El Topo

Peruvian sea scallops

Kanpachi, yellowtail and yellowtail ceviche

Pumpkin spice old fashioned for Thanksgiving!


**** (4 stars)

Very good sushi with a slight Peruvian spin, such as the sauces used for the sashimi preparations. Fish quality was good, and service was friendly. Chill vibe.

3327 Las Vegas Blvd S
Las Vegas, NV
(702) 607-0700

P.F. Chang’s



**** (4 stars)

This is a chip off the P.F. Chang’s block, pretty consistent in all ways. Maybe a bit higher ceiling, a staircase, a more prominent bar, but definitely P.F. Chang’s.

There are some interesting new lunch menu bowls, if you haven’t been in a while. The Bibimbap and tempura bowls were both interesting, although the beef in the Mongolian bowl was probably the best.

P.F. Chang’s
530 N Wabash Ave
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 828-9977

Yamashiro Hollywood

Samurai roll

Truffle hamachi

Scallop ceviche

Yellowtail and Serrano pepper sashimi




*** (3 stars)

Yamashiro is one of the neatest, most magical spaces in LA. I’ve been coming here for decades for the spectacular view, and the tranquil Japanese courtyard in the center of the building. On each visit, I am amazed at what a great spot it is, and equally amazed that the food never lives up to the promise of the location.

On this visit they were out of: sparkling water, 9 out of ten types of sparkling wine on their wine list, one type of chicken, and Kirin beer. I was beginning to suspect we’d wandered into Monty Python’s cheese shop.

But they did have (nearly) all of the fish on their sashimi menu, and we tried most of them. They were all fine–okay fish quality, and good sauces. Maybe it’s just that we’d been to Sugarfish for lunch the day before, but this sushi was not remarkable, just serviceable.

Our waitress was nice, although totally unfamiliar with the wine list, and seemed a bit shaky on the food, too. Maybe the focus of the business is on selling the fishbowl-sized fruit drinks; they were certainly doing a lot of that.

Still, I’ll no doubt go back. I always do. There’s no place quite like it.

Yamashiro Hollywood
1999 N Sycamore Ave
Hollywood, CA 90068
(323) 466-5125



Sushi bar and Chef Robert Juan

Amuse bouche


Sake with Fuji apple and osetra


Hamachi with garlic chive blossom

Sea breem with finger lime

Salmon with smoked trout roe

Hokkaido scallop

Flaming the prawn

Red Argentinian prawn

Otoro and big eye tuna

Big eye toro hand roll

***** (5 stars)

Chicago has some excellent sushi restaurants, although curiously even the best haven’t ever matched the top places in New York or Los Angeles. Katana, an LA transplant, aims to change that.

The restaurant is large yet very spacious, and gorgeously decorated. Both table and sushi bar seating is available, and food from the sushi bar and the robata grill is available everywhere.

But there is one special experience that is only available in the back corner. The omakase sushi dinner is served here, prepared by Executive Chef Robert Juan, who acts as both chef and host. And most special of all is the table attached to the sushi bar, where parties of three or four can enjoy a hybrid of conventional table seating and intimate interaction with the chef. It’s a winning concept.

The omakase is “chef’s choice” but is individually tailored to your preferences and the number of courses you’d like. We chose ten courses and put ourselves in chef’s hands for a very special experience.

Our favorite courses were salmon rolled around fuji apple and topped with osetra caviar; “smoked” salmon that was actually fresh salmon topped with smoked trout roe and bourbon smoked sesame seeds; and raw scallop nigiri topped with osetra caviar. These courses were definitely world class.

There’s a nice wine list with plenty of Champagnes that perfectly match sushi, plus an extensive list of sakes.

Our server was friendly, knowledgeable and attentive.

Katana is a great addition to Chicago’s Japanese dining offerings, particularly in the back corner.

339 N Dearborn St
Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 877-5544

India House Restaurant

*** (3 stars)

This is a very nicely decorated restaurant with about 150 different dishes on the menu. Unfortunately the staff isn’t very good, and the food is just average.

It’s odd browsing through the menu, because it seems to have little organization with multiple sections devoted the similar categories, and very few of the standbys like korma, saag, and so on.

We tried Papdi Chat as an appetizer, and the flavors were good, but it wasn’t enhanced by the sturdy wafers mixed into it.

Mahi Mahi Fish Tikka was good fish, but the seasoning on the fish skin wasn’t my favorite flavor.

Bhuni Gobi was extremely overcooked cauliflower; it resembled something that had been sitting on a buffet for hours.

The best dish was Channa Palak, chick peas in a garlic, onion and spinach sauce. Garlic naan bread was also okay.

The service staff seems to be mostly Russian, and wasn’t strong on communication. They were out of all the juices, and couldn’t produce a beer list.

There aren’t many Indian restaurants in River North, but even so, I wouldn’t bother to return here.

India House Restaurant
59 W Grand Ave
Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 645-9500

Seoul Taco

***** (5 stars)

If there’s any cheaper way to have a tasty meal in River North, I haven’t found it.

The Tacos make up in spiciness what they lack in size. The tortillas are cooked to order, so everything is hot and fresh.

The other entrees are larger, but I thought the taco was just right. And I added (for just two bucks) the kimchi fried rice, which is almost a meal in itself.  

For less than $5 I left stuffed.

Seoul Taco
738 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 265-1607

Friends Sushi

**** (4 stars)

This stylish sushi restaurant offers some very inventive rolls and attentive service.

We started with the salmon carpaccio: thin slices of salmon served over greens in a soy dressing. It was very good, although I thought the dressing could have used a touch more rice wine vinegar for sweetness.

Then we shared three rolls. Each was unique, and they went together well.

“Sweet & Spicy” combined eel, cucumber, and salmon, but the piquant kick of the dollop of red sauce was what made it interesting.

In the “Jimmai” the hamachi, cilantro and seabass were really complemented by the smokiness of the grilled asparagus.

Our favorite roll was the very unusual “Ticky Tacky” where the predominant flavors came not from the king crab or tender thin octopus topping, but rather the mint leaf and wasabi mayo. That one packed quite a delicious kick.

There are many additional specialty rolls on the menu that we’ll need to check out next time.

Friends Sushi
710 N Rush St
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 787-8998

Noodles & Company

**** (4 stars)

This is a very well run outlet, with friendly staff and a nice seating area with a roll-up glass door that lets in a bit of the outdoors.

The menu offers a good variety of different noodle-based cuisines, plus salads and soups. The noodle dishes have the same issue as at Pei Wei where the calorie counts look attractive until you realize there are two servings in each bowl. However Noodles and Company has come up with a great solution. Their “Buff” bowls leave out the noodles, and substitute spinach, while doubling the other ingredients.

I tried the Buff version of the Japanese Pan Noodles. It seemed funny to remove the Japanese Pan part from the dish, but it more than halved the calories, to just 320 in the whole bowl. And it was extremely tasty. I feel like I got all the flavor, without the carbs. And since the veggies (other than the spinach and cilantro) were hot, it didn’t seem like a salad.

As with the other bowls, you can get a side dish. I had a Caesar salad (side salad with a salad, ha!) and it was also tasty, and added only another 90 calories.

They also have the Coke Freestyle machines that can make a hundred or so different combos, including many with no calories.

In all, quite a satisfying low-cal lunch.

Noodles & Company
7822 W Sand Lake Rd
Orlando, FL 32819
(407) 354-1301

Yoshi Sushi Bar

*** (3 stars)

This is a perfectly fine neighborhood sushi bar. Fish quality is good, and the preparations are professional.

All of the fish selections for the sashimi lunch were fresh tasting and it was a nice assortment. There is a large assortment of rolls available as choices on the sushi lunch.

The Tuna Kobachi was a fairly small serving, and the very thinly sliced avocado was a bit hard to deal with, but the flavors were good.

Service was very friendly and welcoming.

Yoshi Sushi Bar
11127 W. Colonial Dr
Ocoee, FL 34761
(407) 347-0521

Momofuku Ko

***** (5 stars)

What a phenomenal experience. We loved the ambiance of this place, which is both romantic and trendy, vibrant yet conducive to conversation, epicurean yet accessible.

Not every course was a hit, but there were certainly plenty of home runs. But the friendliness of the wait staff, the chefs, and especially the sommelier, Chase, Sinzer, are what really made this a remarkable evening.

I suspect most people her opt for the wine pairings, which we often do, too, but if so they are missing a terrific wine list, with exclusively great producers, and some very reasonable prices.

Truly a special dining experience, and one I look forward to repeating.

Momofuku Ko
8 Extra Pl
New York, NY 10003
(212) 203-8095