Monthly Archives: July 2010

Takashi—The Place to Find My Favorite Dish

There is one food item that I can safely say is probably the best things I have ever eaten. Nothing has been as memorable or created more memories for me, than a small, simple, dish which people refer to with pride as “sex on rice”. The name is more than suiting.

As in introduction, Takashi, in my opinion, is hands down, the best and most high-end sushi restaurant in Salt Lake City. When I want sushi, Takashi is what I most always have in mind. However, there is something special about this restaurant, so I tend to make sure I don’t overdo it or that when I go, there is some kind of appropriate reason. This is one place that I would never want to overdo. In fact, each of my Takashi experiences I can name, who I was with, and what the occasion was. I would like to keep it that way.

Having said that, let us get back to the “sex on rice”. This is not something you will find on the menu. If there is one tip you get from Nosh Maven, let it be this: if you ever find yourself at Takashi, you really must request this special dish—and your server WILL know what “sex on rice” is. “Sex on rice” comes with two pieces, so I recommend ordering two—because you will want more than one. So, what is this sushi dish in a nutshell? Simple: seared Sable fish over a small amount of rice, garnished with what seems to me to be some kind of marinated shredded green onion. To be honest? I am not entirely sure—and since it isn’t on the menu, this is only my best guess. But really, who cares? Once you put this mouth watering, melts-like-butter, smoky yet savory piece of sushi in your mouth, I promise it won’t matter.

You won’t want to speak and you sure won’t want anyone else to speak to you until chewing and swallowing is done. Get ready to hold up your “just one minute” finger until you have really experienced this dish. Tell your date, your friend, your mom, whoever (!) to just simply be quiet for a few seconds. I don’t use the term “life changing” very often. But this is flavor that will certainly change your life. And if it doesn’t, then I wonder about your pallet!

Okay, so Takashi also has other amazing items. I have never had anything from their menu that I wasn’t a fan of. The freshness of their fish is very noticeable and the quality of their sushi chefs shines in each roll. They are true pieces of art and are always presented with perfection. On this occasion, my date and I also ordered a few other things besides “sex on rice”. Tuna Nigiri, The Crunchy Ebi, and also the Sunshine Roll (I have to keep up with my lemon craving). All of them were pretty great.

My recommendation? Get the the ‘sex on rice’ with any nigiri of your preference, then the Sunshine Roll, and save the Crunchy Ebi for last. This has a little bit of a sweet flavor to it and will finish off any of your sushi rolls or nigiri fabulously.

It has been mentioned to me that the service at Takashi has been spotty for a few people, but I have to say that has never been the case in my experience. The servers have been knowledgeable about not only sushi, but sake and wine. They have been attentive and nice. I will say that Takashi gets busy quickly, so either get there early, make a reservation, or be prepared to wait. I enjoy hitting Kristauf’s next door for a Saketini called the Lotus Blossom before dinner–so waiting has never been a problem for me.

Now I need some kind of special occasion to get me there again! Anyone have a birthday coming up? Or, I can tag along on a anniversary dinner…just let me know!

Also, if anyone has had any other good or bad experiences with the food or service at Takashi, I would love to hear about it!

Find Takashi at 18 West Market Street in Salt Lake City.

Takashi on Urbanspoon

The Firefly–My Kind Of Vegas

This last weekend, I went to Las Vegas with a large group of my friends for a wedding. One of my goals was to eat somewhere fun and different in order to get a good review. I mean, let’s be honest–the buffet at the Excalibur wasn’t going to cut it–and neither was the bag of white cheddar popcorn that I ate on the way down. Las Vegas is known for its amazing chefs and restaurants, but at the same time, I didn’t necessarily want to throw down a lot of money. This was a budget conscious trip and I hadn’t set up a review anywhere specific in advance.

While dodging the 100 degree weather at 10:00 AM in the hotel pool, a few friends of mine mentioned The Firefly, which has two locations–one in the Plaza Hotel near the old part of the strip and one actually in a strip mall on Paradise Road.

My first thought: “strip mall? really? how good could this be?”.

The second we walked through the door, the strip mall exterior vanished from my memory. This place was super hip. The front half was a lounge, which oversized couches and chairs and the back half was the bar with more restaurant type tables. We chose to sit in the lounge and make ourselves comfy. The ambiance was very art nouveau with almost a Spanish dancer flair; blacks and reds with brightly colored paintings of women dancers. It was quite eclectic and warm.

The Firefly is a tapas restaurant. So, we had several different things to choose from and we were all able to order several items. However, the first item of business was a tasty beverage after being in the 113 degree heat.

Welcome, pitcher of Sangria. How nice of you to join us.

Don’t let the fruit fool you. This was a fairly strong beverage–and the flavor was very refreshing. I think I would have chosen more berries to adorn this beautiful beverage rather than pears and apples. The pears and apples didn’t really soak up the juice of the sangria and stayed rather hard. But, I wouldn’t say this was a point of complaint.

I ordered three different dishes: Artichoke Toasts ($3.50), Ceviche of Shrimp ($8.50), and Roasted Eggplant Cannelloni ($5.00).

The Artichoke Toasts were quite the hit. There were enough on the plate to share with a larger crowd, and at $3.50 for the plate, this is one of those items you can’t go wrong with. The pepper, aioli and pesto were a good mix of flavors and added some complex notes to a very simple dish. The artichokes were large and tender and the toasts weren’t too crisp.

The Eggplant Cannelloni was superb. The goat cheese was rich and creamy and melted in your mouth. The eggplant was thinly sliced with the skin left on, but there was no bitterness from doing so. Sometimes too much of the skin can leave a bitter taste in your mouth, but this was not the case. The plate was topped with tomato sauce, and a little fresh basil. This dish = most of Nosh Maven’s favorite things.

The highlight of my tapas choices, however, was the incredible Ceviche of Shrimp. Ceviche can be made many ways, but it always includes seafood of some kind and is served cold. This was some of the best ceviche I have had. The broth was very intense and tangy and there were plenty of tiger shrimp to go around. The ceviche was garnished with a perfectly ripe avocado and came with three crisps corn tortillas for dipping. This was a light, refreshing, simple but intense dish and perfect for 113 degree Las Vegas weather. If you are looking for some bang for your buck, then this Shrimp Ceviche is for you.

A few of the other items that were ordered to the table that must be noted are the Manchego mac ‘n’ cheese backed with baby shells ($8.00), The Stuffed Piquillo Peppers red peppers, fresh mozzarella, garlic cream cheese, tomato sauce ($6.50), Veggie empanadas with spinach, mushroom, artichoke, herbed cream cheese in pastry, red pepper aioli ($4.00), and the Warm spinach salad with artichoke, red pepper, pine nuts, feta ($5.00). All very reasonably priced items and mighty tasty.

Also, don’t forget about dessert! The Firefly had one of the best dessert items I have ever tried: Banana-Nutella sandwiches w/Nutella cream dipping sauce. We ordered one and then promptly ordered two more. These were little slices of heaven in the dessert. And the dipping sauce–wow.

Overall, this place was great. It was away from the casinos and away from the processed, greasy, over-sized food of Las Vegas. Next time you are in the city of sin, take a short drive and check this place out for dinner or even an evening out for drinks.

Blue Lemon–Try it Twice, at Least!

The Blue Lemon is one of the first new restaurants to make its appearance in the Downtown Rising project of City Creek. It is only a block and a half up the street from where I work, so naturally, I was anxious to get in and try the new fare. Additionally, The Blue Lemon sounded like a place I could identify with because of their very well marketed campaign to use only recyclable material and be conscious of their impact on the environment. They also use local and organic ingredients, which is really rare for a chain restaurant to do. So, before I even ate a bite of Blue Lemon’s food, I was already impressed.

Then, walking into the restaurant and noting the pretty great decor and fun fresh colors, I figured that the food was going to be just as fun and eclectic.

The first time I went to Blue Lemon, I left with this thought: “For just eating healthy food, I feel like that sandwich was a little heavy and perhaps a bit greasy”. Although, it did taste good. I ordered the Lemon Grilled Chicken BLT–because I love anything “lemon grilled”. And my friend ordered the Grilled Balsamic Chicken Panini.

Can you tell the difference between my grilled sandwich and the panini? Yeah, we couldn’t either. The panini was just a grilled sandwich–which I guess is fine, but my friend was a bit confused. Both sandwiches tasted pretty good, but we really liked the side dishes more. My friend got the Panini with a side of sweet potato fries, which were awesome and accompanied by a sauce that was based in BBQ flavors with a bit of a tang. They were a nice surprise. With my sandwich, I ordered the side Butternut Squash Soup–and that was divine. The flavor was very intense, but not too rich and came with a nice piece of bread for dipping.

We definitely didn’t dislike our food, but it wasn’t everything we were hoping for to be honest. And I certainly didn’t walk away with the feeling that I had done something good for my health by eating my grilled sandwich.

However, I always give things a second try–and Blue Lemon does have quite a large menu to choose from. So, with the help of two wonderful ladies that I work with, we decided to give it another shot. This time, I was going to order something different…something lighter…and something that just sounded mouthwatering!

We decided that a few side dishes would be a great start…so we ordered the sweet potato fries (again!) and the hummus. The hummus had lemon in it, which sold me on it from the start and the fries were just as good as the last time I ordered them. Both dishes get two thumbs up–from all three of us:

So far so good.

Then came some wonderful main dishes. I decided to go with a salad–to keep it light and see what kind of flavor they could offer me. I ordered the Oriental Salad and it was not only beautiful and well-presented, but the flavor was great and surprisingly light, but bold.

My friend ordered the Roasted Turkey Avocado Sandwich–which was not grilled, but came out on a wonderful soft ciabatta bread. The avocado spread was fresh, and the color of green that avocados should be (this is hard to find any any avocado spread) and the sandwich overall looked healthy and delicious.

These were all wonderful dishes. However, the real gem of the Blue Lemon the second time around was the Fresh Black Bean Ravioli. This dish made my taste buds really happy about the fusion of Italian and Mexican. The ravoil were cooked perfectly–not too hard or too soggy, and the red pepper sauce was a little spicy and well-rounded. Please note: I do NOT like bell peppers of any color–and the idea of a “red pepper sauce” was not something I was excited about. But this sauce rocks and I have been craving this dish for the past 3 days. No joke. Even the corn succotash was flavorful. Go to Blue Lemon right now and eat these Black Bean Raviolis. Go. Quit reading and get in your car. Or ride your bike. Just get there!!

So. What did I learn from reviewing this restaurant? First impressions aren’t always lasting. Every restaurant deserves a second chance. Try different menu items if you didn’t like the first ones. And lastly, take a few people and share. Am I happy that Blue Lemon is up the street from me on a daily basis? I certainly am.

Now I am going to go eat Raviolis.

Blue Lemon on Urbanspoon