Mouthful of Sunshine

Satisfaction in every bite

Spicy Hurricane – Fuji Mountain Japanese Restaurant

June 23, 2013
Fuji Mountain Japanese Restaurant, Philadelphia PA
~
Spicy Beef Gyoza
Shrimp Teriyaki
Hurricane Roll
~

A friend recently graduated and so we went out for dinner one last time before he leaves. It was a lovely, sunny evening so we walked all the way over to Fuji Mountain Japanese Restaurant. The temperature was just perfect so we walked back afterwards as well, a great way to start digesting all that food.

ImageThe restaurant was very quiet but there was a decent number of tables occupied for a Monday evening. The waitresses were all in Japanese-style apparel, which just compliments the whole atmosphere.

We started with the Spicy Beef Gyoza. It did not have as much of a kick as I hoped but was a nice deviation from your traditional pork gyoza. The skin was nice and crispy and the filling was quite flavourful.Image

The Shrimp Teriyaki was served with a small salad and rice. The shrimp were tender and coated with a good amount of the sweet teriyaki. The broccoli and carrots were nicely steamed but I really just liked the yam and sweet potato chips. At least, I think they were yam chips; potatoes just do not get that huge. They were crispy and chewy once they were soaked a little in the sauce.Image

Finally, the Hurricane Roll had tons of flavour with salmon, masago, avocado, and spicy yellowtail. The spicy yellowtail was a nice change and the avocado added the necessary creaminess to balance the decent spicy kick from the fish and the green scallions on top. The rice was good and there was not too much of it.

Fuji Mountain is not exactly the cheapest Japanese restaurants around but it is acceptable for quite decent food compared to some other places around town. It’s a little more high-end than a lot of the smaller lunch spots, with an extensive menu. If you want to sing, just head upstairs for some karaoke.

Fuji Mountain on Urbanspoon

Advertisements
Leave a comment »

Deep in a Japanese Coma – Ninkazu Japanese Restaurant

ImageMay 9, 2013
Ninkazu Japanese Restaurant, Richmond BC
~
Eda-Mame
Green Salad
Salmon Sashimi
Tuna Sashimi
Spicy Seafood Cone
Chicken Teriyaki Roll
Spring Roll
Deep Fried Gyoza
Shishamo Karaage
Chicken Karaage
ImageChicken Udon
Beef Udon
BBQ Beef Short Rib
BBQ Chicken Wing
BBQ Korean Pork
BBQ Salmon Kama
BBQ Yakitori
Oyster Motoyaki
Salmon Teriyaki
Fruit Jello
~

ImageWow, another very long chat late into the night. Seven friends met over dinner and exchanged gossip and stories for hours around a large table at Ninkazu Japanese Restaurant. We were all deep into food comas by the end but unfortunately, there was nowhere to go but home at 11:30, especially with early mornings for some the next morning. Image

The Eda-Mame was standard, which means no where near as good as the ones I have had almost everyday in Tokyo. It just was not flavourful enough – lacking salt while boiling – and the doneness was inconsistent.Image

The Green Salad was the most pathetic way to celebrate National Salad Month. It was such a small portion, with iceberg lettuce, what tasted like a carrot puree with a tangy dressing and sesame seeds, shredded carrot and red cabbage, and some scallions.  Image

The Salmon Sashimi was good, with a nice texture. It was actually quite fresh and the fish was really bouncy but firm. Vancouver’s salmon sashimi rarely disappoints, even the regular kind.Image

The Tuna Sashimi was less impressive. It did not taste as fresh and the fish was not as firm as I would like. It was more mushy than the salmon.

The Spicy Seafood Cone was not extremely spicy. I found the seafood a little dry and the flavour was not bold enough to stand out amidst all the rice in the cone. Image

The Chicken Teriyaki Roll was actually good. The chicken was tender. The teriyaki sauce was sweet and had a good consistency. The vegetables made it refreshing and there was just the right amount of sauce drizzled over it. Image

The Spring Roll tasted like it came out of a package. It was fried nicely but you cannot really screw that up anyways. The vegetable filling was not exactly amazing. This was more generic than anything. Image

The Deep Fried Gyoza looked better than they tasted. The filling was a little small and the wrappers, while very crispy, tasted a little too greasy.

The Shishamo Karaage was a nice change. I have not had these little fish in a very long time. I really like the lot of fish eggs inside each fish. They were the best part of this little thing.

The Chicken Karaage were simply deep fried without much seasoning or anything for that matter. The chicken wings were juicy on the inside but these were just mediocre. Image

The Chicken Udon had one small piece of fried chicken cutlet over udon noodles. The chicken was okay. The broth was decent and the noodles were just a tad overcooked.

Image

The Beef Udon was pretty bad. The udon and soup were good enough but the beef was incredibly tough to chew; it was just too sinewy and did not have much flavour. ImageImageImage

The series of BBQ included Beef Short Rib, Chicken Wing, Korean Pork, Salmon Kama, and Yakitori. The short ribs were tasty and sweet. The chicken wings were a lot better than the deep fried kind. Clearly, the sweet sauce makes all the difference here! The Korean Pork was dry and tough. There was not much flesh on the salmon kama, or salmon head, and it looked quite intimidating! Finally, the yakitori, or chicken skewer, was actually very flavourful from the spice marinade and very juicy. This was one of the better dishes of the night.Image

The Oyster Motoyaki was creamy but a little too heavy. You really need to be partial to these motoyakis to be able to stomach more than one. The oysters were small and not very fresh either.Image

The Salmon Teriyaki was a little dry but at least it was salmon with the lovely sweet sauce.

Finally, we all ended with Fruit Jello. These were generic, colorful, and kind of fun to play with. They were very jiggly and for someone in a deep food coma at midnight, it might be just the tad bit fascinating.Image

Ninkazu will satisfy your regular craving for generic Japanese food. If you are looking for anything remotely close to fine dining, go somewhere else. If you are just seeking out a place to catch up with friends over A LOT of food, this would be the place for you.

Ninkazu Japanese Restaurant 仁和日本料理 on Urbanspoon

Leave a comment »

From Tokyo to Beijing – 大学城-Beijing

March 15, 2013
大学城 – Beijing, Philadelphia PA
~
本楼炒饭 (House Special Fried Rice)
麻婆豆腐 (Ma Po Tofu)
左宗鸡 (General Tso’s Chicken)
麻辣牛肉面 (Spicy Sichuan Beef Noodle Soup)
西兰牛肉 (Beef with Broccoli)
茄子鲜鱿煲 (Squid with Baby Eggplant in Garlic Sauce)
炸云吞 (Fried Wonton)
上海鸡卷 (Chicken Spring Roll)
~

ImageOur group from Tokyo decided to get together to celebrate a birthday for someone and realized we wanted to be on campus and could not go to any Japanese restaurants, since all of us would be complaining anyhow. That’s how we ended up at Beijing, which personally I do not frequent because the prices are higher and tastes are worse than Sang Kee in my opinion. Still, it at least tasted somewhat Asian.

The 本楼炒饭 (House Special Fried Rice) was decent enough, but since it was such a generic dish, it would have just been totally unacceptable for them to screw it up. The rice was not overcooked and not too greasy. The pork and chicken were both a little tough and dry and there could have been more meat and vegetables. Image

The 麻婆豆腐 (Ma Po Tofu) was no where near authentic. Instead of chilli oil covered sauce, it was like a sweetened gravy with the slightest bit of spicy from the red peppers. There was no peppercorns either. The tofu was soft and I like sweet dishes, but the name was just very misleading. Image

The 左宗鸡 (General Tso’s Chicken) was okay. The chicken was fried nicely but I thought the batter was a little too thick with not enough actual meat inside. The broccoli tasted nice with the sauce, despite the sauce being a little greasy. Image

The 麻辣牛肉面 (Spicy Sichuan Beef Noodle Soup) actually had a decent amount of spice. The noodles were slightly overcooked but the ground beef mixture was flavourful. A little greasy perhaps but this dish was not too bland.

ImageThe beef in the 西兰牛肉 (Beef with Broccoli) was very tough to bite but not exactly dry, just a little too sinewy. It had decent flavour though, with a slightly sweetened gravy sauce. The broccoli was actually cooked nicely and was also sweet.Image

The 茄子鲜鱿煲 (Squid with Baby Eggplant in Garlic Sauce) was quite good, with basically just eggplant, squid, and some cabbage lining the bottom. The ingredients were plentiful – not too much filler – but the flavour of the garlic sauce was again lacking. There was almost no spice and it was more of a gravy than a sweet sauce. That’s just how they make it here though.Image

The 炸云吞 (Fried Wonton) was actually a decent appetizer with tender shrimp filling and a sweet and sour dipping sauce. I liked the sauce, which cut into the greasy aftertaste of the fried wonton wrappers. Image

The 上海鸡卷 (Chicken Spring Roll) were a little disappointing. Nicely fried and with a lot of filling, the filling was rather bland, especially when it came to the shredded, slightly dry chicken. The vegetables did not offer much in the way of flavour. While I did not like the spicy mustard, I did like eating the spring rolls with the sweet chili sauce.

The dinner was enjoyable and the service friendly enough. It was great to catch up with everyone. Beijing is as convenient as you can get on campus so not having to travel much was definitely a plus, especially on a cold night!

Beijing on Urbanspoon

Leave a comment »

Meal of 270 Flavours – 東方見聞録

March 8, 2013
東方見聞録, Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan
~
居酒屋の定番!! 大盛り枝付き枝豆 (Izakaya-Standard Large Green Soybeans)
茄子の浅漬け (Pickled Eggplant (Tsukemono))
浪速のたこ焼き (Takoyaki (Grilled Octopus Balls))
季節の浅漬け (Seasonal Pickles)
葱めんたいのせ出し巻き玉子 (Japanese Omelette topped Green Onion and Marinated Pollack Roe)
明太カルボうどん (Salted Cod Roe with Carbonara Udon)
選べる胡瓜 (生姜醤) (Cucumber (Ginger Miso Sauce))
揚げピザ&カマンベールディップ (Fried Won-Ton with Camembert Cheese)
~

ImageCasey and I were not feeling up to some hardcore partying so we decided to venture out and try our own izakaya at 東方見聞録 near the Shinjuku station. We had seen so many ‘270 yen’ restaurants in the past week. I loved the idea! It was just like having a large variety of a tasting menu. Each item was only 270 yen, with special items – actually quite a few of them – priced slightly higher. It was certainly an interesting experience and I would have loved to try a few more of these if we had more time!

To start, we were served 居酒屋の定番!! 大盛り枝付き枝豆 (Izakaya-Standard Large Green Soybeans). These were boiled perfectly and had the perfect amount of saltiness. The edamame were easy to get out of the pod and soft but not too mushy. Once you start eating these, it is really hard to stop until other plates of food are presented before you.Image

From there, we proceeded to 茄子の浅漬け (Pickled Eggplant (Tsukemono)). I love eggplant and this was decent, but it was not my favourite preparation. The small eggplant was very tender, not too dry, and had a good, firm and chewy texture. However, I found the flavour a bit disappointing. It was salty and a little sour from the pickling whereas I had expected something a little sweeter.Image

The 浪速のたこ焼き (Takoyaki (Grilled Octopus Balls)) were excellent, though. They had crispy exteriors and a piping hot, slightly gooey center. There were not too much octopus inside but the flavour was bang on with the sauces and bonito flakes.Image

The 季節の浅漬け (Seasonal Pickles) were very refreshing with its mix of cucumbers, daikon, and ___. These were a little sour but not as salty as the eggplant, which made it nicer in my opinion. I would suggest them for a nice palate cleanser.Image

The 葱めんたいのせ出し巻き玉子 (Japanese Omelette topped Green Onion and Marinated Pollack Roe) was one of my favourites for the night. The egg omelette was firm but soft and airy. The texture was just excellent, as was the flavour. It was quite sweet, which was perfect for me. Put that together with the salty Pollack roe on top and the sweet and savoury sauce, it was just delicious.Image

The 明太カルボうどん (Salted Cod Roe with Carbonara Udon) was also a very nice dish, and one of the only ones that was more like an entrée. The udon noodles were cooked nicely to al dente, and coated in plenty of the creamy carbonara sauce. What I loved was the spicy roe in the carbonara, giving the creaminess a little kick.Image

Wanting more vegetables, we went with the 選べる胡瓜 (生姜醤) (Cucumber (Ginger Miso Sauce)). The cucumbers were certainly refreshing, especially with the ginger miso sauce. It was coarsely pureed ginger flavoured with miso, a little bit too salty but had a nice gingery kick.Image

Finally, the 揚げピザ&カマンベールディップ (Fried Won-Ton with Camembert Cheese) was another very interesting dish. The fried wontons were crisp and lovely and I thought the camembert cheese dip was a very creative twist. Perhaps not my favourite dish but it was certainly an interesting one. Wontons and cheese, who knew?

The meal was not exactly a filling one, since it was more like small bites of various items. It was a great experience though. My only complaint was that smoking was allowed inside and we almost ended up beside some heavy smokers. The food, though, was exquisite – a splendid final dinner in Tokyo!

Leave a comment »

Fishy and Fresh – Sushi DO

February 21, 2013
Sushi DO, Philadelphia PA
~
Albacore Tuna Roll
Chicken Gyoza

Chicken Teriyaki Bowl
~

ImageDespite heading off to Tokyo soon, I was craving sushi and Japanese food. Thus, I made my way to Houston Hall’s Sushi DO to get my fill of fish and teriyaki.

The weekly special, Albacore Tuna Roll, was delicious despite being overpriced at $9.99. It had tuna inside and outside, covered with a spiced and sweet ginger miso sauce. The roll was freshly made and the sauce really brought out the great flavours of the fish.Image

The Chicken Gyoza was decent. The wrappers were not overcooked and the filling had a good amount of meat but also some crunchy cabbage. It was perhaps a little bland, but they did have the sesame soy sauce for dipping.

ImageThe Chicken Teriyaki Bowl was worth the $4.99 considering this is a campus dining area. It was simple, with the most tender, juicy chicken on top of a bed of decent rice, topped with a sweet teriyaki sauce. The two slices of cucumber added a certain refreshing taste but did not exactly go well with the dish. I would definitely get this again.

Overpriced sushi is what you get on campus, but at least it is fresh and the quality is decent enough even though it is far from amazing. 

Leave a comment »

Aloha! – Ezogiku

December 29, 2012
Ezogiku, Honolulu HI
~
Seafood Champon
Wonton Ramen
Gyoza
~

ImageBack in Honolulu! Finally! Since it was late, we decided food court was our best bet. Thus, we found ourselves in the Royal Hawaiian Center in Waikiki. Just the feeling of being back amidst the festive decor was so great! It was not as warm as we hoped Honolulu would be, so we opted for bowls of hot, steamy ramen from Ezogiku.

The Seafood Champon had a milky-looking meat broth that was reasonably light. There was not as much seafood as we hoped but quite a good amount of chewy and tender calamari and shrimp. The large shrimp were good but the soup in general was slightly bland. I would have liked to see some more fish in there. The noodles were al dente, though, as they were freshly made.Image

The Wonton Ramen was not as bland but also just flavoured with too much MSG. It was flavourful, but not in the good, light kind of way. We were all very thirsty afterwards, although at the time it was savoury and good. Again, the noodles were good. The wonton had decent wrappers and the pork filling was also quite flavourful. The slice of pork was tender but also not incredibly flavourful.Image

We got a combo so it came with a serving of Gyoza. These were actually quite good. Freshly pan-fried, they had a slight crisp on the outside with the wrapper still chewy. The filling of pork and cabbage was flavourful, although I found the texture to be a little too mushy, with the pork not firm and bouncy enough. Perhaps there was too much flour mixed in with the meat. The flavour was good, though.

It was not the best meal we wanted but for the time being, it satisfied our growling stomachs with some comforting late night eats. Off to a great start for a Christmas vacation! This is only just the beginning. 

Leave a comment »

Elegant Dim Sum – 苏杭人家-Suhang Restaurant

December 23, 2012
苏杭人家 – Suhang Restaurant, Richmond BC
~
苏州酱鸭 (Special Sauced Duck Suzhou Style)
雪菜豆板酥 (Mash Bean Cake with Pickled Vegetables)
灌汤小笼包 (Steamed Soup Buns with Pork Filling)
上海荠菜馄饨 (Shanghai Wonton)
罗汉斋两面黄 (Vegetarian Crispy Yellow Noodles) 
~

ImageFor a quick dim sum on a Sunday, we visited 苏杭人家 (Suhang Restaurant) as they always have great food and friendly service without a crazy line that is out the door. The restaurant was quite full but it was not outrageous. The owner, Amy, is always smiling and nice.Image

Suzhou cuisine is known for marinated cold dishes, especially duck and fish. Therefore, we tried the 苏州酱鸭 (Special Sauced Duck Suzhou Style). It was delicious, marinated in a sweet soy sauce. The duck was tender and the skin was not too fatty. The flavour was absorbed by the duck very thoroughly and the dish was served at a slightly cold temperature that was just right for this kind of appetizer.

Image

A hot appetizer, the 雪菜豆板酥 (Mash Bean Cake with Pickled Vegetables), made with fava beans that have been cooked till they could be mashed slightly. The fava beans were soft and mushy but still had their shape. The texture was great in that it allowed the beans to soak up the salty flavours from the pickled vegetables. This dish was warm but light and not too greasy.

Image

A traditional, the 灌汤小笼包 (Steamed Soup Buns with Pork Filling), was the not the best I have ever had. There was very savoury and tasty soup inside each bun but the wrapper was not thin enough. The pork filling was tasty and the buns were great, just not outstanding.

Image

Opting for something light and soupy, we had the 上海荠菜馄饨 (Shanghai Wonton), made with a shepherd’s-purse filling. I love shepherd’s purse. It is very similar to watercress. The small wontons had very soft wrappers around the refreshing filling. The clear broth was flavourful and light, just what we were looking for.
Image

The 罗汉斋两面黄 (Vegetarian Crispy Yellow Noodles) were very good. The noodles were nicely pan double-fried, crispy for the most part. I just love that crunch. Fried dough never disappoints. The parts that were soaking in the light sauce were soft and seemed a little over cooked. The vegetables, including baby bok choy, pan-fried tofu, black wood ear, shiitake mushrooms, water chestnuts, shredded carrot, and bamboo shoots. I absolutely loved the baby bok choy, the two fungi, and the bamboo shoots. The tofu soaked up the light flavour nicely, though. The sauce was decently thickened and light, but still flavourful.Image

Finally, the 多汁生煎包 (Pan-Fried Pork Soft Buns) were nicely pan-fried. The outside had the slightest crispiness with the thick dough soft but not overcooked. The inside soaked up some of the soupy liquid that was so flavourful. The filling was good but too small. One small bite and you are just left with dough.Image

Not pricey but not cheap either, Suhang nails the flavours. However, I do think they could give slightly bigger portions for some of the dishes. The atmosphere is nice for those who like dim sum to be more elegantly high-end, without the crowded and noisy huge restaurants and the clatter of silverware. This is much smaller and had a friendly and bright feel to the place.

Suhang Restaurant 蘇杭人家 on Urbanspoon

Leave a comment »

Unflavoured Jap – The Bento Box

November 29, 2012
The Bento Box, Philadelphia PA
~
Chicken Yakiudon
Tofu Teriyaki
~

Image

Everyday as I go for a little workout at the gym, I watch as endless students wander over to the food trucks outside, where Kim’s Oriental Food is located. Deciding against popular Chinese food, I went with the another truck, the Japanese one – The Bento Box. It gets quite a lot of customers, though not as much as Kim’s and Yue Kee’s. 

The Chicken Yakiudon was a bit too greasy for me. The noodles could have been a little more al dente but they were by no means too soggy and mushy. The flavour was light, almost a little bland with only a touch of soy sauce flavour. The vegetables were still crunchy but the chicken was dry and a little tough. The side salad was very generic with a tangy dressing. The one pan-fried dumpling was nothing special either.Image

The Tofu Teriyaki definitely could have used more sauce to give it a stronger sweet flavour. I could barely taste much of the teriyaki. The tofu was not too soft inside and the outside was crispy at first but got a little soggy. The portion was not very big and there was more rice than other ingredients. 

I am not surprised that The Bento Box does not get as many customers. Kim’s beats it in value and quality, hands down. Japanese food might be preferred over Chinese food sometimes, but it has to taste strong enough.

Leave a comment »

The Korean Kick – Koreana

ImageOctober 21, 2012
Koreana, Philadelphia PA
~
Mol Mandu

Deok Boki
~

I had a $10 voucher for LivingSocial about to expire so I decided it was the perfect time to use it at Koreana. My plan was to eat in but the guy in charge, I think he was either the manager or the owner, did not pay enough attention and so they made it as a take-out order. On a Sunday night, the little hole in the wall was so crowded I was quite surprised to get my food within ten minutes.

To start, the Mol Mandu were just okay. They were boiled a little too long that the dumpling wrappers were already very mushy. I think they were supposed to be vegetarian but I definitely tasted some ground pork mixed in with the vermicelli rice noodles and cabbage among other vegetables. It was quite bland and oddly wrapped, unlike traditional dumplings. The sweetened soy sauce for dipping was generic but good.Image

The Deok Boki was a dish of rice cake with cabbage, processed fish slices, and vermicelli noodles in a sweet and spicy sauce. I loved the sauce. It was amazingly sweet with a very strong spicy kick. Not watered down, it was so bold and flavorful – just splendid. The cabbage and vermicelli were nice additions to the dish in my opinion. The cabbage was still somewhat hard and crunchy while the vermicelli was stretchy with good texture. The processed fish was just the generic Asian fish ball-type of food but sliced up and pan-fried before added to the dish. It was bouncy and soft. The rice cakes were sticky and slightly undercooked. Perhaps a little too undercooked in some cases, as it was kind of hard like it gets when it is frozen. I hate mushy rice cake so I would rather have it a little harder but I would have liked it if tasted more like the fresh ‘hard’.

A little pricey, the flavors at Koreana definitely make up for the value. Everything before the discount online came to $11.88, which is certainly not cheap for such small portions. However, it is hard to find something so comforting and more authentic than what you get from food trucks. 

Koreana on Urbanspoon

Leave a comment »

Thai? Chinese? Whatever! – The Real Le Anh

ImageSeptember 20, 2012
The Real Le Anh, Philadelphia PA
~
Shrimp Tom Yum Soup
Vegetable Dumplings
~

Starving after class, I made my way to The Real Le Anh for the second time to try the Shrimp Tom Yum Soup. It had only four shrimp in it and while they were of decent size and I expected them to be frozen shrimp, they were the slightest but overcooked and not as bouncy or tender as they could be. The flavors were nice though, despite a lack of authentic Thai flavors, especially the lemongrass. The basil leaves gave it a nice aroma and the garlic and chili pepper sauce-based soup made the soup spicy and satisfying. I am not expecting authentic Thai flavors to begin with. The vermicelli rice noodles were gladly not overcooked and the vegetables, especially the bean sprouts and daikon radish, were refreshing. Image

The Vegetable Dumplings were not as good, though. I got them steamed but the lady forgot about them until my soup was already done. Since she was rushed, the thicker part of the wrapper (yellow and thick so probably store-bought) was still raw and hard. The filling had chives, which I loved, as well as shredded vegetables and potatoes. The potatoes made it slightly creamy in texture, but I do not like that since I do not like potatoes most of the time. I still love the sweet bean sauce it comes with, though, nice and traditional.Image

I am certainly going to become a regular visitor here, and the owner is especially nice. While the prices are slightly higher than other food trucks, perhaps by $0.50 or so each dish, they do offer some unique items and dishes without rice for $1 extra. I might get some of that in the near future.

Leave a comment »