Time For Soups

It’s that time of the year where cooler temperatures are among us and what does that mean?  Well, for those that only like soup when it’s cold, then, its time for soups!

I re-introduce to you “Tanya’s Soup Kitchen.”  It truly is one of my favorite lunch spots and it’s even better now that it can warm me up so that I can report in the frigid cold winds of Kansas.  I introduced Tanya’s to both phojos Scheffer and Gio, and I believe they are fans too.  Every time I walk into the restaurant, I’m eager to see what’s on the board.  There’s always a new soup that I haven’t tried and I’m never disappointed with my selection.

Another favorite spot of mine is Barn’rds near 21st Street and Woodlawn.  They have my favorite vegetable beef soup.  I always combine it with the delicious BBQ beef sandwich.  It reminds me of my days in college whenever I eat there.

My favorite sushi place, Wasabi, also has a warm treat.  I enjoy eating their seafood udon noodles with the beef stock soup.  Although, I have to say that in terms of udon noodles, I still prefer the sweet udon noodles at Kanai (on the west side of Wichita).  In one of my next entries, I’ll have to introduce you to pho, Vietname noodles in soup.

Volunteering in south Wichita has its perks…re-visiting Restaurante Usuleteco.  After my friends and I volunteered at the Lord’s Diner, we visited the restaurant at about  7:45 p.m.  The staff was kind enough to let us order and eat our food, even though they closed at 8 p.m. on Friday!  I don’t recall any soups on the menu but I thought this would serve as a nice reminder of this mom-and-pop restaurant.  If you’re looking to break from the routine or are looking for something good and new, then I recommend this place…just don’t show up at 7:45 p.m., like us.


Sushi in Kansas? Wasabi

This was my third time at Wasabi and it didn’t fail to meet my expectation.

A group of friends and I had just finished volunteering at the local soup kitchen on Friday and were craving sushi.  Although we knew it would be busy and there would probably be a wait,  it was worth it.  Thankfully, we had five in our group so one person managed to find a parking spot rather quickly and got inside to our name on the waiting list.  The rest of us were not so lucky.  It took us nearly 15 minutes to find a parking spot.  I’d never seen Old Town so busy at around 8 p.m.  Perhaps people waited to come out after the temperatures started dropping.

In the heart of Old Town in Wichita is this Japanese sushi restaurant.  They’re located on the northwest corner of Douglas and Washington.

By the time we found a spot to park and got inside, we waited just a couple of minutes to be seated.  The restaurant was packed full of young professionals and new families (we knew this from the crying babies).  The noise level didn’t bother us because we were too busy catching up with each other and selecting sushi.

Four out of the five of us decided to have sushi and eat it family style.  We each paid $22-23, which included sushi, miso soup, tax, and 20% tip…not bad for the wide variety of sushi we ordered.

We ordered two classic rolls, California and Eel/Avocado rolls.  The two other times I’ve eaten at Wasabi, I ordered at least one of those two rolls to prepare my taste buds for more adventurous sushi.   After this visit, I think I will go directly to the Chef’s Special Rolls, especially the *Salmon Crunch Roll and the *Spicy Tuna Tempura Roll.

(Top-Bottom, L-R): California Roll, Eel/Avocado Roll, Super Tiger Roll, Spicy Tuna Tempura Roll

We ordered the following five Chef’s Special Rolls:

  • Coconut Gigolo (coconut shrimp, mango, cilantro, soy paper, and peanut butter) – I’m sure you looked at the words peanut butter and thought, that doesn’t go with the word sushi.  Well, it was surprisingly delicious.  You can taste the peanut butter but it went very well with the coconut shrimp.  I didn’t taste the mango, probably because of the peanut butter taste overpowered it.
  • Volcano Roll (spicy tuna, mozzarella cheese, baked masago) – I could have passed on this one.  I’m not a big fan of cheese combined with tuna and masago (fish eggs).
  • *Salmon Crunch Roll (crab, avocado, salmon tempura) – This was the upgraded version of my regular California Roll.  This roll had a good balance of flavors and had the right amount of crunchy texture.  I like this roll very much and I think this will be the first roll I’ll order next time around.
  • Super Tiger Roll (shrimp tempura, spicy tuna, shrimp, avocado) – I’m a big fan of shrimp so this was my favorite to look at.  There were slices of shrimp on top of each sushi roll.  The roll had a nice little kick it to it, thanks to the spicy tuna.
  • *Spicy Tuna Tempura Roll (spicy tuna, avocado, fried coconut flakes) – Don’t let the name fool you, this was spicy enough that I could handle it.  I don’t usually like spicy foods but this sushi was actually mild enough to be able to enjoy the rest of the flavors.  The coconut flakes helped balance the spice on the tuna.  This was another one of my favorite rolls.

Coconut Gigolo Roll

It is expected that a restaurant specializing in sushi will take some time in making the rolls.  We didn’t keep track of the time from when we ordered to when we received our food.  We were enjoying each others’ company and felt that our waitress paced our meal well.  The owner brought out four bowls of miso soup and noticed that the fifth guest, who ordered Japanese noodles instead, did not order soup.  She didn’t want our friend to feel left out and brought out a complimentary bowl for her.  This made me feel good supporting a restaurant whose owner is not only working together with her chef-husband, but also being extra attentive to details even when it was busy.  On the other hand, we were too busy enjoying our food that we never noticed that an item we ordered, never came.  We ordered the edamame, salted soybeans in a pod, as our appetizer but it never came before or after our meal.   They apologized for it and corrected our bill.

Overall, a great experience and I’m already looking forward to the next time I go back to Wasabi.

Another Japanese restaurant with delicious food and sushi is Kanai.  It is located on the southwest corner of Maple and 119th St, on the west side of Wichita.  The single time I’ve eaten at Kanai, I found the atmosphere inviting, food delicious and filling, and the service exceptional.