4:39 PM sians 0 Comments

it's been a busy week with work and catching up with my japanese class that i missed. hence the lack of updates.

ryan was here for the weekend and me being me, i already planned out our food itinerary for the three days. and japanese food at arami was on the menu :) i've heard a ton of great things about this restaurant since its opening. i've been wanting to try this place for a while now and when we managed to fit arami in our schedule, i was uber ecstatic.

located in ukranian village, if you aren't specifically pay attention while finding the restaurant, you might miss it. well, okay i admit that we did. even though we parked right across the street from it, we walked a block AWAY from it. -.- best thing to do is to know the the address so that you can find the location easier (which we forgot to check). thank goodness ryan had the phone number to the restaurant so he called them..

the hiragana reads 'arami'! the japanese classes are paying off :p
there were some high tables and a bar as we entered the restaurant.

as we were led towards the back dining room, we walked past the sushi bar on the left where i could see the sushi chefs hard at work and on the right was a mural of mountains.

i loved the feel/ambience of the back dining area where there were roof windows (mad love) and glass doors that framed some of the bamboo plants outside. it felt cozy and home-y. <3  although, due to the petite small space, the tables were a tad too close for my liking.

i wanted to try the different things they had to offer but we ordered a few nigiri, a few maki mono, and two appetizers.

they also had different types of tea which i think is a must with japanese cuisine and i asked our waitress what her favorite was. she suggested the tangerine ginger tea which i wasn't quite a big fan of. i traded with ryan for his jasmine tea which was more my style. (poor ryan!) the teas were brewed by the cup :)

ryan also ordered a glass of sake ($10) where 70% of its proceeds go to the japan relief fund. i liked the crispness and the fruity flavor of the sake. ryan doesn't really like fruity alcohol so it was just alright for him. unfortunately, i can't remember the name of the drink :(

appetizer | madai kama . japanese red snapper collar ($6)

chef morimoto has always said on iron chef that he thinks that the fish collar is the one of most flavorful parts of the fish.  i wanted to taste how true this is. the collar was served with sweet soy sauce and topped with scallions. the soy sauce wasn't sweet but the fish was fresh and yummy. a tad difficult to eat with chopsticks and despite all the struggle with chopsticks, ryan said it's been a while since he had snapper that good. it is was on the special menu so it might not always be available.

appetizer | seared hotate . pan seared scallops . unagi . mushroom . shiro miso . ($12)

one for each of us. :) except ryan ate that one piece of unagi without knowing that was the only one and he said it was really delicious. i can't tell cos i didn't have any (sad face). the scallop itself had a decent sear but was seasoned and cooked beautifully. and goes so well with the shiro miso (white miso) which had a light savory flavor with the umami of the mushroom. mm mm..delicious.

nigiri sushi | maguro otoro . fatty tuna ($8 a piece)

okay, it's a tad pricey but... they were offering fatty tuna! otoro is the fattiest portion of tuna, found on the very underside of the fish. i've heard great things about fatty tuna about how they melt in your mouth and stuff and i wanted to taste how it differs from regular tuna. the way it was served at arami: generous amount of tuna atop good sushi rice (where u can taste each grain instead of a mess of mushed rice). the way the sushi chef sliced it made it easier to take bites without embarassing yourself in front of your date with tuna/rice/food falling all over the place. the tuna had an amazing flavor and it felt like it melted in my mouth. yummy! not so much for ryan though.

special maki mono | double sake . salmon . scallion . zuke salmon . lemon mayo ($13)

all i can say is: OMG so delicioushuge huge favorite of the night. it took me a while to find out what zuke is but it really means marinated. so true to its namesake, there are salmon wrapped around the fish and inside the roll itself which had contributed to textural difference and flavor. it was delicate but with a burst of flavor and the citrus from the light drizzle of lemon mayo brought out the freshness of the salmon while still letting the fish shine. what i also love was that it wasn't a huge amount of rice so the main highlight was the salmon itself. no soy sauce or wasabi needed for me and that's a first. huge nom nom vote from me.

special maki mono | hirame spicy tako . spicy octopus . fluke . ginger apple dressing . ($13)

another favorite of ours.  hirame is fluke and tako is octopus in japanese. so it's a spicy tako roll wrapped with hirame and topped with a small slice of apple. lovely combination of spicy, sweetness and tartness. what was awesome about this roll was that you can still savor the flavor of the delicate fluke then have that slight spicy bite at the back of the throat from the octopus which is then cooled by the apple slice. and what made it even better was the spiciness didn't linger in the mouth so i could still taste the other light and delicate flavors after one of these. once again, wasabi and soy sauce not needed. i am also grateful that it was sushi roll with a light amount of dressing and not sauce served with a side of sushi like a few places i've been. thumbs up! :)

dessert | mochi ice cream ($4)

three mochi with flavors of our choice to end our meal: green tea, mango and red bean. they were good but i could probably get these from mitsuwa. the dessert was served with a side of preserved kumquats with pink peppercorn which i enjoyed.

arami has climbed its way up to my most favorite japanese restaurant. it tops even my favorite cherry sushi in san jose but just barely. ryan agreed that it's probably one of his top chicago restaurants. a petite sushi restaurant serving dishes with bursts of flavor done with finesse called arami.

as they say it in japanese: おいしい (oishii which means delicious!)

disclaimer this is written based on my personal experience and opinion. experiences and taste buds may vary for others
Arami on Urbanspoon


chocolate-y dessert delight

9:34 PM sians 0 Comments

i wanted to bake something for ryan since he is coming to chicago this weekend and so i asked him which one he would prefer: the ultimate blueberry cheesecake or chocolate gooey butter cookies.  i was sure he was gonna choose the cheesecake but much to my surprise, he said he wanted the latter. then i understood why... the reason being so he could bring some back to california with him and cheesecake doesn't travel well -.-

these chocolate gooey butter cookies are probably one of my favorite desserts to bake just because they taste good and they are simple to make. this recipe by paula deen have been tested and tried (rather with delicious pleasure) many times and it has never failed to please the crowd. i mean c'mon chocolate goodness? who would say no to that?

all you need are a few ingredients, an oven and a mixer.

good vanilla extract. a hunk of butter. a third less fat cream cheese (yeah i know that the less fat isn't gonna help much lol). my favorite type of cake mix to use: triple chocolate fudge.. it just tastes the best imo. but any type will do.


the one great thing (and could also be a bad thing) about baking something with chocolate/sugar, you get to lick the batter off the mixer/spoon/bowl.. yummy! *huge beam on face*

after the batter chilled out in the fridge for a bit (i sorta skipped this step), they were rolled into tablespoon sized balls and rolled into confectioner's sugar.

they were then ready to be baked in a preheated 350F oven for 12 minutes.

they look so good to eat but these babies have to left to cool before putting some finishing touches to it.

once completely cooled (important! or not the sugar will melt), they get to be sprinkled with more love confectioner's sugar to make it look pretty! it looks like snow, doesn't it? :) now it's ready to be presented to friends/family for their viewing and eating pleasure.

so they aren't exactly gooey (maybe i made them too small and baked them a tad too long.. cut me some slack! i am not a good baker!) also it could be that i baked them on parchment paper which might affect the outcome a tad.

regardless, these "cookies" are addictive, light, delicious and not too sweet. ryan and i call them cakey cookies cos it's like a cake in the shape of a cookie. most of the time i have trouble stopping at just one which is why i try to bring a lot of it to work to share with my co-workers so i don't eat them all in my apartment.

it's quite dangerous because of how light/airy these desserts are that i sometimes forget there are a ton of cream cheese and butter in them. hehe. :) definitely give them a try whenever you need to get a chocolate fix. baking these will be such a delicious weekend project! <3

you can get the recipe for these tasty morsels from here.

chocolate gooey butter cookies
by paula deen

ingredients |

  • 1 (8 oz) brick cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 stick of butter, room temperature
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1 (18 oz) box moist chocolate cake mix
  • confectioner's sugar, for dusting
directions |
  • preheat the oven to 350 degrees F
  • in a large bowl with an electric mixer, cream the cream cheese and butter until smooth
  • beat in the egg
  • then beat in the vanilla extract
  • beat in the cake mix
  • cover and refrigerate for two hours to firm up so you can roll the batter into balls
  • roll the chilled batter into tablespoon sized balls and then roll them in confectioner's sugar
  • place on ungreased cookie sheet, 2 inches apart
  • bake for 12 minutes. the cookies will remain soft and "gooey"
  • cool completely and sprinkle with more confectioner's sugar, if desired


brunch at m. henry

11:45 AM sians 0 Comments

okay, i admit i am not much of a brunch person. i enjoy the occasional pancakes or eggs benedict or omelet kind of thing but i prefer lunch over brunch most of the time. my boss raved about this brunch place in andersonville called m. henry which means something cos i trust her taste in food. i browsed through the food pictures on their website and was tempted to try it cos they looked awesome. :)

i invited lyle and christina to join me and ryan on this food adventure. m. henry does not take reservations and my boss told us that the best time to come is before 11am. lyle got there before us but even though there was a table for four available but since the whole party wasn't there (meaning us three) they gave the table to someone else first. so we had to wait for about another 10-15 minutes.

inside of m. henry, the decor is what i'd imagine a country side bakery with english influence would be but with a modern twist. it felt home-y in a weird way.

m. henry boasts of making everything fresh including their pastries and you can purchase loaves of bread or cookies or even coffee to go from the counter.  i managed to take a photos of their bakers/chefs at work.

i am ecstatic that we picked sunday morning because that's the day they offer their brunch menu which includes their special egg benedicts, french toasts and blisscakes (what they call their pancakes)

we started off with some warm drinks since it was pouring outside. i ordered soy latte, ryan with black coffee and lyle ordered the tea.

i was slightly disappointed because i was hoping for a pretty pattern on the foam of the latte that was picture worthy but all i got was this. the taste was pretty good though. ryan didn't really like his black coffee.

at this point we were starving but we took a while to figure out what to eat since there were quite a bit of selection of food.

grilled shrimp & lobster benedict . two toasted pain de mie rounds topped with sauteed garlic swiss chard, caramelized shallots, grilled shrimp, creme fraiche and two poached eggs topped with lobster hollandaise & served with mixed green salad.

the description itself was enough to make my mouth water. and it was as delicious as it was described. the eggs were poached perfectly and the rich yolk oozes out to coat the other ingredients. the shrimp itself was seasoned and cooked well where it announced its presence in the midst of the other flavors but in a good way. the bread was toasted so it offered a slight crunch aspect and for once it wasn't an english muffin. we could also taste the lobster flavor in the hollandaise itself. the only complain i got if i had to give one was the shallots were cooked down but they weren't caramelized. overall, lovely dish all around. loved it. so did ryan and christina. that's three out of three!

mango~cranberry vanilla french toast . two slices o four home made cranberry walnut french toast, layered with warm mangoes and cranberries, vanilla creme and topped with a candied walnut & oat crust

you might think that this was too sweet just from the looks of it - well, it isn't. it had a nice balance of tartness and sweetness and the crust was the nice crunch factor. most of the sweetness comes from the candied walnuts the bread was soft and lovely and the vanilla creme was a nice touch. the mangoes were alright but the overall dish was delicious. one bite with everything was a burst of different flavors in the mouth.

bacon wrapped baked eggs with polenta & mixed field greens .  a ring of applewood bacon filled with creamy polenta topped with two eggs, sharp wisconsin cheddar cheese & fresh thyme, baked and served atop mixed greens salad. a light yet filling m.henry classic.

lyle's choice of brunch. he seemed to enjoy this and thought it was good.

fannie's killer fried egg sandwich . toasted sour boule layered with two over-medium eggs, applewood bacon, sliced plum tomatoes, gorgonzola and fresh thyme and served with house potatoes.

looked like a hearty sandwich to me. you could request to have the egg done whichever way you prefer and christina prefers the yolks cooked through. her comment was that it was a tasty sandwich. i tried the potatoes which was seasoned well and cooked through but i wished that it had crispy edges.

m. henry has now a sister location called m. henrietta. i am not sure why there is the discrepencies between the yelp ratings but they serve almost the same menu.

m. henry's motto is chow for now but to me i think it's gonna be chow for a very long time. whenever i am in the mood for brunch food, m.henry will undoubtedly be on my to-go list.

disclaimer this is written based on my personal experience and opinion. experiences and taste buds may vary for others

M. Henry on Urbanspoon