I had lunch at Pod today, with 6 people from the lab at the Monell Center for Chemical Senses where I'm volunteering, and Stephanie Lucianovic. Stephanie is a food writer [which made this lunch even more amazing!, which is certainly intriguing since I've never met a professional writer/blogger at lunch before! She also likes Alton Brown, so that's cool.
I've walked past this restaurant a lot with TJ when we go to Kings Court for dinner, and from the outside, it looked pretty amazing; everything was red and the furniture was interesting.
I walked in today and remarked that...
Firstly, it looked swanky. There is no other word to describe it - it was swanky [but then again, I don't know much about upscale-ish restaurants, except Chinese ones]. They had matches next to the door, in little pieces of card. I'm not sure why, since I'm sure they don't want the place burned down. In close proximity was a wine bar. It was all rather red and pretty.
Note the buttons that look like chocolate candies; they were about the size of a hand, and once pressed, made the lighting in the booth change colour. There were only two booths with these lights; the rest of the restaurant was nicely laid out as shown below:
Note the conveyor belt sushi! That reminded me of Genki Sushi in Hong Kong, which I sorely miss right now.
Since we had lunch under green lighting [until dessert], my photos look green. At the time, my eyes had adjusted to the green lighting, so I wasn't aware of the fact that my sushi looked... green. I don't think that green makes food that photogenic; the best lighting is evidently white light from the sun. Then, I suppose it's the yellow that I'm used to from incandescent light bulbs. Green light... well, I suppose it adds to the mood, right? Neutral, relaxing?
Vegetarian sushi that surprising looked and tasted un-vegetarian.
1. It looks like there are raw tuna slices on the top, but it actually is slivered tomato. It's the part of the tomato that's between the skin and the seeds. I'm wondering what the did with the other 90% of the tomato... because each ovule takes up a LOT of the tomato [the seed, the liquidy part, and the segments between them], and what I had here was merely the outer part of the tomato...
2. The chopped garnish at the top, which reminds me of walnuts, is actually a jalapeno cucumber salsa. It was a bit spicier than the ginger on the side, which, unlike the ones I'm used to seeing, were cream coloured rather than salmon-coloured. I suppose they didn't add the FD&C Red, which is good to know. However, I still didn't like the taste of pickled ginger. Maybe I will one day.
[So, I used flash a lot because the lighting was rather dim. To compensate, my photos now make the rice look like it lacks detail.]
3. The filling tasted fishy. Perhaps I am confusing umami with fishy. There was tamago, which I learned was the Japanese-style egg that I used to eat a lot in Hong Kong. Some of the tamago was crispy, which gave off that Japanese-style-eel flavour. There was also carrot, cucumber, and avocado. I truly think that the avocado makes any sushi taste fishy. I'm not sure why; perhaps the soy sauce enhances it, although soy-sauce-free avocado sushi tastes just as fishy. It could be the texture; the smooth, fatty, melt-in-your-mouth feeling reminds me of raw salmon. So, yes, avocado definitely makes sushi taste fishy.
A dissection of the filling. I suppose I was being kind of inappropriate at the lunch table since everyone else was eating their food, and there I was, prying it open with a scalpel - I mean, with a fork. After my third piece of sushi, I decided to use the chopsticks, because I realised that using a fork to eat sushi [my first time, I daresay] was a bit clumsy. So, you can see the vegetables.
4. I'm not sure what the yellow-orangey mixture, which looks like fish roe, is. It tasted like fish. It definitely was not carrot or tomato. I'll have to ask next time. It tasted nice and savoury though.
5. This is a really bad picture, but if you look closely, you can see that I've taken apart some of the rice in the front, leaving only a thin, white membrane. I could not tell what this membrane was. I tried to eat some by itself, and I noticed a hint of soy. I think that this is the soy wrapper thing that my mum cooks all the time - I'm not sure what the English name is, but it's used a lot in stir-fries with wood ear. Next time I make sushi, I will definitely incorporate some soy wrappers!
I tried some hibiscus tea, which arrived in a cute little teapot, which appears green under the lighting. I've tried hibiscus bubble tea before, which was tons sweeter than this, but this tea gave off such a nice aroma!! I've never seen or smelled a live hibiscus flower before, and now I'd really like to.
A close up of the stuff in the tea, which turned out pink or purple...I couldn't tell in the lighting; it almost looked light blue for a while.
Desserts! This was a Chocolate Bread Pudding, which in my opinion did not taste like bread pudding [well, I suppose if the bread was crumbled into 1mm pieces...]. It tasted like a chocolate brownie, but lacked the oily residue that commercial brownies possess. I'm not sure how the garnish thingy [A chocolate flake?] tasted.
Butterscotch Brown Sugar Cake, with panna cotta. Panna cotta is amazing! I'd never had it before, so it was new, and it did make a normal cake look pretty and taste interesting ["Butterscotch Brown Sugar Cake" is basically a sponge cake made with brown sugar...the name just makes it sound elite]. The gingersnaps were super delicious. I like ginger cookies, and these were super crunchy. They should make gingersnaps cereal. They really really should - not with reconstituted-corn-and-corn-syrup, but with actual gingersnaps. Hm... next time I buy gingersnaps, I guess I'm going to eat them crumbled up in milk, with a spoon and a bowl...
4 sorbets on a chunk of ice: pineapple, coconut, mint, and guava. One of them had a peppercorn in it, but I'm not sure whether it was the guava or the pineapple. The coconut ice sorbet had a nice refreshing taste to it, BUT THE MINT SORBET WAS... ... The mint sorbet reminded me of three or four winters ago, when I got snow, added milk and sugar to it, and added dried mint flakes. As in, the one from the shaker from the grocery store. It tasted like mint, not peppermint, and it tasted just like my snow ice cream. It just looked prettier. This was pretty surprising, because most people would expect the conventional mint-chocolate type sorbet... so this one wins at being "cool". Haha... cool mint...
But this means that I can make my snow ice cream and sell it for $2/scoop.
I lack plating and customers, though.
Oh, some pictures were taken after people had taken chunks out of the food; the desserts weren't served to us half-eaten. The servers were really nice.
One last remark: the fries that came with the hoagie were literally shoe-string fries. Sure, they were only 5cm long, but they were, maximally 2mm thick. It was an amazing sight. I should just order those next time.