Friday, December 4, 2009

Little Tokyo Restaurant: Conquering the big rolls

Although the weather outside is frightful...frightfully still doesn’t prevent me from craving huge sushi rolls stuffed with fried soft shell crab, avocado, cream cheese and other tasty ingredients that really have no place in traditional Japanese cuisine.

Don’t get me wrong, I adore sashimi, tonkatsu, udon and other classical dishes, but I also appreciate the huge effort made by sushi chefs to please their patrons by incorporating local favorites into their rolls, creating some really incredible flavor combinations.  Little Tokyo on Carrollton Avenue is one such restaurant that appeals to New Orleans diners by offering local cuisine with a Japanese twist.  This is my 16th cheat and I am down 45 pounds.

When my friend Anne, my boyfriend John and I get together for sushi, there is no limit to our appetite for big, hearty rolls with exotic ingredients.  Last night, after being seated at a comfortable table at Little Tokyo, we couldn’t help selecting from the “special” rolls on the menu, huge rolls that are not only delicious, but beautifully presented.

From a long list, we chose a Mango Crab Roll, a Gustav Roll, a Po-Boy Roll, the Yami Yami Eel Roll and, my favorite, a Rainbow Roll.  We also decided to ask for the “Sushi Bar Special Salad” that seems to be a combination of leftover roll ingredients as it is different every time we try it.  Understanding the ferocity of our insatiable appetites, we almost ordered a sixth roll, but thankfully we decided against it considering the veritable “food coma” we experienced after the meal was over.  But I get ahead of myself...

Our salads came out first with a large ceramic cup filled with steaming hot green tea.  This time, the “special salad” was laden with romaine lettuce, cucumber, squid, sweet seaweed and a ginger dressing that was extremely flavorful.  Before we were finished, our Po-Boy Roll and Mango Crab Roll were presented in all their colorful glory on square, white plates that only accentuated their aesthetics.  We hurriedly inhaled our salads while eyeing the rolls, trying to decide which one to try first.

After preparing my soy/wasabi dipping sauce, I couldn’t help diving into the Po-Boy Roll.  It was a flavorful combination of fried soft shell crab, crispy shrimp tempura, boiled crawfish, and romaine lettuce held together with a soybean wrap and accented with the Chef’s Special Sauce that was both spicy and tart.  Next, I dove into the Mango Crab Roll replete with Louisiana lump crabmeat and romaine lettuce tied together in a soybean wrapper and topped with thin slices of cucumber and mango drizzled with a sweet chili sauce.  Absolutely delicious!

Soon, there wasn’t enough room on the table because the rest of our rolls were coming out in a flurry.  By the time we finished the Po-Boy Roll, our Rainbow Roll came out, gleaming with assorted raw fish like tuna, salmon and yellowtail wrapped with avocado around a basic snowcrab roll.  Then, while masterfully stuffing the last piece of the Mango Crab Roll into my mouth, the Yami Yami Eel Roll and Gustav Roll were served.  The Yami Yami is yummy to my tummy with thick slices of barbecued eel layered on top of a snowcrab roll and drizzled with tangy eel sauce.

I don’t know how something so tasty can be named after a hurricane, but the Gustav Roll was a fattening treat with fried shrimp tempura, spicy tuna and cream cheese in a soybean wrap and topped with thick slices of fresh salmon and mango surrounded by a sweet chili sauce.

I can’t believe we did it, but all the rolls were demolished and we pushed ourselves back from the table with luxuriant sighs of satisfaction.  Only one thing was missing…dessert!  Even though we had stuffed ourselves silly, we knew we couldn’t let a good cheat night pass without having dessert.

Luckily for us, Angelo Brocato’s was less than a block away.  We figured the half-block walk would provide a newfound appetite for pastries, and although we were wrong about that, we indulged ourselves anyhow.

My favorite pastry at Brocato’s is their flaky, custard-filled Napoleons, but they had sold out!  As I resigned myself to a mezzo instead, Anne selected two small cannolis and John chose an éclair.  There is truly nothing like the delicate, creamy Italian pastries at Angelo Brocato’s.

I already have plans for my next cheat so stay tuned!  I’ve selected a fairly new restaurant that I have never been to before, and the menu is one of the most diverse I have seen thus far.  This is simply the best diet ever!

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