Thursday, January 27, 2011

168 Sushi Buffet

Don’t you hate it when you get home from work and there’s no dinner? Well I have a solution to that (though it’s not always practical); go out for dinner! Now hear me out before you start using excuses like, “it’s expensive to eat out”, “I’m too tired”, or “I just changed out of my work clothes *sad face*” Just suck it up and treat yourself for once!

Where am I going with this? Well, everyone was lazy on Sunday and no one felt like cooking. Mom came home around dinner-time and since there was “nothing to eat”, someone suggested that we go out for sushi – 168 Sushi Buffet to be specific. Everyone was up for it, so we went to the restaurant that was located where Rogers used to be. Despite having "buffet" in their name, 168 Sushi Buffet is an all you can eat restaurant. Just saying.

We were seated and began ordering. Since the night was a blur (due to over-eating), there won't be a lot of descriptions. For those who love food porn, hold onto your pants!

The good:
168 Sushi - 1

168 Sushi - 22
Seaweed salad: Well-seasoned salad.

Lucy's comment: I really liked this.  It had a great hit of sesame oil, and the texture of the seaweed was spot on!  It didn't have an overly fishy smell.

168 Sushi - 5

168 Sushi - 27

168 Sushi - 6
Salmon and white tuna sashimi

Lucy's comment: The fish was relatively fresh, but I bit into a few bones in the salmon.  The second plate of salmon was far superior than the first, since the first serving tasted a bit fishy and the texture was a little mushy.  I only ate two pieces.

168 Sushi - 4
Kalbi beef: These were sweet and flavourful. Mom said that it was a bit too fatty.

Lucy's comments: The kalbi were marinated well.  The beef contained a lot of smoke flavour, and the fatty bits certainly boosted its tastiness.  I generally don't like kalbi, as I often find it overcooked for my tastes, but I enjoyed this.

168 Sushi - 25
Mango and crab meat (special) roll: The sweet mangoes were very tasty. If the fake crab was replaced with a salty protein, say smoked salmon, I think this roll would taste twenty times better!

168 Sushi - 31 168 Sushi - 32
Flying fish egg hand roll: To Jimmy's surprise, there was flying fish eggs throughout the whole hand roll.  He didn't want to bite the roll in half, because he thought his second bite would've been egg-less.

168 Sushi - 34

168 Sushi - 35

168 Sushi - 36

168 Sushi - 27
AYCE desserts: It seems dumb to say this, but 168 Sushi Buffet actually doesn’t limit desserts. Some places only give you one scoop of ice cream, while charging extra for deep fried bananas.  *cough*1000 Island Sushi*cough* The deep fried bananas had a few squirts of (Aunt Jemima's butter-flavoured) syrup. The bananas, themselves, weren't ripe enough.

The bad:

168 Sushi - 2
Edamame: These were over-steamed and weren't enjoyable.

168 Sushi - 3

168 Sushi - 17
Teriyaki beef and chicken yakitori sauce: There was an excess of the uninspiring "teriyaki sauce". It's the same stuff you can get in jars at your local grocery store. Maybe if both plates weren't drowning in the over sweet sauce, it would be more palatable. 

168 Sushi - 8
Sweet potato tempura: These were greasier and a tad soggier than the shrimp tempura that were stacked on top. It’s too bad they crammed everything into one basket.

168 Sushi - 12
Kimchi: They lacked flavour and spicy kick.

168 Sushi - 16
Deep fried shrimp wontons and scallops: These were over fried and the shrimp filling wasn’t great. A bit of sesame oil would’ve made it go down easier. The scallops were frozen but we expected as much.

168 Sushi - 21
Steamed shrimp dumpling (ha gow): I knew these weren’t going to be great, but I was curious to see how good these were. They were over steamed and, just like the deep fried shrimp wontons, the fillings could’ve used some sesame oil. (Yeah, I know, they most likely didn’t make these.)

168 Sushi - 30
Frozen white tuna sashimi (second round): Why serve frozen sashimi?
Bones in the salmon sashimi: Lucy and Andrew found bones in their salmon sashimi on separate occasions. Be careful.

Lucy's comment: The restaurant actually forgot about this order.  We had to flag down our server to find out if it was coming, and he had no idea what we were talking about.  This came out quickly after we sent a duplicate order form to the kitchen, but it was clear that the chefs didn't know about it.  The tuna was almost completely frozen.  I was stunned they served it like that.

168 Sushi - 37
Green tea that looks exactly like the wasabi paste: Imagine if you got tricked into eating a spoon of green tea that was really wasabi? Ouch.

The others:

168 Sushi - 7
Shrimp tempura

168 Sushi - 9
Tofu pocket sushi

168 Sushi - 11
Spicy salmon rolls (right side) and hamachi + green onion rolls (left side), bordered by a variety of indistinguishable rolls.

168 Sushi - 24

168 Sushi - 13
Hamachi + green onion rolls

Lucy's comment: These were my favourite of the night.  I headed straight for them and definitely ate more than my fair share.  The green onions balanced well with the oily fish, and it was one of the freshest, simplest, most flavourful rolls I've eaten.

168 Sushi - 26
Spider rolls

168 Sushi - 10
BBQ eel sushi

168 Sushi - 23
Red and green dragon rolls

168 Sushi - 14

168 Sushi - 15
Flying fish egg sushi

168 Sushi - 18
Spicy chicken

168 Sushi - 19
Stir-fried chicken udon

168 Sushi - 20
Chicken fried rice

168 Sushi - 28
Octopus sashimi

168 Sushi - 31
Surf clam sashimi

On a random note, there's an item on the menu called the Ottawa roll (cooked salmon, cream cheese, and green onion). What does that say about Ottawa? I think I'm offended...? lol

At $22.95 per person, this was on the expensive side of the AYCE sushi places in Ottawa. But this price includes refillable carbonated beverages, a larger selection of items than other places, and actual AYCE desserts. Check out their menu. We didn't find anything to be mind-blasting, but at the same time, there wasn't anything that really failed (with exception to the kimchi).

One of their managers said that it's their soft opening because they're in the process of getting their liquor license. 168 Sushi Buffet has been opened for about two weeks now and yet, it seems to be very popular already. This could be Ottawa's best AYCE sushi, but we'll have to go back a few more times to make sure they're consistent with their service and food.

1651 Merivale Rd.
Ottawa, ON
168 Sushi Japan Buffet on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Chicken Rice - December 12th, 2010

Hainese Chicken Rice 5

This is Hainan chicken rice done the Tea Family way.

We make plain jasmine rice instead of making rice with the chicken broth. We boil the chicken with some carrots and sliced ginger to make a broth.

Hainese Chicken Rice 4
While the soup is simmering away, we mince ginger, garlic and a bit of green onions. The ginger and garlic are fried in oil with salt and a bit of sugar. Just as the whole thing is finished, green onions are added in last.

Hainese Chicken Rice 2
Once the chicken is fully cooked, we take out the chicken and shred the meat. The bones are thrown back into the broth for more flavour.

Hainese Chicken Rice 1
We usually have watercress or napa cabbage to add to the simple pot of soup. We had napa cabbage that night, though it tastes a lot better with watercress.

Hainese Chicken Rice 3
We usually have both corn and peas, but we didn’t have corn that night so we just boiled some frozen peas.

Hainese Chicken Rice 5
Chicken rice is one of those dishes that has to be personalized. It starts with a blank slate – white rice and chicken. Oyster sauce, ginger oil (with the ginger and garlic bits), and peas are added to the plate and then mixed together. There’s also another sauce that we have at the table with this dish. It’s a mix of lime juice, sugar, fish sauce, water, and minced garlic and birds eye chili peppers. My dad dips his chicken into this lime sauce, but I like to pour a bit onto my rice. Lastly, the ginger and chicken soup is served separately.

Although I really like this dish, I think it would taste a lot better if we had some roast chicken from Chinatown or a rotisserie chicken from Costco.

This is our version of Hainanese chicken rice. Do you eat this dish differently? And if so, what are the differences?

Friday, January 14, 2011

Random Tidbits: Part 7 - Sandwiches

(Side note: I just noticed that on Firefox, the pictures on my blog are desaturated a bit. I checked other websites, but it seems as though it's only my pictures that get desaturated when I compare Firefox to Safari. The colours on Safari are fine. Is this just my laptop?)

Dunn’s: December 7th, 2010
The last time we had a smoked meat sandwich, we visited Bobby’s Table sometime in November. As I said in that post, I found the smoked meat there a bit lacking in flavour. It was a decent sandwich, but nothing amazing. Since the visit to Bobby’s Table, I was looking forward to visiting Dunn’s. It took a bit of convincing on my part, but Mom and Dad eventually agreed to sit and enjoy a meal at Dunn’s.

Dunn's Smoked Meat Sandwich 1
I ordered their smoked meat sandwich platter with a Coke, while Mom and Dad each ordered a smoked meat sandwich with Kaiser rolls. At first, I asked the waitress if we could get the end pieces of smoked meat but she asked the kitchen and came back without an answer.

Dunn's Smoked Meat Sandwich 2
We received regular sliced meat in the end, which was fine by me. I was just curious as to how flavourful the end pieces of smoked meat were. The smoked meat was juicy but it felt like something was missing. Even though there was more meat in this sandwich than the one I had at Bobby’s Table, the sandwich wasn’t that much better.

Dunn's Fries
In fact, the fries at Bobby’s Table were a lot enjoyable than the fries I was given here. The fries were warm – not hot – and had a slight bitter taste due to being too “well-done”. It felt like the fries were the last bits of a batch. Mom was not impressed and neither was I.

Dunn's Coleslaw
The coleslaw had a great vinegary punch. It played a perfect role of cutting the grease of the fries and the sandwich. I love how the creaminess mellows out the really sharp vinegar dressing. Lucy and Andrew love this stuff. 

Overall, the combo was mediocre. The over-done fries made the meal less enjoyable, but the coleslaw made up for the burnt fries. Mom and Dad liked the sandwiches more than I did, but agreed with me on everything else.

La Bottega: December 8th, 2010

La Bottega 1
Lucy and I met up for lunch at the ByWard Market. We walked over to La Bottega and picked up sandwiches. The sandwich line was surprisingly short and quick when we went through. The line up at the two cashiers; however, was painfully slow. I mean, who buys their groceries at La Bottega in the middle of the week – during the lunch rush?

La Bottega 2
Anyway, we enjoyed our sandwiches at the food court in Rideau. Lucy had a prosciutto and capacollo sandwich with spicy eggplant, tomatoes, olives and mustard on focaccia.

La Bottega 3
I got a prosciutto and capocollo sandwich with provolone cheese, mayo, mustard and lettuce on some sort of bun – which was very similar to Lucy’s. I can’t remember which bread I chose. I liked the sandwich but I can’t remember any other details. I’ll just leave it as that.

Dad’s Beef Sandwiches: December 19th, 2010

Dad's Smoked Meat Sandwiches 6
Dad made some sort smoked beef with his own concoction of spices (the stronger ones I picked up were cloves, star anise and black pepper). He planned to slice up the meat, make them into sandwiches and serve it with homemade french fries. Dad had the urge to make the fries since Dunn’s.

Dad's Smoked Meat
Sandwiches 3
Homemade fries are really easy to make – the trick is to double fry the potatoes. First, Dad cut up the potatoes, dried them with a paper towel, then and briefly fried them in batches. The first time he fried them was to partially cook the potatoes. 

Dad's Smoked Meat
Sandwiches 4
The second time he fried them was to get a crispy, golden crust. Again, Dad fried them in batches. This was done just before we began to eat. These fries were just like the fries at Bobby’s Table; the fries had a crispy jacket with fluffy insides.

Dad's Smoked Meat Sandwiches
An idea popped into my head. For some reason, I wanted to make onion rings and so I started to slice the onions. With my pro knife skills, I sliced the onions too thinly. And to cover up my mistake, I started to thinly slice the rest of the onions.

Dad's Smoked Meat
Sandwiches 2
Instead of a wet batter for onion rings, I remembered that a dry breading mix would be perfect for onion strings. I added flour, chicken bouillon mix, black pepper, and chili pepper. At first, I thought about tossing all of the dry mix to the thinly sliced onions but I remembered that the mixture will turn into a gluey mess. Luckily, I stopped before it was too late. 

Dad's Smoked Meat
Sandwiches 5
After a few batches of Dad's fries were done, I took a handful of onions and tossed it in the dry mix, shook off the excess dry mix, and tossed them into the oil. Once fried, these onion strings were heavenly! The breading was salty and slightly spicy, while the onions were sweet and tender. I’m definitely going to make these again!

Dad's Smoked Meat
Sandwiches 7
For something a bit healthier, we boiled some sugar snap peas. These were quite sweet. A bit of butter not only made them taste better, but it also boosted the health factor. Oh yeah!

Dad's Smoked Meat
Sandwiches 8
Lucy thought that Dad’s spice mix tasted like pho so much, that it grossed her out. She ended up snacking on the sides with kewpie mayo.

Dad's Smoked Meat
Sandwiches 9
I didn’t get a picture of the sandwiches, but they weren’t that great. The beef was so dry that Jimmy and I ate our sandwiches by dipping them into gravy before each bite. After Dad’s first sandwich, he put together some fries, end pieces of the meat and gravy. This was something that brought back lots of memories of working at Kardish for Dad.

When I think of sandwiches, I think of peanut butter and jam sandwiches, grilled cheese sandwiches and stuff like that. I guess it’s because I didn’t grow up with smoked meat sandwiches and Italian cold cuts, but those types of sandwiches still feel unfamiliar. I need to get more adventurous with my sandwiches – that’s for sure.


355 Dalhousie St.
Ottawa, ON
Dunn's Famous Deli on Urbanspoon

La Bottega
64 George St.
Ottawa, ON
La Bottega on Urbanspoon


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