Dispensing Happiness

A good cook is like a sorceress who dispenses happiness.-Elsa Schiapirelli

That's me, the magical good cook.

Borrowing from my friend Dexygus, I've created my own food blog.

Read of my exploits in the kitchen! Salivate over the descriptions of fabulous desserts and savory meals I've concocted!

No, seriously...go ahead. It'll make my day.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Dine & Dish 6: Amazing Graze; or Stephanie's 'Stuck' with Sushi


I'd been looking forward to the next Dine & Dish event; for starters, it gives me an excuse to get out of the house! But I also look at Sarah's pet project as a chance to try out new restaurants or foods. Last time around, I had Korean food for the very first time...and liked it.

I couldn't wait to see what Sarah had up her stylish sleeves for us this time!

But I have to admit, I was somewhat underwhelmed by the theme of 'little plates' for this month's event.

Not because I'm anti-small bite; quite the contrary! I'm the queen of tiny bits of food, after all.

No, my problem wasn't really with the theme, per se; but with what I knew to be my options. Which was: not many.

Not that we hit every restaurant in K-town, of course, but our experience has been that the 'small plates' section of the menu is rather small.

There is, I discovered, an actual tapas restaurant in town, but there we face our second problem: finding a place with enough vegetarian options to adequately feed me. Because, sorry; almonds and olives do not a satisfied Stephanie make.

I was absolutely stumped, despite checking the menus of just about every local restaurant I could find.

It was Matt who finally suggested we go back to Ginza Japan. And while it's neither new or terribly exciting, we could order lots and lots of little plates of appetizing food.

Which is how we ended up, as a family, at the only decent sushi bar in town this past Thursday.

Ginza is an attractive restaurant, with high ceilings and very open rooms. Once you push through the revolving doors, you're 'greeted' by four geishas. Ok, not really, but there are four almost-life-sized statues of geishas, beautifully painted, on either side of the door, as well as along the opposite wall.

We indicated to the hostess (who was Caucasian) we were there for the sushi, and that we'd prefer a booth over the sushi bar seating (much easier to keep Alex in place), and were shown to the appropriate room and instructed to pick our table.

We did, and settled in. Our attentive and friendly (we were to learn) server arrived to take our drink orders. Matt had the green tea, while I'd promised Alex he could have sweet tea (despite the fact it was already eight o'clock...), so we both ordered that.

It was time to graze the menu.

Ginza offers lots and lots of sushi. The majority of their sushi choices, however, are fish-based.

But what's surprising is what's not on the menu.

No where on there do you see inari, avacado maki, or kappa maki. Pretty standard fare for a sushi place.

From our previous visits, we knew we could order off-menu; the sushi chef clearly had no problem whipping them up for us.

But the second surprise is how uninformed the wait staff is.

This was not the first time we had to explain to our server what kappa maki or inari was. Even then, he had to go back and ask about it!

In his defense, Matt thought the guy was most likely from Southeast Asia, but on the other hand, you'd think the restaurant would train the staff a bit better?

That's the thing about Ginza, though...although they've clearly hired a mostly-Asian staff to give an overall air of authenticity, most of them are not from sushi-eating cultures.

The dishes sorted out, we sat for just a few minutes before the lovely little plates began to appear on our table.

There was the bowl of edamame, pictured above (mainly for Alex); I can't figure out the 'why' of it, but they always taste so much better when I eat them in a sushi restaurant!

Asparagus Tempura

I'm quite fond of this. Firm, crunchy, almost raw asparagus in a fabulous tempura; hot, but just barely cooked. And not overly greasy.

Kappa Maki

The very first sushi I ever tried, some five or six years ago. Matt told me the 'story' behind these glorious cucumber rolls. A Japanese water spirit, Kappa, really liked cucumber, so to appease the spirit, sometimes people would ceremoniously dump cucumber sushi rolls into canals and waterways. True or not, it's kind of cute.


I adore inari. Deep-fried tofu pockets, slightly sweet, and filled with rice. So simple, and so filling! The ones at Ginza were tied up strips of gourd. Pretty, no?

Avocado Maki

One of my favorites! But seriously, can you go wrong when avocado is on the ingredient list?


I'm in love with tomago. And Ginza is the only place in town that makes it...besides us, of course.

That firm, sweet egg is so addictive. And I've played around with it a few times, myself; it's not just for sushi anymore!

Agedashi Tofu

This is something Matt would order back at our old stomping ground, Isobune (we frequented...and I do mean frequented, the Oakland location); agedashi tofu is tubes of tofu, about 1 1/2" on each side, and lightly battered and fried, then served in a bowl with a shallow layer of teriyaki sauce and garnished with finely shredded seaweed, ginger, and green onions.

I had one block, and gave the rest to Matt. I like my tofu a bit firmer, but he loves this stuff.

It's a family affair

Considering Alex was way past his bedtime, and had a steady infusion of sugar courtesy of the sweetened ice tea...it was a good meal. A bit pricey to feed the three of us, but we did get a lot of food. All on little plates, from which we grazed...

Thanks, Sarah, for giving me a night out, and for the sushi!

And stay tuned: I'll be announcing March's Blog Party theme in just a couple days!

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6 Thoughts for food:

At 12:05 PM, Blogger Gustad said...

mmm, i love tempura

At 12:08 PM, Blogger Stephanie said...

Gustad, I'm with you!

Problem is, it never turns out right when we make it at home. Doesn't matter what we do, or which recipe we try...it's never the same. Sigh...

At 1:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love edamame...I first tasted them at a sushi place, where I ordered those after I saw a guy popping those one after the other. It is perfect for a cold wintery day.

At 1:01 PM, Blogger Stephanie said...

Hi Gini!

I got hooked on edamame the same way! And my almost-three year old simply devours them. Can't complain about taht, can you?

At 12:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"But seriously, can you go wrong when avocado is on the ingredient list?"

Oh my. I soooo hear you on that sentiment!

Once, I was on a crazy avocado kick and I would slice it in half, take out the pit, sprinkle salt into the little cavity , and just eat the avocado right out of the peel with a spoon. Both halves. Every day for like a week.


and i'm not sick of avocado. :)

thanks stephanie, as always, for playing! hopefully, the next theme will be more "veggie-in-tennessee" friendly :)

At 12:31 AM, Blogger Stephanie said...

Sarah, "Every day for like a week." You say that like it's a bad thing...!

I'm always happy to play along, though I doubt we'll ever find a 'veggie-friendly in Tennessee' theme!


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