WTGW 5/27/15: Otani, Hudson

Standard

So I was kind of limited for my pick this week, since Shane was working late in Hudson and I – being the nice wife that I am – wanted to stay close by so he could still join us out sometime before 9PM. My initial thought was to once again try Flip Side, but then again I didn’t want to break Ted’s illustrious streak of never eating there. I mean, really. At this point it’s too impressive.

I had heard about Otani a few times in recent months, as they seemed to be pushing their new “pub” side – which, lets be clear, is really just the space adjacent to the original Otani in the strip plaza that they apparently bought out. This side is very small, but definitely much more our style than the restaurant side. I mean, there are hibachi tables on the other side, and it’s brighter. And further from the bar, which we’ve established many times is never a good idea for this group.

Being the trendsetters that we are, we were the first ones to grab a table on the pub side of the place this night, although it did start to fill up pretty nicely afterwards. Like I said, trendsetters. Or all the good tables were taken on the other side. Whatevs.

Amanda and I went with Smith & Forge Hard ciders. Ted started with a Guinness mix (black and gold – so Guinness mixed with Great Lakes Dortmunder), and then moved onto something I can’t pronounce let alone remember how to spell … and then I think eventually a Jack and coke to finish out the night. Because that all seems logical.

It's like a mirror image

It’s like a mirror image

One thing to note, if you sit on the pub side, the bartender also doubles as the server and food distributor for that side of the place. So naturally that meant that as it got busier, our service slacked considerably. Don’t get me wrong, he was very nice and definitely personable … when we saw him over the sea of other patrons, that is. And by sea I really mean like three other tables and 10 or so seats at the bar. But still.

Since we had no idea what time Shane would make an appearance, the three of us went ahead with ordering without him. Because, well, we’re hungry. And we all know how well that works out for us. I started with the crab rangoon as an app.  Which really just Amanda and I ate, because of Ted’s aversion to all things made of or containing the word cheese. Oops. It was good, but the filling wasn’t as sweet as the usual takeout orders, so it wasn’t outstanding. We actually left some for Shane, which considering how hungry we were really should tell you something.

Fried goodness, Japanese style

Fried goodness, Japanese style

I bet this will come as a shock to you, but we all ended up ordering sushi for our main meals. What, what? I know, please contain your surprise. I mean, I’m sure after our visit to Twiisted and the, like, 200 pieces of sushi that graced our table of four people, I’m sure you had no idea that we actually liked that stuff.

I’ll give you a minute to pick yourself up from the floor and continue reading.

Ready? OK.

I got the Hudson roll, which our waiter/bartender said was one of the favorites at Otani, and an order of the spicy tuna. I have to say, the Hudson roll was excellent. So I guess there’s validity to that whole favorite thing. Ted tried a piece of it and agreed, it was very tasty. Because apparently when Shane isn’t there yet I’m the next best person for him to share food with. Makes sense.

Is that sushi, or meatloaf?

Is that sushi, or meatloaf?

Amanda got the Morgan roll, which had been deemed another of the faves, and of course a Philadelphia roll. She liked them both, but the Morgan roll was eight large pieces – which she wasn’t expecting – so it was a lot of food. And she couldn’t even offer it to the boys since Ted over-ordered and was stuffed, and Shane is allergic to shrimp. Backfire!

You can always spot the Philly rolls

You can always spot the Philly rolls

Ted, whose eyes were once again bigger than his stomach when it comes to sushi, ordered the Volcano, Typhoon and uni maki, which I guess is eel – BTW, anyone else think of the “unagi” Friends episode every time they order sushi?

tumblr_lx6x357cgq1qzydh2o1_250

tumblr_ljrnx511Zi1qhzaruo1_400

Maybe it’s just me.

Anyway.

Back to Ted, he said the Volcano had a kind of sauce that was almost mayo based, and he didn’t like it as well as the others. I had ordered a Volcano roll at Twiisted and wasn’t crazy about it, although it didn’t really look like Ted’s Volcano roll from this place. So clearly we just put whatever names we want on things then? That’s cool. He said the Typhoon was the best one, although it had a shrimp-y flavor that he wasn’t really expecting. I tried that one and it was OK – but definitely not as good as the Hudson. I’m sticking to my favorite.

At least the presentation is nice

At least the presentation is nice

Since our sushi seemed to take forever to come out – I mean, really, how long should that take, it’s freshly rolled food? – we put Shane’s order in for him when he let us know that he was leaving work down the road. Of course he got the Philly rolls (again, the king of variation) – four orders, which, if we’re trying for continuity and going by Twiisted’s terminology is also called a “buttload.” He said they were OK, comparable to pretty much any place else. Although, I mean, he did eat all of them … but don’t let that be the judge of quality because he was also really, really hungry, too. So there’s that.

Shane, the master of variation

Hey Shane, what kind of sushi is that again?

So Wednesdays are karaoke nights in the pub at Otani … which if you’ve been following us you know that it seems no matter where we go, “karaoke” is really just code for “interesting entertainment.” And this was no exception. It was a highly interesting crowd. From the young couple who was alternately fighting and making out, to two girls who ruined certain country songs for us forever, to a guy who sang nothing but obscure Sinatra. Because that’s always a crowd pleaser.

Me: Um, so, what year is it?
Ted: Judging by this song, it’s 1966.
Me: Sweet, I’m not even born yet.

But perhaps the icing on the cake was the family letting their teenagers get drunk with them to celebrate one’s high school graduation. Tip: Maybe don’t announce that that’s the cause for celebration as the kid has a glass of Guinness in his hand. And also after you made it loudly obvious to the entire bar that he may have just been vomiting in the bathroom a few moments prior. But whateves. It was seriously the weirdest Partridge-meets-Duggar family we’ve ever encountered. The mom kept dancing around as a stranger was singing karaoke, doing something that could only be described as “The Elaine” from Seinfeld.e67e74a33743448bf9b4715b02e7c543

And the inebriated son was joining her, doing a dance which I had last seen my drunk uncle perform at a family wedding back in about 1998. Um, OK. I bet that will be a hit with all the college ladies. Good luck to you, kid.

Eventually I think their entertainment factor morphed into genuine embarrassment for them as the evening wore on – I know I, for one, completely lost the ability to keep the look of complete “OMG” horror off my face right in front of them, especially when the drunken mother was practically molesting the younger, non-drunk son – and we just had to get out of there. We didn’t even take the time to do our thumbs up/down pics, that’s how much we just wanted to get away from this circus.  just proof, my friends, that sometimes there is not enough alcohol in all of the bar to help make certain shenanigans acceptable.

CAPSULE

Picked by:  Steph

Drinks:  Full bar on the pub side, and some craft beers on tap as well as some Japanese alcohols. No Summer Shandy, though, so boo. 
Food:
 Typical Japanese fare – sushi, hibachi, fried rice dishes, etc. Well at least I think that’s what they have. We honestly didn’t get past sushi at our table, but you’ll have that I guess.
Service: Started out OK when we were the only ones in the place, but then dropped off as, well, anyone else showed up. 
Overall: Eh. The drive to Twiisted is only maybe 10 minutes more in the opposite direction, I think we’re more likely to return there.

Next Pick:  Amanda

Click to add a blog post for Otani Japanese on Zomato

Advertisements

WTGW 3/18/15: Twiisted Sushi, Grill and Bar, Medina

Standard

Alternate title: the time we ate enough sushi to make it about as unhealthy as a burger and fries.

Wait, what? Us over-order food? Yeah, that never happens. Weird.

So, by luck of the calendar, I was bestowed the illustrious honor of picking a place for the evening after St. Patrick’s Day. Because, no pressure there. Who doesn’t love going out on the town again the night after indulging in green beer and corned beef? And essentially just having more of the same? Um, yeah, no. I had already kind of thought that we needed a break from sports bar / pub places (and what seemed to have become the search for Shane’s perfectly cooked burger), so I was trying to think of someplace a little different when it came to our menu options.

Twiisted is one of those places that we’ve actually talked about going to for a few months now – because, well, by now you know Shane’s love affair with sushi rivals that of my love affair for all things carbs. In all fairness, I have to give credit to Shane for first discovering and researching this place, as it should’ve been his pick about two rounds ago. But since it’s a good half hour drive away we needed to wait for the weather to break before we could visit.

Because, you know, Mother Nature clearly saves all inclement weather for Wednesday evenings. Whore.

Anyway.

After a lovely drive through the back country roads of Medina and Summit counties (tip: if you’re ever coming from the east and get lost on your way there, just look for Granger Road, as that seemed to be the only road we drove on for the majority of the journey, despite the navigation system instructing us to turn about 57 times), we arrived at Twiisted – which is located in the smack middle of what I believe must be the shopping hub of northern Medina. Just look for Target. Trust us on this one.

Once inside, we were greeted by a very personable hostess – who I suspect must be a part owner or something because she seemed way too invested in the tables throughout the whole time we were there to just be the person who sat them there. Or maybe she was just bored. Whatever. In any case, it was nice to see a cheerful face as soon as we walked in.

We sat in the bar area – because, well, us. The place wasn’t too busy at all, just a few other tables with groups and a few people at the bar. I’m not sure if this is typical for a Wednesday night – especially the one right after a major alcoholic holiday – but we all agreed it would be interesting to see what weekend crowds are like.

Amanda and I won the lightest drink award this week, going with Crispin cider. Once again, refer back to the calendar and the whole St Patrick’s Day being the day before thing for explanation. Ted went the exact opposite route and ordered probably the darkest thing on the drink menu, a left handed porter. I didn’t check to make sure he did, in fact, use his left hand to drink it. Shane once again tested the rum-to-diet ratio, and found it more drinkable but ultimately less affordable than the alcoholic’s heaven that is the Windsor Pub.

It's like oil and water

It’s like oil and water

Times two

Times two

We started with crab rangoon dip as an appetizer. Which was delicious, although we all agreed that the chips were a bit flimsy and broke way too easily in the extremely hearty dip. I eventually got fed up and started using my fork to spoon the dip onto the chips instead of using the chips as the vessel to pick up dip.

Shane: oh, that’s pretty smart.

What can I say, folks. Don’t let the blonde hair fool you.

Maybe some Tostito's scoops for next time?

Maybe some Tostito’s scoops for next time?

It’s also worth mentioning that they bring you a free appetizer of endamame for the table also. I guess that’s like the chips and salsa of sushi places?

Probably the healthiest appetizer ever to grace our table

Probably the healthiest appetizer ever to grace our table

For dinner, we all went the sushi route – although if you’ve never been to Twiisted then you should definitely keep in mind that the menu features so much more. Burgers, steaks, sandwiches, salads … basically most of the things a normal bar & grille type establishment would feature on a menu. Which is a great idea for groups where one or two people maybe want sushi, and the others don’t like it, or are afraid of it, determined that they won’t like it, etc.

You know, like Shane when we visited Wasabi House last January. Although, if you ask him, he was the one who first “discovered” sushi and introduced it to our WTGW group.

Uh huh.

Anyway, back to dinner. So we all ordered sushi – and, brace yourselves, this is the part where we ordered enough food to feed a small European nation. What? Us? No!

Let’s recap our orders:

Steph: one Volcano roll and one Tempura Asparagus roll

It's like a painting

It’s like a painting

Amanda:  two Philadelphia rolls and one Spicy Crab roll

One of these things is not like the other

One of these things is not like the other

Ted: one Medina Bee roll, one Crab Apple roll and one Spicy Crab roll

A+ for presentation

A+ for presentation

Shane: three Philadelphia rolls (which, for future reference, can also be referenced by the technical terminology of “a buttload of Philly rolls” – as the hostess called the order when she helped deliver the meals to our table. Noted.)

"Buttload" of Philly rolls

Who needs variety?

So that’s 11 orders of sushi at one table of four people. I’m not very good at math, but that seems like a pretty big sushi-to-people ratio.

Now, in our defense, we’ve been burned by sushi orders before. Like the time Shane and Ted had to eat three pounds of frozen yogurt after our meal just to finally feel full. And most places we’ve ordered from in the past have featured rolls of six small-ish pieces. Twiisted’s rolls are eight medium-sized pieces. And the pieces on the specialty rolls (like the Volcano, Median Bee and Crab Apple) are even larger. Filed under: things we were not aware of.

Hence why we left Twiisted feeling extremely full. Like roll you out to the car and unbutton your pants kind of full. I actually left a few pieces of my Volcano roll behind, and Amanda surrendered about five pieces of her order to the boys – who gladly ate them (after devouring all of their own) but instantly regretted that decision once the realization sunk in that they weren’t at home yet and couldn’t just kick back on the couch in sweat pants.

Ted was also particularly upset that meant he didn’t have any room left to sample some of the desserts that were featured on the table as we first walked in – which looked delicious at that time, but the thought of stuffing another morsel into our bodies at the end of the meal made us all avoid making eye contact with that table like kids who don’t want to be called on by the teacher by the time we were on the way out.

We may have to start a dessert tour of these places we’ve been to just to get to try that menu. Or, order less food.

Yeah, I think we all know which of those options has more of a likelihood of happening.

In any case, as you can probably guess by our gluttony, everything was delicious. Amanda said that the Spicy Crab rolls were some of the best she’s ever had. Shane enjoyed his “buttload” of Philly rolls enough that he didn’t want to try anything else, and ate the rest of Amanda’s rolls when she declared them dead soldiers. I liked the Tempura Asparagus better than the Volcano – which was definitely tasty, but just seemed to have a lot going on what with the pile of spicy crawfish meat on top of the actual rolls. And the wasabi aioli on the Tempura rolls actually seemed to be hotter than any of the sauces on the Volcano roll, so there’s that.

Ted had by far the most creative and interesting order on the table. We were all particularly intrigued by his thoughts on the Crab Apple rolls, as we weren’t sure what to expect of sushi that contained both crab meat and slices of apples. Leave it up to Ted to once again order something that contains ingredients not usually found together in, well, anywhere. But he said that one was actually his favorite, as it started out sweet and then basically kicked you in the teeth at the end with a spice you don’t expect. So he said that – while his entire order was quite tasty – if he had to rank them it would go something like this: Spicy Crab, good; Medina Bee, very good; Crab Apple, really, REALLY good. I know that’s a very technical rating system and all, but try to keep up.

All in all, we had a great time at Twiisted. While I’ll admit the service was a little slow at first – we waited a hot minute for our drinks and to place our orders, but after that it definitely seemed to improve. The hostess was actually better than our waiter, as she seemed to have more of both a sense of urgency and a personality. But overall, I think this is a place we could definitely see ourselves returning to. And if it were closer – or at the very least on someone’s route home – we would probably consistently use it as a go-to for take out orders. Anyone want to convince them to open a Cuyahoga Falls location?

Amanda

Amanda

Steph

Steph

Shane

Shane

Ted

Ted

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CAPSULE

Picked by:  Steph
Drinks:   Decent beer and wine list, plus full bar. 
Food:
Known for sushi, so that menu is very large and diverse. But even if you aren’t a fan there are plenty of other options – burgers, steaks, wraps, etc. Portion sizes are also large, something we learned the hard way.
Service: Slow to start, but got better as the night went on. Our waiter wasn’t as chatty as some of the ones we’ve seen at other places recently, but that was probably good here since we seemed to do just fine over-ordering on our own.
Overall: Good. Sushi was delicious and reasonably priced, atmosphere was a little less fun than I would’ve hoped but then again it is a Wednesday night just after St Patrick’s Day, so we can’t expect too much. Would definitely go back for the sushi alone.

Next Pick: Amanda

Twiisted • Sushi• Grill• Bar on Urbanspoon

WTGW 10/8/14: Newdle Bar, Kent

Standard

Ah, Kent. Thank you for reminding me that my college days, way back in the 90’s, were so much different from what the kids are enjoying these days. A sushi place close to campus? Please. In my day the closest thing we got to “ethnic” was Taco Bell on the way home from the bar. Run for the border, yo.

But yet we continue to venture out here, because it’s a close enough drive and, well, they keep opening new restaurants so really we’d be doing a disservice if we didn’t check them out. You’re welcome, world.

We thought Newdle Bar was a fairly new place, since none of us had – in all our recent travels to Kent – ever realized it existed. And, as I just mentioned, we are clearly very much on the cutting edge of dining in our area . Plus, you know, since Shane “discovered” sushi a few months ago, we’ve always kind of got one eye and ear open for new places to try.

But then I saw a flyer on the back of the restroom door advertising “New July hours!” … and right then I realized that a) they’re clearly not that new, and b) they’re clearly not all that concerned about updated marketing. Oh well.

The restaurant isn’t a huge place, but the layout is very open with a few different seating styles, so it felt bigger than what it really was. Although when we walked in and asked for a “party of 5” the host kind of just looked at us funny and then disappeared for a minute, like he had to ask for help with seating a table that large. Clearly we stumped him.

For a place called Newdle Bar, I was surprised to find there wasn’t a huge noodle selection on the menu. Seems odd, no? Maybe I’ve been spoiled by places like Noodlecat in downtown Cleveland – which has a clever play on the title, as well as a fairly large and interesting assortment of ramens, sobas and other noodle-based dishes on the menu. The majority of Newdle Bar’s menu is actually sushi, with just a small selection of Japanese noodles or rice bowls available. Because I guess there’s no clever way to spin “sushi” into a restaurant name.

But no matter, because sushi was really what we were there for anyway. Well, most of us anyway. This week’s WTGW featured a special guest – our friend Jenny, who just moved back with her family to the area after two years in North Carolina. And while I forgot to get an introductory picture of her to share with all of you, remember her name, as she may be appearing for future WTGW adventures. In any case, Jenny, like me a few months back, had tried sushi in the past and had a bad experience. And had written it off as yucky, not to be ordered again. She was the only one of us not to actually order sushi as their meal … although Amanda did convince Jenny to try some of hers. And she didn’t spit it out, even considering it was heavily flavored with wasabi. Sushi – 1, Dietary Aversions – 0. Score.

I barely remember a time I didn't like these

I barely remember a time I didn’t like these

Another score – our server told us that Wednesday’s are $5 martini night. Although he also shared with us a story about how all of the martinis actually used to be just $5, but the price changed “because probably they really weren’t making any money on them and so they raised the prices and just made Wednesdays the special $5 night.” Um, OK. Pretty sure you weren’t supposed to be sharing that info, but thank you for that delightful little insight into your manager’s crafty business skills. And we’ll just call you TMI from now on.

So being that they were clearly a bargain – well, and that we love martinis – us girls dove right into that list. Amanda and I started with the Marilyn Monroe, which was a delicious blend of strawberry vodka, cream and chocolate sauce … and pretty much tasted just like Strawberry Nestle’s Quik. Jenny had the Tsunami, which was Bailey’s, brandy, cream and caramel. And equally as delicious. For our second round later we switched it up, with Amanda ordering the Tsunami and Jenny ordering the Marilyn. I went kamakazi and got the Key Lime Pie, which was a bit too limey for my tastes but otherwise OK.

That's $15 well spent

That’s $15 well spent

Ted had a Dogfish Head beer on tap, and Shane continued his quest to make sure that all ethnic restaurants are properly chilling their bottles of Miller Lite.

Ted ordered endame as appetizer, which be pretty much kept to himself since none of us really wanted to touch it. Amanda and I tried it and weren’t impressed. Honestly I found it confusing. I mean, do you eat the outside, or no? All the seasoning seemed to be there, but when I tried it that way it had the consistency of leather. Not a fan.

As the only one to stray from the sushi menu, Jenny ordered the rice bowl. Which ironically came out quicker than any of our fresh made sushi. Hmmm. Even TMI was slightly thrown off by that. In any case, it didn’t look to be overly seasoned and was pretty much just chicken and veggies over rice. A lot of rice. It was quite a bit of food, and Jenny ended up taking half of it home.

Jenny fills in as the "one of these things is not like the other" order

Jenny fills in as the “one of these things is not like the other” order

Shane, Amanda and I all had various selections from the 6-roll menu. Mostly Philadelphia, Alaskan and one with shrimp and avocado. They were all very good; however, as with most sushi, it just never seems to be filling enough. Seriously, can we fix that somehow? More rice, larger pieces? I mean, Amanda and I each had two orders and Shane had three – but I think we still might have come to blows over Jenny’s extra food if we hadn’t discovered a frozen yogurt place next door after our meal.

Looks like a lot but just isn't filling

Looks like a lot but just isn’t filling

To that end, Ted was maybe the smartest of the sushi eaters, ordering two of the extra large double rolls (which come in 8’s). He had the Dragon and the Black Widow, both of which he enjoyed – and politely offered to the rest of us in an attempt to keep the peace as he was still eating and we were hungrily staring down his non-empty plate. Amanda did try one and agreed that it was just as good as what we had already devoured.

Such presentation

Such presentation

Overall Newdle Bar is a good place. It definitely caters to the college crowd as far as atmosphere and kind of bare-bones decor, but the food was good and reasonably priced for a sit-down place. The wait staff is pretty much all college students, but other than the bit of oversharing that earned him his nickname at the beginning of the visit, TMI was efficient and pleasant and got everything correct. He noticed when drinks needed refilled and was quick to ask if plates could be moved out of the way.

Did I mention we were still hungry after we left? Thankfully there was a self-serve frozen yogurt place right next door, so we headed in for some dessert. The flavors were to die for – including pumpkin pie and graham cracker swirl, strawberries and cream, cake batter, waffles and about 15 others I’m blanking on right now. And the topping bar was just as long as the flavor area, with everything from healthy fruits to gummy bears to candy pieces and actual pumpkin roll. Naturally we all totally bypassed the healthy section, and went straight to the bad stuff. Because, well, we could. I mean, come on. Who puts strawberries on a sundae when you can have Reece’s Pieces and Kit Kats? For real.

None of the toppings matched the yogurt flavors, but whatevs.

None of the toppings matched the yogurt flavors, but whatevs.

Which could explain how Shane and Ted each ended up making themselves 1.5 pound sundaes. I’m not even exaggerating. 1.5 pounds. Each.

That's nearly 3 pounds of sundae between them.

That’s nearly 3 pounds of sundae between them.

Ted literally licked his bowl clean, but Shane started to deteriorate with probably about a quarter pound of yogurt left in his dish. Eyes, meet stomach. Guess who’s bigger?

He's not looking happy

He’s not looking happy

CAPSULE

Picked by:  Amanda
Drinks: Decent alcohol list for a Japanese place – although being in a college town I would guess that’s a must. And you always win points with us for $5 margaritas. Just sayin’.
Food:
 Not a huge selection if you’re not a fan of sushi. Honestly, for a place with a play on the word “noodle” in the title, I would’ve expected that to take up the majority of the menu, but whateves.
Service: Good.  We didn’t see our waiter a ton, but with the open setup of the place I’m assuming it’s because he could see us and assumed we didn’t need anything from him. Drinks were refilled when needed and checks brought promptly, so thumbs up.
Overall: There are less expensive sushi places closer to us, but for a fun night out this place was definitely a good pick.

Next Pick: Ted

 

Newdle Bar on Urbanspoon

WTGW 4/23/14: Cilantro Thai and Sushi, Akron

Standard

So, as happened to us a few months back, we had had our fill of burgers, wings and typical bar foods, and felt the need to branch out to something a little different. And now that Shane is addicted to sushi, we knew Cilantro would be a perfect choice.

The place is much bigger on the inside that I anticipated. Being that it’s a storefront in a downtown area, I wasn’t expecting much past the seating area you can see from the large front windows. This was where we sat – and while we never got up and wandered around (because, well, I think they tend to frown on that in restaurant settings), we could see the large bar from our seats, as well as a back room area that looked even larger than where we were seated.  I think there’s a patio, too, so this place may possibly end up as a contender come summer patio season.

A quick side note for those who have sports obsessed husbands like mine – Cilantro does not have televisions. So when dining on a night when, say, the Browns are announcing their upcoming schedule, be forewarned that you’ll hear a lot of grumbling that he can’t watch ESPN. And that of course this would be the week we don’t go to a sports bar. Because apparently its important to hear live commentary as the opposing teams are announced? Whatever. Let’s just say that Shane’s phone spent a large portion of the evening in my purse after he spent a large portion of the meal looking at Twitter.

BTW, those of us not watching Twitter spent a good portion of our time there trying to determine if the table behind us was on a first date or not. And that’s just good fun. See what you miss out on when you’re on your phone, Shane?

Anyway, onto the food. Amanda had the pad Thai and a Philly roll, Shane had the chicken teriayki and a California roll, I had the pepper garlic with beef and a cucumber roll, and Ted had the Dragon roll. All this of course accompanied by the usual three Miller Lites, and a beer I can’t pronounce for Ted.

Anyone know where I can find a glass?

Anyone know where I can find a glass?

The food was excellent. I don’t think any of us had a bad word to say about it. And the portions are very generous – both Amanda and I left with doggy bags. Honestly, we probably could’ve just ordered a few different kinds of sushi and shared that among the group of us – but with the prices so cheap (about $4 – $5 for each of the rolls, and then $10 or so for the entrees) it was easy to order both. Plus you know how we like to challenge the size of the table to contain all of our food.

Oh, hello there not bar food

Oh, hello there not bar food

Oodles of noodles

Oodles of noodles

Ted always gets something interesting looking at Asian places

Ted always gets something interesting looking at Asian places

Ted's new "pet"

Ted’s new “pet”

Cilantro has an early closing time – 9:30 on Wednesdays – which meant of course that we went elsewhere for drinks after dinner, because, well, we like to pretend we all don’t have to get up early the next day. We headed back over to 69 Taps – a place we seem to end up often for drinks whenever we’re downtown, but none of us are quite brave enough to eat at.  Well, except Ted … so that means they must not put cheese on anything.

 

Anyway, Amanda and I were thrilled to find out that Summer Shandy was back on tap. Ted ordered the darkest, heaviest beer on the menu. And Shane twice ordered something that smelled like grapefruit without meaning to or particularly liking it. Go figure.

Oh, and while we were there we were witness to yet another first date, which led us to believe that apparently Wednesdays are becoming the new Fridays. But then again we’ve known that for a while. Just call us trendsetters.

Because we’re all about checking out new places – and also because we’d had several beers – we made a quick stop at the new GetGo on the way home to check out their made to order menu. We didn’t order anything, so I can’t rule on the quality – but just judging on the menu as well as the location in proximity to our house. it looks like Sheetz may have some competition for our post-drinking snacking. Plus, they have a milkshake machine!?! I don’t see how you can possibly go wrong with that. They also have indoor and outdoor seating, so looks like we may have a new place on the WTGW list … Ha.

Oh, and because I decided we don’t take nearly enough interesting and/or fun (read: stupid) pictures as we used to when we first started out on WTGW, this week we debuted a new challenge: taking a picture with something interesting in the restaurant. Because this was the first week, we didn’t really go all out (see pictures below of Shane trying to hide in a plant) … but you can see how this could get fun, right? Stay tuned …

Um, I can still see you

Um, I can still see you

That's a little better

That’s a little better

Outside the restaurant and Shane is still working on his hiding abilities

Outside the restaurant and Shane is still working on his hiding abilities

I think he finally nailed it

I think he finally nailed it

CAPSULE

Picked by:  Amanda
Drinks: Nice to see they had the old staples on tap, as well as traditional drinks like sake and craft beers. 
Food:
Generous portions of great tasting food. Nothing to complain about there.
Service: Good. I think the waiter may have been slightly frightened of our table, but we’re pretty much used to that by now.
Overall: I’d like to think we’ll be back, especially once patio season hits.

Next Pick: Ted

Cilantro Thai & Sushi Restaurant on Urbanspoon

WTGW 1/8/14: Wasabi House, Fairlawn

Standard

I know, I know – first Italian, now Japanese? We’re really branching out. And we were really tired of sports bars.

Wasabi House was Ted’s pick, and he has been certain about it for pretty much a full month now, having seen the sign one day while on business in the Fairlawn area and realizing it was actually a place he had never been. As we’ve already explained, these places are hard to come by, so naturally it caught his attention. Plus I think he discovered the one type of food that is pretty much assured to not have any trace of his arch nemesis, cheese. Well played, Ted.

Wasabi House has three options for dining on any given night: hibachi, regular dining room, and small private rooms that can accommodate parties of 2-6 or so in a traditional Japanese setting (i.e. you leave your shoes at the door and sit on the floor). We opted for the regular ole boring dining area – partially because it was our first time there, but also because there was a pretty decent wait for the hibachi side and we were ravishingly hungry. Enough said.

Plus that just gives us even more of a reason to come back. Does it count as a new place to try on a WTGW if we pick a different seating option?

Now I’ll be honest and say that three of the four of us really have very little experience with traditional Japanese cuisine. You’d think that one odd one would be me, having lived in the AsiaTown area of Cleveland for about five years … but sadly that’s not the case. Maybe I should blame it on “YOLO” not being as wildly popular during those years of my life as it is now.

Actually, in all honesty, the main reason I seemed to shy away from Japanese food is ironically the one thing that usually draws people to it.

Sushi.

The only experience I ever had tasting sushi was about eight years ago, when a friend and I hit up a post-work happy hour at the Ritz Carlton, and they were giving it out for free. As in, thanks for ordering your Captain and Coke, please pick three sushi rolls to accompany it. Odd, for sure. Maybe they were just trying to class us up a little. Whatever. In any case, let’s just say that I did at least try it, and was not impressed.

(Now, every time I tell that story someone always replies that maybe the word “free” should be an indication of the quality … but come on, now. It was the Ritz. You’d think even the free stuff would be good, right? I think I’ve managed to prove that theory wrong.)

So I blame the Ritz as the reason why even Wednesday I was reluctant to try a piece of the spicy crab rolls that Shane ordered for an appetizer. Shane had never tried sushi before – and I may regret pushing him to order this, as I think he’s found a new obsession. Watch out pizza – you may have a challenger for top place on his favorite food list. Although I’m not positive it was the actual roll he liked so much, or the soy/wasabi sauce mixture that Ted coached him through concocting and he used as a dip for the sushi. Either way, Shane was definitely not disappointed. I actually tried one piece, and was pleasantly surprised. The ban on sushi is hereby lifted. Horray!

Chopstick master Shane

Chopstick master Shane

In case you hadn’t guessed by now, Ted was our group’s Japanese food connoisseur, who put his menu down long before we did and probably had the least trouble interpreting the waitress’ heavy accent. Ted ordered a sampling of rolls, including the golden dragon, which caused us all to stare in true “wtf” fashion when it was brought to the table. And also what Ted tried to kill Shane with when he “forgot” about Shane’s shrimp allergy and tried to get him to try it. Nice try, Ted.

Ted's selections. Fancy.

Ted’s selections. Fancy.

Amanda and Shane both ordered teriyaki steak, and I tried the soba, which was delicious. Our meals also included miso soup and salad, the latter of which had an amazing dressing. We think it may have been ginger based, but honestly were too busy eating it to really care what it was made of.

Oodles of noodles

Oodles of noodles

Ted also went the traditional route with drinks, ordering some sort of Japanese beer. I had a drink called The Geisha, which was one of those fruity concoctions that you could suck down 20 of because they taste like there is no liquor whatsoever included. Yum. Meanwhile Amanda and Shane tested out the Miller Lite to make sure they hadn’t altered it in some Japanese way – which I’m pleased to report they did not. Ha.

Since we were done with dinner by about 8:00, and this wasn’t exactly the type of place that begs you to stay and covet your inner alcoholic, on our way home we made a stop at On The Rocks in the Merriman Valley for a few post-dinner drinks. Shane, Amanda and I had been to OTR one other time, pre-blog, after our second WTGW (the disappointing wing night at Domenics). We’re still trying to figure this place out. Last time I think there were about three other people in the place besides us and the bartender’s boyfriend; this time there was some sort of presentation going on in the back portion that involved a speaker and a slideshow of sorts. Because the bar is the best place for this type of educational assistance, definitely. But they had McKenzie’s cider on tap, which pretty much ensured that Amanda and I were staying even if said educational seminar was a mix of subliminal messages trying to get us to sign over our homes and bank accounts and become missionaries in impoverished areas of the world.

Again, enough said.

CAPSULE

Picked by: Ted
Drink options:  Wide variety of traditional Japanese beers and sake, as well as a full bar that us Americans are used to choosing from.
Food:  This place changed my mind on sushi. Enough said.
Service: Good – although as with any truly ethnic restaurant, be prepared to listen attentively or you may order something you’re not expecting. I appreciated that she corrected my order so I ended up with the right thing.
Overall: Between the other dining experience we have yet to try and Shane’s newfound love of sushi and all things wasabi, I have a feeling we’ll be back.

Next Pick: Shane

Wasabi Japanese Steakhouse on Urbanspoon