Tag Archives: japanese food

Restaurant Review: Sushi Hana (Longmont, CO)

Being fanatics of Japanese food, Chris and I are always looking for new and yummy places. We have high standards for fish, we both come from coastal cities, so don’t blame us! One day at work, my boss took me out to Sushi Hana in Longmont (where I work…about 15 miles from Boulder) for a lunch meeting to get some work done. It’s this little place that would be extremely easy to miss if you weren’t looking for it. Luckily, I wasn’t driving.

We get seated immediately, after all we were there just around 11am–an early lunch. We get a hot pot of green tea to share which was perfect for a sunless, cold day. After much mulling over the lunch menu, I decide for a “sushi box” which is basically a bento box, but with sushi instead of tempura or a teriyaki dish. Overall, the fish was good (I got tuna) and the meal as a whole was very enjoyable. I got a lot of food for just $11. There was a maki roll on top of that, pork dumplings (didn’t eat), big thing of delicious rice, salad, soup, and an orange. Like I’m saying, ridiculous amount of food. The atmosphere is delightful: quiet, cultural, and peaceful. We stayed there for a while after we finished our food, and the polite, friendly server continued to fill our green tea cups. I left very full.

My delicious lunch

My delicious lunch

Usually when we do reviews, it’s of places Chris and I have both gone to. So what did that mean? After work, one Friday, I take him to Sushi Hana. This is a good sign–means I like the place enough to go back! Similar to the last experience, we were seated right away. I took the initiative to get us some green tea. This time, I ordered the salmon teriyaki box and Chris ordered the una-don (eel over rice). The salmon was cooked very well, and again, I couldn’t finish all my food (good thing I had Hungry with me). I also got the tuna-avocado maki roll which was really delicious and I preferred it without the soy sauce, another good sign. Chris said the una-don was good, but a little small. Good thing he had to finish mine!

Aaand the salmon teriyaki

Aaand the salmon teriyaki

Overall, Sushi Hana is a good spot, at least for lunch. It isn’t our favorite (see Kho’s or Korea House), but is definitely on our good list. If you’re in Longmont, hit up this spot for a great lunch special! Eat Japanese food to stay hungry and fit!

BONUS KITTY PIC

What I wish my every day was

What I wish my every day was

Jazz Up Your Ramen

Chris has a serious ramen obsession, and I mean with all kinds. Since we don’t have a usual ramen place here in Boulder, we usually go with the packaged stuff. Now I rarely ever eat that packaged stuff, because it’s not the best for you. However, I did get him off the Top Ramen crap and now he eats the stuff that actually gets imported from Japan (a little more expensive, but worth it). Most people who have ramen have just that–just the noodles with hot water. I, however, dare you to jazz it up a little! Make it healthier! There are many ways to do this, but this is how we did it.

  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cooking Time: 20-25 minutes
  • Serving Size: 2
Finished product...oh so good

Finished product…oh so good

Ingredients

  • 2 packets of Sapporo Ichiban ramen 
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1-2 cups spinach
  • 1/3 block firm tofu
  • 2-3 eggs

Directions

  • First, fill up a pot with water, about 4 inches of water. Start on high heat, aiming for a boil. Put the soy sauce in the water
  • Cut up the tofu into squares or thin strips
  • Wait for it to start boiling, and then put in the tofu
  • Turn down the heat slightly and let the tofu boil for about 20 or so minutes (I went and took a shower during this time)
  • Now it’s time to add the spinach or whatever kind of greens you want. Stir them around so they get submerged
Boiling boiling boiling

Boiling boiling boiling

  • When you’re two minutes out, go ahead and crack the eggs into the boiling pot
  • Get out the ramen packets. You can use the flavoring if you want. Put into large bowls so that you have room for all the other fun stuff

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  • Now slowly start to pour the contents of the pot into the bowls, you want to try to get the liquid out first and pour as evenly as you can. Then the other stuff will come plopping out too. And that’s basically it! Make sure to let the ramen sit a little bit so the noodles can expand
Not as appetizing as it tasted, but this is what it might look like when you first pour it

Not as appetizing as it tasted, but this is what it might look like when you first pour it

This is a quick meal with carbs, proteins, and fats in it to make it well-rounded. Yes, it’s still ramen from a package, but it certainly didn’t taste or feel that way after jazzing it up. Again, this is just one way of doing it. Next time I might add ground turkey for Chris’, more greens, and play with it! Add nutrients to food to stay hungry and fit!

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Chris ended up finishing mine too...no surprises here

Chris ended up finishing mine too…no surprises here

BONUS KITTY PIC 

The cats FINALLY realized Dovah exists last night. They were so curious and interested they didn't want to sleep

The cats FINALLY realized Dovah exists last night. They were so curious and interested they didn’t want to sleep

Product Review: Marukome Miso Soup

I’ve been wanting to buy some take-home miso soup powder from the store for a while. However, it’s usually expensive or has horrid ingredients. Both things I stray away from. And even ones that I have found before haven’t been good, I know my friends can attest to this. Guys…I’ve found it! I’ve found one that’s worth the money (though it wasn’t that expensive) and tastes just like from a restaurant. It may help that it’s directly from Japan too.

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The brand is called MarukomeIts ingredients are exactly what you would expect (or hope) a miso soup powder to be: powdered miso, rice, dried tofu, dried green onion, powdered yeast, bonito powder, etc. This was the first good sign (besides the price that stopped me to look at it). The next good sign was that it’s a “Product of Japan.” If I’m eating an “ethnic food” (I hate that phrase), then I want it right from where it was created. Miso soup should come Japan or a great chef. So being a product of Japan (and having a cool Japanese address too ^_^) gave it a huge plus. It also has a freaking awesome mascot, who wouldn’t want some miso soup from that guy?!

Perfect texture

Perfect texture

The directions are really simple. Pour powder into bowl, pour 1 cup of boiling water into bowl, stir and serve! That’s it! Dinner was awesome last night because it took all of 5 minutes to get everything on the table. And for the big package, you get 3 miso packet servings, so we have one left over! As you can see, I’m all about this product, and they’re not even paying me to say this! They also have a great “miso secret” about miso and your health (look at pic below). I found this at our standard grocery (no special, local, or organic grocery–just the plain main one) so you have no excuse. Use this product to stay hungry and fit!

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BONUS KITTY PIC 

Sajah enjoying the view

Sajah enjoying the view

Izakaya Den: Denver’s Best Sushi (Hungry’s Food Reviews)

This review is long overdue considering the fact that we went to Izakaya Den back in November. These lists of posts really stack up and we try hard to get them out but it’s not easy! So here you are… a review of what we have so far found to be the HIGHEST QUALITY SUSHI in Colorado. When we went, Sushi Den was closed for construction. Sushi Den is supposedly the more expensive and higher quality of the two but they are one in the same according to what we have heard.

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Here are the many positives and few negatives of our trip to Izakaya Den. The restaurant is in one of the most quaint and quiet communities in Denver. There are not neighborhoods like this in New York City and it’s nice to have such an escape in another busy city. The restaurant itself is pleasant looking on the outside and there is plenty of parking in the suburban-like neighborhood. We did go for a late lunch on a Holiday weekend with Fit’s parents so it was very empty, which meant quick service and the opportunity to explore. There were five of us in total and we were seated in a beautiful sun-room with plenty of table space.

Seating areas

Seating areas

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Nice bathroom

Nice bathroom

The service was again very quick and polite. It was months ago but I can’t think of a single complaint aside from the fact that the waiter was somewhat of a know-it-all and tried giving ME a lesson about sushi. Jiro… of course. Random Caucasian college student from Colorado… no thanks, no offense. The lunch menu was actually not very expensive even though the restaurant is known to be somewhat pricey. For the quality of food, the price was absolutely right.

We had a vegetarian, two spicy food lovers, myself, and someone with very specific and limited dietary needs. Everyone thought their meal was delicious, made them feel great, and most were full. (Me… not so much.) Plus, the bill was reasonable. Instead of talking too much about the food, I will say that everything was VERY good. No major complaints. You can look at the pictures. Oh, and obviously I am picky about eel quality but this was worthy of no complaints and just praise. Everything from the sushi rolls to sashimi to appetizers and dishes were all great. On top of that, the restaurant is spacious, exceptionally decorated and capable of entertaining every group. Whether its large groups, families, couples, or people who want to go to a bar… they have it. Izakaya Den earns our highest quality food stamp for the Denver area in Asian foods. That doesn’t make it our favorite, but it’s so damn good. Feast your eyes on these pictures. We will let you know how Sushi Den is when Alana passes her NASM exam (she doesn’t know about this… well now she does).

Edamame

Edamame

Tuna sashimi salad

Tuna sashimi salad

Beautiful sushi

Beautiful sushi

Unagi

Unagi

Mackerel

Mackerel

Lobster ramen

Lobster ramen

Tuna sashimi

Tuna sashimi

Visit Izakaya Den to stay hungry and fit!

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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

The Japanese Taco Masters: Sunny Blue (Santa Monica, California)

During my time in school in South Korea, I found it very challenging to maintain my daily caloric intake of 10,000-12,000. One reason is the food is extremely healthy and calorically low. The second is that the servings are tiny compared to those in the United States. Finally, so much of the food is extremely spicy and very painful for me to eat because of my geographic tongue. The result was I first found out how to say, write, and read wrappers for food. The first words I learned were beef, chicken, tuna and spicy/hot.

I learned how to read the wrappers on a portable food called kimbap, or gimbap, or however you spell or say it. The g and k sound in Korean is one of the tricky ones to learn how to differentiate between when you learn the language. It’s pronounced kimbap, if you’re American. I lived on these… I mean I must have had at least 6-12 a day and they were not of the highest quality. They were typically from 7-11 or a local market similar to 7-11 depending on where I was. We had one of these markets in our residence hall on campus so I got all the ones I could from there. Typically, I would have the not spicy tuna with mayo. It gave me the protein I needed, wasn’t spicy, and had some extra calories from the mayo. It was good, it made me happy and it only led to me losing 30 pounds in Korea as opposed to maybe 40. That’s another story I’ll cover in the future when I talk about my fitness journey and goals. So why did I bother to tell you all this history… well this is why.

Tuna

Tuna

On Main Street in Santa Monica, you can find an amazing little food shop called Sunny Blue. Fit and I went there the first week they opened a few years ago and it was dead every day. The female owner, Keiko,  was nearly the only one working there but we frequented it every day during that week in Samo. Why? Because they served omusubi, or onigiri, or rice balls. These are the Japanese twin of my kimbaps and I was thrilled to find it. They are VERY similar and this location does not lack quality control and creating great flavor profiles. They make all of their omusubi fresh for you. The ingredients are prepared earlier but they are assembled to order, and freshly seasoned in the process.

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Over the past few years, they have gotten much more popular and now when we visit, the line is out the door. We are thrilled that they have seen such growth and success because they deserve it for their devotion to their craft. They also serve some traditional Japanese sodas, shrimp chips, and frozen yogurt. When we got the froyo when they first opened, it wasn’t quite the quality of YogurtLand nor did it match their level of omusubi, so we’ve never tried their froyo again. Nevertheless, Sunny Blue is a must stop-by food location in Los Angeles, and the brilliance is you can eat one whenever. I don’t care how full you are from lunch, each rice ball is a snack sized treat that can find its way to your stomach.

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From our most recent trip, yesterday, the menu has expanded to include daily specials and a long list of classic selections. Popular choices include: miso mushroom, hijike shitaki, tuna mayo, tokyo tori, curry chicken, miso beef, and more. Those are our favorites because of the lack of spice, but richness of other flavors. They are reasonably priced in the range of $2.50-$5.00 depending on what you get. I’ve actually never seen one for more than $4.50 so $3-4 is a more accurate range for the normal menu. PLUS, now they sell very cute t-shirts! Sunny Blue is a hungry and fit favorite. We even learned to make it ourselves so when we depart Santa Monica, we can somewhat resemble the deliciousness. It tastes delicious, is light on the wallet, and can definitely help you stay hungry and fit!

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Tuna

Tuna

The Best of Best of Boulder County 2012

This is a review of a review. Every year the readers of Boulder Weekly vote on the Best of Boulder County and while it is all opinion, local businesses love to hang their awards throughout their shops and eateries. Although we haven’t even lived here for a year, we have tried to eat and venture to as many places that our busy lives allow. We are also very opinionated, especially when it comes to food. People can claim they love food as much as me but I would challenge you to put your money where your mouth is if you doubt our hunger. So I’m essentially going to flip from page to page and rant when I feel necessary so hang in there.

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The cover features a picture of Naoto Kanda, the owner of Sushi Zanmai. His restaurant won Best Japanese Restaurant. Despite recommendations from my boss, Ryan, and our family/friend, Fred, we have yet to try this location because every time we walk by it is closed. Despite mediocre Yelp reviews, we’re going ASAP so look for an upcoming review.

Before I move on, since I have already gone through the whole magazine, I would like to say that this isn’t really a fair judge of the Best of Boulder County. I would venture to estimate that 90% of the votes received are from people living in Boulder like ourselves. Other towns in Boulder County, with lower populations and population density, most likely are not fairly represented but it is a poll for readers and everyone acknowledges that truth.

Best American Bistro who cares. I don’t eat bistro sized or priced portions typically so I can’t say much about the top five here. Best Appetizers went to The Med and the one time we went we did enjoy the multitude of appetizers that our large group got so fair enough. Who cares about best brunch? Not me. I want more meals so I break them down… not combine them.

Megan's Graduation...and Chris has Bell's Palsy here so no judging!

Megan’s Graduation at The Med…and Chris has Bell’s Palsy here so no judging!

Here is the first crime. Best Asian Fusion Restaurant. Chez Thuy won with Japango coming in fourth place. Chez Thuy was one of our worst dining experiences yet. We ordered a lot of variety and nearly everything we had was bad. Not decent, but bad. The pad thai was awful. Second worst I’ve ever had to Pong Sri in New York City. Japango was also a bad meal and the menu did not represent many Asian cultures. You want good Asian Fusion… go to Kho’s Asian Bistro in Longmont. It’s New York or L.A. quality.

Kho’s

I’d have to give Best Bakery to Spruce Confections. Their pies and croissants made our family from across the country and world very happy on Thanksgiving. Breadworks serves “fresh” bread at the Farmer’s Market and by fresh I mean stale. Dot’s Diner rightfully wins best breakfast for the bucks. Don’t sleep on The Buff or Turley’s for best breakfast even though they place third and not on the top five. And please try the Panaderia on 28th Street. It has a museum’s worth of delicious Mexican and Latin American baked choices. That should definitely be on the top five for best bakery now that we think about it.

Our latest trip to Spruce

Our latest trip to Spruce

Alana's typical house breakfast

Dot’s Diner breakfast

Us at the Buff! (that's my brother on the left)

Us at the Buff! (that’s Alana’s brother on the left)

Racks of delicious baked goods at Panaderia

Racks of delicious baked goods at Panaderia

Larkburger winning best burger is a sham. It was the worst burger I’ve had in town yet. Expensive, slow, small, and worthless. Mountain Sun takes the cake for me, and Mustard’s Last Stand is the best burger for the buck. Moe’s bagels and service has been awful every time that I have gone and we have Einstein’s in Pennsylvania so it wins by default for having locations near New Jersey and New York.

Tempeh burger at Mustard's (basically what Alana gets)

Tempeh burger at Mustard’s (basically what Alana gets)

Las Palmeras in Longmont has the best burritos along with some Taqueria on Lashley Street. Seriously, if Boulder locations win best burrito with the population of Mexican Americans that exist in Longmont, it’s obvious where people have eaten. Not in the right place. China Gourmet and Tsing Tao are the best Chinese restaurants. China Gourmet is one of the best Chinese food places I have ever eaten in my life. If you want a good restaurant dessert, you need to go back to Kho’s Asian Bistro or Pasta Vino in Boulder. They have a tower of puff pastry and fresh fruit greatness that tops anything I had at The Med.

YUMM

Pasta Vino awesome dessert

I have no quarrels with Best Fine Dining because we’ve only been to John’s Restaurant and The Cork. Ripple and Glacier win as they should for frozen yogurt and ice cream. Tibet Kitchen should win best Indian/Nepali Restaurant or whatever category it fits best into. We haven’t been happy with any Italian yet so that’s that.

Tibet Kitchen...heaven

Tibet Kitchen…heaven

Snarf’s sandwiches are the best. Sun Deli has some good sandwiches as well, definitely better than Deli Zone. Best overall restaurants are Kho’s Asian Bistro and Korea House. Tibet Kitchen and Mediterranean Market are best non restaurant style eateries. Abo’s is the best slice and pizzeria… the makers of this poll don’t know what a pizzeria is. The best gyro is Med Market and not Falafel King. Kho’s and Korea house have the highest quality fish for sushi we’ve had so far. Much higher than Tora and Japango. Tibet Kitchen is the most vegetarian friendly so says Alana the veggie. It also gets the best chai drink. You can tell where we like to eat right? Well that’s enough of my ranting. I’ll stop there before we get into gyms and grocery stores and useless things. We’ll try more restaurants and have a better input for next year. Stay hungry and fit!

Alana's choice...Tuna Melt with everything from tomatoes to lettuce to hot peppers

Snarf’s

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Mediterranean Market platter

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