Wednesday, July 9, 2014

I Celebrated July 4th 2014 With Japanese BBQ But Without The Firework

lycheetini Cocktail
Lycheetini: Vodka, Lychee Puree, Infused Sake, Plum Wine. It was a very refreshing and delicious cocktail.
Without any plan on this July 4th, my husband and I swung by his sister's house to check out her BBQ.  After being there for  3 hours, chitchatting and politely taking a little bite of the Texas style saucy BBQ, my husband pulled me aside and whispered to my ears that we should sneak out because he was hungry for the real good BBQ.  So we lied that we had to make an appearance in our friend's party and left for my husband's favorite Japanese BBQ restaurant.... First thing we ordered was of course a big pitcher of Kirin Beer and our usual Lycheetini.  I'm usually not into alcoholic drinks but Lycheetini  is one of the few exceptions that I enjoy.

garden salad with Japanese Dressing

Their house salad  is our must-have every time when we are there.  I don't know how they season the salad with what dressing.  It tasted really good.  I don't know why the salad that I made at home never tasted as good.   I am now looking for a salad dressing that can replicate the taste.  As of now, I know French Dressing can't do it and it will be a while before I finish the bottle in the fridge and buy a different bottle to try out.

garlic Udon
Our carbs for the meal: Sizzling Garlicky Udons in an extremely hot stone bowl.  The aroma from the sizzle was wonderful, and the noodles were so flavorful. This is why I've got to have carbs and gluten!!  
Since we don't own a grill, this Japanese restaurant is the place for us to go whenever we are craving for the smell and flavor of BBQ.  I will not want to own a grill because I'm now very afraid of owning any more appliance, furniture or any "stuff".  My stuff at home has been stressing me out and making me feel mentally paralyzed .  I will not want a grill and the stress of cleaning one.  May be I will change my mind after I completely organize my current apartment, but until then, I prefer to do BBQ in this restaurant.

grilled zucchini
Seasoned zucchini sprinkled with sesame seeds. I love vegetables and could not have enough of them and had to have more after my salad.
Japanese style BBQ is grilling on the table top.  This "grill-to-eat" format of dining is very popular in Japan and Asia.  Businesses are often conducted and contracts negotiated over the grill because the grilling time of the food gives people plenty of time to engage in conversation.  While I often went to restaurants like this when I was living in Hong Kong, this particular restaurant chain was introduced to me by the American men I dated... I can't say all the American men I dated took me to this restaurant. But quite a few of them did, my husband was one of them. I didn't tell him I had been here with others though..

marinated chicken
Perfectly marinated  and thinly sliced chicken. They cooked very quickly and were so fresh and delicious.  The marinate is another secret recipe of theirs.  My sister in-law's BBQ can't beat this because she didn't marinate her meat but relied on drowning it with bottles of  BBQ sauce.
All ingredients in a Japanese style BBQ are sliced and nicely cut so they absorb flavor much better during marination and grilling.  I like this style of BBQ because it makes the eating process so much easier and less messy.

angus beef steak
Perfectly Seasoned New York Steak and Angus Beef Ribs
Another reason that my sister-in-law's BBQ didn't taste that good can be because the quality of the meat we get from regular grocery store is never as good as the quality of meat that good restaurants get from their special butchers.  This restaurant has really fresh and great quality meats.

This was our second time having the lamb chops marinated in mint sauce.  The ones we had last time were so heavenly that we had to order them again.  But somehow these chops turned out to be not nearly as good as the ones in our previous visit. They tasted somewhat gamy to me.  I suspect these chops are the cheaper kind.  
Another advantage of doing BBQ in a Japanese restaurant is that I can always order my favorite sushi as appetizer.  The final bill of this BBQ for two including tax but before tips was $72.00.  There is however the all-you-can-eat meat lover menu that costs $25 per person that includes salad, miso soup, an appetizer,  garlic udons or hot stone fried rice, and all the meat you can eat,  plus free dessert at the end.  The all-you can-eat menu doesn't  include lamb chop and months ago when we had the all-you-can eat option, we felt there was too much food for us to handle.  So we ordered a-la carte this time.  But if the lamb chop continues to be tasting like this, we will not want to do any more a-la-carte again.  It will be cheaper  for us to have the all-you-can-eat option.  This  Japanese BBQ restaurant is in a lot of American cities. You can find a location near you at their website in case you are curious of trying.
spicy tuna volcano
Spicy tuna volcano: crispy sushi rice topped with minced spicy tuna.  I  love this sushi so much that I ordered this dish  whenever  this was on the menu of any Japanese restaurant I went. 
This July 4th is the only one where I totally missed the firework.  Throughout the year, I've watched firework in literally every beach and in a lot of places in Southern California.  I however had never been to  Cabrillo Beach in San Pedro.  After the BBQ,  I figured out I wanted to go there to see the July 4th firework display.  The drive was not pleasant.  Before we got to the beach, we had to drive by a lot of shady looking streets that reminded me of the TV footage of the third world countries.  Fireworks were shot up from someone's back and front yards everywhere.  I was kind of scared because I wasn't sure if any of the firework rockets would be shot to our car accidentally.  There was one time when some scary looking young men literally came out in the middle of the narrow road we were on and shot the fireworks.  As an immigrant in a foreign land, I was spooked.  But then even my American born and raised husband was spooked.  When we finally made it to the beach, the main entry roads to the beach were blocked off and we didn't know where we were supposed to park so we could walk down to the beach to see the firework. When we were driving around looking for parking, my husband took the wrong turn into some really scary streets with really scary looking people and run down houses.  At one point there were a couple cars parked horizontally ahead of us and blocking our passage.  I was so afraid that those two cars would stay there and we would be trapped in that street with cars behind us.  I prayed the cars ahead of us moved soon so we could get the hell out of that scary neighborhood.  I was just too scared that we would be stuck there for an hour. And god knows if any of these scary looking people surrounding us would drag us outside our car. May be they were harmless people and look was deceiving, but it didn't calm my nerve.  With all the fireworks exploding in the sky, nobody would hear us scream or when we got shot.  Then I remembered how some  naive tourists and foreign students were always murdered in Los Angeles in shady neighborhood like that because these foreigners didn't have a danger radar in them. My husband and I felt really freaked out but then as if God answered my prayer, some people finally came out and drove the cars in front of us away. At that point,  I really didn't feel comfortable to park our car somewhere and walked around at night. So I told my husband to just drive home before the firework in Cabrillo Beach even started...

Last time I made the wrong turn to a shady neighborhood was during broad daylight with my visiting mother, who had become so spooked that she had not come back to Los Angeles to  visit me again even though she just  spent 6 months visiting my cousin in Sydney this year.  This time my husband made a wrong turn in his homeland and he spooked himself.  I guess my mother wasn't overreacting because she was a foreigner.  I always had a very pleasant experience watching fireworks on Independence's Day. But this July 4th, we got lost  and we missed the beautiful firework. We got cold sweat instead.  We however appreciate our July 4th because we feel very grateful that we had a good BBQ and we had a safe holiday.


  1. I'm glad you made it through the dangerous looking neighborhoods safely. That happens to me once in awhile when we go to Miami so I would rather just stay home when I don't know the area. We have a few run-down areas downtown where I live but no one gets scared driving through them. Your food looked delish but I have to admit, I have never tasted Japanese barbecue. I agree that marinating meat gives it the best flavor - we even do it with hamburger meat. We marinate overnight in steak seasoning and then put them on the grill. Too many people don't really know how to barbecue. Some meat needs to be partially or even fully cooked in the kitchen first and then browned on the grill and then sauce brushed on afterwards but not doused in sauce. I'm glad you enjoyed your 4th. Ours started out good but then when we got home, our power went out and stayed out for 3 and 1/2 hours. We went to Wal-Mart where it was cool and had lights!

    1. 3.5 hours is a long time for power outage in the summer... I guess this is why we should all welcome Wal-Mart to town:) I don't understand why there are so many scary neighborhoods scattered all over in one city.... I never had to worry about making the wrong turn when I was in Hong Kong, because even in the poorest street, I felt very safe walking around, and the people there are just normal looking hardworking people even though they are poor. They didn't look criminal or scary at all. The run down buildings in the poorest street in Hong Kong were never as run down looking as the ones here in Los Angeles. I just don't get it. I had been to Ottawa, Montreal, Vancuver and Toronto in Canada, it was clean and nice there in most areas, I don't know why Los Angeles has so many more scary neighborhoods and broken roads in comparison. I had never been to Miami and it certainly looks glitzy on TV and I am surprised to hear that there are also run-down areas....Here in LA, I feel like wherever nice street I'm at, a war-zone looking like neighborhood is just a corner away....The weather is always so nice in here though, what a shame that most of the prime real estate is wasted by run down neighborhoods.

  2. Is it a miso dressing? I think whole foods might have one. The Japanese restaurants around here usually have a ginger dressing. It's pretty good. I was creeped out to go to fireworks as well, but not because of the state of the neighborhood or it's occupants. More because of "the Boston Bombing effect."
    I don't really care for large crowds anymore, especially at patriotic public displays. Call me paranoid.

    1. Oh yeah, it could be miso dressing:) Thanks for helping me solve my puzzle. I haven't thought of it until you mentioned it. I know it was definitely not ginger dressing. I remember I was totally shocked to see yet another terrorist attack after 911 when my American coworkers came into my office with the news after the Boston bombing happened.... My parents in Hong Kong also warned me to not go to any crowded events on July 4th. They even told me to never fly with any American airline or in any plane that has too many Americans as passengers. "Never stay too close to the terrorists' target" is their motto.... But like many things they warned me not to do, I never listened most of the time......