Aaaaaaaaaand, We’re Back!

9 Jul

After a half-year hiatus, How the Sushi Rice Crumbles is finally back!

Now living in New York full time, I will submit one city sushi restaurant review per week, complete with ratings and full details and pictures of the food and ambiance. These reviews will cover a wide range of neighborhoods and qualities of establishments and will be formatted similarly to my posts about sushi restaurants in Barcelona.

It’s good to be back! Look for my first New York City sushi restaurant review later this week and enjoy!

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One Final Picture

14 Dec

After spending all semester talking about the rising popularity of Web 2.0 and the various ways in which its tools can be integrated into everyday life, I found this magazine cover that I spotted funny enough to share. The day in age has come where there are entire publications devoted to even what appear to be the simplest of skills!

 

 

Final Barcelona Post

14 Dec

After over three months of writing both reviews of Barcelona’s top sushi restaurants and about the concepts of Journalism 2.0, I am headed back to my hometown of New York City. In the next few weeks, I hope to continue writing reviews of sushi restaurants in New York, in a similar fashion to the way I covered the different spots in Barcelona.

Overall, I would classify the sushi quality in Barcelona as often good but rarely great. A lot of restaurants that I had the privilege of visiting during my time here served adequate and fresh sushi that I would categorize as good quality. My main critiques would be the limited selection of fish available at most places (granted, Barcelona’s location on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea promotes local fishermen’s catches, which overlap greatly) and the lack of Japanese-run upscale sushi restaurants (again, this is most likely a biased opinion because of my upbringing in New York City). I leave Barcelona with a quick list recap of the best sushi restaurants I discovered during my time here, linked to my detailed reviews of them:

1. Wakasa

2. Koy Shunka

3. Shunka

4. ON Sushi

5. Nomo

Nakashita finishes in a close 6th place and Yamadori remains the one place I would have liked to try but never found time while in Barcelona. Looking forward to hearing feedback from any of you who try out my personal favorites!

Wakasa

13 Dec

Place: Wakasa

Address: C/ Nàpols, 347

Meal Eaten: Dinner

Background: I ended my last post hinting that I would soon divulge the location of the best sushi I ate during my time in Barcelona. I had always wanted to eat at Wakasa after reading highly positive reviews on TripAdvisor, reviews that were confirmed by my recent gem-of-a-finding “The Sushi Barcelona Bible“. This informative guide highlights the best 13 sushi restaurants in the city, calling Wakasa a ‘diamond in the rough’ and mentioning its classification as Barcelona’s #1 sushi restaurant according to the prestigious Time Out magazine series. After calling many times over the past month for a reservation (a must-do considering the restaurant consists of 5 tables), I was lucky enough to be granted an early seating this past Saturday.

Setting: As mentioned, Wakasa only has around 5 tables, all booked well in advance and throughout the evening. It is located in the Northern part of Gracia in a relatively quiet neighborhood and is truly a diamond in the rough: the exterior is nondescript and strikes passer-bys as a tavern or wood cabin, while the interior is cramped and exceedingly casual. The restaurant is family owned and operated, with a man working the sushi bar and his wife functioning as the restaurant’s only waitress.

Food/Price: If the decor of the restaurant is not exactly eye candy, then how am I claiming it to be the best sushi in Barcelona you ask? Simple answer: the food. Upon arrival, diners are presented with a menu containing various sushi options as well as two white boards listing the day’s special appetizer and non-sushi options, mostly served tapas style. I was sure to order from both, selecting the assortment of nigiri and maki roll (33 euros; you are allowed to choose the cuts of fish you want in this dish which is a nice plus) as well as the cold kimchi udon noodles (around 7 euros) and tuna avocado sashimi (around 6 euros). I also ordered what was supposed to be a house special, the Wakasa Maki roll (13.50 euros), which consisted of eel and avocado, drizzled in a thick semi-sweet sauce. The sashimi dish was the first indication that the meal was going to be a special one: the tuna was the freshest I had in Barcelona, mixed equal parts with ample amounts of avocado and topped with nori and sesame seeds. The kimchi udon noodles contained just the right amount of kimchi taste (a spicy pickled cabbage common in Korean cooking) and the noodles themselves were full of flavor, unlike other noodle dishes I had at Japanese restaurants in Barcelona that appeared to be frozen or packaged. Finally, the assortment of sushi rivaled some of the top sushi places I have eaten at in my hometown of New York City: the toro practically melted in my mouth, and the eel was smooth and flavorful. Additionally, the two seared pieces of fish I ordered, also a house specialty, provided a nice contrast to the slabs of Barcelona’s freshest raw fish. The salmon maki was as good as any I have ever had, and while the Wakasa Maki roll may have been the meal’s only disappointment, the superb quality of the other items undoubtedly affected my judgment.

Bottom Line: Wakasa is an absolute must for sushi affectionados spending time in Barcelona. Its low-key, tiny setting and personable service serve to make it a classic ‘sleeper’ pick, but the word is out and reservations are hard to come by!

Ratings:

Food: 9

Ambiance: 6

Price: 45 euros

Spotlight on Shunka: Toro and Uni Dish

12 Dec

Way back in September, I wrote about Shunka, arguably recognized as the best sushi restaurant in Barcelona. The restaurant is Japanese-run, and sushi and non-sushi dishes alike are served fresh and with authentic flavor. As my time studying in Barcelona nears its end, I felt compelled to write about what undoubtedly was my favorite dish at any restaurant during my four month stay: the toro and uni combination dish at Shunka.

Shunka’s toro and uni dish combines two exquisite Japanese delicacies, namely, the belly of tuna with the eggs of sea urchin. Both items are considered to be among the tastiest and highest quality offered at Japanese restaurants, with their prices reflecting this sentiment. Shunka offers a plate of around 8 healthy cuts of toro, topped with generous amounts of uni and garnished with seaweed and sesame seeds. A sweetish soy sauce accompanies the dish. I just about fell in love with this dish as soon as I tried it – the large portions of toro melted in my mouth and were full of flavor, and the freshness of the uni provided the perfect smooth contrast. Having spent many summers diving for sea urchins in my native country of Greece and enjoying their contents mere minutes later, I am well aware of the taste of the freshest of sea urchins, and Shunka’s offerings are top notch. The color of the eggs are the exact shade of orange that I became accustomed to during my diving in the neighboring Mediterranean Sea.

At 19.60 euros, the toro and uni dish is priced comparably to other entrées at Shunka. While other options may offer more variety and quantity, I would suggest asking for a bowl of white rice to accompany this delicious combination and add more substance. I highly recommend trying this dish at Shunka (it can be found as one of the ‘special’ menu choices listed on the first page of the menu) and letting me know your thoughts!

 

Here’s a cliffhanger: In the next day, I will write about the sushi meal that I enjoyed last night, which I would call the best sushi I have eaten in Barcelona.

Podcast Assignment: Jose Reyes Leaves the Mets

5 Dec

I have included a three-minute podcast on Major League Baseball’s Jose Reyes deciding today to leave the New York Mets and sign with the Miami Marlins. The discussion is between me and my friend, lifelong Mets fan Stuart Johnson. The audio was recorded using Audacity and then uploaded onto Sound Cloud, where I was able to directly copy and paste the link to this blog’s page.

 

 

Temaki-ya

3 Dec

Place: Temaki-ya

Address: C/ Gignàs, 28

Meal Eaten: Dinner

Background: Temaki-ya was recommended to me by multiple friends, who all spoke highly about the freshness of the fish and the uniqueness of the restaurant. They mentioned that the place is perfect for a bite between classes or when in a hurry, and recommended any of the hand roll options.

Setting: Temaki-ya is located on a side road off the main street of Via Laietana, across from the American abroad student favorite, Milk. Temaki-ya markets itself as ‘Spain’s only temakeria,’ with only hand rolls, cut rolls, and a couple very basic appetizers (edamame, miso soup, etc.) on its menu. It only has four or five tiny round tables with long stools, encouraging a take-out approach – a sort of ‘Japanese fast food’ – quite rare by sushi standards. Diners place their orders at the counter, and the sushi chef immediately begins stuffing fish and other ingredients into sheets of seaweed.

Food/Price: The Temaki-ya menu is fairly easy to follow, as there are around five basic fish options (tuna, salmon, shrimp, fresh crab, gilthead) that are offered in the same type of rolls: plain, spicy, and with a couple of different and rather basic flavorful ingredients. Each option is available in a hand or cut roll. There are also a couple of set menu options, which feature something like a couple of hand rolls plus an appetizer and drink. I chose to order à la carte, going with a spicy tuna hand roll, spicy salmon hand roll, and a second salmon hand roll that included chive and purple lettuce, both ingredients that Temaki-ya appears to love including in their rolls. Each roll was priced between 5 and 7 euros, relatively cheap for sushi in Barcelona, though one must account for the absence of table seating and rushed atmosphere. The rolls were indeed fresh, stacked with ample amounts of sliced fish and seaweed, which provided a nice fresh crunch. The flavor of the fish was masked slightly by abundant amounts of spicy mayo, but I had expected it to be used for the spicy rolls and the two fused together nicely for an explosion of flavor.

Another unique feature of the restaurant was the three large canisters found on the table, which held soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, and soy sauce mixed with wasabi; the first time that I had noticed the last option pre-mixed. It was mixed well proportionally, adding a good amount of salty-spiciness to the hand rolls. My girlfriend described the vegetable-only hand roll that she ordered as fresh and flavorful.

Bottom Line: While not a gourmet sushi restaurant, Temaki-ya offers a welcome alternative as a stop-in for a quick sushi fix. The hand rolls are fresh and filling, and diners won’t be disappointed with their meal or wallets. Recommended for a casual snack or take-out lunch or dinner.

Ratings:

Food: 7.25

Ambiance: 5

Price: 18 euros