Archive for April, 2011

Benihana Japanese Restaurant
850 Louisiana Avenue
South Golden Valley, MN 55426
(763) 542-9922

Website:  http://www.benihana.com/locations/minneapolis-mn-mp
Sushi Menuhttp://www.benihana.com/menu/sushi


Benihana’s was doing Teppanyaki before it was cool to do Teppanyaki.  Teppanyaki (aka hibachi) and is where cooking meets the circus.  I won’t go too far into it since most of you have probably been to one, but, it’s where the Japanese chefs have the open top grill and make onion volcanoes, throw the shrimp in their hat, and do other things that always make for a great night with a large group, children, or family.

SIDERANT: They also have a GREAT deal where you get $30 off of your meal during your birthday month if you sign up for their newsletter, here’s the link!  Just make sure you get a reservation if you’re going on the weekends if you’re going to do the hibachi grill!

But what you might not know about Benihana’s is that they have a really good sushi bar.  Their poor sushi bar is like the middle child of this Japanese Steakhouse that often times gets looked over, and what a shame.


My sisters were in town and had a wicked case of the “sushi fever”.  Since on Sunday’s my favorite place, Fujiya, isn’t open for lunch we ventured over to Benihana’s where I used to get my lunch fix when I worked over on that side of town.  I have never not been able to be seated immediately for the sushi bar and this time didn’t fail me.


Benihana’s is Japanese themed with an open dining concept with lots of Japanese art on a wood interior.  I’m guessing that they all look pretty similar.

But since I always sit by the fishes, the atmosphere is always the same at sushi bars!  Up on the glass…where the magic happens.

Our sushi chef was so great!


Three words: sushi, hibachi and sake.  That’s all that really matters anyways.

In regards to the sushi specifically, some of my favorite rolls and dishes include: the rainbow, the Las Vegas, Alaskan, shrimp crunchy, shrimp lover’s and spider roll.

And let us not forget the lunch boat.  The lunch boat is a dish that they only serve over lunch that is right around $10 and has everything that you might ever want in a balanced lunch.  Choice of Chicken, Salmon or Beef Julienne, shrimp and vegetable tempura, sashimi and half California Roll served with edamame, miso soup, salad, steamed rice and fresh fruit.  Why is called the lunch boat you ask?  Well click the link above to find out…


But enough about the boat.  Let’s get onto why we really went there…for sushi.

But how can you start sushi without some of these guys?

Spicy Tuna...My Favorite!

Top Left: Spider, Top Right: Shrimp Crunchy Roll, Bottom Left: California Roll, Bottom Right: Spicy Tuna

Might not look like much more than a deep fried soft shell crab

But then you see it compared to a hand and shiver in fear...

You can actually see the fear in her eyes, staring into the spider

But not scared enough to resist biting it's little spider legs off : )

Overall Review

While I love going there for sushi on the weekends, the huge drawback of going to Benihana’s is that you leave thinking of Benihana’s the rest of day.  Why would you think about it you ask?  It’s because you smell like a piece of grilled meat until you change your outfit or give yourself a Febreeze shower.  If your boss and cube neighbors don’t care or if it’s over the weekend and your spouse isn’t a vegetarian then you should be good to go though.

SIDE RANT: Most guys I know don’t mind a little bit of the grilled steak essence so I wouldn’t worry about that one so much.

In terms of prices, the sushi prices are very reasonable, everything I’ve had over the years has been fresh, and the service in the sushi bar has always been phenomenal.

So if you’re looking for a good sushi spot that is quasi-undiscovered (and overlooked) then I would suggest giving Benihana’s a try!

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Psycho Suzi’s 
1900 Marshall St. Northeast
Minneapolis, MN 55418

Website:  http://www.psychosuzis.com/
Menu(s): http://www.psychosuzis.com/menus.html


From what I’ve found via the internet, Psycho Suzi’s started out in 2003 as a brain child of Leslie Bock and it’s feel is that of a chic/hip/tattooy/artsy vibe.  In short, it’s a Polynesian tiki bar.  It’s popularity has grown so much that it’s actually just moved to a new location in Northeast to quadruple its square footage and better serve its hungry patrons.

Some of the other locations across Minneapolis that were listed on the restaurant’s websites included former Stand Up Frank’s location, Donny Dirk’s Zombie Den, and a tattoo and piercing shop called Saint Sabrina’s.  As I understand she has involvement in Donny Dirk’s but I’m not sure about the tattoo shop (maybe it’s just her and the staff’s favorite for all I know…if that’s the case then they probably do pretty well!).


As I’ve mentioned before, Guy Fieri from Triple D and I are friends (and he just doesn’t know it yet).  And since we’re friends, I take his recommendations to heart.  So on his advice we decided to cross over into Northeast to check out Psycho Suzi’s on a random Friday night.


For a place that is called ‘Psycho Suzi’s”…. it’s exterior extremely unassuming.

Not Quite Yet Sure What to Think

But as you open the huge bamboo doors, you walk into a magical oasis that must have been some kind of crazy (and possibly drug or drink induced) dream that the owner had.  Genius.  The restaurant is huge and is one of the neatest places that I’ve been to in the Twin Cities in terms of the decor.

I can’t even pretend that I can do the bars and restaurants judgment with my photos so I suggest that you stop there for a drink sometime.  Otherwise, this first link brings you to the selection of bars that are on the top level of the restaurant.  They are all themed a differently and are situated on three sides of the main dining, dance floor and band area.

And yes, I said band area.  The restaurant has an in-house tiki band that plays on the weekends.

When we came in at about 8:00 PM there was about a 15 minute wait but there were spots open in the downstairs bar so we decided to go that route.  With that being said, the pictures that I have in this post were primarily taken in the downstairs (little less awesome) portion.


The menu has what I would consider “spiced and classed up” bar food for the most part.   A variety of interesting appetizers include: cocktail weenies, cheese curds, pickle roll ups (MN favorite!), deviled eggs, fried asparagus, bacon wrapped smokies, and hummus.

For main dishes, there are burgers, hot and cold sandwiches, soups, salads, and last but not least, pizza.  The pizzas are either build your own or off of the “World Famous Minneapolis Pizzas” list.

Desserts listed included a deep fried snickers, a s’more platter that serves 2-4, ice cream, and birthday cake.


First off, yes, I know that we had meat on a Friday during Lent.  Naughty.  Glad we got that out of the way upfront.

I ordered the Pontiac Sandwich, which is a roasted pulled pork sandwich with BBQ and vinegar slaw on a toasted ciabatta.


Suzi's Pontiac Sandwich

The BF got the American Rambler, which is a burger with cheese and toppings (well there would have been toppings if he wouldn’t have added “no tomato, no onion, no sauces”).

Suzi's American Rambler

While I’m usually not the one to order a drink with my dinner, I knew that they were famous for them so I had to go big (I could make a really bad joke here but I’m going to hold back):

Bali Hai Slush Drink

Psycho Suzi's Margarita....What Was Left of It

Overall Review

Before I go into it, I have to start off with the fact that the service was good.  We sat at the bar so I’m not sure how much that had to do with it but none-the-less we did have great service.

Other than that though, all in all it was a pretty disappointing experience based on everything that I had heard online and through reviews.  The drinks were good but they better have been for the price tag that was on them…$6.95 a pop and I’m sad to report that the food we ordered was downright terrible.

  • The Pontiac sandwich was so spicy that I wasn’t comfortable eating it, the BBQ didn’t have a good taste, and the slaw was lacking in flavor.  There are few times that I leave things on my plate and this was one of them.
  • The tater tots were deep fried tater tots but who can screw those up, right?
  • The BF mentioned that the American Rambler Burger wasn’t anything to write home about either.  To the point where he doesn’t even remember if it was dry, flavorless, or what the issue even was but that he didn’t like it at all and was disappointed.

SIDENOTE: my roommate did mention that she goes there quite a bit for lunch and they do have a great sandwich and soup combo and that the vegetarian chili is pretty tasty.

My advice is that if you’re going to go, stick with the fan favorites….the pizza and the house drinks since our creative picks were duds.

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Why Did I Pick it Up?

I was looking for something that was a little more serious than the teeny bopper book series that I had just read and wanted to take my first try at a historically based fiction novel.

I had been hearing about “Pillars of the Earth” (by the same author) and decided to read this one first since it was based on WWI, which is a time period that I’ve had a hankerin’ to learn more about it anyways.

SIDE RANT: Isn’t that funny how in 13 years of eduction that our education system (for the most part) completely fails to teach us about WWI, WWII, and Vietnam?  To top it off, even in college the only place you learn about it is if you elect to take those specialized courses.  While I understand that the Spanish Revolution and George Washington are part of our history, is there really a need for us to learn about that same crap four different times in our curriculum and completely miss the last 100 years of history?  Well, who ever is writing the guidelines must think so….

About the Author

Ken Follett was born in Cardiff, Wales and did not “hit it big” until his11th novel, “Eye of the Needle”, in 1978.  After that Follett continued to write four more best selling thrillers.  But then in 1989 he decided to change course and wrote a novel entitled “Pillars of the Earth”, a novel about building a cathedral in the Middle Ages which you have either read or inevitably heard of if you are a book worm.

While a 1000+ page book about building a church might sounds super lame, I assure you that it can’t be. Oprah’s Book Club, the New York Times Bestsellers List, and millions of readers across Britain, USA, and Germany have told us so.  The sequel, “World Without End’ also hit the best sellers list and featured descendants of the original characters 200 years later in the same town.  They have even adapted the book series into a mini-series that I’ll have to check out after reading the novel.

After those critically acclaimed books Ken published a few more thrillers but eventually came back to historical fiction to being a new challenge, the Century Trilogy. 

This triology kicked off with “Fall of Giants”, focused on the First World War and the Russian Revolution.

About the Book

This books falls just short of 1000 pages packed with historical events with equal parts of secret romances, revenge, affairs, illegitimate children, spies, bootlegging, and anything else that you can think of that actually makes learning about history fun weaved throughout.

The novel begins in the year 1911 and brings us up to 1924 and includes a cast of 124, yes, 124 characters throughout the novel and apparently has six pages in the book that are solely dedicated to the list of characters.

 The Century Trilogy will eventually tell the entire history of the twentieth century, seen through the eyes of five linked families: one American, one English, one German, one Russian, and one Welsh.  Along with their varying origin, the group has all arrays of gender, background, political motivations, and class.  But for now, we start off with our 124 to start in “Fall of Giants”!

Some of key characters include:

  • Billy Williams: A Welsh miner with a union elected father
  • Ethel Williams: Billy’s sister, a housemaid at the Earl Fitzherbert’s country home
  • “Fitz” Earl Fitzherbet: English mine profiteer and part of the aristocratic English government
  • Lady Maud Fitzherbert: Socialite and suffragette sister to Fritz
  • Grigori and Lev Peshkov: Russian brothers, one a hard working and one a crook
  • Walter von Ulrich: Handsome and politically “middle” military figure
  • Gus Dewar: 20-something New York Senator’s son and aid President Woodrow Wilson
SIDE RANT: I heart Gus Dewar even though he started out as a real dummy.


I listened to this for over 30 hours on audio book and still can’t believe how the narrator was able to do American, German, Russian, English and Welsh accents throughout the novel.  Give that guy an Emmy or something already!  It was absolutely amazing how one moment he could be a tough German spy and the next he could be a 20 something Welsh suffragette.

I found the book extremely interesting and educational, with plenty of drama that helped to keep the pages turning.  After finishing the novel, I realized that I learned more about WWI, the Russian Revolution, English politics in the 20th century, the origin of the League of Nations,  communism, and Leninism than I had in the last 25 years, within a 30 hour novel.

So while it’s by no means a history book about WWI, it’s a book that takes fictional characters through the 20th century to real places, through real events, and they even have relationships with real characters.  Ken Follett’s comments on his historical accuracy is as follows, “I do not violate history. Where real people appear in my story, the things they do and say are usually things they really did do or say, or something very similar. For example, the fictional Fitz meets the real-life Lloyd George, and they argue about whether Zinoviev and Kamenev should be deported from Great Britain. In that scene Lloyd George uses words that are taken almost verbatim from a memo he wrote on the subject at the time.”.  

But since there are so many characters and backdrops, I would only recommend this book to anyone that is a committed enough reader to finish this within a month or so.  If you’re not…than I probably would stay away from this one since there are so many different story lines and characters.

****/5 stars

I can’t wait for the next book to come out in 2012 so that I can see what happened with all of my favorite characters next generation!

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Girl’s nights are the best and for a lot more reasons than just seeing your girlfriends and drinking your legal capacity of cheap wine and watching this year’s train wreck finale of “The Bachelor”.

This week’s #1 reason to be a girl was the Ganache Infused Cupcakes with White Chocolate Frosting, drizzled with caramel and topped with a Caramel Salted Cashew and Black Lava Salt.

Anyone Care for a Piece of Heaven?

Yeah, that was all on and up in dat….and holy h*ll it was something out of this world.

This was Emily’s “copycat” version of a “Salted Caramel Dream” from Sweet Retreat in Edina that Emily had been given to her as  gift from a client.  SIDENOTE: I WILL be going there in the near future if this is what their cupcakes tasted like.

Ms. Emily, Just Baking Up a Storm

These cupcakes were so amazing that I actually took two of them to my female coworkers that I knew would appreciate this labor of love….oh and did they, just like the rest of the crew.  The girls at work have been waiting for these recipes so here are the ones that Emily re purposed to bring this work of art together:

(for swirling into the cupcake batter and for drizzling over the top)



  • 3 cup heavy cream
  • 3 tsp vanilla
  • 7 1/2 TBS white sugar
  • 7 1/2 TBS sweet ground white chocolate
Instructions: Blend on medium to high speed with immersion blender or mixer until correct consistency for frosting.  Add sea salt or fresh ground lava salt and your favorite nut (caramel salted cashews were used here but you could use any of your favorites!).
Since you’re probably not familiar with ground white chocolate powder, here is the secret weapon that you can find for purchase online for just under $20:

Could have eaten this by the tablespoon, I actually might have.

 But let us not forget the other costars of the night:

Cheese Ravioli Tossed with Shrimp, Asparagus, and Pesto...in the largest Wok in North America

Fiesta Artichoke Dip by Shae....It might not look like much in the this picture but this is now my "go to" party appetizers after tasting it. Served with Pita Chips and Nann.

Fiesta Artichoke Dip Recipe


  • 3/4  package (1 oz.) Lawry’s Taco Seasoning Packet
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
  • 2 cans (14 oz. ea.) artichoke hearts, drained
  • 1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese (about 4 oz.)
  • 1/2 cup sliced green onions (optional)


 1. Preheat oven to 350°F. In medium bowl, combine all ingredients except 1/4 cup green onions. In 2-quart baking dish, spoon artichoke mixture.

2. Bake 25 minutes or until heated through. Garnish with remaining green onions and serve, if desired, with tortilla chips and/or assorted fresh vegetables.

The Whole Buffet Style Spread

Thoughts on the Bachelor Finale (Better Late Than Never?)

Emily has a kid.  Brad owns three bars with his brothers….the same brothers that kept questioning if he was ready for a kid right away and making statements to him that he couldn’t just “go home and watch football” whenever he wanted with a family.  I knew that it was a joke from the start and to be honest…..I’m not even sure why he picked her since we all knew he wanted someone that would move back to Austin.  NEWS FLASH BRAD: Emily’s husband’s parents live down the street and “Little Ricky” is all they have left of their son.

Also as an “after the show” reflection, turns out that Emily figured out what a shallow idiot Brad is while watching the Bachelor on Monday nights just like we did!  The tabloids all said that he spent Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday apologizing about how sorry he was for kissing and sharing feelings with other women.  But here’s the deal…

Dear Emily,

This is what you signed up for you dumb blond.  


Bachelor fans across the globe

PS: You got to go to like 3 countries and vacation while on the show so suck it up sweetheart….

Who goes on the Bachelor and doesn’t know that these things are happening?  Did she think that just because she’s innocent and  hot that she was invincible to the crappy parts of being on the Bachelor?  Probably not but it was a romantic notion.  My bets are that she’s going to be better with someone who waits on her hand and foot and will live with her in South Carolina.

Who will Brad be best with?  Probably the college girls in Austin that go to his bars are my bet since that sounds like JUST the right level of commitment for a guy that has a shrink on call.

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El Farallon
Camino Del Mar – 1
Cabo San Lucas BCS
C.P. 23455 Mexico

Website: http://www.capellahotels.com/cabosanlucas/el-farall%C3%B3n-,dining_viewItem_5-en.html


There is snow on the ground here again.  If I could track down El Nino, La Nina, or Mother Nature today I’m pretty sure that they would leave the fight with a black eye.  BUT, to make myself feel better I would like to reflect back on one of the most joyful seafood experiences that Mexico has to offer…El Farallon at the Capella Pedregal Resort in Cabo San Lucas.  On our last night, we wanted to go out and go out big with a fashionable dinner and oh did we!

About the Restaurant

El Farallón is a Los Cabos restaurant tucked into the cliffs of Capella Pedregal that resembles a coastal seafood shop that has survived its share of storms.

The restaurant is stocked daily with bounty from local fishermen. ‘Farallon’ in Spanish means ‘a rock that comes out of the ocean.’ El Farallon is situated Cliffside over the Pacific Ocean, where the local catch rests on mounds of shaved ice. Beside it, an old fashion scale weighs each catch, and the selection of the day is handwritten with chalk onto a blackboard. Various selections from the day’s catch are displayed on ice in El Farallón’s market-style fish display, or “La Panga,” accompanied by local experts available to answer your questions and assist in your decision.

After making your selection, your seafood is weighted and bagged and sent directly to the chef to be prepared on an open char grill. As your meal cooks, the grill spreads the charred aroma and the pungent flavor of freshly ground chilies.


You’re on the edge of a cliff overlooking the ocean.  Does it get any better?  In my opinion, no.  But has my face looked better than in the picture below?  Probably yes.

The tables, the kitchen, the prep table, and the seafood selection counter is entirely open air and is apparently one of the most beautiful places to be in all of Cabo during a full moon.


The menu includes boat fresh seafood including seabass, striped bass, mahi mahi, tuna, snapper, lobster (largest that I’ve ever witnessed), pismo clams, and ribeye for those of you that fear the fishes ; ).

The prices range from around $30 on up to $115 for the “Bounty of Ensenada” which has half a lobster, a pismo clam, striped bass, mahi mahi and sea bass.  But these are just the third course so don’t get so worked up about the prices just yet.


Course 1: Homemade chips, salsa, and fresh guacamole (same as the Beach Club and Paul Manuel’s from what I taste tested).  Fantastico!

Before telling you what we had for our second course, I have to you about how you pick your main course.

After having your chips, guacamole, and salsa the waiter approaches the table and let’s you know that “it’s time to go fishing”.  SIDE NOTE: I’ll tell you what, if fishing was like this it would be my new hobby!  Granted I’ve done some great fishing in my life but this was the best catch that I’ve ever had on the line!

You then approach the selection of fresh seafood on ice where the “captain” walks you through your choices for a main dish and two sides and answers any questions that you might have about the fish, the prices or the sides.

Course 2: Now back to the table for the soup of the day.  The second course was Ensenada Chowder which was similar to a vegetable soup with (what I guess) was a homemade fish stock or some kind of a fish base.  Some of the people in our group that are more of what I consider “white fish whoosies” thought that it was too fishy for their taste, but, I say “bring on the fish flava”!

I’l be honest in saying that it was by no means the best soup that I’ve ever had BUT I consider myself a picky soup connoisseur (as many of you might already know) so I probably have higher than normal standards on soup.

Course 3: Your third course is a trio of chef picked appetizers.  Our appetizers included panela cheese & tomato salad, sea bass ceviche “Acapulco style” and crispy shrimp with a jalapeño dipping sauce.  The crowd favorite was the crispy shrimp with the jalapeño dipping sauce but my personal favorite was the sea bass ceviche since I had learned to make the same one a few days earlier at the cooking class!

A great detail to add is that they bring out not just one plate of appetizers per table, but, enough to be am ample serving for the whole table.  As an example, for our group of 7 people they brought out (2) sets of this trio!  It was so nice not having to worry about your fellow table mates getting to try everything, especially with that large of a group.

Course 4 and 5: Me and my man’s motto for the night was “go big or go home” since we live in Minnesota we don’t often get a chance to order fresh seafood or even access to it!  With that in mind, we split the “Bounty of Ensenada”.  The bounty was indeed quite a bounty!  It included half of what I guess was a four pound lobster, sea bass, striped bass, mahi mahi, a monster clam and then we each got to pick (2) sides a piece (which I found surprising since we were splitting our meal).

L to R: Mahi Mahi, Striped Bass, Sea Bass. On top is the largest clam Ive ever witnessed...

Our friends also ordered a few items that were note worthy as well:

Sea Bass

Pan Grilled Flounder

Overall Impression

The atmosphere at El Fallaron is something that can only conjure up in your head when you’re trying to envision a perfect a romantic evening.  The waves, the breeze lightly blowing in your hair and the moon reflecting off the ocean make for a once in a lifetime experience.

In regards to the menu, if you are a seafood fan then you will love it!  The seafood is as fresh as it gets, perfectly pan fried, crunchy and not over seasoned.  Just how you want fresh seafood prepared and served.

If you don’t like seafood then I would probably would wonder why you are going there (and if you’re crazy), but, I also understand that sometimes people compromise with their significant others.  If you are the one compromising, just get over it and start your adventures with a mild fish like sea bass!

All an all an amazing dining experience that I’m sure that will be in everyone’s minds for a long time.

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