Thursday, October 23, 2014

Ishoni Yakiniku Review

Jason here. Finally another Bellevue restaurant review. While our family was up visiting we wanted to take them to experience a Yakiniku restaurant. We just so happen to have Ishoni here in Bellevue. It can be hard to spot from the road, but they do have parking available.

If you are interested in Yakiniku restaurants in general, go check out our Yakiniku reviews from Japan.

Ishoni has approximately 6 large tables for guests, which seat six guests comfortably. We definitely recommend you go with a group of 4 or more, so you can make reservations a couple days in advance and get a table for your group. The way ordering works is this: you receive a large menu which lists all of the various items to order. While you could order something just for yourself, it’s much better to have everyone order 1 or 2 items at a time and then split it up amongst the group. This will help you try out the largest variety of the delicious and fresh dishes Ishoni offers.

If you feel like you need soy sauce, I would bring a small packet of gluten free Tamari or Soy sauce with you. Due to the freshly prepared nature of the food, and that you cook it on the grill in front of yourself, most of the items are gluten free. In general though you will have to make sure you order the salt & pepper versions, or make sure to ask your waiter to be sure the sauce versions are gluten free.

Our meal was delicious. We ordered a large variety of items including beef tongue, duck, chicken with butter, mackerel, cuttlefish, and a vegetable combo. My favorite of course was the beef tongue, but cuttlefish came in a surprising second. I had not had cuttlefish before, and found it to taste very similar to other shellfish. The duck was very succulent, so I recommend it as well. In fact, every item we received was fresh, and clearly higher grade. The beef was extremely marbled, the chicken juicy, the vegetables fresh, and on and on.

Not only was our food delicious, but the price was excellent. Considering the quality of the food here, what you pay is a steal. Kayleigh and I hope to make Ishoni a regular spot for us now.

Kayleigh here. We were just ecstatic to find out that there was a Yakiniku restaurant this close to home, after making some lovely memories at ones during out honeymoon. While we really took a risk going here, we found that almost none of the dishes came with any sort of sauce or marinade beyond a simple oils, salt, and pepper. We still made sure to ask about everything we ordered (and found that the starter miso soup was not safe), and were lucky enough to have the entire table willing to stick with gluten free choices. If you end up going with a group that wants to order something unsafe, make sure to designate a gluten free grill and tongs at the table, to avoid cross contamination. I am willing to bet that you can ask for an additional pair of tongs to just use on gluten items, too.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Safe Travels in Japan - Ura no Niwa

Ura no Niwa

Jason here. On our second night out of eating, we spent some time trying to find a particular sushi restaurant. As it turned out, the place must have closed some time before, or we had the wrong address as it was nowhere to be seen. Luckily for us there were a few restaurants nearby. We decided to go for a fancier looking place named, Ura no Niwa in the Ebisu South Bld.

The atmosphere was lovely. We were sat a booth that was shaped like a cylinder with s small section of side cut out. This meant that it felt really secluded, like we were the only ones there on a private date. The lights dim, and the smell of delicious food really set a great honey moon atmosphere.

Our waiter spoke English really well, but be aware that he was the only one there that could.

For my meal, I ordered a hotpot with cabbage, potatoes, carrots, daikon, shrimp, mussels, and a white fish. It usually came with some sauces, but they were not gluten free. Instead they substituted them for a little dish of salt.
The meal was well prepared, but definitely not for me. I was happy for the private booth, as I am sure I looked ridiculous trying to eat giant pieces of cabbage. Cabbage is usually a neutral food for me, but there was quite a lot of it in the meal, that it was a bit bland by the end. I’m sure the sauces would have added the flavor it was missing. The mussels were my favorite part, but again were a bit difficult to get at with just chopsticks.

What really stood out to me was the shrimp. I had never had a raw shrimp before, and as it turns out I am definitely not a fan. I removed the shells still, which I am honestly not certain if you were supposed to or not. It was mushy, and tasted like old fish paste.

You might be surprised to hear, but I was actually really happy we ate here. Trying out a unique dish is what traveling is all about, and this was certainly unique. Most of all I love learning new things about myself, and that day I learned I definitely do not like raw shrimp.

Kayleigh here. Personally, I could find joy in eating a giant bowl of steamed cabbage, so I think I enjoyed the dish more than Jason- yes, it was more than large enough for the two of us to share. And it was our first experience with the 'cook it yourself' mentality, as they brought the pot out over a small burner and we picked from it while it was still hot and freshly cooked. We got to enjoy a very intimate meal in an intimate booth, really making us feel like we were having a fancy dinner just the two of us.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Biscuit Bitch Review

Jason here. Recently we had family visiting from out of town, and this time we decided take the underground tour. It was a lot of fun, and I recommend it. After the tour, while walking around we struck out at our first gluten free restaurant choice and had to quickly find another. Not too far away was Biscuit Bitch, so we opted to head there.

It’s a smaller restaurant, with only a few places for seating. When we visited it was packed, but we lucked out and discovered some empty seats just outside.

From what I could tell, every option on their menu could be made Gluten Free by substituting for a gluten free biscuit. It should be noted, that Biscuit Bitch calls out that they are not a dedicated gluten free bakery. I did not have any issues, and there are many more testimonials online to the same effect.

I ordered the Smokin’ Hot Seattle Bitch, which is a biscuit smothered in gravy, with hot sausage, cream cheese, and grilled onion. It comes in a large paper tray, filled to the brim. When I ordered I wasn’t really sure of the size, so receiving such a deep filled dish was fantastic.

What I loved most, was how much gravy was heaped on top of the biscuit. I love gravy, and I enjoyed it here with every single bite. The sausage had a spicy kick to them, just as promised. However, the gravy and sweet tasting onions helped counteract that. It was a nice blending of spicy and savory, just what I was looking for. The cream cheese was not with every bit, so for me it helped keep the meal interesting throughout.

Kayleigh here. While I was really intrigued with the Smokin’ Hot Seattle Bitch, I had to give their maple peanut butter a try. I got a biscuit with that and banana (basically a Royal Canadian Bitch without the bacon), and thoroughly enjoyed it. With the size of the biscuit and the light sweetness to it all, it was the perfect breakfast- or the perfect lunch for a breakfast lover. I definitely have to order something else next time I go, just to try one of their savory options!

Make sure you get a coffee along with it. You will have to order drinks at a separate counter (technically a separate restaurant name- Caffé Lieto), but you'll be waiting a few minutes for your order anyways, and they have several unique espresso drinks on the menu.