Tag Archives: sea urchin

Sushi House Hayakawa……Again?

It has become quite clear to me that my eating at, thinking about, photographing, and spending money at Sushi House Hayakawa has become a bit much. And, to add fuel to the fire, I’m heading back there tonight at a friends request (and because it is absolutely delicious, fresh, and reasonably priced). In order to refrain form repeating content on this infant of a blog, I will quickly highlight some of the new bites of Japanese food that have entered my belly.

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ikura, ikura, galora


Sushi rice topped with chopped seaweed and ikura (salmon eggs). Simple, but intensely flavored with the sweet (from a soy/wine marinade), briny egg goo. When this arrived, I asked for a plate upgrade and got a few plops of uni (sea urchin).
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oh how a lil uni can change a dish


It tastes as good as it looks – superb.

I’ve covered parts of my trio in the past (think Would You Eat This? and Dreaming About), so here is the big picture:

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salty ikura with creamy uni, sour umeboshi flavored jellyfish, spicy wasabi raw octopus


It’s my version of a well balanced combination platter.

Lauren ordered a couple of rolls and I helped eat them:

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spicy tuna


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I'm special tonight!


The special roll had shrimp tempura, crab, tobiko (flying fish roe), eel sauce, wasabi mayo – while the size of each roll made it difficult to tackle, the taste made up for it.

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blow torching


As always, the personable Chef Hayakawa, provided some entertainment with his blow torch act.

After tonight, I will most likely decrease my frequency of visits to Sushi House Hayakawa – if only to up the anticipation/appreciation ante.

Sushi House Hayakawa on Urbanspoon

Sushi House Hayakawa
5979 Buford Hwy. Red & Green Steakhouse Shopping Center A-10
Atlanta, GA 30340
http://www.atlantasushibar.com/

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Sushi House Hayakawa: Third Time’s a Charm

bowla heaven

bowla heaven


Remember my favorite combo meal?

The truth is, when I first tried the Hokkai Don (sushi rice with uni, ikura, shrimp) I thought the salmon roe (eggs) tasted funny. They were not as salty as usual, and didn’t have the briny bump they usually bring. I had to try it again and get to the bottom of the situation.

I went to Sushi House Hayakawa with my favorite Atlanta foodie friend, Hilla. She had never been and I had a love/suspicious relationship with the Buford Highway restaurant.

We ordered a slew of dishes and shared them all:

I don't think you're ready for this jelly

I don't think you're ready for this jelly


Jellyfish salad with a strong note of citrus-y ponzu sauce. Woke up the palate and added an a nice crunch

mushy

mushy


Matsuake mushroom appetizer: not my thing (don’t like mushrooms), but Hilla said it was top notch

marriage potential

marriage potential


Grilled squid leg flavored by house special sauce (or salt) served with Japanese Mayo: it was hard to share this one because I loved it so. I almost ordered a second plate to eat by myself. It was smoky from the grilling, with a slight crisp combined with a hefty chew-factor. Sprinkled with lemon and dipped in the Japanese Mayo and I could make a meal out of a few orders of this.

lots of choices

lots of choices


Zuke Don (a collection of fresh cut fish marinated in house special wasabi sauce arranged over sushi rice): a nice sampling platter with a slight deviation from the usual sashimi. The addition of the sauce allowed the different cuts of fish to blend together without getting any one overpowering the rest. Highly recommended for the types who are inching towards eating sashimi but are a bit scared.

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Salmon Tartar topped with scallop: suggested by the sushi chef because according to him, the scallop was exceptional (always ask what’s the freshest, or just flown in!). This was a bit more mild than the rest of the meal, so the pure, silky, smooth, fish flavors took center stage. The ingredients alone demonstrate how this dish can’t fail: salmon, avocado, scallop, ikura, japanese mayo – stellar bites when each element was combined on a chopstick.

Lastly, we had to order the Hokkai Don:

I'm the king of the world

I'm the king of the world


Similar to the ‘Don’ in mobster movies, this is the be-all end-all in sushi. Simply put – Fresh Sea Urchin, marinated Salmon eggs, Sweet Shrimps and lightly fried Shrimp head over sushi rice. I learned the ikura tastes different than elsewhere because the chef is from a northern Japanese island where they prefer their ikura sweeter. Therefore, he marinates his fish eggs in a house-made sauce with soy sauce and a few other secret ingredients. Mystery solved! I enjoyed the departure in the usual taste once I learned the background information and after I heard Hilla rave about it (osmosis is a real thing).

Sufficiently full, we hung around the sushi bar and watched the gregarious chef (Hayakawa himself) grate fresh wasabi.

I'm a tough guy

I'm a tough guy


until wasabi comes after me

until wasabi comes after me

And he shared a bit with us:

Japanese dessert

Japanese dessert

Sushi House Hayakawa
5979 Buford Highway NE
Atlanta, GA 30340
http://www.atlantasushibar.com (awesome pics!)

Sushi House Hayakawa on Urbanspoon

Day 2 Las Vegas – Lunch & Dinner: Sushi Samba & L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon

After eating Joe’s and Michael Mina meals back to back, it was time for a moderately sized meal. It was time to reel it back and settle down. This was attempted at Sushi Samba located in The Shoppes in The Palazzo hotel.
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I kept it light by sharing a seaweed salad and a tasting plate of seviches and tiraditos (a peruvian dish made up of sliced, raw fish marinated in lime juice; similar to seviche without the addition of onions thus resulting in a subtler taste)

you don't have to pick just one

you don't have to pick just one

Top Left: Jumbo Shrimp passionfruit, cucumber, cilantro
Top Right: Yellowtail ginger, garlic, soy
Bottom Left: Kanpachi yuzu, sea salt, black truffle oil
Bottom Right:Tuna grapefruit juice, jalapeño, almond

Fresh fish, clean flavors, many textures, small plates = the best way to eat (for me)

Sushi finished out the meal (yes, the same sushi I was dreaming about during my juice cleanse:

need some sushi at sushi samba

need some sushi at sushi samba


my soulmates

my soulmates


Spicy tuna roll, salmon avocado riceless handroll, shrimp tempura roll, uni ikura = a happy family

Also, since it’s vacation I just HAD to get a mocktail:
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Citrusy sweetness with fresh mint = awesome

Successfully edited lunch, although I did see a couple of people who had very heavy lunches while walking back to the hotel.

I ate too much

I ate too much


man, that turkey knocked me out

man, that turkey knocked me out

A few hours later it was time for my momentous meal at L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon. If you’re a Top Chef fan, you already know Mr. Robuchon was named the ‘chef of the century’. And you clearly saw how well-regarded he is by both his peers, young chefs, and the food nerd world. If you’ve read any of OctoSquid’s previous posts, you also know how pretty the chef’s food looks and the level of detailed care put into each and every plate.

After walking a solid mile inside the MGM Hotel, you will find the 2 Robuchon restaurants side by side. Walk into the hipper looking restaurant with tones of black and red:
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If you recall, I didn’t have the guts or the budget to enter the greatness of The Mansion.

Anyway, once you are seated at the bar it’s hard not to take notice of the surroundings:

food is art

food is art


you better believe the produce is fresh

you better believe the produce is fresh

Dried legumes and brightly colored produce was arranged around the room inviting me to head into a foodie wonderland. I was Alice in a French, culinary-loving, wonderful land. I was ready to hit the ground running.

After much, much, far too much research, I had settled on the Discovery Menu. Here goes:

discover me

discover me

L’AMUSE-BOUCHE: opted out of the Foie gras parfait with port wine and parmesan foam for something without animal organs.

no recollection

no recollection


Looks like there is some eggplant, zucchini, red pepper, herbs. Forgive me in advance, I don’t remember a ton from this meal because it was the cream in my Oreo sandwich of fabulous meals – meaning it sort of got lost.

LE SAUMON FUME: Smoked salmon in an herb gelée with a light wasabi cream

from the top

from the top


from the side

from the side


Can you even believe this is food? Edible food? It’s so interesting to look at – I stared down at the food like Fatty McFatterson in Mallrats trying to see a sailboat in a Magic Eye poster.
I’m not going to lie about the dish, even for my good friend, salmon. The texture was weird. Jello mixed with salmon chunks. The wasabi cream/green sauce was excellent and spicy/herb-y, but I wasn’t won over. I appreciated the artistic elements and the intriguing techniques, but my tongue didn’t get that swagger.

LES HUITRES: Poached baby Kusshi oysters with French « Echiré » butter
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This was pretty simple, which is how I believe oysters should be. The butter was a nice touch, and one that I am not accustomed to when eating raw shellfish. Added a richness factor to the briny, slimy creatures.

LE HOMARD: Maine lobster in a tomato sauce and green asparagus

uh uh uh uhwsome

uh uh uh uhwsome


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Now we’re talking. If I remember correctly, the top picture is the full portion (what Lauren got) and the bottom pic is my tasting menu serving. This rocked it out – big claws, spicy tomato sauce, pops of green color in asparagus form. Loved this course, but didn’t feel the larger portion was worth the $60 odd dollars we paid.

Didn’t get the foie gras ravioli, so instead they gave me this:
LES ANCHOIS: Fresh marinated anchovies with sliced eggplant confit

I'm better than a Monet

I'm better than a Monet


As I mentioned in the past, anchovies with eggplant confit, a perfect rectangle is formed with strips of anchovies and red pepper sauce covering the buttery (in texture, not taste), creamy eggplant. Chives and onions for garnish.
I would put this photo in a frame in my living room.

LA SOLE: Dover Sole with a warm leek salad and crispy potato

sole or soul?

sole or soul?


Huge improvement from Michael Mina’s version. Crisped fish skin, paired with soft fish flesh, and a couple of crunchy potato chips on the side. Cooked like only a trained chef could cook it.

Instead of the lamb/quail course I got:
LE KAMPACHI: Lightly seared kampachi with crispy onion rings

who else loves the word 'kampachi'?

who else loves the word 'kampachi'?


Another homerun! Just enough sauce, with the fantastic combination of the mild flavored fish and the bold flavors of capers, olives, and onion rings. It tasted delicious, but I can’t articulate much more (Oreo affect).

Time for dessert:
LE SAVARIN:pastry soaked in aged run with a tahitian vanilla cream.
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This dish did not leave a lasting impression. I’m forcefully trying to remember it by staring at the photo to no avail. The cream was excellent and very vanilla bean-y (see the speckles?). Also, it was fun to try edible metallics (gold). Still….not for me.

LA FRAISE: Strawberry meringue around a fennel parfait and creme fraiche ice cream

so right, even after 45 courses

so right, even after 45 courses


Unreal – loved everything about it. Melt in your mouth strawberry flavored meringue, hint of savory herbs surrounding a clean tasting, cold, creamy, iced, cream. The garnish made it super fun to eat, and I absolutely love colored dust that tastes good.

Not part of my tasting, yet I must include Lauren’s dessert.
LE CHOCOLAT: Chocolate sensation, « crémeux » Araguani, Oreo cookie crumbs

good friends are gold

good friends are gold


breaking in

breaking in


Mesmerized by the gold, I loved this masterpiece before I tried a bite. A true case of eating with your eyes. Love at first sight. It was sweet and creamy, but also had the crunch factor from the chocolate disc, and a bit of tartness from the fruity gel dots on top.

And because the French can’t end without coffee:

don't quit on me

don't quit on me


which came with an original, monogrammed chocolate.

What a day. Don’t even ask me how I ate a big lunch AND dinner the following day…..DAD!

L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon (MGM Grand) on Urbanspoon

Nakato: a mixed bag of sushi

Everyone needs a nearby sushi joint. It should be casual and welcoming, but most importantly, it should serve fresh, high-quality product. Consistency is key and neighborhood sushi should be a meal you trust. There shouldn’t be any doubt or concern regarding the fish-related goods delivered to your table/bar.

For me, this place has been Nakato. Located on Cheshire Bridge Road, which is relatively convenient to my Kirkwood household. I’ve been visiting Nakato pretty regularly over the past few months for a few reasons.
1. I can’t afford MF on a regular basis. (but I recommend hitting up the lunch special during the week)
2. Sushi House Hayakawa is FAR (and I had a not amazing meal there – going back on Wednesday to give the same dish another shot).
3. Nakato participates in Restaurant.com so I get lots o’ coupons.
4. You can’t always eat like this or this.

Anyway, on my last visit to Nakato there were some wins and a few losses. The major win was an August special dish that continued into September. It’s called ‘Blue Shrimp Tartar”. Take a look.

from the top

from the top


Starting at the bottom with a layer of chopped avocado, followed by chopped blue shrimp, topped with seaweed shards, ikura (salmon roe), and egg yolk sauce. The tartar is also accompanied by a lightly fried shrimp head and a non-fried shrimp tail.

side view

side view

The individual elements all tasted very good, but due to the plating, it was difficult to get a bite with all of the elements combined.

I also had some rice-less hand rolls. From left to right:
Ika with Ikura (squid with salmon roe), salmon with avocado, spicy scallop

3 cones

3 cones

These were good, but the construction was a bit shoddy. I prefer the sushi chef that works on the left side, so if you’re eating at the sushi bar, sit by him. (These were made by the dude on the right).

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While everything I ate was better than decent, my dining companions did not have as much luck. Let’s start with the better and move onto the worst.

My friend Meredith’s plate:

sushi samplings

sushi samplings

Starting at the bottom with chopped scallop mixed with spicy mayo and masago (small fish eggs) over sushi rice and wrapped with seaweed. She said it was good.
The salmon and yellowtail nigiri were decent, but you can tell from looking at the tuna it was not the greatest cut of meat. It was stringy and broke apart in unappetizing pieces when trying to consume. In fact, the tuna was our main complaint for the meal, as you can see in the Rainbow Rolls below:

white stripes are not yum

white stripes are not yum

A Rainbow Roll is supposed to be a beautiful thing (hence the name), but the veins kinda ruin the aesthetic of the whole shebang. This was a half-fail roll.

2 spicy tuna rolls were also ordered, and this is where the tuna issue became an inedible issue. We all know that ‘spicy’ rolls are most likely made from the scraps of meat, so being that the tuna was already at an all-time low, the spicy tuna rolls were not enjoyable. There may or may not have been a bone discovered in one, and they were not all consumed (which is against my religion when eating sushi).

Honestly, after the tuna debacle of September 2009 I will still give Nakato the benefit of the doubt and return. (Plus, I still have some more coupons to use). I may take a break from eating the tuna and check out the fish before ordering, but it’s done me right more times than not. Maybe it was an off night? Maybe they were mad at me for always coming in with a coupon? Maybe they didn’t appreciate my lame attempt to try to order in Japanese? Either way, I will not be writing off my neighborhood sushi joint quite yet.

Nakato on Urbanspoon

Ritz Carlton Dining Room Closes

When a restaurant closes in Atlanta a few are genuinely disappointed, some are cynically smug, but most don’t even notice. However, this is not the case for the The Dining Room at the Ritz Carlton hotel in Buckhead. After 25 years of service (and the best service a restaurant can give), October 1, 2009 is the last day you can score an uber high-end meal at this establishment. Blogs are a-buzzing (mostly food related of course) and comments are flying. Some are sad to see one of the best fine dining restaurants in the South close, while others are happy to see a place that required jackets and a small fortune disappear.

I belong to the former and am appreciative of my one-time dining experience at the restaurant. At the time of this visit(February 2009), I had never dared to spend more than $100 for a meal – since then, I’ve done it more than I care to admit. This meal changed my perception about whether it is worth it to splurge for a meal(and an experience). The resounding answer (for me): Yes, Yes, Yes!

Here is my humbly, small tribute to one of the most memorable meals I’ve had in Atlanta as well as my first foray with true fine dining.

They throw you right into the ring of fire as soon as you are seated. The bread cart rolls around and the pressure is on – which to pick?

lotsa breads

lotsa breads


I can’t even begin to remember all of the different types of carbs that lived on this cart, but I do remember there were more than 20 and they all looked delicious. I tried a few throughout the course of the evening.

Amuse Bouche – Fennel & Olive Oil Soup with Grapefruit & Truffle

first bite/sip

first bite/sip

The soup came in a shot glass, which was placed on a wooden coaster of sorts, which laid on top of a gorgeous plate lined with silver and gold splashes. Nice start.

“Hawaiian Sweet Potato Soup” – with sea urchin, scallops, nasturtium

filled to the top

filled to the top

after a few bites:

half full

half full

I remember this dish was mellow tasting, with a subtly sweet overtone from the potato and scallops. It was also POIPLE!

“Lobster Preserve” – Red Pepper & Orange Distillation, Bok Choy, Ginger

smoky and neat

smoky and neat

By far the coolest dish (or jar) of the night, all ingredients were presented in a closed mason jar. The server set it down and then popped open the top of the jar to let the fragrant, lobstery smoke waft up to our noses.

We substituted a fish for the beef tenderloin and we got this:

take 1

take 1

take 2

take 2

close-up

close-up

Yes, that is a nice, big blob of caviar you see, resting atop my hunk of protein. I believe it was Dover sole, but not 100% positive.

“Fresh Goat Cheese” – Membrillo, Black Truffle

cheesy goodness

cheesy goodness

I loved the quincy sweetness paired with the tangy goat cheese. You can see the layers on Lauren’s spoon.

wanna bite?

wanna bite?

“Tangerine Clafouti”

meal-maker

meal-maker

Strangely enough, this ‘introduction to dessert’ course was the highlight of the entire meal for me. The tangerine flavor burst in my mouth and the texture was gooey, mushy, and soft in the middle with a crunchy crust on the top. You can sort of see the crust around the edges of the clafouti in the photo below.

take a closer look, but don't bang your nose

take a closer look, but don't bang your nose


Absolutely LOVED this dish.

Finally, we arrive at the famous dessert course.

The “Chocolate Souffle” – with Vanilla Ice Cream and Strawberry Confit

rise to perfection

rise to perfection


The execution was flawless, the flavor combination worked well, but this dessert did nothing for me. I was far too blown away by the previous offering, so much so that nothing could have lived up to it. I also may not be a serious chocolate souffle gal.

Not so fast; there is a bit more. Next we received this plate:

variety

variety

Some madeline, nougat, jelly, etc. All were excellent, all were eaten.

Is that all? No, of course not. Similar to the bread cart at the start of the meal, a large cart was rolled over to our table at the end of the meal. Except this cart was FULL OF CHOCOLATES. Tons of different choices with far too many to choose from. So, we did what any good foodie would attempt to do – tried to get them all. We strategically picked different chocolate options so that we would be able to try one of each. The problem was, even half of the options couldn’t fit on the plate(small) so we did the best we could. This is what we ended up with on our plates and in our stomachs.

what a way to end a meal

what a way to end a meal

As you can see, I was a super lucky duck to be able to eat here, even just once. Although I may not have returned to the Dining Room in the past 6 months, it was a comfort to know the option was there. It convinced me that I was living in a city with the best of the best.
Instead of eating out tonight, the last night the Dining Room at the Ritz serves dinner, I will hang my head and cook my own food which mostly ends up looking like this.

scallops and quinoa

scallops and quinoa

The Dining Room (Ritz Carlton) on Urbanspoon

Dreaming About: Sea Urchin, Salmon Roe, Sweet Shrimp

bowla heaven

bowla heaven


from Sushi House Hayakawa on Buford Highway.

Listed on the menu as Fresh Sea Urchin, marinated Salmon eggs, Sweet Shrimps and lightly fried Shrimp head over sushi rice, Hokkai Don is a combination of the best of the best offered at Japanese restaurants. Sweet+ smooth (fresh shrimp or amaebi), salty+ juicy (salmon eggs or ikura), oceany+creamy (sea urchin or uni), umami+crunch (fried shirmp heads) – placed over steamed, sticky, sushi rice.

What a delight!

Dreaming about the next time I can trek down Buford Highway and tuck into a bowl of Hokkai Don.

Picture from restaurant website for additional viewing pleasure:

salivating

salivating

Sushi House Hayakawa
5979 Buford Hwy
Red & Green Steakhouse Shopping Center A-10
Atlanta, GA 30340
http://www.atlantasushibar.com/