Tuesday, June 28, 2011

New York Part II: Bouchon

After going into a chocolate coma from our late night snack attack at Max Brenner, we woke up early to go to the "Top of the Rock." It was a beautiful day and we could see the whole city from our bird's eye view, allowing us to perfectly map out our plan of action for conquering all of my food and shopping desires that day.

Betsy and I

Michele and I highlighting the view of the Empire State building, which is the exact opposite view of the building from what she stares at every day from her apartment on the Lower West Side. 

I started working up an appetite after our excursion, so Betsy and I started wondering towards Central Park, taking several pit stops to do some damage along 5th Ave. After walking about 10 feet into Central Park, we quickly bee lined it for the Time Warner Center that is next to Columbus Square. There, I had a delicious reunion with an old friend: Bouchon

Pre-blog days, Kyle and I took an amazing trip to Las Vegas on an award trip with my company. We treated ourselves to dinner at Bouchon and fell in love with Thomas Keller's food. 

I went for true indulgence and had the pate and bacon sandwich which was so rich and creamy in a way only fatty meat can be.

This salad may appear simple, as it is really just a bibb salad with some Roquefort cheese and a red wine vinaigrette. But it was so much more than just a green salad; it had bite with the rich cheese and tangy vinaigrette that was dusted onto the leaves--not drowning the salad or overpowering it like most lunch salads will do. 

Betsy had the Jambon Fromage which was french ham, emmenthaler cheese, sweet butter & dijon mustard on baguette. We didn't realize that the sandwiches came with salad, so when we split the bibb salad, we ended up with 1 1/2 salads--which was probably a good thing to counterbalance everything else we were indulging in!

To finish off this "light" lunch (humor me), we went to the bakery and picked up some coffees and a dessert. I got a salted caramel, which was sublime.

We went outside and sat in Columbus Square, sipping our coffees and nibbling on our treats--enjoying this perfect, spring day in New York!

Happy Eating,

Sunday, June 26, 2011

A Whirlwind Tour of the Food Capitol: Part I--Max Brenner

Several months ago, I went back to the East Coast to be a trainer for a new hire class. While being away from home for almost 2 weeks was tough, I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to have a weekend in the Big Apple and reconnect with family friends I have known since I was old enough to eat my first solid food. 

One of my best friends from childhood, Betsy, and her parents, were my tour guides and had the best home-base located near the Village on Bleeker street. This is the incredible view from their 24th story apartment, which is just blocks away from Washington Square.

Betsy works for Max Brenner, which is a chocolate fantasy-land of a restaurant that has opened several restaurants in major U.S. cities. New York is their flagship store and Betsy gave me the inside scoop, telling me that many celebrities come to Max Brenner to satisfy their chocolate cravings. The week before I arrived, John Travolta had a birthday party for his daughter in the upper room. In addition to great desserts, they have an equally fabulous dinner/lunch menu that was designed by one of the Food Network Chopped judges. 

On a recent trip to Las Vegas, I took my friends to the location in Caesar's Palace and we feasted on their delicious pizza, avocado salad, and some oh-so-addicting potato skins!

 Do not adjust your TV set, this is a drink! It was a luscious creamy chocolate and caramel martini (with an extra beaker in case you weren't satisfied with one glass!). It comes with a side of spicy sweet glazed peanuts. This was a true meal in a glass; but don't think that stopped me from getting a separate dessert.

Betsy told me I could pick her drink since she wanted to be sure I got to try two different options...she was always a good friend and still knows me so well! This was a chocolate eclair martini which was just as divine as my "choctail."


We split a "tasting for two" (it would probably be adequate for at least 6, but no one REALLY needs to know that) which featured some of Max Brenner's most popular and famous desserts: a banana split waffle with fluffy chocolate sponge cake, a crispy chocolate eggroll, milk and white chocolate "bark," and chocolate fondue with market fruit and marshmallows. The beaker above is full of pure chocolate sauce which we could dip any of the above desserts in and a side of chocolate wafer balls to munch on.

I loved roasting the marshmallows over the mini-grill. The fondue came in the most practical and adorable ceramic holder, so I bought one on the way out as a way to commemorate this amazing chocolate nirvana moment in time.

Thank you Betsy for inviting me to this fabulous New York hot spot and for being my partner in crime as we tore up the city, eating and shopping until we literally dropped. More to come.
Happy Eating,

Friday, June 24, 2011

Emi's Eats: Shun Restaurant

 I finally had an extra moment to sit down and update my many blog posts that have piled up over the last six months. My May article for the North American Post was published several weeks ago, but I haven't had a second to post it on the blog until now!

This article was inspired by a crazy twist of fate that occurred on March 11, 2011. I had a long day at work, including an educational presentation for the ICU at one of my hospitals that got me home around midnight. Kyle was up as we were hosting his co-worker at our house, and he was secretly preparing for an interview the next day at Microsoft. Needless to say, this was a stressful evening. Ironically, I had been talking with a doctor at my hospital about Japan and my ties to the country. I was advising him on where to visit when he was able take a trip with his family.

As I tiredly walk in the house, Kyle nonchalantly mentions to me that there was an awful 8.9 earthquake (as it was originally classified) in Japan. Immediately, I froze. My parents had left earlier in the day for a 4 day trip to Japan for a good friend's wedding. Because the trip was so short, we hadn't really thought much about it...until that moment when we did the math and realized that they were supposed to land at the same time the earthquake hit.

I immediately ran to the TV and saw horrific images of the Armageddon-like shaking of the quake and then the massive tsunami that came after, washing away whole towns. I called my father's phone, which should be on to receive International calls, and got a very alarming message saying the number was not in service at this time. I realized that my phone had a strange number that had called earlier in the evening and checked my messages. It was our family friend in Tokyo, saying that she was OK, but that there was a massive earthquake and that my parents should have arrived at her house by now; she couldn't get in touch with them.

The next update on the news was that a tsunami was headed towards Hawaii, where my whole extended family live. I called my aunt in Hawaii, and when I started talking with her I was overcome with emotion. My aunt said that they would be fine as they were far enough away from the potential reach of a tsunami. As cliche as it sounds, these type of experiences really put into perspective what is most important, and I am convinced that I will forever better appreciate my blessed life because of this scare.

By the time I hung up and tried to sleep, it was after 2:30AM, and Kyle was supposed to leave for his interview around 7AM. At 6AM, my phone made a glorious ringing sound, signaling that a new email came through. My mother emailed a simple and short message saying they were OK and that they were being housed by the Red Cross. I found out later that as they were descending into the airport in Tokyo, the pilot was alerted to the earthquake. In a moment of panic, many workers at the airport fled to their homes, and there was no one to bring the airplane into the airport. They were diverted to the Yokota airbase, where they spent the night in a community center and were eventually flown by the US Air Force back to Tokyo where they boarded a 3 hour packed train and eventually made their way back to our friend's house.

The first meal they had was at the sushi shop I mention in the article.

So many lives were forever changed because of this horrible tragedy. Kyle and I felt incredibly lucky to know that my family and all our dear friends in Japan were safe. We also felt compelled to help in whatever way we could. Although my writing may only be seen by a handful of people, I thought maybe I could have a tiny impact by doing an article on how to help and to recognize those that are helping with relief efforts.


By Emi Suzuki / For The North American Post
• Wed, May 04, 2011
As the 9.0 earthquake rocked Japan on March 11, and the ensuing tsunami devastated the Tohoku region, my parents were in a plane descending into Tokyo’s Narita airport. Unaware of the magnitude of damage, the plane was re-routed to Yokota Air Base where they were cared for and housed by the U.S. Air Force and the Red Cross at a local community center.
After a long journey making their way to our friend’s house, my parents replenished themselves at one of our family's favorite neighborhood sushi restaurants in the Nerima-ku part of Tokyo. Like so many of the best sushi restaurants in Japan, this one is small and hidden, nestled within a residential area. The chef and owner is always serving up the freshest and most interesting sushi for the lucky locals; on this occasion, my parents asked for the chef’s recommendation for the seasonal specials. They savored every bite, fully appreciating the privilege of having a meal during this uncertain time; however, there was one dish that they will forever cherish: the sazae (horned turban shell) from Fukushima.
In an attempt to immortalize this rare treat, my mother took a photo of the gnarled gastropod that was full of sweet, meaty marine snail. As my father popped the rich and fatty dark end piece in his mouth, he savored the intricate flavors, knowing that at the same time, a nuclear reactor was deteriorating in the sazae’s origin of Fukushima.
When my parents returned home, they recounted their earthquake stories, speaking to the heroism as well as devastation they saw and heard about. I, like so many others around the world, felt the need to do something to help. Inspired by the tale of the last Fukushima sazae, I turned to a favorite Seattle neighborhood sushi restaurant, Shun.
Shun has been one of the many Seattle area restaurants that have donated portions of their profits to support relief efforts for Japan.
Similar to our Nerima-ku sushi shop, Shun is a neighborhood favorite located in the University District. Owner and chef, Yoshi Nishizawa, opened Shun in 2006 after working at many of Seattle’s most prestigious sushi restaurants. He wanted a traditional Japanese family restaurant that would appeal to both the students and business professionals that live in the neighborhood.
“I am proud of our customers,” Chef Nishizawa tells me, explaining that his passion for the business is in making his customers happy. Chef Nishizawa also understands the importance of giving back to the community, which is why Shun participated in “Ganbaro Japan” as well as the upcoming “Sushi Chef Dream Team,” both benefiting relief efforts for Japan. The Sushi Chef Dream Team benefit will be held May 5 at the Bell Harbor International Conference Center on the Seattle’s Waterfront and will feature some of Seattle’s top chefs, with drinks, entertainment, a silent auction and delicious sushi.
Seattle area sushi chefs like Nishizawa and their staff are closely tied to the unfolding disaster, not only because many have family and friends from the Tohoku region, but a portion of their fish supply comes from Sendai and Chiba. Chef Nishizawa tells me that his restaurant has experienced some delayed supplies related to the ongoing issues in Japan. Benefits like the Sushi Chef Dream Team provide an avenue for the chefs and their loyal customers to raise relief aid for the people of Japan in this crisis through the simple and delicious act of making and eating Seattle sushi.
What are you doing to support relief efforts in Japan? Share your stories with me at twitter.com/EmisEats or EmisEats@napost.com.
Shun is located at 5101 25th Ave. NE #11, Seattle. (206) 522-2200. For more information on the Sushi Chef Dream Team, visit http://www.sushichefdreamteam.com/.

Happy Eating,

Friday, June 17, 2011

Quick trip to VanCity and Emi's first UFC Event

Emi is a great wife. Both of us have were traveling last week for work. The plan was for Emi to extend into the weekend with friends down in Las Vegas and I was planning a guy's weekend up in Vancouver, BC. After my friend bailed on me at the last minute Emi hopped on an earlier flight home after only getting a few hours of sleep to accompany me up across the border. What a trooper, especially coming from the long nights in Vegas.

At least in the end she got to go to her first UFC fight and we were able to enjoy one last weekend of gluttony up in Vancouver. The plan was to eat well, but hit the gym and diet hard over the next few weeks to get in shape for our upcoming cruise.

At Emi's first fight she got to sit for a few fights up by the Octagon and met current heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez. She came in skeptical of the sport, but left a fan.

After an early morning flight and then 2 and half hour drive, Emi was starving, so we headed to the Japadog store front. We've blogged about the famous Japadog hot dog stand, but have never been to their store front, until this past weekend.

This was my Okonomi with kurobuta pork, Japanese mayo (sweeter than what Americans are used to), okonomiyaki sauce (a little salty and sweet, sort of like a sweeter tonkatsu sauce), fried cabbage, and bonito flakes (dried fish flakes, that melt in your mouth). All in a grilled bun, sweet, salty, juicy, and delicious. Nothing like it.

Emi went with the Kurobuta Terimayo, a teriyaki style kurobuta pork hot dog, covered in the sweet Japanese mayo, some teriyaki sauce, grilled onions and covered in salty seaweed. Again something you just have to experience. There are some imitators here in Seattle, but nothing compares to the original Japadog in Vancouver.

Our new favorite was the "shake fries" which we ordered covered in seaweed or furikake. Amazing. I don't think the hot dog stands sell these, but the storefront with their deep fryers do. This alone makes it worth while to check out the store front.

Vancouver similar to Portland's streets are teeming with food trucks and store front restaurants. They had everything from gyros, to specialty hot dog stands (not just Japadog), to Pan-Asian food trucks. Normally I stay away from "Pan-Asian" anything, especially when the truck has a corny dragon painted on it and it's incorporated into the name. My reasoning is you're probably looking at anywhere between a Panda Express to a Wild Ginger. Crappy, imitation "Asian" food. Hey some people enjoy both places, one is cheap and quick and the other is high end and expensive, but look around, do you see any Asians?

Well Emi talked me into checking out the food truck and I'm happy I did because these guys knew what they were doing! The Roaming Dragon food truck was amazing and I just read that they were voted the #1 food truck by Vancouver Magazine, so make sure to check it out next time you are up north.

We only had a few Canadian bucks on us, so went with one taco and a drink. Which is all we really needed since we just ate a fat Japadog and split an order of french fries....

The drink was a lychee basil lemonade. Very refreshing with cut up chunks of lychee in an effervescent lemonade with a nice basil finish. Different and enjoyable. I love lychee anything and on a nice sunny day it was perfect.

We went with the Korean Short Rib Taco. Different from any Korean Taco I've ever consumed. It was made with a marinated beef short rib which was more like braised beef instead of your average thinly sliced Korean taco meat, sesame sauteed spinach, bean sprouts for that added crunch, carrots, shitake mushrooms, topped with Korean BBQ sauce and shredded nori (seaweed), served in a corn tortilla. We couldn't get over how good this taco was. Each ingredient added a new flavor and texture to the taco. One of the only times I've said this, but I could have enjoyed it even without the meat!

And there's more! The next morning we headed down to Richmond before crossing the border for dim sum and it was really, really good. Plus we just got our new camera! Hopefully we'll be posting some of our new and improved food photos soon! More to come.

- Kyle

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Jones BBQ

Emi's family from Hawaii recently spent the week with us over the Memorial Day Weekend holiday. One of the things they were craving was BBQ. Our favorite Seattle BBQ spot is Jones BBQ. We went to their SoDo location, but found out they are only opened for lunch (the website doesn't list their hours, so word of warning). In the end we went to the Columbia City location. They also have a restaurant in West Seattle. What I like about the Columbia City location is that you can usually find street parking and if not, you can park in the lot across the street for $1. What can you really get for $1 anymore; parking while you wait for some delicious ribs!

Our spread. We didn't think the family combos would be enough so went ala carte. We went with a rack of their pork ribs, two pounds of rib tips, and a pound of their beef brisket. Each order came with white bread to sop up their sweet and tangy BBQ sauce. We also ordered their cole slaw and baked beans, the cole slaw was really good. I'm not usually a fan, but recommend this slaw.
Their ribs weren't super tender, but flavorful and filling. I'm not saying they were tough either. Definitely more of a West Coast type of BBQ, which relies more on the sauce rather than on the rub and smokiness of the meat like you might find in the South.
Classic example of how Jones BBQ differs from what I've enjoyed in Texas is their beef brisket. Delicious, yet still knife and fork type of dish. Where in Texas, the brisket is slow cooked, smoky, and melts in your mouth. No knife required!
My favorite is the rib tips, full of meat, fat, and a little cartilage. I enjoy all the textures to the rib tips and always order a side of medium BBQ sauce to go with my meat.
After filling ourselves with BBQ all of us were a little drowsy. Emi's cousin's son decided he wanted to take a nap on Buster.
I can't recommend a ton of good BBQ places in Seattle, however when craving it, I always go to Jones BBQ. They are consistent, tasty, and filling.
- Kyle

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Happy Mother's Day

This was an event that obviously took place a little while back, but since Emi has put the weight of the blog on my shoulders, I'll just have to write it. Emi and I have been traveling a little lately, so that is an excuse too.

We did enjoy a great meal that needed to be shared, so again apologize for how untimely this post is.

We stocked up at the Resident Cheesemonger on an assortment of cheeses to share with everyone and Salumi salami! If you ever need some good salami, we highly recommend checking our the Resident Cheesemonger and if you need to impress out of town guests pick up some Salumi salami because a) it's difficult to find with their strange store hours down in Pioneer Square b)It's Mario Batali's family c)it tastes great!

Emi added some sea salt to the butter which we enjoyed with a fresh loaf of bread. So simple, butter and sea salt, yet amazing.

My aunt made a delicious Greek salad for all of us. Emi wanted a Mediterranean theme for our dinner since all of us are going on our cruise soon.

Emi's dad made spanikopita. I love anything with phylo dough.

Here are the Greek lamb kebabs I made, Emi posted the recipe for our recipe of the week a little while back if you're interested in making them.

We also celebrated the start of my new job, so toasted with a bottle of Moet and Chandon that Emi's parents bought for us when we got engaged. I know you aren't supposed to store champagne for a long time, but we were waiting for an event to celebrate, so out it came for everyone to enjoy.

My aunt and uncle brought over some delicious soft and fun flavored macaroons. With all of our talk about Paris, they wanted to share some macaroons with us and told us where to go in Paris to get the real deal. After having them for the first time in Singapore, we've been obsessed.

Emi's Okinawan Sweet Potato Cupcakes with her cream cheese frosting, that was requested by her mom.

The next time all of us will get together for a group photo it will be around our table on our Mediterranean Cruise!!

Happy belated Mother's Day to all of the mothers out there and we hope you enjoyed a great meal to celebrate your day.

- Kyle

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Starting our Summer Garden

Recently Emi and I after a fun trip through the Magnuson Dog Park with the puggles, joined in on the annual plant sale at the Magnuson Naval Base. If you haven't been and enjoy that sort of thing, we highly recommend it. The growers are friendly and can help answer any questions you might have.

The plant sale takes up an entire warehouse and has all sorts of vegetation to help you start or add to your existing garden. Since we aren't really gardeners, it seems we're always "starting" one, even though we've done this the past few years.

Keeping positive thoughts in mind, we bought some more tomato plants, with the hopes that this summer would be warm and fruitful, unlike last year's cold and gray tomato hating weather. We bought a few plants last year and of those few plants, we grew a few measly tomatoes.

We love heirloom tomatoes, so even if we can't grow them, I hope someone else can because a summer without a fresh caprese salad, is a wasted one.

The puggles and Emi causing a ruckus.

Last year we bought all of our herbs here as well, but they added up, so this year we bought the plants from a grocery store. Cheaper and they taste just as good. Hate to admit it, but Wal-Mart also sells them really cheap (the one by Tulalip). If you have the room and little bit of time to water them, I highly recommend growing them instead of buying them each time. Whenever you're in a pinch for mint, thyme, rosemary, it's always easier to have a plant you can cut a few sprigs off of rather than driving down the street to pay for the one time use of some.

I think summer's almost here? Isn't in June?

- Kyle