Minato Japanese Restaurant

Minato-Japanese-CuisineI’ve never been to a Japanese Restaurant, so I thought it was worth a try, given the fact San Jose’s Japantown is 1 of 3 remaining historical Japantown’s in the USA. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I had a peek at the menu beforehand so I knew a little bit about what to order.

Minato-hoursAs someone who hasn’t tried sushi (I’m so not ready for it yet, even after trying Ahi Tuna Poke in December), of course I’d be the person to order the few chicken dishes on a Japanese menu. Aren’t Eastern Canadians supposed to love fish? Probably. But, I’m not an adventurous eater like some.

minato-miso-soupI ended up staying in my comfort zone and getting a tasting of chicken teriyaki and salad. First came out our miso soup, where I dug out the yummy tofu with chopsticks. Because, yolo. I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to drink the miso soup, but I took it up with my hands and drank most of it before our lunch arrived.

Minato is on the smaller side of restaurants, and the menu is nice and short. I admire that, because whenever I go to larger chains I feel like I have to flick through so many pages to decide on what I want to eat.

Minato-lunchThe Guy and I ordered the same thing :) I wasn’t a huge fan of the salad, not much on it to be honest! The dressing was awesome, though I have no idea what they used.

Minato-mainThis is what you see when you walk in the first set of doors before you enter the restaurant. 

MinatoTowards the middle of the restaurant when you walk in, there is an area for kids prizes after they’ve finished their meal. I’m not too sure how the kids get tickets, perhaps after so many visits they can save up and pick out a prize for themselves. This sort of thing reminds me of my childhood, where we used to pick out prizes at a fair, or at a school event. Super fun, and I’m glad Minato is doing it too. After our bellies were filled with lunch, we ended up checking into our hotel at The Fairmont San Jose. Now that is one beautiful hotel, I’ll have a review of our ginantor suite we stayed in (bigger than our old apartment), later on!

If you’re craving a bit of Japanese food when you visit San Jose, come check out Minato, it’s only a 1.5 mile walk from the downtown core in San Jose. Plus, it has a ton of rave reviews on Yelp, so many people have been enjoying it!

Have you ever been to a Japanese Restaurant? What would you normally order?

Are you a fan of sushi?

Minato Japanese Restaurant
617 North 6th Street
San Jose, CA 95112
(408) 998-9711

Roasted red pepper and grilled chicken panini

Panini-headerI don’t do too many cooking recipes on the blog, primarily because I am so fixed in my ways with the handful I have in rotation and we’re pretty happy with it. As much as I like to be adventurous in the kitchen, it’s not me. I’m still making that lemon pepper chicken stir fry often, along with the good ol’ staples.

Two chefs in the family and one of them isn’t me. I leave it up to my Mom and Brother, who can take out everything in your pantry and fridge, whip something up in no time and have it taste like something from a restaurant. My Dad and I like to cook some boiled eggs and call it a day. My trick is when I taste my family’s home-cooking, I adopt their recipes to bring back to my kitchen and call it a day. Then friends come over thinking I’m the awesome cook. I do let them in on who actually came up with it though.

When Lori was here visiting, she noticed the abundance of sandwiches I consumed. Each time we went to a restaurant, I picked out the sandwich on the menu. I never noticed that I did it, but it all makes sense now — because they are SO good. And I can be really picky about my them too, you know they’re not all made equally.

Paninis are particularly my favourite. So that’s what I’m showing you guys today on my new Cuisinart Griddler that I got off O.co. I mean, you technically don’t need me to tell you how to make a panini since it’s pretty straight forward. That’s the great thing about sandwiches, you can add whatever you want!

CuisinArt-GriddlerAfter heating up the grill side of the plate, I waited until the grill reached its temperature before putting the chicken on. Always want those grill marks on chicken, perfection. They ended up taking about 13 minutes to cook since they were pretty thick to start with.

roasted-tomatoesLet the chicken cool and turn our attention to the cherry tomatoes (with salt and pepper on top) which I baked at 350º for 15 minutes to really give them some more flavour.

Trader-Joes-ciabattaI picked up some freshly baked ciabatta buns from Trader Joes since I spotted them there earlier last week and had it in mind to make this meal for the weekend, because when I went there last time to do my regular grocery shop I noticed they were sold out. So yesterday morning I headed into the store around 9am and they were stocked with plenty. I picked up two not really knowing how big they’d be once I removed them from the bags. Nothing to complain about, I love a nice hearty piece of bread.

mayo-spreadSlicing the cibatta buns in half, and add on some chipotle mayo. Oh, and be generous. I can’t stand a dry sandwich. We could get fancy over here and add some pepper jack cheese to give it a nice punch, but I had some colby jack in the fridge. Now don’t skimp on the cheese either, we want it to ooze goodness. Unless of course you’re dairy free. Then I feel really bad for you. I’ll have an extra piece for you.

making-paninisGo to town with whatever toppings you like on your sandwich. Spose we have to add some greenery to it too, we had spinach. I picked up some dill pickles and roasted red peppers also from Trader Joe’s — I hadn’t tried them before, they sounded like they’d pair well with everything else to go on the panini.

Panini-in-cuisinartFold’er up and add a drizzle of olive oil on top and pop it into the medium heated grill. Our old faithful grill/panini press kicked the bucket a while ago, it was a high end brand and I was sad to see it go. But they all get old and need to be replaced eventually. It was my Moms and she handed it down to me, plus the plates weren’t removable and not super easy to clean. The Cuisinart Griddler is a little lower end and the top handle feels a bit flimsier than what I’m used to. However it has many more options since it’s so much newer. You can use it as a grill, panini press, full grill, full griddle or half grill/half griddler. And the best part about the whole thing is that the plates can be removed and put in the dish washer!

CuisinArt-PaniniMy panini skills may need a bit more work. I pressed on it a little too firmly and a bunch of my overstuffed ingredients tried sneaking out. It may not be pretty, but it sure tasted amazing.

holding-paniniI give myself a pat on the back for this creation. If you’re really hungry you can add a side but we thought this was enough for us. I’d either have a sliced up honey crisp apple, a side salad or maybe some sweet potato fries. All the carbs. Don’t judge me. That’s what exercise is for.

Angle-of-CuisinArtThe only thing that bothers me about the panini aspect of the cuisinart griddler, is that the top has a fixed angle as you can see from the side view. Where as my other grill/panini had allowed for a flexible top plate and squished it flat rather than angled, making a more even flat panini. I rotated the sandwiches half way through so they wouldn’t be flat on one side and puffy on the other.

behind-the-scenesOh and a little sneak of the mess behind the scenes of the blogging world. Keepin’ things real.

What are some of your favourite foods?
Mine are: asparagus, carrots, potatoes, chicken, popcorn, candy, sandwiches and pizza. Ha!!!!

What are some foods you hate?
My husband and I both cannot eat or touch anything with onions on/in it.

What do you like on sandwiches/paninis?

Disclaimer: O.Co aka Overstock kindly sent me the Cuisinart Griddler for review purposes. All opinions are my own.

POM Friday . 19

Alfie-looking-upHere I was yesterday photographing some beauty products at the top of the stairs with my perfect little set up with the best kinda sunlight coming in through the window. Mr. Man over here decided he wanted none of that, and all the attention on him. So he got right involved with getting in the way, pawing at me, and making whimpering noises. I couldn’t ignore that cuteness. So yea, he’s a little more than spoiled, but he’s our little buds!

Alfie-cuddleThe lighting is a bit off (and pic is pixelated) because the front facing camera on the Blackberry isn’t as good as the regular side. But I had to capture this shot of my little puppa cuddlin’ me. He was craving attention since I was focused on snapping pictures for the blog and instagram. Funny little fella hey. The people that know Alfie in person find it so hard to believe he’s actually affectionate and cute. Because out in public he’s a wild beast!

Alfie-laying-downAll nonchalant like he doesn’t even know I am there trying to work on my beauty pictures.




Alfie-cuddlesHe’s actually smiling! HAHAHAHAHAA.

Makeup-pic-for-blogOh, and here’s the instagram picture I was trying to snap while he was getting right up in my face. :) I was testing out the new YSL mascara that was sent to me in an Influenster Vox Box for testing purposes. Side note: why do all YSL products SMELL so good?! I’ve used this mascara before, and it’s great for both volume and lengthening, but it’s really pricey so I’ve only bought it once. You know, you can sign up for Influenster for free too if you use social media. You get all sorts of free goodies in the mail to test out. Here is my referral link. I have no idea what I get out of it if you sign up, but I thought it wouldn’t hurt to use it. Or not. Lol.

Have a great weekend! What are your plans?

Disclaimer: I received these products (YSL Mascara) complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes.