Entries Tagged as 'japanese'

Birthday Dinner at Kai Zan

December 11th, 2013 · No Comments



We’ve been wanting to go to Kai Zan for over a year, but much of the year I was pregnant and wasn’t supposed to be eating raw fish. We passed it up for my birthday and finally got there last night for Dallas’s birthday. We both got the omakase (chef’s choice), which was $60 per person for about 14 small courses. Some were literally one bite and some were a little bigger. We also had to get the hamachi kama, because we love it and can never pass it up when it’s available!

The omakase at Kai Zan was great. It lets you try things from all over their menu. About half of the courses were raw and about half were cooked. We also loved the hamachi kama. We got a nice, big meaty piece that was grilled to perfection and served with ponzu and daikon. Kai Zan has a cool vibe going on inside. I really liked it. Also, it’s BYO so you can cut down on costs by bringing your own booze. We both really liked our experience there and I think we’ll be back. Especially since it’s just a few minutes drive from our house!

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Cocoro Japanese Restaurant

September 23rd, 2013 · No Comments



A few weeks ago we went to check out Cocoro with Adam and Christine. We ordered so much food!! I remember saba, tuna sashimi, grilled squid, grilled miso eggplant, seaweed salad, shrimp shumai, spicy dragon roll, katsu-ju, katsu curry, tonkatsu ramen, and misoyasai ramen. I took photos of the katsu curry and tonkatsu ramen because I thought they were the stand out dishes, but actually, I find myself still thinking about the grilled squid. It was so tasty. The grilled eggplant was another favorite. Actually, everything was really good.

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Belated Birthday Dinner at Arami

September 15th, 2013 · 1 Comment


Dallas was in New Hampshire for Ross and Chelsea’s wedding last weekend, which also happened to be my birthday weekend, so we decided to go out for a birthday dinner this weekend. We had reservations at both Arami and Kai Zan, both Japanese restaurants, both in the same area of Chicago, both very good. Well, at least from what we’d heard. We’d been to Arami a couple years ago and loved it and we keep hearing how great Kai Zan is, but never have been there, even though Naoko knows the owners! I scoured over the menus and in the end decided on Arami, just because they seemed to have a bigger cooked selection. Kai Zan is still on the top of our list to try, but I think we will wait until after the baby is born when we can both fully enjoy the sushi and sashimi and maybe get the omakase menu.

Arami was a good choice. We really liked everything we had. We started with a Spicy Tako Spring Roll (spicy octopus, cilantro, crisp mixed greens in rice paper), Togarashi Seared Tuna (seaweed salad, kelp noodle, daikon, citrus dressing) and some Brussels Sprouts (squab sausage, pine nuts, pickled banana pepper, yuzu brown butter). Funny thing: Dallas is finally coming around on brussels sprouts. He has hated them for years, but he liked them at Arami and the last time we ordered them at Wasabi.

Next Dallas had some sashimi – the Kona kampachi (from Hawaii), some Japanese kampachi and some saba. I opted for a couple of things from the robata grill – Some corn with miso butter and togarashi mayo that reminded me of elotes and a super sweet ebi yaki with saikyo miso butter and maitake. Finally for our entrees, we each got ramen. Dallas had the Kimchi Ramen (pork belly, kimchi, tofu, nira, egg) the last time we were at Arami and he got it again. I never had the ramen from Arami, so I decided to give it a shot and got the Arami Ramen (pork belly, braised beef, house tsukemono, kamaboko, enoki, egg). It was SO GOOD. Not as huge of a serving as some places, which was actually good because we were sampling a lot, but SOOOO flavorful. And I love that they added the soft boiled egg, like almost every place in Japan does. I haven’t seen many places in Chicago add the egg and it’s one of my favorite parts. I also loved that they added the contrasting house-made tsukemono (pickle).

By now I was pretty stuffed, but it was my birthday celebration, so I had to take a look at the dessert menu. I decided to give the Peach Ice Cream (with togarashi popcorn and miso-honey caramel) a shot. Delicious. The peach flavor was very subtle and so was the togarashi spice. The popcorn was almost more like a kettle corn flavor, but salty enough to give you that salty sweet flavor contrast that I love.

So, really great birthday dinner and worth the week wait to enjoy it with Dallas !!! :) We were talking a bit about how much ramen this baby has “eaten” over the course of the last 34 and a half weeks… the answer is: A LOT. Between our trip to Japan and seeking out great ramen in Chicago after the trip, I have eaten more ramen this year than I probably have in my whole life! Either that means baby will love ramen or hate it, I’m not sure!

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