So, it became my responsibility to arrange 2 meals for cousins visiting from Minneapolis along with local family in the Valley. The cousin is a very adventurous eater who bemoans the pathetic restaurants (all chains in his area) they have in suburban Minneapolis and was really counting on me to provide him with some good eating, esp sushi, yet I also had to consider the local family, whose tastes sometimes differ from my own (my dad likes the sushi place where the waiters dance on the tables or whatever -- he's more into the "entertainment" value than the food). it's a very mismatched group.
Friday night: Z Sushi
Made reservations for 8. Someone brought a friend and didn't let me know ahead of time, but they accomodated 9 of us easily. Very friendly, helpful waiter who was very attentive to our disorganized way of being in a group together. along w/ miso, sake, green tea and a couple of soft drinks and maybe a beer or two, we ate:
chef's choice of nigiri sushi for 9 people (all the basics: salmon, maguro, albacore, snapper, etc) -- all good.
salmon carpaccio -- i was not planning to dip in soy sauce, since it was supposed to hv lemon and basil infused oil as a dressing, but it did not hv a lot of favor on it's own, so i dipped.
ankimo -- my first time trying it and very, very good. i cannot compare to other ankimo, but the texture was very smooth and silky, a bit like semi-freddo ice cream (but not "cold"). very delicate flavor that took a little time to develop in the mouth and that lingered afterwards. the cousin and i really enjoyed this.
fried baby crabs -- not as great as the other time i hv had them here, but quite good.
extra orders of albacore and toro nigiri -- both excellent.
spicy tuna roll -- i did not try, but it was pronounced excellent by the aunt who ordered it (her favorite sushi dish).
rainbow roll -- i did not try, but beloved by all at the table.
unagi -- wonderful. perfect texture, very generous pieces of meat.
uni -- i don't care for uni but my husband adores it and he was thrilled with what he was served, sashimi style in a martini glass. cousin loved it, too.
scallop -- i was too full to try, but heard that it was ok, not great.
there was another order of sashimi by someone at the other end of the table, so i did not see or taste, and maybe another dish or two (i think someone also ordered green tea ice cream) that I am forgetting. overall, we had A LOT of food. no one left the table hungry and there were some big eaters in the group. Total bill came to about $45 / person, including tip of about 18% (rounded off, so cannot remember precisely). very, very good experience overall. Afterwards, my husband, brother & cousin hung out at the bar for a drink while we got to catch up more -- the restaurant was closed by then, but a lot staff still hanging out, eating and doing their thing, so we did not feel at all rushed. very friendly place.
Sat. a.m. breakfast: Wat Thai Temple
My cousin just freaked out when we arrived and he checked out the booths - like a kid at Disneyland for the first time. It was cold, grey and misty, but everyone had a great time and we scored a picnic table under an umbrella. We all shared everything. We ate:
some soup with noodles, chicken and in a clear broth -- i almost never eat chicken, but i had to have some of the noodles and the broth was delicious!
pad thai -- good, nothing super special.
papaya salad -- first order was "medium" spicy, but that translated into 5 alarm fire spicy in thai. it was still pretty much devoured. 2nd order was requested to be very very mild and it was also delicious -- you could actually taste the flavors that were otherwise overwhelmed by the spice -- very fresh, clean tasting. this was the lady that makes the salad to order.
fried mussels -- maybe the best thing all day -- wonderful!!! we kept going back for more.
lobster balls -- very good
chicken and pork satay -- i did not try, but everyone LOVED them
kanom krok (sp?) -- i did not order from the right booth, which was way off to the side and i did not find it until after we were done. but i did order from the booth that had a lot of sweets and they were making them to order on an electric griddle (not the little ball shaped pans) and there were wonderful (and much faster, too)
some sausage on a stick -- everyone hated it, something about the texture, and this is coming from sausage lovers (i did not try).
i'm sure there was more food eaten, but we were all running around all over the place, so it was hard to keep track. there was also some thai iced tea, thai iced coffee, hot coffee and some coconut ice cream consumed. also, some kind of palm custard pastry thing (orange color) that no one liked at all.
i hv no idea how much money was spent, but it could not hv been much. i'm guessing about $10 / person. you hv to buy tokens in denominations of $2, $1 and 50 cents, to redeem at the food booths. we also scored on the parking, which is supposed to be a problem, but we lucked out w/ 2 spaces, side by side, right next to the activities.
now, i'm just not sure what i'll be able to come up with for the visit next year, to top this. the bar has been set pretty high, in my cousin's eyes.