Sake Shaved Ice? Free sake shots? Yes, please!

Gaijin recently opened in downtown San Diego. “Gaijin” means foreigner or outsider in Japanese, a perfect name for this Japanese fusion place.

When I first read of the opening, I was a little wary. When I was contacted directly by the restaurant to check it out, I almost declined. Then I did some more research and saw many positive reviews. I perused the menu and was surprised to see creative items like Sake Shaved Ice and decided to give it a try.

The restaurant owners are very much aware that they are outsiders and don’t pretend to be otherwise. As stated in the website description, “we embrace our role as outside admirers of the country’s cuisine.” And I think they do it well.

Rather than trying to copy all the traditional dishes, Gaijin offers many dishes that are indeed inspired by Japanese cuisine but with a unique twist so that you don’t automatically compare it to a version you’ve had at a traditional Japanese restaurant. The menu is fun and so is the atmosphere. In fact, a round of free sake shots to thank the chefs are provided during dinner.

Complimentary Spicy Cabbage

I really liked this raw cabbage slaw. It reminded me a little of kimchee that has not yet reached its full fermented state.

Blistered Shishito Peppers

Lightly seasoned with salts and spices and grilled, these were simple yet addicting. I couldn’t stop eating these and will have to make them at home sometime  once I figure out the spice rub used.

Black Sesame and Mango Kakigori Cocktails

Japanese shaved ice mixed with sake. I’ve never been a huge fan of sake, but I really enjoyed it in this form. I preferred the black sesame which used a milky sake that is lighter and sweeter. The mango was stronger and also had a spicy kick. These were visually appealing and so fun to eat. An extra shot of sake was provided as well to pour over the cocktails.

I’ve made a lot of healthier dessert recipes on the blog lately. But sometimes, you just have to indulge. And this is one of those moments. These brownies were worth every calorie and gram of fat ingested and all the sweat needed to work them off.

Brownies are already rich and decadent but the blueberry ice cream takes it to a whole new level. It makes sense really. I’ve had chocolate covered blueberries and love them and this recipe reminds me a lot of those.

I found a recipe for Ice Cream Sundae Brownies on Picky Palate and was intrigued by what ice cream would do to the texture and taste of the brownies. Picky Palate’s version doesn’t just add ice cream, but also adds chocolate sauce and all the other goodies in a classic sundae.

I didn’t want all the chocolate sauce and other stuff, but I wanted the ice cream. While perusing my ice cream collection, I found the perfect flavor. Haagen Dazs’ blueberry crumble. It made me think of a blueberry brownie dessert made by my friend limer35 which he posted on instagram that just had me drooling.

I really love the taste of freshly baked bread. If it’s the result of my own labor, that’s even better. But I don’t have much patience and so I don’t make my own bread often.

I love coming across easy bread recipes that don’t require a lot of waiting around. I came across a recipe for 40 Minute Hamburger Buns and was in the kitchen the next day making it. It’s 40 minutes start to finish including baking time. Pretty impressive.