Friday, August 21, 2009

Mahi Mah's Seafood Restaurant & Sushi Saloon - Atlantic Avenue, Virginia Beach

Thinking about going to Mahi Mah's for sushi this weekend? You might want to reconsider... I rarely go to the oceanfront during the summer because, well, it's a zoo, parking is a mess, etc., and etc. However, when I am feeling brave enough to give it a try, Mahi Mah's has been one of my favorites for years. They've got the view, a nice bar area, great location next to a boardwalk stage and ...good sushi! However a recent Restaurant inspection may have me changing my mind.
I'll be the first to admit that my kitchen would fail a white glove test miserably, and probably a health inspection too. Mahi Mah's had four critical health violations, one of which relates directly to handling of raw food (my sushi!) and the other the handling of oysters (another favorite!). I really wish I had not read this. I guess I should have realized that any place calling itself a "Sushi Saloon" was too good to be true. Ignorance is bliss!


Mahi Mah's on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Kotobuki-21st Street, Norfolk, VA

Kotobuki has been a Ghent sushi favorite for some time. Laine has reviewed a few sushi restaurants recently and we decided to add another victim to the 'sushi wars'. I have dined at Kotobuki a few times previously, but it has probably been a good couple of years. I enjoyed myself then, but wanted to have a more recent memory to judge fairly. Typically, I order the vegetable rolls. Yes, I know, is that really sushi? Well, it is on the menu, so for me that is reality. I love the avocado-cucumber roll and any vegetable roll with cream cheese.
Exterior Kotobuki Sushi Norfolk Restaurant
Persuing the menu, I see the avocado roll and the cucumber roll but no combination. No problem, the waitress told me to just write what I wanted. My only mistake was I forgot the write 'with cream cheese', but that is a lesson for next time. Be very clear. Along with the avocado-cucumber roll, I was initially going to order the California roll, which is one of the most common rolls, but then risk took me by the hand and I opted for a special, the Buddha roll, instead. What a great choice. Shiitake mushrooms, radish, sprout, pickle and topped with a heaping amount of a beautifully ripe avocado. It almost looked too pretty to eat, but I managed. I was very happy with both of my rolls. I had asked for a side of their ginger-sesame dressing and she brought me a salad by accident but did not charge me for it and said to just enjoy. The overall service was good. One worry, Laine and I have been happening upon empty restaurants lately and Kotobuki was no exception. We filled the only table during lunch and there were only a few souls at the bar enjoying rolls and such. If memory serves me correctly, lunch was not booming the last times I dined there, but there were more patrons than what we saw today.
Interior Kotobuki Sushi, Norfolk Restaurant
Prices are reasonable for what you receive and in line with other sushi places around town. Sushi is never cheap, but we all felt like we got a lot of quality food for our money. It is always fun to see what the sushi art will look like, especially if it is something new, as my Buddha roll proved. One thing to be leery of and Laine will elaborate more...drinks. I am glad I had a thirst for water and nothing more. Do I hear rip off whispering in my ear...

Even after calling Alex and getting pretty good directions, Brianna* and I drove right past Kotobuki without seeing it. 21st Street at noon was wall to wall cars Wednesday. When it is 97 degrees outside with 99% humidity, people want to get where they are going. They do not want to be stuck behind someone going 5 mph while looking for a restaurant. After calling Alex a second time, we spotted Kotobuki behind some trees (oh yeah, and a BIG red sidewalk sign) and walked up to the door at the same time Alex arrived.

Again, we were dining in an empty restaurant, which set me on guard. However, I work with some sushi fans who have raved about Kotobuki, and I was determined to give it a try. My usual order is a Sushi / Sashimi combo when it comes to Japanese dining. This goes for $15.95 on their lunch menu, which is pretty steep in my opinion (Sorry Alex, I've got to disagree with you on this one point). For example, the same meal at recently reviewed Ooka is $11.95 and $11.25 at Shiki, both with soup and salad. Kotobuki serves just Miso soup with their combination. The service was brisk and friendly, and the food came out rather quickly. As soon as my plate arrived and I inventoried the contents, I determined that their $15.95 price was the deal of the century. This combo is fully loaded! Here’s what it contains:
1 California Roll (typical sushi roll, not too exciting)
Sushi-Tuna, Snapper, Shrimp, Yellow Tail
Sashimi-Clam, Octopus, Yellow Tail, Tuna, Salmon, Crab, Tamago, Shrimp
Side dish of extra rice
That is a ton of food. With the exception of the rice, I ate every bit of it. It was excellent. I’d give it 5 stars or fish or whatever rating you would give a Sushi place.
Fountain Kotobuki Sushi, Norfolk Restaurant
When the check arrived the total was close to $21. Oh Kotobuki, why do you charge $3.25 for a fountain soda? We all know the cost is about 15 cents. Brianna had an Iced Tea that was $2.95. After tipping the server and the Sushi Chef the total was over $25, a bit more that I would normally pay for lunch on a Wednesday afternoon. With the exception of the beverages, I’d say the price is well warranted, but I would not eat there every week because of it (yes, I eat that much Sushi). I am saving Kotobuki for paydays and special occasions.

Lastly, I’ve got to ask, what is that little gnome/bear/thing next to the obligatory restaurant fountain?


Kotobuki is located in Ghent at 721 W 21st Street, Norfolk, VA 23517.
Lunch Specials Kotobuki Sushi, Norfolk Restaurant
Kotobuki on Urbanspoon

Monday, August 17, 2009

Peninsula Grill, Charleston, SC

Dignified and elegant, The Peninsula Grill brings together tradition and modernity both in atmosphere and food. This past weekend, I had the pleasure of dining with Chas* at this lovely restaurant located in the Planters Inn in Charleston's City Market area. Wallpapered in dark crushed velvet, tables covered in white, the Peninsula Grill is an establishment dedicated to and based on total class. Upon arrival, we waited in the bar area which has ten to twelve bar stools and 4 booths, the seats covered in tasteful tapestry. An oriental rug adorns the dark hardwood floor. We were seated and the exceptional service began. Read more here

The Chef's sampling of the night was pork pate, which I cannot stomach, so Chas* is my judge on this course and said it was delicious and while he does not typically eat pate, he would now order an appetizer of this should it be offered. A bit of a challenge due to the enticing choices, we selected the feature starter of Grilled Scallops with Wild Mushroom Ravioli and the Loster '3 Way' - Ravioli, Tempura and Sautéed with Warm Tomato-Basil Vinaigrette. Scallops are tricky and I have had my share of those creatures that were not prepared well, but of course this would not happen at the Peninsula and my anxieties did not even whisper in my ear. Grilled to perfection, the scallops were delightful as was the wild mushroom accompaniment. The Lobster 3 Way was also delectable, the Tempura light and the Ravioli so good you wanted an entire meal of that one part of the trio. Other tempting appetizers include a Trio of Soups which is a sampling of the Creamy Wild Rice Soup, the Onion, the Leak and Potato soup and the Lobster and Corn Chowder, as well as Low Country Oyster Stew, the still-popular iceberg wedge salad (which I will never order or understand) and veal sweetbreads. There are also Oysters, other variations of Lobster, Caviar, Steak Tartar and Foie Gras from the Champagne Bar Menu. The bread also won praise, as did the butter, served at the appropriate temperature (no frozen block here). A crusty outside and a soft inside, it arrived hot in a Sweetgrass Basket, a traditional item in the Gullah culture found in the Low Country region of South Carolina and Georgia. One can be purchased for a not small sum on the City Market before you reach the Peninsula Grill.

Whether you are in the mood for the Chef what will join your meat, chicken or fish or should you want to decide yourself, the Peninsula will deliver. Duck, Pork Chops and Trout are some choices, all arriving with wonderful sides of a starch and vegetables. From the al la carte side, Angus Beef Filet, Angus NY Strip, Prime Ribeye, Live Maine Lobster, Natural Salmon and Black Grouper are grilled and can be paired with one of the sinful sauces. For meat, the blue cheese-balsamic glaze grabbed my attention as did the toasted pecan-rosemary butter. Sides include Wild Mushroom Grits, Goat Cheese Smashed Potatoes and Caper-Brown Butter Roasted Cauliflower to name a few. Next time! For this visit, I chose the Grilled Peach Glazed Jumbo Gulf Shrimp with Sweet Corn Risotto, Brandied Peach Butter and Green Onion Horseradish Hushpuppies. I must admit, the hushpuppies were the deal breaker and I was overjoyed at the taste. The six large (they were dead serious about jumbo, thankfully) shrimp were impeccable, as was the risotto with a few sautéed asparagus beneath. I was happier in this dining experience since...Bobbywood! I never thought I would recover from that closing. Chas* ordered the Benne Crusted Rack of New Zealand Lamb with Wild Mushroom Potatoes and Coconut-Mint Pesto. I did not taste the lamb, but the wild mushroom mashed potatoes were splendid. The pesto was very minty, hence their only giving you a dollop. A little went a very long way. The appetizers were not large, even small in some standards but all in good meaning as the entrees contained more than enough food, but we both polished off our meals.

Not to be outdone is the Peninsula Grill's dessert menu, namely The Ultimate Coconut Cake. Five inches high, twelve layers and complete excellence. It is a popular wedding cake choice, especially for Charlestonians and I can certainly see why. It is the best coconut cake I have ever had and apparently others agree. Read the fact sheet and either head to the restaurant and order a slice or what the hell, order a whole cake. For a mere $200 (includes overnight shipping), you can have twelve pounds of excitement. That is an order, not a suggestion. Chas* and I each ordered our own piece, no sharing, if that helps heighten the importance of the situation.

The Peninsula Grill's staff and level of service is flawless, not to be matched. Servers skillfully touching all parties' plates down simultaneously and maintaining the ideal level of communication. No chatty-Cathy's here, thankfully. Tip better than well, this staff more than deserves it.

I enjoyed myself to the infinite degree. The company, the atmosphere, the meal and the service. It is not often that I can take all of those things from a dining experience and feel completely satisfied, but when it does happen, what an adventure.

I highly recommend a trip to Charleston's Peninsula Grill, located at 112 North Market Street, Charleston, SC 29401. Dress is business casual (a coat is recommended for the gents and ladies should be smart enough to determine their attire based on that note). I thoroughly revel in the fact that cell phones are forbidden in the dining area. Read here should you forget that there are very few people so important they need to take a call during a meal...or, truthfully, at any other time. Call (843) 723-0700 for a reservation. Prices reflect the four-star, four-diamond rating. Remember, you get what you pay for and dining is no exception.

(Photo Credit: Southern Living Magazine)
Peninsula Grill on Urbanspoon

Cupcake, Charleston, SC

Heading for Three Dog Bakery (which is a very cute pet store in Charleston's downtown district -, I spotted a cupcake store called nothing more simple than Cupcake! The cupcake store concept has been around for a while, but I am still intrigued and easily pulled in to one of these alluring spots. Much to Chas' chagrin, I insisted on going into the enticing store. It was packed! My gaze traveled quickly to the Red Velvet cupcake but choosing a second was a little more difficult. Black Bottom, Praline, Black and White, Vanilla. So much sugar, so little time. I settled on the Praline because buying one seemed like a crime against the dessert world. Thinking back, I should have bought a time, my friend, next time. Initially, I thought I would save them for the next day, but that fleeting memory was long gone after looking into my bag of bliss. Truthfully and this is hard for me, a red velvet anything fan, to say, I will not jump for the Red Velvet again. That cake and other variations, such as the cupcake can be tricky and take on a slightly odd aftertaste. That was the case here, but the Praline cupcake saved the day. It was nothing less than phenomenal. All of the cupcakes come with enough icing for all of the cake. I have no qualms in admitting I am one who eats the tops of things like muffins and cupcakes because that is the best part. Let others eat the cake! I did not have to do that at Cupcake and was very pleased about it. Cupcake varies its flavors daily, but they offer ten to fifteen flavors at a time, so you will not be disappointed, no matter the moment.

Open daily, Cupcake is located at 433 King Street, Charleston, SC 29403.


Cupcake on Urbanspoon

East Bay Deli, Charleston, SC

Needing a quick bite to eat after a visit to the Charleston Aquarium to see the not outstanding Penguin Exhibit (three Magellanic Penguins looking very bored and in too small of a room), Chas* and I stopped at Charleston's East Bay Deli. Busy but fairly quick, East Bay offers a slew of sandwiches and wraps, a few salads, giant spuds and three major desserts, a five-layer chocolate cake, a five-layer carrot cake and a cheese cake that had to be two inches tall. Had I not been going out for a great dinner, I would have ordered dessert for lunch! Back to reality, I selected the Portabella Mushroom Wrap and Chas* ordered the Chef's Salad. The wrap was good, but the Swiss cheese was not melted as the menu states and the wrap itself should have been heated. That would have made it really good. The chips were ruffles and that was fine and the pickle was fresh. For Chas, meat salad would have been a more appropriate name for his meal. I have never seen a salad with that much turkey and ham on it. He noted the meat but was not dissatisfied with his choice. After all, it was a salad, right (channeling the Real Men of Genius 'Taco Salad' commercial - 10,000 calories but its still a salad!). Because I could not have the cake, I had to have a blonde brownie, which was a little dry. I guess that is what I get for succumbing to impulse. The cake is better...I am certain.

The decor is deli, black and white tile floors, big meat display counter and servers and line cooks in action. Lots of College of Charleston students already gearing up for the upcoming school year and a good number of families catching a meal before their next Saturday activity, East Bay has a nice hustle and bustle and prices are pretty reasonable. I would dine there again, but just ask for my wrap heated and of course, order the chocolate cake.

East Bay Deli is located at 334 E Bay Street, Charleston, SC 29401. Just walk on in.


East Bay Deli on Urbanspoon

Friday, August 14, 2009

New Belmont - Norfolk

Exterior Sign New Belmont, Norfolk Barbecue Restaurant
Located in Ghent, New Belmont (formerly Belmont) is owned by the same proprietors of Cogan's Pizza around the corner (see our review on Cogan's). New Belmont is known for its nightlife, DJ's and occasional bands as well as nightly features such as wing specials and all you can eat sushi on Sundays. I am not a huge fan of wings or anything 'all u can eat' so I cannot say I have tried or will try either, but Laine and I decided to check out lunch. I arrived and Laine informed me the place was open but empty, completely empty. Typically, I would run in the other direction, but we knew we would have to buckle down and review New Belmont at some point, so why not on this one-hundred degree hot and steamy day. We were seated quickly and there was, in fact, one lone ranger at the bar watching TV and sipping on an iced tea.
Exterior New Belmont, Norfolk Barbecue Restaurant
New Belmont's menu has a lot of variety. I mentioned wings and they have a variety of sauces in which to dunk this popular appetizer but there are also salads,burgers, sandwiches, ribs and other entrees. Sides included mac 'n cheese, cole slaw, fries, hushpuppies along with a few others. I opted for the marinated portabella sandwich with goat cheese and roasted red peppers with a side of the seasonal fresh vegetables. The vegetables were great, sautéed zucchini, squash and onions. I was delightfully surprised at the good flavor for a restaurant I have always considered to just have 'bar food'. My sandwich was good. Actually, had the bread been better, it would have received a gold star. The bellas and peppers were marinated and had a fantastic flavor and the portion was fair. The bun was something I would not have picked if it was the last thing in the bakery at a local grocery market...and it was cold. If I eat a sandwich, part of what makes it original is a decent bread. Interior New Belmont, Norfolk Barbecue Restaurant
Service was not terrible, but not good either. At one point, our waitress told us to just shout if we needed anything as she was doing paperwork. What? Prices are reasonable enough and the food came out in a decent amount of time. I would probably not rush back to eat lunch again but I can say the times I have been in the evenings, New Belmont was hopping. Whether a DJ was spinning or a band was playing, people were drinking and dancing and since there are not that many places to dance in this area, that is a plus for New Belmont.

Dining Room New Belmont, Norfolk Barbecue Restaurant
The Nicoise Salad, according to Wikipedia was “first made popular in the Montpelier Region in the 1880's….Ripe tomato wedges, halved boiled new potatoes, steamed green bean, wedges of hard-cooked eggs, are topped with canned tuna (tinned in oil), and native Nicoise olives. Finally the salad is garnished with tinned anchovies. The salad is served with traditional Dijon vinaigrette.” Julia Child also had a popular recipe that really only varied by adding capers. There are some interesting opinions about the canned vs. fresh tuna. Keeping in mind that the salad originated in the 1880's, refrigeration was far from commonplace, especially in Europe, so canned would make more sense. I happen to like canned tuna, but of course prefer fresh (really frozen if we are "real" about it) if it is available.

I am not a purest when it comes to the Nicoise. One of my favorites is served at the Café in Nordstrom’s where they use salmon instead of tuna. Those rebels! A friend of Alex's had recommended the Nicoise at New Belmont. Their menu reads, “Seared Ahi Tuna with Nicoise Olives, Green Beans, Potato, Egg over Mustard Vinaigrette dressed Mixed Greens 10.99”. Here’s what I got:
Seared Ahi Tuna
Nicoise Olives
A bean that was green, but not a Green Bean. It was more like a snap pea?
Cold Potato Wedges
Side of Balsamic Vinaigrette
A Plate

It was more like a Tuna dinner, than a salad. The tuna was good, and cooked to order. I liked the olives very much. The beans/peas were good, just unexpected. The potatoes were disgusting. I don't mind cold potatoes, in fact, I love potato salad. But the ones they served were mealy, like a French fry gone cold after sitting out for too long. Perhaps these were leftovers from the previous night? Who the heck knows what happened to the egg, lettuce and Mustard Vinaigrette. The service was fair and the food came out rather quickly (perhaps because they only prepared half of it?) I’ve heard enough good about New Belmont to cut them a little slack. As a rule, I think it is a bad idea to eat in a restaurant that is empty. This was an affirmation of that belief. However, in today’s age of instant information, businesses can’t afford to have a down moment. You just never know when someone is going to walk in and end up telling the blogosphere all about it.

New Belmont is located at 2117 Colonial Avenue, Norfolk, VA 23517. Check their website or call for upcoming nightly events.

New Belmont on Urbanspoon

Chilli Peppers Restaurant & Bar - Kill Devil Hills, NC

Restaurant Sign Chili Peppers Restaurant and Bar, Kill Devil HIlls, North Carolina
Chili Peppers - Outer Banks
Two words, DON'T GO! I have harped before on the multitude of bad restaurants on the Outer Banks and Chili Peppers is right up there. I was down last November (belated review) for the annual Outer Banks Half Marathon which has to date always been scheduled on a Sunday. Nikki and I drove down Saturday to have lunch, do a few things around the family cottage and have dinner before I had to hit the sack early. I know my grandmother has eaten at Chili Pepper's with my aunt and I hope they had a better experience than we did. Chili Peppers offers Tex-Mex style food and a good deal of fried seafood (why does everyone want to fry everything at these mediocre restaurants on the OBX?).

Nikki ordered the Chicken Taco Salad and said it was pretty lame. The vegetables were tired and the chicken rubbery. I, on an equally bad note, selected the tuna steak sandwich. The tuna was so fishy, I could not eat it. And what is with the bread at restaurants? The bun was terrible, cold and the cheapest, grade F type you might find at a Bottom Dollar should you venture in there. I do not, but my suspicions tell me that type of bread would exist there.

The decor reminded me of a bad dream. Dark red carpeting, very cheap wood tables and VERY uncomfortable chairs, those straight back 'cottage' chairs that want to make you stand up and eat. There were quite a few other victims having lunch and I do not know their opinions, but I sure do know one thing. I will never eat there again. Luckily, it was not expensive or the hot air from anger would have shot me to the moon and back.

I do not recommend this restaurant at all, but should you want to throw yourself to the wolves, it is located at 3001 N Croatan Highway, Kill Devil Hills, NC 27948.


Chilli Peppers Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Passion The Restaurant-Volvo Pkwy, Chesapeake

Every time I drive past Passion it reminds me that I really want to try it out. I have heard some good things about it, and recently read a good review on another local restaurant review blog. I am friends with a couple whom I consider a reliable restaurant resource because they eat out pretty frequently and have great taste. (They are friends with me after all!) I hit them up to see if they had tried out Passion and find out if liked it. Wow...not only did they NOT like it, they had a plethora of complaints about everything from slow service, iffy side dishes and no wine refills to owners who were on the planet clueless. One of these buddies, who goes by the alter-ego "Pdan",was so blown away by the experience they felt compelled to write a review about it on Here it is...

July 31, 2009 - Doesn't like it - We had heard good things about Passion, thrilled to have a fine dining establishment in our neighborhood. We came away very disappointed...The owners while present in the room, made no attempt to engage with their customers...our waitress received no help in busing our table...we sat forever with dirty app. dishes on the table. Missed opportunity to sell more one offered another drink. Our meal was inconsistent..."She Crab Soup" very good,....the Shrimp in the Shrimp and Grits had a not so fresh taste and smell...The Rack of Lamb good, the rest of the plate not so much. I enjoyed the Fillet. All in all the restaurant is lacking amazingly what it's name suggests PASSION especially from the sad...won't be back. We will travel to other favorites where we feel appreciated...Terrapin, Manninos and Town Pointe Club.

My goodness. This is a bad one isn't it! Now more that ever I feel the need to try this place out. It's kind of like a really bad movie. Everyone keeps telling you how horrendously horrible it is, which only makes you all the more curious to see it for yourself! Additionally, in all fairness to the restaurant staff and owners, I need to experience it myself before I pass judgement. Has anyone else out there tried Passion? Let us know!


Passion The Restaurant is located in the Shoppes at Greenbrier
1036 Volvo Parkway
Chesapeake, VA 23320

Passion the Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Nawab Indian Cuisine - Military Circle, Norfolk

Nawab Indian Cuisine Restaurant Logo
I have dined on and off at Nawab since I was in high school (yes, a good while ago). My mom took me, probably kicking and screaming, the first time, but I was quickly hooked. Three items caused this addiction to Indian cuisine; Basmati rice, Naan Bread and Chicken Tikka Masala. As a youngster, I began with mild seasoning but evolved to one that enjoys the 'Indian hot' level in my elder years. The Kachumber Salad, tomatoes, cucumbers and onions, is a good starter as well as the Vegetable Pakora, vegetables fried in lentil flour (while it is fried, it has to be better because the flour is made with lentils eh?). Indian restaurants usually have an assorted appetizer selection as well that gives you a few things to try - always a good idea if you are a virgin. Naan word, fantastic. Freshly baked in a Tandoor oven, Naan is prepared in a variety of ways. Plain white Naan is delicious, but they also offer it stuffed with anything from cheese, to potatoes to sweet coconut and cherries. I cannot say how much I enjoy this bread. When dining not from the buffet, I order the Chicken Tikka Masala mentioned above. My mom and I used to fight because I told her she was not allowed to order 'my' dish. I think we still bicker about this come to think of it, but at least it’s a mild bickering. Tikka Masala is worth fighting for, a spiced tomato and cream sauce and what is better than that? I enjoy the dish hot, hot, but try mild if you are easing yourself into a new cuisine. All entrees are served with the traditional Basmati rice which is flavored with saffron. I do not eat a lot of plain rice, but this rice has such flavor that I can never pass it up. It is a wonderful mix of flavors and goes well with any Indian dish. I have also enjoyed the Vegetable Masala on occasion. To balance a hot dish, try some Raita, a refreshing homemade yogurt with grated cucumbers and cumin on the pallet. I also recommend a Lassi, which is a yogurt shake flavored with rose water (a version of 'plain') or mango. It is light but sweet and a great ending to a possibly hot meal. Kulfi is another good dessert choice. Plain or mango, this Indian ice cream will cool the pallet down.

This might be a surprise, but I will eat an Indian buffet. There is no other buffet that passes these lips, but I make an exception for Indian. It is a great way to try different menu items of which you may be unsure. Laine and I decided to venture to the Norfolk Nawab buffet last week. Both of us had been there before, but too much time has slipped away since our last visit. There is always a salad selection with some traditional Indian accompaniments, the entree items and a dessert. For our visit, the line contained Tandoor chicken, a chicken and vegetable stir-fry, lamb, Vegetable Pakora, a lentil dish, a few vegetables choices, Naan bread and dessert. I chose the Eggplant Bhartha, which is baked in a clay oven then mashed and sautéed with garlic, onions, tomatoes and spices, some of the vegetables from the stir-fry, a dish similar to Vegetable Masala, peas and mushrooms in a tomato and cream sauce and Naan Bread. Dessert was eggless custard, but I was pretty full and had to pass. The food was excellent, but I hate to say, the service was not so much. In the past, the staff has always bent over backwards but I wonder if the buffet is such a hoopla meal for the restaurant that they are scurrying about too much to be attentive. The buffet is pretty much self-serve but getting refills on drinks is still done by the waiter and it was a challenge that day. I still recommend Nawab and the buffet if you are a first-timer trying Indian cuisine. You will be able to try more than a few selections and be prepped to come for the non-buffet meal. If you are a pro, go to dinner. The service is better.

I have dined at both the Norfolk and Virginia Beach locations and have had great good at both.

Nawab is located at Military Circle in Norfolk, at Hilltop in Virginia Beach, in Oyster Point Square in Newport News and in the Monticello Shopping Center in Williamsburg. All locations serve lunch and dinner daily with a lunch buffet in addition to the lunch menu.


Like Alex, I have been dining at Nawab in both Virginia Beach and Norfolk for many years. When I lived at the Beach I was a frequent user of the Take Out Taxi a great service which delivers orders from select restaurants. Nawab was my top choice. The Norfolk location, formerly Dawat (not sure what that was all about) is back to Nawab again and serving up their standard lunch buffet. The restaurant had a good sized crowd when Alex and I visited last Thursday. The inside has been renovated since my last time there, and had a nice, modern appeal.

Thank goodness Alex was on point that day; because there is no way I would be able to recite the dishes, much less the ingredients as she did. Kudos Alex! I agree that the food was all good. We took along two co-workers who were new to Indian cuisine and they both liked it too. I think a common misconception about Indian food is that it is very spicy and hot. Not true. It can be, but like most spicy cuisines from other countries, it gets taken down a notch or two when being served to our tender American palates. However, if you want it fully loaded, most restaurants will gladly oblige.

I enjoyed my meal and would certainly return, in spite of the lousy service. I do not like dirty dishes piling up on the table while I am eating. Even in a non-buffet environment, when a plate is empty, I want it gone. Some of the food had a little kick to it, and I was hitting the diet coke hard. I was literally chasing the waiter as he was heading back to the kitchen, desperately trying to get his attention for a refill. As he hit the door, he finally turned around to speak to me. He was neither apologetic nor interested. Sir, do not make me get up out of my seat and hunt you down for service!

Final Score:
Food – 8
Service – 0


The restaurant reviewed is located at:
888 N. Military Highway
Norfolk, VA 23502

Nawab Indian Cuisine on Urbanspoon

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Ooka Sushi - Granby Street, Norfolk-NOW CLOSED

Exterior Ooka Sushi, Norfolk Restaurant

The first thing that grabbed my attention about Ooka Sushi was the front door.

OOKA Sushy

Hmmm. was the ‘y’ on the end of “sushy” a cutsie, on purpose spelling or a typo? In the neon sign above the door it is spelled “Sushi”. Sign Ooka Sushi, Norfolk RestaurantOn the front of the menu it is spelled “Sushi”. My guess is that it is a typo, because I also found sashimi spelled sashini on one occasion in their menu. And wow, what is happening on this end of Granby Street? Are they overrun by loiterers asking for change and use of the bathroom? I had just crossed over the invisible line past which Granby Street transitions from kind of nice to kind of questionable. I had been to this same location previously when it was a Chinese restaurant, the name of which escapes me. The inside had not changed a bit. The décor is very simple, bordering on austere. Nothing is on the tables except folded, white paper napkins. In keeping with the theme of the front doors, I suppose this provides an undesirable element with little to pilfer.

I was dining with three other co-workers on our lunch hour. Ooka has a good special where you can get any two rolls for $7.50 or any three for $9.99. Most rolls are $4-5 a la carte, making this a financially sound ordering decision. Two diners went for the “3-for” deal, I opted for Sushi and Sashimi lunch, and the fourth diner ordered an AAC roll. I had to ask what that was…avocado, asparagus and cucumber. To me, that sounds a bit boring, but apparently to a vegan it is very exciting!

I had a couple of issues with Ooka’s condiments. I like light soy sauce, which is lower in sodium. Usually, the bottle is green for light, red for regular. Since a red bottle was brought out I requested the light version from the waiter. He told me that they are all light; they just put them in the regular bottle. Really? I’m not buying it. Next, they didn’t have Splenda for my tea. That’s okay; I can handle Sweet ‘n Low every so often. However, they didn’t have Sweet ‘n Low. They had some generic saccharin that was in packaging that made it look exactly like the name brand.

I also had an issue with the length of time it took to get our food. We were one of three tables in the restaurant. It took way to long to get our food. Most places on Granby know they are catering to a business lunch crowd who need to get back in their cages in as close to an hour as possible. Finally, once the food started coming out, it came in stages, rather than the entire table being served out once. That drives me nuts. At least with sushi you aren’t worried about your food getting cold as you wait for your entire table to be served, but that is really not the point.
Sushi Plate at Ooka Sushi, Norfolk Restaurant
Sashimi Plate Ooka Sushi, Norfolk RestaurantThank goodness the food was good. Everybody’s rolls looked fabulous, and seeing three clean plate club members confirmed that they all tasted good too. Mine was quite good. No overdoing of either fish or rice. Simply well proportioned pieces sushi, appropriately seasoned with dashes of wasabi. The sashimi slices were also nice sizes, very fresh and tasty.
Overall, I’d have to say Ooka is a toss up. On the plus side: prices are good and food is good. On the downside, they take too long and use condiments of indeterminate origin. After saying all that…I’d still choose it over Domo any day!


Ooka is located at 411 Granby Street.

Ooka Sushi on Urbanspoon

Shiki Sushi & Hibachi - Chesapeake VA

Exterior Shiki Sushi and Hibachi, Chesapeake Restaurant
Ah, sushi. You either love it or you hate it or you can’t bring yourself to touch it in order to discover which one you are! My brother-in-law always says, “I don’t eat bait”. Well, I guess I do because I place myself in the “love it” category, eating it about twice a week. I tend to be a fairly structured person and rely on my daily/weekly routines to help me get it all done through the course of a week and one of my favorite routines is definitely “Sushi Friday”. When I moved from Va. Beach to Chesapeake years ago it became a challenge to find a sushi spot close to home because nothing was close to our home! It was with great anticipation that I awaited the opening of a shopping strip close by that touted a restaurant with “sushi” in the name. I was not disappointed!
Sushi Rolls Shiki Sushi and Hibachi, Chesapeake Restaurant
Shiki Sushi & Hibachi is a smallish place. There are about a dozen tables/booths; a small sushi bar and a Hibachi grill that seats about 8. I have eaten in the restaurant only two or three times. The service has been excellent. As is typical in Chesapeake, there is always a mixed bag of families and couples. My five year old, a fellow sushi eater, loves to eat there and they are especially good with children. (Some restaurants just tolerate kids, even the well mannered ones, but Shiki actually seems to enjoy them). The hibachi grill uses very fresh ingredients. Don’t expect a show a Shiki. Unlike some Japanese steakhouses, no one is going to do a dance or flip a shrimp in the air and have it land in their hat. What they will do is serve up a pleasing combination of shrimp, steak or chicken and vegetables. I don’t know what they do to the chicken, but it is some of the most tender I have tasted.

I have ordered carry out from Shiki close to hundred times, honestly. Every time I call it is ready in “fifteen minute”. And it really is. I rarely have to wait. Sushi to go Shiki Sushi and Hibachi, Chesapeake RestaurantMy standard order is the Sushi – Sashimi combo for two and a Yummy Role. The combo comes with the house “Shiki” roll which is phenomenal. Layered tempura shrimp, rolled in rice, covered with avocado and then covered in a sauce with just the right amount of spice. The Yummy roll is also shrimp based, but topped with eel, avocado and sauce. I have tried many other rolls, all good, but keep coming back to the Yummy. It’s that good.
House Rolls Shiki Sushi and Hibachi, Chesapeake Restaurant

Their fish is always fresh. You will not find yourself chewing too much, or unable to bite a piece of sushi in half. The salmon is a standout. Always like butta! One of my sushi peeves is when the pieces are prepared over-sized with a gigantic slab of rice. Come on! How are you supposed to fit that in your mouth? Shiki sushi has a perfect balance of fish to rice. There’s enough fish that you feel like you’re getting your money’s worth, and just the right amount of rice to complement it all in a mouthful. Wow…is it Friday yet?!

Shiki Sushi is located in the Mount Pleasant Marketplace:
1464 Mount Pleasant Rd
Chesapeake, VA 23322
(757) 546-9338

Shiki Sushi and Hibachi on Urbanspoon

Monday, August 3, 2009

Machismo Burrito Bar-College Place, Norfolk VA

Exterior Machismo Burrito Bar, Norfolk Restaurant
I know, I am a bit obsessed with Machismo. I was so excited today when I walked out of The Market at lunchtime and came face to face with a Machismo sign. It isn't what you might think. Machismo is NOT leaving the insanity of York Street construction. They are expanding with a new restaurant on the corner of Boush Street and College Place. This makes me happy. I can still take a nice stroll to York Street on days I feel like a walk, or take a quick jaunt to College Place on the days I need a quick Burrito fix.
They are scheduled to open Thursday of this week (8/6) and I have a feeling they will be swamped. All you downtowners who didn't have it in you to trek to York Street no longer have an excuse not to try them out. has a coupon for FREE FOUNTAIN DRINK & CHIPS OR COOKIE with select entrees. Grab a few of your office buddies and check it out!

For more information visit their website at or see our full review here.

Interior Machismo Burrito Bar, Norfolk Restaurant

*Note-This location is just as good as York Street. It has a bit more urban feel to the interior decor with a lot more available setting. Lunch lines can get a bit long, but it is well worth the wait. You always get a big bang for your buck! Let me know what you think!_Laine

Machismo Burrito Bar on Urbanspoon