Palates

Two Ten Jack : Japanese-inspired Izayaka

iz·a·ka·ya

/ēˈzäkəyə,ēzəˈkīə/

noun: izakaya; plural noun: izakayas

  1. a type of Japanese bar in which a variety of small, typically inexpensive, dishes and snacks are served to accompany the alcoholic drinks.

After dozens of Yelp searches, menu perusal, and deliberation. I finally decided on a restaurant for my 17th birthday dinner: Two Ten Jack Nashville. If you know me, then you know I adore Japanese food and so I couldn’t pass up this place.

We had a pretty good sized party and my grandparents came too, so I was hopeful that they could accommodate and comfortably seat everyone, especially the elderly among us. I made a reservation for 7:30 and we arrived on time. They couldn’t seat us until the rest of our party arrived (which we knew before hand) so we waited in the foyer until they arrived. Two Ten Jack had a gorgeous outside eating area that I’d love to come back and explore when it isn’t 20 degrees.

Our party was completed by 7:40 but the party who had the table lingered. We waited quite a long time. The staff apologized over and over which was great, and it truly wasn’t their fault. Finally the previous party left and we were seated.

They led us to a back room with two long tables. On the wall, an anime movie was showing. I recognized it as a Studio Ghibli film because I’d watched it at a friends house. The table setting was modern: light wood tables, charcoal gray menus, architectural boxes to hold chopsticks, and rolled towels.

As we poured over our menus, our server came to explain how everything worked. The food is meant to be enjoyed communally, with everyone at the table partaking of a maki roll, yakitori skewer, or bowl of ramen. We ordered a plethora of dishes between us: crispy brussels, Japanese fried chicken, potato fries, Gojira roll, east side fish roll, and tonkotsu ramen. Everything tasted spectacular, but I want to highlight a couple of dishes.

The Gojira roll was a perfect balance of heat and texture. The habanero sriracha was subdued by the cream cheese, and the panko shrimp added a beautiful crunch.

Speaking of crunch, the Japanese fried chicken was spectacularly crispy. This was a crowd favorite at our table, with the only complaint being that there wasn’t enough of it.

A Japanese inspired take on the fish sandwich completely intrigued us, so we were thrilled to try the Eastside fish roll. The choice of hot sauce rice, rather than just hot sauce, was genius and set off the acidity of the pickles well. I’ve never had fried catfish in a maki roll before, and I must say, it was delicious.

One thing that stood out to me about the ramen was the richness of the pork broth. The chashu (pork belly) was fatty and had an amazing mouth feel.

Finally, one of my favorite dishes of the night: the crispy brussels. I’m a huge fan of brussel spouts and the addition of rice krispies, while unexpected, brought some beautiful texture. Furthermore, the miso vinaigrette provided some acidic saltiness and the brussels were cooked perfectly.

Eating at Two Ten Jack was a great experience. My grandfather used chopsticks for the first time, my family ate outside of their comfort zone, and we created a lot of beautiful memories.

Stay fly,

~Akilah

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Life · Palates · travel

Pho, Boba + Kpop Debates

You know a restaurant is a hit when you drive to a whole ‘nother city just to eat there again. Originally, we went to Chopstix because my sister was craving bubble tea. But at Chopstix we got so much more than just boba. When we first walked in, the cutest fish tank stood by the door. Instead of fish, though, it held pretty succulents and cacti. Further in, there was a lightbox with the name of the restaurant spelled out.

When we were seated, the party next to us was having a heated debate. They asked us what we thought, “BTS or EXO?” My sister, wearing her Love Yourself Tear t-shirt firmly defended Bangtan Soyeondan. But while I love BTS, I of course had to defend EXO. Honestly, meeting other kpop fans was a great way to start our meal: we debated over the most attractive member of Got7 and Seventeen vs. Wanna One.

Finally, we began to peruse our menus. I settled on Chicken Pho, my dad ordered Shrimp Pho, my mom chose Basil Fried Rice, and my sister selected Beef Bibimbap. And of course we all ordered tea, I chose the Café Mocha Milk Tea with boba.

They make the tea fresh and let me tell you, it’s the best bubble tea I’ve ever had. The Café Mocha had a subtle coffee flavor, but nothing overpowering. It wasn’t too sweet and of course the packaging was adorable.

My pho was pho-nomenal! So warm and flavorful and I was really feeling the ginormous bowl it came in. I also tasted some of my sister’s leftover bibimbap and it was spectacular. The perfect ratio of spiciness and the rice was cooked perfectly.

We all had such a satisfying experience, we actually drove back to Chattanooga to return to Chopstix. This time I ordered Beef Crispy Noodles and Lavender Bubble Tea. At first, I was unsure about the crispy noodles because they were the texture of wontons. I wasn’t convinced that I wanted to eat a huge plate of that texture, but the vegetables and meat were so delicious I couldn’t stop eating even if I had wanted to. Then I figured out that if I mixed the noodles into the broth, they softened to a more preferred texture. The dish was amazing and the leftovers were even better the next day.

My lavender tea was spectacular. It had a definite lavender flavor but it wasn’t medicinal. I honestly love this restaurant so much. From the décor to the service (we had amazing waiters/waitresses’ both times) and of course the food. Everything was perfect and I would fully recommend it!

Stay fly,

~Akilah

What’s a restaurant you’d drive to another city for?

Life · Palates · travel

ATL in 24 Hours: Dumplings & SCAD Shenanigans

My college friend (omg I have one of those now) recently had a birthday so our family and her family traveled to Atlanta to celebrate her birthday with her. We ate good food, broke a few rules, and had an all around great time, all in less than 24 hours.

It started with a trip to Savannah College of Art and Design, which, I must say, has one of the most aesthetic campuses ever. Art is everywhere, and everything is art. Touring the campus, we gushed over the library, sat in the swing seats, and took a bunch of photos.

Then we went to SCAD Pad which is a student, alumni, and faculty coordinated outdoor design space. It reminded me of those houses on HGTV: an interior design buff’s dream.

As we took silly photos in front of the yellow SCAD background and went crazy in the swivel chairs a security guard appeared out of no where.

“I’m guessing you guys are visiting campus.”

“Yes, are we doing something we’re not supposed to?”

“Well, SCAD Pad is only open for special events.”

“Oh! we’re so sorry we didn’t know. I guess we’ll leave now.”

“Yeah, it’s ok, we were watching you on the security cameras.”

So, we were kicked out of SCAD Pad in the nicest possible way… and the security guards probably watch our footage just for fun.

After our illegal but successful tour, we went back into the main building and passed through the security checkpoints (this school has so much security).

The security guard at the entrance asked my sister and I our ages. We replied 16 and 12. Welllllll, turns out we weren’t even supposed to be visiting the school after 5…

Leaving behind the school where we’re probably on a watch list now, we went to Krogg’s Street Market.

What I love about Atlanta is that no matter how many times I visit (and I go there pretty often), I always discover something new and amazing. Krogg’s Street Market was bustling, I could people watch there for hours and still not fully inhale all the culture that exists there. Making the rounds, we attempted to figure out what we wanted to eat: there was sushi, dumplings, pizza, barbecue, sandwiches, Bahn Mi, and any other food you could imagine. I settled on Gu’s Dumplings and I ordered the pork Zhong Dumplings.

The dumplings were the perfect blend of spicy, sweet, and tangy. They were chewy but slightly crispy at the edges and they kind of melted in your mouth. The bubble tea that I ordered to accompany them was amazing too: not overly sweet and with the perfect amount of boba.

Krogg’s was amazing, I’d definitely return…and I’d go back to SCAD for a visit if they let me 😉

Stay fly,

Akilah

Palates

Lincoln Square Pancake House // Indy

Recently, I took a vacation with my family to Chicago. It was amazing to be back. Chicago is one of my favorite cities to visit because the art and food scenes are spectacular. But don’t think that there aren’t amazing food destinations along the way.

In Indianapolis we found a glorious place to stop for breakfast: Lincoln Square Pancake House. When I tell you that this place has the fluffiest pancakes I’ve ever tasted in my entire life, I’m not kidding. The outside edges are slightly crispy and the middle melts away to bliss. They’re buttery but not drenched, they’re golden, they’re soft, in short, they’re heaven.

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Along with the heavenly pancakes, I ordered the German skillet: smoked sausage, farm-fresh scrambled eggs served on potato pancakes with cheddar cheese & homemade sausage gravy. It was delicious. I consider myself pretty picky about gravy, I love it if it’s done right, but if not…I don’t play that. This gravy was bomb. Everything in the dish was seasoned well, but even with the gravy nothing was too salty.

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Not only was the food a win, but our server went above and beyond. She asked us how our food was and listened to our suggestions and took them to the kitchen. She was so attentive and even made some small talk with us. All in all it was a great experience I would recommend you stop by!

Stay fly,

Akilah

 

Palates

25 Questions Food Tag

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I was looking for something fun, simple, and food related and I stumbled across this food tag. I thought it’d be fun to give it a shot.

1. What’s your favorite breakfast?
I’m in love with breakfast! My fave would be either Chicken & Waffles or Shrimp & Grits.

2. How do you drink your coffee?
I don’t like coffee but if I go to Starbucks or something I’ll get a Caramel Frappe or some type of latte. Although, because of the recent unfair treatment of customers I won’t be going to Starbuck’s anytime soon.

3. What’s on your favorite sandwich?
There’s too many: Monte Cristo, Banh Mi, Philly Cheesesteak, French Dip… ok I’ll stop now. But in terms of more basic sandwiches I love an amazing grilled cheese sandwich.

4. Soup or Salad?
Soup. Although I love salads too.

5. What’s your favorite cookbook?
Martha Stewart Cakes, it has a lot of my go to cake recipes in it.

6. No more sweets or no more hearty foods?
I guess hearty foods, I love desserts with my entire being.

7. What’s your favorite Cuisine?
Can I be really broad and say Asian? I love Thai, Korean, Japanese, and Chinese foods so much I couldn’t just choose one country.

8. What’s your favorite food movie?
Ummm, I can’t really think of a food movie other than Ratatouille so…

9. What’s your most guilty pleasure?
Potato chips with ketchup and hot sauce.

10. What’s your greatest inspiration source?
Pinterest.

11. Cooking at home or going out for dinner?
Going out for dinner because I love trying new restaurants

12. High end or low profile?
Well, I have kind of expensive taste, however, I love those hole-in-the-wall places with bomb food. So, both!

13. What’s your favorite restaurant?
It’s a list: Uncle Julio’s, Thai Phooket, Martin’s Barbecue… and many others

14. I do my grocery shopping at:
I don’t really do the grocery shopping, but my parents shop at Kroger, Publix, Sprout’s, Trader Joe’s, and Whole Foods

15. The tastiest food I’ve ever eaten was:
This is too much pressure! But right now I’d have to say the shrimp & grits waffle from Waffle Works in Birmingham

16. Coffee with George Clooney or Heston Blumenthal?
Neither

17. What should not be missing in your kitchen?
Peanut butter.

18. What’s your favorite snack?
Greek yogurt or apple and peanut butter

19. What’s on your pizza?
It changes often but right now I’m into: cheese, red onions, Italian sausage, spinach, sometimes sundried tomatoes.

20. What food do you really dislike?
Honestly, there isn’t one that I dislike completely, some foods I only like it certain forms or prepared certain ways.

21. What’s your favorite food blog?
This one! No just kidding it’s probably Sally’s Baking Addiction (I mean, my blog’s good too though…)

22. What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten?
Seaweed, frog legs, maybe other things I forgot.

23. What’s on your food bucket list?
Try Indian food, learn to make croissants, and eat sushi in Japan.

24. I couldn’t live without:
Kimchi? I put it on a lot of things. Another would be hot sauce: Green Pepper Cholula, Sriracha, Tabasco, Mango Chili, I love them all.

25. If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Sushi, hands down.

Let me know some of your answers below!

Stay fly,

~Akilah

Life · Music · Palates · Pleats · Plots

What Went Down March + Mixtape

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Hi! I’m late but I’m here. I can’t believe that we’re now in the second quarter of 2018. Let’s see what happened in March!

Food

 

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We ate at Puckett’s and I had some bomb chicken and waffles. I think that’s the only noteworthy food experience.

 

Fashion

Seoul Fashion Week happened and there’ll be a post about that soon.

 

Books

The Hobbit | J.R.R. Tolkien

Speak | Laurie Halse Anderson

Out of the Silent Planet | C.S. Lewis

Speak was my favorite, I loved the story and the emphasis on art. Out of the Silent Planet is also amazing, it’s a cool sci-fi read.

 

Life

We finished Hwarang!!!! It was amazing: I laughed, cried, and screamed. I’m so sad it’s over but so satisfied.

I had the monumental opportunity to write and direct the Easter play for our church so March was filled with rehearsals.

Hmmm, I think that’s all the noteworthy happenings.

 

Kpop

Whoaaaaa! There were so many spectacular comebacks this month. Monsta X’s Jealousy, NCT 127’s Touch,  and Samuel’s One were so cool. I’m crushed by BigBang’s Flower Road and SHINee’s From Now On. And j-hope’s mixtape saved 2018.

 

March Mixtape

  • La Fete Est Fini | Orelsan
  • Pulling Me Under | Kevin Garrett
  • That’s What Love Can Do | Vivian Green
  • If You Fall | Ray Dalton
  • Walls | Jaylon Ashaun
  • One & Only You | Got7
  • Miss You | EXO-CBX
  • Encore | Cheryl Lynn
  • Best Love | Yuna
  • Warriors | Koryn Hawthorne
  • Africa | Kyle Bielfield
  • Daydream | j-hope
  • Ce qui me plait | Lisandro Cuxi
  • Touch | NCT 127
  • The Night Song | Ravyn Lenae
  • Call Me Baby | Jung Min, Daeho
  • Think Hole | B.A.P
  • Overdose | EXO
  • Lost | BTS
  • Dance With Me (Venus) | VAV
  • Flower Road | BigBang
  • Lovin You Mo | EXO
  • Nous | Lisandro Cuxi
  • A Rose is Still a Rose | Aretha Franklin
  • Pleasure Principal | Janet Jackson
  • Growl | Daeho

 

I know this wrap-up was a bit more abrupt/strangely formatted but it’s a wonder it even got out so I hope you still enjoyed it!

Stay fly,

~Akilah

Life · Music · Palates · Pleats · Plots

What Went Down ~February + Monthly Mixtape

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February has come and gone, I’m sad to see it go but sort of relieved because I’m exhausted from blogging everyday. Let’s see what went down in February.

Food

  • We ate a bunch of gluten free pizza
  • Had breakfast at Firstwatch (I had lemon ricotta pancakes and they were the bomb.com)

I think that’s it actually, definitely not as cool as January’s food scene.

 

Fashion

I’m really ashamed to say that although February is fashion month I didn’t really follow any coverage of runway shows.

I know, I know, I plan to catch up in March but I was quite preoccupied this month. Anyway I get emails from Vogue Runway so I did see glimpses of some brands and I’m in love with Fendi so far.

I bought some jeans from Macy’s. This may not seem like wrap-up worthy news but these are definitively the best jeans I’ve ever owned and you’ll probably be seeing them in a million ootds in the future.

 

Books

I completed three books again, not for Brit Lit however (I still haven’t completed Pride & Prejudice or A Passage to India but we’re not gonna talk about it.)

  • A Girl Named Mister ~Nikki Grimes
  • Calling My Name ~Liara Tamani
  • The Skin I’m In ~Sharon G. Flake

A Girl Named Mister was my favorite, although all of them were amazing and you can click the links to see the posts I did about each one.

 

 

Life

The Olympics happened in PyeonChang South Korea. I will say the highlights for me were CL and EXO performing at the Closing Ceremony. But in terms of events I loved Short Track and couples skating.

Seeing EXO perform was truly amazing. I mean the Growl remix was off the chain! I even liked their rendition of Power this time even though I lowkey can’t stand that song. Their outfits, their dancing, their singing all was on point. I did really miss Yixing though, I hope Idol Producer is going well for him!

We watched The Jacksons: An American Dream which is a docu-drama miniseries about Michael Jackson and the Jacksons early life and career. It was really good and Angela Bassett slayed as always.

We also watched two French films this month Les Chorsites and Kirikou et la Sorciere. Both were spectacular but I especially loved Les Chorsites, I’d definitely recommend it to anyone (it has English subtitles if you can’t understand French).

My sister and I also started watching the Kdrama Hwarang. We started it because Taehyung from BTS and Minho from SHINee were in it and because my little sister is learning Korean. But we soon got hooked on the story. We’re only on episode 4 but I can’t wait to get farther into it.

I also colored my hair for the first time ever this month. I went from my natural dark brown color to a deep violet. It’s not actually that noticeable: more like a slight blue-black but I like how it gave my hair more sheen. Anyway I’ll probably do it again later this year.

I also got new glasses! You may see them, you may not: I like to be mysterious…

Ok and now for the most exciting thing that happened this month Black Panther!!! I saw it with my mom, dad, and little sister on opening Friday and it was hands-down the best Marvel movie ever. I can’t wait to see it again this Saturday. Also, I’ll be doing a blog post about it pretty soon so look forward to that!

 

Kpop

Seventeen released their Thanks MV and Performance Video

I love the calming vibes of this song so much! Also S. Coups and Woozi slayed vocals. And please tell me how Minghao looks cool with a mullet?

NCT-U came back with Boss and released a dance practice for it

Not gonna lie I was literally screaming watching this video. It’s spectacular and I may or may not have made my sister watch it 5 times with me when it first came out. Every single member was bias wrecking me at every possible second: the choreo was bomb, the outfits were amazing, and the rap and vocal performances were life. I think there’s always at least one video where you’re rewarded for stanning your bias and this video was that one for me. I mean Taeyong really showed out. Also the new members Jungwoo and Lucas are so amazing, I especially love Lucas’ rap in this song and I look forward to seeing more from them!

NCT-U (Taeyong & Ten) released Baby Don’t Stop

Not to be confused with EXO’s Baby Don’t Cry or NCT 127’s Baby Don’t Like It. Anyway seeing Ten again was amazing and he and Taeyong make a lit duo. I love the dance in this, Taeyong singing is life, and him rapping in Spanish is pretty cool. I don’t love the song so I don’t think I’m gonna download it but the video is nice and the song is super catchy.

Monsta X released a Tropical Night self cam video

MX are kings of self cam and this one did not disappoint. My highlights were Kihyun cleaning the studio while dancing, all the Showhyuk moments, and Changkyun with the Supreme money gun. They’re dorks and I love them.

SF9 released Mamma Mia

Ok… this was not my favorite video. They were doing the most the entire video but it was kinda cute kinda funny I guess. I did really like Taeyang’s dance part, his dance is the reason he’s my bias.

Got7 released a special video One and Only You feat. Hyolyn

I’m already in love with this song and I need a full length version. The video is fun and Yugyeom’s singing part is the best ever.

 

February Mixtape

I listened to a lot of music this month and a lot of great songs came out this month.

Fun ~Coldplay ft. Tove Lo

She’s Mine ~VAV

Same Drugs ~Chance the Rapper

U + Me (Love Lesson) ~Mary J. Blige

On the Loose ~Niall Horan

Black Gold ~Esperanza Spalding

Miss You Much ~Janet Jackson

Unravel Me ~Sabrina Claudio

Grenade ~Bruno Mars

Black Panther ~Kendrick Lamar

So Sick ~Ne-Yo

Electric Kiss ~EXO

Tomorrow ~BTS

Boss ~NCT-U

Beautiful ~iKON

Love Story ~Suran ft. Crush

Someone Who Can ~Yuna

Too Much Sauce ~Chloe x Halle

Pay My Rent ~DNCE

Blessings (reprise) ~Chance the Rapper

La Modelo ~Ozuna ft. Cardi B.

Hymn for the Weekend ~Coldplay

Thanks ~Seventeen

My Flower ~JBJ

 

That was a long post for February to be the shortest month but I hope you enjoyed seeing my highlights.

Stay fly,

~Akilah

What were your February highlights?