Mr. Fuji

Albany John was had a hankering for some sushi one night. We decided to venture out further than we normally would and try some Clifton Park sushi. It was a toss up between Sakura and Mr. Fuji in Clifton Park, NY.

Both Mr. Fuji and Sakura had coupons on CouponClipper.com. If you can save a few dollars and the coupons are there, why not?
Sakura had their website up online. But there was the mystery of Mr. Fuji… what was their menu like?
Mr. Fuji had some positive reviews on Yelp and Sakura had some meh reviews. Overall I’ve heard positive word of mouth reviews for both.

We decided to go with Mr. Fuji, at 19 Clifton Country Rd, Clifton Park, NY 12065. We google mapped it, and… The Google was wrong.
Turn RIGHT on Clifton Country Road, not left like Google says. Otherwise you end up in an apartment complex. But either way, y’know where Chipotle is in Clifton Park? It’s in the Hannaford plaza right across the street from it. Easy to find.

And I can’t fault them for not having enough signage. Hmm, I wonder what they serve? Oh yah, SUSHI!

We walked in and saw a mostly empty restaurant. It was small, but very clean and smelled nice (like food – yummy). There were a few booths to the left, a sushi bar in the back right corner, and some tables to the right. Some low lighting set a cozy and relaxing atmosphere. I’d go back to dine in.

If you can’t tell – we got our food to go. Two sashimi deluxes ($20.95 for 20 pcs sushi), tako appetizer, and seaweed salad.
The sashimi deluxes came with rice, miso soup, and salad. The rice was fine. The miso soup was a bit on the watery/bland side. The salad was the usual iceberg lettuce with a slice of tomato, cucumber, and some carrot shreds and ginger carrot dressing (a little on the creamy side).

Unlike most of the sashimi I’ve gotten from restaurants, the sashimi from Mr. Fuji came with garnishes on top of it. I don’t know why more places don’t do this. It was delightful!

There were also different types of fish in there than I’ve had… next time I’ll eat in so I can ask. You can see the salmon, tuna, and mackerel, but there was another one that tasted similar to the mackerel, but had darker spotted skin (the left hand side). And there was white fish with some orange topping. It was lightly fruity and went really well with the fish.

And OH MY GOSH, there was this other white fish kind of in the center with a brownish sauce poured over it. The sauce was sweet and thin, but it made the sashimi taste like pork! SO good. It was similar to the fat layers in crispy skinned pork (siu yuk). No need for soy sauce or wasabi with those bites.

Size-wise, these weren’t huge, but I found them easy to eat in one bite. You might say it’s on the smaller size of normal in terms of sashimi size.

My only gripe was that the tuna was a little mushy. Fresh tasting, but mushy in texture. Probably frozen and thawed one too many times.

There was also a ton of shredded daikon in each order. Usually it’s a little decorative bit (I still eat it), but there was a pillow of shredded daikon under almost every serving of sushi. I wonder if there was so much to fill out the container for presentation purposes because it was take-out? Just another reason to go back and dine in. Either way, made me feel like I was eating a bunch of veggies with my sashimi and being very healthy.

Here is a decent picture of the seaweed salad ($5.50). It was on the sweeter side, with some sesame flavor and a few sparse flakes of hot pepper (red bits). I think I would have liked it a little bit crunchier and saltier, but overall it was enjoyable.

You can also get a little peep of the included salad above the seaweed salad.

And finally, the octopus appetizer. I probably won’t get this one again, because although tasty, it was $7 for 5 thin pieces of octopus. I know seafood isn’t cheap, but c’mon. Seemed like a bit much since they were so thin. At least give me 2 more thin slices so I can kind of justify it at $1 per slice.

Still, I can’t fault them on presentation or flavor. They were fanned out beautifully over a bed of cucumber matchsticks and came in a light and slightly-tart dressing. Not heavy at all.

Overall, I’m eager to return to Mr. Fuji and dine at the sushi bar and suggest others do the same. The fish all tasted fairly fresh, and were presented nicely. For the most part, their prices were on par with any other sushi restaurant in the area and the atmosphere inside seemed friendly and inviting.

Sushi Tei – Sushi & Sashimi Lunch Box

Oh Sushi Tei lunch specials, how I love thee – so affordable, so tasty, and so fresh.

I’ve yet to find another solidly reliable sushi source in the area. It’s dependably very good sushi – I never have to wonder if I’m going to get something dubious. And it fits in very well with their homey Japanese cuisine, as they price it accordingly.

Anywho, I was feeling especially hungry one day and got the sushi & sashimi box lunch combo. It was by far the most expensive box lunch at $13.95, but well worth the price. You may remember the time I veered away from my old standby and went to Kitsu for similar box lunch. I was quite disappointed by the quality of the seafood I recieved and surmised my money would have been better spent at Sushi Tei. It definitely was!

It also offered more selection. There were:
6 pieces of sashimi (two each of sake (salmon), maguro (tuna), and white tuna)
4 pieces of sushi (maguro, sake, shrimp and white fish (fluke?))
Tuna Roll (6 piece roll)
Miso Soup
Iceberg Salad

Appetizer of the Day (fried croquette)


Wow! That’s a lot of food!

I was expecting something similar to the sushi & sashimi, but was surprised with the tuna roll – I was just expecting rice in that compartment. Quite a good surprise! Personally, it makes this lunch more of a good deal to me.

And there was another one of those delicious croquettes as the appetizer du jour!!! Mmmm, I was happy to eat one of them again. It’s like a Japanese take on dim sum turnip cakes.

The sashimi were fresh. I especially liked the white tuna. Sadly, they forgot to include soy sauce, but I had extra nearby. I mean, I got take out… I think this box is also a great example of the difference between sushi grade and sashimi grade fish. The fish topping the nigiri are a little less vibrant in color, and are cut differently from the sashimi.
Not saying I want “old” fish on my sushi, but there are differences in the grades of fish, which we often don’t see in this area. It’s usually cuts of the same fish, just on rice or flying solo as sashimi.

And oh my gosh, they were not playing around with the wasabi on this trip! It’s usually pretty mild, but I figured after the 2nd time my eyes started watering and mouth started burning that maybe I should go with less than what I normally order.

Kitsu

I went to Kitsu for lunch the other day. I was excited to try out the new place in the space formerly occupied by Saso’s. Tommy Watkins’ work is definitely impressive, and the building really stands out.

The interior is laid out much the same way it was in the Saso era, but it feels a little more open. The decor is vastly different though, and I like it.

I got the Su-Sa lunch combo to go for $14. $15.12 after tax. My server, Martin, was a really friendly guy who chatted with me while I waited for my order.

The Su-Sa lunch combo includes a california roll, 9 pieces of sashimi, and 3 pieces of sushi. The raw pieces were salmon, tuna, and fluke. There was a little shredded daikon on the side, covered with a real piece of leaf – no plastic stuff here.

The cali roll had imitation crab in it, avocado, and cucumber and was lightly riced and sprinkled with black and regular sesame seeds. You can see some patches in the rice covering of this inside out roll. This was the best tasting part of the meal. A little sweet, crunchy, rice-y.

The sashimi itself were a little too soft, bordering on mushy, and tasted bland. They all needed a heavy dousing in soy sauce, but the soy sauce included was low-sodium. I think low sodium soy sauce doesn’t taste very good, but I still ate some with this fish as I didn’t have any regular soy sauce handy. Otherwise they would have been too bland to eat.
The salmon had some holes in it from where pin bones were pulled out. Visually, this was not that appealing. I’ve never had sashimi with holes in it before.
The tuna was a little darker than I am used to, but it was essentially flavorless and devoid of its usual meaty flavor. It was so odd that all of the sashimi were so bland.
I also noticed that none of the sushi had a little dab of wasabi underneath the skin on the rice. Just raw fish on rice. The sushi was better than the sashimi. I think the flavored rice imparted a little more texture and flavor.


This meal also came with soup or salad, and I got miso soup. All I could think of when I smelled it was “potatoes”. The flavor itself was a little chalky and too salty. I didn’t finish it.


I would like to give Kitsu another try, but this was sadly disappointing. And I don’t mean it in a pretentious hipstery way, either. I am just sad – it’s a cool looking business with nice people, but when I like the cali roll best… yikes. The low sodium soy sauce is also a deal breaker for me, and the meal itself was just disappointing after hearing so many great things about Kitsu.
Getting a disappointing meal is a bummer when I know I could have gone to another restaurant for something more satisfying. So many restaurants to try, so little time and funds to check them all out. Maybe I was expecting too much since it is in the old space Saso’s was in. Maybe I overhyped it in my mind. Either way, I’d like to go back eventually because the decor is beautiful.

NYC Spa-tacular weekend

Albany John and I hopped the megabus down to Manhattan for the weekend this past Friday. Right now they are in the process of working out some kinks. Hopefully. We got to the Rensselear train station early and stood in front of surface parking lot B. One of the lot people came out and said that the bus was going to be inside the lot because the city of Rensselear didn’t want them picking up people on the side of the road for whatever reason and that Megabus had talked with the train station so they would pick up inside the parking lot. He also said that each driver was different and that most of the time this didn’t happen, and a lot of the time the drivers would go to the original place in front of the Rensselear Amtrak train station, even though their website says there has been a change. Our bus stopped at the bus stop in front of the lot and we just kind of sprinted out of the lot over to the station. It’s a good thing that it didn’t stop in the old location, as that would have been one hell of a sprint in the snow.

But we arrived in good shape – and actually had a really good ride. Better than most of the rides on the double happiness bus – much smoother. Once we got off at Penn Station we ambled around in the cold looking for the right subway station to hop on to and made our way over to our friend Manhattan Maka’s. She’s currently dating Chicago Velvet Smoove, Albany John’s brother. Phew, got it? Well, ya better, cause I ain’t got no more time to explain it!

CVS made beef stew with fresh rosemary. It was fan-fucking-tastic, and normally I hate rosemary, but in its fresh form it added a nice smokiness to the soup.

The next day we began the trek over to Spa Castle in College Point, Queens. They had a free shuttle picking up inside the Flushing public parking lot (right across from the Woori bank/bus stop by the pay meter on 39th). We got there a bit early, so we went to Fay Da to grab a snacky brunch while we waited. One of the things I got was a pork wrap, made of pork floss, egg omlette strip and fresh lettuce. The fresh lettuce had a nice crunch, and at $1.50 this was so filling.

I also got a pork puff for $0.95, which had roasted pork inside a thick layer of flaky pastries. I was pretty much in heaven. Wash it all down with a milk tea and you’re good to go. Fay da was awesome because it was like this: you pick up a tray and tongs and pick out buns and such from an island of them. It was lots of fun and then I could wait around more and figure out what I wanted. Once you head up to pay you better know what you want – those ladies go fast!

Manhattan Maka got a cheese bun and made a face like she just bit into glass – turns out there was bacon in the cheese bun, and she absolutely hates bacon. Albany John traded her a sweet potato bun instead, and both were quite happy with the trade.

There was also a guy sleeping there who looked like a homeless Santa, sleeping by their Christmas tree. He was there when we passed again after catching the subway home, and I was partially convinced he was dead, but then I saw him breathing and everyone else said he was ok and I was crazy too.

The spa castle was awesome. It’s a bit pricy at $45 per person on the weekend, but we four highly enjoyed ourselves for the couple of hours we were there (I thought pictures in a sauna would be weird, not to mention probably leathal for my wee camera).

You get some uniforms to wear while you’re there and there’re so many levels. The locker room also has the gender only hot tubs and saunas where you can be naked! Woo hoo! Actually, I think you have to be butt naked in there since everyone was nekkid… I just kind of went with the flow since none of the attendants I tried talking to could really speak English, they just kept saying “UPSTAIRS” but I couldn’t find anyone upstairs. I figured if I was doing something horribly wrong someone would come running over flailing their arms at me or something. On the 2nd level there are some pricy food vendors and the saunas they really pimp out on their website. They were pretty awesome too – hot, of course. Hee hee. The 3rd level you need to bring/rent a bathing suit for and it had heated pools outside (even a Japanese bade pool) and some indoor pools with massaging water functions too. There’s a wide mix of people there and it’s pretty easy to figure out what to do: Relax!


After just *exhausting* ourselves at the saunas, we went over to Pho 32 & Shabu since when we were waiting for the shuttle Manhattan Maka spotted ‘SHABU SHABU’ and decided we had to eat there for dinner. That girl loves her some shabu shabu. Lucky table 3!

Albany John and I ordered pho soups while Manhattan Maka and CVS went for the shabu shabus. Mine was beef flank, some other kind of beef and soft tendon. Albany John got the same thing plus tripe. This is mine – it’s a small for $6.95 and damned good! Albany John got a large for $7.95 and it made me so glad that I got a small because I am like a dog – I’ll eat all of the food you put out in front of me and as it was I had to practically roll my self out of the restaurant when we were finished.

This was the best pho ever – the broth was so beefy and delicious. I’ve had pho from My Linh before and thought the broth was really weak and watery and that I just wasn’t a pho fan. Not anymore – dudes, this pho was kick ass! It had some noodles on the bottom as well, and omg, I want to go back for more. MORE!

Here’s the setup when things first came. Aww, double date!


This was absolutely delicious – it was a soy sauce mix thing on the condiment bar they had and I couldn’t get enough of it. I think it was made of soy sauce, fish sauce, a pinch of chili oil, plus the raw sesame seeds and scallions.


Of course soup has this tendancy of filling me up only so much, and by 8:30 or so I got the munchies again. So we ordered sushi from Yu Ka, a place that delivers to Manhattan Maka’s building. Don’t ask me where it is – I’m glad I remembered the name, but upon using the google I’ve found that it might also have all you can eat sushi, and if that is the case bring it ON because this was some of the best sushi I’ve eaten in a long time.

CVS is pointing out our awesome spread for something like $30 with delivery. They include a 12.5% delivery fee but ask that you don’t tip the delivery guy at all. Ok, cool with me.
Left to right: spicy tuna roll – oholyfuckthisburnslikeyouwouldn’tbelieve hot. Seriously – no nothing to calm down the sriracha. Not my favorite. It was also huge and hard for me to eat. The boys took one for the team on this one. Actually, the took a lot for the team since I tend to order for 3-4 people, and this fed us all nicely. I tend to order a lot and poop out about 1/4-1/3 of the way through. But I like seeing a lot of sushi!
Yellowtail and scallion roll. Chicago Velevet Smoove ordered this one – really fresh and tasty.
Salmon and Avocado roll – yummy! Can’t go wrong with this, and they used ultra creamy avocado in the roll.
Rice and salad, miso soup
Sashimi regular – $12.50 for 15 pieces of super-fresh goodness. Dear goodness, I am talking Saso’s quality good, and probably even better. Damn you lucky Manhattanites for being surrounded by top quality sushi! The only meh of the bunch was the unseared tuna that was lean as all heck and really hard for me to chew. Manhattan Maka said it’s probably because UES-ers really like their food lean. The salmon though – oh baby. Some of the best salmon I’ve ever had. Huge slices of butter, unctuous goodness. I am so going back here.

The next morning we had to leave and we went to a diner on 79th street that was closing that day. It’s weird to be in a place that is closing that day. A lot of the staff looked really sad, like they were losing a friend. Our waiter was really nice and our food came out very quickly. I got 2 eggs over easy, home fries and sausage for $5.95. Yummy! Nice crisp sausage links with a bite to them, and easy on the fennel.

We putzed over to Penn Station and had some time to walk around when Albany John spotted another Fay Da! Woo hoo! This one also had a hot bar, but I went straight for the buns again, getting a coconut and cream filled one (fucking AWESOME), cheese bun, more pork puffs (but here they were $1.50 each – yipes!) and a fresh mango filled mochi ($0.95). I need more of these mochis.
The megabus was a little late, but we all boarded and were soon on our way to Albany. We got dropped off at the ‘old’ bus stop in front of the rail station even though the website says differently, and the driver was adamantly telling all the passengers that they would be picked up there as well. Oi, I hope they all make their bus back!
Then we went home and made fantabulous food while drinking gin and tonics and I polished off the rest of the Fay Da goodies. And that is how you do NYC on the relatively cheap!

Sushi Tei

How do you know it’s love? When your future husband orders sushi delivered to your door as a surprise, because that boy knows so well you would do cartwheels around the house at a surprise sushi delivery as opposed to an enthusiastic “THANKS!” for a dozen flowers. Yes, edible surprises are the key to my heart.
Thank You, Albany John!!!


Sushi Tei delivered my sushi. Albany John treated me to a sashimi deluxe ($18.95), which came with three pieces of six different types of raw, tasty fishy goodness for a total of 18 pieces (if it isn’t obvious, I munched on a couple pieces before snapping a photo). They were mackerel, salmon, tuna, white tuna, mackerel, and I think the last two were hamachi and white fish but I can’t really tell.

They were all fairly good, if a bit on the small side. However, one of my girlfriends was appalled at the thickness/size of sashimi here in the states and tells me that sashimi in Japan is near paper-thin. The tunas and were about an inch and a half long and half an inch wide, or about the size of a very fat thumb. The mackerel were really fresh tasting though. All of the fish came on a bed of seaweed and had little plastic seaweed partitions between them. I love their use of faux seaweed partitions, because then the wasabi and ginger don’t touch them and slightly cook them with their acidity. I remember Sushi House used to put lemons in their sashimi boxes, so you had to ask for no lemons. I just thought it was weird you would put lemons in with sashimi.

The funniest part though, is that this time their wasabi was really weak. Usually I am the spice wuss in our house, but I could handle 2 big dollops on each piece before you could really taste it. Previously, I’ve had it very strong there.

Oh, yes, wtf is Sushi Tei, right? It’s where Sushi Yokohama was before, and San and Bada prior to that (i.e. Cosimo’s Plaza on Western Ave). They have a $1 a la cart sushi and sashimi deal going on now for orders in, kind of like Sushi Yokohama did before them. So far, I think their quality has been very consistent, and their prices pretty fair. The ladies there are also very, very sweet and make you feel right at home. They’ve also moved the sushi bar and really opened the place up.

Their lunch prices are amazing deals. I also ordered a tempura lunch box for $6.50 a while back (sorry, I lost the picture and really wanted to post it with a picture) and it was more than filling. This sashimi box came with rice and miso soup, so yay! Extras!

And don’t forget – if you love your girl, say it with seafood.

Note: I know it looks like a puddle of soy sauce in the back, but it’s in the clear top from the sashimi box.