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Posted on Feb 15, 2013 in Food | 10 comments

Kushi Sushi

Happy February 15th, friends! I realize it lacks some of the fanfare and pizzazz of February 14th, but hey, at least it’s Friday, right? And hopefully at least some of you are still riding the wave of a lovely Valentine’s Day–I know I am! Not to brag (even though I totally am), but I’m preeeetty sure I had the best Valentine’s Day ever.

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When we left off yesterday, I told you all that Sean had planned some big Valentine’s surprise dinner, and wouldn’t tell me where we were going. And I expressed my love-hate relationship with surprises (mostly love, I’m just really impatient, haha), and my anticipation over where we were going. Well, as I found out about an hour before we left for dinner, our destination was…

KUSHI!

Kushi is a sushi restaurant in downtown DC that I have wanted to go to for FOREVER, and never had. I was SO excited to get to finally try it out. But before we were off to dinner, Sean had another surprise for me first:

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The generous son of a gun got me a Michael Kors watch and roses for Valentine’s Day! Ughhhhh, why is he so good to meeeeee? I LOVE it. I’ve had an MK watch on my wishlist for a loooong time (no, like, literally on my Amazon wishlist) and while the one I originally had on there is not available any more, Sean picked this beauty out for me. And that makes me love it even more, because he chose it himself! Eeeeee, my first fancy watch! I feel like such a grown-up. Though I am just realizing that talking about this makes me seem more like a spoiled teenager than an adult… and I don’t care. 😀

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My preeeeciousssss…

What was I talking about? Oh, right, dinner. Heh. So! New bling dangling off my wrist (I need to get a few links removed for it to fit properly, but I couldn’t NOT wear it!) and off we went to Kushi.

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I started off with a Sake Blossom cocktail while we were waiting to be seated. It included lime juice, sake, St. Germaine’s (I still don’t know what this is, haha), and vodka. Needless to say, it was entirely too delicious (spoiler alert: I got kinda drunk last night, bahaha). Then we were seated–admittedly, the seating in this restaurant doesn’t give off a super romantic vibe because everything is set up VERY close together, but I didn’t really mind.

Because it was a special occasion, and also because it was the first time there for both of us, we both opted for Kushi’s Tasting Menu rather than ordering things a la carte. (Apologies for all the iPhone photos, but I just didn’t really feel like dragging my giant DSLR around with me on Valentine’s Day, haha.)

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The tasting menu includes a sampling of basically all the various food types that Kushi offers. While they obviously do have sushi on the menu (thank goodness), the restaurant’s real “thing” is Yakitori–grilled meats and vegetables on skewers. It’s essentially classed-up Japanese street food. The menu started out with some sake (see where that whole “I got drunk” thing comes in?) and then a choice between three appetizers. Both Sean and I opted for the spicy peel-and-eat shrimp. Then, we both got to choose two kinds of yakitori from the menu.

We chose all different yakitori types so we could try the highest number of items, of course (love working as a team!) and got the pork belly (amazing!), duck with scallion (delicious!), pheasant sausage (the surprise winner–SO good!), and a rather lackluster chicken with plum sauce. Despite the chicken being disappointing, the other three were absolutely scrumptious.

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After the yakitori we were served some miso soup, which was good but pretty standard, and then… a sushi sampling! The sushi at Kushi (heh, that’s fun to say) was very fresh — I was very excited to see how thick the salmon sashimi was, because it’s my faaaaaavorite (it’s like buttah). We also got tuna and yellowfish nigiri, and three pieces of a wasabi scallop roll. The sushi was very good, although I almost wish it had been a little bit more of an adventurous selection, given that we weren’t able to pick the kinds of sushi included in the tasting menu. Even so, this was definitely my favorite part of the meal because, well, sushi is my favorite thing ever. Duh.

We were given an option between three things for the main entree of the meal. I opted for the hangar steak, while Sean got the pork tonkatsu (fried pork cutlet). My steak was cooked very well (medium-rare, even though they didn’t ask how I’d like it cooked) and had a really smokey flavor, but I actually liked Sean’s more. The pork was just so juicy! I got a salad on the side, and Sean got Japanese fried rice. They also both weirdly came with some kind of Asian potato salad, which was good in a culturally jarring kind of way, hahaha.

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Oh, before I forget, we also ordered one a la carte item off of the menu in addition to the tasting menu. As soon as I saw they carried a brussels sprout dish, you know I HAD to get it! It was advertised as being cooked with garlic butter, but I have to admit that these were pretty disappointing. They were smokey, but otherwise seemed unseasoned. Sean said he liked mine much better, hehehe. Still, I never regret ordering brussels sprouts, so all’s well that ends well, I guess!

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For the last part of the tasting menu, dessert was included. We were offered two gelatos or a bowl of seasonal fruit, and since I made the unfortunate decision to give up sweets for Lent, I was forced to go with the fruit option. I was actually kind of looking forward to it… until it arrived. Instead of a bowl of different fruits, which you kind of would assume based on the wording, I got one giant bowl of cantaloupe. So, I basically ate an entire cantaloupe for dessert, hahaha. Not the granded cap on a good meal, but oh well.

So! Overall I really did enjoy my meal at Kushi. I’m glad we did the tasting menu and I got to sample a bit of everything, but I think I might have built it up in my head a little bit much though, because I wasn’t utterly blown away by it all. The service was good–I really liked our waitress–and almost all the food came out in a very timely way, with the exception of our main entrees. If I lived closer, I might want to go back for more yakitori (that pheasant sausage really was insanely good!) but I will be sticking to my beloved Koi Koi for my sushi cravings.

So there we go: my epic and romantic Valentine’s Day celebration, complete with good food, an entirely-too-generous gift, and quality time spent with my love. Cheesy, I know, but so am I so… suck it up. 😉 Of course, I haven’t even mentioned the final good thing to come out of this, which is that when I awoke this morning–blessedly NOT hungover, huzzah!–my makeup still looked totally boss. Hence, the whole happy February 15th jazz from the beginning of this post, hahaha. Never doubt the utility of a good eyeshadow primer!

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This makeup brought to you by last night.

I hope you all had a wonderful V-Day, and will have an equally wonderful weekend! Tomorrow evening, I’m meeting back up with the fabulous Lauren from Oatmeal After Spinning, and Kelly from Kelly Fiore Writes (who I met for the first time last weekend at the Frederick Restaurant Week sneak peek) and we’re going to Founding Farmers in Bethesda. I had a not-so-great experience at the Founding Farmers in DC when I went there for my birthday a few years back, but I am excited to give this location a shot!

<3 <3 <3

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Posted on Aug 27, 2012 in Dear Diary, Food, Pup Posts | 26 comments

The Everyday Perils of Dog Ownership

Ahh, Monday.

Truly, nothing says “Welcome to the work week, biotch!” like being woken up by your dog puking on your carpet three times in the middle of the night. After he’s already made a onesie AND a twosie on your bathroom floor (but I do appreciate that he goes into the bathroom to do it, at least!). Yes, Daxter got me off to a grrrrreat start this week. Sigh.

My suspicion is that when Daxter gets sick like this it’s mostly anxiety-related. Which is kind of sad, because he has no real reason to be anxious. Ever. Seriously, between my brother’s and my work schedules, the dogs are left alone for maybe like, 3 hours a day — if at all! Not to mention they’re pretty much the most spoiled things ever. But between Daxter’s recent penchant for pooping on bathroom floors and Harry’s new allergy developments (he is so itchy ALL the time! I feel so bad for him. Anyone have any homeopathetic dog itch-relief remedies they want to share?), my little schnauzie-poos are definitely a handful right now.

Let me disclaim: I didn’t actually put Daxter in “jail” for puking. I just thought these pictures that Taylor took a few months ago were particularly apt.

As always, they are supremely lucky they’re so gosh-darned cute.

Anywayyyy, instead of dwelling on all of that literal mess, let’s look at some pretty pictures of sushi, shall we? I met up with my friend Amanda on Friday and we took a trip to my beloved Koi Koi. I actually had already had sushi earlier in the week, so I didn’t end up getting my usual sushi smorgasbord. Just a chicken katsu dish (which was so delicious I forgot to take a picture) and a little salmon roll on the side.

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Plus edamame, duh.

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Amanda Instagrammed her own deliciousness, so I took a photo of her taking a photo. I’m so meta.

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I hope that you all had wonderful weekends! See you on the flipside. 🙂

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Posted on Jul 30, 2012 in Dear Diary, Fashion, Food | 14 comments

Weekend Update: Vanity Edition

Happy (?) Monday, friends! I hope you all had excellent weekends. Mine was pretty rockin’, if I do say so myself. It started out Friday with an amazing ladydate that combined these two wonderful, wonderful things:

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Sushi at my beloved Koi Koi

Aaaaaand…

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Claire!

Even though Claire and I live less than a mile from each other, we actually don’t see each other very often! We read each other’s blogs, obviously, but it’s always much nicer to be able to catch up in person. Especially when doing so involves sushi, too.

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We had so much to talk about this time around, that neither of us ended up finishing our rolls (and for once, I only ordered one. Shock!) I also took advantage of her DSLR-familiarity to have her shoot some photos of me for this week’s fashion post. Unfortunately, I felt incredibly awkward shooting pictures out on the street, right in front of the restaurant. I’m not sure how fashion bloggers do this every single day (shamelessly, I suppose?).

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Oh, hello imaginary person sitting in this chair.

I felt so foolish that I wanted to get it over with as quickly as possible, so I didn’t manage to get all the shots I wanted (details and whatnot). So I’ll just have to come up with something new for this Friday’s post. And will definitely be shooting it in Ben‘s studio again, where strangers can’t judge me for my vanity. Buuuuut since you all are probably judging me anyway, I figured I’d just post these pictures now anyway.

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“I feel so awkward…”

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The one pretty decent shot (though I had to crop out some creeper photobombing in the background, haha.)

Still, a great way to kick off the weekend! Oh, and for those of you who might be interested:

Lace tank, jeans, and purse: Old Navy
Blazer: Forever 21
Shoes: Payless
Wrap bracelets: Stella & Dot
Stone cuff: gift from my parents

Saturday was spent being predominantly lazy during the day (I got a bunch of writing done though – huzzah!), with a nighttime birthday extravaganza for Sean’s friend Megan. So I’m not going to lie, I’m actually a terrible DC twenty-something. I rarely ever go out, and I think this was maybe the third time I’ve gone out in actual DC proper. Before Saturday night, I’d never even tasted Jumbo Slice! I know, I know. So getting to go out to Alero on U Street was a total learning experience for me!

It also left me full of questions, such as: how are all the young women of DC not incredibly overweight? Boatloads of sugary cocktails and empty calories thanks to alcohol, to be followed by a slice of pizza so huge that it could feed an entire third-world village? Seriously, I was not properly prepared for how, uh, jumbo the Jumbo Slice, uh, slices are. I’m pretty sure that if this was my regular weekend lifestyle, I would be back up to 250 pounds in no time.

But you know me. I never pass up an occasion to get dressed up. I spent like 2 hours trying to figure out how to do a nighttime-appropriate smokey eye (without looking too, y’know, whorish), and stepped into my most comfortable heeled shoes. Also, I bought that dress for $16.99 at TJ Maxx! What uppppp good deals! Anyway, since I have (aptly) titled this post “Vanity Edition”, here are just a few more pictures of me (meeeee, meeeeeeee, MEEEEEE!), pilfered from the birthday girl.


Were you/are you a weekend partier? How do you balance that with trying to lose or maintain a healthy weight?

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Posted on Apr 30, 2012 in Dear Diary, Food, Reviews | 11 comments

Hikaru Sushi

Hi-dee-ho there, neighborinos! Happy Monday! Or, as I usually say instead, “It’s Monday.” I hope that everyone had a great, relaxing weekend. Mine was a little more low-key than they have been lately, which was actually pretty wonderful. I spent some time with the fam, Sean got me thoroughly engrossed in an amazing video game (Heavy Rain, I know I’m late to the party), and I got to spend Sunday afternoon with FOUR doggies at the Shirlington Dog Park (Harry, Daxter, their cousin Oreo, AND his friend Casey that my sister is dogsitting!). My boys even ventured into the stream next to the park for the first time. I was very proud.

My weekend kicked off, however, with a new (to me) restaurant and some wonderful company. I met up with my Freshman year roommate, Joanna, and her twin sister Aileen (you might recognize them from my Harry Potter birthday party a couple weeks ago) for dinner at Hikaru Sushi!

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Me & Jo

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Aileen!

Since you know I am ALWAYS game to test out new sushi places (and size them up against my beloved Koi Koi, hehe), I was really excited when Aileen suggested this place. Hikaru is a cute little place located in Arlington right near the Courthouse AMC Movie Theatre.

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I think there was a little bit of a mix-up about who our server was supposed to be at first, but eventually we ordered some sake and all was right in the world, hehe.

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We also shared an order of edamame (which was a HUGE plate — great value, IMO!) to start, and Jo and I got seaweed salads as well. Nom.

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As for the sushi list itself, I had a really hard time deciding! They definitely had a lot of really interesting specialty rolls. The pricing for their specialty rolls was a little bit higher than Koi Koi, but other than that I thought that their offerings were really comparable.

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I ended up going with the Eel Cucumber roll (love me some unagi!) and the Fruity Maki roll, which had mango, apple, and avocado inside (as well as being wrapped in avocado). It was SUPER delicious! The fruity roll was really refreshing, almost like dessert sushi. Now that is something I can CERTAINLY get on board with!

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One touch that I really loved about this place is that when they brought out our check, they gave us each a little box of this Asian gum. This was hugely nostalgic for me, because I used to get this gum all the time whenever I would accompany my mom to the Asian grocery store. I would always beg for it when we got to the register, as I did with all the other crap I had thrown into the cart as we went down each ridiculously tiny aisle. Pocky sticks, strawberry koalas, these little candy discs that my sister and I called “pepperonis”, and VitaSoy boxes were my jam. (Hmm, I think I need to take a trip to Great Wall soon…)

Is there any particular food or candy that is particularly nostalgic for you? In addition to my strange (read: awesome!) Asian candy obsessions, I also have a very special place in my heart for Kinder Eggs, which remind of my elementary school days in Warsaw, Poland. I would bike down our cobblestone street to the convenience shop on the corner, spend my allowance on an egg or two, and kept a whole little collection of the toys you find inside.

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Posted on Apr 24, 2012 in Food, Giveaway, Reviews | 11 comments

Woodberry Kitchen

Good morning lovers. Now, I know you are all anxiously awaiting to hear who the winner of the Sparkle Gift Pack is, but you’re going to have to wait just a smidge longer. As a bonus, however, there is lots of beautiful food in between now and then! Though technically, I guess you really could just scroll down to the end. It’s like I’d ever know. I place the choice firmly in your hands. 😉

So! Aside from my awesome rock climbing adventures from this weekend, I also got to spend a little QT with my “big” sis (the word “big” is loosely applied here, as she is 7 inches shorter than me). We spent Saturday afternoon scouring Old Navy and Target for swimsuits for our upcoming St. Maarten family vacation (I found a neon pink bikini that I am in lurrrrve with) and then chilled out in her apartment with the dogs while we made sushi. Mmmm.

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That night, while the skies opened up outside, we watched My Week with Marilyn, which was excellent! I am a HUGE Marilyn Monroe fan, and I found the movie/story really interesting. I want to read the book it is based on now! It also helped soften me towards Michelle Williams a little bit, who I don’t actually like very much as an actress (blasphemy, I know). I just can’t see past her Jen Lindley ways, I guess? Hahaha.

The following morning, after carting Harry & Daxter out in the freezing rain to do their biz-niz (if I ever move into an apartment, I am not even kidding about getting one of those fake lawns to put on the balcony.) I decided that I MUST have crepes. I whipped up a bit o’ batter with some whole wheat flour, milk, and an egg, and went to work.

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One sweet crepe filled with raspberry preserves, and one savory with sauteed mushrooms, spinach, and a sprinkle of cheese. And a runny egg (and pickles, hehe) on the side. Nom! I wanted to make sure we had enough to eat so that we wouldn’t be starving by the time we got around to lunch. Jenny had made a 1:30 lunch reservation for us at Woodberry Kitchen, an awesome restaurant in the sketchiest part of Baltimore, hehe.

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Woodberry Kitchen is a sustainability-focused, locally-sourced restaurant with a rustic American menu. On weekdays it’s only open for dinner, but on Saturdays and Sundays they also serve brunch from 10 to 2. The location is, as even Jenny admitted, rather obscure. It’s amidst this beautiful new development of row homes and higher-end shops… which is smack-dab in the middle of this run down, super sketchy area. There’s a huge warehouse with smashed windows and boarded up doors just a block over, haha.

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The whole place has a very farm-like feel to it, with a large, open main dining room (that has a small upstairs balcony area where we were seated), an open kitchen, and vintage decorations. All the servers wore plaid shirts (the guys) or skirts with handmade-looking aprons over them (the girls), which was pretty adorable. You can probably already tell that there was a definite hipster aesthetic to the whole place, which I dug!

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They had live music playing, which made for a really nice ambiance.

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From our upstairs seat right along the edge of the balcony, we could see right into the balcony, which was super fun for me! They prepared all their eggs in little cast-iron skillets which they put directly into their woodburning oven.

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They offered complimentary house-carbonated seltzer, so I was pretty much in love after that point. Jenny got a Bloody Mary which was really peppery and delicious, too. I also loved their house-made hot sauce — spicy! They boast that everything they serve is made in-house, although when we asked for ketchup it definitely tasted like Heinz to us, hehe.

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To start, we shared a piece of monkey bread which was so good, I wanted to wrap myself up in it and die. Holy moly, it was amazing. Fluffy and buttery on the inside, crunchy on the outside. Homina, homina, homina.

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Jenny ordered the Asparagus Croissant Sandwich, which came with goat cheese, spinach, chile oil, and skillet potatoes on the side. The goat cheese tasted SO fresh, it really rang out.

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I ordered the Egg in a Hole, which was made with Pullman Bread and had sauteed asparagus and ramp leaves. It also came with this sweet onion cream on the side, which I think our waiter called bisous (?). It. Was. Incredible. For the sauce, our server said they just cook down onions and blend it with cream, and it was so delicious — sweet and light and I just wanted to take a bath in it. I also got a side of scrapple, hehe.

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The food really was excellent. I obviously can’t speak for their dinner menu, though I’ve heard rave reviews from Jenny as well as others on that, but their baked goods are incredible. The monkey bread, croissant, and the bread in my dish were all outstanding. I’d say that between the two dishes we got, mine edged out Jenny’s just a little bit, only because the goat cheese masked a lot of the other flavors in her sandwich. Not that goat cheese doesn’t taste delicious on its own, but I guess we were just expecting a little more complexity. Either way, I definitely recommend Woodberry Kitchen if you’re looking for a new place in Baltimore and are willing to brave the drive there, hahaha.

Okay! For those of you who have survived this post thus far, here we go. Out of the most entries that I’ve ever had on a giveaway EVER, the randomly drawn winner of the V8 V-Fusion Sparkling gift pack is…

Dani! Congratulations! Shoot me an email (gretchen@honeyishrunkthegretchen.com) with your address details, and we’ll take it from there!

Thanks to everyone who entered, and I’ll try to come up with another fabulous giveaway soon! Have a great day, everyone!

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