Sushi Yoshitake (Tokyo, Michelin 3 Stars) - best dish I've ever had

>>  Friday, July 18, 2014

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This the second addendum post to the Tokyo - Kyoto - Osaka series. Other posts in this series include the intro post: Tokyo, Kyoto, and OsakaMatsugen (soba), Sushi IwaRamen Honda (Tokyo Ramen Street)RyuginOmen (udon), Shouraian (tofu), Dotonbori in Osaka (street food), Taian (3-star Michelin), and Sushi Sho/Shou (Chef Keiji Nakazawa), Nakamura (3 star Michelin kaiseki), and Sushi Taku (2 star Michelin)

Bring bring . .  .

It was close to noon and I was in my office typing furiously away at the computer. The caller ID said it was Bryan.

It's not unusual for us to chat during this odd time when he's away on a business trip in Asia. Tokyo is exactly 12 hours apart from Boston, which means he was probably about to go to bed. It's lunchtime here, so the timing actually works out pretty well.
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Bryan had just gotten back from his dinner at Sushi Yoshitake, a newly-ish minted (as of 2012) three Michelin starred sushi restaurant in Tokyo. He couldn't stop raving about it.

 "I just got back from dinner. It was really good. I think you'd like it. It wasn't just sushi. They had creative preparations - like what you'd see in a high-end French restaurant - for several of the dishes. They had this abalone liver dish that was amazing. It's the best dish I've ever had in my life."
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Let's pause a moment here.

Did he just say the best dish in his life?!

This is the same person who's dined at some of the finest restaurants in the world, like Sukiyabashi Jiro in Tokyo, The French Laundry in Napa Valley, and Joel Robuchon in Las Vegas, not to mention countless other award-winning restaurants through his business trips and travels.

He couldn't stop talking about this abalone dish (and trust me, he usually doesn't talk a lot). It was like other-worldly, or what my friend Peter would call "transcendent." Perfection in so many different ways.

best dish ever . . .

"We really have to go back to Japan so I can take you there."

awwwww . . .

Anyway, enough about my conversation with Bryan. Let's learn more about this incredible meal of a lifetime.

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A Voce Columbus (New York)

>>  Tuesday, July 15, 2014

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This is the third post in the Quick Spring Weekend to New York series. Other posts in this series include Le Bernardin, Lunch Tasting Menu and Boulud Sud.

It's been years since I've had a proper dinner in the Time Warner Building in New York.

It's not as if I don't visit. I go to the Time Warner Building almost every time I'm in New York. How can I resist not stopping by - even if it involves riding that escalator up three floors to Bouchon Bakery where I can pick up my favorite cookies and get some treats to take home for friends?

But a proper dinner? That's a bit challenging.

After all, there aren't that many restaurants in the Time Warner Building at Columbus Circle. The few that are there are not the types of places you visit that frequently.

Take Thomas Keller's three Michelin starred Per Se, for example, where the chef's tasting will run you $310 per person (and that's not including wine, tip, or tax). Or Masa, another three Michelin starred restaurant where the price for dinner is $450, the most expensive tasting menu in the country.

In recent years, several more accessible places have opened up inside this shopping center, including a steakhouse, a brasserie, and A Voce Columbus, the second location of a popular Italian restaurant that originally opened in Madison Square Garden.
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A Voce Columbus opened in 2009 with executive chef Missy Robbins from Spiagga in Chicago at the helm. In October 2013, Filippo Gozolli, the Italian chef that opened Sirio, took over as executive chef. The restaurant boasts one Michelin Star and is located on the third floor of the Time Warner Building.

Some have compared A Voce with the likes of Babbo, Marea, and Del Posto, which are some of our favorite Italian restaurants in New York.

Because our dinners this particular New York trip were already tied up with work or family events, we were in the unusual situation where we only had lunchtime free to try new restaurants in New York.

Our first lunch was at an old favorite, Le Bernardin, which was (as always) phenomenal. Boulud Sud was a delicious lunch we had with friends. We chose A Voce Columbus for our third (and final) lunch of the trip.

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La Toque (Westin Verasa Napa)

>>  Thursday, July 10, 2014

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This is the seventh and final post in the Quick Weekend Getaway to Napa / Sonoma Series. Other posts in this series include: Benzinger Family WineryJack London State ParkMayo Family WineryCrisp Bake Shop, Napa Wine Train, and The Red Grape.

It had gone by way too fast.

As soon as it began, it felt like our weekend getaway to Napa/Sonoma was coming to an end. It had been a nice break - right in the middle of chilly April - to get away to somewhere a little warmer and enjoy gorgeous scenery, great wines, and tons of amazing food.

We stayed at the Westin Verasa right in the heart of the city of Napa. It was a great location. We were within walking distance of the Oxbow Public Market, downtown Napa, and the Napa Wine Train. The hotel itself was lovely, with well appointed, generously sized rooms and nice luxurious finishes.
_DSC7080The best part was at the first floor of the hotel, where Chef Ken Frank's award winning Michelin starred restaurant, La Toque, was located.

On our last night in Napa, after lots of driving around (in a convertible, no less!) and visiting all sorts of places, we were ready to sit down, enjoy a nice relaxing meal, and go to bed. Spending our final night at La Toque worked out perfectly. We able to just relax and enjoy a really nice dinner (and wine!) after a long day. Better yet, we didn't have to worry about driving home afterwards. We could turn in earlier, which was invaluable because we had an early flight out from San Franscisco the following morning.

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The Sinclair (Harvard Square)

>>  Tuesday, July 08, 2014

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Hello Summer!

It's taken long enough, but summer is finally here (in Boston, June can be hit or miss when it comes to "summer-like" weather). Despite the crazy thunderstorms (Thanks Hurricane Arthur) that we dealt with on the 3rd and 4th of July, the rest of this past weekend was gorgeous - tons of opportunities to seek outdoor patios in which to enjoy a summer meal.

I love sunshine, and eating outside is one of my favorite things to do in warm weather. In past summers, we would often visit the Monday Club in Harvard Square (the "downstairs" of Upstairs on the Square), one of our favorite outdoor dining spaces. Sadly, both Upstairs on the Square and the Monday Club closed at the end of 2013.
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This season, I have dined at a few outdoor spots in Harvard Square. We ate at the new(ish) patio at Rialto not too long ago, which was lovely, as well as the large outdoor patio at Legal Sea Foods in Harvard Square (a great place to get a nice bottle of wine for a ridiculously good price!).

More recently, I discovered a new, lovely rooftop patio right in the heart of Harvard Square.
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It's at The Sinclair, a concert venue and a restaurant + bar that opened with the help of consulting chef Michael Schlow and then-executive chef Marcellus Coleman (winner of Chopped).
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Recently, Marcellus Coleman left and sous chef Matt Cunningham took over as the new Executive Chef. Chef Cunningham previously worked at Upstairs on the Square and Strip-T's, and brings to the new menu his own globally inspired creative touches.
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I joined a small group of food writers a couple weeks ago to enjoy a special tasting menu that showcased some of Chef Cunningham's creative talents. Many of these dishes are ideas that are percolating in his head that he is considering for the menu. Others incorporate items that are already on the menu. There is at least one course which he definitely plans to add to the menu very, very soon (if not already).

These dishes were paired with a number of cocktails from the regular bar menu.

In short, it was an excellent meal and I was very impressed with Chef Cunningham's creativity. I do hope he continues to incorporates his fun and (sometimes) edgy ideas into the regular menu.

Here's a look at the interesting dishes we tried!

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Area Four {Snapshot}

>>  Friday, July 04, 2014

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This is a {Snapshot} of Area Four, a Cambridge restaurant that I first wrote about in 2012.

It may be surprising to those who know me that a pizza restaurant would be one of my favorite places in Cambridge. After all, isn't pizza associated with unhealthy things like carb-filled crusts, high fat gooey cheeses, and very little vegetables?

Perhaps.

Interestingly, what drew me most to Area Four (initially) was actually not their pizzas (even though they are also great). It was their salads.

I love Area Four's salads.
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City Grower's Mixed Greens

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you can contact me at: jen[at]tinyurbankitchen[dot]com
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