Sakura

Athens officially has real Japanese food now.  Not just acceptable sushi, fusion, or hibachi.  Those are things housed within Japanese cuisine and I use housed loosely… I’m talking to you fusion and hibachi.  At any rate, Celebrate!

Sakura is located in a strip mall on ATL Hwy. that can best be described as a dump.  For locals, its near the Depalmas/ Polarberry shopping center across the street from Publix.  Though the outside is a bit of a dump, the inside has nice, chic decor, a sushi bar, entrée seating area and a … (gasp) hibachi area for those of you that want a show that preys upon asian pop culture stereotypes in order to garner bigger tips.  Despite this they have quite a few traditional entree including some decent Udon, teriyaki and miso glazed fishes, and an excellent nigiri selection.  They may not have okonamo yaki, but they have agedashi tofu, sunomono, and the lightning fast, über polite service that is a hallmark of such establishments.  Did I mention service?  That’s right, both their service, fish, and sushi rice are worlds better than other restaurants that rhyme with Shmokoshmini and Shmutage.

Though there is more to Japanese Cuisine than sushi, it happens to be my favorite part.  The way I tend to test out a new establishment is by ordering a sushi dinner.  The Sushi Deluxe at Sakura did not disappoint.  It came with Miso Soup (which is served in a bowl the size of a bucket) a salad, 10 pieces of delicious Nigiri and a Cali roll.  It cost me 20 bucks and was on par with some of the better places I have ever been.  not Nobu, Morimoto, or Tokyo Shokudo, but surprisingly close.  I’ll let the pictures do the talking though as they are far more eloquent than I could attempt to be.  Long story short, go to Sakura, try whatever it is you fancy, leave happy.
Sakura on Urbanspoon

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Sr. Sol

Every once in a while I like to do a truly easy review.  A review, if you will, where everyone already knows about the joint, but it’s just so good you can’t let it go unreviewed.  Sr. Sol is just this kind of place.

Located on Oglethorpe rd. 2 or three miles outside of the epicenter that is downtown Athens, Ga, Sr. Sol was a best kept secret… 2 years ago.  Then a few people ate there, and as people tend to do, brought their friends back to share this delicious experience.  Afore mentioned friends brought their friends, who in turn brought their friends… and …well… you get the picture.  Now you can’t park there. Seriously, the parking is the only bad thing about this place.

The good things about Sr. Sol are as follows: everything.  Their space is small but the service is so fast that you are almost never left waiting very long and your food tends to appear before you as you order.  it really is amazing.  Don’t believe me?  Try consuming all your salsa, which is not hard because its delicious, and then begin counting.  If you get to 60 I’d be floored.

In addition to the wonderful service the food here is good and authentic for the most part( will get to this in a moment).  However, Sr. Sol’s real strength is that it has mexican american and traditional mexican cuisine.  That’s right sports fans you can get crunchy chicken tacos, corn tortillas with cabeza, pastor, lengua, barbacoa, or a fusion flour tortilla with any of the afore-mentioned meats loaded with sour cream and cheese.  To make a long story short, if you can’t find something on the menu that you like… it’s because you either can’t read or can’t swallow.  They even have soups and vegetarian options for those of you that can’t chew or can’t eat meat. The best part of Sr. Sol, however, is the bill at the end of the meal.  It will make you smile.  So seriously, what are you waiting for?  Go get some Sr. Sol.

Special Note:  Feeling Lazy? Not only do they deliver, but they recently opened a second location closer to downtown at 255 West Broad St.
Sr. Sol on Urbanspoon

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Yogurt Wars

Froyo places in Athens are becoming like Waffle Houses in the South.  It is totally plausible that you could see three of them at a four-way stop.  Since they all serve virtually the same flavors its hard to differentiate between them.  While I will do my best to remain Impartial, it might be hard for me not to show my bias for a certain froyo shop that rhymes with shmolarshmerry.

Yoforia

Good

  • Lots of tart flavors
  • Lots of toppings
  • Lots of people
  • Lots of sorority girls
  • self-serve

Bad

  • Savory flavors are not as creamy as they could be
  • Limited savory flavor selection
  • I dare you to park.  Seriously just try it.
  • Lots of people
  • Lots of sorority girls
  • texture is icier than some places(not an issue with tart flavors)

Yoforia Frozen Yogurt on Urbanspoon

Menchies

Located on Alps near Ru San’s and the movie theatre, this location is further out-of-town.

Good

  • Outside of town
  • You can actually park here
  • good tart flavors
  • passable savory flavors
  • Lots of sorority girls
  • most interesting spoons
  • Self Serve

Bad

  • Outside of town
  • Lots of sorority girls
  • more young children than other places

Menchie's Frozen Yogurt on Urbanspoon

Yoguri

Located in the heart of downtown,Yoguri was Athens’ first froyo place.

Good

  • All of their stuff is made in house
  • Organic
  • Good tart flavors
  • Nice mix of people from all walks of life
  • Super nice owner who is often hanging out in the shop
  • Downtown

Bad

  • Not self-serve
  • Fewer toppings
  • Fewer flavors
  • all flavors including chocolate have a tart taste
  • I seriously dare you to park anywhere downtown in a reasonable amount of time

Yoguri on Urbanspoon

Polarberry

Located on Athens Highway next to the DePalma’s and Auga Linda, this is one of Athens’ newest froyo offerings.

Good

  • Undisputed heavyweight champion of the world in the savory flavor category
  • Way outside town
  • You can park here no matter what
  • You can often get 50% off just by look at their Facebook page. It’s seriously 5 or so nights a week
  • Never overflowing with people

Bad

  • Not Self Serve
  • A bit of a drive
  • Pricier than most if it’s not 50% off

Polarberry Frozen Yogurt on Urbanspoon

YoDawgs Athens’ Best Yogurt

Good

  • Lots of toppings
  • Lots of fat-free options
  • Nice old man owns the place and is on hand most nights
  • almost never busy
  • parking is super easy
  • Located on Baxter so it wins the shortest drive for froyo where you can actually park award

Bad

  • Some of the flavors have a weird after taste
  • Flavors tend to be hit or miss from one night to the next
  • Athens’ newest froyo spot so it’s still working out some kinks
  • fat-free birthday cake and cheese cake don’t have that savory quality

In summation, I tried to provide an impartial view of the Athens froyo scene.  I probably failed… but I really did try.

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White Tiger Gourmet

There is only one thing in this blogging life I hate more than writing a bad review.  I hate writing a good reviews about places people, should, but don’t know about.  White Tiger is one of those places.

White Tiger is run by, Ken Manring, a CIA(Culinary Institute of America) grad and all around nice guy.  The restaurant is located in a house that exudes a decidedly laid back, eat your food and chill with us atmosphere.  Aside from the fact that the place is a sort of best kept secret, I love the fact that you can eat healthy, unhealthy, or somewhere in between.  I have had dishes ranging from Tofu to Salmon, to their heavenly pulled pork.  All were wonderful.  Go eat there!  There are pictures below for you to drool over.

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Helpful tips

- CASH ONLY!!!!

- Bacon can be added to anything for 2 dollars and everything (even Tofu) is made better by bacon.

- Check out Ken’s Wife’s homemade Chocolates.  She is a seriously B.A. Choclatier.
White Tiger Gourmet on Urbanspoon

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Shokitini

Japanese food is without a doubt my favorite cuisine.  The two greatest meals of my life were at Morimoto in Philadelphia, PA and Nobu in San Diego, CA.  Add to this my already high expectations of food in general, and you are faced with one hell of a nightmare reviewer.  For this particular review I have decided to rate things on a 5 star system.  Following the rating will be an explanation of why I rated it how I rated it.

Fish: 4.8 stars
The fish was very good. It was of markedly higher quality than it was at the other sushi places I visited in town. Prices are also markedly high than at other sushi spots in town.  However, I am willing to throw down when I’m eating sushi because it is an indulgence, a celebration of all things seafood in their purest form.   I’ll pay for quality.

Service: 3 stars
Basically, the service is better than the GRIT, but that isn’t saying alot.  The servers are comprised mainly of college aged girls who know little about the menu or cuisin in general.  All that being said, the older servers are better and all the servers seem to put forth an effort to be courteous.  I for one don’t care if my server insults me as long as the food is good.  However, if this sort of thing really bothers you, sit at the sushi bar.

Other Menu Items: 3.5 stars
Additional dishes are not bad. not bad at all.  Though lacking woefully in terms of traditional dishes like Oyako Don, okonomo yaki, Unagi Don, and many others, but for what they are aiming for they’ve done well. They have instead catered to the college crowd with things like fried oyster shooters and tempura Oreos.  Of particular note are the tempura Oreos which I could eat till I coma.

The best Traditional non sushi item on the menu... and its free at the sushi bar.

Decor: 5 stars
There are lots of shiny things
and blue lights in the establishment. It is staffed with lots of attractive
women that are not encyclopedic in their knowledge of the menu. However, it would be wrong of me not to award them the 5 stars for what is seemingly a major focus for this establishment.

Price: 2 stars/ 4 stars ( sitting at sushi bar)
They have been the only sushi game in town for years and they know it. You pay for this
too, but its a far cry from highway robbery. It is worth mentioning that you get
a free Kani salad, baked mussel app., and tempura Oreo dessert if you sit at the
sushi bar. This is awesome. The only drawback is that you might actually have to
literally fight someone to get a seat.

These make me so happy!

Lasting Impressions: Sit at the sushi bar and be prepared to pay more than other sushi places in Athens.  Also know that you are not going to a Japanese restaurant, but a sushi bar.  If you are looking for authentic Japanese dishes… learn to cook, drive to Atlanta, or locate a Japanese grandmother somewhere in the Athens area(this point is driven home by their 10 dollar Hamachi Kama Fail pictured Below).

Not very good.

Overall, I enjoyed my trip and will definitely be back.  My only wish is that they might trade the fancy neon blue lights and chic decor for some traditional entrees. That being said, this place is probably in business for the same reason as most dining establishments.  They want to serve food and make money. They seem to be doing a fine job of both.
Shokitini on Urbanspoon

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Mojito’s Cuban American Bistro

Those who know me know that I’m a terrible pain in the ass when it comes to food, so it is no small feat for me to have nothing to complain about after having eaten through the entire menu at Mojito’s.  Located in downtown Norcross, GA, is one of my favorite places to go eat.  The Atmosphere is awesome in that it ranges from super laid back on the patio, to incredibly intense with salsa dancing and live entertainment on the inside.  It’s almost as if its two different restaurants fused into one.  Add to this the incredibly nice wait staff and you have a recipe for a great restaurant.  Well I guess there is that food thing too.

The name of this restaurant is Mojito’s Cuban-American Bistro for a reason.  It’s not all traditional Cuban.  While this would normally draw the ire of many reviewers, this one included, you can rest assured that they are first and foremost a Cuban Resturaunt. Their best dishes are the wonderful little Cuban staples like yucca con mojo, maduros, balck bean soup, congri, mariquitas, etc.  However,they also cater to the American Pallet as well. 

I would know.  I took an authentic Cuban guy with me to eat there and he signed off on it.  It is also worth noting that he was inhumanly hungry as well…but for the purposes of protecting the innocent,or guilty, or whatever he was, we won’t mention why.  He looks really, really happy doesn’t he?  Must be Mojito’s.

Now on to the food!  I’ve been to this place more times than I can count and two of my favorite classic dishes are the Ropa Vieja and the Pollo Con mojo.  While both of them are plated in a more elegant, refined manner than I’m used to seeing, they are probably the two tastiest versions of these respective dishes that I have ever had.  While the “Authentic Cuban Dude” swore up and down that his grandmother’s Ropa Vieja was better, he said that Mojito’s offering was on point.

Another great thing about Mojito’s is that their seafood offerings are delicious.  I have had the Mahi, shrimp, and snapper, all prepared in creole sauce.  All were delicious.  It is worth noting that the fish come topped with a few shrimp while the shrimp obviously doesn’t come topped with fish.  For this reason, I often chose a fish so I can get a little of everything. 

Finally,it would be remiss of me not to mention a less traditional offering that is a favorite of may Mojito’s patrons.  Stuffed rice.  This dish is like a kind of arroz con pollo on steroids.  Well basically Arroz Con Pollo Con tons of Parmesan and Mozzarella scatter throughout the mound of saffron rice and chicken.  It’s a magic cuban treasure hunt of cheesy, protieny goodness.  Don’t miss it.

While I have only mentioned a few dishes, everything here from the Cuban Sandwich to the flan and Cuban Coffee are awesome.  If you don’t believe me go try it.  YOu can thank me later.

Helpful Hints:

  • Black Bean Soup is amazing
  • sides: rice ,plantains, yucca, etc. are literally among the best dishes I’ve ever eaten anywhere(except the .  It’s pretty basic food done REALLY well and its always consistent.
  • If you ever want to get a seat friday or saturday night, call ahead.  This place is busy!

Mojito's Cuban-American Bistro on Urbanspoon

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The Letter P

Today’s post is brought to you by the letter P.  P is for Pork and Potato.  More specifically, Miso glazed Pork and Fiery sweet potato fries.  E-mail me if you want the recipe.

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