Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Bowl of Summer

Annie and I went out for sushi at Shin last night.  Since I'd written that post about Wa, I'd been craving raw fish.  Kinda like how going to food-voyeur site Tastespotting makes you want every dish on there.  Including the Nutella biscotti I spied this afternoon. 

Anyway, Shin was delightful - a real diamond right outside the mine.  Orlando has a bunch of really good sushi places, Saikyo, Amura, Wa, Seito, Shari - they're all lovely and fresh.  I just happened upon this dish of beauty for my appetizer.  The next time I go back, I'm going to ask for a double portion as an entree.  It's really delicious.  Check it out:

I love ceviche anyway, but this was just the paragon of the wonderful way that Latin and Asian foods intermingle.  Different cuts of fish - I think I counted 5 different kinds - play in the bowl with thinly sliced, mellow red onions, green, yellow and red bell peppers and a nice jumbo shrimp. The broth had a little jalapeno kick, which I really appreciated.  What a little bowl of summer.  I can't wait to have it again.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Dinner at Wa

I'd heard glorious things about the toro sushi at Wa.  I'd also heard that it was unbelievably hard to find (the restaurant, not the toro, although both are true).  I'd also become acquainted with the wife of the man who owns Wa. 

Let me just tell you that this place is a gem.  It is an insane journey to find, tucked away behind the backstage area of Universal Studios in a basically vacant office complex, but the thrill of the chase is worth it after just the amuse.  Here, have some photos, will you?  They're not great, but you'll get the jist.

It's traditional to be served a small plate before your dinner (an amuse bouche, or "to please the mouth" en Francais) in traditional Japanese restaurants, so this was no surprise.  A tempura-fried crawfish tail with aioli and scallions was light and prompted the slightest salivation.  That's what an amuse  is supposed to do.

To take the edge off, I went ultra-girly and ordered a lychee-tini.  Redolent with fruit, sweet and tropical, I could have one of these with every meal.  So I had three.  Also, Wa's happy hour is fantastic - with every drink, you get a plate of edamame.  Perfect bar food.

I have to admit, it took me a while to decide.  The menu isn't long, necessarily, but everything looked so intriguing (and many dishes had words that I, now being humbled, wasn't familiar with!).  The fusion of French, American and Japanese cuisines was no more apparent than in this dish - crab-stuffed salmon paupiette.  Creamy, dreamy snow crab wrapped in an Alaskan sockeye salmon filet doused with sesame/soy glaze - it was a heavenly dish.  Really.  I'm getting all weepy.

I ordered another "small plate" from the menu so I could make the most of my experience and taste as much as possible.  This unilaterally seared snapper was crispy and buttery and drizzled with whole-grain mustard sauce and bok choy.  Oh, so amazing.  The saucier at Wa, whoever he/she is, is hitting it on the mark.  All of the sauces I tasted were perfectly seasoned and added just the right amount of acid to accent the freshness of the ingredients.

Let me tell you a little bit about toro.  It's a specific part of a bluefin tuna that's SO rare and SO perishable, it's almost impossible to find.  But Wa has it.  It's on the bottom row on the left.  It's unbelievably soft, fatty, buttery, it's just drop-dead delicious.  When you order it, for the love of Bejeezus, don't drench it in soy sauce.  Just eat it as is.  If I could compare it to something, it's like eating an avocado.  You know how when you eat an avocado it kind of coats your mouth with fat and you can taste everything you eat just a little better because of it?  That's what toro does.  Oh man.  That peice of sushi was well worth $7.

By the time dessert came around, I was already too enraptured to remember to take a picture.  The custard with kombucha squash was a little dish of joyfulness.  I may make it in place of pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving.  I'd love to see an omakase tasting menu added to the repertoire at Wa.  Along with a decent wine list that features all the standards and a list of sake not to be sniffed at, Wa is a welcome addition to Orlando's restaurant list.

Wa Restaurant - 5911 Turkey Lake Rd. # 102 • Orlando, FL 32819  - Phone: (407)226-0234

Bigger than my Breadbox

Yes, I do actually have a breadbox.  It's blue, okay?

For a while, I'd been wanting to make bread.  Bread is so homey and warm and comforting and it makes your house smell so amazing.  I tried a formula for Pulla bread (a Finnish sweet cardmom bread) and it was a complete disaster.  Of course.  The yeast I used was who-knows-how-old and I'm pretty sure that's what doomed me from the start.  After a good friend, Chef Tom Beckman of Le Cordon Bleu Chicago (my culinary alma mater), sent me a new formula as the old one se dice...shitty...I tried it again.

Here are the beautiful results.  Thank you, Chef.  Thank you very much. 

My Cliff enjoyed the first loaf almost entirely by himself.  The other is sitting in our freezer awaiting this weekend's brunch and a smear of local tangelo honey spread.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

FroYo Paradise

There's a new froyo joint on the block...

It's called Menchie's and it's a delicious by-the-weight frozen yogurt paradise. If you have enough willpower to get through the candy mix-ins and can get to the fruit (I wish they'd reverse the order you encounter them...), this is a great way to indulge without indulging! I can't wait to go this weekend. The great thing about the by-weight price is that if you're broke, you don't eat as much. Who want's to spend $7 on a cup of frozen yogurt you're going to eat in a single sitting. $2-$3 is much better for the wallet and the waistline.

Favorite flavors:
  • FF Pistachio
  • FF Red Velvet (tastes like cake!)
  • FF Cappuccino
  • FF Cookies & Cream

Pile on the fruit, a few slivered almonds and you're good to go.

I love Froyo. Next to try: Mochi FroYo and Tutti Frutti.  Same concept, potentially just as amazing.

7339 West Sand Lake Road

Orlando, FL 32819-5295
(407) 601-7792

Coming soon...Kissimmee location (next to work!!), Winter Park Village and Whole Foods Plaza in WP.