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Gia-Gina Across the Pond

So I've decided to follow my husband to his native Italy. Follow our adventures as we eat, drink, travel, adapt to and explore this remarkable country. Part food blog, part photo blog but mostly my rants and raves. After our two years in Italy, we relocated across the Atlantic "pond" and are back in the States.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Dinner at Wasabi

At the recommendation of our friends Linda and Jonas, we decided to try a sushi restaurant near our house called Wasabi. Since Chinese food is so awful in Italy, we were reluctant to give Japanese a try. Nobu in Milan is supposed to have great sushi, but we’ve heard mixed reviews. Wasabi was a nice surprise, I give it a 3 out of 5 and can confidently say the sushi there was good.

When we entered the restaurant, two Japanese ladies in kimonos took our coats and asked us if we wanted to sit at a traditional sunken table, in which we had to remove our shoes, or a normal table. We opted for the sunken one. As we sat and look around a bit, I noticed I was the only Asian person in the restaurant of about 50-60 people, besides the servers and the chef of course. The décor was very simple but authentic, a nice change in scenery. We ordered marinated tako (octopus), tempura of shrimp and vegetables, a large plate of mixed sushi/sashimi and dessert.

Although the fish was very fresh and the presentation was gorgeous, there was something amiss. There were not as many varieties of fish as we are used to in Seattle, there was no bar in which you could sit at to watch the chef, slowly and methodically slice fish or mold rice for nigiri sushi. There was wasabi paste, pickled ginger, Kirin, sake and all the usual suspects but something was still missing. After a bit of rumination, we decided one of the “issues” was the rice. It was not seasoned as well as we are used to, making the rolls and nigiri sushi a bit bland.

When we eat at Shiro’s in Seattle or Izumi’s in Kirkland, we are treated well since both of us know chefs at either place. We never look at the menus, we sit at the bar and when the chef asks us what we would like, we always ask “what’s fresh today?”, then he uses his imagination to create our meal. We’ve eaten fresh sea squirts (tough, chewy and tastes strongly of the sea), fresh abalone (crunchy and hard), limpets, snails, fresh uni (silken and a bit gooey), poki (a bit like a tuna ceviche, Shiro’s style) and live uni. All these items are often not on the menu per say. They are seasonal and not for the weak, (I still cannot eat live uni (sea urchin)). I guess what we missed the most last night was being recognized at our favorite spots; the anonymity simply dulled our experience and well as our taste buds.

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The hubby dutifully pours my water.

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Our platter of mixed sushi and sashimi.


At 3:24 AM, Anonymous trench said...

Japanese Food has always been my favorite. That mixed dish looks good! Im telling my wife we are going to rotary tomorrow!

At 3:56 AM, Blogger Christine said...

Did someone say SUSHI?

I love sushi - salmon sashimi is my all time favourite - I even mae it at home.

There are some great Japanese restaurants that you have to try when you get to London.

Christine x

At 5:06 AM, Anonymous Laurie said...

Gina, "something amiss" is exactly how I'd describe every Sushi (or any asian, for that matter) experience in Torino. Sav does not quite get it because he loves this stuff, but I always end up saying "c'e' qualcosa che non va", and then having to try to explain to him what I mean. SOMETHING AMISS!!!!

At 10:01 AM, Blogger Mona said...

Wow, very interesting. Funny that Tokyo has some of the yummiest Italian food in the world, it's a shame it's not vice versa in Italia. To make you feel better, even a lot of places in NY can't seem to get it right. Unfortunately all the expensive places do, but cain't afford them all the time :( I hate it when the food looks so much better than it tastes.

At 1:51 PM, Anonymous Paz said...

Why is Chinese food not very good in Italy? Is it because of the lack of specific ingredients? What? I'm curious to know.

Perhaps if you continue to visit this food establishment, you'll become one of their noted regulars. ;-)


At 11:25 PM, Blogger Judith in Umbria said...

I like one thing at sushi restaurants-- wasabi. It's hard to make a meal of it.
Foreign restaurants in Italy have a common problem. They italianize the cuisine. Even if I insist that I want a dish the way a Chinese would eat it, it comes out bland, because they don't believe me. Italians just cannot get into very different foods, I guess.
A Mexican place opened here a couple of years ago, and I went immediately because I'll try anything new. Horrible! I was sick all night, probably because I asked for peppers to spark it up and they delivered a plate of pickled jalapenos. It wasn't like any US style mexican, nor was it like any Mexican food.
Gia, I have friends who come from Hong Kong and bring me Chjinese and other Asian things. Can you help me get a list together of specific ingredients? Last time I gave a generic description of "things that I can make into typical sauces-- meaning yellow bean paste, etc., and instead got premade sauces in packets and a packet of fermented seaweed I still haven't identified a use for even with the internet.
BTW, I found you a potential friend, a Roman living outside Torino who loves to cook.

At 11:39 PM, Blogger Judith in Umbria said...

PS/ il ragazzo e' carinissimo! Un bellino...davvero.

At 1:31 AM, Blogger Gia-Gina said...

Ciao Judith, grazie for i complimenti, la problema e qualche volte mio marito pensa liu e una regola di donne. Solo qualche volte. Ha Ha! Please correct my grammer everyone!

At 6:09 AM, Blogger traveller one said...

The real question is :Is so-so sushi better than no sushi at all? Here in Tirana we have none and we miss it, however I spotted all the sushi ingredients in the new hypermarket last week. I've never tried making it but I'm sure I can do it. I know what you mean by feeling anonymous, and it makes such a big difference to feel like you belong in a restaurant. Maybe try going back there a few more times and seeing if they remember you!

At 6:43 AM, Anonymous islandgirl said...

It's the same way where I live in the U.S. I have not found a great Chinese or Japanese place in Charlotte, NC. One of the places I went to that was voted best sushi had the most unappealing sushi. The fish was obviously frozen and not fresh. Even though it tasted fine, the coloring on the sushi was so horrible that I couldn't finish it. Some of the Chinese places I've been to here recommended by my husband's coworkers are owned and operated by real Chinese but they overcharge for their meals. I think it's because it's a novelty to people here who are not Chinese. And forget about finding a Korean place here since I can't even find one in the phone book. I think most of the Asian restaurants here are aimed at people who don't know any better what is considered good.

At 6:54 AM, Blogger dario said...

"Ciao Judith, grazie per i complimenti, il problema e' che qualche volta mio marito pensa di essere un mito per le donne. Solo qualche volta. Ah ah! Per favore qualcuno corregga la mia grammatica!"

At 7:03 AM, Blogger Judith in Umbria said...

Ahi, I just have a weakness for men in glasses. If I say my two fantasy lovers are Albert Einstein and Yo Yo Ma, maybe this will put it in perspective? I also had a pash on Oscar Werner, and look what happened to him!

At 2:04 PM, Anonymous LB said...

I would have a hard time living somewhere that is sushi-impaired. Nobu is my favorite restaurant in the whole world. You should it try it, although it's pretty expensive.

At 11:19 AM, Blogger Typesetter said...

In that dish there is certainly something amiss: am I very wrong or there is no tuna?! I can't eat a dish of mixed sushi with no tuna, tuna is my drug!!! =8-O
Nobu is way too expensive for me. My favorite Japanese in Milano are Poporo and Kimura, although Kimura's quality seems to be turning lower than it used to be. Poporo is my "comfort restaurant" (and it's also 300 meters from my office ;-P).

At 11:20 AM, Blogger Typesetter said...

Oh, yes: Poporo pictures.

At 1:18 PM, Anonymous jayred said...

Hi! Got here from blogtopsites. You have a nice blog. An interesting read indeed.

The food looks great, although I don't really eat Japanese food (except for tempura). I prefer Vietnamese and Chinese food.

And yes, your husband is good-looking...and dutiful :-)

At 2:20 PM, Blogger Gia-Gina said...

Thanks for the comments everyone, there was a bit of tuna in the dish but the fatty kind, toro which amazingly buttery not the super red, yellow fin, ahi that I am used to.

Jayred, I will make some Chinese and Vietnamese soon so check back.

Dario, thanks for the corrections I am gald I got moe than 50% correct.

Have a great day everyone!

At 2:20 PM, Anonymous Deborah said...

Oh my God .... you're yet another who takes her camera to the restaurant and takes pictures of the food!


You've been a busy blogger since I've been here last. Nice to read.

...and the word varification is not a hassle at all.


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