Awesome July: Part 1
At least, the first half of my July.
James turned 30 on the 5th. This is the story of the celebration.
Right after my shift on the 4th, I asked around for a great 24-hour restaurant. PJ enthusiastically pointed me to Borough at The Podium, and armed me with with a number of her own recommendations.
I remember walking up to the outside entrance to Borough in my rough-and-tumble denim skirt, pink everyday flip-flops, and an unremarkable tee. "Okay, this is your first time at one of the higher-end restaurants in the metro. Be cool. How difficult can it be?"
Hello huge, elbow--and-shoulder-rubbing, beer-bottle-wielding crowd singing in unison to Axl Rose and Bon Jovi songs. It was a 4th of July party, and everyone was in a merry and huggy disposition. Ehehe.
I was lucky enough to secure a waiter in a red mohawk wig for myself and shout my take-out order at him; "Living on a Prayer" was on, and the crowd wasn't going to miss belting along to it. (I had a feeling if James were here, he'd belt along, too.) Red was quite cool about it, being very patient and helpful with the menu, and we agreed on finding me on one of the outside tables in the mall. I managed to extricate myself from all the merriment just before a band came on and started playing Eraserhead song covers.
So! I came home with birthday breakfast which consisted of:
- a pulled-pork sub with ranch dip and coleslaw for James;
- a felafel pita sandwich with garlic-onion-mayo dip for me,
- and two helpings of their Cookies n' Milk, a house special.
We both had bites of each other's sandwiches. They were so good, I kept making derp faces throughout the meal. And the super-soft cookies and yummy Borough milk blend? Ulllllltra-derpiness. Hurrrrr.
Later that day, we took some time figuring out how to best celebrate his day. We decided to wing it and try Sambo Kojin in Eastwood, walk in without a reservation, distract the restaurant staff by being giddy and cute, and expect to come out full. It worked! (Or at least, we fell in line at a waiting list and decided to have a quick game of Magic elsewhere.)
Oh snap! Sorry, no pictures, folks. We were too busy enjoying ourselves at the time. Instead, I will regale you with tales of sumptuous grilled meats, and platters of sushi, and tiny cakes, couched in helpful advice.
Savor the anticipation of a sumptuous meal as you climb the stairs into the grand dining area of the restaurant. As soon as you're seated in Sambo Kojin, the waiter will encourage you to get started on the buffet, and will ask if you'd like to have some sukiyaki soup to go with your meal? Say yes. The hot soup will be a boon to you throughout the course of your buffet stay.
There are three sections of food in Sambo Kojin: The sushi and salads, the griller meats and pre-cooked food, and the desserts. All are extemely delicious. Do not panic.
At the sushi section,feel free to pick and choose. It is usually wiser to take one of each type of sushi you'd like to try before loading up on one particular type. Don't rush; the sushi buffet platters usually refill themselves every now and then, and will even sometimes offer something completely different. Should you miss out on particular type before it's replaced, don't fret. There are no real losses at the sushi buffet; just new excitements you haven't tried yet. Do take some wasabi if you're so inclined, and don't (for heaven's sake) mix it in with the murasaki, or soy sauce: It mottles up the fresh shushi flavor, and you'll break the sushi chef's heart this way.
While we're at it, why don't I share more etiquette tips on sushi?
There. We good? Good.
At the griller meats bar, do use the tongs to pick up your choice of meats. Observe the tiny rolls: there are rolls of straw mushroom, shiitake mushroom cap slices, asparagus, salmon, and so on. These rolls are wrapped in different types of beef. Have a keen eye for meat color, and you will be richly rewarded at the grill.There will also be two types of beef slices on offer. Well done, the Marble Beef is delectable, creamy, and a bit sweet; the Tender Beef will be robust, savory, and full-flavored. If you are more inclined to chicken and fish, do help yourself to them too.
At the pre-cooked foods section, one of the cooks may offer you kimchi. Say yes, or no thank you. Resist the urge to add rice to your evening repertoire; it tends to take up space in you that could have been occupied by a new food discovery, or even dessert. Do try dishes you've never had, but do so sparingly. There will be five types of tempura, and two kinds of shrimp tempura -- one will be wrapped in fluffy batter, and the other in a crunchy shell. Choose both, or one of them, or none at all.
At your own table, the grill will be waiting for you, hot and ready. Do not touch the grill itself to see if it's on, but pass your hand half a foot above from the grill surface. Do consider the sauces at your disposal on the table. There will be six types. They are good not just for dipping, but also for a quick marinade before grilling. Enjoy your sushi as you grill your meats, but do not let the meats grill for too long; a minute or a minute and a half at most is fine. When you feel a little full, slurp your soup; enjoy the heat swathing your belly, convincing you that a little more meat won't hurt.
When you start feeling full, do consider the dessert bar, or not. There will be petit eclairs, tiny cakes, fresh fruit, ice cream, and chocolate fondue skewers waiting. Don't be surprised if the cakes aren't overly swee. They're meant to be that way as to not overpower your tastebuds should you wish to sample all the cakes, like I did.
Do thank the reception ladies, and check if you may have left an umbrella upstairs. Head home, kiss your birthday boy, and discuss about the finer details and hilarious moments of your grand dinner. Give your belly time to digest. Have hot tea. Try to stay up. Fail. Snore majestically in bed.