Category Archives: Japanese

Washington DC – Roundup

Lobster Corn Dogs

Lobster Corn Dogs at Bourbon Steak

We stayed recently in Washington as part of a wider tour to include South Carolina and New York. Stayed at the Sofitel which is a brand of hotel I very much like. Trendy, comfortable and with attention to detail. Great room, huge beds. Hmm perhaps this stuff should be saved for Tripadvisor.

First night we ate at the W hotel a little further down towards the National Mall. W is another great sub-brand of Westin with a more nightclubby edge. It was obviously a quiet night and we bypassed the velvet ropes and were whisked straight up the the roof top restaurant with an incredible view of the White House and Washington Memorial. Service was friendly and after a couple of outrageously potent Martinis we both plunged for a Bavette steak which is sometimes a little tough but seemed pretty tender to me, similar to sirloin. Plenty of crisp fries, sauteed spinach and good Bearnaise made this a perfectly acceptable entrance to Washington dining and sadly one of the best we experienced.

Checked out the Tripadvisor number one and it was Michael Minas Bourbon Steak which is in Georgetown to the west of downtown Washington on a rather quaint colonial street. I love the Four Seasons and try and stay at least once a year  for a treat. Washingtons Four Seasons isnt  particularly interesting looking but as soon as you enter the lobby you immediately experience the softly spoken luxury that makes the brand so desirable.

For starter I had a lobster corn dogs which were light, delicious and a lot of fun. It came with a whole grain mustard dipping sauce which was rather sweet and lacked heat to match the richness of the corndogs. For my main course I thought it had to be steak and was advised by the waiter against my instinct to have the skirt steak which needs very careful cooking otherwise it is like boot leather. It wasn’t bad but was a little too tough for me. However the flavour was extremely good as were the accompaniments off copper coloured beets, whipped potatoes and spinach which were served rather maddeningly in tiny bowls so had to be emptied out before eating.

Gross Sprouts at the risible Portenza

Gross Sprouts at the risible Portenza

The worst meal I had in Washington was definitely at a nouveau italian restaurant called Portenza. Everything looked so right with the huge bakery behind glass which you could watch while you are eating and the mixed buzzy crowd but from the starter of sauteed brussel sprouts (I know I should have known better) which were undercooked and burnt at the same time, things continued downhill. My main course of Orichiette with sausage and broccoli was bitter and watery. This was replaced with pasta with buffalo ragu which I thought couldn’t be messed up but it was the addition of barbeque sauce into the ragu which made it just vile.

The owner was obviously becoming frustrated with the failed attempts to impress us and came over for a chat and agreed the food wasn’t that great. He asked what he could do to improve things and I asked rather facetiously for the address of a decent italian restaurant and to his credit without a beat gave us the details of one!

Native American Chilli and fries

Native American Chilli and fries

On to the Museum of the Native American on the National Mall and following advice from fellow travellers we were told perhaps unfairly to skip the exhibition and go straight to the restaurant ‘Mitisitam’ on the edge of the ground floor auditorium. Set out like a cafeteria it is split into different areas corresponding to the tribe and its cuisine. Sadly the most popular tribe judging by the queues were the south west american indians as their food was pretty close to Mexican food. Thats where we chose and tried the ubiquitous ‘Fry Bread’ which was like a puffed up tortilla, fried at the edges. On top of this was lukewarm chilli and it was served with native american fries which were really just chips with chilli salt on them. Not impressive!

The best meal by far was at Sei which is a trendy japanese restaurant in downtown Washington. Dimly lit with clean lines and space age formica tables this restaurant would impress even if the food wasn’t great, but it is! Friendly and knowledgable staff guide you through the slightly confusing menu to help you assemble a meal. We had Japanese guacamole which was similar to the mexican type but with wasabi and cleverly comes with fried wanton chips rather than tortillas. We had the brilliant kobe beef roll and an amazingly

Kobe Steak and Fish and Chip sushi

Kobe Steak and Fish and Chip sushi

clever fish and chips roll which had flounder in the centre and salt and vinegar potato straws on the top. We also had sea bass sliders, three little fish burgers in tiny buns. Really clever and fun. Would definately go back here  and explore more of the menu.

Another interesting eat were great oysters at Old Ebbit Grill which is the oldest tavern in Washington.

Washington is culinarily odd as it seems to be catering for big power eating for senators where everything seems to have to have a twist and more often than not this subtracts rather than adds.


Hare and Tortoise – London

Hare and Tortoise

Hare and Tortoise

More Sushi for ya this time at Hare and Tortoise, the oddly named mini chain of pan asian restaurants in London. The one we went to is near Blackfriars on New Bridge Street which is presumably swarming with business folk by day and was pretty full when we visited in the evening. We were given a rather grim table in the corner on a raised platform but any port in a storm.

Service was brisk and efficient, we started with two plum wine spritzers and some edamame beans.

Unagi Deluxe

Unagi Deluxe

For mains we ordered a sushi platter and an amazing unagi roll which had a huge slice of unagi draped across the top. Pretty decadent and for 6 pieces at £7.70 pretty good value.

Not keen on the dessert menu we headed across to Refettorio across the road at the Crowne Plaza and shared a great Crema Catalana and plate of cheese with two glasses of Sangiovese.

Score 7.5/10

Hare and Tortoise

90 New Bridge Street, London EC4V 6JJ.Tel: 020 7651 0266

Sushi go round – Itsu vs Moshi Moshi Sushi

I loves me sushi! And I also like eating without being hassled so conveyor belt sushi or Kaiten sushi is sometimes the perfect combination. My first experience as most peoples was at Yo Sushi, the ubiquitous fishy-go-round found in most medium to larged sized cities, I mean, even Leicester has one! In my opinion, quality has taken a nose dive at Yo Sushi and they seem to be moving from offering more exotic options to just sending round chicken nuggets in a sweet sauce and some of the beginner sushi such as salmon and prawn. Spreading my wings further and now with London in my realm I recently tried the small chains of Itsu and Moshi Moshi Sushi.


Itsu in Canary Wharf

My first visit to Itsu was on its first restaurants in Wardour Street, London. Following the Yo Sushi model of sending around popular items with waiter service for more unique fare I remember enjoying its more sophisticated environment (Lower lighting, more intimate feel, lack of huge plasma screens and bleeping robots). Interestingly, they sent round hot food on the conveyor also with tea lights burning underneath which I thought was cute.

My recent visit was to the Canary Wharf Branch at Cabot Place. Being the only diners there the atmosphere was a bit dead but we got our flask of Sake and pulled up to the belt. The food was alright I suppose, lots of meat dishes and hybrid ‘oriental’ items such as duck crystal rolls. Miso soup went around sitting on the tea lights but were scalding hot and almost impossible to remove from the belt without burning yourself. The a la carte menu was uninspiring and seemed to consist of hand rolls and little else. In the end we classed it as a starter and paid up to go somewhere else for ‘dinner’ as it was a real struggle to construct a meal.

Score 4/10

Moshi Moshi Sushi

Moshi Moshi Sushi

I have a feeling that MMS was the first conveyor belt sushi joint even before Yo Sushi though I could be wrong. Anyway, it seems to have been at the mezzanine level of Liverpool Station for ever. Meeting a friend during a connecting train journey we talk the trip to the nearly hidden doorway into MMS. It has a great atmosphere and is a cocoon away from the windswept platforms down below. The decor is innovative though seems a bit tatty and dusty on the day we visited. Food is prepared in a traditional kitchen (unseen) and emerges to wind its way around patrons before disappearing again into the kitchen. The food is extraordinary and I would imagine very traditional. Unusual flavour combinations incorporating ingredients such as natto bring bring back a feeling of discovery that has long been missing from other sushi joints. Along with the sushi you can choose larger courses such as noodles or ton katsu (breaded pork with bulldog sauce and sticky rice). The service was kind and attentive and the atmosphere relaxed. I could really imagine hanging around here and would not feel out of place if I was dining solo.

I would highly recommend a visit to Moshi Moshi Sushi and in my book it wins hands down.

Score 8/10

Itsu Locations

Moshi Moshi Locations

Yo Sushi Leicester

So, my first restaurant post. It seems apt to choose Yo Sushi as in some ways it marks how the dining scene in Leicester has taken a step up in the last year. I first ate at Yo Sushi about eight years ago in Harvey Nichols. I had watched with curiosity several times before taking the plunge and seating myself up at the bar. I had memorised the required etiquette and set out my little dishes with pickled ginger, soy and the addictive wasabi.

In some ways its the etiquette and spectacle of Yo Sushi that keeps me coming back. Sushi is one of those foodstuffs that along with guacamole, roasted belly pork and sour cream Pringles that cause cravings. And when the craving arises sometimes the anonymity of Yo Sushi is the best way to satisfy that craving.

Yo Sushi Leicester

Yo Sushi in Leicester is one of their typical small outlets. Designed around the central food preparation area with bar stool seating around half of the conveyor belt and half with booth seating. Upstairs are the restrooms. Service was friendly initially, my friends took a while to arrive but I was invited to sit up at the conveyor belt whilst I waited.

It was a Blue Monday special offer day so all plates on the conveyor belt were the blue plate price of £2.20. I couldn’t help noticing that a lot of green plate stuff was going around which was  a bit cheeky as the normal price is £1.85. We started with some lovely Miso soup and ordered some beer, wine and some hot items from the kitchen. The choice on the conveyor belt was a bit disappointing but we did try a very tasty seaweed salad, prawn nigiri, tuna sashimi and duck sushi with hoi sin sauce. All very acceptable, though a some salmon skin rolls were rather thick and impenetrable and weren’t very pleasant.

Service was rather slow, it looked like they weren’t ready for so many people as there was only one server. All in all a pretty ok small meal before we headed to the cinema but as always the cost spiraled up to about £20 a head even though we felt we just had a few snacks. Not bad though.

Score 5.5/10