Hiro’s Yakko-San – Miami Excursion

After the wedding we were attending in Miami had wrapped up around midnight, me and the fiance wanted a late night snack and made our way about 30 minutes to North Miami to try out Hiro’s Yakko-San. The place had received good reviews and when we mentioned to one of the hotel staff that we were going there, he gave it a big thumbs up.

The Food

We started off our meal with a sashimi dish of hamachi with jalapeno pepper. This a sort of Nobu “new style” sashimi gone horribly wrong. The jalapeno was so overpowering; you couldn’t taste anything else and the whole dish was extremely acidic. The fish also looked a little plastic to me and overly white, but I couldn’t actually taste it through the jalapeno so I can’t really comment.

Next up we got one of our favorites: sea urchin sashimi. The sea urchin was slightly above average. It tasted fresh and we got a lot of it. Things were starting to look a little better after the initial dish.

We were the recommended a scallop and asparagus dish. All I can say is that the scallops were overcooked and rubbery and all anything tasted like was old asparagus. This was probably one of the worst dishes I’ve had recently and we did not bother to finish it.

Next up was the miso marinated sea bass. After the jalapeno dish and the scallop dish, we were starting to get the picture that just about every dish here was going to be incredibly unbalanced and the sea bass was really no different. I love miso, so for me, loading up a dish with miso isn’t going to keep me from eating it, but a well executed dish it was not.

Then we ordered a chef’s choice sashimi. Just like the sea urchin, everything was fairly fresh and tasted ok, but it was just really standard stuff. Everything from the presentation to the selection was ordinary and there’s just not a whole lot to say about it.

Finally we ended the night with soba noodles and beef. We were told the soba was not made in house, but tried it anyway. The broth was pretty good and with the low standard set by the previous five dishes, I think we were just pleased to get something that was good. The noodles however were a bit tough and chewy and overall pretty bad. So was the beef which was mushy and had a strange taste. We tried to scoop up as much of the broth as we could while leaving most of the noodles and beef.

The Atmosphere

The place is in a shopping mall (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing), but inside it’s kind of a dump. There’s just not much to mention decor wise, except that it really does look like a fast food joint, or maybe a crummy diner.

The service was friendly and I will say that the staff did a great job getting us a taxi back to our hotel at 3:00 AM and called several times to make sure one was on the way.

Final Thoughts

I have to say I’m a greatly confused about all the hype over Hiro’s Yakko-San. The food is heavy handed, with mediocre ingredients and ranges from bad to average. The only saving grace is that it’s open until 3:00 AM, probably making it the only Japanese restaurant in the Miami area open that late.

There is no way I would return and the fiance and I seriously regretted making the trek out there. We would have rather been asleep.

Rating: 0 of 4 Stars

Around the Web

  • Yelp – 4.5 of 5 Stars (95 reviews)
  • Zagat – 26 Food Rating
  • Restaurant Info

    Hiro’s Yakko-San
    17044 W Dixie Hwy
    North Miami Beach, FL 33160

    Posted in Excursion, Reviews | Tagged , , , | 11 Comments

    Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink – Miami Excursion

    On our only free day in Miami, the fiance and I headed over to the design district to try out Sra Martinez, a tapas restaurant located in a former post office for lunch, but we just missed their lunch hours. Lucky for us, Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink was literally a block down the street.

    The Food

    We started off our lunch with a small bowl of hominy coated in a sort of chili spice. These were a great little crunchy snack with a bit of heat to start the meal. I have to admit I’m really not that familiar with hominy, so it’s tough for me to judge, but they were highly recommended to us by the diners sitting next to us and they did not disappoint.

    Then we ordered short rib and fontina cheese panini, which was more or less a gourmet take on steak and cheese. The ingredients were fresh and the bread had a nice crispiness to it. To my surprise the sandwich held together extremely well making it not just tasty, but also easy to eat. It came with a side of fries, which were good and a side of heirloom tomato chutney, which to me tasted a little too much like ketchup.

    Next up was the pan roasted half chicken. I’ll admit the photograph looks really boring. There’s nothing particularly special about chicken on a plate with some greens, but it was perfectly cooked and really juicy. The side of wood-grilled asparagus and greens just tasted great and it’s clear that chef Michael Schwartz really cares about his produce.

    The Dessert

    All the desserts that we saw pass by us looked out of sight, but we could only find room in our stomachs for one. We opted to go with the banana toffee panini, with a mini chocolate caramel sundae. The caramel sunday was kind of awesome, with a sweet gooey iciness that just hit the spot. The banana panini was good too, but not quite as memorable.

    I have to say that tasting just that one dessert and seeing all the other ones pass by, I’d be temped to skip lunch and just do a sampling of all of pastry chef Hedy Goldsmith’s creations.

    The Atmosphere

    Michael’s Genuine has a great feel to it. It’s bright and lively and has a pleasing color palette of brown, gray and deep reds. The tables are packed in pretty close, but it gives the place a neighborhood feel where everyone is eager to recommend their favorite dish.

    The service was very friendly and knowledgable about the food, and there was nothing I could complain about.

    Final Thoughts

    Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink is a great lunch place and if it was in D.C. I’d eat there all the time. I would also say that dessert is not to be skipped over and should be made mandatory.

    I was really won over by their clean flavors, fresh ingredients and if I didn’t mention it already, delicious and innovative desserts. I’m told their dinner menu is completely different and next time I’m in Miami I’m curious to see what an evening at Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink will bring to the table.

    Around the Web

  • Yelp – 4 of 5 Stars (206 reviews)
  • Zagat – 26 Food Rating
  • Restaurant Info

    Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink
    Atlas Plaza
    130 NE 40th St
    Miami, FL 33137

    Posted in Excursion, Quick Bites | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

    Michy’s – Miami Excursion

    Every time I see a chef on television, it always leaves me wondering what their food actually tastes like. So when the fiance and I were in Miami for a destination wedding, we just had to check out Michelle Bernstein’s restaurant, Michy’s.

    The Food

    We opted to get the tasting menu which was made up of three courses, three dishes each and then a dessert; ten courses in all. Of the ten, there were three truly wonderful dishes.

    There are certain dishes which just make you smile. They taste wonderful and as you take your first bite, you know instantly that the dish is a real standout. Such was the case with the foie gras waffles. The combination of the seared creamy foie gras with the sweat syrup, delicate waffles, and a dash of salt really elevated the dish to one of the best foie gras dishes I’ve ever had. It was innovative, whimsical and just a real delight to eat.

    The other two dishes that really made my day were the prosciutto and bacon fettuccine and the short ribs with mashed potatoes and corn. The house made fettuccine was perfectly cooked and wonderfully delicate. And I found the corn went great with the short ribs and mashed potatoes. I often don’t see corn as a sort of garnish for beef, but the combination just worked.

    All the other dishes were good, but those three really stood out in my mind. My only real complaint was the first course, which was a duet of Kusshi and Kumamoto oysters, where I found the Kumamoto oysters to be considerably smaller and less plump than some of the better ones I’ve had.

    The Atmosphere

    The decor at Michy’s is pretty tacky, with orange patterned wallpaper and bright floral colored chairs. The rest of the place is mostly painted a dark blue, including the ceiling. Even though it was tacky, I think it still had a good enough feel and didn’t detract from the food in any way.

    The service was really spot on. The staff was knowledgable, the meal was well paced and we were never intruded upon.

    I will also mention that having Michelle Bernstein greet us as we left was a real treat. I think it’s a wonderful touch for a chef to say hello to his or her customers.

    Final Thoughts

    I was really impressed with Michy’s and Michelle Bernstein’s cooking. There were a few extremely impressive dishes and the consistency level of the entire meal was very high. There was not one bad bite of food to be had.

    I will also say that the tasting menu at $75 dollars was a real bargain considering the amount of such high quality food you receive.

    While I don’t find myself in Miami very often, I’d return to Michy’s in a heartbeat, and the next time I see Michelle Bernstein on television, I’ll think fondly of this memorable meal.

    Rating: 3 of 4 Stars

    Around the Web

  • Yelp – 4 of 5 Stars (97 reviews)
  • Zagat – 27 Food Rating
  • Restaurant Info

    6927 Biscayne Boulevard
    Miami, FL 33138

    Posted in Excursion, Reviews | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

    Blue Duck Tavern – Review

    I had heard good things about the Blue Duck Tavern from a number of people so the fiance and I decided to spend our Saturday night seeing what all the fuss was about.

    The Food

    Our meal started off with an appetizer of scallops topped with hazelnut crumble that sat in a bed of chopped english peas. Our first bite did not disappoint. The scallops were cooked to perfection, and the hazelnut really worked to the dish’s advantage. The peas below were good, but their chopped preparation I did find a little odd.

    Next was the galantine of guinea hen served with fresh brioche and peaches. There was nothing really wrong with this dish, but all in all it was a little bland. If I had known exactly what I was in for, I would have ordered the foie gras “candy bar” instead because I’m betting it would have worked a lot better with the brioche and peaches than the galantine.

    Our first main was the braised beef ribs, which were really presented quite nicely, though were not completely devoid of issues. In general they were a little on the dry side, partly because there just wasn’t enough sauce. The sauce with the beef ribs was great, but each time I used the provided spoon to try and scoop up some sauce, there was really only enough to drizzle on the beef ribs. This forced me to take my forkful of ribs and scrape it along the bottom of the pan to get as much sauce as possible.

    And then our last main course was the jumbo lump crab cakes, which were delicious! I am not that big a fan of crab cakes, but these had big chunks of crab and weren’t loaded with mayonaise. The mustard dressing was really tasty too and for me these were the one of the highlights of the meal; the other highlight being the French fries.

    I have to say that the French fries were quite great. They were described as having a mashed potato like texture on the inside, with a French fry crunch on the outside. This was in fact the perfect way to describe them. In size they looked more like French toast sticks than French fries, but they were delicious and served with a light aioli dipping sauce. We couldn’t finish them all and ended up bringing them home to eat later.

    The Dessert

    For dessert we were instructed to get the apple pie and then we also chose to order a coconut yogurt cream with fruit and cashews.

    We were not steered wrong with the pie. You actually get a full miniature apple pie, which had a really nice flakey crust. The other dessert was a real letdown. I’m not really sure what we were expecting from it, but it just didn’t work and was kind of like eating sweet mush.

    The Drinks

    I had two glasses of wine; an aperitif of Roederer Estate brut, and then a Ponzi “Tavola” Pinot Noir 2008, which were both quite good. The wine list is extensive, and I personally would not know how to evaluate it, so I won’t even begin to try. From what I remember, there was also a small but eclectic beer list. My fiance tried one of their cocktails which was a mango, banana and vodka frozen martini like concoction. She really enjoyed it.

    The Atmosphere

    The Blue Duck Tavern is a real looker. There is a huge open kitchen when you first walk in, and the place just has a really good feel to it. They also have a really lovely outdoor patio space which is where we elected to eat. The service was friendly and professional and made for a really pleasant meal.

    Final Thoughts

    I believe that this restaurant for the most part lived up to its recommendations. It’s a very pleasant place to eat and the food ranges from above average to great. For places in the D.C. area with no tasting menu and only a standard a la carte option, it’s probably within the top five.

    I also think the meal was priced about right. Everything tasted fresh and there’s only one entree that is above thirty dollars. It’s not a bargain, but I didn’t feel ripped off, and you’re getting what you paid for.

    While there are certain things about the food I would have wished were a bit better, if you’re looking for good new American food with good service in a really nice atmosphere it’s hard to go wrong with Blue Duck Tavern.

    Rating: 2 of 4 Stars

    Around the Web

  • Yelp – 4 of 5 Stars (261 reviews)
  • Zagat – 26 Food Rating
  • Washington Post – 2.5 of 4 Stars
  • Washingtonian – 3 of 4 Stars
  • Restaurant Info

    Blue Duck Tavern
    1201 24th St NW
    Washington, DC 20037

    Posted in Reviews | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments

    Heritage India – Review

    I’ve been to Heritage India in Glover Park about half a dozen times over the past couple years and I find their Indian cuisine to be the among the most reliable in the D.C. area.

    The Food

    The dish I ordered was the murgh (chicken) tikka masala. It’s rich and creamy and also packs a little bit of heat, though it’s nothing compared to a much spicier Vindaloo. The chicken is also super tender and consists of both white and dark meat, which seems to be something of a rarity. It’s easily my favorite tikka masala dish in the area.

    The other dish I sampled last night was the Tandoori jumbo prawns which definitely lived up to their “jumbo” name. The prawns were wonderfully spiced and offer a great alternative to the usual Tandoori chicken.

    I must comment though on the Naan, which was overly crisp, to the point of it being burnt. This is not my typical experience with Naan here as it’s usually pretty standard as Naan goes, but on this night it was certainly off.

    The Drinks

    Heritage India offers a selection of wines by the glass and also bottles, which I haven’t really had the desire to explore. They also have a very limited beer selection and a couple variations of Lassi: yogurt based non-alcoholic drinks.

    What I find rather puzzling is that they bring you the wine in what’s basically a decanter, which may make you think they’re more “serious” about their wine. However, my Merlot was served in the exact same glass as a Chardonnay. This is not something that personally bothered me, but I found it slightly amusing.

    The Atmosphere

    Everything here is a little ornate for my tastes, with white table cloths, fancy chairs and various Indian themed antiques scattered throughout. The service is a bit stiff, but my food has always arrived on time and I’ve never had any real issues with it. For the most part it’s just unmemorable.

    Final Thoughts

    If you’re looking for more traditional Indian food, you really can’t go wrong with Heritage India and it’s probably the best of its kind in the area. However, for the area’s best Indian food in general I’d have to give the nod to Rasika, which offers a slightly more inventive take on traditional Indian food.

    And while I’m on the topic of inventive Indian food, if you ever find yourself in London, a trip to RASOI will give you a brand new look at Indian cuisine.

    Rating: 2 of 4 Stars

    Around the Web

  • Yelp – 4 of 5 Stars (74 reviews)
  • Zagat – 22 Food Rating
  • Washington Post – Editor’s Pick “[Heritage India] gets my nod for Indian cooking that is as sophisticated as it gets in Washington.” – Tom Sietsema
  • Washingtonian – 2 of 4 Stars
  • Restaurant Info

    Heritage India
    2400 Wisconsin Ave NW
    Washington, DC 20007

    Posted in Reviews | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

    Brooklyn Bagel Bakery – Egg & Cheese

    My D.C. area bagels of choice happen to be the ones at Brooklyn Bagel Bakery in Courthouse. I almost always order the egg and cheese on an everything bagel. These bagels have crispy outsides and non-bready insides, making them real bagels as opposed to the junk they serve up at the area chains.

    The lines can be long, but they move very quickly, and be sure to bring some bills because they only accept cash.

    Around the Web

    Yelp – 4 of 5 Stars (109 Reviews)

    Restaurant Info

    Brooklyn Bagel Bakery
    2055 Wilson Blvd
    Arlington, VA 22201

    Posted in Quick Bites | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

    Fireworks American Pizzeria & Bar – First Impression

    On day two of it’s opening, the fiance and I decided to stroll down to Fireworks American Pizzeria & Bar to see if the latest pizza addition to the Courthouse dining scene was any good.

    The Food

    We started the night off with the risotto fritter, sitting in what I’d consider a pool of thick blue cheese sause.  Just looking at the dish made my arteries corrode, but it was tasty none the less.

    Then we ordered two pizzas; the first being the “Smokey Blue” which consisted of gorgonzola, wood Roasted Onions,  smoked bacon, tomato sauce, rosemary, and an aged balsamic glaze.  I personally liked the size of the pizza and at first glance it looked promising, but the rosemary basically ruined the dish.  All I could taste in just about every bite was rosemary.

    The second pizza was the “French Connection”, consisting of white sause, brie, apples, chicken, roasted onions, prosciutto, tomatoes, and a “drizzle of dijon cream”  This was also a good looking pizza, but despite all its ingredients was quite bland to me, though my fiance liked it better.

    The Dessert

    While the pizza concoctions were disappointing the freshly baked chocolate chip cookie cake topped with ice cream in our minds was a real winner.  It’s hard to screw up a freshly baked cookie (though we’ve seen it done) and we scraped the bottom of the iron cast dish to eat every last bite.

    The Drinks

    The beer list was what I’d consider good and they had a large selection of microbrews on tap along with a large selection of bottled beers too.  They also do smaller tasting sizes on tapped beer, which looked like they came in four ounce servings.  We didn’t explore the wine list, but there was a wide variety to choose from.  All in all there’s something for everyone here.

    Final Thoughts

    Even with what I’d consider overly dressed, bland pizzas, my first impression of the place was a good one.  The dessert really won us over and the atmosphere just felt right.  We decided that we’d definitely return, but the next time build our own pizzas or try something a little simpler.

    Around the Web

    Yelp – 5 of 5 stars (4 reviews)

    Restaurant Info

    Fireworks American Pizzeria & Bar
    2350 Clarendon Blvd.
    Arlington, VA 22201

    Posted in First Impressions | Tagged , , | 1 Comment