Then it hit me! Our April food adventure could be an opportunity for him to discover a few more dishes he can order besides veggie tempura.
I had a pretty good feeling that Carl would like at least a few of the the foods he would sample that day. It turned out he liked or loved ALL of them!
Our adventure focused on two areas in the South Bay: Winchester Blvd and San Jose's Japantown, one of only three remaining in the United States.
Our day began at Mizu Japanese Restaurant.
It's delicious and economical. A typical serving runs around $4 - $6. Combined with a bowl of rice and miso soup it's plenty of food as a meal.
And Carl loved it! Yay!
It was another hit!
Sushi 101 TutorialIf you already know all you need to about sushi just skip past the yellow box to go straight to April's Food Adventure.
Did you know that "sushi" doesn't mean raw fish?
Sushi actually translates to cooked, vinegar flavored rice that is combined with a wide variety of cooked, pickled and raw toppings and/or fillings. Popular not-raw-meat-options include fried tempura shrimp, deep fried soft shell crab, teriyaki chicken, boiled crab, smoked salmon and BBQ freshwater eel.
Raw fish may be the most well known topping or filling but many other ingredients can be added to the seasoned rice to create sushi including cooked meats, raw, fried and pickled vegetables, nuts, cream cheese, cooked and raw egg, caviar, condiments and even fresh fruit can be found on sushi menus!
1. Maki Sushi (pronounced mah-key) are rolls of rice. Some are wrapped in nori (pronounced no-rhee rolling the "r") while others may be wrapped with rice on the outside or other toppings like avocado, illustrated above. They can be large or small and can contain one topping or as many as ten or more! They can range in price from as little as $1.50 for 6 small pieces with cucumber in the center to over $20+ for a large fancy roll that usually consists of 8 pieces and multiple gourmet toppings or filllings.
My Favorite Maki Sushi Restaurant is Michi Sushi in Campbell
Michi Sushi's rolls range from $7.50 to $35.00
Pictured here: Orange Blossom ($22.00), Pookie Roll ($19.75), and the third roll was a custom roll.
LOL When I messaged Michi Sushi to find out what the name of the third roll was I was told it will now be called the Flirty Blog Roll :)
Inside: Cucumber, Mango, Kani
On top: Slices of Avocado, Unagi Sauce, Macadamia Nuts, Tobiko, and a hint of Love.
Vegetarian Sushi at Mizu and Apple Inc.'s Cafeteria
Left are Garden Rolls at Mizu filled with avocado, asparagus, cucumber, kaiware (radish sprouts), green leaf, oshinko (pickled daikon) & yamagobo (sweet gourd strip) wrapped in a thin layer of toasted seaweed.
To the right are rolls from Cafe Macs ($1.50 for 6 pcs) filled with fresh cucumber, pickled daikon radish and fresh avocado sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds wrapped in seaweed.
2. Nigiri Sushi (pronounced knee-gee-rhee rolling the "r") is a small pat of hand formed rice with a topping laid over it and is usually served in pairs. The toppings are often strips of raw fish, cooked egg, cooked and raw shrimp, BBQ'ed freshwater eel, octopus and more.
3. Temaki (pronounced tey-mah-key) are the least common of the three popular sushi styles. Temaki (aka Hand Rolls) are cones of seaweed filled with rice and toppings. Michi Sushi makes incredible hand rolls. You can see two in a post I did last year if you CLICK HERE.
Next we went to Sushi Boat Kazoo in Campbell
Umekyu Maki ($2.50) filled with tart, pickled, umeboshi plums and fresh cucumber strips and wrapped in nori seaweed
Oshinko Maki ($1.90) filled with a piece of sweet, crunchy, pickled, daikon radish and wrapped in nori seaweed
Santa Cruz Rolls ($3.50) filled with tempura shrimp, fresh avocado and nori seaweed wrapped in slices of fresh avocado and drizzled with teriyaki sauce. Carl is pescatarian (not vegetarian) which means he does eat fish and seafood from time to time so the fried shrimp wasn't an issue.
He tried three, liked two and loved the Santa Cruz roll. At last! Sushi he can enjoy too!
Kumako in San Jose's Japantown.
I'd been here once before and really enjoyed the vegetarian ramen noodle soup with the vegetarian broth.
We split this bowl of Vegetarian Ramen ($9.95)
Daikon is crunchy, light and full of health benefits.
Unfortunately I just learned Unagi is on the Seafood Watch list meaning it's sustainability is threatened :( So if you enjoy it, you may want to order it sparingly for special occasions and not every week.
Mission accomplished? Not quite yet. There was still dessert just two doors down.
Shuei-Do Manju Shop is one of the best, if not the best, manju shop in the nation. It's best described as being like a Japanese patisserie. They make their confections fresh each day and as the day goes on they'll sell out of the most popular choices.
Carl sampled four that day:
Top left: White Inaka baked and filled with whole adzuki beans
Top right: Kuri baked and filled with smooth white beans
Lower left: Yomogi chewy sweet rice filled with smooth adzuki beans (mugwort)
Lower right: Pink Shiro chewy sweet rice filed with smooth white beans
Carl doesn't have a sweet tooth so I wouldn't have been surprised if he didn't care for them but he did like them and his family LOVED the leftovers he brought home to share with them.
So Carl tried nine new things and enjoyed all nine of them. That exceeded even my expectations!
Nikaku Japanese Arts and Crafts, one of my favorite stores not just in Japantown but all of San Jose. I've bought many kitchen tools and serving ware pieces, lots of origami paper and gifts here over the years.
Carl purchased a really unique and beautiful vase while we were there.
They have a little bit of everything and all of it is from Japan. If you go down to Japantown to eat you should stop by and take a peek for yourself.
And we were done!
I hope this post may have relieved any fears or anxieties you've ever had about sushi and opened the door to trying new dishes the next time you go to a Japanese restaurant. Just like Carl you may discover you're a fan after all and never again will you choose to sit at home while your friends or family go out to eat Japanese or feel left out as you watch your dining companions enjoy their food more than you :) You'll be right there enjoying your food right alongside them!
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