Archive for ‘bacon’

July 10th, 2014

Bacon, Sushi and Freedom

I love bacon.  That’s definitely one food item that America does best.  No matter how great Japanese, French or Italian cuisines are, no other country can offer a better piece of cured meat than America.  That pride and joy has led to a bacon craze.  Bacon mac n’ cheese, chocolate covered bacon, even bacon cocktail and bacon chapstick.  Some are good, some are… not so much.

Tuna BLT Roll | Blue C Sushi

Tuna BLT Roll | Blue C Sushi

Then I ate a tuna BLT roll at Hollywood’s Blue C Sushi— a classic sandwich favorite turned into sushi.  Bacon, lettuce, tomato and avocado wrapped with seaweed and rice, then topped with seared tuna and bacon jam.  Sushi and bacon… It can be the greatest thing, or a total disaster.  Which was this?  It was absolutely delicious.  When you dip it in soy sauce a little (Do NOT over dip! That’s a sushi 101), the sweetness of the bacon jam along with the saltiness, is the best ‘east meets west’ creation since Hello Kitty Give Away nights at Dodger Stadium.  (Not a good example, but hey, they are popular.)  The crispy bacon, tuna, rice with creamy avocado combination makes it fun to eat as well.

Blue C Sushi | Hollywood, CA

America puts its virtue on freedom and being creative.  Japan is a country of tradition and rules.  That’s why Jiro only dreams of sushi, while American chefs can create sushi with bacon jam.  Being Japanese but living in America, I go back and forth between the two cultures as I love traditional sushi as well as the creative and unique version.  You can’t compare those two and judge which is better.  Both serve different purposes.  Blue C Sushi, a Seattle based revolving sushi restaurant, makes good creative sushi.  The interior is bright, pop, and futuristic as you’d imagine Tokyo to be, with a big subway motif on the middle of the wall.  All plates are named for Tokyo’s subway lines.  For example, Salmon is on a light blue plate, which is the color code for the Tozai Line, and goes for $4.75; California rolls are on the orange Ginza Line, all priced at $3.50.  Yes, revolving sushi virgins, plates are all color coded and priced accordingly which makes it easy to see how many plates you’ve eaten as well as how much money you’ve spent.   As an example of pure American freedom of choice, alongside rainbow rolls and octopus, you’ll also see brownies, cookies and  cupcakes. Why not?  (I also overheard there’s a secret dessert… Fried brownie!)

Hama Chili | Blue C Sushi

Hama Chili | Blue C Sushi

Creativity doesn’t stop at bacon.  Take for example, Hama Chili, fresh, melt in the mouth yellowtail with citrus soy chili, and  serrano chili and cilantro on top.  Also shigoku oyster with pungent fish sauce mignonette.  Shigoku oyster is known for its round, plump and firm flesh and a deep cup.  Ocean tides tumble them a few times a day results in that special texture.  For a non fish eater, there’s potato katsu on the menu.  That’s a Japanese answer to tater tots, deep fried panko breaded potato comes with tonkatsu sauce.  It’s not really Japanese, but who cares, it’s fun!  That’s probably the best word to describe eating at Blue C Sushi, fun… and delicious.

January 7th, 2012

When size meets taste…

A friend of my husband’s sent him this photo.

It’s a hammered pork sandwich from a restaurant in Las Vegas called Hash House a go go.  What made a mere sandwich so noteworthy?  The plate is as big as 3 adult faces!  On a recent trip to Japan, this one picture helped bridge the language gap as my non-Japanese speaking husband was able to ‘wow’ my Japanese friends and family with it, as they marveled at the sandwich’s size.   Both amused and appalled, Japanese people already think American portion sizes are huge, but this picture was beyond their imaginations.  Immediately, they asked if this was something we ate in the States everyday.  I knew the answer they wanted to hear, was ‘yes’, as that pretty much goes in line with how they already picture America–huge EVERYTHING, but the answer, as you could guess is a realistic ‘no’.  Sure, compared to Japanese food, American portions are usually twice as big, but to find truly huge portions like that, you have to do a bit of searching.

When we were in Las Vegas, my husband suggested we go to Hash House a go go, for breakfast.  I was reluctant because usually the best part of a big portioned meal is its size and not its flavor.  Also, call me a snob, but who’d believe a restaurant found in a dingy casino on the strip would be good?  As we walked over, I was thinking, “There are many, many great places to eat in Vegas, but marriage is a give and take.”  Since he took me to a four star restaurant the day before, I should let the next meal choice be his, right?  My stomach clenched in horror as I realized that my next stop would be home to something I’m still learning to appreciate, big portioned, hearty American food.

Talk about surprises!  Oh my goodness.  Fried Chicken with bacon (!!) waffles, where the waffles and chicken were bigger than an adult male’s enlarged heart.  But what about the taste?  The waffles were delicious; very dense, yet fluffy, and not airy at all.  It tasted great with the fried leek garish that came with it.  The fried chicken was delicious, with a moist inside and crispy outside, and as an added plus, it was kindly de-boned!!  Sure, having actual strips of bacon instead of bits, baked into their waffles and preparing well seasoned fried chicken shows that the chefs cook with care, but serving de-boned chicken demonstrates that bit of extra love that’s so often lacking.  Without a doubt, I can say that this is possibly some of the best fried chicken I’ve ever had.  I’d never thought I’d say this, but I’m so glad my husband took me to that diner in that run-down casino!    Since we got back, I’ve semi-seriously suggested several times, that we drive to Vegas just for one more taste.  I found there’s the original location in San Diego, which is shorter drive from Los Angeles… totally doable.

Sure, they might laugh at a picture of what I’ve just described, but would Japanese people actually like this dish?  The one hurdle to overcome is the combination of sweet and savory, which Japanese people usually don’t like.  In this case, serving fried chicken alongside maple syrup might seem scary at first, but with a dish like this, I’m confident that this huge plate of food will please their senses of taste as much as it dazzles their senses of sight.  Viva America!

July 2nd, 2011

Wedge “salad”

Before we met, the vegetable intake in my husband life was limited to tiny bit of celery in the tuna salad he bought at Gelson’s supermarket along with the cabbage found drenched in mayonnaise in their creamy coleslaw (which is pretty good, by the way).  Vegetables played a much bigger role in my life, growing up in Japan, where vegetables most often referred to strange root vegetables.  Like every girl on the planet, I love salad, but I find my definition of what makes up a salad is much different than my American husband’s.  When I say ‘salad’, I’m referring to the dish made of actual vegetables, as opposed to the caloric concoctions that are labelled salad, but could feed a tiny village for a week.So does my husband really think his favorite salad, The “Wedge of iceberg lettuce” from Stefan’s L.A. Farm in Santa Monica is a health food?  Probably, as Stefan’s staff does give you a healthy amount of bacon and blue cheese.  How can you miss with mountains of crispy bacon and blue cheese crumbled on a bed of iceberg lettuce?   Crunchy and refreshing, and did I mention bacony?  Yes, my husband IS Jewish, but he has the utmost respect for the traditions and meat of all cultures.

One of the biggest shockers when I moved to the U.S. was seeing raw spinach being the basis for a salad.  We NEVER ate spinach raw in Japan.  Instead, the lettuce in a salad was usually iceberg.  At my parents’ house, the foundation of lettuce was usually topped with some kind of seafood or ham plus cucumbers, tomatoes, and asparagus or broccoli (never raw).  It’s probably not a surprise for you to hear that Japanese portions are smaller than those in America, with a regular Japanese salad being about a size of side salad here.  Now, from this frame of reference, imagine my joy and confusion when I saw Stefan’s iceberg wedge for the first time.  It’s huge.  Almost half a head of lettuce, and enough bacon to satisfy a lumberjack.  The lettuce is more like a garnish than anything resembling a salad.  On top of that, a creamy dressing.  But before you head for your cholesterol medicine, remember, it’s a salad, and by definition, salads are healthy, right?  Marketing genius!

I found an early Wedge Salad recipe from early 20th century, and through this research, I found out, unfortunately for my husband, that the ingredient that gives a wedge salad its identity is NOT the bacon.  It’s actually the creamy dressing with other toppings being optional–such as diced tomatoes, onions or some nuts and even a boiled egg.   The dressing must be blue cheese mainly roquefort.  But throw away the rulebook, because for us, bacon makes or breaks this salad.  Don’t believe me?  Just ask the poor waitress at a well known Hawaiian restaurant chain who had the nerve of bringing my husband a piece of lettuce sprinckled with Bacos, after the menu promised a wedge salad covered in crispy bacon.