Eruption of Flavor

Last night I went with my beautiful Jen to Volcano Sushi.  Now I like sushi and sashimi but I am hardly an expert.  This little gem of a restaurant is in Shelby Township behind Outback on Schoenherr Rd. It is very small, seats maybe 40 people and that includes the sushi bar seating as well. The one bad thing about this is that every time the door opens, you feel the cold.

The menu is not very big and they seem to specialize in sushi rolls, many authentic but also others that cater to a more American palate, containing cream cheese, avocado and fake crab. They also offer a variety of wines and some of the classic Japanese beers such as Kirin and Sapporro.

Jen and I ordered the gyoza appetizer and decided to split Bento Box B as an entree. Now gyoza are pork dumplings that are steamed and then gently sauteed after. These are like pot stickers. These were great, really tasty with a flavor I have tried to duplicate in my own kitchen and have fallen short. Certain Asian spices I have had before yet somehow are still not familiar to me.

Before our main entree came, we were served a bowl of Miso soup and a small salad with a peanut dressing. I ate the soup and Jen ate the salad, although we tried both. Now, for those who don’t know what a Bento Box is I will elaborate.

A Bento Box is essentially a compartmentalized tray with different foods in it. The Bento we ordered, had 5 pieces of California roll, 5 pieces of spicy tuna roll and 5 of another roll as well (sorry the name escapes me). There were also 2 shrimp fried dumplings and 4 large pieces of melt in your mouth sashimi. The sushi was very tasty but the sashimi was truly delightful. So delicate and smooth,very subtle almost creamy texture. As great as I described it Jen still wouldn’t try it because its raw, but its wonderful.  Jen and I walked away full from a tasty meal that cost only $21 for the two of us. Now all of you go and eat there and I promise you that you will say Domo Arrigatto for recommending this to you.

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Olive Garden of Mediocrity

I know. Olive Garden again. Don’t I learn? I went out to dinner with my friend Lisa, and let her choose the location.  Olive Garden is just one of those places that is just OK.  I have been trying to order lower calorie food in restaurants, and tonight was no different.

It was very busy and we sat in the bar.  Once we finally got a seat at the bar, we waited for the bartender to take our drink order.  Which after a long time of waving and waiting, we got seated instead. Strike One.

We ordered the lasagna Fritta appetizer, which although not on my diet, was just OK.  Lasagna rolled up, cut, and placed on a marinara and alfredo covered plate.  It was a bit dry, and seemed like it was sitting out for a while. It was meh, strike two.

I ordered the Chicken Picatta, which said it was under 500 calories, with Parmesan crusted zucchini strips. My Chicken Picatta was really overcooked. In fact the chicken was dry and burned.  The sauce was lemony, yes, but had sun dried tomatoes which was a bit odd on Picatta. The zucchini side was uneventful, limp and cold. Strike three,

I ordered a couple beers to choke it all down and paid a hefty $45 for MYSELF after I added tip.  For $45 I can think of a million places I would rather eat.  Like 9 Chipotle burritos, sans the e coli of course.

I should have read my last blog post (here) and realized this place is, as always, mediocre at best.  As I said in my last Olive Garden review: “Will I go back? Of course. Just not with super high expectations. That way when a meal is really good, it is a really nice surprise.”

I was not surprised this time.

Onyx Steakhouse, Did NOT Rock.

Went to Onyx Modern Steakhouse and Whiskey Bar for lunch the other day, to celebrate a couple work birthdays. Now Onyx may look familiar to you, it looks like the old Woody’s reincarnated because it is. Woody’s is gone, and in its place, a steakhouse where you cook your steaks “on the rocks”, or cook by yourself on a steaming hot stone brought to your table.

The place touts itself as being all natural, nothing frozen, all made to order and made from scratch, even the salad dressings. We ordered a wide selection from the menu, from salmon BLT’s, to Chicken sandwiches, to salads, to the stone cooked steaks. Now first, be warned, the lunch menu and dinner menu are different. Similar but different. The prices are different (higher on the newer lunch menus) and you don’t get all the sides during the day.

The steaks are bought sizzling on a hot stone, which if you were on date gives you that stinky “I just cooked my own dinner smell” that I hate, like when you order fajitas. You have to be careful not to overcook the steak because I don’t think they would care if you cooked your own dinner wrong. The steaks are brought with a side of dipping sauces of your choosing. The consensus was that cooking your own food is a pain, similar to melting pot where most of your time is taken up fiddling with your food. The meat was lean and tender and sauces good, overall I believe the ladies liked it.

I however, got a chicken bacon ranch sandwich, which was supposed to come on ciabatta bread. The sandwich came on a french roll, which was a bit dry. The meat to bread ratio was way off. The bread which was like 3 inches high, held a chicken patty that Thor himself must have pounded into a a tiny, thin chicken breast that has to be no more that 1/8 – 1/4 inch thick. A smattering of bacon topped that, with lettuce, tomato and ranch on the side. Now that ranch was good, but I could have done the same with a packet of hidden valley and some mayo.

The fries, thankfully not battered, which was good, came as large steak fries, and those were pretty decent.

Now also note, we came for lunch and pretty much were the only ones in the place. The waitress was very nice but the food took forever to come out. Our one hour lunch spread into a 2 1/2 hour adventure, of which we all didn’t want to take.

I may return, for dinner, but most likely not as I was not overwhelmed with possibility. My food was mediocre, and lacking pizzazz.

Chicken “Zoodle” Lo Mein

lomein

vegettiSo I made that Facebook Chicken Lo Mein made with Zucchini noodles instead of real noodles. My review of this recipe is first off, don’t be fooled. This is not a 20 minute minute dinner as Facebook says. Cutting and prepping all the veggies, making the sauce and finally stir-frying it all is labor intensive and very time consuming.  Prep the night before and maybe you can throw it all together quickly.

The flavor was good, but I have to say, the zucchini really releases a lot of water, when cooking with it, makes your dishes very watery.  The “noodles” at the end just turned out to be very difficult to eat. Now I love zucchini noodles with a meat spaghetti sauce, but not a fan in this recipe.  I would have been better off making a stir fry with some brown rice.  The zucchini in this case, does not make you feel like you are eating noodles, but just another vegetable that is cut in such a way that makes it hard to get in your mouth!!

I changed the recipe a bit (click here for original), here is what I did:

Ingredients:
For the sauce:

  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce (use tamari for gluten free*)
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1 tbsp rice wine
  • 3 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1-2 tbsp garlic chili paste (to taste)
  • Dash of sesame oil

For the Lo Mein:

  • 2-3 medium zucchini, ends trimmed, spiraled into noodles (I use a Vegetti and love it!!)
  • 8 oz skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into thin short strips
  • kosher salt, to taste
  • 2 tsp vegetable oil (divided)
  • 1 cup sliced bok choy
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms such as shiitake (I left out as I hate mushrooms)
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1/2 C scallions, sliced into 1-inch pieces on the diagonal
  • 1/2 tbsp grated fresh ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped

Add any veggies you’d like – I added pea pods, broccoli, etc!!

Directions:

For the sauce – in a medium bowl, combine the liquid ingredients. Whisk in the cornstarch until smooth.

Using a spiralizer fitted with a shredder blade, or a mandolin fitted with a julienne blade, cut the zucchini into long spaghetti-like strips. If using a spiralizer, use kitchen scissors to cut the strands into pieces that are about 8 inches long so they’re easier to eat. (You need to do this – I didn’t what a mistake)

Season chicken with salt and pepper. Heat a large nonstick wok over high heat. When very hot, add 1 tsp of the oil and the chicken. Cook until browned on both sides and opaque throughout, 2 to 3 minutes. Set aside.

Add the remaining oil, veggies, ginger and garlic. Cook until crisp tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Set aside with the chicken.

Pour the sauce mixture into the wok and cook, stirring, until thickened and bubbling, 1 to 1-1/2 minutes. (I had to add more corn starch to thicken.  Make sure you mix with more chicken stock or water before adding to hot liquid).

Add the zucchini noodles to the sauce, mixing so the zucchini is covered in sauce, and cook until the zucchini is tender, 2 minutes.

Add the chicken and vegetables to combine, then divide between two serving bowls.