It was nowhere near as good as the first one but Sam Worthington, Liam Neeson, and Ralph Fiennes did the best they could to convince. It was too over the top, Bill Nighy, but my love for Greek mythology left me with a smile at the end. There was just so much more they could have done, recast Gemma Arterton as Ao, so it was the worst thing a movie could be, disappointing.
Titanic 3d: Smiled throughout the whole film. The 3d wasn’t very good, but Celine Dion and this movie on the big screen made for a great time.
Cover of "Titanic (Three-Disc Special Col...

Classic story

Avengers: Being a big comic book nerd and having seen all of the movies leading up to this one, we were thrilled with this movie. Great casting Thor and Captain America, finally getting a good Hulk, Joss Whedon is a genius (See Firefly), I could go on for a long time. Alana bought it the day it came out on blu-ray and we watched it that night.
Men in Black 3: I love this series and Will Smith is great. This movie had such great witty humor in it, we were laughing, we were biting our nails, we were just loving it. It had a better story than the second one and potentially the first. It was a fun movie.
Snow White and the Huntsman: I actually was really looking forward to this one based on the trailer but I didn’t have huge expectations because I didn’t want to be disappointed and it hit home just right. It wasn’t amazing but it was good. I enjoyed it thoroughly although a second viewing is questionable.
Brave: We enjoyed seeing this one in Chicago while going across the country and it was just a nice movie. I’m not a huge Pixar fan so it was definitely one of my top choices from them, but it was the ancient lore of the world they created in it that made me like it so much.
Beasts of the Southern Wild: We saw this one at the FOX lot in Los Angeles and it was amazing. The little girl who plays the lead gets my breakout actress of the year award, and arguably best female lead of the year. The cinematography was perfect. In a league with Jiro in terms of quality.
Ice Age Continental Drift: A fun family movie we all saw together for free again at the FOX lot. I didn’t see all the prequels but it was clever enough and fun enough to deliver well… enough.
The Dark Knight Rises: It was good, I enjoyed the ending no spoilers, but it doesn’t live up to the hype for me. I haven’t been too crazy about the series despite having a long history with Batman. People can call me crazy but I have my experience and I enjoyed Michael Keaton’s movies the most, although these have some great qualities.
Ruby Sparks: A really cute creative movie that made us smile a lot. We enjoyed it when we all saw it at FOX. Great showing from independent movies this year, really.
Resident Evil Retribution: This was the MOST disappointing movie of the year for me. I see the Resident Evil movies for my birthday every year and they always are garbage, but this was the worst by far. They tore the actual story line apart and threw away everything Capcom has done for the last near twenty years.
Hotel Transylvania: Cute, about what we expected from it. Good cast of voice actors, but nothing special got across from this one. No amazing messages, it was just blah.
FrankenweenieReally didn’t enjoy this one as much as critics did, it was the same recycled material Tim Burton has been using for years. Batman was great, Edward Scissorhands was perfect, and Nightmare was a classic, but everything since then, including this, has just been pieces of each.
Pitch Perfect: We loved this movie, I even bought the soundtrack the next day on iTunes and it’s still on my phone. It was predictable but the comedy and performances were good enough to keep us very entertained.
Taken 2: I loved Taken, but this was awful. Huge disappointment. They really messed this one up. All you needed to do was make Liam Neeson be really cool for an hour and a half. Instead you decide to spend half the movie chatting in a car, mansion and hotel with no action at all. Trying to set up a huge ending? Failed.
007 Skyfall: In the running for favorite movie of the year, which says a lot since this year was stacked. Daniel Craig is phenomenal in living up to the man that Ian Fleming actually created in his books. Bond is a ladies man, but he also has a dark side and mysterious past and this movie really focused on that. The action was great, the villain was one of the best ever, it was Bond.
Wreck it Ralph: Not quite a Disney classic, but the nostalgic effect of the characters involved with the smart humor and fun story line made a very good movie. It was very good. I would imagine best animated film of the year, edging Arrietty.
Lincoln: Daniel Day Lewis did a creepy job capturing Lincoln and the movie focused on a subject we feel so strongly about, but it was just very long. I’m sure a few scenes, including when he failed to garner a vote from one man, could have been left out with the same effect. Maybe some people like that scene, but it’s just me.
Rise of the Guardians: Really fun voice acting and the kids probably loved this one. We enjoyed it but it wasn’t anything special.
Fellowship of the Ring14 hour marathon.
The Two Towers: We were sick.
Return of the King: We enjoyed every minute of it.
LOTR
The Hobbit 3d: We loved the lore, the soundtrack, the acting, we loved everything. We thought Peter Jackson cut it off at the perfect spot. But we wish we didn’t see it in 3d Dolby Atmos because the frame rate was just too high and it was so loud it was 4d with an earthquake. We are going to see this one again in the regular showing and I think it will be multiple times better. Can’t wait for the next one.
The Hobbit
Life of Pi 3d: Beautiful visuals and captivating performances. It was very enjoyable and something we expect from Ang Lee, who brought us Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon.

So, not including all of the movies that we had already seen (Beauty and the Beast, Phantom Menace, Titanic, LOTR Trilogy) we have 25 new movies that we saw in theaters this year. I think it’s time for some awards! (These are Chris, not Alana… sorry she’s at work and has better taste)

Starting with the bad awards! Every movie here gets an award, maybe.
Worst Ending: The Grey
Worst Adaptation: The Hunger Games
Biggest Disappointment: Resident Evil Retribution
Worst Sequel: Taken 2
Longest Feeling Movie: Lincoln
Most Unoriginal: Frankenweenie
Most Blah: Hotel Transylvania
Most Potential Lost: Wrath of the Titans
Best Effort: Ice Age Continental Drift
Animated Honorable Mention: Rise of the Guardians
Feature Honorable Mention: Snow White and the Huntsman
Best Import: The Secret World of Arrietty
Best Animated Feature: Wreck it Ralph
Best Sequel: Men in Black 3
Best Family Movie: Brave
Most Satisfying Release: 007 Skyfall
Best Directing: The Avengers
Most Visually Stunning: Life of Pi
Best Breakout Movie: Beasts of the Southern Wild
Most Captivating Acting Performances: Ruby Sparks
Best in Humor: Pitch Perfect
Best Adventure: The Hobbit
My Personal Favorite of the Year: Jiro Dreams of Sushi

For me, that turns into a top 10 of the year (of 25), that more or less looks like this off the top of my head:
1. Jiro Dreams of Sushi
2. 007 Skyfall
3. The Avengers
4. The Hobbit
5. The Secret World of Arrietty
6. Pitch Perfect
7. Beasts of the Southern Wild
8. Wreck it Ralph
9. Ruby Sparks
10. Life of Pi

Honorable Mentions: Brave, Men in Black 3

And like I mentioned earlier, hopefully we get to see Les Miserables tomorrow night. It will probably crack the top 5 easily, top three maybe, number one potentially. I have a long history with Les Mis and it could really hit me in the right, or wrong, spot. I will be VERY critical based on reading the book in French and English, seeing the Broadway play in New York multiple times, seeing the past movie with Liam Neeson as Valjean, and creating my own arrangements of the broadway soundtrack.

We really wanted to see Cloud Atlas but never got around to it. We, aka I, also had interest in but either missed out or will probably miss out on Argo, Silent Hill, Man with the Iron Fists, and Cirque du Soleil. I’m probably going to try to get Alana to see Django also, but we’ll let you know in a future review post if we see it!

Happiness Starts in the Home

With our latest ‘painting’ bought (I use quotes because we got it from Ross, but it really is quite nice), our home is truly starting to feel like…well, home. I love each and every room. It may be small, but I like small, because I grew up in a beach bungalow. It fits the four of us very nicely, and we’ve even been able to squeeze in four guests (at once)!

Our new entertainment center which you read about last post. Movies are so much more epic now. We watched Part 2 of the Deathly Hallows today after work instead of being productive!

Here is our lovely fireplace, complete with ready-to-go pumpkins and a fireplace set Chris picked up from a garage sale. Cannot wait until the weather gets cold and we constantly have a fire to cozy up the apartment!

I always like to show our bookshelf of the gods (of sorts) and there happens to be a bowl of Halloween candy atop it. Which is the death of me.

Now Chris calls this my “Office.” You can see my computer set up, with both of our work schedules, payrolls, calendars, and so forth pinned up in front of it. You can also see our new painting–of New York!

Here’s our simple line of appliances. All of our cooking spices and goodies are in the lazy susan underneath. And Chris’ “office” is on the breakfast bar. In fact, you can see his computer there!

And I just had to put up a picture of our awesome changing-color bathroom nightlight with a ocean-scene on it. It’s great!

In the bedroom, we got a huge tapestry (my personal favorite color), a beautiful Japanese wall scroll straight from Japan, and a family mirror. If you look closely enough, you can see a new Olympic Barbell we bought from Salvation Army ($12.50–what a deal!) over the weekend.

Great new mugs!!

Beyond me posting random pictures of our beloved apartment, there is a little more to what I’m conveying. Before trying to settle being happy with your life as a whole, start with your home. Make it so when you walk in the door, you feel relaxed and comfortable–away from the dangers of the outside world and a place where you can feel at peace. Like the title says, happiness starts in the home. Make your space how you want it to be. Make it a place of love and harmony. Otherwise, you’re never going to want to be there. And nobody wants to feel unwelcome in their own home.

Cheers!

The Best Waste of $98 EVER!?

  • Who: Alana and Chris
  • What: Hunger
  • When: Dinner time
  • Where: Boulder, Colorado
  • Why: Worked out
  • How: Via the Taurus

(Basically a review of Japango)

What a weird and pointless way to start what I want to say. So it’s Tuesday night, we just did some cardio (I swam 1650 yards, ask for the workout if interested, and she did the elliptical and bike) and then a get-back-into-shape-kinda lower body workout. Now Fred (Alana’s cousin [Megan]’s boyfriend from New Jersey) had mentioned that Japango has an all-you-can-eat-sushi night every Tuesday. Wait. Hold up one second. Did you just say all-you-can-eat SUSHI? Here in Boulder? Landlocked Colorado? Intriguing.

One of my absolute favorite things in the world and my favorite post workout meal… conveniently after our first night back in a real gym. I forced Alana to go (she didn’t put up much of a fight). So we jump in the car in our workout clothes and drive over to Pearl and Broadway, park the car for free since it’s past 7 p.m. and find the restaurant. We enter at about 9:05 and we know that is closes at 10:00, but that won’t be a problem… we’ve never had problems with all you can eat places closing early. (!)

As we’re greeted, relatively quickly for the small staff and decent sized crowd, we ask about the deal. What’s the deal? Well, in fact, it is $29.99…! What?! Thirty bucks? Oh man, have we been spoiled having it for way cheaper in New Jersey, but it’s worth it, or so we tell ourselves. The hostess continues, you can have all these hand rolls, these sushi, these special rolls, and these dishes from the kitchen. Cool. Not that we have ever been to a place that doesn’t include non-sushi items, but we started taking it for granted and to have it taken away now would be really heart-breaking. So we’re seated in a TINY table that we knew would NOT be able to fit all our food, but we didn’t bother to have it changed. The nice waitress comes, we order waters, and look at the menus/checklists. We start tallying stuff off, Alana orders a red wine sangria, we hand in the checklists knowing that we might only get one round’s worth of food because we showed up so late, and we wait for the kitchen stuff to come. (That’s right, I said stuff, so you can replace it with any word you feel is more intelligent because I love being not-intelligent sometimes)

We start with some house salads with ginger dressing. They’re big, and the greens are dark and there’s spinach! But the sauce is weak, tastes more like ranch than ginger. Bummer, I eat it all. So does she. Next, we get tuna salad! A bowl of the same greens… with three pieces of tiny seared tuna on top. But the sauce is amazing and has a nice zing to it, so naturally, I eat it all, and finish hers. Alana ordered me seaweed salad; how nice of her. And they even included three kinds of seaweed. It was good; they didn’t make it too spicy like other places often do! Next is the “tuna steak” or six-or-so pieces of the same tuna in the salad, but in more of a teriyaki sauce and it is lick the plate good! She ordered spicy calamari, which I can’t eat, and it was VERY spicy so she finished it all. She also got mussels, which were like cheesy clams casino and Alana had all three. I love cheese, but when it’s time for sushi night, cheese better stay out of the way. So far, it’s on track to be a good investment, but now the moments of truth are about to begin. (By the way, the sangria was very iced-down, very juiced down, very weak, etc. Didn’t last long but tasted good… but not worth six bucks).

Okay so, here’s my issue. I read in the Boulder Daily (I think that’s what it’s called) that Japango’s all you can eat sushi is world famous! It said the Daily Camera named it best sushi in 2010 and 2011, AND best Asian in 2010. And now I become a food snob. This was garbage. I should post a video rant because I can’t put it in text. Did they only try one place and not require that it had to be good…. or even decent? Best sushi? I’ve had tuna from my college’s cafeteria at 1 a.m., 16 hours after it was delivered from the sushi restaurant in downtown Manhattan, that was fresher than this tuna. And I didn’t just try a few things. I tried EVERYTHING (just about). Even the quail eggs. The squid, octopus, scallops, red clam, tuna, salmon, smoked salmon, white tuna, yellowtail, white fish, halibut, mackerel, etc. And to top it off, their orders are a two-piece minimum, so I got to taste two of everything. We also had eel hand rolls, tuna hand rolls, avocado roll, the Las Vegas roll, the New Orleans roll, and the Boulder roll. You can see for yourself, in the picture, what we ordered. I’m rambling, which is how I present my rants because I don’t like to prepare arguments all the time. Let’s continue.

Now, Alana does not like wasabi. Or horseradish. Anything along those lines. I know that a sushi chef does sometime have the tendency to smear some wasabi paste in between the rice and the fish, but in all-you-can-eat? With this horrible quality of fish? Are you trying that hard to mask the not fresh flavor of the fish with something so strong?

I eat sushi like this: I take the piece of sushi and put it right in my mouth. No soy sauce, no wasabi, no ginger. Why? Because that is how it’s supposed to be done. The chef should prepare a fresh piece of fish and properly cook and vinegar his rice, potentially brushing a special mixture of soy sauce and seasonings on top to compliment the flavor of the fish. Not kill it. Now I could care less what you do with your maki, hand rolls, special rolls, sashimi. I put whatever on all of those too. But sushi is sacred, the relationship between the rice and fish is crucial, and Alana doesn’t like wasabi, so don’t assume all fifty pieces of sushi should have it without asking!

I mean, you’re clearly not a real sushi chef if you’re willing to serve fish that bad! I could give you a grade of how fresh each type listed above was, but it’s not worth it. Some was fresh, some was kinda fresh, some wasn’t fresh at all. The hand rolls were okay but obviously someone didn’t rush to get them to us because the nori was soggy by the time I got it. (I always eat the handrolls first to prevent this soggy effect). The avocado rolls were ALL rice and no veggie. The specialty rolls were awful. Now, my number one rule of all-you-can-eat sushi is don’t get specialty rolls. They fill you up so you can’t eat the good stuff. These tasted like nothing. And they had a ton of great ingredients in them, on paper. But they weren’t fresh or prepared right and as a result I soaked it in soy sauce to eat it. Alana had white tuna, some avocado roll and some New Orleans roll. I ate everything else, or tried to.

Bowl of Sushi (Painting by Hiroshige)

Now, getting to the end. We knew that you get charged 50 cents for every piece left on the plate. I have NEVER been charged extra, but there’s a first time for everything. We got charged ten dollars, for 20 extra pieces. It was that bad. I wasn’t even full but I could not punish my stomach, who is so nice to me, by shoveling in more fish that was not fresh. I felt bad and was willing to pay. BUT we had fun! We had fun making fun of the guy behind us that was worshiping everything they put on his plate. Jiro Ono would have whooped that guy bad. The bill came and it was 30 for each of us, 6 for the drink, 6 for tax, and 10 for the extra sushi we did not eat. We gave the waitress, who was very good, a twenty percent tip of 16 dollars, and took our bag of leftovers home. (They let you bring the leftovers home, which they should because you paid for it.) And they sat in the fridge, and we threw them out the next morning. I felt horrible about it, but it was really bad. Now, could it be like this all the time? There’s no way! If it got those awards from the Camera, it must have it’s good days, but we’re never going back. And for me to not go to the only all you can eat sushi place where we live is a huge deal! Why’s that? Here’s why:

I have had sushi in the middle of the Atlantic, in Bermuda, in Peru, in South Korea, on top of a mountain in South Korea, in New York, in Los Angeles, in Miami, and tons of places in between. I’ve had all you can eat in three continents. In our last months in Jersey, we had it AT LEAST once a WEEK! We went to three places usually: Arigato in North Haledon (THE BEST!), Sushi X-1 in Ridgewood (PRETTY COOL!), and Gen in Ridgewood (Not bad!), and they cost us 20/22/20 per person. They offer more kitchen goods and sushi, free desserts, and the fish is fresh, most of the time! (LOOK AT THE PICS AT THE BOTTOM)

It must be that here in Boulder it’s hard and expensive to get fresh fish, which we understand! But if it’s not fresh, DON’T SERVE IT! Are you going to serve a raw filet at a steak house? I would hope not. It could get you in trouble. I wish the all-you-can-eat sushi crew was there to help us out. Dan Liwanag, the first person I had all you can eat sushi with, Scott Reiners, the co-founder of weekly all you can eat night, Allan Wu, aka Master Wusabi, who gets us the freshest fish by talking to waitresses in their native tonguesScott Polhemus, the wind tunnel when it comes to downing Japanese alcohol and food in a way that would please a shogun, and Dr. Capitani for starting the original “sushi night.” (Adam and Aedan, future members of the crew, I salute you!)

Master Wusabi when he’s not eating sushi

Master of Windtunnelling Food

We want to keep this tradition alive, but if Japango is all that Boulder can offer, that tradition will die soon. We will have to try other places and not get all you can eat to see who has the best in Boulder.

Japango’s ratings!

  • Service: 4/5
  • Decor: 2/5
  • Music: 1/5
  • Kitchen food: 2/5
  • Sushi: 1/5
  • Price value: 2/5
  • X factor: 0/5* (No slices of oranges or pineapple!!!)
  • Overall: 12/30 (Maybe give it a chance… maybe… one time)

UPDATE: My weekly contest! Whoever can submit the best Japanese dining experience will be sent a special prize related to this topic. I don’t care if you’re in Malaysia or Philadelphia, I’ll get it to you for your efforts and dedication!

PREVIEW: I’ll be bashing the Boulder Daily Paper’s review of pizza. Obviously whoever wrote it and compared certain pizza to New York style isn’t from New York!

Thanks for reading! If you made it this far you get to use this free joke I stole from Alana who stole it from Twitter…

How come the T-Rex couldn’t shake hands?

Because it was dead!

(Oh, and here is the appendix, a graveyard of past, and better, all you can eat sushi nights with the individuals listed above and some extras who I apologize for not including, like Brit!)

And this…oh definitely this…is how sushi SHOULD be made. Thank you, New York