I Think I’m Turning Japanese

Posted by Krista on January 3, 2008

Img_2555If you haven’t guessed, I like Japanese food. If I’m lucky, I’m hoping to get to Tokyo this year. Cross your fingers for me, please.

For dinner one night in Chicago in early December, I ended up on Randolph Street (restaurant row in Chicago) hoping to get into Avec, which is a casual fine dining place. I thought it would be the type of place I could eat at by myself, but Avec was pretty packed for early in the evening and I wasn’t up for the challenge. Meiji looked a bit more spacious and open and I didn’t think I’d look overly odd with a book and a newspaper and my Blackberry, so I gave it a try. Plus, it was another Chowhound Chicago Board recommendation.

Meiji, unfortunately, was a little pricier than I anticipated. And this was just with a starter, a main, and pot of green tea. But the presentation (lovely and artistic) and the service (informative and passionate) balanced out the expense, so I will cut them some slack.

Img_2553All this for about $46. Oh, and I was comp’d a bowl of miso soup. (I know–that’s about $2, right?)

One thing I miss about sushi rolls in America is that we get pretty creative with them. Rainbow colored. Animal shaped. (Dragons are particular favorites.) You name it. You don’t see that so much in Japanese restaurants in London. (If you do know where I can find some creative rolls, please tell me.)

The rolls at Meiji were definitely creative. In the 2nd photo, you maybe can’t see it so well, but the eel and salmon and rice were very sculptured…the pieces were very angular. Also, note how the eel and the salmon come together to almost form one piece.

The sushi chefs bid a cheerful adieu as I made to leave.

The next day, I couldn’t stomach another boxed lunch (I was at a conference so it was a sandwich, chips, an apple, and a drink every day) so I headed over to Osey, a newer Japanese place on South Michigan. Osey gets points for decor–it’s airy and modern and bright (almost Wagamama-esque)–but the food was pretty bad. (Although it does look nice there in its bento box, doesn’t it?) The eel was super slimey and I couldn’t really tell what was in the rolls…crab salad? The shimp tempura were covered in pink and yellow sprinkles and served with an overly sweet orange sauce. I didnt finish any of it, which is the ultimate bad sign from me.


4 Responses to “I Think I’m Turning Japanese”

  1. Eater's Regret
    Jan 06, 2008

    Hey cool blog, I’ve recently moved to London and have already tried all the sushi places in Camden. where would you recommend as a must go place in London.

  2. Krista
    Jan 06, 2008

    Hi Eater’s Regret…
    Well, that depends on what you’re looking for. I like Pham on Whitecross St because it’s simple and small and unpretentious. I want to try Roka on Charlotte St because it’s exactly the opposite. I like Tomoe in Marylebone because it’s friendly and lots of the signs are in Japanese. I like Atari-ya because it’s super-fresh (but it’s really mainly for take away). There are many threads on Chowhound with more recs. Give that a shot too!

  3. Sorina
    Jan 07, 2008

    These look totally awesome. The pictures are like a magazine. Truly well done!

  4. Oonth
    Jan 12, 2008

    Hey Krista, happy new year and good luck with the culinary (and writing) projects for 2008. I’m in Sydney at the moment, having spent Xmas and New Year period in Philippines and then Hong Kong. Only great food so far has been in HK, one mission for the year is to delve way deeper into Chinese food and all its wonderful regional variations.

    I’m looking forward to our Chowhound get together when I get back to the UK. That’s likely to be sometime 2nd week of Feb, I’ve extended my trip so that I get 2 weeks in Japan on route back – I am going to be traveling around (and scoffing) with my Japanese food-loving girlfriend, I can’t tell you how excited I am at the prospect, especially about going to Hokkaido which is said to have amazing sushi (uni, kani, hotate, ika) at its best at this time of year when the local waters are seriously cold. And of course I’ll be with a native speaker so it will be access all areas.

    You gotta make that Japan trip a priority for this year and I’ll be more than happy to pass on any useful info that I can.

    And whilst I won’t be living in London this year, when I’m in town I would be more than happy to explore places and nabes with you, especially the Indian hoods as that is something I know a fair bit about.

    Enjoy 2008.


    ps apologies for the length, brevity is not my forte!

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