Tag Archives: sushi

updated/sushi: n.c.i.s (northern california inspired sushi/德相N.C.I.S美式加州壽司)

n.c.i.s (northern california inspired sushi)

date March 09, 2013

contact No. 4, Alley 27, Lane 216, Sec. 4, Zhongxiao E. Rd., Daan District, Taipei City/台北市大安區忠孝東路四段216巷27弄4號/02.2721.6952

hours 7 days a week [lunch] 11:30-14:00 :: [dinner] 17:00-21:30

price 500NT-1000NT

rating ♥♥♥♥ (5 out of 5 hearts)

nearest mrt MRT Zhongxiao Dunhua Station, Exit 3 (捷運忠孝敦化站3號出口)

website http://www.ncisushi.com/ or http://www.facebook.com/ncisushi

You know how they say food is the way to a man’s heart? Well, sushi is the way to mine.

For a ladies night out, a college friend (a Santa Barbara native) requested some California-style sushi. Since she was getting her hair done across the street, literally, we decided to meet at 德相N.C.I.S.美式加州壽司. This was my first trip to their new location off Zhongxiao E. Rd.; I had previously been to their Shida Night Market location.

inside ncis.

On a Saturday night around 8pm the restaurant was pretty full. We managed to grab the last open table. The new location of NCIS is noticeably  roomier than their previous location at Shida.

menu at ncis as of march 2013.

We were quickly sat and handed menus. I noticed that the prices for some of the rolls have gone up, but nothing too drastic. Menu is still in English and Chinese. Speciality rolls range from 200-300NT.

Itadakimasu:
– Seasoned Soy Beans (椒鹽毛豆) 70NT
– BBQ Eel Nigiri Sushi (aka Unagi/鰻魚) 100NT/2pcs.
– Halibut Fin Nigiri Sushi (比目魚緣側) 160NT/2pcs.
– Toyota Roll (豐田) 200NT
– Sofa-King-BOMB Roll (沙發王棒) 280NT
– Spicy Ji Jimmy Roll (辣吉吉米) 300NT
– Johnny Can’t Walk Roll (約翰走不動) 300NT
– Geikeikan Sake (月桂冠) 250NT/250ml

complementary soup.

Complimentary soup was the first thing out. Tasted like some sort of light miso broth with salmon.

First things out were the Toyota Roll (豐田) for 200NT, Sofa-King-BOMB Roll (沙發王棒) for 280NT and Johnny Can’t Walk Roll (約翰走不動) for 300NT.

IMG_2062

The Toyota specialty roll was described as fried shrimp and cream cheese on the inside, topped with smoked salmon and avocado. I liked this roll. Cream cheese and smoked salmon are a natural combination (a la cream cheese and lox and the standard Philadelphia roll). With the added sauce, fish eggs, and green onion this roll was delicious. We particularly appreciated was that they aren’t too heavy handed with the cream cheese. As much as I love cream cheese, too much in sushi drowns out all other flavors.

johnny can’t walk (約翰走不動) 300NT.

The only thing we ordered that I had previously ordered on my last visit to NCIS was the Johnny Can’t Walk specialty roll. Described as a roll of spicy tuna, crab mix, and shrimp topped with seared tuna and bbq eel (unagi), this was easily one of the favorites of the night. I had suggested it since it was our favorite roll from my last visit. My friends liked the slightly charred tasted from the searing and in general just liked the combination of flavors. I think I liked the roll better this time than I did the last. Last time there was a lot of random sauce on the plate. While for presentation sauces can be pretty, I’m kind of the opinion that what is put on a plate should compliment the dish and be edible. It’s like that idea of random ass sprigs of parsley on a plate: don’t put it on my plate if I’m not supposed to eat it. Especially with sauce, since if it gets on the food you can’t really just wipe it off. Okay, end tangent.

sofa-king-BOMB! (沙發王-棒!) 280NT.

Before being moved to the bar, Val and I spotted some roll with salsa on it. We immediately asked a server what it was because we wanted it! The Sofa-King-BOMB! specialty roll is a fried roll with chicken strips, cream cheese, and smoke salmon topped with salsa. At first the idea of chicken strips in my sushi was unappealing, but I actually liked this roll. Something about the combination of the fresh salsa with the saltiness of the chicken strips and salmon and the creamy cheese was tasty. This roll wasn’t as popular with my friends, but I liked it.

spicy ji jimmy (辣吉吉米) 300NT.

Still hungry we asked for a recommendation. Sitting at the bar we got to watch everything come out, including the Spicy Ji Jimmy specialty roll, which ended up being recommended to us. A roll with fried shrimp and spicy tuna topped with bbq eel (unagi) and avocado, this roll was probably the favorite of the night. With some spicy mayonaise sauce, and sriracha on the sides, this roll was only mildly spicy, but delicious. So delicious, in fact, that Xiao Yan got one to go.

[top] bbq eel (unagi) nigiri sushi (鰻魚) 100NT/2pcs. :: [bottom] halibut fin nigiri sushi (比目魚緣側) 160/2pcs.

On the nigiri sushi side we got two orders of BBQ eel (unagi) nigiri sushi and one order of halibut fin nigiri sushi. The unagi was pretty standard, nothing special. Xiao Yan ordered the halibut fin. Neither Val nor I had ever had it before, but I must say, it was quite delicious. Halibut fin (engawa) is apparently the “thin muscle of the dorsal fin”. The halibut fin had a bit of a chewy fatty texture, and the slight searing helped to bring out the flavor in the fat. Very delicious. Also, the sushi chef was kind enough to give us an extra piece since there were three of us.

seasoned soybeans (椒鹽毛豆) 70NT.

Val wanted something to break up all the sushi, so we got an order of the seasoned soybeans. The seasoning on the soybeans kind of tasted like some sort of italian herb seasoning with chili flakes. Kind of interesting on the soybeans, but not bad at all.

We also ordered some sake. Pretty standard tasting sake; served cold.

Our only complaint would be regarding the servers. The female servers seemed a little clueless as to what was going on and not particularly warm or friendly either. When we asked one about what roll a table had ordered, after looking at it she still had to go ask one of the chefs what it was. Maybe we’re harsh since we’ve both worked in food service, and maybe I’m a little extra critical because I served in sushi restaurants for 7 years, but if you can’t tell what a roll is by the look of it, I think it’s time to do a little homework.

Overall, I much enjoyed NCIS. It was a nice taste of home for two California girls and fun to introduce our Taiwanese friend to California-style sushi. Rolls were great and decently priced. Our bill came out to about 1700NT or so, so between the 3 of us, about 600NT (~US$20) each. Sitting at the bar we got to talk a little to the owner, who introduced himself as Jo, from Sacramento. Even while busy he still managed to make conversation and seems to genuinely like what he does. We also overheard him say that if we had requests for other types of sushi not on their menu we could ask them to make it, which we will definitely do on our next visit.

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sushi: n.c.i.s (northern california inspired sushi/德相n.c.i.s美式加州壽司)

date july 19, 2012

contact No.17-3, Longquan St., Daan Dist., Taipei City/台北市大安區龍泉街17號之三 (師大夜市內)/ 02.2363.9931

hours 7 days a week 17:00-00:00

price 500NT-1000NT

rating ♥♥♥ (4 out of 5 hearts)

nearest mrt Guting MRT (捷運古亭站) or Taipower Building MRT (捷運台電大樓站)

website http://www.ncisushi.com/ (Chinese Only)

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UPDATE

The Shida location of N.C.I.S is closed, but don’t fret, they opened a new location on Zhongxiao E. Rd!

contact No. 4, Lane 216, Alley 27, Sec. 4, Zhongxiao E. Rd,  Daan Dist., Taipei City/台北市大安區忠孝東路四段216巷27弄4號/02.2721.6952 

nearest mrt MRT Zhongxiao Dunhua (捷運忠孝敦化站)

~::~::~::~::~

Having walked passed N.C.I.S many times my friend and I decided to check it out after talking to one of the owners (who is from Sacramento) one random night.

Located inside of Shida Night Market (師大夜市), N.C.I.S is located on the main street running down the night market close to Heping E. Rd. (和平東路).

The inside of N.C.I.S is pretty small: about 5-6 tables, plus some sushi bar space.

The N.C.I.S menu is pretty intense, mostly full of rolls, which based on the name of the restaurant I was expecting. The front of the menu has basic rolls, appetizers, sashimi, and nigiri type stuff.

The back of the menu has all their speciality rolls with the names and ingredients in both English and Chinese. There are color coded dots next to the rolls to denote whether or not they are spicy, deep fried, well done or torched. Being first time customers the server introduced us to some of the more popular rolls and rolls that would suit our tastes, after telling him what we liked (which is pretty much everything).

We decided to get three rolls and an appetizer, as follows:
– Stir Fried Onion Cheese Fries (起司炒洋蔥薯條) 200NT
– Marilyn Monroll (瑪麗蓮夢露) 220NT
– Salmonlicious (鮭揨高) 220NT
– Johnny Can’t Walk (約翰走不動) 300NT

Water and miso soup is self serve and can be grabbed on the lefthand side of the sushi bar.

Upon seeing the words “stir fried onions”, “cheese”, and “fries” on the menu, Erin and I immediately looked at each other and said, “we’re getting that.” Freshly fried seasoned fries topped with freshly sauteed  onions and some fake looking nacho cheese makes this Stir Fried Onion Cheese Fries (起司炒洋蔥薯條) appetizer for 200NT super tasty. This appetizer would be great drunk food, but was delicious sober as well. The serving size isn’t very big, but that’s probably good considering this place is a sushi joint, not a place for bar food. I would totally get this again.

The Marilyn Monroll (瑪麗蓮夢露) for 220NT was listed as having fried shrimp and crab mix inside the roll topped with avocado and scallops. First impression was, where is the avocado??? To be honest, I was a little let down by this roll. When you describe something as being topped with avocado and scallop, I expect to taste both the avocado and scallop, or at least be able to see it. Upon further inspection I realized the avocado was  the green stuff spread on the top of the roll; it was not slices like sushi rolls usually have and would probably have been completely overlooked had I not looked for it. The fried shrimp inside tasted like prepackaged frozen fried shrimp from Costco, which while isn’t bad, isn’t great. This roll wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t what I was expecting. I wouldn’t get this again.

Salmon is my favorite raw fish so the Salmonlicious (鮭揨高) for 220NT was an obvious choice for me. Described as smoked salmon, cream cheese, and cucumber on the inside (a basic Philadelphia Roll) topped with fresh salmon and lemon. Erin was afraid there would be too much cream cheese, but there wasn’t, just enough to get the taste.  This roll had a nice fresh taste to it thanks to the nice sliver of lemon on top.

The last roll we ordered was the Johnny Can’t Walk (約翰走不動) for 300NT. Described as spicy tuna, crab mix, and shrimp topped with seared tuna and bbq eel (aka unagi), this roll is torched, although it’s not marked on the menu.  This roll was recommended to us by the server, it is also one of two 300NT rolls, the most expensive on the menu. This was probably my favorite roll of the night, not because I could single out any one particular flavor (which you can’t), but because I was in the mood for the kind of saucey jumbled roll that I’d find at home (being San Diego) and this fulfilled that. You do taste the unagi, but other than that, all the sauces and flavors just meld together.

Overall, N.C.I.S is not bad. They have a lot of other rolls on the menu that I’d like to try. In terms of price, it’s pretty average for a place that sells American style rolls (150NT-300NT). I don’t know how their nigiri or sashimi is, but considering they specifically market California style rolls, I’d probably stick to rolls. I think that N.C.I.S fills a niche that the Shida area needed to be filled and I appreciate it’s proximity to my apartment. Based purely on the American style sushi roll angle I like N.C.I.S; it makes me feel like I’m eating sushi at home.

sushi/japanese: hashi sushi (橋壽司)

date november 15, 2011

contact No. 292, Sec. 2, Yonghe Rd., Yonghe District, New Taipei City/新北市永和區永和路二段292號/02.8925.2223/0975.780.275

hours 7 days a week [lunch] 11:00-14:30 :: [dinner] 17:00-22:00

price 300NT-600NT

rating ♥♥♥ (5 out of 5 hearts)

nearest mrt Dingxi MRT (捷運頂溪站)

I think that every time I post about sushi I say it’s my favorite thing to eat ever. So, to drive home that point: I love sushi, it’s my favorite thing ever.

Ashley has been telling me about “the cheap sushi place in Yonghe” for a while now, but we haven’t been able to go until tonight. Totally worth it.

Hashi Sushi is located in Yonghe District right next to the original location of Yonghe Soy Milk King (永和豆漿). The nearest MRT is Dingxi (頂溪). Just walk north up Yonghe Rd. (永和路) toward Zhongzheng Bridge (中正橋) and you’ll see it right past Yonghe Soy Milk King (aka Yonghe Doujiang).

Hashi Sushi is kind of a hole in the wall kind of joint. Nothing fancy, wallpaper kind of peeling off the walls, but honestly that’s my favorite kind of sushi place. My favorite sushi place in San Francisco is Sushi Zone and it most definitely falls under the category of “hole in the wall” sushi joints. Hashi has two floors; the first floor has the sushi bar and about 6-7 tables.

I know this picture makes the second floor of Hashi look like ghosts and creepy Japanese horror film children should be lurking, but Ashley said when it’s open (which it was not when we went) she prefers to sit up here.

The main menu at Hashi is in Chinese and English. There is a picture for every item, which is always helpful. They have a pretty large variety of fish. Most of their menu is made up of nigiri sushi; they also have maki sushi, hand rolls, chirashi, sashimi, and salads. Prices are not listed on the picture menu, but on the order sheet (which is in Chinese only). All the nigiri runs about 30NT-90NT for 2 pieces. Hand rolls range from 30NT-160NT and chirashi 250NT-680NT.

On a white board behind the sushi bar they have some specials that aren’t on the main menu.

Between Ashley and I, we ordered:
– Seared Scallop Nigri Sushi (炙干貝) 90NT
– Sweet Shrimp Nigiri Sushi (胭脂蝦) 80NT
– Grilled Chicken Wings (雞翅; 2串) 60NT
– Hamachi Kama (青魽下巴) 250NT
– Mixed Seafood Chirashi (海鮮丼) 250NT
– Salmon with Salmon Roe Chirashi (鮭魚親子丼) 300NT

I love scallops. Raw, baked, pan seared, whatever, I love them all. Ashley said their Seared Scallops were delicious and she was right. For 90NT you get two pieces of Seared Scallop Nigiri Sushi (炙干貝), or on their menu “Roasting Scallop”. Lightly torched, the scallops were sweet and buttery. Melt in your mouth buttery. Squeeze some of the kumquat juice on the scallops for a little acid.

Another thing I love, amaebi, otherwise known as Sweet Shrimp. For 80NT we ordered the Sweet Shrimp Nigiri Sushi (胭脂蝦) 80NT, or “Big Sweet Shrimp” on their menu. Like the scallops, the sweet shrimp was melt in your mouth delicious. Sweet, fresh, and melted in my mouth.

Ashley ordered the Grilled Chicken Wings (雞翅) for 60NT. One order comes with two skewers of two wings each. The wings are really tender and pretty tasty. Add some lime for acid.

Ashley also ordered the Hamachi Kama (aka Yellowtail Cheek). For 250NT you get a pretty sizable portion of hamachi kama (青魽下巴). The cheek is lightly seasoned with salt and comes with a side of grated daikon radish. The fish was really tender and delicious. Add lime for some acid.

Ashley ordered herself the Mixed Seafood Chirashi (海鮮丼) for 250NT, known as Mix Sashimi with Rice on their menu. I’m not exactly sure what all was in this, but for sure there was tuna, salmon, sweet shrimp, squid, salmon roe, and tamago. She was happy with it and everything looked tasty and fresh.

My favorite fish is salmon, so I opted for the Salmon with Salmon Roe Chirashi (鮭魚親子丼) for 300NT. This bowl had some seared salmon, along with completely raw salmon, salmon roe, sliced onions and tamago. Everything was delicious and fresh. You get a lot of salmon, which is nice. For the price and quality, this is a pretty delicious deal.

Overall, I kind of love this place. The fish is fresh and affordable. There are a lot of other things on the menu that I want try and will most definitely be back here.

japanese/sushi: sumi sushi (澄壽司)

date june 21, 2011

contact No. 17, Alley 248, Sec. 4, Zhongxiao E. Rd., Taipei City/台北市忠孝東路四段248巷17號/02.8771.9986

hours Monday-Friday 11:30-14:30, 17:00-21:30/Saturday 12:00-14:30, 17:30-21:30 (closed Sundays)

price 300-600NT per person (+10% service charge)

rating ♥♥♥ (4 out of 5 hearts)

nearest mrt Zhongxiao Dunhua MRT or Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall MRT (捷運忠孝敦化站或捷運國父紀念館站)

website http://sumisushi.pixnet.net/blog

For our last dinner with Lydiana before she heads back to Sydney we ended up at Sumi Sushi. After trying to think of a place to eat, we narrowed it down to Japanese or Korean. Jamie remembered a sushi place being in the area and I had remembered seeing it on hungry girl’s blog, so to Sumi Sushi we went.

Sumi Sushi is located on the same alley as Chili House and one of Dazzling Cafe’s locations between Zhongxiao Dunhua MRT (捷運忠孝敦化站) and Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall MRT (捷運國父紀念館站).

Sumi Sushi has two floors: the top floor where the sushi bar is located and a basement floor where there are a few tables (where we sat). We got there at around 8pm on a Tuesday night and didn’t have to wait for a table for five.

The staff suggested that our group of five sit downstairs. The downstairs is small, but has a lot more room than the sushi bar on the first floor.

The menu at Sumi is in both English and Chinese. There are no descriptions for the rolls or pictures, but the waitress was very nice and told us what was in the rolls when we asked.

While their menu does not have pictures, they do have photos of their rolls on the first floor.

The sub-heading of Sumi Sushi’s name is California Roll. With that in mind, I was expecting the kind of sushi place I’d find in San Diego or San Francisco; lots of rolls, not a whole lot of sashimi or nigiri. I was right. Sumi has all the typical kinds of sushi rolls you’d expect to find in the US: Dragon Roll, Rainbow Roll, Alaska Roll, Spicy Tuna Roll, Philadelphia Roll, etc. They do have sashimi, but only salmon and tuna, and they do have a few other sushi items, but their main items were rolls, which ranged from about 100NT-300NT. The menu also had appetizers, salads, and rice bowls. We asked the waitress for suggestions and she gave us a few. We ended up with eight rolls for 5 people (each roll had 5-6 pieces).

We decided to order the two types of sashimi they offer: salmon (鮭魚) for 300NT and tuna (鮪魚) for 350NT. Realistically, this was not worth it. I mean, it is over priced especially for what you get. Not to say that the fish was bad, it just wasn’t of the highest quality and was definitely not worth the price. If you want sashimi I would not recommend this place. I would instead go to A-Plus, Sashimiya, or Tsukiji Market.

In total we ordered eight rolls. Salmon is my favorite fish and I love spicy things, so naturally we ordered the Spicy Salmon Roll (辣鮭魚捲) for 150NT, which was the first to come out. The roll had salmon, avocado, cucumber, and wasabi inside and was sprinkled with chili flakes and green onion on top. This was not bad, pretty standard in terms of what you’d expect of a Spicy Salmon Roll. It was not really spicy at all, just a little kick from the wasabi, but other then that pretty mild. There was a squirt of sauce on the side that tasted like a sriracha mix, though.

I feel like if you go to a restaurant and they have something on the menu that has their name in it you have to get it. The Sumi Roll (澄捲) for 250NT was cut into 5 pieces and had imitation crab, tamago, avocado, cucumber, and possibly some other things inside and was topped off with tobiko, sesame seeds, and what tasted like unagi sauce (the sweet brown sauce that almost tastes like a sweeter more condensed teriyaki sauce). This roll was okay, nothing particularly special.

The Jump Jump Roll (跳跳捲 literally translated as jump jump roll) for 250NT was recommended to us by the waitress and is one of their newer rolls. The roll itself was a standard California Roll (crab meat, avocado and cucumber) but it was topped with a scallop and tobiko mix with some spicy mayonnaise. This was probably one of my favorite rolls we had. I really love scallops and the scallops on this roll were pretty good.

Another recommended roll was the Avocado Smoked Salmon Roll (酪梨燻鮭魚捲) for 250NT which came in 6 pieces. This was another roll I really liked. The roll itself had crab meat, avocado and cream cheese in it and was topped with smoked salmon, avocado, sesame seeds, a touch of mayonnaise, what tasted like ponzu sauce, and some chili flakes. The combination of all of it together was pretty tasty.

Another recommended roll was the Special Fried Shrimp Roll (特製炸蝦捲) for 250NT for 5 pieces. This roll had shrimp tempura, avocado, and cream cheese inside and was topped with tobiko and sesame seeds. There was some sauces around the roll on the plate, but not actually on the roll. Either way, this roll was good, nothing amazing, but good enough.

We got a Dragon Roll (龍捲) at 200NT for 6 pieces. I mean, who doesn’t love a Dragon Roll? This one was your typical Dragon Roll: standard California Roll topped with unagi (fresh water eel). Nothing spectacular, but a good staple. The unagi was baked just right so that it was flaky and tender, as unagi should be.

After we finished our first round of roll, we decided we needed to add more. We added the Volcano Roll (火山捲) 300NT. This roll was 6 pieces of who knows what. I want to say the inside was a California Roll that was topped with a scallop mix and crap tons of sauces. I mean, the sauces really kind of drown out everything else; everything just gets really muddled, but I still liked it. This is not the type of roll you want to get if you’re trying to enjoy the flavor of fish. However, if you want a roll with lots of crap on it, this is your roll.

The last roll of the night was a Soft Shell Crab Roll (軟殼蟹捲) for 300NT. The 5 piece roll had soft shell crab, avocado, and cucumber in it and was topped with tobiko and ponzu sauce. The soft shell crab in this was pretty meaty, which was nice. Overall this roll was your standard soft shell crab roll.

All in all we ordered eight rolls and two plates of sashimi for five people. Our bill came out to about US$90 (2710NT) which included a 10% service charge. At one point my friend Jamie mentioned that after a while all the rolls started tasted the same because they all had the same sauces. In general I feel like that’s true of a lot of rolls, in the US as well, because they seems to all have the same sauces that drown out a lot of the fish flavors. I liked this place as an American style sushi restaurant. The prices are decent and the sushi is good enough for me to want to go back. Sushi is my favorite food and I do crave different kinds of rolls like they have in California. Sumi Sushi is the perfect place to satisfy that type of craving. However, if you’re looking for high quality sashimi/nigiri, Sumi is not the place for you.

japanese/sushi: tsukiji market (築地市場)

date february 09, 2011
contact No. 34-4, Yong Kang St., Taipei/02.2396.8088/台北市永康街34-4號
hours 7 days a week [lunch] 12:00-14:30 [dinner] 17:00-22:00 (last call at 21:00)
price depends. anywhere between 300-1500+
rating ♥♥♥♥♥ (5 hearts out of 5)
nearest mrt MRT Dongmen (捷運東門站) Exit 5

For my induction into the quarter century landmark, my friend and I decided to celebrate with our favorite: sushi. I never realized how many restaurants there are on Yong Kang Street (永康街), but Stephanie said there were a lot of sushi places that looked pretty good, so we decided to try one. After some random walking, we saw Tsukiji Market (築地市場), named after the famous fish market in Tokyo.

Tsukiji Market is a small two story restaurant. The first floor is the sushi bar which seats about 10. We were asked if we wanted to sit at the bar or upstairs. We took a look at the upstairs; it’s pretty small, maybe seats 15 people total with only a few tables. We opted to sit at the bar because we like to watch the chefs in action.

The menu is hand written and only in Chinese, so be warned non-Chinese readers. The menu is split into sections: sashimi, cold appetizers, hot appetizers, fried foods, chirashi bowls (180-880NT), hot bowls (160-380NT), and soups. The waitress pointed out that they do not typically offer nigiri sushi or rolls, only sashimi. However, she said if you wanted nigiri or rolls, you could tell the sushi chef and he would do his best to accommodate you. The waitress was very nice and helped us pick some things out.

We both love sashimi, so we had to get some. We opted for the Tsukiji daily sashimi plate (築地本日刺身) for 580NT. The plate comes with types of fish, two pieces each. I’m not exactly sure what types of fish some of this was, but it was all fresh and delicious. I don’t like wasabi, but I do appreciate fresh wasabi and that is what they served.

While sitting at the bar, we saw the chefs making a salad that looked delicious. We asked the server what it was and it just so happened to be the combination seafood salad (綜合海鮮沙拉) for 280NT. We decided to get it and it was a very good decision. In terms of seafood there was shrimp, octopus, crab meat, and fish eggs. There were a lot of vegetables, too: okra, broccoli, baby corn, cherry tomatoes, seaweed, cucumbers, and red onions. All of this was served on a bed of iceberg lettuce and topped off with a japanese vinaigrette. This salad was delicious! Everything tasted fresh, the vegetables were cooked perfectly, and the dressing was nice and tasty. Definitely recommend this.

Stephanie and I really love cod roe and potatoes, so when the waitress recommended the cod roe baked potatoes (明太子烤洋芋) for 180NT, we had to get it. At first we thought they forgot our order since it took forever to get to us, but I think they might have just been waiting for us to finish other things so that we’d have space on our portion of the bar. It was well worth the wait. It was amazing. The potato slices were pretty thin and baked just so that the edges were crisp, but the center soft. The baked cod roe on top was delicious. We savored every last bite.

The couple next to us ordered the chicken karage (和風炸雞) for 160NT and it looked pretty tasty, so we decided to get an order. The outside was deliciously crispy and the chicken inside was juicy and tender. The chicken was marinated and had a slight sweetness to it that was perfect.

At the last minute, right before last call, Stephanie decided to order the beef carpaccio (生牛肉佐碰醋) for 260NT. Like everything else, this was pretty tasty. Unlike traditional carpaccio, the vinegar was separate from the beef. Everything was good. Get a little bit of everything for the perfect bite.

Stephanie asked if they did anything for birthdays and one of the chef’s asked if I needed him to sing happy birthday to me. He was relieved when I said no, something about he had to sing it yesterday. Either way, at that point it did not sound like they did anything. Then suddenly, sushi appeared in front of me. I’m not sure exactly what kind of fish the white was, but the other was maguro. Either way, both was delicious, lightly torched to bring out the fats. Usually birthday freebies are desserts, and while I am a dessert whore, free sushi is way better.

Basically, I love this place. We started talking with the workers as they were cleaning up, and they were all very nice. I noticed that they do take reservations, so I recommend them if you want to sit at the bar. We went on a Wednesday night and the bar was full most of the night. Really, for the price, you definitely get the quality. The portions and quality of what you get for the price is well worth it. They also have a lot of sake and a few bottled beers. I will definitely be back.

japanese/sushi: a-plus dining sake bar.

date December 16, 2010

contact No. 33, Sec. 1, An He Road, Daan District, Taipei City/台北市大安區安和路一段33號/02.2731.9266

hours 7 days a week [lunch]12pm-3pm/[dinner]6pm-2am

price depends 300-1000NT

rating ♥♥♥♥♥ (5 out of 5 hearts)

website http://www.AplusDiningBar.com.tw

nearest mrt Zhongxiao Dunhua MRT (忠孝敦化捷運站)

So the first time I went to A Plus Dining Bar was when I went for my 24th birthday. I had seen reviews of A Plus before so I was really excited to try it. I loved it, so when my friend Stephanie was looking for a sushi place to celebrate her 26th, I recommended A Plus.

Each time I’ve been to A Plus I’ve taken the bus, however, you can also take the MRT to ZhongXiao DunHua and walk too.

I highly recommend making reservations before going. For Stephanie’s birthday, I made reservations for five for 7pm on a Thursday night and it was a good thing because the place was pretty full. The overall lighting is kind of dim, romantic-ish I guess. Around 9pm they dimmed the lights pretty low, very mood lighting-ish.

The menu at A Plus is extensive. I love that they have pictures of almost everything as well as English. The menu is conveniently divided into sections ie. sushi rolls, sashimi, noodles, appetizers ect. so it’s easy to find things.

A Plus has an extensive sake menu and about 20 signature sake cocktails, so the first time I went we decided to try them. On the recommendation of our waitress I ordered the Cherry Blossom and Dan ended up with some sort or rose infused cocktail. Both were very good. The Cherry Blossom didn’t taste very cherry like, but it had a very light and refreshing taste and wasn’t too sweet. This time around we ended up with a GIGANTIC bottle of their house sake. From what my friends told me the waiter looked scared when we decided to order the ginormous 1800ml bottle of house sake. Their house sake (about US$100) was pretty good, better cold than hot. Between 4 people it was easy to finish off without anyone getting drunk. Although, the extra birthday shots did me in a little.

I’m pretty much just going to start posting pictures of a bunch of different things I’ve ordered over several visits. So here it goes.

I love cod roe, but was not expecting a cod roe salad to be inside the hand roll. Unfortunately the mayonnaise drowned out the taste of the cod roe, so it tasted more like mayonnaise than anything else. The avocado was really good though, but I wouldn’t get it again.

I love salmon so the flaming salmon roll thing on the menu was a must. It’s basically a california roll inside (crab meat, avocado, cubumber) with salmon, thin slices of cucumber, some dressing and cod roe sprinkled on top then torched table-side. I liked this a lot. The quick torching brought out some of the fatty flavors from the salmon which was nice. On a random note, it’s fun to hear the cod roe pop while it being torched, too.

The rainbow roll was pretty standard, but standard isn’t bad, it’s good. Everything seemed fresh and I really love that their rolls aren’t caked with rice. It really makes me sad when I feel like I’m eating a rice roll with some fish; it should be the other way around.

These seafood skewers were pretty delicious. I’m not sure what kinds of sauce were drizzled over them, but whatever it was, it was tasty. The skewers had onion, shrimp, scallop (?) and a few other various items. Nothing was overcooked which was great. I find that seafood served on skewers more often than not are over cooked. While these skewers are small, they’re pretty good and worth a try.

So the specialty rolls are cut into 8 pieces, but their more basic rolls, like the shrimp tempura roll pictured above come in 4. The shrimp tempura roll is pretty good. Shrimp tempura, cucumber, and crab meat, rolled in tempura flakes and cod roe, then drizzled with unagi sauce. I always like shrimp tempura rolls, and A Plus does a good job.

I love sashimi and the sashimi at A Plus is good. The cuts are pretty decent and for 590NT you get 12 pieces. Everything tasted fresh, so really that’s all that matters. I love the presentation, it’s always pretty intense. We all got a kick out of the glittery roses. When I was here for my birthday there was like a whole bonsai tree in it. I wonder how many times they reuse them…

We decided to do a round two of sashimi. One order is one piece, so we did 8 orders, two pieces per person at 50NT a piece. Again, tasty stuff.

There were several different comments about this duck appetizer. I thought it was pretty good. I like the sauce and the cucumber and duck all together. I will admit that the sauce drowned out the taste of the duck a little, but I liked the sauce, and sometimes duck is a little gamey for me, so I liked it. The birthday girl wasn’t a big fan: the sauce was too overpowering for her. Chris said that it was the first time where he felt like the cucumber added to the dish. I guess if you’re looking for something with a strong duck flavor, this is not what you’re looking for.

The wild mountain boar skewers are by far one of my favorite things on the A Plus menu. There is just something about the combination of the orange, marinated turnip, and wild boar that complements each other so well. I think that this is best when it’s eaten as one bite. While it’s might be a big bite, it’s the best when you get all the flavors.

The name itself is what really drew our attention: red bull roll. Raw beef on top of a california roll with some sauces and seasoning torched table side. I actually liked this roll a lot. It was kind of different and it comes with a tomato sauce, almost like a salsa, to be eaten with the roll. Something about all the flavors together that was unique and tasty. Plus, who doesn’t like food that is lit on fire in front of their eyes.

Our waiter recommended the crab meat omelette to us. It was a cold night and he said we needed to order something hot since we’d only ordered cold food prior to. Overall this was not bad. Eggs with crab meat in some kind of brown sauce with sauteed mushrooms on top. Like most things that have multiple ingredients like this, the best bite is one with a little of everything. I didn’t think there was anything particularly great about this dish, but it wasn’t bad.

So no one is really exactly sure what this was. David said he thought it was a Japanese mountain yam, but he wasn’t 100% sure. I really really liked this. First off, I love anything with melted cheese on it. Second, I love anything with cod roe sauce. This had both. Third, I love crunchy vegetables. Whatever it was it had a really great crunch and was kind of slimy like okra, which is great because I love okra. If you like the three things I mentioned above, you will love this dish. If you do not like any one of the things I mentioned above, I do not recommend this dish.

So the last few things were ordered by David since he arrived late and everything he ordered (including the cheese yam thing) was delicious; this dish was no exception. Honestly, this might have been one of my favorite things. The sweet potato was nice a soft and the chicken was well seasoned, tender, and juicy. I’m not sure if they left the skin on and crisped it or if it was something else they wrapped around the chicken, but whatever it was, it was delicious.

This is something we ordered at my birthday earlier this year. It was some kind of scallop appetizer. Unfortunately it was not a big hit. The scallop was over cooked and overall it was just kind of bland. It looks pretty though.

Overall, I love A Plus. They have a lot of options so it’s a good place to come with friends. Service has always been good when I’ve been. They gave us a few shots on the house for our friends birthday, too. A Plus, it’s a fitting name.

japanese: shintori (新都里-直一)

date November 16, 2010

contact No. 123-3, Le Qun 3rd Road, Dazhi, Taipei/台北市大直樂群三路123-3號/02.2628.2638

hours Monday-Thursday 11:45-24:00/ Friday-Sunday 11:45-02:00

price 1000NT-3000NT (excluding drinks)

rating ♥♥♥ (3 out of 5 hearts)

website http://www.shintori.com.tw/

nearest MRT Jiannan MRT (劍南捷運站)

So, I had originally meant to go to Shintori 3 (Shadow), but ended up at Shintori 1. Apparently these two locations are right next to each other and we miscalculated.

Upon entering Shintori 1 we were greeted by the hostess and sat. I had made reservations a few hours before hand, and although it looked rather empty when we got there, it was good thing I had. The lighting is pretty dark, and each table is almost like spotlighted.

The menu offers set menus and al la carte options. Shintori has 3 set menus, 1500NT, 2000NT, and 2500NT. We decided to get the Chef Special Set-Course for 2000NT and the Kyomizu Set-Course for2500NT.

The Kyomizu set came with 7 starters. From left to right, salmon roe with lily root, Japanese sweet potato with fig plum jam, angler’s liver, bean curd sheet with sea urchin, mushrooms with sesame sauce, smoked salmon wrapped in sliced cucumber and salt-grilled ginkgo nuts. Overall, the smoked salmon wrapped in cucumber was my favorite. I love the crunch of the cucumber against the smoked salmon. There was something really refreshing and just delicious about it. The mushrooms in sesame sauce was pretty good. I liked the sesame sauce. The weirdest was the salt-grilled ginkgo nuts. I’ve never had grilled ginkgo nuts before. They’re pretty meaty, but they had a bitter taste that I wasn’t fond of.

The starters for the Chef’s Special set were similar to those in the previous set. It too had the smoked salmon cucumber thing, gingko nuts, and mushrooms in sesame sauce. Different was eel sushi, prawn with pomelo sauce, and crab. The crab was like a block of imitation crab or something. It was kind of weird. The eel sushi was pretty good, but I always love unagi. The prawn wasn’t anything particularly special. It was good, but it was just some meaty shrimp.

Second course was the raw dish. The Kyomizu set came with two raw dishes. This was the first. I’m not sure what kind of fish this was and I’m not quite sure how I was supposed to eat it. The waiter was a mumbler, so I think he said we were supposed to wrap a little of all that crap into a piece of fish and dip it in the sauce. However we were supposed to eat it, it was pretty good. Nothing too amazing, but good nonetheless.

The biggest difference in the raw dishes between the two sets was that the Kyomizu came with toro. I love toro (fatty tuna) and this was delicious. All of the fish was fresh and delicious. Other than the toro, I especially loved the squid.

I have never been served sashimi in a wooden box, but that is how the raw dish for the Chef’s Special set came. Unlike the Kyomizu set there was no toro, or weird fish wrap thing. There was however salmon, which is my favorite fish. Like the other raw dish, the fish was all fresh and delicious.

Third was the grilled dish. The Kyomizu grilled dish was grilled swordfish, scallop, and king oyster mushroom. I don’t usually like swordfish; it’s too tough generally. This swordfish was great. Tender, juicy, and had great flavor. Whatever that sauce was it was tasty: a little sweet, a little tangy. The scallop, however, was overcooked.

The Chef’s Special grilled dish was a salt-grilled king crab leg. This was good, but nothing special. We were having issues getting the meat out, but when we did it was tasty.

After were the steamed dishes. The Kyomizu steamed dish was steamed japanese turnip with prawns, japanese taro, and bean curd sheet. This was good. My favorite part about it was the turnip. It had sucked up all the juices and had great flavor. It tasted kind of like a benito fish stock, which I love. The prawns were alright, nothing special.

The Chef’s Special steamed dish was our least favorite thing of the night. The steamed tilefish with yam paste had zero texture. It just tasted like a giant bowl of bland mush. The yam had no flavor, and the fish was buried under the yam making the entire dish bland.

Of the night, the best dishes were probably the chef’s special dish. The Kyomizu chef’s special was grilled steak with miso sauce in pu-leaf on hot stone. This was pretty good. We were told to wait about 5 minutes before eating the beef as it was still cooking on the hot stone. The beef was really tender, and the marinade was great. The miso flavor was subtle, just enough.

The Chef’s Special chef’s special was one of the best things of the night: steak on stove, mushroom, and green bell pepper. It was fun to grill the meat on the cute little grill. About 3-5 minutes for each piece made a delicious block of beef. The seasoning was simple, salt and pepper, but the meat was really juicy and tender. I guess it depends on how you cook it, but our waiter said to wait until we saw the sides start to bubble and we did, and it turned out great.

Finally it was time for the main course. I think the main course was just some form of carbs. The Kyomizu main course was steamed rice with king crab and matsutake tobin soup. The rice was okay. The crab and rice was lacking salt; it tasted a little bland. I had never been served soup in a tea pot before, but this soup was pretty good. It was more of a broth, but either way it had a great matsutake flavor that wasn’t too overpowering, and a good balance of salt.

The Chef’s Special main course  was inaniwa udon with japanese pomelo soup. This dish was good, but not special. The noodles did have a great texture and tasted fresh. The broth was not memorable.

The main course was the last savory dish of both meals. Our waiter came over and mumbled something about coffee blah blah extra blah blah. Since we both love coffee we said sure, we’re already paying for the dinner, let’s add coffee. What I did not expect was what came out.

I had never been served coffee that was on fire before, but this coffee was delicious. It had a subtle hint of orange, which kind of made it taste like chocolate covered oranges even though it wasn’t sweet.

Dessert was listed as seasonal fruit and matcha jelly with red bean. When I saw matcha jelly I was unimpressed, but when it came out, I was happily surprised. What was advertised as jelly was more of a creme brulee. It was delicious. It had a strong matcha taste, with just the right balance of sugar, while still having a little bitterness from the tea. It was nice and creamy as well, way better than jelly. The fruit was good, it was fruit.

Overall, I think we were satisfied enough with our meal, however I had higher expectations. While there were some highs, there were also lows, and a lot that just fell in the middle. For the price I expected more.

I would come back, but maybe order a la carte.