Friday, November 30, 2012

The ULTIMATE Food Experience

In my "Don't Eat the Pepper" on November 9, 2012, I asked for advice on what places my followers would like to see me visit. I have never been to an hibachi grill restaurant before and I am always looking for new and exciting places to eat. This was the perfect opportunity!

Last week, I went to Hana, a Japanese Steakhouse and Sushi Bar located on Western Avenue in Albany. If I had to describe my experience at Hana, it would be AMAZING! I had the best time eating dinner at Hana. It should be called the Hana Experience because that is exactly what I had, an experience. I had the opportunity to experience Hana with my best friend as it was a first time for both of us, not to mention it was my birthday.

We had to try everything! I wanted to try everything! It was great! We took a look around the restaurant and requested to sit at the hibachi grill. You have an option to be seated at a regular table or at the hibachi grill. The only and obvious choice is to be seated at the grill. I wanted to get a feel for the entire hibachi experience. 

Cold Seaweed Salad
We ordered our appetizer and sushi roll and our meal. I was having a great time and I knew this was a guaranteed blog post. I took pictures all night because I wanted to share with you the full experience.

First, we received our appetizers. I ordered the Cold Seaweed salad and I was not disappointed. It had tremendous flavor and had a crunch that kept me going back for more. I strongly recommend for you to try the seaweed salad and I will be having this again. 

My friend ordered the edamame (steamed soy bean pods). I have nothing bad to say about the edamame except, do not eat the pods. I ate the entire pod on my first opportunity and my friend started to laugh at me. Apparently we have to only eat the beans inside the pods. How was I supposed to know? They look like green beans and I eat the green beans whole, I love my green beans. Why would edamame be different? Before I get too far off topic, I suggest the edamame beans too. They had a nice salty taste on the outside of the pods, like the seaweed salad, I ate all of the edamame before my friend could get his serving. 

Next on the schedule, the DYNAMITE ROLL! I have had a dynamite roll before and it was delicious, but it wasn't a DYNAMITE ROLL from Hana. Hana's DYNAMITE ROLL was amazing, full of flavor and like the seaweed salad and edamame, I couldn't stop eating. I was full before I received my main course. 

A main reason why I never eat sushi rolls is because I never really know what is inside the roll. So, the DYNAMITE ROLL includes spicy tuna, yellowtail, avocado, cream cheese with baked scallop and crabmeat on the top. The "proper" way to eat the sushi rolls (as my friend had to explain to me) was to dunk them in soy sauce and wasabi paste. For my followers who enjoys the spicy meals, add more wasabi but be warned it will get spicy, as Barney Stinson realized on How I Met Your Mother. 

The Experience - FIRE!

FOR THE MAIN EVENT: the hibachi grill.

For a hibachi dinner, you get a choice of vegetables, chicken, sirloin steak or filet mignon, lamb, shrimp, scallops, salmon, swordfish, lobsters or a combination of any two or three options.
I chose to get the filet mignon (well worth the additional $3 upgrade) and shrimp for my hibachi combination.

Encouraged:  Get the Filet Mignon
The experience was amazing as there was fire flames and Sake (never had Sake before either). It was entertaining beyond my original expectations and I will go back. I highly recommend all of my followers to go and witness the Hana Experience before the new year. The pictures below tell the entire story.

It was a fun experience and the food was amazing! I'm going back next week with more friends!

Hana Japanese Steakhouse and Sushi Bar is located at 1620 Western Avenue, Albany, NY 12203.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Centanni’s Market Becomes Casualty of Campbell Ave's Extended Closure

My go-to soup place is gone. I’m very disappointed about this. I’m convinced that I’ll never taste a chicken and rice soup blend that good ever again. Sources have confirmed that the business suffered a significant loss when Campbell Ave was shut down for an extended period of time and was never able to recover.

RIP Centanni’s

I will truly miss you. Thank you Lynda for the great home cooking and the friendly conversation.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Don't Eat the Pepper!

I will tell you one thing about me that many of my closest friends may not know. It isn't everyday that I wake up craving Chinese food. The other day, I woke up with the birds (the birds that haven't left us for warmer pastures) and I was craving the classic General Tso's Chicken combo with pork fried rice. 

The only problem with Chinese food is you need to take the time and research the best places in the area. From my experience, there are not many Chinese restaurants in the Capital Region that have the experience and the skill to make a great General Tso's Chicken. I have had several poor Chinese meals in my day and I was not about to ruin my craving by ordering from a satisfactory restaurant. 

After several hours of research and focus groups with my friends and family, we finally found a consensus of where we were going to order our dinner. We decided on Spring Garden on 2nd Ave in Troy. 

As expected, I ordered the General Tso's with a shrimp egg roll. You must have an egg roll!

Let me tell you! It was pretty delicious, except when i accidentally ingested one of the spicy chili peppers... such a deep burn. A special note to everyone who will eat General Tso's, DO NOT EAT THE PEPPERS!

The overall experience of my meal was good. I enjoyed the meal and I will definitely go back. However, I haven't really found that one place where I can call my "go-to" Chinese restaurant.

I am thinking about trying something new for December. I want you, my followers to pick the place for me. What are some of your favorite restaurants that I should visit and blog about? 

Friday, November 2, 2012

Nothing Like Cranberry-Orange Mayo In The Fall

I’ve been to The Illium Café, on Broadway in Troy, many of times. I enjoy trying their number of different dishes, but I have found myself getting the same thing lately --- The Smoke House Panini (Smoked turkey, applewood smoked bacon, smoked mozzarella, lettuce, tomato, and onion with a cranberry-orange mayo on Italian grilled bread). Why? Because of the cranberry-orange mayo of course!!!

Ninety-nine percent of the time I’m on the go, so there’s no use dissecting the dining-in experience – it looks comfy. The menu speaks for itself, covering the gamut of different tastes.

Sure, I’ve had a turkey club before. Bob’s Diner in Watervliet has one heck of a mean turkey club. Bob’s mayo is outstanding. Hell, any type of real mayo is outstanding. Throw some cranberry-orange in the mix and the structure, substance and core of that Paninis’ being changes for the good of mankind…and an Average Joe. The real bacon gets honorary mention here, because --- well its REAL bacon…no microwave rubber or fake bits.

Illium Café thank you for making my turkey club, I mean Smoke House Panini, truly special. Cranberry-Orange mayo also has that sound of fall. Apple picking, leaf peeping and a Smoke House Panini (my fall traditions).