WTGW 8/16/17: Hibachi Japan,Cuyahoga Falls

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It’s Ted’s pick this week, which means that yet again we started out at one place but had our meal at another. I’m sensing a trend here.

Our first attempt this week was the HiHo Brewery in the new section of Front St in Cuyahoga Falls – which looked to have promise, as it’s in a great space (what appears to be an old garage, it seems?) with plenty of tables inside and a small patio space outside, and a decent list of handcrafted beers. However, the food list is smaller than what we could likely get at one of the food trucks we judged a few months ago. Like unless you want a cheese and meat tray or a giant soft pretzel – or a salad, because that’s what everyone craves when you’re sampling high potency beers, right? – you’re pretty much out of luck. They had one meal that looked somewhat appetizing (the pork sliders) but beyond that we were all at a loss.

So off we went. Ted didn’t even get to guzzle down a draft this time either.

His Plan B – because at least he knows he needs a second option nearby – was the hibachi place just down the street, relocated from another space a little further north on the same street. We hadn’t been to the old place, so we can’t judge based on the former property. And honestly the last time this group went to a hibachi restaurant together was years ago at Wasabi in Fairlawn, and of course since we were all starving (what!?! That’s new, right?) we didn’t want to wait for a cook table and instead just grabbed a regular table and ordered off the full menu instead of hibachi.

So in other words, this is a new experience for us as a group. If you’re keeping track, that’s four years of Wednesdays before we finally sat around a giant open grill and had someone prepare our food right in front of us. And, no, the open kitchen grill at that scary house in Solon that left us all smelling like a grease fire after only 10 minutes inside doesn’t count.

Anyway.

Hibachi Japan looks great inside, probably in part because it’s all new and shiny. And it’s ALL hibachi. Unless you want to sit in the bar and only order sushi, you have to sit at one of the cook tables. Each one seats 10, I think – although our group only ended up being the three of us, another group of three, and a late arriving pair of women. But we only waited about 10 minutes to be seated, so we weren’t complaining.

We found out later that we weren’t blessed with one of the more “fun” chefs, probably due to the fact that we had a smaller/mixed party, and also that none of us were celebrating birthdays. I guess this must be the new Wednesday celebratory hot spot, because I swear we heard no less than four iterations of that song from other tables in the few hours we were there. Just a warning to be prepared for that. And as hard as Ted to convince Shane that he SHOULD be celebrating a birthday this week, unfortunately no servers were summoned to our table for round number five. Nice try.

It goes without saying that we all got the hibachi. I mean, you don’t sit at a giant stovetop where a person is going to freshly grill up meats of various kinds for you and just eat sushi or miso soup, right? Exactly. Ted got the salmon, chicken for me, and steak and scallops for Shane. The meal also comes with soup and a salad to start, and then pineapple sorbet and a fortune cookie at the end. Not a bad haul for about $15-$25 per person.

I should also mention that, according to the menu, there was supposedly something called a “shrimp appetizer” that came with the meal … although we never actually saw that at our table. Which is probably good, seeing as Shane is allergic. And if they did sneak it in somehow then I guess the fact that he’s not dead yet means he’s somehow cleared of that condition? Hmm.

The soup must’ve been cooked in a previously unearthed lava pit near the property, because it arrived with steam pouring out of each little bowl. Mmm, taste bud killer soup. My favorite. But honesty after about 3-4 minutes it wasn’t so awful to try and eat. I think our last few weeks of fried appetizers did more damage to both my tongue and my fingertips. Or maybe they killed them off all together at this point. Hard to say.

It looks so unassuming in the photo

Shane claimed the salad was the “best salad he’s ever had.” Now, he was also really hungry, so I’m not sure how much stock you want to put into that claim. I thought it was pretty much just a small bowl of ready-salad mix poured from a bag with dressing on it that I couldn’t quite pinpoint the flavor of … but I guess when you want to eat your arm off that’s extremely tasty.

Shane’s salad standards are impeccably low

As mentioned, we didn’t have one of the loud chefs that yell and swing knives inches from your face, but he cooked our food well and really that’s what matters. Although he might want to think about speaking up a bit as he does his little show of announcing the different items he seasons each dish with, as I couldn’t hear half of what he said, so in my mind just started considering everything soy sauce and pepper. Staples of a Japanese meal, no?

But, like I said, it all got cooked and was tasty, so who am I to really complain? I don’t need ninja warrior guard wielding a sharp knife all up in my face to enjoy a meal. Just make sure my chicken isn’t questionable and won’t come back to haunt me later, please and thank you.

Tonight’s theme is things that are still partially on fire

See also, why I politely declined when the chef was looking for volunteers in his little “let me throw food at your face while you can wave around like a baby seal trying to catch it” game. Um, no thanks. I mean, that piece of shrimp launched at my face with a knife and spatula directly from a hot grill isn’t going to quench my appetite, thanks. I’ll just enjoy the food you already put on my plate.

There were a few takers, though. I think Shane was slightly disappointed he couldn’t try … but the guy was throwing around shrimp and there’s that whole lethal allergy thing. Ted tried and failed on more than one occasion. The girl at our table with the other party of three finally caught one. So it was pretty much one catch for like 10 attempts at our table. Clearly we’re gifted.

Keep the food on the table please

Speaking of allergies, the pair of ladies next to us (who ended up being a woman with her grown niece) bonded with our group – and in particular, me, since I was seated closest to them – after hearing of Shane’s affliction, since they said they are usually the ones at the table who have to give up that information. But I’m glad we made friends with them, as they are apparently regulars at this place. They gave us all the insider info:  which chefs to ask for, how to get the optimal amount of food to take home for another meal, which drinks to order, etc.

Fancy

I would share those tips here, but I kind of feel like you have to take your chances that you might sit next to these two on a random evening there and they can tell you themselves. Me telling you would ruin the fun. And trust me, a seat next to them is worthwhile, as they are hilarious.

I will share one tip, however … the yum yum sauce is the absolute bomb. If you take nothing away from this week’s post, it’s that if you go there you have to get two sides of this. And a to-go container to take home. I didn’t even have to order mine, since my new friend spoke up and got one for me when she ordered her own. New friends are amazing like that.

You may be familiar with this sauce (I’ve since spotted it at a grocery store, thus bursting my bubble that this was purely the restaurant’s own creation) but trying it at Hibachi was a first for me and Shane. If you’re out of the loop like us, it’s basically a mayo based sauce with a bit of a kick. And it’s delicious. As my new friend told me, she “puts that shit on everything.” I wonder if Red Hot would be proud she used their slogan?

Also of note: the pineapple sorbet that they serve at the end of the meal is definitely worth leaving some room in your belly for. It wasn’t too sugary sweet or overly fruity, but it was enough to give that little dessert touch to end the meal. I mean, it was no trip to the frozen yogurt place in Kent where the guys each made themselves three pound sundaes or anything like that, but it was definitely worth sticking around for after the to-go boxes were passed out.

I admit that this week it was nice to get away from the bar and grill train we’d been stuck on for a little bit now, and to try something different. The food was good, although my one gripe would be that I didn’t feel like there was a lot of meat in my meal. Next time I would go with a combination, like the chicken and shrimp or chicken and steak or something like that. What I boxed up to take home amounted to little more than basically fried rice and a few veggies, which won’t exactly make for an exciting leftover lunch.

It should be noted that Shane and Ted both finished their meals entirely, but Shane was incredibly uncomfortable on the drive home.

I definitely see us going back, although probably more for a celebration, special occasion of some sort, or maybe to take people from out of town or something like that. I don’t see it becoming a regular stop, either in our eating out mainstays or the WTGW order … unless, that is, we decide we want to give our new bffs some competition as regulars? That could prove to be an interesting endeavor. I’m not sure there’s enough yum yum sauce for that experience.

Picked by: Ted
Next pick: Shane

Steph

Shane

Ted

Hibachi Japan Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

WTGW 6/22/16: The Twisted Olive, Green

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Wait, what’s this? A new post? Don’t lie, I know you missed us. And trust me, we’ve missed you. But unfortunately work commitments, travel, and some unexpected health complications kept us from our usual Wednesday night shenanigans these past – wait, WTF, has it really been three straight months now? Holy crap. OK, we’re officially slackers. 

Honestly, we have gotten together on a few Wednesdays these past months – because, you know, we like to eat and drink, and that’s a long time to not leave our houses. But for whatever reason we ended up forsaking new places for the comfort and ease of old favorites like Panini’s or Moe’s. Because sometimes you just need to go someplace close to home where you know you can get cold drinks and good food, and not drive an hour out of your way to take chances.

So basically we just spent three months completely negating the entire premise of this blog. Our bad.

That also means that the wheel has been stuck on Ted’s pick this entire time. And he’s had it in his head that he wanted to choose The Twisted Olive in Green as his next pick. Which is like 30 minutes from our house. And some of those Wednesdays that was just too far to drive after part of the group got out of work late, or weren’t feeling the greatest. As it was we had to go just as a threesome tonight – no Amanda or Jared – because, well, basically in the forseeable future unless the place is close to Amanda’s workplace of Hudson, she probably won’t make it out to meet us with the way her new work schedule is. Boo.

Being an adult is crap, kids. Don’t let anyone tell you different.

So anyway, back to tonight, as the three of us were contemplating driving over to Kent to visit a former pick with a nice patio, I commented that if we were going to go all the way over there, why not drive the same distance and get back to our original plan of trying new places – especially when one of the reasons Ted wanted to visit this one was for the patio?

Point taken.

So that’s the long-winded story of how Shane, Ted and I ended up here tonight. And I have to be honest, the patio was definitely worth the wait.

Although waiting was exactly what we had to do for a patio seat once we got there – but judging from the number of cars we saw in the parking lot on our way in, we actually weren’t overly surprised. I think we were more surprised that the wait was only like 15 minutes. So we sat in the lobby for a few minutes, which gave us time to look around and notice that the place is really huge. And everything decorating it is huge. Huge fireplace. Huge lighting fixtures in the main dining room. Huge patio outside the doors. It’s like the place was decorated by the design firm Giants ‘R Us.

And when we got bored sitting in the lobby (which, let’s be honest, took all of about 2.5 seconds), we followed the huge “BAR” sign with an arrow down the huge curved staircase to get a few drinks to pass the time. Side note, the bar area really could’ve been included on that whole “huge” memo, as it’s a little crowded and difficult to order from when there’s people sitting at most of the seats. Also, the bartender didn’t seem especially helpful or friendly, which is always super fun. But whatevs.

Impressed with the various Bloody Marys on the menu, Shane decided to try the Citrus version. I went with a Mojito – which Ted ordered for me because he just thought the word was fun – and Ted got a beer called Siberian Night, which – surprise, surprise – was the color of, well, complete darkness.

Ted: Yep, I can’t see through it, that’s a good thing.

At least we haven’t changed much these past three months.

We were still working on those drinks when we got a text a few minutes later that our table was ready. And also to close out our bar tabs before returning to the hostess stand. Nice touch.

(And on a side note, thank you to this place for doing away with the annoying buzz-and-light-contraptions that most restaurants use. They always reminded me of that stupid Simon Says light-up memory game from the 80s.)

Anyway, we headed to our table on the patio – which, as I already mentioned, was spectacular. It’s a great atmosphere, and the view is amazing. According to the little story on the menu, the restaurant is situated on a 10-acre nature preserve, and is actually affiliated with Gervasi Vineyards in Canton.

See, I pay attention sometimes.

So, being that we’re predictable folks and haven’t changed our ways in the last three months, care to take a guess at what Shane ordered off the appetizer menu?

If you guessed calamari, you’re correct! Ding, ding, ding!

Perhaps because there were no mussels on the app menu, Ted went way off the predictable path and ordered the Italian flatbread. He requested no olives on it, and the server mentioned that everyone seemed to be requesting it that way this evening.

Ted: Seems odd at a place called The Twisted Olive, no?

Touche.

The calamari was OK. The sauce that came with it – which I’m going to guess from the color involved some portioning of wasabi – had a nice little kick to it. But other than that there was really nothing special or different about the dish to distinguish it from any other place we’ve had it before. And it certainly didn’t appear to be a very generous helping when the plate arrived at the table. I think this was Shane’s first reminder that we were at one of the “fancier” WTGW picks on our list, and presentation would trump portion sizes.

That's like an appetizer for Shane's usual appetizer

That’s like an appetizer for Shane’s usual appetizer

The flatbread was really crispy and really good. I said it was like eating one layer of a mexican pizza. Ted made a comment about the sausage on it that I won’t repeat, nor will I repeat Shane’s comment back – but I’m sure if you’ve read any of our reviews before you can figure out where that’s all headed. Yes, we’re still 15.

This isn't Taco Bell

This isn’t Taco Bell

Perhaps that’s why for the next round of drinks Shane and Ted decided to switch things up and both ordered the “Manly Mary” Bloody Mary – which involved horseradish, tobasco and a bunch of other ingredients that only hinted at how hot it probably was. They were surprised to see it also included a slice of bacon as a garnish as well. Not upset, just surprised. And since Shane was still hungry following the tiny portion of calamari, I can assume he was probably also grateful.

Ted and I both flipped on our original dinner orders and got the Ahi tuna steak that was on special that night. We were both wavering on our decision – we were both intrigued when the server mentioned she had tried it and it was delicious – but Ted’s turning point came when he gave the server his original order of the crab cake sliders, and the server mentioned that you only get two sliders and they were kind of small. You could see Ted’s face fall at that statement. And he quickly changed his mind and went with the Ahi tuna.

Now I had the opposite problem, as I was going to get a pizza, but saw one delivered to the table next to us and that then basically three people ended up sharing it … and realized that would be way too much food for me.

We’re like the Goldilocks of food ordering.

I will say, though, that neither one of us was disappointed in the Ahi tuna. It was tasty, as were the potatoes and bok choi/carrots that came with it. The server had mentioned that it’s always prepared rare, which was delicious. And while it didn’t look like a lot of food on the plate, I was definitely full. Ted said he wasn’t completely full, but he definitely wasn’t hungry either. I’ll leave that for you to figure out.

WTGW gets fancy

WTGW gets fancy

Shane, on the other hand … well, let’s just say that out of any of us at the table, he should’ve ordered the pizza. He actually had thought about it, but then talked himself out of it, as he’d already eaten pizza for dinner two of the last three nights. But if you’ve kept up on this blog you’ll know that really shouldn’t have stopped him, as pizza is one of his favorite foods. I mean, anyone recall the half sheet pizza incident? Right.

But he also loves scallops, and since we don’t often go out on WTGW to places that serve those, he opted for that as his meal. And then was instantly disappointed as soon as his plate was set in front of him. His comment after the server left was that he was waiting for someone else to walk up and bring him his main course instead of the appetizer portion.

We obviously don’t go to fancy places much, folks. Grease and heart attacks on plates are more our style.

Now, he did say that the scallops were good. But just not at all filling. Because you only get like five. He also said they went a little crazy with all the “stuff” on top of the scallops – I don’t know what that “stuff” was, that’s just what he called it. “Stuff.” So basically overall everything was very good, there just wasn’t enough of it. I have to believe he would’ve traded all the “fancy” in exchange for just more basic scallops.

Why is there so much white space on this plate?

Why is there so much white space on this plate?

So I guess the tip is, someone order the pizza. Chances are someone at the table will still be hungry enough to finish it if you can’t. If I would’ve then I probably could’ve given my leftovers to Shane. And he would’ve been happier.

Although the server did mention that if you come for lunch the pizza is cheaper and more sized for one person, so that’s also something to keep in mind. Same pizza, just more manageable for one person (whose name isn’t Shane anyway). Not sure what exactly cheaper means, but the dinner portions are $14-$17, just to give you an idea.

Another tip, eat the bread and butter they bring to the table. Delicious.

Little pockets of heaven

Little pockets of heaven

This was definitely one of our pricier WTGW adventures – but then again this was far from a dive bar with food that comes from a fryer. They do have reasonably priced sandwiches on the menu ($11-$14) and also bottled domestic beers for $3-$5 each – but of course we went all out with mixed drinks, apps, and actual meal choices. I mean, it has been three months, y’all. Come on.

But by comparison, for the price of one of our meals at The Twisted Olive we could’ve gone to The Windsor Pub and gotten three giant burgers, fries and pretty much an entire bottle of rum contained within three mixed drinks. But we also would’ve been sitting in a booth with ripped plastic seats and no windows to look out of. Not that there’s necessarily anything wrong with that. Just giving it some perspective.

Anyway, I could definitely see us coming back here for a bottle of wine and apps on the patio, as it’s a great atmosphere for that and we definitely had a wonderful summer night to be out there. Service was great, the food was delicious (if only there was more of it) and the patio is most certainly a huge selling point. We’re definitely glad to be back to WTGW adventures, though, and this was a great way to start … even if we did miss our two other partners in crime …

Ted

Ted

Shane

Shane

Steph

Steph

CAPSULE

Picked by:  Ted

Drinks: Mixed drinks were good, and the guys were of course wowed by the various Bloody Mary options. Saw several folks with martinis but I opted not to go down that road.
Food: This is a “fancy” food place – so be prepared for smaller portions that are more about presentation than volume.
Service: Personable, funny and quick – three of our favorite things.
Overall: This is one of those places I could see us going back to for a special occasion dinner, or just to have a glass of wine on the patio on a summer night. As long as we feed Shane elsewhere beforehand.

Next Pick: Shane

The Twisted Olive Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato