18 September, 2013

Hit The Spot...

I end up eating out WAY too often when I am visiting Minnesota to miss out on the opportunity to try new, great places and flog them up.  So I was hangin with my big bro and his loverly bride down in Blaine and I went through my "to eat" list...yeah, there are places in almost every place in the world on that list, even little ol' Minnesota.

I had heard about some great Japanese that wasn't too far from their house.  The way the heat and humidity was going since we had crossed the border into Minnesota, I wasn't planning on cooking any time soon and I wasn't about to ask my sister to either.  So when I told them I wanted to eat at Hajime my big bro gave his approval right away.  He loves the place!  Well...that was easy.


They weren't that busy when we walked in at 6ish in the pm.  I was glad.  With a 3 month old and a 3.5 year old, there is NO telling what mayhem can ensue.  The Sprout has been pushing to skip his naps these days and has been winning the battle because we're visiting grandfolks and just like them...we don't want him to miss a single opportunity to make some memories so we've caved.  Little did we know...the "over tired" bad behavior for ALL of his missed naps was about to come pouring out all at ONE time right here at Hajime.  *sigh*

We four adults, whenever my Mister or I wasn't wrangling the 3.5 year old, were scouring the menu.  Next to Indian, Japanese/Sushi is one of my most favorite things to eat.  When I was pregnant with the Sweet Pea I just couldn't lay off of it.  I knew I wasn't going to be able to eat here again for a long time so I carefully read the menu.  Then I asked for recommendations from our waiter.  I was in luck, most of the things he recommended were things I had my eye on.  For our table we ordered an appetizer of Pork Gyoza and Wasabi Red Snapper, for myself I ordered the Phoenix Roll and Chicken Yaki Soba.  I was SO hungry that I almost ordered MORE than that, but I had been tipped off that their portions were large so I showed some uncharacteristic restraint and only ordered the two things for myself.  Then I got to looking around...

Sushi Bar

They are quite a different atmosphere than what I think most people from this area of the Twin Cities are used to...and that is a GREAT thing!  The Twin Cities area is FILLED to the brim with bars, SPORTS bars, taverns and cookie cutter fast food Asian places.  Lucky for Blaine...they Hajime takes modern chic to a new high.  Not the dive bars or middle of the road tavern sort of places that are ALL over the place in the Twin Cities area.  Hajime has class.

It didn't take long before our appetizers were in front of us.  Yay for fast service!

Pork Gyoza

One of my favorite things to eat with my sushi has always been pork gyoza.  These fabulously soft pillows of dough were filled with JUST the right amount of pork.  The pork was just lightly seasoned so as not to outshine the dipping sauce.  The dipping sauce was a perfect balance of salty and sweet and was a wonderful compliment to the filling.  The gyoza skin itself was cooked perfectly.  The seared portion was crisp and the tops were steamed to a precise softness.  There wasn't a single place on my gyoza where the skin wasn't cooked all of the way through.  I've been disappointed by that situation many, many times before.  It was hard for me not to take a second one...I knew I had save room for the snapper.

Wasabi Red Snapper
 The wasabi honey sauce was really the first element of this dish that hit my taste buds and I have to say my mouth just LOVED the combination of heat and sweet.  It was smooth though, the wasabi didn't smack me upside the head and make me regret my bite.  It was a gentle little tap and it had to be...red snapper is a delicate fish.  It takes on flavors so easily and this snapper was quite flaky in texture.  Red snapper can range from soft and flaky (like our fish) to firm (which is better suited for grilling).  Tempura battering it and frying it was a great idea to maintaining the integrity of the fillet without it disintegrating into nothingness.  The tempura texture was smooth and crisp and allowed perfect amounts wasabi honey to settle into crevices so there was sauce in every single bite.  Fabulous...I highly recommend you try this when you are there!

Next out to the table was my sushi roll.  I was actually feeling like I was starting to run out of room in my tummy...  Nooooo!!!!

Phoenix Roll

 I had my eye on this gem when our waiter recommended it to me.  Let me tell you what is in this masterpiece...  Spicy tuna wrapped around tempura shrimp and mango with tobiko on top.  Everything about this roll was delicious.  The tempura shrimp was cooked perfectly, the fish roe was a wonderful little "pop" of saltiness in every bite and the tuna was smooth in flavor and delicately meaty in texture, the rice was cooked properly and the sauce on top rounded the combination of flavors out adding a richness and spice to each slice.  Add a bit of pickled ginger, dab of wasabi and a tweency drizzle of soy...and my friend...you have some of the best sushi in Blaine.  My big bro asked for a piece...I actually thought two or three times before I said "Sure.".  I was getting uber full and I knew it.  But, the feeding frenzy wasn't over for me quite yet.

Chicken Yaki Soba

I won't lie..I didn't get to eat very much of this.  In fact, I took most of it to go.  I was so unbelievably full I felt like my tummy was going to bust open.  I took three bites...  The noodles with veg by themselves.  Marvelous.  The chicken by itself....surprisingly good.  They seasoned the meat; good idea.  The third bite was all of the elements of the dish at once...noodles, veggies and chicken.  It was a subtle, flavorful bowl of noodles.  I would order it again.  Though, our waiter told me if I liked "lo mein" (wheat noodles) I would like the soba (buckwheat) noodles.  I kind of chuckled a bit to myself...not the same noodle.  Lo mein noodles are much thicker and substantial than these soba noodles were.  But, that didn't take away from the fact that this bowl of buckwheat noodles hit the spot for me that night.

Hajime is a new favorite for me.  Fabulous atmosphere, attentive service, posh decor, and an innovative, daring menu...a winning combination overall.  I can see why my big bro and his misses hit this place up when they are feelin' like inhaling some great Japanese.  For the food quality and a price that is just right, head over to Hajime for dinner tonight.  It will be the best decision you made this week!

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