When I go out for dinner it’s a well thought-out plan. Never random, never out of desperation, and never something I don’t expect to be excellent. I knew neither of these restaurants was going to blow my mind or stomach, but sometimes it’s not about the food. So I’ll give a rundown of what was good about each, and say that both are more than decent places if you choose your meal well and have good company.
Asuka – I rarely eat sushi. Unsustainabl fish haunt my dreams. The future without oceans thanks in part to the Moonies is a scary, scary thing. So here I ordered mackerel maki, seaweed salad, uni (sea urchin) nigiri, and butterfish. I asked where the butterfish was from and how it was caught and I was still skeptical, but God I love butterfish, and I eat it about twice a year…so please forgive me, oceans.
Everything was fine. The mackerel wasn’t too fishy. It wasn’t even marinated like it was up at J-Town a few days later. The uni was still cold from being kept in the fridge, or maybe in the freezer. I saw the containers they come in up at J-Town later too. But the J-Town ones were far superior. These tasted cold and fishy, as though the fridge had gotten the best of them. Avoid. Avoid. Avoid.
The butterfish…mmm…I shouldn’t tell you to get it. Unless it’s mislabeled and is really black cod. Then it’s okay. But what are the odds of that? Zero, as I would have remembered if that was what the server had told e when I asked where it was from and what fish it was and all.
Cute little cut up half orange and honeydew melon slice for dessert. Oh, and just an aside. Ghazale, the Middle Eastern super-cheap take-away next to the Bloor cinema that’s open late now has a little juice shop next door. Mountains of pineapples and mangoes. All chopped up and frozen so they can be quickly blended with sugar or organic honey and water. No waste if they freeze them, see. So I just wanted frozen mangoes. They’re my favourite snack. Well actually I wanted papaya but they were out. Good for digestion, papaya.
So I asked for just a cup of frozen mango. Don’t waste your time or money adding sugar or honey or blending it. Actually, you even wouldn’t have to give me as much so the store would make even more money off me by saving on fruit, I reasoned with the cashier. Nope, he was having none of it. He couldn’t give me plain frozen mango chunks in a cup! He had to blend them. Somewhere I imagined he’d signed a contract in blood saying he would only sell blended items no matter how much the customer pleaded. So I got my thick cup of blended mango and sulked a little, but still enjoyed it. There’s a texture that I love and a slipperiness to the chunks. I’m not just causing trouble.
Aroma – not the espresso bar that now has an outlet in the North Food court of the Eaton Centre along with Kensington Market’s “Urban Herbivore” (pronounced “Urban Urbivore”, not “Urban Herbivore” as I thought for awhile back in the day when it first opened. Not much of a Newfoundlander, am I? Pronouncing my ‘haetches”.
This is a cheap Indian lunch place masquerading as an upscale dining establishment. They do quick pre-theatre prix fixe dinners on real table cloths. All the standards – rogan josh, butter chicken, jalfrezi, tandoori everything, naan, but also some of MY favourites: eggplant bhartha, a chicken and tomato dish next to the jalfrezi on the menu that I hadn’t heard of (or maybe just hadn’t seen spelled that way) before, caulifower and potato that was nutty and not overcooked (we were the only people in the restaurant, so it’s not as though the kitchen had much else going on. Which means we could have gotten horrible, sitting-around-waiting-for-people-to-come-kind of food, or fresh food like this. Good job, kitchen). Dad said the rogan josh was great, but there are two Indian places in all of St. John’s. Maybe three of four now but I successfully predicted the demise of the fifth, so there’s definitely no more than that. Quality before quantity, I guess). The chicken korma was good according to both him and my brother, and the serving of naan for two people was 5 huge, blistering naans total. My rice was lovely, thanks. There’s a reason I have about 5 blog posts on how to make dairy-free, gluten-free naan…).
Oh, and okra. I love ordering okra. There’s a slimy-ness to it. I bet a lot of people don’t order it here and it was pretty good!!! Some of the 1″ pieces were under-cooked, but most were perfect, and I’d rather have a few under-cooked than all over-cooked.
Best in the city this ain’t. Perfectly good and soul-satisfying? Yup. Skip the white fish unless you never eat sushi. Your unsustainable fish quota will be maxed out soon enough.