Restaurant Review: Yama

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Ever since I moved to Morgantown, there has been a single restaurant that I will always hold above the rest.  That restaurant is Yama.  I am a complete sucker for Japanese food, and Yama is all about Japanese food.   They don’t specialize in high-end cuisine.  Yama is all about mom’s home cooking, washoku style.

The owner and head chef is known only as Yama-san, a smiling, older gentleman on the other side of the window, always busy cooking something tasty.  When you step into Yama, he will be the first to smile and greet you, and he will be the last to thank you for your patronage as you leave.  You place your order at the front desk, and pay with cash, and cash only.  This particular trip I was looking to have something cool and refreshing, as it was 80F outside (in March!)  I chose my old standby, the spicy tuna roll.  I also ordered up some takoyaki and some miso soup to sip.

The waitress brought me  glass of water and my miso soup, then my entree and appetizer shortly after.

Let’s start with the tasty, tasty miso soup.  Yama is where I was introduced to miso and their miso soup will always be my favorite.  It’s made with shiro miso in a dashi base, with silken tofu, wakame seaweed, and scallions tossed in.  It’s always piping hot when it gets to you and is designed to sip straight from the bowl.  The waitress refilled my soup a couple times while I was there, on the house.  Delicious stuff and full of antioxidants.  I like to make it at home.

Next is the takoyaki.  Takoyaki is street food in Japan.  It is like American hotdogs that you get from a food cart.  That’s not to disparage takoyaki, because it’s delicious, but it is very much street vendor food.  It is made with a batter, with scallions, benishoga, and tempura bits, poured into oiled half-sphere molds over high heat.  Pieces of cooked octopus are then dropped in and the batter is rolled in the mold until it cooks into a golden brown sphere.  It is served with Kewpie mayo, Bulldog sauce, more benishoga, and aonori.  It might sound exotic, but it’s really not.  I highly recommend it!  I like mine with lots of sauce.

Finally, let us discuss our entree.  I adore Yama’s spicy tuna roll.  Much of the spicy tuna rolls in Morgantown are made with shredded tuna rather than whole chunks, as Yama does.  The shredded tuna version tends to be mushy and lacking, but Yama uses firm, whole tuna in his rolls.  It is rolled with cucumber, with tobiko roe mixed into the rice.  It is then topped with a delicious spicy mayo.  Absolutely wonderful.   Yama serves a lot of it, too.  Each plate averages about ten to twelve rolls, which is easily a meal on it’s own.

Absolutely delicious!  And the color is gorgeous.  I apologize for the less-than-stellar iPhone picture, but my dSLR threw a fit in the low-lighting.

There are many more things I love about this restaurant.  They have a pretty large menu given how small the restaurant is, with authentic ramen, soba, udon, donburi, and appetizers.  They also have ice cream desserts, namely mochi ice cream and green tea ice cream, my personal favorite.  Everything is available to-go upon request.

I have and always will give Yama an A+, and will return as often as I can!

Yama on Urbanspoon

Chicken Yakisoba

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One of my favorite Youtube channels is the Japanese cooking channel, cookingwithdog.  It is a step-by-step cooking show concerning traditional Japanese meals.  I fell in love because I love step-by-step cooking shows, and Japanese food, so immediately subscribed.  While watching CWD one day, I saw a vid for Yakisoba, or fried noodles.  Mat, who was laying in bed next to me, looked over while I was watching and said “Oh my god that looks so good.”  You know what that means, right?  I gotta make it!

So I did.  The wonderful thing about recipes like this is you can do whatever you want with it.  I had a single chicken breast sitting in my freezer, so I figured I would use that first before I lopped up the massive pork tenderloin roast I have in the fridge.  I also used different veggies.

What I used after the jump.


Raid at Vonson Asian Grocery, Morgantown

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So I decided to go on a little shopping trip to my local Asian grocery.  It exists in the basement of a laundromat, way out of the way.  I needed some udon noodles and new chopsticks (since my favorite ones are MIA), so I skipped down that way.  Of course, I never leave with just what I wanted.

I left with this stuff.

Starting from the top, left to right:  500g of uncooked udon noodles, bonito flakes, kombu kelp.  Next row: Hello Panda chocolate biscuit snacks (for Mat), Lychee candy, Melon Ramune.  Next Row:  My new chopsticks, sencha green tea, donabe pot.

The kombu and bonito are for my adventures in dashi stock making, from scratch.  The candy and pop because I love candy.  The donabe, however, was an impulse buy.

At one of my favorite restaurants, one of their best dishes is an assorted meat and veggie hot pot.  It comes in it’s own earthenware dish, still sizzling, and I’ve been fascinated by it.  A little digging and I learned that the earthenware pot is called a donabe, and it is actually a cooking vessel.  When I spotted the stacks of donabe, I immediately grabbed one!  Hell, it was only $7, I can certainly afford that.

When I showed Mat the donabe, he got excited at the idea of a nice udon hot-pot dinner.  He got pot-pie instead, but I want to cook in the donabe sometime soon.  I little research said I have to season it first, but it’s a simply process.  I don’t be able to use it tomorrow, though.  😦

We shall see what tasty masterpieces I come up with in the donabe!