What:Kitchen Table at Bubbledogs @BubbledogsKT A speakeasy-style high-end chef's tasting menu hides behind a curtain in the back of a hot dog shop.
Where:SoHo near the Theatre District 70 Charlotte St. Fitzrovia, London W1T 4QG, UK [wpgmza id="299"]
When:Based on the price point and difficulty of snagging a reservation alone, this definitely falls into the "Special Occasion Restaurant" category. Save this one for when you're celebrating a birthday, anniversary, or any other major occasion worth celebrating and spluging for.
The Japan Center Mall is a mysterious maze-like shopping center full of stalls selling Asian miscellany and a wide variety of authentic Asian eats. There are many places you could choose to eat at – with specialists for just about every Japanese food type you could think of. There are in fact a number of sushi options, but there is only one sushi purveyor inside of this massive mall that I find myself consistently returning to. It's called Isobune and its a truly special place.
Everyone that's even partially aware of the Austin dining scene has heard of Uchiko. It's generally regarded as one of the top dining destinations in the city and I've known for many years that I needed to see what all of the excitement was about for myself. I think the restaurant may have actually first come to attention when the now-famed chef Paul Qui tore his way through Top Chef Season 9. He basically wiped the floor with his competition utilizing his signature Asian fusion style and I took notice. Paul has since moved on from Uchiko to work on other Austin ventures such as his food truck East Side King and namesake restaurant Qui. But, Uchiko remains as exciting and buzz-worthy as ever.
Back when I was living in New York, I think I took for granted the fact that it really was "the city that never sleeps". Literally any hour of the day, I could get my hands on anything I craved. Bars stayed open to 4, delivery services ran around the clock and worked lightening fast, and there was always a restaurant open serving exactly what I was in the mood for, no matter what crazy hour it was that I wanted it. Now, let's compare that to San Francisco, where bars start winding down at 1 AM and close at 2. It's a place where most restaurant and bar kitchens close around 10 PM and food delivery is an utter joke. If it's past 10 PM and you feel like having a great late night meal, you've got to approach the situation with a little more care and a lot more knowledge.
*Editor's Note 4/17/15: O-Toro has since relocated to a larger space only a block away at 298 Gough St. I'm constantly looking for sushi joints in the Bay Area serving really high quality fish at very reasonable prices. I've got spots all over the region (see: Wayo, Tataki, Sushi Tomi, Live Sushi Bar, and Geta) and I've even already got a place I love in Hayes Valley, but Domo is quite small and doesn't take reservations so it's not super easy to rely on it as a go-to spot in that neighborhood. Only a few blocks away is another well-reputed sushi den called O-Toro that actually does take OpenTable reservations and also sounded like it had a lot of potential to become my new go-to sushi bar in that neighborhood.
One day, Amy and I were headed to Oakland to check out the California International Antiquarian Book Fair (it's way more awesome than it sounds, I promise). This year, the event relocated from its usual San Francisco venue to the Marriott City Center Convention location in the Piedmont neighborhood of Oakland. Well, I'm pretty much always on the hunt for great, cheap sushi and I knew we would need to grab a good lunch before heading into the event, but I wasn't very familiar with the area's food selection. So, I pulled up Foursquare and did a quick search to gauge my options. Immediately, I was presented with an obvious lunch solution – a tiny hole-in-the-wall well-regarded for its quality fish and reasonable prices called Geta Sushi.
If you're ready to drop some bills on serious sushi in San Francisco, Akiko's is the place to do it. All of the fish is ridiculously high-quality and a good portion of it is even imported directly from the famed Tsukiji Fish Market in Japan. All of their preparations are utterly impeccable and do that magnificent fish the justice it deserves.
It's not always easy finding a great sushi place in San Francisco. Often times the quality at inexpensive spots is unacceptable and the high-quality places are just way too expensive. And if you can manage to find an excellent and reasonably priced spot like Domo Sushi, it'll constantly be plagued by long lines and waits due to its extremely popular Hayes Valley location. That's why I was so happy to find Live Sushi Bar in the less trafficked Potrero Hill neighborhood. It has consistently proven its ability to hit that sweet spot of freshness, price, value, and ease of access. And I know you'll love it too.