Thursday, August 30, 2007

Best Food-related TV Show Ever: After Hours With Daniel

(c) 2007 iN DEMAND L.L.C. All rights reserved. MOJO is a service mark of iN DEMAND L.L.C.

I recently (finally) got TiVo, and I can finally record shows and watch them later. There's nothing quite as satisfying as having a full queue when you get home after a long day- a queue filled with shows I actually want to watch, that is. Having the ability to record various programs automatically has also given me a chance to watch a bunch of shows I didn't even really know existed. You can set the recorder based on show topics or titles, so it's really opened up a new world or TV for me. And that's saying a lot since a big part of my job is to watch a lot of TV!

Ok, enough about my love for TiVo but it just introduced me to my new favorite show ever- After Hours with Daniel on MOJO. I'd never even heard of the network before, but of course I had heard of the world famous chef, Daniel Boulud. Owner and chef of multiple restaurants (most famously the Michelin two-star Daniel) and culinary icon, Daniel Boulud apparently has had a tradition of having late night suppers with other chefs and luminaries. MOJO has turned these dinners into a series- each episode is a different dinner at a different restaurant with varying guests- and the show is such a fun, intimate, honest and completely entertaining look at how chefs (and their well paleted friends) eat and socialize.

Take, for example, a recent dinner at Maremma, an Italian restaurant run by Owner/Chef Cesare Casella- a Tuscan native with the most charming, what-on-earth-is-he-saying accent I've ever heard. Thanks to subtitles, you can hear all of the amusingly competetive banter between he and Daniel as they do the prep for tonight's meal. At one point Daniel shows Casella a cake that he made for dessert- a huge round of brioche stuffed with cream- and says to the Italian chef "You see- the French inspired the Italians to make cannoli with this cake," to which Casella replies "Oh yes, the Italians took the French idea and made it more refined," while Daniel jabs back with "No, the Italians simplified it." They laugh, drink a glass of wine, marvel at some gorgeous California artichokes that Daniel will also be serving at dinner and do the hug/kiss thing, then depart for the afternoon.

Tonight's guests include Craft Owner/Chef and Top Chef Head Judge Tom Colicchio, actor/comedian Mario Cantone, actress/wine buff Lorraine Bracco and a couple of other NY area chefs and writers. They all sit at a private dining table with Daniel and Casella- and the food parade begins. Although each dinner for each episode is at a different restaurant, Daniel almost always contributes a dish or two- and tonight he starts with the artichokes and then some sea scallops with garlic butter (when you see the amount of butter Daniel dollops onto each scallop, it's almost frightening!). There's a lot of "ooooohs" and "aaaaahs" from the table, a decent amount of wine poured, then the real fun begins. One of the guests tells a great story of how he accidentally fell into the catering business after bragging to a friend at an event that the food was crap and that he "could do better food with one hand tied behind my back." Two weeks later he gets a call to cater an event- an after party for an up-and-coming comedian named Steve Martin, who, incidentally, is a vegetarian. Mario Cantone does his dead-on Julia Child impression- and everyone is laughing so hard that they can hardly keep the food in their mouths. After the impression is over, they all stand up and toast to Julia. Daniel continues the "French are better than Italians" jokes to which Casella tells a hilarious story about how the French would not have underwear if it wasn't for the Italians- and his crazy accent and animated manner of speaking makes it come out like "Da Frinch, dey didn't hove no UNDERWEEEEEEER! NO UNDERWEEEEEER!" and Colicchio just looks like he is gonna absolutely die of laughter. The main course that Casella made- a roasted baby goat- arrives to much applause and everyone digs in, relishing every bite. The stories and jokes continue until everyone seems so full that they just can't eat anymore. Cantone jokes that he can feel the brioche on his ass.

I've seen several episodes, and all of them have the same, wonderful elements that make the show so utterly interesting, entertaining and heartwarming all at once. Daniel's bravado (well-earned, of course!) and unexpected humor, the restaurant chef's insights, the two chefs working together, the personalities of each different guest, the food itself and the stories that pop up during these meals make such a perfect combination into one perfect show. The restaurants and chefs showcased are amazing- Wylie Dufresne and his wd-50, Shea Gallante and his CRU....obviously Daniel is such a legend in the culinary world that all of these young chefs look up to him and are honored to have him host these dinners in their restaurants.

Few shows (if any, quite frankly) give you such access and paint such an intimate portrait of real chefs doing their thing, but After Hours With Daniel really hits the mark. I get so excited when my TiVo has a new episode on it- and every single one I've seen so far has been so completely satisfying. I urge you to check it out!

Maybe one day, Daniel will invite a food blogger to one of these dinners.......*sigh.* I'm sure I'd keel over from intimidation after the first introduction, but one can dream, no?

After Hours With Daniel
Airs Wednesdays, 10 PM EDT on MOJO

Monday, August 27, 2007

Restaurant Review: Red Pearl Kitchen, Hollywood

I know, I know- it's my fault for even considering going to a place that seems to be a mish-mash of all Asian cuisines, but a friend was in from out of town, we all craved Chinese food and we were in West Hollywood. Unfortunately, we weren't really close enough to Alhambra, San Gabriel or Monterey Park (or even the second-best China Town, for that matter) and we were hungry for something spicy. Maybe it was our growling tummies that made us choose to go to Red Pearl Kitchen- a hipster, trendy, barely-Chinese restaurant on Melrose. Besides, the gorgeous design would impress my out-of-towner friend, right? Anyway, it was a visit that we all regret and I will never make that mistake again. I really, REALLY should have known better than to dine at a place that has pad thai, spicy tuna on crispy rice, a Kobe beef hot pot (?!) and General Tso's tofu all on one menu.

We drive up to an all-female team of valets, which I thought was pretty cool. Walking into the restaurant, we were impressed by the Asian-fusioned decor. I did get a bit worried, however, when I realized that we were one of only two tables in the entire restaurant, and it was 7:30 PM. Regardless, I told the hostess about my reservation (which I had made on Open Table) and she promptly seated us in the enclosed patio, which again, was quite lovely. Our very cheerful and helpful waitress took our drink orders, we perused the menu, then decided on a few things to share. I'd say we were off to a good start.

First up: Baby Greens with Sesame and Soy. Bland, bland and bland- a pile of mixed greens were barely dressed with anything remotely resembling soy or sesame, but the vegetables were fresh. It just lacked any decipherable flavor. Our veggie spring rolls arrived, looking nice and crisp, but they, too, were bland, and the accompanying red sauce didn't have any flavor either. I detected some five-spice in the actual spring rolls but it just didn't go well with the vegetables inside. Then our Ginger Chicken Pot stickers arrived- nice and golden brown on the bottom- my friend M and I were excited.

That excitement quickly faded, however, after I took my first bite and realized that the filling completely mushy. Luckily, I took a look at the inside of my half-eaten pot stickers and figured out why- the ground chicken was raw. Yup. Raw chicken. Unfortunately, M had already popped one in her mouth. My friend JR quickly returned his offending pot sticker to the serving plate. I called the waitress over, showed her the uncooked poultry and she whisked the plate away, apologizing profusely. When I told her that I didn't want another order, she said she understood but brought another round of drinks, on the house, instead. Smart girl. The meal pretty much didn't recover after that- we were served what is probably the only fried rice dish in memory that I've had to add salt to. Or what I thought was salt- with no salt & pepper on the tables, we had to ask for each. The only salt they claimed they had was mixed with some strong herb, so it wasn't ideal for adding to all of the dishes. Honestly- the shrimp in the fried rice were like little hockey pucks- in both texture and flavor. Who doesn't season shrimp?!?! It didn't contain a single grain of salt, I can tell you that, and were so overcooked that you could probably use them in place of rubber bullets. Our Shao Hsing-Garlic Cashew Chicken was so-so but by that point, we were pretty disgusted with the whole meal. We left most of it and decided to stop by Famima for some real food (*chuckle*).

Look- I realize that it takes more than one visit to a restaurant to truly get the whole picture of what a place is about, but can one really return to a place that unknowingly served them raw poultry??? I'm not a chef but I do realize that after browning the pot sticker, you put some water in the pan, put a lid on it and let it steam long enough for the filling to cook all the way. Judging by how brown the bottoms were, I have a feeling that the cook thought they would burn so he or she took them out too soon. I suppose if any of the other dishes had been good, I'd have some reason to return, but nothing was worth going back for. The menu is a mish mash of Japanese, Chinese, Korean and Thai cuisine- maybe they should just focus on one thing, although I have a feeling it won't last long enough to do so. They don't even give you fortune cookies with your check, although the valet leaves a gingerbread cookie and an almond cookie in your car. Cute. But I want my fortune cookie.

To add insult to injury, I checked my Open Table account today to see that they didn't credit my Open Table account with the 100 points I should have gotten. I think that pretty much is the nail in the coffin.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Restaurant Review: Osteria Mozza

We finally made it out to Osteria Mozza a couple of weeks ago. The much-hyped, Mario Batali/Nancy Silverton-owned restaurant has been the hardest table in town to get, so we wanted to wait a bit before making our way over there. Normally a place with so much hype ends up not being able to live up to it, and although there are undoubtedly a few detractors out there, we had a wonderful experience. I thoroughly enjoyed every single dish, but the stars of the menu, for me, were the pastas. Oh, the pasta at Osteria Mozza...........I could eat those dishes every day and never get tired of them. Also, now's a good time for the disclaimer- these photos are crap. As the evening wore on and it got darker and darker, I just didn't want to use my flash so unfortunately, most of the photos came out too dark and fuzzy.

The restaurant itself is gorgeous- bustling and warm, busy but's so very New York and I fell in love with the chocolate brown and pale blue color scheme. The bar is among the most beautiful I've ever seen.....gleaming bottles of liquor sat on high shelves which also showcased the many different shapes of wine glasses and goblets.

So- we started our meal with a nice amuse of mozzarella wrapped with basil and prosciutto which was a nice way to kick off the meal. Having been seated at the mozzarella bar, we could watch Nancy Silverton and her chefs prepare the small plates of bruschetta-like dishes which was very entertaining. In fact, I think I'd like to sit at the bar on future visits to the restaurant. Our waiter informed us that everything needed to be ordered at once, so we chose carefully. We picked a couple of things from the antipasti, a couple of pastas and a couple of mains. After taking a sip of the Brunello that J ordered (sorry- can't recall the name now!) we sat back and spied on what seemed to be the entire staff of Bastide who were sitting at nearby tables. They seemed to be having a jolly good time, and the value of the bottles of wine and liquor on their tables was enough to send ten kids to college. Ok, I joke but they were getting pretty serious with their libations. And why not? If I worked at one of the most touted French restaurants in Los Angeles (which is set to re-open sometime soon), I'd get my drink on at what some would call the best Italian restaurant in Los Angeles. Damn, I wish I was European;)!

My plate with the octopus and burrata crostini

Ricotta with honey and hazelnuts

Onto the food. We got our grilled octopus with celery and potatoes since I'd heard so much about it, and it was as tender and delicious as people had described. We had to get the crostini topped with caramelized shallots, escarole, bacon and that lovely burrata that shows up on many of Nancy Silverton's menus, and well, I mean how on earth could you go wrong with that combo on crusty bread? The kitchen sent out some fresh ricotta with honey and toasted hazelnuts which came with the same crusty Those hazelnuts were some of the freshest, crunchiest and most flavorful I've ever had. A true winner.

Ravioli with ricotta, egg and browned butter

Orecchiette with crumbled sausage and swiss chard

Pockets of heaven........

Now for the pastas: my friend Mika and I had eyed a patron eating the ravioli while waiting for our table, and we had to practically tie our hands to our sides so we wouldn't reach out and grab it off his plate. Just imagine one, giant yet delicately-skinned ravioli swimming in brown butter and sage, filled with creamy ricotta and a single, gorgeous runny egg yolk that runs all over the pasta and cheese once you cut into it. Um yeah.........we almost squealed out loud when we saw the near-orange yolk mix with the rich butter. It tasted as good as it looked and we just wished that we'd ordered two instead of one. The homemade orecchiette with crumbled sausage and swiss chard was spicy, fatty and chewy- and I mean all of that in the best way possible. My absolute favorite was the agnolotti- tiny pockets of pasta filled with braised meat. Little pockets of heaven, actually.

Fish....branzino, I think


For our secondi we had the branzino (I think) which was roasted with lemon and mint. The fish was perfectly cooked but the mint was a bit overpowering for my taste. The steak was mouthwateringly delicious and nicely rare. Side dishes included the cannelinni beans with roasted tomatoes- simple, light and delicious- and the roasted potatoes which were shatteringly crisp on the outside, warm and tender on the inside. I don't even want to know how much olive oil it took to make those potatoes so crisp but they were divine.

At this point you're probably wondering how on earth we still kept eating, but we couldn't pass up dessert. We shared the torta della Nonna which really reminded me of a Japanese cheesecake- not too sweet, but creamy and slightly lemony. Topped with pine nuts, Mika and I devoured the whole thing while J tried to get bites in between.

During the entire meal, I kept looking around and the beautiful interior, the bustling mozzarella bar and the waiters putting finishing touches on the dishes at a table set up with various condiments and additions. The vibe in Osteria Mozza is indescribable and just very different from a lot of Los Angeles restaurants- I can't put it into words other than to say it's way more East Coast-style. Everyone is buzzing, eating, chatting and there's a palpable energy that seems rare in this town......I don't know exactly what it is but I look forward to returning to get another dose of it.

Osteria Mozza
6602 Melrose Ave
Los Angeles, CA
(323) 297-0100,

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Sorry for the lack of posts lately but I've been sick as a dog, coughing up a lung or two and generally not feeling very well. I'm finally back at work but I have a feeling this hacking cough is going to hang out with me for awhile. At least my coworker commented that I sound sexy à la Demi Moore, so I guess there's a silver lining, ha.

Speaking of coworker, I made these cupcakes for one of them for his birthday. The red velvet cupcakes from Doughboys seem to be the popular birthday dessert of choice in my office, so I figured I'd whip some up on my own. I've used this red velvet cake recipe for years now- it's like my Old Faithful and no doubt I've posted about it before. It makes a fantastic cake layered with the perfect frosting and berries, and it also makes cute, moist cupcakes that are perfect for giving away.

I hope you'll get a chance to make these- just make sure you buy red gel food coloring, available at Sur La Table. The liquid food coloring sold at the grocery store will give you a Pink Velvet cake instead!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Restaurant Review: Larkin's Eagle Rock

After tons of delays, Larkin's in Eagle Rock finally opened about a month ago. I'd been on their email list for awhile and had known about their private tasting dinners, but never got a chance to go. I'd pass by the restaurant almost daily (it's really close to our house) and make a mental note to myself to try it out once it actually opened.

Fast forward to last weekend when, as with almost every Sunday, we started driving toward the Coffee Table and (as usual) passed Larkin's. When I mentioned to J that it was finally open, he quickly turned the car around and proclaimed that we should try it out. Quite the break in tradition, I must say- you see, the Coffee Table is practically a religion for us on weekends. The food is well prepared, the coffee is kickin' and you can tweak any dish as many ways as you can possibly imagine. May I get the Eggs from Hell, easy "hell," egg whites only, wheat toast instead of potatoes and easy on the cheese? The CT counter girl doesn't even blink an eye, and within 10 minutes, your breakfast arrives, perfectly tweaked to your liking.

When you get consistency like that, it's hard to go anywhere else, but the cute craftsman house that is Larkin's beckoned with it's shiny windows so we pulled into the parking lot. After walking in and being seated immediately, I took a good look at the space....and I was already in love. The mix-and-match vintage tables and chairs, the row of bright, clear light bulbs that lined the hallway, large windows overlooking a flower-filled yard....I felt like I was in my Southern grandmother's house......that is, if I had a southern granny. Even though my personal taste in interiors leans more towards minimal, slightly Asian decor, I was just enamored of the homey, vintage feel of the place. We quickly ordered coffee and checked out the menu.

I realized that the menu was actually a list of about ten items, and you were instructed to choose three to create your own brunch. There was also a mission statement of sorts- basically saying that the chef makes dishes based on family recipes so they don't really do substitutions or, in a nutshell, no tweaking. Although I was tempted to order my scrambled eggs with egg whites only, I quickly digressed..........I mean, after all, Larkin's is a SOUL FOOD JOINT and if I wanted egg whites, what the hell was I doing there? Of course the "I'm the paying customer" part of me was conflicted with the culinary adventurer in me, but I decided to simply follow the instructions and pick three things off the menu. J and I both ended up with scrambled eggs, pancakes and veggie sausage. We sipped our super hot coffee and waited.

The food came quickly and smelled divine. We dug in- the scrambled eggs were seasoned with herbs and spices and didn't need a bit of additional salt or pepper- they were perfect and original. The pancakes came already dressed with syrup- just the right amount, I might add- and were crisp and dark brown on the outside, slightly chewy and toothsome on the inside. Delicious and clearly created from a special recipe. The house made veggie sausage patties were spicy, and although I felt they were a bit on the salty side, J loved them and ended up eating one of mine.

Since there were no prices on the menu, I had no idea of the cost until we got the bill........each item was $5. So, if you're required to choose three items for brunch, your meal will be $15.00......sort of steep for pancakes and sausage, no? I can't be 100% certain that you HAVE to choose three items, but after reading the "it's our way coz we know it's the best" mission statement, I can only assume that you must. The thing is, most of the menu items are, well.......on the heavy side- i.e. smothered potatoes, hot links, French toast, it's a bit difficult to create a balanced plate. But then again, "This is a SOUL FOOD JOINT!" I had to keep reminding myself. To be perfectly honest, I would normally have a problem with being told how many items I should order, or that I couldn't substitute this for that, but I don't at Larkin's. Why? Because the food is GOOD. I'll go as far to call it SPECIAL. Those pancakes must have been made in a cast iron skillet that probably has years of flavor on it, the eggs were cooked to perfection and seasoned oh-so-well, and although the veggie sausages weren't my absolute favorite, you could tell they were made by hand, made with care and made by someone who really knows how to cook. So who am I to argue with these people whose love of food actually comes through in their offerings? I'm sure a lot of people would disagree and say that, as a paying customer, the customer has the right to choose however they want their food, but I'd have to argue that you might be missing out on some damn good food! Sure, I tweak my eggs at the Coffee Table, but those are just eggs. They aren't made by your southern granny, ya know?

1496 Colorado Blvd.
Eagle Rock

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Restaurant Review: Zu Robata

A couple of years ago, I had read an article in the LA Times called "My Dinner With Andrea and the Fuqi Feipian Gang," written by David Shaw. It chronicled the outings of a group of food-obsessed Los Angelinos - some were artists, others were in the food business, Andrea herself was a writer and there were usually other eccentric, interesting people added to the mix. This group would get together a few times a month to go eat a a selected restaurant where Andrea would work out some sort of prix fixe menu at a very low price per person. I remember reading about this and silently wished that I could be included in such a group and have thought of the article from time to time since then, wondering where this fun loving bunch were dining at next.

Fast forward to a few months ago....I get an email from an Andrea Rademan which simply stated, "Might like to invite you to join my dining group on one of our food treks. Can you tell me a little about yourself, and do you eat a wide variety of foods?" Not having remembered the exact name of the lady in the article, it didn't really click until I googled her name and realized that this was THAT woman! Here I was, almost three years after having read the article, and I was actually being invited to join the group! I sent her my reply and she invited me to a dinner, but it was in the middle of my Mexico vacation so I sadly couldn't attend. I eagerly waited for another invite which did come last week, and I was set to attend my very first dinner with the group.

Our destination was Zu Robata near Brentwood, and the chef, Ricardo Zarate, used to be in the dining group years back when he was the chef at Sai Sai in downtown Los Angeles. After working with Gordon Ramsey in London, he returned to Los Angeles and opened up this Japanese fusion restaurant. Andrea had set up a prix fixe, multicourse meal for the group at $25/person- that amount included tax, tip and a Shōchū tasting in addition to the food. J and I walked into the beautiful space and immediately saw their Wall of Shochu- big, glass jars of it, each filled with a different fruit to infuse the alcohol with the flavor and color of each fruit. We saw the group gathering at a few tables in the back so we made our way to them.

The group took up five tables of six people each, and as much as we tried our best to meet everyone that night, it was nearly impossible. Our table included a man who had invented a ginger cocktail mix, two writers and one entertainment publicist. We were each poured a sample of three different shochus- blueberry/lemon, raspberry and a sake/lemon concoction. I really loved the blueberry/lemon and the raspberry one was also delicious, but we agreed that the combo of lemon, sake and shochu tasted more like something that could be used to clean windows. Even though the other two went down like water, I was careful not to drink too quickly since the bartender told us proudly that the shochu they get is much higher in alcohol than your average shochu- it was 70 proof. Eeps. It tasted like punch, honestly, so I made sure to pace myself.

After a few introductory stories, we all sat back and waited for the parade of food to begin. We started with two kinds of edamame- one plain and one smeared with a black bean sauce- very good. Next came a salad of mixed greens and large chunks of gobo (burdock root) which was excellent. I'd only had thin strands of gobo before- never served like this in such big pieces- but it was a great, crunchy contrast to the soft greens.

Next came some fried oysters in their shells with wakame and a ponzu dressing. The oyster itself had a nice texture, but the ponzu-dressed wakame that was the accompaniment was so tart that it pretty much killed any ocean flavor the oyster may have had. Everyone puckered up at the taste of that sour liquid.

Our nice waitress brought out what looked like a traditional salmon carpaccio dressed with ponzu, but she introduced the dish as "salmon carpaccio with a sweet teriyaki sauce" so I was actually like "oh cool- something different." When I put a slice of the fatty salmon in my mouth, it was clear that the dressing had nothing to do with teriyaki and was, indeed, ponzu. Don't get me wrong- it was good- but there were several other instanced throughout the evening where the wait staff were inaccurate about the descriptions of the food.

A giant block of ice was the plate decoration for our sashimi course, which had fresh slices of maguro, yellow tail and sweet shrimp. All were tasty but were absolutely dwarfed by the glacier on the plate.

The sushi course included a dragon roll and a couple of smaller rolls- one of which was rolled in a mixture of schimi powder and yuzu- a great flavor combo that really kicked up the spiciness factor.

The main course was a butterfish or codfish in miso, wrapped in a leaf accompanied by a cucumber salad. The fish was melt-in-your-mouth tender and seasoned well. The vinegared cucumber salad was a nice contrast to the sweetness of the fish.

We closed out the savory courses with a bowl of miso soup. Nice, but nothing out of the ordinary.

The dessert course included a layered macha and chocolate cake, profiteroles and fried bananas dusted with cinnamon sugar. All were very good and not at all too sweet, which suited me just fine. I particularly liked the cake.

After some more conversation, the night came to a close. The company was very good and I look forward to future outings. I have to be honest though, and say that Zu Robata offered nothing new, nothing inventive and really nothing that I can't get at my local sushi place, with the exception of the desserts which weren't stellar enough to make the trip back for. All of the ingredients are fresh, but the preparations- dragon rolls, salmon carpaccio, sashimi......doesn't really scream "fusion" to me at all and are, once again, items present on almost every sushi menu in Los Angeles. The staff, although extremely friendly, don't seem to know the difference between yellowtail and albacore. I would say that the different shochu drinks sets this place apart- by all means, go and try them. However, I'd be hard pressed to go to Zu Robata on my own as the prices are on the high side, particularly for drinks.

I thought Andrea and her group were a wonderful group of people, and it's always great to eat with others who are as enthusiastic about food as you are. I was on the fence about whether to actually post this review since I was part of this pre-arranged group and did get a special, very low price on the meal. However, I felt it was alright to be honest, especially when you're out with a bunch of food lovers.

Zu Robata is a beautiful restaurant, so I hope they'll start serving slightly more inventive food to go with their gorgeous decor and shochu selection.

And thanks, Andrea, for the invitation!

Zu Robata
12217 Wilshire Blvd
Los Angeles, CA
(310) 571-1920

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Japanese dinner: Unagi brown rice

To celebrate J's return from Japan, I made a simple Japanese dinner. Even though he had three days of Japanese food, I knew he'd want more as it's pretty much his favorite cuisine of all time. He told me that he had some good yakitori, lots of Japanese yogurt (which is, in our opinion, the best yogurt ever!) and even a dinner at the Shibuya branch of Gonpachi! So I guess he and I were at the same restaurant on the same night, but he was in Japan and I was in Los Angeles. Oh- and his food was far superoior to the just ok meal that I had. At least I could console myself with the various Kit Kats he brought back (I had requested he pick up any different flavors he saw). The macha/milk flavor was my favorite, but the chocolate banana and the chestnut flavors were good as well.

I read a few Japanese cooking blogs and am always inspired by the recipes and ideas on them. When I saw Naoko's Unagi Onigiri, I remembered that I had some unagi in the freezer and decided to make the rice.

I pretty much followed her recipe but used Japanese brown rice instead of white. After washing the rice I added the soy sauce, sake, sansho pepper and multigrain mix to my rice maker and set the timer for it to be ready when I got home from work. About 20 minutes before the rice was done, I added sliced unagi to the pot, then mixed in some mitsuba at the very end. The whole house smelled like unagi and sansho........YUM.

I didn't make onigiri out of it but instead piled the rice into bowls and topped it with some nori seaweed. A salad tossed with wafu (Japanese style) dressing, hiyayakko (cold tofu) topped with ginger, scallions and katsuobushi (bonito flakes) and some spicy eggplant suzuke (Japanese pickles) completed our meal. Oh, that and a glass of cold sake of course;).

By the way, the food came out way better than these photos!