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kaiseki in gaithersburg (new tokyo)

anyone done did it?

Au Pied de Cochon?

a real shame. bistro francais might have comparable food but the nostalgia will be missed. any favorite low key late night spots? (barring drunken pitas and cheesesteaks pls ;-)

Fugu Review (Kaz Sushi Bistro, DC)

also, inflused might not be the right word. it's literally one spec of truffle almost whole punched out and laid on top of the sashimi!!

Fugu Review (Kaz Sushi Bistro, DC)

One part of me says the intimacy and symbolism of the meal itself is enough of a souvenir. Another part of me has actually looked for fugu t-shirts online, so I can't be mad at you!!

I feel that Morimoto has followed in the footsteps of most celebrity chefs. He's sold his name and his restaurant is worthwhile only in his physical presence. You'll have to forgive the Matsuhisa fan in me, but I must say I have not discovered this in the 2 Nobu restaurants that have fed me (one on each coast, Hollywood to Miami). Perhaps the true test would be a Tuesday night dinner in the Vegas location. Or maybe off season in Aspen?

Fugu Review (Kaz Sushi Bistro, DC)

Great post! On to the replies:

>I've actually seen fugu offered at Tako Grill the last time I dined there

Last time I tried to order fugu from Tako but they ran out. They offered fried fugu jaw and it was not much consolation! More like pricy crunchy table scraps. I feel that Tako is like most "good" DC area sushi spots in that they occasionally get good grade fish but are inconsistent and gratuitously price gouge. Also, I do not believe Tako offers a course, but simply a sashimi dish or two.

>Thus a legend was born, and reborn during an episode of the Simpsons.

"My skilled hands are busy!"

>Does KSB require a waiver to be signed so they cannot be sued if someone dies?

No they do not. I must respectfully disagree with you on this point. I feel that signing the waiver would play more into unnecessary hype. The numbers of folks that die from fugu are relatively low and the few that do are from back alley spots or home grown experiments. However I was still a bit nervous!

>I wouldn't buy into the thought that the fish must be sliced thin because of its texture.

Normally I would agree with you (to reiterate my price gouging point), but in this particular instance I would say that Kaz is actually right. Even sliced paper-thin, fugu is a bit chewy. If you google pictures it's always sliced in a similar way (when eaten raw).

>although I was disappointed with the dessert. I mean, even Morimoto manages to

Morimoto, now that's a word I've associated with disappointment. I actually enjoyed this Kaz experience more than Morimoto’s omakse. Getting back to Kaz, I will agree that he cut a few corners. I agree on dessert, and while we're on subject, I feel that the plum wine was also surprising (fugu fin sake is common). Putting things into context, I feel that Kaz has learned to run his business well. For example, truffle infused toro sounds so amazing on paper. Except the truffle ends up a tiny black spec, leaving the high priced lease more satisfied than the stomach. Taking all of this into consideration, I respect the attempt to present a traditional fugu course despite the popularity of fusion. Also, it should be noted (it is claimed) that an entire fugu is consumed between two people for this meal. Yes, it could have been better, but DC is somewhat lacking in world-class sushi, so something is better than nothing. I still will not make excuses for Kaz and will say that I choose not to dine there regularly.

Fugu Review (Kaz Sushi Bistro, DC)

Fugu (puffer or blow fish) can be very fatal if not prepared correctly. Rest (somewhat) assured, legal fugu in this country must be imported from licensed chefs in Japan who remove the toxic aspects. To the best of my knowledge Kaz is the only place in the area that offers a fugu course, though seasonally and prepaid at $150 a head (with a minimum of two). As with any really fresh sashimi, it will need to be eaten almost immediately. So keep in mind you might have to be flexible with the reservation. Onto the food...

Course 1: fugu sashimi
Generally the rule of thumb with sashimi is the more tender the meat, the thicker you can cut. Having said that, fugu has a slightly chewy texture so the sashimi must be very thin. This is served with a ponzu sauce and scallions for brushing up against. I made it a point to have my first bite without condiment so that I could appreciate the distinctive characteristics of this fish. Very pleasant, mild and delicate. As Kaz put it, probably the least fishiest of the fish.

Course 2: fugu skin salad
The skin is shredded, poached for a moment and then tossed with light veggies and ponzu sauce. An even chewier consistently but not distractingly so.

Course 3: fugu tempura
Fried fugu nuggets if you will. Tasty, juicy, light and enjoyable.

Course 4: fugu hot pot
Similar in concept to other Asian hot pots, except a much more mild broth. Instead of heavy spices and broths, it's kombu based for the more delicate tasting meat. Dip in the sections of fugu only for a moment to reveal very tender and tasty bites. Reminded me almost of frog in terms of consistency at this point. Accompanied is an assortment of veggies for a quick boil. Careful not to overcook and I hope you're good with bones!

Course 5: fugu congee
Taking the remaining broth, rice is dumped in along with a bit of scrambled egg, forming a high brow congee. I ate the first bowl without condiment before experimenting with combinations of the provided seaweed and ponzu. A bit of ponzu turned out to be great but the taste of the seaweed seemed to mask the fish.

Course 6: dessert
Sake ice cream w/ fresh Asian pear. A delicate dessert to complete a delicate course. Hit the spot and wasn't overbearing. Complimentary plum wine made available at this time.

I could appreciate the traditional preparations and all in all an enjoyable experience. I suppose it's almost a right of passage for any sashimi/Japanese food enthusiast but not something I would rush back into. A word to the wise-- fugu is a very light and delicate tasting fish. Furthermore Kaz prepares it very traditionally which means not a lot of seasoning or supplemental ingredients. Don't go expecting Nobu fusions or toro liked marbled meat. A good experience, but altogether a delicate, subtle one.

Interesting side note, after the sashimi course I felt a slight increase in heart rate which played on my nerves to say the least. I think there might have been sake in the ponzu that spurred a minor panic attack! Amusing (at least now).


Thanks for reading!

Sashimi grade fish?

thank you for this recommendation. i just sent an email asking. appreciated!

Question for all DC people...


figured it to be a matter of time. they never really rebounded from that move.

r.i.p., it wasn't really the same anyway. i will miss affordable lobster and crepes at 4am!

thanks but no thanks LORI!! :-p

Sashimi grade fish?

seattle, right? was hoping for something a little more local (to DC/Baltimore) but thanks for the recommendation. i might try ordering from them one day if you have had positive experiences?

tofu help

i found this to be educational regarding tofu firmness, preparation, etc.

Jan 04, 2007
tittsworth in Home Cooking

Sashimi grade fish?

Is there any place locally that sells fresh sashimi grade fish? I have seen the chopped up blocks at Grand Mart and also a few bits at a Japanese grocer in Bethesda. However nothing locally has really knocked my socks off to date. I'm not looking for anything in particular (doesn't have to be toro), just fresh is fine.

Thanks in advanced for any replies.

Bakery for Breakfast in the D.C./Arlington Area?

if you want try a light and asian twist on your baked goods, i have had many years of good experiences at Maria's. they have locations in rockville, falls church, springfield and annandale.

Question for all DC people...

if you like sushi, i am a fan of sushi-ko right off wisconsin. it's obvious they get regular fresh fish shipments from favorable parts of the world but the quality can vary. it's also near two strip clubs if that's your thing but im afraid i can't provide much feedback in that department. kaz sushi bistro is decent, especially when they are running a special event such as miso tasting menu or seasonal fugu. about as good as dc gets, but not world class by any means.

Question for all DC people...

Au Pied de Cochon isn't really gone, more converted. there's Au Pied Bistro across from the 4 seasons and it's open late (albeit inconsistently). it's a lot cleaner and brighter than its original Wisconsin location. though a lot of the personality was lost in the move, the food remains the same. i hear it has changed hands but i still see pops running around from time-to-time.

if dogs are what you seek, consider ben's chili bowl off U street. one of the few spots that withstood the dc riots with all types of memorabilia to prove it. bill cosby is a regular and a scene from the pelican brief was filmed here. expect delicious but heavy comfort food, not for the sensitive stomach. spicy chili half smokes and burgers w/ chili cheese are a post-clubbing tradition so expect lines in the later hours. no stranger to Duke Ellington and many other legends, this neighborhood was once referred to as Black Broadway. there is a lot of history there to appreciate. you might want to check if bohemian caverns has any jazz bands performing downstairs in the cave when you visit!

enjoy your stay

Nobu Review

kev, there’s no place like home. so far i haven't found one as good as the original, but i have never left feeling cheated (and i generally drop a small fortune). i'll reserve complete judgement as i have not been to the one in ny, the one in tokyo and many others.

chica, completely and 100% agree. it's one of the few places where i have never ordered anything specific. omakase and trust in the chefs, all the way... even for lunch!

yum, are you familiar with omakase? it's where you give the chef complete control to put together a 5-8 course meal. outside of any food allergies or basic preferences (ie experimental, traditional, non-spicy, etc), you're letting the experts decide what you will eat. you set the price range you want to spend. i think they post a recommended range of $50 - $120 (per person) for all courses (before tax, tip and drinks). $120 recommended max but in actuality, sky's the limit. if you do not want to commit to omakase most entrees are in the $20 range and can vary a good degree in size. you'll get a sizeable plate in some records and barely a few bites in others. you can find a (not always current) menu here to give you a better idea:

hope this helps!

Jan 04, 2007
tittsworth in Los Angeles Area

WOKVILLE - the best of (asian cuisine)

1. elnor, regarding pot-bing-soo, it would seem that many asian cultures have their take on shaved ice. spending summers in taiwan i became very familiar the vendors and stands that would line the streets (esp the night markets), offering shaved ice and shaved milk ice (!!!). there are some reoccurring themes and toppings ive noticed (between the chinese, japanese and korean interpretations) where condensed milk, a variety of syrups and beans, gelatin cubes, even peanuts are offered. temari offers green a tea syrup, which makes sense and tastes great when mixed w/ milk.

2. misssphinx, he is i and i is he, thanks for the love ;-) food and music aren't that different!!

3. dc495, i must respectively disagree with you to a certain degree. i'm familiar w/ 66 (right around the corner). they do serve good food but no hot pot, which can be a very fun, social and affordable experience for family and friends. at $10 a person, i think it's far from pricy. a good bowl of ramen or pho is already $6-7, plus tip, you're at $8-10. for a few more bucks you get your own personalized hotpot w/ fresh veggies, noodles, 1-2 meats, fish balls, and more (@bob's 88). not to mention the extra drain on the utilities your hotpot costs AND the condiment buffet for your sauces. after all is said and done, you can easily eat WELL (at least twice a normal bowl of pho/ramen/etc) and for an hour at $15-$18 including tax and tip. i guess that's pricy compared to take out food, but this is far from it.

That's Not Wasabi

nice read. to the author, what are your thoughts on wasabi pastes (ones that are in fact real wasabi)? i notice pacific farms sells this and i'm wondering how this would taste since real wasabi doesn't keep so well.

as a side note, the chef came out and actually grounded the root for our omakase at morimoto's. unfortunately that was one of the few positive things i have to say about the experience.

Jan 04, 2007
tittsworth in Features

Terrible Tobiko

makes sense. i've always suspected this to be the case. what about the larger salmon roe (a la ikura)? harder to pass off processed versions of this i'd assume?

Jan 04, 2007
tittsworth in Features

WOKVILLE - the best of (asian cuisine)

rockville sushi is right behind the IHOP in the ritchie center. intersection of 355/rockville pike and ritchie parkway. here is the directions to the IHOP, it's right behind it in the same strip:

also, the taiwan chicken at the bubble tea spot is great (also in that same shopping center). i believe it's called JUMBO JUMBO

Nobu Review

I'll start it off by saying the trip started off miserably. My ride shows up half an hour late and I end up missing my flight, get stuck on another, which thru delayed departure, forces me to miss yet another connecting flight. So, after traveling 16 hours in three airports w/ no sleep from the previous night's gig, needless to say, it was a dangerous combination of rage and exhaustion. Luckily, the nice folks at Nobu were able to accommodate, despite showing up an hour past reservation.

Half way thru our wait to be seated I catch a glimpse of a very familiar face reflecting off of a glass pane in front of me. At first i think it's some sort of statue, or maybe even a large portrait but an immediate 360 reveals that it's Nobu Matsuhisa! The famous sushi chef who hangs in my kitchen, 100+ pound tuna in hand! The one that trembles even the noblest of chefs, worthy of old testament, koran and torah amendment. Forgive the exaggerations but he's a personal idol so needles to say a handshake later I forget every rude United employee, crying baby, painful gate passed and even that god awful in-flight cheese spread. A few respectful gestures and bows later I can wholeheartedly say I am impressed by how docile and humble he is. I couldn't have asked for a better introduction to what would later be one of my favorite meals for many reasons. For the rest of the night Nobu would occasionally peak around corners, silently observing but never interrupting.

Enough fluff, time for the nitty gritty. Our waiter rocked a clean Rolex and a thick Spanish accent; charming but a bit difficult to comprehend at times. Opening the omakase is unassuming looking lobster sashimi in a light citrus sauce. I've eaten lobster ALIVE before and it doesn't get much fresher than that... or so I thought. These obvious experts in seafood selection provided lobster 10x creamier though slightly stringy towards the end.

Next was the familiar 4 panel tasting plate. 1. Squid sashimi, above par in texture and freshness but nothing to write home about. 2. tangy signature-style uni sashimi (new style w/ a hint of Central America). 3. Very consistent and deliciously buttery monkfish pate. 4. A unique sea snail served raw, in a sauce similar to traditional escargot but light and Japanese instead of heavy oil and butter.
After this was the largest amaebi (sweet shrimp) I have ever seen! The amaebi was ten inches in length served cold and raw. It was split down the middle (length wise) and ground in a salt that would seem perfect for a bloody mary. Again, as creamy and tasty as sashimi was meant to be. Our server informs us that this is the first time they've ever served the shrimp in this manner. I was one grateful lab rat to say the least (or at least was lead to believe). Seems like Matsuhisa can appeal more to the true sushi/sashimi lover (in comparison to Nobu Miami, who at this point would have served heavier sauces and 1-2 tempura dishes).

Following the theme of subtle tastes and textures is a shark fin soup w/ very generous pieces of shark and king crab (which I mistook for snow crab b/c of the large spotted shell). This was served in a very traditional clear Japanese broth, made slightly gelatinous but w/o being heavy. Served w/ matsutake mushrooms (Japanese truffles?), a perfect lead-in...

Kobe beef, beautifully marbled and tender, barely seared on each side, is served in a sauce that sits somewhere in between miso and teriyaki. This is garnished with grilled veggies and an assortment of mushrooms slightly less luxurious than that of the soup. When you're effortlessly chewing, one can't help but think how well these cows must have lived.

We turn the omakase corner w/ our sushi dish, Japanese snapper, squid, a few others but honestly NOTHING worth mentioning when compared to the silky smooth toro. Out of this world flavor and a reminder of why this cut of tuna exists in relatively small sections in the largest fish. Fish so good, biting it makes you loose track of time.

Finally two desserts- a Japanese style beignet stuffed w/ fig paste and ice cream. Also was the Japanese bento box w/ notable glazed chocolate donut. Comforting but nothing earth shattering. At this point we're the last two in the restaurant and the final course seemed a bit rushed. Already pushing my luck w/ the late arrival, I am far from complaint. Fewer courses than my previous Miami visit but better ingredients and more subtle flavoring. All in all another easy "A" for Nobu.

Other notable LA experiences:
- cow brain taco (as odd as you'd expect... think diet liver custard)
- pork stomach torta (not much different from standard pulled pork, at least in this way)
- playing at Zen Sushi (600+ concert venue, multi-floored club and sushi lounge all rolled in one, no pun intended).

Jan 03, 2007
tittsworth in Los Angeles Area

WOKVILLE - the best of (asian cuisine)

almost made the list! joe's is the pho75 of chinese noodles! they are capable of some really tasty szechuan beef noodle soup. also, the numbing rabbit is crazy! hardly a place more authentic on the pike. noteable mention: A&J for all day dim sum ;-)

WOKVILLE - the best of (asian cuisine)

easily worth the 20 minute trip from the district, rockville, maryland aka wokville) is effortlessly running circles around dc chinatown (which is by far more "town" than it is any "china"). you'll find vietnamese deli's, multiple sushi and pho spots, real ramen, 3 major asian grocers and much more. having lived and worked in this area for over a decade and having grew up traditionally asian, here are my top three as of 2007...

#3 - Pho 75. yes, it's a local chain (that actually reaches into philly), but by far considered to be the area's most flavorful bowl by many vietnamese beef noodle soup aficionados. no spring rolls, no meat skewers, no sandwiches, just a broth that can make your asian grandmother scratch her chin.

#2 - Temari. the dc area's only bowl of authentic ramen (that i am aware of). dont take my word for it, this is also per tonkatsu, onigiri, even toro (regularly served), all available here at cafeteria prices (for quality much greater)! temari features the most consistent and deliciously broiled mackerel that has ever graced my taste buds and a wide variety of asian desserts, (shaved ice covered in red bean and condensed milk)! foodies will appreciate the porn that frequently repeats their tv screen.

#1 - Rockville Sushi continues the tradition of easy to miss mom-and-pop spots serving up amazing cuisine at yesteryear's prices. there's a picture of Dokdo the runs the length of the restaurant. korea and japan continue to have heated ownership debates over this island, which nicely sums up the spicy korean/japanese twist on their grub. whether you're in the mood for bulgogi or an uni hand roll, rockville sushi can easily cater to both crowds (or even a third that is daring enough to blend the two). our favorite thing to do is to order a large sashimi platter and let the restaurant freestyle a wide array of side items and snacks to match the meal. i've discovered that the quality and quantity of these items increase with experience, but is very generous even from the start. as with most sushi places in this area, quality of fish will fluctuate depending on season, day of the week, etc. not always farm fresh on every visit, but this place is capable of serving sushi-ko or kaz caliber yellowtail and at its worse is never dangerously stale as some other spots on the pike. in addition to animals you have rarely heard of, the adventurer in you might choose live seafood to be slaughtered out of their fish tank (where the bones are turned into a great after meal stew) or even choose (with two week notice) an animal to be consumed while moving.

one to grow on: Bob's 88. authentic szechuan inspired hot pot can be a traditional and special occasion meal for asian families. here it is offered in personal sizes at very easy and personal prices! think chinese fondue, w/ a broth (available spicy upon request) and d.i.y. dipping sauce (you make to your taste) where meat, veggie and noodle items are ordered in bulk or a la cart for cooking and almost instant enjoyment! great social meal to spend time with friends and family over good food and drink! again, very reasonably priced at this moment in time!

hope you enjoy these places.. they are what i feel are the best in rockville and possibly even the area! possibly not where you'd want to take your prom date, but hands down amazing grub!!

take care and happy new year,