Sunday, July 28, 2013

I'm undecided on Koi Sushi

Koi LaSalle
Koi Kingsville
My wife and I really dig Sushi, which is odd to me as I generally don't like any fish besides tuna. That's besides the point though. Pretty much every time I post or talk about eating Sushi someone mentions that we should try Koi Sushi. We finally got around to doing just that, twice, and I'm not sure exactly how I feel about it.

Koi Sushi has two locations locally, neither of which are actually in Windsor. Their first and main location is in Kingsville and their secondary location is out in LaSalle. We tried the LaSalle location first and got to experience one of my biggest restaurant pet peeves: closing early. We showed up at 9:10pm for dinner one night and were turned away due to them being closed. Double checking the hours on the door it said they closed at 10:00pm. Now I sorta get closing up 15 minutes early or even closing down the kitchen half an hour before close and, in these cases, I think you should just set your posted hours to show what time you stop serving so you don't piss people like me off. But closing 50 minutes early, that's too much! It was months before we even considered going back but we eventually did.

Negimaki appetizer
We went nice and early the second try. The place looked great, good atmosphere, clean, lots of room. One of the things we noticed was lots of kids. That's a good sign. Our waitress was very attentive and full of information. We pointed out it was our first time and asked for some recommendations. They strongly suggested the $20 all you can eat dinner. This I found odd, as nothing on their website said this was an all you can eat Sushi place. Since the selection on the all you can eat menu was way smaller than the regular menu we decided on a la Carte. The food came quick enough and looked rather good. We got the following rolls: Firecracker, Koi, Beef Crunch and Crispy Crunch. I apologize for the sub par pictures but all I had on me was my iPod touch.

Normally I really love tempura on and in my sushi. I love the crunchiness. What was really unique here is that instead of tempura they had potato crisps. This was a really odd unique taste. We also got a beef Negimake appetizer which while good wasn't nearly as good as the Beef roll we got. 

Our four rolls at Koi LaSalle
Overall the sushi was good. It wasn't the best we have had but it was no where near the worst. It was pretty far on the fusion style with lots of hot rolls, deep fried items and western toppings like the potatoe. I would say for traditional Sushi it was below my expected average but if I was getting all you can eat it would have beat my expectations. As a nice final touch they gave us a coupon for 20% off for trying the place and to encourage us to come back. 

There was one final piss off though. No debit. This one ranks up there with closing early for me. It's 2013 people, get a debit machine. No the ATM at the front will not do, especially since you are going to make an extra buck or two off me for using it. Yes that's right no Debit but an ATM with a $1.75 stupidity fee. That is just not acceptable to me and left both my wife and I with a rather bad taste for Koi right when we are leaving. Not the final experience you want to leave your guests with.

So a few weeks went by and we plan a weekend date night. We decide to head out to Kingsville for this but decide we don't want to hit Jack's Gastropub for dinner, though we do want to head there after for a few craft beers. Now when we heard that Koi was great it was always in reference to the Kingsville location and not the LaSalle one. So we figured we would give it a shot. We should have just ate at Jack's.

Three of the rolls at Koi Kingsville

The Kingsville Koi was very similar to the LaSalle one in many ways but did have some differences. The place looked very modern and there was very loud techno/dance music playing. The menu was somewhat different. They also offered $20 all you can eat sushi, which my wife and I debated getting for a long time. Eventually though we decided to go a la carte again as there were some rolls that sounded really good that weren't on the other menu. The chairs were hard and uncomfortable and it took over half an hour for them to take our order, we listened to loud annoying Techno while waiting. 

For this trip to Koi we decided to try the following rolls: Slater, Samurai, Rainbow and Volcano, Vampire and Dragon rolls. No appetizer this time around as the rolls were the best part about our LaSalle trip. We also ordered Green Tea and were surprised when we were served hot water and two cups with tea bags in them. Come on, I'm at a sushi place and you don't brew the tea for me? There was one thing that made me really happy, the potato thing seemed to be a LaSalle thing, there was lots on the menu with actual tempura. 

The food took forever but looked great. Thankfully I even remembered my camera this time around. Again the food tasted rather good. The Samurai roll in particular was great. The Volcano roll was one of the most unique rolls I've ever seen and tasted good. Their Rainbow roll was the best of the bunch. I wasn't that big a fan of the Slater roll as I found it fishy but my Wife loved it. Man those chairs sucked though and now the techno has lyrics. Did you notice something? How many rolls I just described? How does that compare to the number we actually ordered? Right, they forgot a roll. 

The very cool looking Volcano Roll
So after waiting far too long for someone to check in to see how our meal was, we pointed out our missing Vampire Roll. A waitress apologized and said she would get right on it. Not our waitress mind you, as far as I can tell she went home or something as I never saw her again. 10 minute later we asked again, and were told it would be just a moment. My wife who was facing the sushi bar saw our roll get made and then get delivered to a table that was eating all you can eat. The manager was out on the floor asking people how their meals were (actually rather good to see), when he came to our table we noted that we had now been waiting 25 minutes for a roll they forgot to serve us. He said he would fix it right away, 10 minutes or so later we finally had our Vampire roll. OMG garlic. It was good but not so good eating three pieces in a row. Would have been better if we were eating it mixed with everything else, if it had come with the rest of our meal.

So we finished up and had to ask for our bill. I hate having to ask for a bill. It came, and then my wife and I had a flashback to LaSalle. Sure enough there was an ATM by the door. Seriously people, don't do this! 

The Vampire roll we waited for
Back to the bill; I'm one of those people who just takes a bill, reads the total on the bottom does some quick math to figure out a tip and then pays. Thankfully my wife is one of those people who actually read the things before paying. I say thankfully because this is when we realize we didn't get our Dragon roll either. Wow, seriously, two rolls missed? There is no way in hell we are wasting another half hour or more here waiting for one more roll. We note this to the manager, he fixes the bill and apologizes. On a good move: he gives offers us free desert. We turn this down, at this point all we wanted was to get out of here and head over to Jack's for those beers. The manger was cool enough to toss us a 25% off coupon to encourage us to go back. 

So yeah, overall we did not have the best experience at Koi Sushi. The experience in LaSalle was fine and the food was good but not great. The experience in Kingsville was pretty horrible but the sushi was actually significantly better than LaSalle. I really have mixed feelings about the chain. For a special night out to have sushi I think I will pass and instead hit up somewhere like The Sushi California (that I just featured in my latest #FoodPornFriday post). I may consider going to either location for all you can eat sometime, since we do have two coupons we could use. I do worry that they won't get our order right though.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Koroke for this Friday's #FoodPornFriday

This week's Food Porn Friday pic comes from The Sushi California. which we first tried during our birthday staycation. I wrote about this place a while ago as my first ever guest post over at Eyes on Windsor. This trip to this downtown Sushi Bar was even better than our last. Here is a shot of our appetizer; an order of Koroke a potato based, deep fried bundle of goodness. At The Sushi California it's served with this coleslaw that I love. I have no clue what's on it, but it's one of the best sauces ever.

Mouth watering potato based Japanese appetizer

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Sunday, July 21, 2013

I had some Tex-Mex cheese and needed something to do with it.

As I've mentioned before, I've been trying to help out my wife by taking care of dinner one night a week. Often this means delivery or take out, but now and then I actually decide to make a mess in the kitchen. This past Thursday was one of those cases.

The plan:

I actually got the plan to cook this on Monday when I noticed that we still hadn't touched the two giant bags of Kraft Tex-Mex cheese I picked up at the last time we were at Costco. During some downtime at work I googled "Kraft Tex-Mex", fully expecting to easily find a bunch of recipes created specifically for this shredded cheese. Oddly I didn't find that. Actually it looks like Tex-Mex is a Canadian thing, in the US they have Mexican but not Tex-Mex shredded cheese. They also don't have the big Tex-Mex recipe section I expected. So I continued my googling; trying a bunch of things like Mexican Cheese, Kraft bag of cheese, Mexican lots of cheese -tacos, etc.

Eventually I found a recipe on called Chicken Nacho Bake. Amusingly it noted that the recipe was submitted by "Kraft Shredded Cheese" This looked rather good and really easy. Just chicken, salsa, tortilla chips and Tex-Mex cheese. It also called for sour cream but I never touch the stuff so I skipped that part.

As Thursday came rolling around I realized I probably should cook more than just some chicken with toppings on it, so I started looking for a recipe for good Mexican rice. You know, the yellow/redish rice with tomato and such in it. It didn't take me long to find a recipe called Best Spanish Rice that used a lot of the same ingredients that I had just picked up; perfect. I also considered some re-fried beans but figured I would probably have more than enough with what I had picked out already.


I started with the rice since it involved chopping stuff and grilling onions and I figured that would take a while. I decided to start with some Cold-Press Canola Oil from Mighty Trio that I received from the Manitoba Canola Growers at the Canadian Food Bloggers Conference earlier this year. That combined with some Dainty Jasmine rice smelled fantastic. 

I followed the rice recipe pretty much exactly. Onions in the canola oil until soft, then add in the rice. Once the rice was brown I tossed in the 2 cups of chicken stock. Next was one 1 cup of salsa, for which I used Garden Fresh Gourmet mild. I think I owe Garden Fresh a lot of the credit for how well this meal turned out. 

The rice had to simmer for 20 minutes so I moved on to the chicken. Here I played with things quite a bit. First of all my wife had grabbed two huge chicken breasts, the original recipe called for small breasts. I'm sorry, but I'm not a fan of small breasts, so these were going to have to do. The recipe suggested slicing into the top of each chicken breast three times. Since I wasn't going to have any sour cream for the toppings to stick to, I thought it would be wise to cut each piece more often than three times, giving some room for the bits to get stuck. For the actual toppings themselves; I put on the required salsa and nacho crumbs but didn't stop there. I also chopped up some fresh cilantro and tossed that on and then put some black olives on for good measure. I was worried that just chicken, cheese and salsa wouldn't be enough. 

Just before putting the chicken in the oven (400F for 20 minutes) I checked on the rice. So, I guess you have to stir simmering rice. The recipe didn't note that. It did tell you to stir the rice earlier and even stir frequently, but once it was set to simmer it just said simmer covered for 20 mins. Well that's a lesson learned and a pan that will have to soak for a while. Despite this problem the rice looked and smelled awesome. Tasting a bit I found out that it tasted at least twice as good as it looked. Nice!

There weren't really any other problems. Everything went smoothly. When the oven beeped the first time I took the chicken out and covered it with about three times the recipes recommended amount of cheese and tossed it back in for 10 minutes. I was worried I was going to end up with a burnt mess and kept checking on things but all was good. Man the house smelled awesome too.

The end result was very impressive. It not only looked great but tasted great as well. The rice was fantastic and is something I think I will be making as a side with any future Mexican dishes I decide to make. The chicken was good. I was glad that I thought to add more to the original recipe though, I'm now certain it would have been very plain without the extra toppings. Actually come to think of it I wish I had tossed some green onions on there as well. 

The thing with both of these recipes though is that I think both of them are going to be very dependent on the salsa you choose to use. If you used a hot and spicy salsa both dishes would be hot and spicy. I'm very happy with out things turned out with the Garden Fresh stuff we grabbed but I worry that a poor quality salsa would result in a lousy meal.

If you try either of these recipes out, the originals or my modified versions please let me know how they turned out.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

My meatza from Terra Cotta for this weeks #FoodPornFriday

This weeks amazing looking #FoodPornFriday picture comes from Terra Cotta Gourmet Pizzeria in downtown Windsor. Since our first couple of trips to Terra Cotta they have become a staple dining experience for the family. You just can't beat gourmet wood fired pizza, especially on Tuesday when it's two for one.

This beauty here is an example of me trying to find the perfect make your own topping combo. I went with pepperoni, sausage, prosciutto and provolone. 

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Sunday, July 14, 2013

When I hear the word diner I pretty much picture Route 42

Okay I'm no where near old enough to remember the actual 1950s diner experience but that doesn't mean that I don't get a certain image in my mind when someone mentions the term. I grew up watching Happy Days and remember some long closed diners that my parents took me to. Ones with big red booths, milk shakes and little jukeboxes on each table.

The Route 42 Diner & Dairy Bar out on Route 42 by the Windsor Airport may not have jukeboxes on the table (though they do have one big one) but it is pretty much everything else I picture when I hear "old school diner". It's got the red booths. It's got a soda bar where you can get milkshakes and floats. It's got tons of stuff stuck up on the walls and 50s music is playing. There's a TV playing Gidget. Well wait, I guess the TVs are not something I usually picture in a classic diner, but it was a cool touch. The wait staff are all wearing matching uniforms and the food is the kind of stuff you expect from a true diner.

Now when I think diner I think burgers, hotdogs, fries, hot-hamburger, clubhouse sandwiches and milkshakes. That's exactly what you will find on the menu at Route 42. In addition to these traditional favourites there's also a great looking breakfast menu including a Farmer's Omelette I'm dying to try the next time we are out that way earlier in the day. You can also find a smattering of other stuff like pasta and a bit of Mexican. I'm not sure why every restaurant seems to think they need to have ALL THE THINGS on their menu but they are there if you want them. There's a very good and very reasonably priced kids menu as well.

My wife and I decided to go for traditional diner food (was there any doubt)? She ordered from their selection of 8 pre-made burgers, choosing the Yellow Burger. This home made patty (by the gawds I hate burger places that use frozen patties) was smothered in provolone cheese, a pineapple sauce made fresh there, crushed potato chips, lettuce, tomatoes, onions & pickles. Now I know the fries should be good here but neither of us are big fry fans so she subbed a side of fresh corn. I went with the Shepherds Pie. Shepherds Pie is soul food for me. Something comforting that I really enjoy when made right. The Pie at Route 42 was made right. Instead of the traditional ground beef casserole, this was a torn up grilled hamburger patty, covered in gravy, corn, mashed potatoes and cheddar cheese. Like my wife's burger it was also topped with crushed potato chips. The whole potato chip thing was a staple on the menu with almost every item having this rather cool garnish. My pie also came with desert which was a choice of rice pudding or spice cake. I went with the cake which was obviously made right there and rather good. Both of these entrees were under $10 before tax.

The icing on the cake for me on this trip was actually the sugar and cinnamon on the donuts. See, Route 42 is not just a diner. They have a small secondary entrance that leads to a tiny ice cream parlor that also serves hot mini donuts. I love hot fresh mini donuts. You know the kind right? Those ones you usually can only get at carnivals and places like the Gibraltar Trade Center? The ones where you watch the ring of dough plop out of the machine and travel like an inner tube down the hot oil river. I can't get enough of them and I was so happy to find out I could get them at Route 42. We couldn't leave without me picking up a Diner Dozen (13 precious hot donuts) for under $3.

This was our first trip out to Route 42 Diner & Dairy bar and I'm certain it won't be our last. I really want to take my parents out there sometime for dinner as I really think they will dig the place. I also have a feeling I may stop by every now and then just to pick up some delicious fresh and hot mini donuts.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Something homemade for #FoodPornFriday #FpF

This weeks #FoodPornFriday post comes from my own kitchen. My wife gets credit for these "Un-Stuffed Peppers", a family favourite based on my mom's stuffed green pepper recipe. Besides being a lazy way to do things, I'm not a huge pepper fan but love the stuffing, the rest of the family doesn't have my pepper problem so this is a great compromise for us.

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Sunday, July 7, 2013

While I miss Moore's I still love The Dutch

My wife's family have been friends with the Moore family for quite a few years. They met up through the Southwood Lakes golf course back when golf was a huge part of my Father-in-law's life. The Moores used to own a very small place on the corner of Moy and Tecumseh called The Moore's on Moy. 

The Moore's on Moy was a great home cooking style place. Everything was made to order. The head cook Gordon Moore himself prided himself on fresh food and catering to people's unique tastes and food restrictions. It's the one place I remember going in with my Wife and having the head Waitress (Gordon's wife Joanne) remind my wife of her Milk Allergy and point out that Chef would have no problem finding a substitute. Added to all this was the fact that the food was just damn good and it was very reasonably priced. We hit The Moore's on Moy for pretty much every special occasion. Birthdays, Good Friday Fish, Father's day, etc. 

Mozzarella and bacon omelette
Sadly this restaurant on Moy didn't last. Something came up with the Landlord and Gord and Joanne were forced to close the shop. It was their life long dream to open a restaurant and this just didn't work out. Thankfully, for them and the rest of us, they didn't give up. A few months later they bought a small diner in Kingsville called The Dutch.

The Dutch keeps everything that was great about Moore's on Moy: the fresh food, the great prices, the very personal service, it's all still there. What's new is a much more relaxed casual atmosphere. Now the Moore's on Moy wasn't really a high end restaurant but it never had the homey greasy spoon feel that The Dutch has. Gord's still cooking and Joanne can still be found up front, though she's hired a lot more staff at The Dutch and it's good to see her just sitting down and chatting with friends and customers.

Love places that have stuff for
the kids to do
Now there's a ton of great places to eat in Kingsville. Amazing places like Jack's Gastropub. So why would I bother to go to this small diner? Well besides the fact that the owners are family friends, the food is still great. Gord makes something everyone calls "Gord's Bread" This is a thick rectangular loaf of bread covered in a secret mix of spices. This stuff is amazing. You can get Gord's Bread with almost anything. Sandwiches can be served on it, you can get a burger on Gord's Bread, you can even ask for a slice with your morning eggs. It used to be that you could buy just the bread, take out style, I have to admit that I don't know if they still offer that. I do know they offer homemade pies for take out.

Burger on Gord's Bread
In my opinion there's no better place for breakfast in the county. I'm a fan of the make your own three egg omelets with hashbrowns. I get mine with mozzarella and crisp bacon. My wife digs their Uitsmijter or "Bouncer" a traditional Dutch dish that was served to bar patrons late at night just before they were to be kicked out. This is black forest ham, cheese and fried eggs served over toast. Our kids love their oatmeal that is served with brown sugar and walnuts. Now I'm not saying other meals aren't good, not in any way, it's just that now that the Moore's place is out in the county it's usually somewhere we stop on our way to do other things out in the county. Stop in for breakfast before hitting the Sandpoint splash pad. Stop in on the way to taking my mom to her favourite greenhouses. Stuff like that. I do have one complaint though: Joanne isn't so great at topping up the coffee.

So I've already told you that The Dutch is my favourite breakfast stop out in the county. Where's your favourite place to eat before a day at Colasanti's or Point Pelee?

Friday, July 5, 2013

#FoodPornFriday #FpF A burger from The Dutch

Finally on the right day this week. This weeks #FoodPornFriday post comes from The Dutch diner in Kingsville. This place is run by the Moore family and has been a favourite since before they moved out to Kingsville.

What you see here is build your own burger with onions and mushrooms on "Gord's Bread" with a side of sweet potato fries.