Grand Ole Wasabi?

Was in Nashville recently and had to visit the Grand Ole Opry. Before the show started, there was time to roam around the Opryland Hotel and enjoy some dinner. After looking over the menu at the many restaurants the venue offers, we decided on Wasabi’s.


When our waiter came over to take our drink orders, at a Japanese restaurant, we asked what they had to offer. He mentioned the traditional stuff, along with the local offering — the Gaylord Opryland 77 APA by Blackstone Brewing Company. Why not go local? Nice amber beer with a good history, so had to pair it with asian food, right?


They have a traditional Japanese menu so deciding what to eat was sort of hard but sort of easy, in the sense that we knew what was on the menu. Ended up starting with some Seaweed Salad. Very nice taste to it.


For the main course, we went with the Wasabi’s Sushi Sampler:
California Roll (6 Pcs)
Tuna Sashimi (3 Pcs)
Nigiri (3 Pcs): Tuna, Salmon, Shrimp

It was a very nice size and very well presented. Quite tasty, too. Now, since two of us were splitting this, we weren’t really full at the end. So, come the end, we opted to get one more bite to eat, which was/were some edamame. Perfect.

And after dinner, the fun truly started…



Grace’s Mandarin

Was at National Harbor, MD for a week-long event so had the opportunity to check out several restaurants in the area. One evening oriental food sounded good so a couple of us went to Grace’s Mandarin.  The restaurant provides ‘a variety of Asian inspired dishes with a modern flair in an elegant ambiance.’


The reservation was for 6pm so not an overly crazy hour and it was mid-week. The restaurant was not packed. Opted to start with some edamame as an appetizer as we looked over the menus.


We asked the waitress several questions and she did not speak very good English. Considering National Harbor is a high traffic area with tourists, this isn’t great. She didn’t understand a lot of our questions. One of them was about the Sashimi Taco, which was labeled as — Sashimi Taco Tuna, salmon, yellowtail, white tuna, cilantro, avocado. Sounded delicious! I wondered what made it a taco, though. She told me that it was only fish, nothing else. I inquired a few more times, however, about why it was considered it taco. She kept assuring me it was only fish, nothing else in the dish.

So, I went ahead and ordered that, along with a Mandarin Green Salad Organic baby greens, tomato, carrot, goat cheese, low-cal sesame soy vinaigrette. My friend ordered Singapore Rice Noodle — shrimp, chicken, egg, onion, scallion, bean sprout, carrot, curry.

The salad came out nice & quick. Good tastes all around.


Then came out the other two. The rice noodles were just as they were described, and a huge serving. Tasty is what I was told.


Then my tacos. Not what I was expecting per the waitress’ comments, but they did fit the description. They were indeed tacos. They has cream in them. It could have been aioli but nobody seemed sure. We asked several restaurant staff and after, honestly, about 10 minutes, we still didn’t have an answer. I had to send them back in case it was dairy. At this point I was frustrated because when I had asked before ordering if these were tacos the waitress said no and now that they were, she could not identify what all was in the tacos.


She asked what else I would like and I opted for the safe bet of simple sashimi. I went for salmon, tuna and some whitefish (I can never remember what it is but it’s good).

Yes, it was dinner time and the restaurant was getting a bit busier at this point, but it took over 20 minutes to get simple cuts of sashimi, after there was an error with an initial dish. Don’t you think they might hurry a bit? And all it takes is cutting the fish… It was quite good (as I should hope for this type of dish or I would be quite concerned).


So, overall, though the food ended up being decent, not at all impressed with the service at Grace’s. Not a place I would recommend on that level. Not sure if they expect they’ll get business because they are in a tourist location, not sure if we just hit the wrong place at the wrong time, but there are definitely places I would rather enjoy a dinner out.

Green Bamboo

Had a recommendation from a friend for a great Asian restaurant in Rockville, MD right next to the Twinbrook Metro station to check out.  It’s Green Bamboo.  They have various food and drink happy hours as well as evening food specials.


I started with a simple house Asian salad with ginger dressing — a whopping $2 for the special of the evening.  It was made with spinach, which was unique.  This thing was huge, with a great taste.


I ordered the Sashimi dinner that had 6 different fish on it.  It also comes with soup. The pieces were all so good.  I very much remember the salmon and how it just melted in my mouth.  The platter also had these great spirals of carrots.  Very nice presentation.


My friend ordered some rolls and sashimi pieces that were very nicely done and apparently tasted very good.


My one comment, don’t ask about wine here.  The waitress had little awareness of dry wine, or even what sauv blanc vs riesling are.  So go basic or know what you want.

Overall, great dinner, check this place out.  Good prices, good service and good to have on your list.


Recently dined at a sushi restaurant in Chinatown, DC, Momoji to be exact.  You walk in and they have a very small bright downstairs area or you can ask to go upstairs to a more quaint (sort 0f) Asian restaurant.


photo source:

We were there right at the end of happy hour and there were some great prices on the menu that we were able to snag with 5 minutes left.  Note: you can only order 1 drink/per person at a time.  Even if you were the only person sitting at the table, you can only order one drink at a time.  You can’t stockpile pre-end of happy hour.  Really?

Cocktail-wise we opted for some asian beer and a pear drink.  That thing was pretty good.

They had some seasonal food on the menu and a Christmas roll came to the table.


I ordered the squid salad…very good (sorry for the bad light in the picture).


For main indulgence we got the Chirashi Dinner of 13 pcs sashimi (chef’s choice) over seasoned rice.  So good with several varieties of fish.  Every piece of that got finished!


Overall good food.  Service was slow, happy hour had good prices.  Worth checking out if you’re in the area.


Poke Tuna

I love tuna, I love sashimi, but then was told about Poke Tuna — new one to me.  Hmmm…time to check this stuff out.  Of course had to google this term and millions of things came up.  How to narrow this down?  Was tough to pick one, but it did have to happen.


1 pound Ahi tuna loin cut into 1/2 inch dice — used the frozen stuff from TJ’s after some recommendations because it’s flash frozen
1/4 cup minced maui onion
1 teaspoon grated ginger
3 tablespoons scallions thinly sliced
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Juice of half lime


Whisk together all ingredients except for tuna. When ready to serve combine dressing with tuna and squeeze a half lime over top.

IMG_3628[1]So good, so easy…and tough not to keep eating and eating!  Great for summer (though, yes, I know it’s about over), since it’s a no-cook meal.  Have some this weekend as we head into Labor Day and the hot temps are still around.


Hot days mean cool dinners.  When Bon Appetit arrives at my door it means reading the index of recipes first to see what needs to be made!  The recent issue has so much good stuff it was/is hard to pick.  But with the recent temps of 90+, little cooking is ideal.  So the recipe of Snapper Sashimi with Seaweed and Fennel could not be turned down (the hardest part, honestly, was going to the grocery store after sitting at the pool for awhile).

Ingredients (oh the fun…)

-2 teaspoons dried cut wakame seaweed (I went to Whole Foods.  You can either buy a bag of these things for about $8. Or, after talking to one of the guys who works there, we decided that I could try using one of the little seaweed snack pieces, that look like green stained glass, that cost $1.99 cost the entire box…hmmm…
-3 tablespoons fresh lime juice, plus wedges for serving
-2 tablespoons olive oil
-1 teaspoon finely grated peeled horseradish (I can’t eat the stuff so can’t tell you what it tastes like with this, but I am sure it add tons of great taste)
-1 teaspoon soy sauce
-1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
-Small pinch of sugar
-Kosher salt
-¼ small fennel bulb, very thinly sliced on a mandoline (just random, there were no regular size fennel bulbs, just these tiny guys, maybe the size of 2 or 3 grape tomatoes, pretty cute, then they have tons or fronds. I saved those, heck yeah!)
-2 small radishes, trimmed, very thinly sliced on a mandoline
-½ pound skinless, boneless red snapper fillet, sliced ¼ inch thick (Let’s talk about Whole Foods and fish. The recipe also says “The type of fish you use is less important than its quality. Black bass, striped bass, and fluke all translate well.” They didn’t have any of those on a Friday evening. It’s ‘rush hour’ — I didn’t know what to do, not did the guy working. He deduced that I could try Cobia. I just still just a bit taken aback that Whole Foods didn’t have any of the prime seafood it called for)
-½ cup chervil leaves (Another problem, Whole Foods had no chevril leaves, ok, I live walking distance from it and did not want to drive to get anything. The produce guy said the best substitute would be flat leaf parsley)
-1 teaspoon fennel pollen (optional)
-Flaky sea salt

IMG_3546Getting all this together was pretty easily, definitely fun.


-Soak wakame in 1 Tbsp. cold water in a small bowl to rehydrate, 5–8 minutes; drain.  Ok, it was sort of slimy afterwards — very cool.

IMG_3549(Don’t forget to take those radishes and that fennel to the mandoline).



Combine lime juice, oil, horseradish, soy sauce, sesame seeds, and sugar in a medium bowl; season with kosher salt. Add fennel, radishes, and seaweed to dressing; toss to combine.

Arrange snapper (or fish at hand) on a platter. Spoon dressing and vegetables over and top with chervil and fennel pollen, if using; season with sea salt. Serve with lime wedges for squeezing over.


WOW!  The Asian-flair of flavors all came together to hit the palate and gave an amazing taste.  I also happened to serve this on a platter I bought in Japan so of course it made it taste even better!  So good.  Will definitely try it with bass, too.

Sushi’s a Wrap

The final night in NOLA some of us decided to head to a sushi place – Sake Café Uptown.


Huge menu. After reading and reading, I noticed some grilled squid. I love it when I can find that, because I don’t enjoy the (fried) calamari. So I opted for it. Ok, that could be a meal. It came out on a fajita-like platter and it was amazing. It might have been the simplest thing but I could eat that stuff all the time. I need to figure out where I can get that stuff in DC.


Then at the table next to us, I ask this woman what she ordered because I was just trying to get one other thing (this was before the squid came out). She told us about this edamame that’s not on the menu – garlic edamame. They do the ‘normal’ edamame then do something with some form or garlic – I don’t know if it’s roasted or something else but this stuff just makes you melt. This is another one that I need to find out who in the DC area has. Way too good.



So glad we checked this place out and it’s another place to check out if you’re in New Orleans.


Was treated to a very nice lunch the other day at an Asian restaurant near Thomas Circle in DC.  The venue, Zentan.  Per their own description, they are a modern Asian restaurant featuring award-winning cuisine, focusing on Japanese-inspired small and shareable plates.

The restaurant is very ‘sharp’ — that’s the best way I can think to describe it.  Lunch was at 1 on a Thursday, so it wasn’t packed but busy enough.  Nice decor, cool tables, overall good atmosphere.  We get the menu.  What to order?  Too many choices!  (sorry for the shadow on the picture, odd light in the restaurant)


I finally opted for the Rainbow Don Bento Box — tuna, salmon and whitefish sashimi, cooked shrimp sashimi (I can’t quite get why it’s sashimi if it’s cooked), sushi rice and seaweed salad.


I don’t really like seaweed and this salad was a knockout!  Wow, so good.  The whitefish was unreal.  The waiter said what it was and I can’t totally remember the Asian name he mentioned.  Melt in your mouth.  Absolutely amazing lunch.  Will totally have to check this place out for dinner, too.  Add it to your list if you’re looking for a new restaurant to try in DC.

Japan #2…Traditional Fare, from restaurants to 7-11

When most people think Japan (myself included), sushi is the first thing that comes to mind. The great tour guide we had on our trip to Mt. Fuji and Hakone educated us on the fact that that is not the case.  It’s a special meal for the locals.  Maybe only a few times a year.  It’s intricate to prepare, not quick and easy.  Traditional fare can include the components of it — rice, sashimi — the raw fish, and the seaweed.  We also learned about a KEY staple in Japanese cuisine, miso soup.

During our tour we were given a sample of the local fare at lunch with a bite of several varieties of food, a bit ‘westernized.’  It was very nice.








That night we did the true Japanese style hotel and meal.  I did not feel comfortable taking pictures in the restaurant but it was about a 9 (small) course meal with a taste of everything.  It was amazing.  A couple soups, several unidentifiable objects that were pretty good, some good seaweed pieces (that were purple-ish), amazing fish and other assorted tastes.  Overall, definitely a meal to remember.  The size was perfect, since you get a small sample of everything.  And I was able to conquer the food with chopsticks!  I discovered that soy sauce is not used all that much in Japan — more a Chinese staple.  They provided us with a small bit and that was all — maybe a teaspoon or two.

The next morning, breakfast called.  It was at that point when we realized the Japanese diet/regimen is quite similar throughout the day.  Most of the dishes the waitress brought to the table were very similar to dinner.  One of the oddest was the cold (super super) over easy egg on angel hair- ish pasta, which was also cold.  That threw me off because I was expecting both components to be hot.  For that meal I think I only tried a tiny bit of everything and much of it was less than I was hoping for, very unfortunately.  But as I was taught, you have to try it all.  Coffee is also hard to find.  Very fortunately we came by a coffee machine in the lobby of the hotel…caffeine!

The next cool, interesting thing in Japan is 7-11.  What do we think of it as here…convenience store.  Coffee, soda, snacks, gas station.  There, OH NO!  High quality food, no lie.  They have awesome sandwiches that are pre-packed and last for awhile (loved the PB one) and sashimi that I wish I could have everyday.  And so affordable — about $3 for a huge pack!

DSCN1248  DSCN1246








Next food subject…still can’t decide!

Japan #1

Last month, personal travel took me to Japan.  What an experience; from culture to scenery to food.  I learned so much about any and everything.  I didn’t get to take nearly enough pictures of the food I enjoyed/didn’t enjoy, but wanted to share some of what I experienced.  There will be a few parts to this over a few days.

The hardest thing about being in Japan is the language barrier.  Every other place I’ve traveled I’ve been able to communicate with the locals.  This time, not even close (note – the one extreme is when I was trying to ask something and I spoke to the waiter in French – in Japan!  One time when I couldn’t remember the Spanish word for butter, while I Spain, and whipped out the French there, that was not extreme – but while in Japan – whoa!).

When a restaurant in Japan offers an “English Menu” that normally means you get to look at pictures or plastic samples.  Not so bad, I guess, and quite entertaining.  The night we arrived we saw a rough idea of the tuna ‘sashimi’ with some type of sauce.  Another great example was when we were near the Sumo stadium and saw bowl upon bowl, plate upon plate of display.  It couldn’t look more real.  I just wonder — how did they make these?

There are amazing vegetables in the area, especially at markets, though prices were high.  But let me tell you — if you buy a tomato, they wrap that thing for you like it’s the most precious thing on the face of this planet.  They also have some great samples of seafood, and I’m going to use the word ‘local’ stuff.  I tried some things, steered clear of others.  If I could identify it for the most part, I would give it a try.

Some of the best seafood bites were near the renowned seafood market.  I didn’t get there to see the hands-on action because it can be hit-or-miss to actually get in.  You need to arrive by 4:30am.  Sometimes they let 20 people in, sometimes 100, sometimes nobody at all.  Depends on the day, the mood.  So, we went down to the market around 9:30am and saw the shops that were selling the food they purchased from the market.

That’s the first rundown of the trip.  More to come.