Dining divides into two major categories: with children, and
without. Since I last took a pounding for this opinion, some
14 years ago, the situation has worsened. Gone is the look
of furtive guilt that might cross a parent’s face as little
Brittany pitches potatoes across the room; now it’s an expression
of oblivion, worn while ineffectually chanting, “Brittany,
honey, stop that.”
I can only conclude that a generation of babysitters has been
thrown out of work.
Thus it was that we recoiled from the hibachi table we’d been
shown to during a recent visit to the newly relocated Miyako
Japanese Steak House. There’s enough space in this spot, at
the corner of Western Avenue and Route 155, to locate those
tables in a room separate from the regular tables and the
sushi bar, but that only added to our feeling of being trapped
when we were placed with a pair of young parents and their
three dynamo charges.
Ironically, my wife and I were there with our 9-year-old,
whose many years of dining out have persuaded her that it’s
worth behaving well to visit nice restaurants. As parents,
we were uncompromising on that score.
There’s an added problem with hibachi (also known as teppanyaki)
table displays. Some of the more fiery components are dropped
when small children are there, and we like it all, right down
to the onion ring volcano.
Feigning a more robust interest in tempura and nabemono,
we slunk to the other dining room. It’s handsomely appointed,
a tribute to the Japanese facility for dressing up a boxlike
room into a welcoming salon.
For the record, the hibachi meals are priced from $14 (vegetable
dinner) to a deluxe $29 seafood mix that includes lobster
and salmon; most hover near $20 and can include any of the
most popular meats or fish.
In the other room, you might start with miso soup ($1.75),
a gentle soybean-based concoction that warms the palate; there’s
also onion soup for the same price, and a $5 seafood soup.
Salads can include avocado, tofu or seaweed, among other ingredients;
a house salad is served with most entrées, however.
My wife believes that tofu is the key to health and happiness,
and thus orders anything that contains the flavor-free bean
curd. She got a little more than she bargained for with the
appetizer age-dashi-tofu ($5), but that was because
of the flavor imparted by the added fish flake. Not unpleasant;
While I awaited sushi, I nabbed a dumpling from my daughter’s
gyoza ($5); the full-to-bursting dumplings contain
a creamy shrimp and vegetable filling that barely needs the
accompanying vinegar sauce.
A sushi roll called “Spicy Dynamite” seems a large bow to
western silliness (ditto the ones termed “Spicy Key West”
and “American Dream,” the latter working shrimp tempura into
the mix.) “Spicy Dynamite” ($5.50) adds “super spicy sauce”
to scallops, with the result being . . . kind of wimpy. My
wife says I’ve burned out my heat sensors; I’ll leave it to
you to decide.
One thing I can’t argue with is her predilection for noodle
soup, so charmingly celebrated in the movie Tampopo
(the soup, that is; not her predilection). Her bowl of nabeyaki
udon ($13) in size alone reminded us how foolish it is
to order an appetizer if that’s on the radar. Shrimp tempura
is served alongside, which isn’t always the case with presentations
elsewhere of this soup; chicken slices and lots of vegetables
float alongside the thick noodles in a mild broth that continues
to pick up flavors as you make your way to what seems to be
the ever- retreating bottom of the bowl.
One way we persuade our child to behave is to let her order
stuff you really might want to carefully ration, like tempura.
You can’t beat it for crunchy goodness, but it is deep
fried, with the attendant fat calories. So we helped solve
that problem by insisting that she surrender some of the choicer
bits of chicken and vegetable that arrived on the $13 plate.
Tempura, available in combos of vegetables, chicken, shrimp
or other seafood, is batter coated; agemono is breaded
and fried, and can be ordered with chicken, pork or seafood.
Vegetables, meat or fish are also available seasoned with
teriyaki sauce and broiled, always a nice way to enjoy a piece
of steak or salmon. I opted for a different salmon approach,
however, choosing nabemono, or hot pot dish.
nabe ($19) is another take on the noodle soup approach,
but substitutes tofu for noodles while still including a generous
array of vegetables and huge chunk of the seafood. It’s a
tribute to chef-owner Toshi Yamaguchi that every dish we received
was cooked with care and presented beautifully.
The closely supervised staff is very attentive, and service
never flagged even as the restaurant filled. It’s nice to
see this longtime Albany favorite has settled so well into
its new location.
here for a list of recently reviewed restaurants.
Franklin turned 300 a couple of days ago, and
in celebration of that signal event, Brown’s
Brewing Company (425 River St., Troy) has
made a commemorative brew. Head brewer Peter Martin
joins more than 100 craft brewers across the nation
who are also tapping their versions of “Poor Richard’s
Ale.” It’s sponsored by the Brewers’ Association,
a national nonprofit trade association for craft
brewers that has partnered with one of Franklin’s
descendants to create a recipe for the participants.
According to Martin, the recipe includes molasses
and corn, two items that were abundant during
Colonial times. The brew will be available throughout
the month. For more info, call the brewery at
273-2337. . . . It’s an easy transition from Franklin
to France, although Dr. F may have been too egalitarian
to enjoy La Fête des Rois (The Festival
of Kings). Nevertheless, it will be celebrated
at the Saratoga Lake Inn & Bistro (511
Route 9P, Saratoga Lake) Jan. 27 and 28. The festival
is a French tradition that dates back to 1311;
to celebrate, chef-owner Eric Masson’s menu offers
a choice of appetizer (ham and mushroom crepe,
escargot sautéed with wild mushrooms, or quiche
Lorraine), mixed greens with goat cheese or a
country soup with green cabbage and ham, and an
entrée (chicken and vegetables with a velouté
sauce, sirloin steak Bordelaise, or sole amandine).
Dessert features a cake called Gallette des
Rois with a hidden surprise. Dinner is $29
per person plus tax and gratuity, and parties
of six or more will receive a chef-selected complimentary
bottle of wine. Reserve seats by calling 587-8280.
. . . New World Home Cooking Co. (Route
212, Saugerties) is holding a July in January
weekend Jan. 20 and 21, a tropically themed event
that features summer food, exotic music and a
free island drink for those who dress for the
beach. Among the menu items: Cayman conch chowder,
callaloo soup, sweet plantain pasteles, conch
fritters, curried goat, Haitian griot of pork
and much more. Friday night enjoy the world beat
of Tumbao Blue; Saturday Night gets even hotter
with the Afro-Cuban dance band Los Taino. Make
reservations by calling (845) 246-0900. . . .
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very much enjoyed eating dinner at Daniel's
at Ogdens. You review described my dining
experience perfectly. This wasn't the case
with Pancho's. I much prefer Garcia's or
Lake View Tavern for Mexican fare. I agree
that a restaurant can have an off night
so I'll give the second unit on Central
Avenue a try.
yes I miss the star ratings, bring it back.
Second, I haven't had a chance to visit
Poncho's yet, but I especially like reading
would travel to Amsterdam to this restaurant
- it's not that far away. People traveled
from all over to eat at Ferrandi's in Amsterdam.
From his background, I'm sure the chef's
sauce is excellent and that is the most
important aspect of an Italian restaurant.
Sometimes your reviewer wastes words on
the negative aspects of a restaurant. I'm
looking forward to trying this restaurant
- I look forward to Metroland every Thursday
especially for the restaurant review. And
by the way Ferrandi's closed its Amsterdam
location and is opening a new bistro on
Saratoga Lake - Should be up and running
in May. It will be called Saratoga Lake
Bistro. It should be great!
comments about the Indian / Pakistani restaurants
being as "standardized as McDonald's"
shows either that you have eaten at only
a few Indian / Pakistani restaurants or
that you have some prejudices to work out.
That the physical appearances are not what
you would consider fancy dancy has no bearing
on the food. And after all, that is what
the main focus of the reviews should be.
Not the physical appearances, which is what
most of your reviews concentrate on.
A restaurant like The Shalimar, down on
Central Avenue, may not look the greatest,
but the food is excellent there. And the
menu has lots of variety - beef, lamb, vegetarian,
chicken, and more..