Review #2: Tokami

26 November 2018

A long and busy afternoon in Tokyo, luckily I had that excellent unagi at Hashimoto for lunch. I ran back to my hotel to quickly get ready for dinner, as I was meeting a dear friend at Tokami this evening. I’ve not been back at the well-liked sushi-ya in about 3 years, when I had a good but unspectacular lunch at the consistently 1-Michelin sushi-ya.

Since then, Chef Hiroyuki Sato made the leap away from Tokami to a new venture, and left the still-Michelin’d sushi-ya to his apprentice. Let’s see what goes on here this evening…

We met at the entrance to the building and headed into the restaurant. Sometimes I don’t like going to sushi with a friend because the pace of it makes it harder to chat — compared to a kaiseki place where things aren’t coming out every minute or less. In any case, a busy night there, so hopefully it won’t run as fast as I usually like when I am alone.

We relaxed and soon the dinner course began. First up was former Chef Sato’s signature item, the tuna tossaki (neck) hand roll…

01-tossaki roll

Excellent as before, and I can see things are gonna move fast this evening. Next up, a soup dish to start things off…

02-shirako

A nice dashi with the focus on the shirako (milt), nice and tasty. Then, as this is crab season, we have some jelly with roe…

03-crab jelly

Delicious, but I gotta tell you how many years it took to learn how to be able to eat this with chopsticks, me with my constant chopstick fails… Then a selection of sashimi…

04-sashimi

The smoked katsuo (bonito) was quite nice, the kawahagi (file-fish) in a mustard sauce was not bad, and the prawns topped by a roe sauce was delicious. So far again good, but nothing too special. Then we have a salmon selection…

05-salmon

A grilled piece of salmon belly, so-so to be honest, helped along by some ikura. A bit mediocre to be honest here. Then a rarely-seen fish in a sushi-ya, managatsuo (silver pomfret).

06-pomfret

Nicely grilled, worked pretty well. Not a bad set really, though with the rice being brought to the counter you know the course is shifting to sushi imminently.

07-hirame

Not much of a break and we quickly went into the sushi segment first with traditional opener, hirame (fluke).

A solid, meaty piece, pretty good, though the piece looked a little hacked up. Then sumi-ika (cuttlefish). Also not bad, but nothing too special. Sorry, forgot the photo here. This was followed by tairagai (pen-shell clam).

09-tairagai

Nice, I always enjoy the clam segment of a sushi night. Though again things are moving fast and it’s hard to converse with my friend without messing up the pace. Next up, kasugodai (baby red snapper).

10-kasugodai

Pretty nice, this is very seasonal as you can imagine, so glad to have gotten it. Then we move into the anticipated tuna segment, the first being a tzuke (marinated) lean akami.

11-akami

Very tasty, again the bread-and-butter of this sushi-ya is the tuna, so you gotta imagine it good. I see the rice philosophy has also been preserved from the previous regime… Then we have the chu-toro

12-chutoro

Very nice indeed, I so miss this, as it was March when I was last in Japan (and thus last had sushi). Then the o-toro

13-otoro

Mmmm, good, though perhaps not as good as I anticipated. Then the inevitable kohada (gizzard shad) marking the turn from the tuna…

14-kohada

Good piece, but it’s never one of my favourites — as it always signals the end of the tuna cycle. Next up, a nice juicy kuruma-ebi (prawn).

15-kurumaebi

Good, though to be honest a bit unevenly grilled, a little sloppy in the back kitchen. Next up, sawara (Spanish mackerel).

16-sawara

Ah, it’s the belly of the sawara, quite nice indeed. May be the best piece so far along with the chu-toro. Then we have buri (wild yellowtail).

17-buri

Ah, proper yellowtail, so good to get it. Not a bad piece at all. Then hamaguri (clam).

18-hamaguri

Good, though the sauce beneath is a bit on the strong side here…that makes me worry when the eel arrives later. Then a beautifully presented saba (mackerel).

19-saba

Perhaps more appearance than taste, as I prefer a thicker cut to get the full oil of the fish. So-so. Then they bring out the soup, so the course is ending soon… The soup, sadly, is nowhere as good as it was before (a signature item), and it’s just a side story now. Another sad legacy lost. And we have uni.

20-uni

Not bad, I miss this so much also. Then a surprise, my favourite fish, nodoguro (black-throat perch).

21-nodoguro

I so miss this fish, though again charred unevenly by the kitchen in the back. A little disappointing, perhaps one of the biggest effects of Chef Sato’s departure is the loss of discipline?

Then anago for a finale — sorry, forgot the photo again. I was trying to keep the conversation going and it’s hard when the food comes so fast and you try to photo, take notes, and more… And yes, the sauce was too in your face, as I predicted from the hamaguri… Alas, it ends with the tamago.

23-tamago

Well, again, not bad, but nothing spectacular. Overall a short-ish course to be honest for the price (which seems to have gone up very noticeably), and there were too many inconsistent items — especially from the back kitchen. Perhaps this is a better place to go for lunch when you have a straight nigiri course (like last time). I wish it was easier to chat with my friend though, as I only get to see her twice a year when I am in town, so that was a bit annoying too.

But the verdict on Tokami post-Chef Sato? It’s definitely gone down a little, especially the work by those not manning the sushi counter. Otherwise it’s a bit of an imitation. Sure the tuna purveyers still control this sushi-ya, but it’s definitely got a bit of a cover band feel now, with some dodgy road crew not doing their jobs right.

We headed out and parted at Shimbashi station, and I had a slow walk in the rather warm evening. I think Tokami is always one of the overrated places, as now I’ve had 2 good but so-so meals there; losing Chef Sato pulled it down further. I’ve talked to quite a few local food people and they tell me exactly the same thing — good, but nothing special, even when Chef Sato was helming the sushi bar. And today, somewhat blurred by the inconsistency that came from the back kitchen. Too bad.

Too many good sushi-ya in Tokyo to bother with this place again in the future…

Tokami [とかみ]
B1F, Ginza Seiwa Silver Building
8-2-10 Ginza, Chuo-ku
Tokyo, Japan

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Review: Hashimoto

26 November 2018

My first full day back in Tokyo was a very busy one, thank goodness fuelled by a relatively good night’s rest and that excellent dinner at Nogizaka Shin last night. In midst of running around north-central Tokyo, I dropped into a place I know has good eel for lunch — Hashimoto.

For some reason this cosy, 183-year-old eatery lost its Michelin star. Last time I visited it still retained it (I didn’t review it), but now it’s been graded as Bib Gourmand. Who cares, it was excellent last time, and I’m hoping for the same this visit.

I arrived and was seated at the same table as last time. I relaxed after ordering, knowing a proper preparation of unagi would take some time. As I enjoyed some tea, my 2 starters arrived. I had ordered 2 skewers to kick things off this lunch. First up was the innards…

innards

An acquired taste, but I do like the bitterness of the rich internal organs here and how it juxtaposes with the eel sauce. Then we have the fin.

fin

I also like the fin, as it has an interesting texture, from soft to hard, with that wonderful eel flavour. A nice start! I now just relax and enjoy my tea for awhile as the unagi is slowly cooked in the kitchen. And about 20 minutes later we have our result…

set

Oh, so nice, the set. And of course the unadon itself…

unadon

The eel was top quality, and the best thing is that it’s only got a small touch of sauce. The eel is rich and delicious, one of the best unadon I’ve had. Even better than last time. Their eel source is fantastic… The soup was nice as well, and I’m happy I trekked here for lunch.

Losing that Michelin star has obviously not done anything to this place, both in quality and popularity. It was nice and busy, and still produced some fabulous food. Highly recommended, probably the best unagi shop in Tokyo — better than those over-hyped, star-retaining places like Nodaiwa.

Hashimoto [はし本]
2-5-7 Suido, Bunkyo-ku
Tokyo, Japan

Review: Nogizaka Shin

25 November 2018

Last night’s excellent dinner at Marino helped fuel me for a long flight east…yep, back to Japan. The long flight was made a little easier by being in an emergency exit row with no one next to me, a rare not-totally-full flight to Tokyo. Despite the long distance from gate to immigration, once again it was lightning fast to zip through Haneda. With a heavy bag, I decided to take the train instead of the Monorail to faciliate an easier change to the Oedo Line to my hotel.

Ah, the Park Hotel Tokyo, my home away from home…so good to be back… Goodness, the complete 180-degree different with that crappy mess the Hilton LAX…

Lots of logistics to deal with upon my late afternoon arrival, as well as the inevitable mass ironing of shirts — no thanks to this oversized replacement bag I bought to get me through this trip. After sorting out all the necessary issues, I soon headed on out for dinner. Ah, so good to be back…

I was headed to Akasaka today to Nogizaka Shin, a Michelin-starred kaiseki restaurant that has a good reputation on seasonal ingredients. I arrived on time and was seated at a busy counter on this Sunday evening. A warm sake began the evening, though it wasn’t really cold outside (at least for me). Soon the first item arrived, and it’s a two-parter…

01-chawanmushi prawn essence

Mmmm, a wonderful chawanmushi with shirako from fugu, quite delicious — especially when some of the lobster essence is spooned into it. A lovely combination, but I felt the essence was a bit wasted. Chef noticed this and hinted it’s okay to drink it, so I did! Intense flavours, so good… A good start!

As it’s December, I was fully aware several items will pop up on a many kaiseki menus, and one of them is crab. And here we have it…

02a-crab

You see the presentation with the shell, and once you lift the shell you see the glorious meat and roe underneath. So good, I can eat a few of these! Totally delicious seasonal treat. Then as per the usual procession, we have the soup dish next.

03-amadai soup

This was based on amadai (tilefish), and was once again excellent. The dashi is intense, complementing the surprisingly good fish and the generous fungi. BTW beautiful presentation of the amadai, which you can see is fried with some of its shell but the meat is soft and tender. Excellent.

The night is going well, the sake is flowing, and I’m so happy to be back in my favourite city in the world. A new sake from Fukui and we have the sashimi course.

04-tai sashimi

Today’s item I saw chef making earlier, using crushed sea salt as a rub for the tai (sea bream). I like this old school way of seasoning the fish, as it worked very well with just some wasabi…oh, freshly-grated wasabi, I so miss it… The next course is also fish, and it’s a good one…

05-sawara

We have some marinated sawara (Spanish mackerel), which carried a beautiful flavour served in tzuke fashion. Lovely quality fish, as you would imagine, helped along by the nagaimo (yam) as a chaser almost. Really excellent stuff. Very happy as we have now a good Niigata sake for the next course…

06-hassun

Oh what a spread here… Along with some excellent vegetable — raw, pickled and cooked in dashi — we have some interesting items like that crab leg and karasumi infused yolk. The fried pieces are of fugu, and they were delicious. I’ve never been a huge fan of fugu, but this was an excellent prep. A fabulous selection!

At this point I got into a conversation with the sommelier as I noticed he poured a mtsvane from Georgia for the couple next to me, which surprised me. He told me he had just done a wine trip to Georgia. I must come back to do this course with wine pairing in the future! But my sake was quite nice going with this course, and we have some fabulous beef next up…

07-beef

Oh, so good, I miss proper Japanese wagyu… So tasty, with that deep marbled oily goodness that you only get from Japanese wagyu… A nice bit of fried burdock on the side, another vegetable I miss and I love to eat when in Japan. So good. Then we get a vegetable dish.

08-vegetable

It says a lot when a chef lets the vegetable speak for itself. Cooked in an aromatic dashi, the carrot was lovely, the squash surprisingly good, and the daikon perfect for this prep. An excellent dish not to be overlooked in tonight’s procession. But sadly that procession comes to a conclusion with the rice dish…

09a-rice

Plain rice, but with a twist. Chef brought out various things we could add to it, from ikura to mince to more crab…

09c-condiments

Lovely stuff, and of course the pickle plate…I so miss these small things. A delicious close to the evening’s savoury menu. Then a final dessert…

dessert

An interesting little apple pancake which was quite delicious, which worked well with the pear sorbet. Fabulous end. This was an excellent dinner, and a perfect “welcome back” dinner for me. Oh, so good to be back…

Nogizaka Shin doesn’t get on many people’s radar, but it’s another of the fabulous 1-Michelin kaiseki places in Tokyo. In fact, this is the type of place I like, where the clientele are local and the chefs can really show off both their skills and their restraint with the fabulous ingredients they acquire for their customers. A little pricey, but it’s worth it.

I would very much recommend this place, a wonderful start to this Asia trip.

Nogizaka Shin [乃木坂 しん]
8-11-19 Akasaka, Minato-ku
Tokyo, Japan

Review #3: Marino

23 November 2018

Most people were enjoying turkey and family on Thanksgiving; not me, of course, I was dealing with a rough trek across the country, just to endure some extremely inhospitality at the hands of the Hilton LAX… Throw in some rubbish food and the day was just oh so perfect… The next day I had to fight the Black Friday nutcase crowds to buy a new suitcase, as thanks to the idiocy of Hilton LAX I had to say goodbye to my beloved travel companion of nearly 15 years

For this, I will never forgive this damn hotel or the Hilton chain. Even as a Lifetime Diamond member, I will not use Hilton in the future again.

Luckily to save this short LA stay I was rewarded to an always-wonderful dinner courtesy of my dear friend Sal Marino, as I headed to Marino Ristorante for a feast. It’s been awhile since I’ve been back, so missing his food very much! Luckily I skipped lunch, as I know tonight’s going to be a wonderful but also voluminous experience!

Chef came out to say hello and we got to catch up for a bit, which is always wonderful. One of the most good-hearted individuals in this industry. Then he headed back to the kitchen to get things started, and with a bubbly poured we started with a few snacks. First was a delicious littleneck clam from Rhode Island, with a touch of Sicilian anchovy. Delicious.

01-clam

Then we have this wonderful Mexican avocado…these things are so bloody good, stuffed with some big-eye tuna. So good. BTW I apologise for some less-than-good photos from this night, as the previous evening, once again no thanks to the Hilton LAX, my phone took a knock and was not focusing well…

But an excellent start, as usual, then we have the crudo…

03-yellowtail

Oh my this was good, yellowtail belly. Lovely quality, a wonderful preview of my upcoming trip East. But I gotta say the radish here was also quite a treat, such intense flavours. Then next up, a showcase of some excellent Neapolitan burrata…

04-burrata pear

Mmmm, so creamy and good, accompanied by some delicious NoCal pear and tasty home-grown arugula. Another wonderful dish here that so exemplifies Chef Marino’s style. Then a bit of a surprise — more avocados!

05-avocado

I guess he saw me enjoy the one earlier, so brought out a few more! Oh these are so creamy and soft and good… I could keep eating them, but we must move on! Next dish was one that I ended up loving so much, the kale salad.

06-kale

Chef used several different kinds of kale here, under a date dressing, and the variety is just fabulous. You’ve not eaten kale if you’ve not had this dish…so amazingly diverse and delicious. Again, another perfect example of Chef’s style. Just amazing ingredients…

I was loving this evening, I almost forgot about that crap hotel I’m still dealing with. Then next up, a delicious fried zucchini blossom…

07-zucchini blossom

Lovely, perfectly cooked, the breading not interfering with the vegetable nor is the oil affecting the integrity of the blossom. Delicious. Sorry for the bad photo again… Then we move into larger dishes, and the first one is a total winner…

08-black cod

Oh my goodness is this black cod good. Already one of my favourite fish, this rendition was perfect. So simple (and thank goodness not with miso) and clean, the squash worked as a secondary player here. Goodness the fish was good… I was still enjoying this delicious rich fish in my brain when the first pasta dish arrived…

09-lobster pasta

Wow, another awesome dish, this pasta is graced with some nice lobster. The pasta cooked perfectly, working so well with the large chunks of lobster. So good. Never had a mis-cooked dish of pasta here, ever. Next up, pumpkin tortellini.

10-tortellini

I’m not the biggest pumpkin fan, but this worked quite nicely. Then the third of the pasta dishes is a tagliatelle dish lousy with truffle…

11-tagliatelle

Chef Marino is the only person I know that can make me love truffles, becuase usually I hate it. He somehow always shaves it at the perfect thickness that doesn’t create that annoying texture that I so dislike, but solid enough to deliver a strong punch of flavour. So good, but three pasta dishes in and I’m starting to get full.

So perhaps it was good timing that the main course then arrived, some very high quality wagyu skirt…

12-beef

Mmmm… I sometimes doubt non-Japanese-sourced wagyu for cheapening the name, but this was fabulous. Cooked perfectly too, the rich beef was just melting in my mouth like some divine candy. So good…

I was full and very happy, and Chef Marino knows me well enough to not dwell on dessert for me, but he did bring out a nice apple Strüdel…

13-dessert

Delicious, fresh and clean, just the way I like it. Oh, a wonderful close. Then Chef came out and we had a wonderful chat as usual, enjoying a little of the good stuff before we both got too tired. Another wonderful meal from the genius that is Chef Marino, from the fabulous vegetables to the amazing pasta…and that beef…

Nothing makes me happier than being here, eating the food of my favourite chef in the world. Always such a joy, and I cannot wait to come back again and spending some time with my good friend and his wonderful dishes.

As always, I’d recommend this place over anything else. So good…

Marino
6001 Melrose Avenue
Los Angeles, California

Review: 82 Queen

14 November 2018

Despite a horrible hangover the next morning, I had an extremely busy day in the area that required a vehicle, so off to rent one. Some nice explorations that took me through Magnolia Cemetery, then up the coast to Georgetown, then back for a quick visit to Mepkin Abbey then finally to Middleton Place. At the latter, I had a wonderful slow stroll, hanging out with the many poseurs there…amazing how they all pose for photos!

Long day, and worse, I had logistical issues when I got back that related to the car accident I was in months ago in Pittsburgh, as well as the looming snowstorm that could mess up my flight home tomorrow. That was a damn headache to deal with. I was looking forward to dinner at one of Charleston’s most venerable restaurants, 82 Queen.

I went old-school by going to 82 Queen, somewhere I had a wonderful meal many years ago. I arrived and it was already a bit chaotic. I was seated in the upstairs section, and just as I was relaxing to look through the menu, a huge and noisy group took over the adjacent room. Oh great…

Took for ages to get any service, then finally ordered. Relaxed and relaxed and relaxed and relaxed…took quite a bit of time to get a drink, then more time… Then finally my starter, the pork belly.

1-belly

Ugh…it’s actually cold. It’s probably been sitting around because no one ran the plate up. This is just awful. By the time I got someone’s attention I’ve already eaten half of it because I’ve not had any food all day and was hungry. Sigh… Awful. They offered to take it off, but they already took off the wine because it took 20 minutes for a glass of wine to appear. This is a shitshow…

Then of course my glass by now was empty, and NO SERVICE STAFF ATTENDED THE DINING ROOM FOR 15 MINUTES. What the heck happened? This is just piss poor FoH management, even with the noisy party that’s clearly annoying other diners as well. Finally someone came up and I ordered my wine. Then the main appeared, the gumbo.

2-gumbo

Again, cold, like it was plated and sat around for another 15 minutes without being put under a heat lamp. This is restaurant 101 stuff, how are they screwing this up so badly? The shrimps here were barely edible, and you have a combination of undercooked and overcooked here, with a few colder elements. Now I’m starting to think it wasn’t plated and left around, as the coldness was by ingredient, which means it was put together with a few really bad elements. This is piss poor kitchen work.

This was a total shitshow and I’ve had enough. The manager kept apologising as they noticed how bad things were going, but I’m not gonna even bother. This is a joke. Maybe it’s time for the venerable restaurant to take a breather and re-tool. At least re-train both the FoH and the kitchen.

82 Queen
82 Queen Street
Charleston, South Carolina

* The shitty dinner made me go to the Bar at Husk next door for quite a few drinks. I had planned to avoid Husk due to what I mentioned yesterday, but this was needed. The snacks were awful (terrible pork rinds, even others at the bar complained), but drinks good. Then more drinks around town and it was all a blur…

snacks

** The next day a total clusterfuck as American Airlines’s Twitter team decided to bump me from my flight, then LIE to me telling me it was cancelled. It was NOT, it had a mild delay. And more and more BS, I ended up having to stay an extra day in Charleston. Needless to say this is likely the last time I’ll visit Charleston — and DEFINITELY the last time I’ll fly American Airlines.

Review: Circa 1886

13 November 2018

I needed to get out of town for a few days, so made a long-overdue visit to Charleston. I’ve always thought it was a bit overrated, but it’s a good time of year to go to visit a few places I had wanted to visit in town and the area. The trip began badly when unforseen issues closed a location that I made a priority to visit, and no luck in gaining access even pleading by phone. Pain in the arse.

A busy day, no lunch, and I was hungry. There’s plenty of places to pick in Charleston, but for personal reasons I’ve decided to purposely avoid places run by several chefs who are friends of someone who defrauded me a few years ago. This means most of the most popular places in town are out, but I had my eye on Circa 1886 anyway.

I headed to the graceful Wentworth Mansion, where Circa 1886 is based. The dining room was busy, so I told them I’d be happy to just eat at the bar — so they don’t have to waste a four-top on me. I relaxed and had a nice martini as I ordered. Pretty chilled out, though the walk here was quite hazardous with the lack of street lights and terrible condition of the sidewalks and flooded areas everywhere… The martini helped, though the amuse helped far less…

0-amuse

An okay little cheesy croquette and a wee broccoli soup, nothing to really write home about. I switched to a darker cocktail for my first course, the quail.

1-quail

Not bad, fried pretty well and nicely flavoured. Enjoyed it. Then with a glass of wine, we have the main course, the pork loin.

2-pork

Cooked very well, and nicely flavoured once again. I really like when modern kitchens cook pork like this, not the horrific dried out, sawdust-leaving loins that I still often see — even in Michelin-starred places. This kitchen has done better than a handful of recent Michelin kitchens I’ve endured…

I was enjoying my evening chatting with other patrons and the staff so I decided to stay for a dessert, and this was definitely the right decision…

3-donuts

I did my best Homer Simpson impression here…mmm…donuts…{gargledrool}

Really tasty end to the evening. Had a few more drinks before I went to meet my Lyft outside. I’m not risking a walk back after this many drinks in the dark streets out here, so… But a pretty good night, pretty happy with it all.

Circa 1886
149 Wentworth Street
Charleston, South Carolina

* I did, however, decide to go for a nitecap at the venerable Kaminsky’s. I’ve always loved their desserts, but this time was for a bit more booze before I stumbled back to my hotel…

Belfast Disappoints — in So Many Ways…

27-28 October 2018

I spent a relatively quiet 2 days in Belfast, not helped by my bruised toe. But that wasn’t really the crux of my problems in this town, a place that has unfortunately left a rather poor impression in my head long after departing from it.

The dinner at Eipic was certainly not epic, and I have to say the entire dining scene was on the weak side — to be generous. My first day in town I had lunch at a place everyone seemed to recommend, Ginger Bistro.

Thank goodness it was so near my hotel, with my now red and blue toe. I arrived and the service seems a bit spacey. In fact, this was common everywhere in Belfast except for Eipic (tho it did remind me of the very beginning when it was rather spotty). I eventually ordered, after several other tables that had arrived after me had done so… I didn’t think much of it to be honest, but it’s noticeable. I’ll address this later. But first up was one of their signature dishes…

A-1b-squid

This squid is pretty good, fried very in the old salt-and-pepper method. The advertised spicy dip was really weak tho, so I just enjoyed the squid on its own. Not bad. Then after quite a long wait, the main arrived — lamb.

A-2-lamb

Well, it perhaps took too long because it was totally overcooked. The meat was dry, but thank goodness for the tasty sauce to make it palatable. The other components, from roots to pea shoots, were quite nice and helped the dish along, but wish the lamb itself was cooked better. Oh well. Took ages to get their attention so I didn’t bother with dessert so just settled up and headed out.

Later I had that dinner at Eipic, and just went to rest my foot. Luckily the next day it was a bit better so managed to explore the town. Good thing about bruises is that they don’t swell badly, so I could just keep going. I ducked into lunch at a place called Home. Let’s see if it’s homey…

Again very loose service, and one server was just plain ignoring me. Took a long time to get anyone’s attention. And by now I’m starting to wonder about why I am singled out to be ignored, and it’s sadly sinking into me. I’ll get to this later. But I ordered and tried to chill out. I gotta say nice music over the PA tho…

B-1-prawn

The lunch started off with some fried prawns. Not bad, worked okay, more as a snack tho. Went down well with the wine. Then for the main was a pork dish…

B-2-pork

Again, overcooked, with some rather dried out pork here. This time the sauce didn’t help it along, as the overdose of beans that seemed undercooked made it a texture nightmare. Not a good dish, and sadly abandoned. Service has improved a bit but if the kitchen can’t really perform I’m not sticking around for a dessert. Sigh…

With a few other examples experienced in town during the 2 days, I am starting to wonder if I’m a victim of casual racism. Even at one point, I won’t mention where, but I was greeted with “oh, you speak English?” by service staff. I should have shouted back “AN BHFUIL GAEILGE AGAT?!” but I was so stunned. And this was not an isolated incident. I’ve never been in a city that I felt so disrespected in my life.

That did not improve when I headed to James St. for dinner. Supposedly highly rated for steaks, but I was greeted again strangely by the service staff so I just ordered a pasta to see how it goes…

C-crab linguine

And this crab linguine was a cry for help. The pasta was cooked okay, but the sauce and crab was just awful. Throw in the very questionable service and the really annoying American tourists next to me, I called it a night and went to get some take-away and give up on this city.

Sorry, Belfast, you won’t see me come back. This short stay was basically a disaster, and frankly this place still has a lot of growing up to do and to ditch some attitudes that most of the world has for decades.

Ginger Bistro
68-72 Great Victoria Street

Home
22 Wellington Place

James St.
19-21 James Street South
Belfast, Northern Ireland

* Perhaps as a fitting final headache from this place, the lady at Belfast City Airport was probably the rudest airline worker I have ever met in my life — this is from 90+ flights a year, mind you. A quick stop in Bournemouth and then across the Pond and home…