Tuesday, January 27, 2009

I think I'm the worst blogger ever...

It's so sad.... I have visited so many sushi places that I want to share with you, but things have been quite busy. I have notes from all the places and one day (hopefully soon!) I'll get it all down here for you. And new sauce recipes!!! These I will add to my recipe page as soon as possible.

In the meantime, www.BoulderTea.com and www.SoyWraps.com has kept me Very Busy!
I have the best customers in the world!!!

So please forgive me for not keeping up with new blogs. I will try harder, but right now I'm getting ready for my 4th Annual Boulder Tea Event in February. The tea master comes to Boulder and other parts of the US (Seattle, Washington and Columbus, Ohio) to talk about and serve Japanese teas. It's one of the highlights of my year! Always exciting and lots of fun - Exhausting, but well worth it!

I plan on blogging more in February or March, or the very first snow day we have and I'm stuck at home!

Thank you for visiting and please do come back soon.
As always, feel free to email me about Sushi, Sake, Tea, Soy Wraps.... if I can't help you, I usually know someone who can.

All the best!
Lisa / SushiGal / The Tea Lady

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Sushi YOSHI - New Sushi Bar in Superior!

Fresh & Authentic Japanese Food and Sushi is what you'll find at Sushi Yoshi in Superior, Colorado. Don't let the small strip mall fool you... tucked away right off Highway 36 at the McCaslin exit (just south of Costso) is a sushi bar serving truly authentic Japanese food that will thrill all your senses!

The presentation is beautiful - steamed salmon wrapped in kombu tied with gourd, a tower of diced avocado and tomoatoes surrounded by marinated scallops each artfully topped with a tiny piece of marinated dried tomato, sashimi curved to look like a flower, even their salads are impressive!

The small kitchen is behind the sushi bar, so you get to smell these wonderful things that make you wonder if you have room for one more dish....

Most importantly, Yoshi knows fish! I have had incredibly fresh fish - melt in your mouth tender - and that makes me very happy :-)

He serves sauces on some dishes, especially the sashimi, that will knock your socks off! I forget the name but Yoshi serves a Special Sashimi dish that offers 7 pieces beautifully presented, each with a different sauce on top - just a little bit, enough to blend with the flavor of the fish. This is one of my favorites!

They have a very extensive Sake Menu, too. Although I typically stick with my favorite - Hot Sake w/Plum Wine - I did try their Poochi Poochi which is a carbonated cold sake drink. Light, sweet, bubbly, but Potent!

Save room for dessert! The handmade desserts at Yoshi's are incredible! Chocolate Mousse, Green Tea and Red Bean Ice Cream (of course!), and they use seasonal fruits to make these rich healthy desserts so you won't feel too guilty.

Some of these dishes remind me of Asian Fusion - a wonderful blend of authentic Japanese with a European flair - the final product is fresh with distinct yet prefectly blended flavors that always surprises me. I like being surprised! This is the first sushi bar I've been to in a very long time that makes me want to try everything on the menu!

I can recommend everything, but so far these are my favorites...
Zensai - traditional Japanese appetizers
Salmon wrapped in kombu
Tuna Salad - don't let the name fool you!
Special 7 Piece Sashimi with sauces
there's so much more I could list!

They have a website: www.SuperiorSushi.com that includes a map and menus, but the menus they have at the restaurant are up to date and include all the wonderful things they serve. It's a small place, so bring your patience in case you have to wait, or call for a reservation. The wait staff is very friendly.

Do you want to be surprised by a sushi bar? I suggest you give Sushi Yoshi a try :-)

Itte rasshai

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Introducing ObubuUSA.com

I'm still working on BoulderTea.com, but I have finished www.ObubuUSA.com. It's been a very busy month for me! Obubu is the grower I'm representing in Japan and they are busy with the Spring Harvest. ObubuUSA is all ready to take tea orders and the tea is shipped directly from Japan! Oh, did I forget to mention Free Shipping on any tea???

I went to the World Tea Expo in Las Vegas to find sources for teaware and accessories and wait till you see what I found! I'm going to offer some really cool, yet useful things to complement your tea. I've asked the grower if they can put together a sample pack so people can have a taste of a few teas at a time. If they make it, I will offer it!

So check out www.ObubuUSA.com and let me know what you think. Better yet, place an order for some of the freshest Green Tea you can get here in the U.S.!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006


Got Tea??? I will be offering Japanese Tea Direct from the Grower! This grower is located in UJI in the Kyoto Perfecture where for centuries the finest Japanese tea has been grown. It's simply amazing tea! I'll have Sencha, Houjicha, Genmaicha, Kukicha, and Matcha. I'll also offer accessories so be sure to check out the Teaware and/or Gift Shop.

I want to offer a well-rounded line of Japanese products and nothing but the best, so Japanese Tea seemed like the most natural next step. I am So Excited!

I'm working very hard on www.BoulderTea.com and I'm hoping it will be up and running within a month. Keep your finger's crossed!

If you can't wait to order from me online, visit Toraya Tea House and be sure to check out the new Market where you can buy all the ingredients to make Sushi At Home! If you can't make it to Boulder visit Sushi Secrets and email if there's something you can't find :-)

Sunday, March 12, 2006

AKIYAMA - New Sushi Bar & Grill

Brand new place opened up recently in North Boulder so of course I had to check it out. I can't comment on the service since I opted for take-out, but I did find it interesting that the hostess had a lovely British accent.

Their prices are a little high for this neck of the woods - Sushi a la carte is one piece per order with Ebi, Salmon, Yellowtail, Tako or Tombo @ $2.25; Kani @ $2.00; Kaibashira and Ikura @ $2.75... I can't imagine paying $5.00 for 2 pieces of Unagi. Call me cheap. I can take it.

I didn't see Sunomono Salad on the menus so I asked. The waiter that was helping me asked the Sushi Chef, but described it as the full seafood type - shrimp, octapus and crab. The Chef suggested a price of $8.95. Is it just me or is that a big OUCH! ??? They get major points for 1) Asking if it's available 2) Offering to make it up for me. That's customer service and a very promising sign.

As I was leaving a couple was walking in and I thought "OH! I can do an On The Street Interview!" The couple had been there the weekend before and were back because they felt it was good. I asked their opinion about the prices and they said the prices were similar to other sushi bars. (hmm)

This is what I ordered (and it's what I actually received - the waiter had stapled my bag closed before giving it to me so I was unable to check that everything was in there):

Kani Salad!!! I had a recent inquiry into the recipe for Kani Salad - it seems in New York this is quite popular. I had to guess on the recipe based on what I was told, but when I saw this on the menu I had to try it. I also had to email my questioning visitor and correct my recipe error! If you don't know about it, Kani Salad is a simple appetizer that's really easy to make and gives you a mouthful of slightly spicy crab with every bite. The recipe isn't exact, but use your taste to guide you: Shredded Imitation Crab, add small slices of cucumber, then mix with Kewpie Mayo, but go light to begin with! The flavor of crab is delicate so you don't want to over power it! Add a couple of drops of Srircha Hot Chili Sauce to start and adjust to taste. Mix in a little (start with one teaspoon) of Masago (little crunchy orange roe). Make sure the masago is fresh!

Ok, where was I....? Oh yes, I liked the Kani Salad. I haven't had so much crab in a while and crab is one of my favorites.

I also ordered a California Roll for my kids, Oshinko, Tamago, Alaska Salmon w/ Avocado, and Spicy Tuna Roll.

California Roll was a little heavy with the avocado.
I wasn't overly impressed with the Alaska Salmon Roll, but I'm not sure what was wrong with it. Maybe too much avocado again, but I can't be sure.
The Spicy Tuna was good, although I like alot of heat and I would request it hotter next time. (It's really hard to mess up a spicy anything roll...)
The Oshinko consisted of Burdock and Daikon only (oh there was a grated beet garnish that was very dry). The Daikon had an odd taste, or it was a brand I have not tried. Either way I didn't like it.

If you've read my website you'll know that traditionally in Japan the first time you visit a new restaurant, you ask for a tamago sample - it is an art to make it well, therefore, it is a testament to the quality of the food served. Well, I wasn't impressed with the tamago - it was crispy on the outside and not quite cooked all the way on the inside. Can they make it better than me??? Oh yeah! It's really hard to do and it's easy to mess it up.

In summary, I will return to Akiyama to check out different foods and the service. Stay tuned....

Akiyama - 6525 Gunpark Drive, #330 (over by the UPS Store) Gunbarrel/North Boulder 303/530-0499

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Toraya Tea House in Boulder Colorado!

You'll be hearing a lot about Toraya Tea House in Boulder, Colorado, from me in the coming months.... My dear friend Kei and his lovely wife have just opened up this fabulous Japanese Tea House and I want to tell everyone about it!

Grand Opening is February 25 and 26 from 12 to 5
Mr. Matsumoto (A tea grower and tea preparation expert) will be sharing Chado - The Way Of Tea - with guests. Don't miss this opportunity to experience some of the best Japanese tea and learn how to prepare it to bring out the very best flavor! And Kei's wife makes traditional Japanese desserts that are remarkable!!! (the slight sweetness of the desserts blend perfectly with the tea - the words "palattably balanced" come to mind....is that spelled correctly?!?!)

If you're in the area, check it out! If you're not in the area but know someone who is, tell THEM to check it!

TORAYA Tea House - 2020 10th Street Boulder, Colorado
One block north of Pearl Street next to Sushi Tora.

So this is the perfect afternoon/evening plan for me..... Go the Kei's Grand Opening at Toraya and drink tea and learn from a master, then hop next door for sushi and sake at Sushi Tora, then round off the evening with an Americana w/Baileys from Zee at Bacaro's.

Life doesn't get much better than that!

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Japango - Pearl Street Boulder, CO

I needed to try something new last night, so off to Japango I went. Friends and bartenders have recommended this place for a couple of years now, but the mention of an All You Can Eat Sushi deal has scared me off. Walk with me down memory lane so you, too, can experience Japango.....

After entering, I noticed the smell of incense, which is ok unless you can smell it where you are seated to eat. For me, and I'm sure others, the TASTE of food is multilayered - there is the taste, the feel of the food in your mouth, the visual, and the smell. Well, I couldn't smell the incense, but I sure could smell the Urinal Cake! Don't ask me how I know this smell since I don't know, but it smelled like the deodorizing things they stick in mens' urinals - it's a distinct odor that you'll recognize when you smell it. Well, it kept wafting around me off and on for the brief hour I was sitting at the sushi bar. Alright, enough about the smells and on to the food!

I started off with Sake and Plum Wine which they made fairly well, and Edamame, which was warm and salty just the way I like it. Our waitress, and she is being mentioned by name because she was an Excellent Server! (Good servers can be hard to find in Boulder, Colorado, so when someone is excellent, it must be mentioned!) Her name is Mimmy :-) She was professional and attentive. Perfect.

I had the HAMACHI KAMA - Yellowtail collar - which I always order plain since I like to dip in Ponzu sauce. It reminded me of a large Turkey Wing - thin and crispy - not what I usually get. And the ponzu sauce was way too sweet and oily - very odd combination for ponzu even if it is made in house. I wouldn't order this again, but I did eat almost the whole thing!

I also ordered the Tsukemono - Pickled Vegetables - and they get points for giving me such a generous serving! I buy these for home so I know what the retail prices are and that Sushi Bars charge way too much, so getting so much food for a good price made me very happy :-)

Oh, I forgot to mention the GARI! The ginger they serve has that asparatame stuff in it - I hate the taste of that stuff and it makes my throat close up a little bit so I went without. I used the Tsukemono to help cleanse my palatte.

Negihama - yellowtail with green onions roll - was kind of large, but that's good, but it really had very little flavor.

The sushi pieces I ordered are part of my standard sushi bar test - Salmon, Yellowtail, and Tuna. As I say on my website, fish should not be dull looking for that is a sign of aging. The sushi I received was very dull all the way down to the flavor! It didn't taste fishy or smell fishy, but with the urinal cake smell wafting over me, I'm not sure of the smell. This is a perfect example of not so fresh fish - dull in appearance, the texture was broken down slightly, and the sad part is that all 3 fish tasted the same! I could not tell the difference between these fish! It was as if they had been soaked in water, they were that bland. I suppose it was a good thing that the slices were skimpy.

There was a highlight to my visit other than the wonderful server (Mimmy) ... Japango offers some interesting rolls and sushi. For the most part I enjoy traditional Japanese food, but hey, even I can't pass up a cool new combination! They have the sushi dish called El Corazon which consists of Spicy Tuna, Avocado, Jalapeno, Smelt Roe, served on top of a tempura rice cake (uh oh, there's that word CAKE again!)

The rice cake was easily one inch think, so thick it overpowered the other flavors, but as it turns out that was probably a good thing. They put a slice of the dull, flavorless Tuna on top of the rice, then a thin slice of jalapeno and avocado on top of that and drizzled with what tasted like Tsume (sweet eel sauce) over the whole thing. The sweet/spicy combo did not work with this dish. And since the rice cake was so thick I had to use my hands to take 3 bites per piece. I do believe this is where that fishy stinky smell on my hands came from. Even after washing my hands a few times, the stink would not go away.... that smell does NOT go well with Bailey's and Coffee!

I have had this Spicy Tuna served on a Rice Cake before and it was excellent - FRESH Tuna perfectly blended with Dynamite sauce and little tiny pieces of jalapeno and green onions, served on top of a rice cake no higher than 1/2 inch. Perfect!

At one point I looked down and counted 5 plates in front of me:

Sushi Pieces
Hamachi Kama
El Corazon

I didn't count the edamame. The Sushi Chef did not pay attention to how far along we had eaten, and just kept making things and putting them in front of us leaving us to figure out where to put everything. I don't like being rushed and it's not like the place was busy or anything.... From start to finish I was in and out of there is 65 minutes. Now I know where they got the name... Japan - GO!

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Same Victim - Different Night

Told you I was an optimist :-)

Hapa Sushi on Pearl Street again. I didn't make many notes this time because it wasn't as "exciting" as our last visit. The service was more professional is what I remember the most.

What we ordered: Hawaiian Calamari - Panko crusted calamari with a mango chili dipping sauce
What we got: This dish was actually pretty good except for the slight fishy taste and smell. (STRIKE 1)

They used English/Hot House Cucumbers in everything. (STRIKE 2) I'm used to Japanese cucumbers at Japanese restaurants. In a pinch, like I state on my website, using English cucumbers is fine, but you never, EVER, leave a thick barely edible skin on ANY cucumber. If you're using cucumbers in sushi you never, EVER, make them into Huge Chunks. If you're into Huge Chunks of Vegetables by all means, visit Hapa! (STRIKE 3)

Sunomono Salad
Oily, huge chunks of cucumber, BAD shrimp :-(

Rock & Roll - Spicy rock shrimp in Hapa's secret sauce & cucumbers
Very Good... except for the huge chunks of cucumber :-[

Hamachi Sashimi

Wild Salmon Sashimi
OMG-Melt In Your Mouth-EXCELLENT :-)))

(No strike since the Wild Salmon offset any other negatives!)

This visit was much better than the first. I may go again hoping it will be even better.

Sushi Review - Long Overdue

Today's victim is Hapa Sushi Grill & Sake Bar (the Boulder location on Pearl Street)

First visit to Hapa (6/2005) and we sat at the Sushi Bar. The evening starts out with no hot towels (STRIKE 1), the waitress kept coming over and asking us if we needed any help (uh, yeah, stop interrupting me while I'm trying to read the menu; STRIKE 2), and one of the Sushi Chefs (looked like a kid from CU) kept cussing to his other Chef friends (STRIKE 3). We asked for hot Sake and asked if they put plum wine in it, and the waitress said yes. We were served Ozeki Sake, don't know what type of plum wine, and it was barely luke warm (STRIKE 4).

We were able to order from a non-cussing chef, but he did have his plastic pepsi cup with straw sitting on top of the bar, which I thought REALLY added to the ambience (STRIKE 5). What we ordered: Seasoned Edamame - Sauteed soybeans with Hapa's seasonings
What we got: Hard soybeans mixed with negi & sesame chili oil - VERY Messy & Spicy - Ruined our palate for the rest of our food & they don't serve hot towels :-(

New Style Hapa Sashimi - 5 piece sashimi seared in a garlic olive oil w/cilantro & ponzu
Sashimi was not seared, came in extra long & thin pieces, too oily :-(

Shinko Maki - Pickled radish roll
Largest chunks I've ever seen, soggy, tasteless :-(

Inari - Tofu pockets
Fresh from the refrigerator and tasted like it :-(

Maguro - Nigiri Tuna
I would say it was "fair"... barely. Had a dull sheen to it and a ripe tuna aftertaste :-/
Shake - Nigiri Salmon
Slighty fishy taste :-/
Tombo - Nigiri White Tuna
Very Good! :-)

Overall food STRIKE 6.

While we were still hungry and trying to discuss if we should chance ordering anything else, we were distracted by 2 things; 1) The Kitchen Cook looked.... under the influence, shall I say?... and 2) The waitress shows up WITH CHECK IN HAND and asks if we want anything else. What, no offer of dessert? And we're supposed to bother you after you've obviously gone to so much trouble ringing up the check already? (MAJOR STRIKE 7 and I'm not including the cook since he could have been on cold medication)

I felt rushed (the place was about 1/4 full) and (since I'm used to traditional Japanese-run sushi bars) that the staff made it feel too collegey and that they were inexperienced.

I was hoping it was an off night for them... all of them... including the person who buys the fish. I AM an optimist, you know!

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Where not to eat in Waikiki

Another good title to this post would be: "It's been a tough week, it's snowing like crazy here, and I feel the need to complain"

We recently took a trip to Hawaii. I wanted to have a really good time so I thought if I had very few expectations, I wouldn't be disappointed (this logic should work...in theory) and I kept my expectations very simple (so I thought)
1) I didn't want to get sunburned
2) I wanted a coconut drink and
3) I wanted some great sushi
Sounds simple, eh?

The last time I was in Hawaii I got so burned the first day I couldn't go outside let alone wear clothes for 3 or 4 days! So this time I watched the clock and put sunscreen on every 2 hours and you know what? I hardly even got a tan! So the last day there I didn't put on any sunscreen ..... I didn't get burned, but I did get a little tiny tan :-) I think deep down I really expected to get really brown, like Island Brown! Oh well, that's what I get for having expectations...

We stayed at a great hotel on the beach, the Moana Surfrider. The rooms and staff were excellent. They change the mats in the elevators THREE Times A Day! They say "Good Morning" "Good Afternoon" and "Good Evening" I don't know why, but that really impressed me. What attention to detail!

The bartenders at the outside bar were pretty good (2nd Best Baileys and Coffee I've ever had!) Every night I asked for the special Coconut drink (Lots of different fruity things served inside a real coconut). Every night they apologized and said they had not received any coconuts. What?!?! No coconuts in Hawaii?!?! But since I was working on the "very few expectations" theory I didn't give up. I asked every single day and night. I mean, I was in Hawaii, and it's not like they run out of coconuts there, right???

Well, since I was still working on the "very few expectations" theory, after the 4th night I started eyeballing the special Pineapple Drink to see if that could possibly satisfy my very little expectation of wanting to have a drink in a real coconut... while I'm in Hawaii... which I think is the world's Coconut Capital! (I had no idea this was to turn into the "Coconut Drink Issue" for me on this trip)
In a desperate move, I ask the waitress about the special Pineapple drink and she said, "Oh I'm not sure if we have any of those".... I sit speechless as she walks over to ask the bartender and she turns and tells me they have ONE left. I immediately snap out of my coconut coma and yell, "I GET IT!" (I raise my arm up high and start waving it) "IF YOU HAVE ONE PINEAPPLE LEFT, I GET IT!!!"

I realize I'm being stared at... I lower my arm and shut up. And then I realize I'm not getting the darn coconut drink but a PINEAPPLE! Pineapples I can get at the local market! and I could make my own darn pineapple drink for a lot cheaper than $12.00!!!!

(deep breath) But I realize since I'm still working on the "very few expectations" theory, I must learn to be adaptable.

I graciously accept the Special Pineapple Drink, realizing too late that I could have auctioned the thing off for a small fortune and ordered another Mango Martini. It was the whole "it's the last pineapple on the island" thing that got me.... I still can't believe I didn't get a coconut drink. Oh well, that's what I get for having expectations...

So onto the sushi! We were tired and the time difference was screwy so we asked the hotel if they could recommend a sushi place. Shouldn't be too difficult since we were On An Island and Japan is only around 5 to 7 hours away... We were told "You have to go to Sansei! They were voted Best Restaurant and Top Oahu Restaurant!" Their menu states they won 1st place at the Taste of Lahaina. We think, cool, we know where to go and we know it will be great since it's recommended and it's won these awards. (shaking my head in wonder at my gullibility)

We sat at the sushi bar and were served by "Alan." We ordered Salmon Sashimi, Negi Hama, and the "Yaki-Maki Sushi" a Sansei Original which consists of a California Roll wrapped with smoked salmon and baked with Dynamite sauce. Well, as I state on my website, if the fish smells fishy it is not fresh enough to eat cooked or especially raw. We were served the Negi Hama first .... the yellowtail was "aged" and the nori was soft.

I don't normally like smoked salmon if it's not on a bagel, but their special California Roll sounded good. I was sooooo wrong. The salmon's fishy taste was so strong even cooked, that I could smell it! The dynamite sauce was overdone with QP mayo, and even that didn't disguise the old salmon taste. Then there were the bones.... I have a "thing" about bones in my sushi or sashimi. I have a feeling I'm not alone in this.... I was so tired at this point (to me it was around 1 am) and so hungry I did my best to keep eating and picked the bones out of my mouth as discreetly as I could.

Then came the salmon sashimi. Sashimi is a true test to any sushi bar. I spied "Alan" hunched behind the display case using his fingernails to pick out bones from the sashimi. I knew I was doomed.... This was regular salmon sashimi, not smoked, and it tasted worse than the cooked, smoked version. I couldn't believe it. The bones and taste were so bad, I only ate one piece and left the rest.

The waitress asked if we wanted it "to go" when we asked for the check.... No thank you.

I couldn't wait to get back to Colorado to my favorite sushi chef.

Did I mention my favorite sushi chef is Hawaiian?

Friday, April 15, 2005

First Post!

"aahhh (stretching my arms out wide) a blank page!"

I am having sushi withdrawals. I'm going to my favorite sushi bar tomorrow night and I can hardly wait!

I am working with a brand new website design for Sushi Secrets and it's taking a lot of time and energy as I tweek it and add my stuff, but it looks great! I have a temporary page up here
http://yes-japan.net/ that shows the flash page and the main page set-up, but I haven't uploaded any of the real pages yet. If you want to, you can follow my work as I go along! Oh, and please... I welcome any comments or suggestions!

A special Thank You goes to Joon at
www.ijoon.com for the fantastic design! Look him up if you need any website design, graphics, flash pages.... He does it all and he does it very well!

*News Flash! I am going to offer Sake and Plum Wine on my site once again! Guess I'll work on those links tonight and add them to my current site SushiSecrets.com/sake (yawn). Ok, maybe tomorrow.

I would love to hear from my visitors, so please post :-)

That's it for now..... see ya!