Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Striking a balance

There are few things I enjoy seeing more on a sign than “Sushi Happy Hour” – the promise of discount sushi, and a lot of it, is enough to send me into a fish/rice/happiness induced coma.

However, with sushi, a reduction in price often means a reduction in quality. Find me an all you can eat sushi buffet and I’ll find you a disappointed patron. However, as there is an exception to every rule, there is Tono Sushi.

Sitting in a prominent position on Connecticut Avenue across from the Woodley Park metro stop, Tono Sushi is about as convenient as a restaurant can get. The inside of the restaurant is fairly small and cozy, and on a nice day the restaurant’s location is perfect for people watching – making Sushi Tono a comfortable place to eat whether you do so inside or out.

Almost every time Jill and I have been we’ve sat at the sushi bar (as is our standard operating procedure). Staffed by four chefs, the wonders that come out from behind the bar amaze the eye and astonish the palate with beautifully fresh creations.

Our meal started with a nice bowl of bean sprouts, served in what seemed like a mix of soy sauce and rice vinegar. Normally I’m not a big bean sprout person, but these were wonderful, and a great alternative to the traditional miso soup and ginger salad mixture that I usually just push off to Jill.

Looking to strike a good mix of quality and quantity, we relied on the happy hour menu for guidance. My first roll was a simple roll of tuna and avocado (pretty standard for me). With a pretty good ratio of fish to rice, everything was fresh and the tuna and avocado both had the same creamy texture that I enjoy so much.

As far as the actual sushi went, my favorite by far was the squid, which was without a doubt the creamiest piece that I’ve ever tasted. The rest of the lot: salmon, tuna, yellowtail, and marinated mackerel were all worthy of being served at a much fancier restaurant at a much higher cost – but luckily were all just one dollar a piece.

There are an awful lot of sushi restaurants in the DC area, but few offer the convenience, the quality, and the affordability of Tono Sushi. It may not have been the best sushi I’ve ever had, but it’s probably the best sushi I’ve had for the price, and that’s good enough for me.

Tono Sushi
2605 Connecticut Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20008

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

But will it catch on?

Another slow week for food - in an attempt to save money I haven't even gotten a snack from the deli next door, but luckily there's a piece of news in the food world.

Straight off the Drudge Report (, a story that mega celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck is banning foie gras, eggs from chickens raised in battery cages, and veal and pigs raised in confined crates.

The real surprise to me is the ban of foie gras, the duck liver dish that is often produced by force feeding the animals through fairly inhumane practices. It'll be interesting to see if more chefs take this staple of high end cuisine off of their menus, and trend towards more animal friendly dishes.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

You sure you want to eat that?

If you’ve never been to Eden Center in Falls Church, Virginia, you need to get in your car and see it for yourself. With more Vietnamese restaurants per square foot than anywhere else outside of, well, Vietnam, the Eden Center boasts two restaurants in the Washingtonian’s 2007 top 100 restaurant list. So looking for a new and exciting place to eat, we headed to Eden Center’s most popular restaurant, Huong Viet.

Much like my favorite Pho place, Pho 75, the décor is minimalist to the extreme. Tables, chairs, and a few pictures on the wall – this restaurant lets its food do the talking, and what you hear is going to depend on what you ask for.

Taking a look at the menu, you’ll find yourself almost overcome with the number of options. With over one hundred and fifty dishes on the menu, unless you arrive with a specific meal in mind, you’re going to need some time to order.

We started off with an appetizer of the roast quail. Certainly enough for three people to share, the quail was well seasoned, but a little rough and over cooked. It seemed a little overpriced for $9, and I would probably get one of the less expensive options next time I’m feeling the need for a starter.

Our entrees were all interesting in their own respect. I ordered the caramel fish hot pot, which one of my friends was persuaded not to order – and when I say persuaded, I mean the waiter took his time to talk him out of ordering the dish, asking him if he had ever had it, and then shaking his head like he was ordering fish eyes covered in cat brain. In the end, the hot pot was the right choice. Moist, flaky fish covered in a salty yet sweet caramel sauce; tossed with rice it was almost like a dessert – defiantly worth the $10 I paid for it.

Evan, the friend who was talked out of the hot pot, instead ordered a sweet and sour shrimp soup, which was much more deserving of a warning than the hot pot. The broth had a very strong and overwhelming taste of what seemed to be a mix of garlic and ginger, and the soup itself was filled with tomatoes, shrimp, and a variety of other vegetables that I simply couldn’t identify – including one that looked like honeydew, but was simply inedible and had the consistency of an old sponge. The broth seemed to simply overpower everything else in the bowl, and I’m pretty sure Evan regretted his choice after the first bite.

Marc, the third of the three of us, got what he so accurately described as, “the most American dish”, which was basically just chicken and onions in a lemongrass sauce; it was tasty, but nothing exciting enough to write home about.

When our food was finally consumed, it proved to be a bit of a struggle to obtain the check. It took me asking our waiter four times to finally get a response – the restaurant was busy, but there’s never an excuse for having to ask four times. In addition, the restaurant only takes cash, and there aren’t any ATMs near by, so come prepared.

The experience we sought was certainly interesting, eating a foreign food in a foreign place – the food was inconsistent and the service was poor – I’m not quite sure Huong Viet deserves a ranking above such restaurants as Jaleo and Kaz Sushi, but it just might deserve another visit – if only to have another bite of that caramel fish.

Huong Viet
6785 Wilson Blvd
Falls Church, VA 22044-3302
Huong Viet doesn’t have a website

Friday, March 16, 2007

Cross another one off our list...

Jill and I have been together for a little over a year and three months. And during that time, pretty much from the first day we met, she’s been wanting for us to go to Jaleo. So, over four hundred days and countless meals later, we finally found our way to Jaleo last night.

Choosing to visit their Crystal City location, I was immediately struck upon entering by its massive size. The ceilings are huge, making an already sizable restaurant seem enormous. We arrived without a reservation, and were able to get a table right away.

Our section was fairly empty, so the service was pretty much on the ball the entire evening. Starting off with complimentary olives and bread, Jill dug into the olives (which are one of my least favorite foods), and I got the bulk of the bread, which I consumed with their olive oil (which tasted much better than your normal restaurant stock variety). The bread itself was room temperature, and the crust was a bit harder than I like, but in all, still a good start to the meal.

Jill started off with a sangria, which must have been good because she gulped it down like water. Both of us got two dishes a piece, which at around $5-6 dollars per was a pretty good deal considering what we got.

I decided to be daring and try something I’ve never had before: sweetbreads. Trying to be brave, and not think about the fact that I was eating veal brains, I dug in, and was pleasantly surprised. Wonderfully creamy on the inside and firm on the outside, it was like a really firm meaty flan – I’m a fan. The sweetbreads were served with a 'pisto Manchego' stew, which was essentially vegetables cooked in oil. The veggies weren’t great, but then again they weren’t really the focus of the dish.

Along with the sweetbreads, I ordered a bowl of mussels, which I expected to be relatively small. Instead, I got a very large bowl of the biggest mussels I’ve ever seen. Perfectly seasoned and really tasty, I enjoyed every bite.

Jill’s two dishes were a plate of cod fritters – crispy on the outside, hot and tender on the inside, and delicious all over; as well as a plate of saffron rice with mussels, which also went over well with her.

In the end, it is easy to see why Jill had been clamoring to visit Jaleo for so long now. The atmosphere was welcoming, the service was solid, and the food was great – definitely worth another trip.

In those fifteen months, we’ve added a number of other restaurants onto our list of “places to visit” – if they’re all as good a Jaleo, we’ll be two fat and happy wannabe gastronomes.

2250 A Crystal Drive
Arlington, VA 22202
Tel (703) 413-8181
Fax (703) 413-5566

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Yeah, you're crazy

Another story about another restaurant that is trying to drive business by driving up its prices on an ordinary dish. It doesn't even sound that good anyway.


Luxury Pie: NYC Restaurant Offers $1,000 Pizza
Nino Selimaj Unveils Grand Pizza Featuring Caviar, Lobster

(CBS) NEW YORK We've been dealing with the pocket-emptying effects of rising gas prices, new electric rates, and an increase in cab fare, but how would you feel about breaking the bank all for...a pizza? Now you can find out thanks to Manhattan restauranteur Nino Selimaj, who has apparently brought from the heavens a real "pie in the sky" with his new $1,000 pizza.

Yep, that'll be $1,000 please.

The pizza will be added to the menu at "Nino's Bellisima," one of Selimaj's six restaurants in the city. Forget traditional cheese and pizza sauce, the record-priced pie will be topped with creme fraiche, chives, eight ounces of four different kinds of Petrossian caviar, four ounces of thinly sliced Maine lobster tail, salmon roe, and a little bit of spice with wasabi.

And unlike your typical pizza, this one won't be cooked, after all, that would spoil the fish. The 12-inch pie is sliced into four pieces, which comes to $250 per slice.

"Let them say I'm crazy," Selimaj says. "But I believe in this product, and it's gonna sell!"

So who's gonna buy this pie? Selimaj is betting Wall Street business types.

"My luxury pizza will become as famous as a night at the Waldorf Astoria. When Mr. Chow's introduced upscale Asian Cuisine several years ago, people couldn't imagine paying hundreds of dollars for Chinese food. Now upscale Asian cuisine is as common as New York hotdogs. Upscale Pizza will be next," Selimaj said.

The previous international record for pizza found on a menua was $193 at Gordon Ramsey's Maze restaurant in London.

(© MMVII, CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.)

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

A slice worth the price

One of the cruelest acts we as a society perpetrate on our youth is allowing them to grow up completely misinformed as to what a good slice of pizza is. It’s all too easy these days to buy one, or five, or ten pizzas from some faceless chain, covered in grease; more toppings and accessories than pizza.

Washington DC, like any other city, is crawling with places to get a slice of the pie, but one stands out above all others. Tucked away near the National Cathedral, 2 Amy’s stands out above the rest of the pack, offering real Neapolitan style pizza at incredible prices.

The atmosphere of the restaurant is often hectic. Arriving at 12:30 on a Sunday, you’ll face a minimum half-hour wait as patrons tend to line up even before it opens at noon. The décor is simple and welcoming, with the left side of the restaurant dedicated to tables and chairs, and the right side to the kitchen and a bar towards the rear.

Even on a busy Sunday afternoon the service is quick and precise. Before I can put my keys on the table, water is being poured and drink orders taken. In total, from the time our names were called to the time that we signed the check, we were only seated for about a half hour. Yet, what we ate in that half hour was quire remarkable.

I started off with a doughnut; not exactly what first comes to mind when we think of pizzerias, but this doughnut is not your run of the mill doughnut. Light and airy, warm and covered in cinnamon sugar, the loan doughnut (served with the doughnut hole) is a sweet way to start off any meal.

Their pizzas are straight forward, simple, and delicious. The margherita pizza, cooked to perfection in their wood burning oven, has a great balance of flavors, colors and textures. The light coating of olive oil and sea salt on the crust melds well with the fresh leaves of basil, and the melted clumps of mozzarella di bufala.

Each pizza, ranging from $8.95 to $12.95 is enough for one, though could certainly be shared in a pinch – a great deal for a pie made with such fresh ingredients and served with such attention to detail, down to the drizzle of extra virgin olive oil just before the pizza is served.

Often accused of being too loud, too full of young children who seem to run the place, 2 Amy’s is a wonderful place to have a wonderful meal. In a time when you can have any ole sub par pizza delivered to your door, a place like 2 Amy’s makes it worth getting in your car (or putting on your shoes, riding a bike, whatever it takes) and making a trip – it’ll be time well spent, and a meal enjoyed.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

The egg definitely came first

The primary reason why I’ve been so quiet for the better part of the last week is that I’ve been sick – stuck at home, as I mentioned a few days ago, with a case of strep throat. Shortly after I wrote that piece on Wednesday, about my meal on Tuesday evening, my mouth swelled up and I couldn’t chew or open my mouth wide enough for any solid foods.

Yet, with the help of a few days rest and a set of strong antibiotics, I decided to give the whole solid foods thing a shot again tonight – after getting sick and tired of a strict diet of Ensure milkshakes and frozen yogurt.

So, I fell back on the first thing I ever learned how to make: an omelet.

Now I really don’t think I have to go step by step with this, but for formality’s sake, I will.

I started off by taking three eggs and opening them into a bowl, splashing a couple tablespoons of milk in with it and a bit of salt. On a small plate, I grated about a quarter cup of cheese – I happened to use Colby Jack, because that’s what I have on hand. Any soft cheese would work fine.

I then lightly whisked the eggs, not too much as that would make them tough, and then put them into an already hot pan with a tablespoon of melted butter (melted in the pan).

Once the eggs are in the pan, put a pinch of pepper in, and let them sit for about 20-30 seconds. The more you handle the eggs, the tougher they’re going to get, so controlling your compulsive spatula skills is a good thing here.

Once you’ve let them sit, you’ll notice a great deal of the uncooked egg left sitting on top of the already solid and formed mass of egg. Take your utensil and move forward the edges of the omelet, allowing the excess liquid to flow to the edges and solidify.

I usually do this until there is only a very thin layer of liquid on top. It’s at this point that I throw the cheese down the middle. After I do this, I take the right most quarter of the omelet, and fold it from right to left. I then fold it from left to right, much like folding a letter to be put into an envelope. Let this sit for another few seconds, and serve.

I didn’t have any chives or parsley for a garnish, but you get the point. Slightly browned with a bit of a crust to it on the outside, and airy and creamy on the inside – sometimes, you just can’t beat a good omelet; especially if you haven’t eaten real food in four days.


Friday, March 9, 2007

Solicitation of Suggestions

Have you been to Amsterdam? Did you eat great food there? Let me know what not to miss! I'll be there in a couple weeks for break, and I would certainly appreciate some tips. I'll show my thanks with posts'n'pics!

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

What a crazy world...

By no means do I pretend to be a food critic - but if I were, this would frighten me.

Dan Gross | Chops Sues LaBan

A THREE-SENTENCE restaurant review has led to a high-steaks lawsuit from Chops Restaurant (401 City Ave.) against Inqwaster food critic Craig LaBan and Philadelphia Media Holdings, which owns the Inqwaster and Daily News.

In his "Or Try These" sidebar to his Feb. 4 review of Fleming's in Radnor, LaBan called Chops, a popular Bala Cynwyd steakhouse, the "Palm on City Line," where he had a "miserably tough and fatty strip steak."

However, according to the suit filed by Chops owner Alex Plotkin, LaBan had a steak sandwich minus the bread, not a strip steak.

"No legitimate food critic would ever mistake, or compare, a steak sandwich with a strip steak," the lawsuit states.

Plotkin, who prides himself on Chops' chops, says in the suit that he had called LaBan about the review and that LaBan had "apologized for the 'confusion,' admitted he did not have a strip steak and 'saw [Plotkin's] point,' but would not publish a retraction in his column."

LaBan instead asked Plotkin to visit his online forum at where they could discuss the issue. Plotkin declined to participate in the online debate, the libel suit, filed in Common Pleas Court, states.

LaBan declined to comment for this story. His reviews have been credited or blamed, depending on whom you ask, with making or breaking restaurants. The critic is known to be extraordinarily protective of his identity during restaurant visits, employing disguises and aliases.

"We stand behind Craig's comments and we are going to defend this case vigorously," Rob Barron, general counsel for PMH, told us yesterday.

*Story from the Philadelphia Daily News (2.21.07)

A gift from my father

Both of my parents are good cooks. My mother always made dinner – every night, no matter how tired or how sick she might have been. I could probably count the number of times we went out or ordered in on one hand.

So whenever I got sick, food was always one of the medicines prescribed – and one of those items on the menu was a nice bowl of Acini di Pepe, a type of pasta, with a little butter and usually some catsup.

Luckily, since my father bought me a box of that very pasta when I moved into my apartment, I always have some on hand.

So as I’m at home today, sidelined with a case of strep throat, I figured I’d put a spin on my childhood favorite, and make one of my favorite comfort foods.

By adding a tablespoon and a half of butter, a couple ounces of milk (cream would also work), salt and pepper, basil and oregano, and a large helping of shredded Colby jack cheese, you’ve got a meal that puts you well on your way to good health.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Another Lesson Learned Through the Power of Chicken

If there’s one thing in particular that I struggle with as an aspiring food critic, it’s prejudging restaurants before I even walk through the door. I usually grant favor to smaller, locally and privately owned restaurants with limited and focused menu.

In contrast, larger chain restaurants with a novel for a menu tend to turn me away – as they’re usually overpriced and underwhelming. And thus, this past Saturday, another lesson was learned: don’t judge a restaurant by its façade.

Sweetwater Tavern, located west of the beltway in Centreville, Virginia, looks like your typical mall parking lot restaurant. A large single story structure pretending to be from the old west, the inside of the restaurant is simply huge. Upon entering, you’ll find a small micro-brewery to your left, and a waiting area to your right. Ahead of you is the massive dining area, split in two by a large sunken bar.

At the far end of the dining room, extending the entire width of the restaurant is the open kitchen, where an army of cooks with red hats add dressing to salads and grill all varieties of protein.

Arriving at 5:50, our party, over a dozen people, had to wait over an hour for enough seats within proximity to be found – luckily the bar had some standing room, and those who wished to commenced with the drinking.

When we finally sat down, the service was crisp and attentive, which was quite impressive considering the number of people in the restaurant.

For an appetizer I had a “Tex-Mex Eggroll” – which was essentially a small burrito filled with chicken, cheese, corn and beans, served with a side of “avocado dipping sauce”, aka guacamole. Surprisingly slight and very flavorful, the dish, which came with four of these eggrolls, was enough to keep four of us held over until the main course.

Along side the appetizer was a wonderful bread basket with some sweet butter rolls and some slices of some sort of cheddar sourdough bread – all warm and served with a nice whipped butter.

For my entrée I ordered the half young chicken, which was served with a side of mashed potatoes and couple spoonfuls of corn salsa. The chicken was very tender, and complimented well with a pool of brown butter sauce, that in my opinion made the dish. The potatoes and chicken was surprisingly warm for such a large restaurant with so many people eating at once – so often when a restaurant is busy, especially with a side dish, food comes out at room temperature when it’s supposed to be served warm or hot.

Kyle, the man of the hour, the reason for dining out that evening, got the short smoked salmon filet, which was well seasoned and wonderfully tender. It’s very easy to overcook salmon – especially since I am one who prefers it raw, but the kitchen defiantly did a good job with the piece Kyle was served.

For dessert, skipping the sadly traditional and abhorrent practice of waiters and waitresses singing happy birthday, our waitress presented Kyle with a complimentary plate of the warm flourless chocolate waffle – which tasted more like a waffle/brownie hybrid. Served with a sizable scoop of vanilla ice cream, I didn’t have much of it, but Kyle certainly seemed to enjoy it.

In the end, while it’s not the type of restaurant I’d wonder into on any given night, the food on my plate more than made up for the noisy atmosphere and hour long wait. I don’t make it out to Centreville often, but I might just have a reason to now.

Sweetwater Tavern
14250 Sweetwater Lane
Centreville, Virginia 20121
Sweetwater Tavern

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Osaka, My Hero

Saturday night found two friends and me bored, lazy, and sick and tired of cafeteria food. So, like any three take-charge feminist ladies would do in such a crisis, we got dressed up and went out. Now, in Northampton, "going out" means one of two things: either hitting up Diva's, the local gay club (and for that matter, the only local club... oh Northampton), or heading downtown for a good meal and a drink. It being only 6:00, we opted for the latter. After much discussion (NoHo has a lot of options) we settled on Osaka, a tried-and-true stalwart. And, of course, it didn't disapoint.

The wait at Osaka is always long for weekend dinners, but we snagged seats at the sushi bar, which is somewhat inconveniently located right near the hostess's stand, meaning we were pretty consistently bombarded with elbows and handbags belonging to impatient people hoping for a table. But once our drinks came, all was forgiven. I ordered the "lychee sake," figuring I'd liked the ginger sake-tini I had at the chic Tunnel Bar a few weeks ago, so I'd give this a shot. And sweet mother, what a luscious shot it was. Turns out lychee sake is basically, um, alcoholic lychee juice. Sweet, light, with that amazing grape-meets-heaven taste... I am a big, big fan. If anybody can tell me where to buy this stuff in bulk, please let me know. *Ahem.* Anyway.

I was torn in my entree decision-- usually cold, damp nights like last night call for tempura udon, but I also hadn't had sushi in entirely too long. But then, the beef from the hibachi table smelled divine. In the end, though, Nina came through in the decision-making clutch, and we elected to collectively order and share the Dance Roll (Crabmeat & cucumber with crunch eel and chef special sauce on top) and the Angel Roll (Sliced tuna roll around spicy crab meat & avocado). I'm a big fat pig and pretty much hogged the Dance Roll, mostly because the Angel was Atkins-friendly and completely devoid of rice, which, at Osaka, is kind of a shame. My roll (as it will henceforth be known) was light, fresh, and piled high with chunks of sweet eel and crunchy tobiko, topped with a brown, sweet sauce and spicy mayonaise. Delish. Neil's spicy noodles were also quite tasty, and I benefited from that deal as well, because I got to "rescue" her from any mushroom invaders on her plate.

Osaka is a treat. It isn't expensive for the quality, but its still a little pricey for a college-kid budget. At $5 for the sake and $9.95 for the roll, it did a decent amount of damage to my wallet, but my goodness it was worth it.

7 Old South Street
Northampton, MA 01060

I believe that's four strikes...

I’m not a big bar guy. Over the past year I’ve essentially stopped drinking, which in addition to saving me a ton of money, has also given me very little reason to ever set foot in a bar.

My favorite bar of my college years, Nanny O’Brian’s, has gone significantly downhill since the days when I would spend ridiculous amounts of money there on gin and cheap beer. So when a few friends of mine that I see once every ten blue moons decide to get together I figure that we should head to what seems to be one of the hot bars in DC at this moment: Bar Pilar.

Nestled in a wonderful spot in the U St. area, Bar Pilar has a relatively unassuming façade, but inside you’ll find a long, narrow room buzzing with activity, with every square inch packed – even as early as eight o’clock on a Friday night.

The actual bar is crammed over on the right side, taking up most of the wall – the left side is taken up by tables filled mostly by people eating. Desperately looking for a table for four, we had to settle for a set of two bar stools by the window (where a small counter stands).

Not too long after we take our seats we’re handed menus and order our food. I ordered a warm apple crepe, having had dinner earlier – and my friend Pat ordered a roasted chicken dish.

It’s around here where things started going downhill. The service was painfully slow – even though the place was at capacity, our waitress paid very little attention to us, as opposed to the tables next to us filled with people dressed significantly better than us and ordering wine like it was their job – leading one of my friends to comment, “She knows where she’s getting her tips from.”

Finally we’re served our food. My warm apple crepe was only slightly above room temperature, and very underwhelming. At four dollars, it initially seemed like a deal, but I would have been better off getting a couple of apple pies from McDonalds across the street for a buck.

Pat’s chicken looked decent – a skinless piece of chicken that looked tender, served with a side of greens, but there was one problem – it was raw in the middle…which is a bit of a problem.

After waiting fifteen minutes for someone to stop by and check on us, we were able to point out the uncooked chicken, and were told to not worry about the check. So with that we left, and honestly, I’ll probably never go back.

The bar itself is small, it was impossible to get a table, the service was slow, and the food was disappointing. The U St. area has a lot of great places to eat and meet up with friends; this just isn’t one of them.

Bar Pilar
1833 14th Street NW
Washington, DC 20009

Friday, March 2, 2007

Having Lunch With Jeffrey

One of my biggest complaints about Smith as an institution is that, because of the way our dining system is currently structured, I almost always end up eating lunch by myself. There are so many dining halls that its rare to run in to somebody you know, and my friends' schedules are so busy we almost never manage to coordinate ahead of time (that, or I smell, which is another possibility). Luckily, a lovely boy bought me Jeffrey Steingarten's The Man Who Ate Everything. And so, I've been eating my lunches with Jeffrey recently, and enjoying it immensely.

In case you don't know (but, really, how could you not?), Jeffrey Steingarten is Vogue's food writer, as well as a fantastically cynical and snide judge on Iron Chef America. He is a fantastic writer, as demonstrated in this book, which is a collection of essays each addressing a certain food, technique, or quest. Steingarten's "research" takes him all over the world, from the gelato shops in Italy to the seafood on a remote island off the coast of Oregon. He's funny, detailed, and extremely knowledgeable. He's not as erudite as one might expect, and his candor is refreshing. I particularly enjoyed his chapter on back-of-the-box recipes-- who knew that Jeffrey Steingarten eats brownies from a mix??

This is a great book- its light reading, and it goes well with food. Highly recommended.

Powell's review

Thursday, March 1, 2007

That's a big piece of fish...

When you say sushi, Western Connecticut isn't exactly the region of the country that first comes to mind. In fact, it's probably somewhere in the bottom tier. Yet, a couple weeks ago, heading back from visiting Jill in Massachusetts, and acting on a tip from her past travels, I ventured into Danbury, CT for a quick lunch at the Panda House.

At first glance Panda House is your run of the mill Japanese/Chinese strip mall restaurant. A large general dining area with tables dwarfs the tiny sushi bar by comparison, but for a small sushi bar it's got a lot to offer.

Just as I sat down (one of the first customers in at 11:30am) the sushi chef was taking out a massive piece of tuna, at least three feet long, that he had received that morning. Before he could reach for his knife, I ordered the "Sushi Regular", which consisted of six pieces of sushi (comprised of tuna, salmon and a few other fresh varieties of fish) and a tuna roll.

The fish was tremendously fresh, and the tuna (certainly the star of the show) simply melted in my mouth. The roll was beautifully crafted, and large enough to fill me up.

Washed down with a couple diet cokes (they charged me for refills - so watch out if you like to gulp down the soda), the final price came out to $16.38, with tax - somewhat pricey considering it was lunch, but it's Connecticut and everything is expensive.

It's not exactly convenient, not exactly a bargain, but it was pretty good - and definitely worth a second trip.

Panda House
93 Mill Plain Rd.
Danbury, CT 06810
Phone: 203.743.6080
Fax: 203.743.0291
(Panda House doesn't have a website)