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

Advertisements
Palates

Lunch at Plaza Mariachi

I absolutely adore places that are dedicated to celebrating culture and Plaza Mariachi is one of those places. It’s a collection of restaurants and specialty stores that showcase Latin culture. They have live music, an array of cuisines, and even a grocery store where you can buy authentic ingredients.

A few months ago, we went there for lunch and had some bomb food. First, we stopped at place to get drinks. I ordered the Avocado Lime Agua Fresca. It was so creamy and refreshing, if you’re wondering how avocado works in a sweet drink, it works wonderfully and adds a satisfying mouth feel.

Next, we went to Tres Gauchos for food. I’m a huge fan of chorizo, so when I saw a chorizo sandwich on the menu I was intrigued. It also had chimicurri and pico de gallo on it, which added a freshness and moisture. The roll was toasted perfectly and soft in the middle. Plus, the fries that came on the side were thick-cut, crispy and warm. They also had this amazing spicy aioli to dip the fries in that was to die for. I’m getting hungry just thinking about it.

If you’re in the Nashville area definitely go to Plaza Mariachi, you won’t be disappointed!

Stay fly,

~Akilah

 

 

 

 

 

Palates

Best Food in Nashville 2017

Recently, my dad brought home a copy of The Nashville Scene: Best of Nashville Edition. Since I’m a resident Nashville foodie, I thought it would be fun to tell whether I agree with the reader’s poll or not for a few categories.

Best Barbecue

Their Choice: Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint

My Choice: Martin’s

This place is the truth, I looove their brisket especially. Those long lines also tell you a lot about the quality of their food.

Best Burger

Their Choice: Burger Up

My Choice: M.L Rose

When I went here for my birthday with my aunt a couple of years ago, we were both doing elimination diets/detoxes so all we could really eat was the burger patty. But man was that patty good! Easily the most flavorful burger I’ve had. In terms of a normal burger with all the fixins’ I’d recommend Gabby’s. At Burger Up I’ve only had a specialty burger: their Oktoberfest burger, which was too salty but also lacking in flavor, their milkshakes however are bomb.

Best Brunch

Their Choice: Marchè Artisan Foods

My Choice: Marchè

I have dreams about this place. We went here on a rainy Sunday morning after church a couple of years ago. The quaint French decor immediately drew me in and then I fell in love with the food. My andouille sausage crepes were fluffy, and the dijon mustard was a lovely addition.

Best Cupcake

Their Choice: The Cupcake Collection

My Choice: The Cupcake Collection

You already know what it is! Cupcake collection is not only the best in Nashville, it’s the best in the entire country. I’ve met the owner Mignon; she’s so sweet and so are her cupcakes. The Strawberry Lemonade one is my favorite but it’s generally sold out so the Wedding Cake is also amazing.

Best Thai

Their Choice: The Smiling Elephant

My Choice: Thai Phooket

Even though I’ve never been to The Smiling Elephant I still wanted to do this category because I love Thai food. Thai Phooket has amazing green and red curry, Pad Thai, and bubble tea. It’s perfect for those who love authentic Thai food but they also have more mainstream Chinese food for pickier eaters (not my favorite thing but that’s another post). Anyway you should definitely go here.

Do you agree with my choices?

Stay fly,

~Akilah

Palates · travel

Brunch in Three Cities

brunch noun \ˈbrənch\ : a meal usually taken late in the morning that combines a late breakfast and an early lunch…or my favorite meal ever created. What’s better than a meal where you can have meat and pancakes, salad and dessert? I’ll wait…

Over the course of the summer I’ve eaten a lot of brunch, partly because I’m sleeping later but mainly because brunch is bomb. So, today I’m excited to share with you my three different brunches from three different cities. Just call me the traveling brunch queen.

002

Birmingham: Waffle Works

During a day trip with my church youth group to the Civil Rights Institute, we stopped in this chic little food court on the outskirts of downtown Birmingham. Inside where a plethora of cuisines but I knew as soon as I saw “shrimp and grits waffle” on the menu that this was my brunch destiny. I’m a sucker for shrimp and grits and chicken and waffles so the mixture was made for me. They mix grits into the waffle batter and create this spicy gravy with shrimp and andouille sausage over top. It’s perfection!

Nashville: Biscuit Love

This place is iconic and lots of tourists come here when visiting Nashville but even as a local I’d never been, so on Father’s day we decided to check them out. I’ll admit I was a little bit skeptical because it’s so popular but I was pleasantly surprised. I ordered shrimp and grits (I told you I loved them) and we shared an order of bonuts. First let me talk about the bonuts because they were a blissful little package of biscuit/donuts with lemon marscarpone and blueberry compote. They were fried to perfection and reminded me of bougie fair food, like funnel cake’s rich cousin. The lemon marscarpone kept them from being to sweet and the blueberry compote had pieces of blueberry in it. The shrimp and grits were also amazing, on the menu it was called the “Bill Neal” leave a comment if you know who that is because I don’t. Anyway, they were not your normal shrimp and grits: the mushrooms, green onions, and applewood smoked bacon definitely made sure of that, They were bursting with flavor and the lemon tabasco sauce added a subtle spicy acidity that was amazing. Also props for no lumps in the grits they were completely smooth and creamy, I’d love another bowl right now.

Indianapolis: Yolk

Amazingly enough I did not order shrimp and grits at Yolk (they weren’t on the menu in case you were wondering). But seriously, I was drawn to the “Croque Madame” a grilled ham, turkey, swiss, and Dijon sandwich made on challah french toast and topped with a sunny side up egg. It was amazing! The challah was thick and soft but didn’t overpower the other flavors. Holla for challah! And I love swiss cheese so that was a win. Not only did I have this amazing sandwich, but the staff randomly gave our table an order of cinnamon roll french toast to share. This french toast was heavenly, the cinnamon roll icing was creamy and the french toast itself was cinnamony and light. I would definitely come here again next time I’m in Indy.

Well, that’s the end for now of my traveling brunch adventures. Do you like brunch? Comment down below your favorite brunch foods.

Stay fly,

~Akilah

Palates

Green Hills Grille ~Review

A perfect place for upscale American fusion in a casual cafe-like setting, Green Hills Grille is quickly becoming a celebration go-to for my family. Most recently we went for my Grandma’s birthday and had a wonderful time.

I ordered the Chicken Pignoli: sautéed chicken, olive oil, basil pesto, red pepper flakes, cajun spice, artichoke hearts, pine nuts, goat cheese, parmesan cheese, tomatoes. 

Pasta is one of my favorite foods and anything pesto immediately grabs my attention so ordering this was a no-brainer. I’ll admit I was a bit skeptical because this isn’t an Italian restaurant, but this wasn’t my first time eating at GHG and I trusted the food. My trust wasn’t betrayed because the pasta was bomb! The pesto and parmesan cheese complimented each other nicely, the goat cheese added a nice creamy contrast, and the hint of cajun spice topped it off wonderfully. My only complaints are that the artichoke hearts were slightly tough and I could’ve used more chicken, but other than that it was a tasty meal. 

I also recommend the Pequeno Shrimp and Grits which is what I ordered my first time there. They’re probably the best shrimp and grits I’ve ever had, so favorful.

Definitely go visit Green Hills Grille, the food is delicious!

Stay fly,

~Akilah

Palates

Five Things Friday: Five Best Pizza Places in Nashville

**I actually wrote this on Friday but forgot to hit publish so here it is now…

Pizza the quintessential Italian American food. Here’s the lowdown on the my favorite spots to eat steaming slices in Music City.

5. Michelangelo’s

The decor of this place leaves much to be desired; it looks like Restaurant Impossible’s latest cause. But the pizza is pretty bomb… just eat it take out style.

4. Pie Five

This is a chain and therefore isn’t exclusive to Nashville but if you’re going out for pizza with a big group of eclectic tastes this is the place to be. Their personal pizzas are easily customizable and perfect in size.

3. 312

Chicago style pizza is always good if done right. And this pizza tastes like what I’ve had in Chicago. Also, the deep dish is to die for.

2. Pizza Perfect

I love the pizza here and I have great memories of eating there when I was younger. The Capi Margherita is probably my favorite, plus the slices are pretty big so that’s a win.

  1. Old Chicago

I’ve only eaten their pizza once but it was so delicious that, for now it’s number one. Another Chicago style place and in my opinion it outshines 312.

Now go eat pizza to your heart’s content. And comment below with your favorite pizza place in your city.