I Miss Boston’s Aji Sushi Bar!

10 Apr

Before leaving Boston, hubby and I had been coming here somewhat regularly. I haven’t been able to find a sushi place quite like it here in my new home (Chicago), so I’ve been thinking back to our old haunt – Aji Sushi Bar in Newton, just outside Boston.  The first time we came, the place was completely empty… was that a bad sign? Then we realized that it was Super Bowl Sunday. I guess we were the only people in town who didn’t follow football.  

Aji Sushi

We shocked the staff with the sheer amount of sushi we ordered…and devoured. Everything was great – good quality fish, reasonably priced. Yum. Aji Sushi quickly became our go-to sushi spot. 

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The last time we went, the place was packed! We managed to grab the last two-seater table available. This time, the waitress didn’t flinch at the long list of sushi rolls we ordered. We sipped our green tea as we waited for our food. I looked over at the couple at the table next to ours. You can always tell when a couple is still in the awkward, early stages of dating. She orders one maki roll, and perhaps a miso soup. Maybe she wants to look like a dainty eater. He orders two rolls and perhaps the seaweed salad. Come on, guys. Don’t tell me you’re not still hungry after what really amounts to a snack. Aji Sushi is fantastic – so go ahead and order another maki roll!

A few minutes later, our waitress returned to ask if we would like to move to a larger table that had just become available, because our current table would not be able to accommodate our entire order. Yes, please! My guy and I quickly relocated to the table meant for four. We glanced at the other couples. Amateurs.

Depending on how busy the place is, the presentation of the sushi can be quite artistic:

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When the restaurant is packed however, the beautiful flowers become a preschooler’s scribble. But the sushi still tastes great.

One time, our order was arranged on a big sushi boat!

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Yes, maybe the sushi chefs have a fondness for tempura bits..But this mango roll is one of my favourites:

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Boy do we miss this place. For those of you in the Newton, Massachusetts area, consider yourselves lucky to have this spot around!

Info: Aji Sushi Bar, 340 Walnut St, Newton, MA 02460 USA

Aji Sushi Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Chicago Restaurant Week 2016: Catch 35

21 Feb

For Chicago Restaurant Week at the end of January, hubby and I decided to check out Catch 35, a slightly splurgy seafood spot near the river. During Restaurant Week, you can nab some pretty good prix fixe deals at top Chicago restaurants, and Catch 35 offers two dinner options – a $33 menu and a $44 menu.

Ambiance-wise, Catch 35 has a bit of a personality disorder. It’s a very long restaurant, and the front section evokes a bit of a classy jazz lounge/bar feel. There’s a shiny black grand piano surrounded by high top tables with views out the front window towards the water. A long bar stretches towards the back of the restaurant. Across from the bar are a few casual-looking tables positioned fairly close together. After the bar comes a brightly lit display case showing off fresh cuts of fish, and a few more tables. It’s like you’re in a fancy fish market. Walking deeper into the restaurant, you then go up a few steps. It’s here that you’ll find probably the best and most comfortable tables. There are a few booths on one side, and tables for four on the other. Then up a few more steps, and now you’re officially in the largest section of the dining room. Maybe it’s going for a fine dining feel, but it’s more like 90’s hotel meets Senior’s night.

Despite its confused look, Catch 35’s food is anything but. Everything is plated nicely, and more importantly, tastes pretty awesome.

Catch 35

Kicking off the start of a fantastic meal, my husband started off with a creamy and flavorful lobster bisque.

Catch 35 - beet salad

I got the beet salad, which was a huge portion with tons of beets, topped with creamy goat cheese and crunchy pistachios. 

 

Mahi

For my entree, I had the perfectly cooked mahi mahi served over roasted root vegetables and red grapes (part of the $33 menu). Catch 35 has a pretty good wine selection, and I had a terrific and sweet riesling from Mosel, Germany that went well with my meal.

 

Brussel sprouts

We shared a ginormous side of roasted Brussel sprouts, and also the short rib hash (not pictured). Actually, we probably didn’t need the side dishes – our entree portions were well-sized, but we just couldn’t resist. With a name like Catch 35, you might be tempted to stick to seafood only, but the short rib was fantastic. I highly recommend the short rib hash, or any other dish with short rib in it. 

 

Chilean sea bass

Hubby got the Chilean sea bass – yum! (part of the $44 menu).

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We each got our own molten chocolate cake for dessert. It was soooo good, though very rich. One portion would have been enough to share!

The Final Word: Solid seafood and wine selection. The service could be more attentive, and the decor is not the most chic, but I would come back for the nicely prepared dishes.

Info: Catch 35, W. Upper Wacker Drive, Chicago, IL 60601 USA

Catch 35 Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

Aside

Magic Chocolate Sundae!

12 Feb

What a great idea, in time for Valentine’s Day!

(This video may not be visible on some browsers sometimes…. Try Firefox, or go here.

Ma Lai Goh (Steamed “Malay” Cake)

6 Feb

For some reason, this old school Chinese bakery goodie is called “Malay cake”, even though it has nothing to do with Malaysia. The light cake was always my favorite dessert after dim sum (Chinese small plates eaten at lunch time). Unfortunately, traditional style Malay cake is disappearing from menus, and I can’t find them at bakeries either. So I decided to make my own. It turns out that this cake requires only a few basic ingredients.

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Malay cake is a steamed cake, not a baked cake. I used a 9″ steamer basket, lined with parchment paper. 

Ingredients

  • 1 ¼ cups dark brown sugar
  • 5 eggs
  • 120 ml corn oil
  • 130 ml milk
  • 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla

 

Directions

  1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together eggs and sugar until the sugar is well dissolved and the mixture is bubbly.
    Ingredients for Mah Lai Goh
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  2. Whisk in oil and milk until well combined.
  3. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cornstarch, and salt.
  4. Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture. Mix well.DSC05230
  5. Add vanilla. Mix until bubbly.
  6. Cover mixing bowl with plastic wrap and let sit for at least 1 hour, or refrigerate overnight.
  7. Pour mixer into parchment lined steaming tray.
  8. Bring water in steamer to a boil. DSC05235
  9. Place steaming tray in the steamer and steam until cake is done and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 35 minutes.

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I added some chopped walnuts on top, just to make it look a little prettier.

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Slice and enjoy! This cake is best devoured while fresh and warm!

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