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japanese

Kidari Sushi Yatai

IMG_2512After watching a particular spot on south street turn over very quickly in the short time I’ve lived in the neighborhood, I was intrigued to finally see a sushi spot open up there. So on a night when we had out of town guests over, we walked over to check out Kidari Sushi Yatai, on South St, between 18 and 19. On a weeknight, the place was pretty busy! We showed up just in time to be able to get a table for 6. It’s a byob! The miso soup was good and the house salad, the typical salad you get at a sushi place with the ginger dressing, was especially good. It was rather large with mixed greens, cucumbers, carrots, tomatoes, and a fresh ginger dressing. This is one of my favorites types of salads, so it was a good sign that the rest of the meal would also be good!
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IMG_2514The Sushi & Sashimi on table for two. We’re not sure why they call it “on the table” instead of “regular” like most places do, but hey, it must be their thing! This was a large assortment of various sushi and sashimi, and it also included a dragon roll, a spicy tuna roll, along with the soups and salads. It was a nice variety of fish for the sushi choices and sashimi choices, and everything was fresh. 
IMG_2515We also got some more adventuruous and curious rolls. At the bottom is the Texas Roll – a yellotail, roasted shallot, and avocado roll topped with jalapeno, crab meat, and bacon. Yes, I said bacon! We had to order it, just because, and it was a bonus that it was good! In the middle is the Rittenhouse Roll – salmon, avocado, red tobiko, scallion and crunch on top of california roll. Also very good. And in the back was one of the special rolls of the evening, whose name I totally forget. They were all great. In fact, all of the food here was great. And I was so, so, so happy because of it. The service was very friendly and I can’t recommend this place enough as a nice new neighborhood sushi choice. 
Kidari Sushi Yatai on Urbanspoon

Zama – Another Birthday

Whenever my mom gets to pick a cuisine, you can bet your bottom dollar it’s going to be sushi. So for her birthday, we headed to Zama. If you’ve ever been to Zama, or even walked past it, you know how cool it looks on the inside. The main theme seems to be wooden slats. And there are light-colored wooden slats everywhere. It’s pretty sweet. We were actually seated all the way in the back in an adorable room, with lots of amazing japanese textiles depicting various creatures from the sea. I want them for my house!
photo (1)I’m in love with agedashih tofu, so of course, I ordered it. When it came out, we were all confused. Having it come out like this is pretty and all, but there was only a bit of sauce in a tiny bowl and it just wasn’t enough. And I feel like part of what makes agedashi tofu so good is having the tofu pieces kind of soaking in the sauce. It’s not a dipping sauce, it’s more like a bath, and I feel like it comes like that in all other restaurants for a purpose. A delicious purpose. If presented normally, I would have been able to enjoy it more.
photo (2)The fried eggplant with ground chicken sautéed in white miso. Ooh baby. This was clearly the best dish of the evening. Super savory chicken topped on soft scoopable eggplant, garnished with pickled cucumber. I should have gotten this as my entree! It would have been great with some steamed rice.
photo (4)My mom and M both got sushi combos, of course! Here’s where things start to go downhill. They both enjoyed their sushi, but they found some pieces of sushi were served on top of dried and crunchy rice, as if they had been refrigerated, or had been sitting around for a long time. Considering the price points at this restaurant, it was beyond disappointing. Going to Zama and expecting some of the best sushi in the city, and ending up with sushi rice akin to refrigerated supermarket sushi, was beyond sad. It was very early in the evening, but there was no excuse for it at all. Just none. 
photo (3)I got the Hamachi Tataki, which was seared hamachi over crispy a tempura battered avocado roll with a red yuzu pepper sauce. This was amazingly delicious, in every way, but so teeny tiny. I expected small portions here, but I didn’t necessarily expect this small.

Overall, the sushi as disappointing, but the rest of the food was good. The service was ok. We ordered a miso soup, but it never came out. And even when we asked about it again, it still didn’t come out. At that point, M didn’t want the soup anymore, so it didn’t matter. But still, it was a bad oversight. With the plethora of sushi options in the city, I doubt that we’ll ever be visiting Zama again. Rittenhouse setting, Rittenhouse prices, with supermarket sushi. 
Zama Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Cheu Noodle Bar

I don’t often end up going to new and cool restaurants right after they open, but it just kinda happened that way with Cheu Noodle Bar. It was a last minute decision that ended up working out. On the Saturday night of their first week, we happened to be in the neighborhood so we thought we’d give it a shot. They said it would be about a 45 minute wait for a 2-top, but it actually ended up 30 minutes. It’s pretty small on the inside, with one long bar, behind which all the cooking is done, and a fairly small number of tables. The menu is also fairly small, which I like! 
Instead of complimentary bread or peanuts or shrimp chips or whatever, they crush a package of shin ramyun into a bowl so you can snack on the uncooked noodles that are now covered with the flavor packet powder. It’s delicious! But shin ramyun is spicy, so be careful! That big red piece almost killed me!
I’d read that the bbq rice cakes were a must order, so we definitely got those. Oh my word. I could eat these all day, every day! The term rice cakes may scare some people off, but they are the kind of chewy rice-based asian rice cakes, not the crunchy diet snack food. As a korean, I call these ddeok, and I freakin love ddeok, in all forms. And these were amazing! The rice cake pieces seemed a bit caramelized so they were crispity on the outside and chewy and hot on the inside. They’re sweet and savory and just amazing. I just wish that there were more in a portion! It seemed so tiny and they were gone so soon and it made me sad! :-(
M got the ramen which had a thick and porky broth with hunks of melty pork belly. 
I got the brisket noodle which came with a giant matzo ball and brussels sprouts in a spicy broth. This was so good! The broth is slightly spicy and a little bit sour, which is right up my alley. There were several thick pieces of brisket and oh boy, the matzo totally filled my belly! Cheu was so much fun. They just added some new items to the menu so we’ll definitely go back! Service was good and friendly and the food came out fairly fast!
Cheu Noodle Bar on Urbanspoon

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