Monday, June 28, 2010

Miyoshi Japanese Restaurant

Miyoshi Japanese Restaurant
8660 Bankers Street
Florence, KY

Every now and then I get a real hankering for traditional Japanese cuisine, but being vegetarian severely limits my choices. Having heard good things about Miyoshi, I decided to contact the restaurant to find out what my options were. They responded quickly, stating that the chef would be happy to whip up something special as long as he had advance notice. I made reservations.

Miyoshi Japanese Restaurant

On the night my girlfriends and I visited, we were the only non-Asians in the restaurant - a good indicator of authenticity. We ordered drinks and perused the menu. Be aware that a large beer is REALLY large. The single bottle of Kirin I ordered filled my glass several times throughout the meal.

Miyoshi offers both hot and cold appetizers as well as salads. I opted for hiyayakko - chilled, soft tofu served with onion and grated ginger. A lot of folks don't care for tofu if it isn't fried or heavily marinated, but the beauty of this dish is in it's simplicity. The tiny onion slivers and pungent ginger complement the creamy, bland block of tofu beautifully.

Hot appetizers that are vegetarian-friendly include edamame, deep fried tofu, stir-fried veggies, and tempura vegetables. Just be sure to specify that you do not want bonito (mackerel) shavings.

Next up was a sushi course. I chose a veggie roll filled with asparagus, pickled burdock root (yamagobo), avocado and sesame seed, while my friends chose the spider roll (filled with soft shell crab, avocado and smelt roe) and California roll (crab, avocado and smelt roe). We were all slightly freaked out by the spider roll, aptly named because the tiny crabs are deep fried whole and appear to be crawling out of the middle of each roll.

sushi - note spider roll at top right

The sole vegetarian entree at Miyoshi is tempura vegetables. While I normally enjoy the lightly battered, deep fried vegetable dish, I wasn't in a deep-fried mood and opted for the chef-suggested sansai zousui - rice gruel with onions and mushrooms in an egg-drop broth. The dish is usually flavored with fish stock, but can be made vegetarian upon request. Very delicately seasoned, this is a truely traditional Japanese option that may not appeal to American tastes, but I found it delightfully rewarding because it brought back long-dormant, fond memories of a dinner many years ago when I was an exchange student at Okayama University.

Sansai Zousui

Lauren opted for the American-friendly Makunouchi Bento Box. This meal of assorted dumplings (shumai), beef asparagus roll, sushi, tempura, and a choice of teriyaki chicken or salmon comes in a lovely laquered box. She said it felt like receiving a delicious birthday present.

Bento Box

Service at Miyoshi is efficient and friendly, and staff are willing to explain the finer points of the menu to first-timers. The restaurant is open for lunch from 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and offers dinner from 5:30-10 p.m. They are closed on Sunday.

Miyoshi Japanese on Urbanspoon

Monday, June 21, 2010

Recipe: Tofu Peanut Stir-Fry

Tofu Peanut Stir-Fry

Serves 4

2 eggs, beaten
1 Cup cornstarch
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
1 (14 oz) package firm or extra firm tofu
1 tsp oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ tsp minced ginger
3-4 Cups stir-fry veggies of your choice (I used broccoli, carrots, bok choy, onions and snow peas)
1 Tbs Chinese Five Spice
½ Cup peanut oil
¼ Cup peanuts

Process the following until smooth:
¾ Cup coconut milk
1 tsp red curry
¼ Cup smooth peanut butter
2 Tbs sugar
1 Tbs lemon juice
¼ tsp salt

Stir-Fry ingredients

Peanut sauce ingredients

1. Whirl together sauce ingredients

2. Drain tofu. Place tofu between towels and set a plate or bowl on top for about 30 minutes to press excess liquid out of the tofu. Cut into 2” pieces.
3. Beat eggs in a bowl. In another bowl, add cornstarch, salt and pepper.

4. Dredge tofu in eggs, then in the cornstarch mixture. Set aside.

5. Heat oil in a wok and add garlic, ginger, and vegetables. Stir fry until crisp tender.

6. Add spice and stir, then transfer wok contents into a bowl and cover with foil to keep warm.

7. Heat peanut oil in wok and add tofu. Fry until browned, about five minutes.

8. Stir in sauce and peanuts and cook until thickened.

8. Serve over cooked brown rice or whole wheat spaghetti. Enjoy!

For a printable recipe, click here.

Sunday, June 13, 2010


19 E. 7th Street
Downtown Cincinnati
UPDATE 3 May 2011: This restaurant has closed.
Normally when Steve and I want to watch English football we head to Molly Malone's in Covington. Matches kick off around 8 a.m. over here (1 p.m. GMT) so the early start time means it hasn't gotten time to become too smoky. We knew that wouldn't be the case for World Cup action, and we'd caught quite a few matches at BlackFinn four years ago - or perhaps it was still McFadden's then? - but anyway we decided to make BlackFinn our destination for the USA v England match on Saturday afternoon.

BlackFinn American Saloon

I hadn't been to the restaurant in quite some time, mainly because the last time I visited there were only overpriced appetizer options for the vegetarian diner, but a quick perusal of their online menu showed that they now offer a black bean burger in addition to standard veggie-friendly appetizers like spinach & artichoke dip, salads, and fried cheese type choices.

Of course the lure of World Cup footie on the several dozen large flatscreen and tabletop HDTVs was the main draw for Steve and his English mates, but BlackFinn's half-price pint special - an astonishingly good value for money - certainly added to the festive afternoon. Two dollar pints of Smithwick and Guinness?! What?! It figures that I had volunteered to be the designated driver. Such rotten luck.

Monterey Black Bean Burger

The restaurant's Monterey Black Bean Burger ($6.95) scores well, and the addition of guacamole and bean sprouts makes for a refreshing change. The wilted spring mix and bitter endive weren't good teammates to the other toppings however, so they got the red card treatment and were sent off.

Steve opted for the Ultimate Bacon Cheddar Burger ($6.95) and was not disappointed. Topped with four slices of applewood smoked bacon, cheddar cheese and crispy fried onion strings, it's a thick and juicy two-handed affair. Seasoned fries come standard with all burgers, but there is nothing standard about them. I'm not a huge fan of french fries but wow, these batter-dipped potatoes are seriously addicting.

The Ultimate Bacon Cheddar Burger

While the result was a draw thanks to England keeper Robert Green's embarrassing error in the 40th minute, there was spirited but friendly banter between the two teams' supporters throughout the match. When England's Steven Gerrard scored in the fourth minute we sent a round of drinks to a table of USA fans, and 36 minutes later they reciprocated with a shot of Gentleman Jack in our direction. Believe me when I say that level of opposing fan camaraderie would not exist in similar pubs and bars in England. My husband and his mates found it very refreshing.

Sent by some Yanks after England's keeper crapped out

BlackFinn Restaurant and Saloon on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Habits Café

Habits Café
3036 Madison Road

I have a confession to make: I'm an absent-minded blogger. In all the time that I have been writing this blog, and as many fantastic meals as I've had at Habits over the years, I have never once thought of putting the two together. High time that was rectified, don't you think?

Habits Café

There are plenty of vegetarian offerings, including scratch-made vegetarian vegetable soup from Mama Jo's own recipe, and garden burgers ($6.50) which for a small upcharge can be made in a variety of styles. Fans of all things spicy might opt to try the White Hot Sun, consisting of pepper jack and Parmesan cheese, jalapenos, crushed red pepper, onions, lettuce, tomato and mayo; or let the Godzilla (pepper jack, spicy onion straws, jalapeno mayo) stomp on your tongue.

The standard side salad

The restaurant also offers several varieties of burrito, and it is a toss-up between the black bean and the cilantro corn burrito vying for best meal on the menu. Both are fantastic but if, like me, you just can't decide, go for the black bean burrito and have them add some corn salsa to it. It's hard to beat. Habits also offers a tofu burrito option, which intrigued me until the server warned me away from it, saying that if I like spicy things it would probably be too bland. Point taken.

Black bean burrito with corn salsa

Speaking of tofu, the dinner menu lists a ginger soy tofu entrée which consists of crispy browned tofu sautéed in a sweet ginger sauce over veggies and pasta. It sounds delicious and while I have yet to give it a try, hopefully that will soon be rectified.

Steve's favorite: the fish 'n chips platter

The beer selection is also impressive. They offer a staggering amount of American and premium craft beers, as well as most of the better foreign and domestics. I'll spread the love a little thicker and say that the musical selections at the restaurant are top shelf. One doesn't hear Frightened Rabbit, Ben Lee and Elliott Smith at just any ole place.

The pub-style dining room

I guess the only downside to Habits - and I don't really see it as such - is the parking situation. It's on-street at metered spaces and while I personally have never had a problem parallel parking or finding a spot, it might not seem like it's worth the hassle when coupled with the current summer roadworks on and around Madison Avenue. Don't let the orange barrels scare you away though, because Habits is well worth repeat visits.

Habit's Cafe on Urbanspoon