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

Happy Birthday to My Sister, Anaya// Ten Things I’d Tell My Ten Year Old Self

Today my little sister turns 10 years old. So, today on the blog to celebrate her birthday I wanted to share 10 things I’d tell my 10-year-old self if I could go back in time.

  1. You will be able to find clothes again

I was very tall for a 10-year-old and really thin. It was a struggle to find clothes that were fashionable, fit me well and were age appropriate. Thankfully, I’m now able to find clothes that I love and fit me well. I wish I could’ve assured my 10-year-old self that it was only temporary.

  1. Books are powerful, choose wisely.

I’ve always loved reading books. However, I wasn’t picking the best books to read at 10. I think it’s really important to read wholesome books as they can affect your character. I wish I could tell myself that you shouldn’t just choose popular books but good books.

  1. There are books about people like you out there.

Only very recently did I start to read books consciously by and about African-Americans and people of other minority groups. I read lots of books featuring white main characters and while there is nothing wrong with that, it’s so important to be able to find myself in books.

  1. You are beautiful from head-to-toe especially your hair.

Around this time, I began to be discontent with my appearance specifically my hair. I have a kinky and tightly coiled hair texture and I started to envy the images I saw of those with long, straight, light brown or blond hair. Everyone’s hair is beautiful no matter the length, shade or texture. So, I would remind my younger self how beautiful I am and was.

  1. It’s okay to drift away from your friends, the real ones will be there when you return.

I also began to feel like I was drifting apart from my friends. I wasn’t talking to them as much, and even when we hung out I felt distant. At the time, it seemed like the end of the world, but now I realize that I needed some space. And now, I feel closer to my friends than I ever was. I love them so much and they waited for me till I circled around back to them.

  1. The media is lying to you.

My life would have been so much easier if I’d realized this earlier. Every image of what beauty means, what it looks like to be cool, how you should act at a certain age, everything they tell you, is a lie. You can’t trust images, TV, the internet, even the newspaper. 10 year old Akilah, don’t believe what they tell you.

  1. Real friends like you for you.

I don’t have to act a certain way, dress a certain way, or do certain things to impress my friends. My real friends like me for who I really am.

  1. Being a teenager isn’t a magical solution

When I was 10, I thought being older would fix all my problems. But it didn’t I’m not perfect as Philippians 3: 12 says: “12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.”

  1. There’s no such thing as normal.

The cool thing about being a teenager is that more and more of my friends and I are doing our own thing. I have different passions and interests than my friends do in some areas and we’re all cool. I used to be obsessed with being normal, liking what my friends liked or what the “cool people” like. But then I realized there’s no such thing as normal, we’re all crazy here.

10. You are capable of more than you can know.

At 10 I never could have even imagined accomplishing everything that I have in the last four years. I got through so many difficult times and stretched myself beyond my wildest dreams. God has worked through me so much, I never could have done any of these things in my own power and I can’t wait to see where he’ll take me next.

 

Anaya, I hope your year 10 is so much greater than mine was. I pray that you will achieve great things this year through God’s power. And that you will realize your worth is in him and therefore forego all the heartache and pain of discontentment. You are loved.

Happy Birthday!

Stay fly

~Akilah