Saturday, April 21, 2012

Dinner at Masu

I definitely let way too much time pass before sharing this treasure. Hopefully, I can still do it justice :) I had my first Masu Sushi & Robata (NE Minneapolis) experience with some of my favorite colleagues last month, and all I can say is that this definitely shouldn't have been my first time. It's fantastic.

From the very start with some of my favorite restaurant decor to-date...

(Seriously, aren't these guys sweet-looking?!)

To a spread that was overwhelmingly good. I kicked it all off with a fancy martini, called "Alive with Pleasure." It's a sparkling yuzu ginger gin martini with cherry pimms. Pleasure indeed. I'm not a major gin fan, but that didn't stop me from savoring every last sip.

And, of course, we had snacks all around. The required edamame (look at those salt crystals!).

The ah-mazing beef jerky. It's no joke when I say I would come back just for this. Tender. Chewy. Flavorful. Goodness.

Potstickers. Again, basically required.

Pork belly steam buns. With Masu pickles and hoisin.

Crispy pork kara-age with a sesame soy dipping sauce.

Oh, and even bacon-wrapped quail eggs. One of my more adventurous friends convinced me to try one of these. In all sincerity, it really wasn't that bad. Highlight of dinner? No. Would I eat it again? Sure.

After all the delicious small plates we shared, I almost couldn't imagine digging in for more. But that thought really only lasted a hot minute...before I knew it, my pork belly ramen was staring right up at me. Ramen noodles with pork belly, slow-roasted pork shoulder, a soft poached egg, fish cake and flavorful broth.

This isn't something I'd normally order, so I didn't really have strong expectations. I love that I tried something out of my norm. I love that I tried (though maybe didn't really love) fish cake. And I love that I got to eat it all with chopsticks.

So many times I say I want to go back to a place but then spend most of my time in search of something new. I think Masu's menu is diverse enough that it could feel like a new experience all over again next time. Plus, my sushi-loving friends would jump at it :)

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Meatless Monday: Sweet Potato and Brie Mac & Cheese

This week marked my fourth Meatless Monday. Though I've followed it faithfully, I've found myself with plans on two occasions, where I've had to order meatless meals out. But, that also means that I've now cooked meatless-ly for myself twice. :) The latest: Sweet Potato and Brie Mac & Cheese from Healthy Food For Living (a Pinterest find).

I had a couple of missteps in my preparation (I couldn't find the neufchatel cream cheese it called for at Trader Joe's (so I just went without it) and I've gotten so used to hand-mashing/hand-stirring everything that I've forgotten to replace the mixer I broke well over a year ago now (read: my puree was more lumpy than silky)).  

While my mac and cheese may look a little lumpier than the original, it still packed a great deal of flavor. And, I made so much of it that I was eating meatless leftovers for two days too.

I'm still in search of other meatless suggestions, so please share any ideas :) I've also dedicated a whole board to it on Pinterest :)

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Juicy Blucys at the Blue Door Pub

I FINALLY made my way to the Blue Door Pub on Selby Avenue in Saint Paul for an early-ish dinner after having it on my list for the last couple of years. I've had several failed attempts due to its sheer popularity and not offering reservations.

The odds were in my favor with my sister, her fiance and my little niece in town wanting to meet up for an early dinner, so I figured we'd beat the normal dinner rush. After a quick look at the BDP's menu, it seemed like it had potential to be family-friendly, and so it became our destination.

Despite arriving just a little after 5 p.m., there was already an hour-long wait. Since I was the first to arrive, I decided we could wait it out. It was a beautiful day, so we took turns walking my niece up and down the sidewalk to kill time and just enjoyed each other's company.

Once we finally made our way inside, it was quite overwhelming with people in every nook and cranny. And, as luck would have it, we were put at a high-top table - one of just two and totally not well-suited for the little tyke. I was too busy feeling angst about our seating arrangement to take an inside photo. Probably because I'm normally child-less, I was extra sensitive about the situation. But, my sister and her little fam took it in stride, reminding me that they gave us the first available table.

Thankfully, our server was awesome, and she quickly put the Blue Door back in my good graces. She brought over little cups as play toys and some crackers for a snack. My niece didn't seem to mind the seating sitch except when we tried to put her in the high chair and she was a solid three or four feet shorter than the rest of us :)

Also working in the Blue Door's favor? The fact that our food came out in no time. And. It. Was. Crazy. Delicious. I ordered the Blucy, BDP's signature take on Minneapolis' iconic juicy lucy, stuffed with bleu cheese and finely chopped garlic, along with some tots. My sister had a french dip-inspired version and proclaimed it the best burger she'd ever had.

Yummers. I love juicy lucys, and I will now go on record saying that both of my two favorites come from Saint Paul (The Nook is home to my reigning champion). Now that I'm a Minneapolis dweller, that statement seems almost blasphemous... ;)