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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

New Place Report: Tenshi Sushi & Japanese Noodle

My favorite sushi experience was not my first sushi experience. Unfortunately for years my only brush with sushi was at Chinese buffets. I know what you are thinking ewwwww gross!! But please trust in my ability to not eat sushi that was disgusting. I only ate it at two or three places that I felt safe at, but I still didn't understand the difference of eating at a true sushi restaurant.

Knowing that my husband had no interest in trying sushi I went ahead and planned my birthday party at a sushi place! I know I'm a smart cookie aren't I? :o) I was just about to do or had just done a Palate Adventurers get together and I just didn't feel up to driving half way across the city for my birthday. I googled the top ten sushi restaurants and Tenshi was the only one on the north side. It is located near the intersection of Jones & Fallbrook on Jones Road.

I am going to admit to you that I was really nervous about trying raw fish for the first time. At the buffets where I felt comfortable enough to eat the sushi I still played it rather safe and did not eat anything I couldn't identify and stuck to the safer rolls such as the California Roll. After we had been seated my worry about the raw fish having a texture that I couldn't handle grew. I was making comments here and there mostly half under my breath of my worry. I finally vented my fears to my fifteen year old niece who is wise beyond her years and this is how the conversation that made my night progressed: Her: "Do you like boiled peanuts? Me: "No!" Her: "Exactly! If they were crunchy; everyone would like them. It is a texture issue. Get over it!" And folks that is just what I did.

I ended up ordering the chef's special which included a California Roll, two sushi's (raw fish on top of sticky white rice) including salmon and tuna, and two sashimi's (just plain raw fish) which was fatty tuna and yellow fin tuna. I have to say my favorite was the yellow fin tuna which was served with tiny slices of lemon that took the freshness to an even new level.

Speaking about the freshness I had mentioned before not realizing the difference between the buffet sushi and the restaurant sushi. The freshness is it. That is the difference. I have mentioned before the taste of the steam of Jason's Deli's steamed veggies. The freshness of sushi is the same; almost indescribable. The best way I can try to explain it would be to say it is literally the freshest tasting food you've ever tasted in your life. Freshness to the umpteen power!

I was also able to enjoy a friends Fried Shrimp Roll which I feel has to be American influence on sushi. We sure do like to fry things. I have to say it sure was delicious. I am sure I tried a few other's rolls, but after a certain point of everyone passing you a sample of their roll they ordered the names become fuzzy. Especially being my first time enjoying real sushi and as well being the birthday girl everyone wanted me to try everything. Which I happily obliged.

As far as beverages go I of course had to do a little Sake sipping. I would describe Sake as stronger, better tasting Vodka. I only had one tiny little cup, because if you are not careful you could find yourself very inebriated, very fast.

Tenshi happens to be a smaller restaurant. It is tucked onto the end of a small strip center. It is a very beautiful and comfortable place. They have two rooms enclosed by traditional Japanese doors you can reserve if you so choose, but me personally I always find myself wanting to be on the main floor. It makes the atmosphere of the meal for me. With my party of fifteen to twenty people we filled almost half of the restaurant, and again even though the place was on the smaller side I never felt cramped.

I tried my hardest to eat my food with the chopsticks, and every bit of me did not want to have to ask for a fork. I eventually however gave in. I have eaten sushi a few times with chopsticks since my birthday and have acquired better skill. There was just no sense at the time getting frustrated on my birthday because of two silly wooden sticks. Just as a credit to myself just the other day I had eaten almost an entire ginger salad with chopsticks alone! It was difficult, but definitely good practice.

One other thing I wanted to speak with y'all about is the to dip or not to dip question. Everyone obviously has their own palate. So when I was introduced to sushi the first time I was instructed on what to make to dip my sushi in. What I have always done is to gather about three or four pieces of ginger and place them in my sauce tray. Then I take a bee bee size of wasabi and set it on the ginger. Next I take the soy and pour a lake for the ginger and wasabi to live in. I commence mixing the things together really just to dissolve the wasabi into the soy. That is my happy mixture. I love salt therefore I love soy. I also love ginger especially as a dressing on a salad. Which I did order and enjoy.

So that evening I was told that the ginger is supposed to be used as a palate cleanser in between bites. Call me crazy and set in my ways, but I think I will be sticking to the way I've always done it. To each their own I say! One other way to eat the sushi is to not dip at all which is what I watched my niece mostly do. I did try it and the sushi doesn't necessarily need to be dipped, but like I said before I sure do like that salty, gingery, clean your sinsus' out hotness. Now I find myself doing both. Some rolls just don't pair well with my mixture and that's okay. I just try to stay open even if I am set with certain ways. I may really enjoy that, but it also won't stop me from having a few bites without.

So I have been saving the best part for last. My niece being an adventurous eater (a girl after my own heart) ordered a bite (I'm not sure what else to call it; it wasn't a whole roll) which consisted of raw fish eggs wrapped in sea weed topped with a raw quail egg. We all stared as it was brought to her, and she looked a little embarrassed with all eyes on her. I am sure she will soon learn if she has not already if you are the brave enough one to try something crazy you are most likely going to get everyone's full attention. As she placed it in her mouth and got the sushi puffy cheeks she just nodded at the fact that it was yummy and not scary or disgusting at all. What a brave one she is.

I hope you have enjoyed me sharing my birthday dinning experience with you as much as I have!  Happy Reading & Eating!      <3

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

New Place Report - RA Sushi

I found myself at RA Sushi by way of a friend's birthday party. Upon arriving with my mother (and without my poor husband; him not wishing to partake in sushi enjoyment) we parked easily by the grace of what only could be the parking gods themselves. First spot, first row. That just never happens.

RA Sushi is on the second floor of a high end shopping complex. When you walk through the front door you are greeted by a two story entry room leading you to two choices. Hanging in the large open space is one of the most beautiful chandeliers I've ever seen. It is up to you to decide if you are feeling up to the stairs or prefer a leisure ride up the elevator. As you exit the elevator you are welcomed immediately to your right by the hostess. If choose to take the stairs she is on your left as you ascend to the top. The two meet across from each other.

This next part I am about to inform you of is one you should pay close attention to if you may be planning a get together at RA anytime in the near future. The bar area at RA is first come first serve and in the dining room side reservations are needed. As well your party cannot be seated unless eighty percent are present. We had reservations in the dinning side, but ended up being fine in the bar area and enjoyed our meal on that side.

I was able to try a friend's appetizer which was the "RA"ckin' Shrimp and also the Pineapple Cheese Wontons.  The shrimp were spicy and pared well with the sauce provided which was a ginger teriyaki sauce.  As well the pineapple wontons were kicked up a notch with the addition of the roasted pineapple sauce.  It was a good variation on your typical crab rangoon.   

For my meal I ordered the Beef Tataki Roll and the Ultimate Shrimp Tempura Roll. The beef roll was so scrumptious. It came with a sauce that was both a tad sweet with citrus notes and savory like the creamier sauce you get during an hibachi grill dinner. On the menu the roll is described as having artichoke, asparagus, roasted red pepper, and avacado rolled and topped with seared beef; served with a creamy wasabi sauce and drizzled with black pepper soy.  It was truly amazing. 

The birthday girl also ordered this, and was slightly worried about the fact they ask you if you care about eating raw beef.  When the roll came out it ended up being no big deal at all.  I would not even refer to the doneness of the beef anywhere near medium rare.  At most it was medium to medium well. 

As far as dessert is concerned I would have to have you steer away from poor RA with me for a moment. The birthday girl's boyfriend had snuck in a few cupcakes from a local bakery called What's Up Cupcake.  I have to tell you I've never had a softer cupcake in my life. It melted in my mouth.  Sad to say, but I am not able to provide you with the type of cupcake I enjoyed.  I do however have the friend that ordered these cupcakes looking into the matter, and hopefully I may be able to let you know exactly which cupcake I enjoyed.  See below for any additional comments to be added at a later date.  So even though my dessert was amazing I cannot contribute that to RA.

However a few more perspectives I can offer are as follows: My mom enjoyed a Nutty Chicken Salad. It was big enough for two people to share, and she said that it was very good.  I also ordered an alcoholic beverage with my dinner which was a vodka cranberry or a Cape Cod. I happened to take a big swig of my drink before I actually got a good look at it. It was barely colored at all. It was barely even pink let alone red by any means. I asked the waitress for a glass of cranberry on the side and did not have to order any additional drinks that evening.

My final thoughts are that this beautiful restaurant has some amazing sushi, and two different types of atmospheres to enjoy it in. The restaurant side seems to have a more intimate feel while in the bar area you could easily mistake yourself in a club. With the windows sometimes open to the city beyond it is a helluva place to sit eat some of the freshest sushi and enjoy a drink or two. I would definitely venture down to RA Sushi again.

Beef Tataki Roll

RA Sushi Website

What's Up Cupcake Website