Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Meet the kitchenistas — New Yorkers who store their clothes in ovens and fridges - NYPOST.com

racks of shoes
Meet the kitchenistas — New Yorkers who store their clothes in ovens and fridges - NYPOST.com

As someone who hates and refuses to cook, and eats out whenever humanly possible, I knew I wasn't crazy when I began storing my clothing in my kitchen cabinets. I see I am far from alone. This articles gives me more splendid ideas.


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

37th & Zen - Norfolk

37th and Zen Logo

Zen opened a little while ago and I had heard good things about it, but until recently, had not been. Laine and I had a ride, from Chas*, which helps us a great deal when we travel out of Downtown Norfolk proper on our lunch hour, hour being the operative word (so, if anyone wants to cart Laine and I to Ghent and help us review, let us know). Zen is located at the intersection of 37th Street and Hampton Boulevard right before the 38th Street intersection, an event-less intersection but widely known to the longtime Norfolkians. Located near the ever-growing Old Dominion University campus, Zen created a student-inspired menu, but should not deter you if you are not still a student (I try to pretend at times). Instead of soups and sides Zen calls them 'Practicing Student', instead of appetizers, Zen has 'Advanced Student', instead of sandwiches and wraps, there is the 'Senior Student' portion, 'Dharma Holder' is the salad section and lastly, entrees are 'Zen Teacher'. A lot of things looked good and at lunch, there is a daily $5 lunch special. This day it was chicken kabobs with rice and another side and the soup de jour was creamy potato. 37th and Zen dish Mother Earth Burger After a few minutes of fretting over what to have because everything on the menu looked so tempting, I opted for the Mother Earth Burger, a homemade lentil and white bean vegetarian burger served on a kaiser roll with fries. The menu does not state this, but the sandwiches and wraps come with their house fries, a mixture of white potato and sweet potato fries. My burger was huge and tasty and came with lettuce, tomato and onion and I think the only thing I would have added would be a little spice to the patty or a sauce of some sort to give it some get up and go. I still enjoyed it and the fries were killer. They were seasoned and seemed to be REAL french fries, not some frozen version from Ole Rida. Chas ordered the Reuben, which came with fries, and said his was equally good. Other menu items include Rooted Pork BBQ, a Tibetan Chicken Wrap, Chi Kung Fried Rice and Bronzed Ahi Tuna. Quite a variety.
37th and Zen dish Reuben
Without beverages, our bill came to $18.50 pre-tip. Not bad at all. Not surprisingly, Zen offers an Asian-inspired atmosphere, has live music and some other nightly treats (including karaoke, not one of my favorites). They have a nice sitting area, which I assume is an extension of the bar and is filled with splendidly colored leather couches, orange, red, yellow. A very pretty and inviting arrangement.

Laine and I are spreading the word about our pleasing experience at Zen and we encourage everyone to visit. A friend told me Zen used to have a drag queen brunch on the weekends when the restaurant first opened, but sadly, that does not seem to be going on anymore.


The restaurant was pretty empty when we had lunch there on Thursday. I think their current reputation may be as more of a club/bar than a restaurant, but if the food stays as good as it was when we were there, that should change. 37th and North Hampton Blvd is a bit of a hike from downtown only because there isn't a good or fast way to get there. You all know what I mean. Lots of traffic, stop lights, stop signs, construction...your everyday experience in downtown. Once there we were told to sit anywhere we liked and were quickly served.

I ordered fish tacos; Whitefish, shredded cabbage, tomatoes, cheese, and a cucumber dill relish for $7.50. Although not on the menu, it came with a heavily peppered bean salad. I am not big on jalapenos, but it was a tasty side. I picked most of the peppers out and enjoyed the flavor they left on the remaining beans. The (2) taco portions were hearty and they were very good. Another plus in my book, sodas were $1.67 AND the server refilled my drink at least 3 times. Caffeine is my friend.37th and Zen dish Fish Tacos

Zen appears to be very vegetarian and vegan friendly. The menu highlights these meals, and notes that "most vegetarian items can be made vegan... just ask your server.We have chickette and gardien burger in-house, available for substitution." Maybe it is because of these reviews, but lately when I go to a restaurant I read the menu cover to cover. Most of them have little stories or some other such nonsense about how they started, who they are, what they stand for, blah blah blah. Does anyone read this other than me? My favorite comment on Zen's menu? "Abandoned bar tabs will be charged with a 20% gratuity. " I assume these are abandoned with a credit card? I thought an abandoned tab was one that didn't have ANY payment attached.

Regardless, if you are looking for a menu with good variety, reasonable prices and a restaurant that seems to know how to prepare a tasty dish, give 37th and Zen a try. I think you will be pleased. On a final note, I happen to like Ore-Ida fries, especially the waffle fries, but I agree with Alex, stay away from any food named "Ole".


A coupon offering 20% off lunch is going on until April 30th. This does not apply to the $5 special, obviously, but a great offer. Click Here for the coupon.

11 AM Tuesday-Friday

Zen Hours
Tuesday-Friday 11 AM to 2 AM
Saturday 5 PM to 2 AM
Sunday 5 PM-Till
Happy Hour
Tuesday-Friday 4 to 8 PM

1083 W. 37th Street
Norfolk, 23508
(757) 533-5151

37th and Zen on Urbanspoon

Tortilla West: Back on the Good Foot

shoe with goldfish in the heel

After my anti-salt throw down during my last visit, I put Tortilla West on double secret probation for a while. This past weekend, my mother and grandmother, Chas* and I decided to give it another whirl. A neighbor told me that his wife had been recently and that T Dub has a few new items and everything was really good. I also knew cigarette smoke was no more, as well, and T Dub had been one of the smokier places that my lungs could not handle too often.
With good attitudes and appetites, we arrived around 11:45 for Sunday brunch. I was pleased right away that the air was clear and indeed, there were a few new entries on the menu. Of course, we ordered chips and guac, as T Dub has some of the best guac around. I was a little disappointed because the chips were not seasoned as they usually are. I have had this happen once or twice before and I think the almighty T Dub seasoner misses a section or two of the chips. The gauc was better than ever though, so I kept my gripe to myself, at the table. Historically, I have always ordered the Vegetable Frittata, but this time the new Toasted Ciabatta Benedict caught my eye. Two poached eggs, goat cheese, spinach and hollandaise over ciabatta bread. For my side, I chose grits. I was extremely satisfied with my choice. The eggs were poached to perfection, the hollandiase was just right and the ciabatta was a nice alternative to the usual Benedict foundation, the English muffin. My grandmother had the other version of the Benedict. This had ham and did not have goat cheese, but was very similar to my meal otherwise. She had the potatoes as her side and was very pleased with the meal.
Chas had an omelet and said his was fine, but nothing to write home about. He is not a huge fan of T Dub, so it might be hard for him to make an unbiased statement about anything there. Nikki ordered the shrimp and grits, against her better judgment and was greeted with what had initially deterred her...the portion size. This is the smallest dish at T Dub and its sister restaurant, A.W. Shucks and most of it is composed of grits, which are CHEAP. She was disappointed and said her own version of the dish is better and I do not doubt her. The meal looked pretty paltry. T Dub is back on my good list, but I advise you not to order the shrimp and grits. Anything else seems reliable. Like James Brown says 'get on the good foot'. I think T Dub is back on their good foot. Now, get some seasoning on those chips!


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

How to Drive Your Waiter Crazy

An interesting article taking into account the thoughts and feelings of servers. Although, I'm not sure I believe that they all don't spit in our food...


Sunday, March 14, 2010

Yu-Mi Sushi Bar and Grill - Chesapeake

Yu-Mi Sushi Bar and Grill exterior
You could easily drive by Yu-Mi without seeing it. Apparently I have been doing just that for a couple of years. Located in the corner of a fairly new and small shopping strip behind the 7-Eleven is not really a prime location, but this place is a little gem. The interior is modern and calming, combining dark woods with natural elements like river rocks and slate. The lighting is golden and low. There is a small bar that sits about 6, a sushi bar, about 6 booths and several tables. The restaurant is not large, and filled up quickly when we were there Friday evening.

I have to start out by saying that the service was excellent. Our server was Fiona, and the other waiter working also serviced our table. I wish more places had this philosophy where everyone services any table if needed. It really kicks the customer experience up a notch or two by just keeping water glasses full and dirty plates off the table.

Yu-Mi Sushi Bar and Grill dish shrimp dumplings shumai
My daughter is a big fan of dumplings, so we started out with Shumai, Shrimp dumplings. They were excellent. Slightly crispy on one side, soft on the other. They were very light, not overly filling as some dumplings can be. My husband and I ordered the Sushi and Sashimi Special, which is served with a spicy tuna appetizer. I enjoy a sushi restaurant that serves a meal in stages like this, rather than bringing it all out at once. I am usually not a spicy tuna eater, but theirs was rather mild, and I found it to be delicious!
Yu-Mi Sushi Bar and Grill side salad
As for the main course? It was excellent! The special comes with salads and Miso soup. The salads were a good size and used a creamy ginger dressing. The Miso soup was nothing special, but it was good. I liked all the serving dishes. They stuck with all white plates in modern shapes. They also had upgraded wooden chopsticks, not the cheap ones that can break unevenly and splinter. Their attention to little details like this impressed me, and improved the overall dining experience. The fish all tasted fresh. The clam, which can sometimes be a rubbery chew-fest, was very tender. There was a good rice to fish proportion on the sushi, and the Sashimi servings were generous. Although every booth was full, the food came out quickly. There is a kids menu containing, Chicken Teriyaki, Yaki Soba and Vegetable Tempura all served with house salad,shrimp dumpling and rice. My girl is a Sushi eater though, so we ordered a la carte pieces for her. Yu-Mi Sushi Bar and Grill sashimi
Yu-Mi Sushi Bar and Grill dish Sashimi plate
Our final surprise was a complementary piece of fried cheesecake. I'm not really sure why we were lucky enough to get this. I had gotten a little chatty with the server and so had my daughter. Sushi restaurants always love to see little kids eating up the food (future customers!)and my girl does not disappoint. I was skeptical of the dessert, but it was rather pretty. Upon tasting it I realized it was not greasy in the least, and the heat of cooking it melts the cheesecake a little, making it a creamy sweet delight.
Overall, Yu-Mi hit every mark. Nice ambiance, great service, good food, convenient (for me) location. Prices are in line with most other Sushi restaurants. Oh yeah, I'll definitely be back!

Yu-Mi Sushi Bar and Grill
1320 Kempsville Rd. suite107
Chesapeake, VA 23320
ph: 548-0668
Yu Mi Sushi on Urbanspoon

Friday, March 12, 2010

Machismo: Non-expiring cards expire

Everyone loves to get something for free and it makes you return to a restaurant when there is a little extra incentive. Tropical Smoothie (which Laine and I banned), Subway, and even Machismo have the 'buy so many, get one free' card. Personally, I think any medium-priced locale should do something like this, especially in these times.

At Machismo, the older cards were buy 5 burritos, get 1 free and had a maroon font. The newer cards have a black font and are buy 10 burritos, get 1 free. I had one of the older cards and one of the newer cards in my wallet. Obviously, I had forgotten that I had that older card and started a new one somewhere along the way. Last week, I went in and a gentleman working converted my buy 10 get one free punches over to my buy 5, get 1 free card, so I had three punches total on that buy 5, get 1 free. Over half way there! Today, I am ringing up and the guy working told me 'we only accept the buy 10, get 1 free cards now' and took my buy 5, get 1 free card, put the punches on a buy 10, get 1 free card and sent me on my way. I even said 'it was accepted last week,' but he ignored me. I had the deer in headlights look on my face and once I recovered from shock, I said to my friend 'I can't believe he did that'. I wish I had just asked for it back to try someone else because this guy really irked me.

This is not good business Machismo. You should honor the cards you give out. These are not debit or credit cards and no expiration date exists. I have been in there numerous times and I think you can spare an extra burrito here and there for the patrons that have been coming for a while...you know, back when you were more generous and gave our the buy 5, get 1 free cards. I know costs go up, but don't let Machismo turn into el cheapo. Comprende?


Sunday, March 7, 2010

Haiku Sushi - Chesapeake VA

I have a hunger

Gave my money for some fish

My hunger lives on

Okay, so I'm no poet. But there is truth in my Haiku of woe. Several years ago I used to eat a Haiku all of the time with my family. It was a very good place for kids. We ate here Friday and I was very disappointed! It took FOREVER to get our food. The orders were either not placed right or something, but people seated long after us were served before us.

When the Sushi/Sashimi arrived, the portions were minuscule. I ordered Sashimi. A single piece of fish was about one inch long and 1/2 inch wide. Really? Is there some sort of raw fish shortage going on that I wasn't aware of? I have a better idea. Next time I have a sushi craving , I'll drive in front of your restaurant and throw my money out of the car window. I will feel exactly the same way I did Friday. Still hungry and a little poorer.

Service was very poor. After waiting forever to get our food, we had to walk up to the counter and ask our server (who was busy chatting away with another server) for our check. It kills me when a good restaurant goes bad. Why did you have to let me down!!! Boo-Hoo.


Haiku Sushi
801 Volvo Pkwy
Chesapeake, VA 23320

Haiku Sushi on Urbanspoon