Road Trip Food Adventures – Kushi Yama
Soooooo, some of you may recall my last post, in which I shared that I’m embarking on, what i like to call, a “Paleo-centric” diet. That’s my term for a “mostly” Paleo diet.
*Sidenote – have you seriously investigated the Paleo lifestyle? It’s pretty specific about what it considers non-paleo …
My goal is to eliminate all carbohydrates by way of wheat, grains, beans and legumes. This past week I’ve been pretty lenient on dairy, and I’ve let some wheat and rice slip in as well, but for the most part, I’ve been focusing on lean meats and fruits and veggies and I already feel a lot better.
But then I decided, “Hey – why not take another road trip back to Texas for work?” Lately, it seems like I can’t settle in and relax at home. There may be unresolved issues I’m not dealing with (aren’t there always?) but I hit the bricks anyway.
And then I remembered I’m supposed to be doing Paleo … while on the road … in Texas … near/around/by Houston and Austin which are the homes of MANY of my bucket-list restaurants. This is not going to be easy, and I already know I’m going to slip up a bit this next week. For the most part, though, I’m really going to keep wheat and grains to one meal a day, if at all.
Tonight I stopped in Amarillo. I usually do when I leave home – it’s about 10 hours or so and as I age, that’s about all I can drive on a good day. Trouble is, and I don’t mean to be unkind, Amarillo is not a foodie hot-spot. There’s a lot to choose from along I-40 as you head through town, and I always wondered if the Kushi Yama Asian Tapas was any good. Tonight I gave it a try.
I’m a big fan of scoping out a joint before I ever get there, so a quick glance at the menu last night and I knew I could stick pretty close to my Paleo goal. In addition to Sushi rolls and various entrees, they also featured yakitori. Yakitori actually means grilled chicken in Japanese, but it also refers to the style of grilling skewered foods. Those foods are mostly proteins and vegetables. Score!
What makes traditional yakitori so special is when it’s cooked over Binchotan charcoal (also called white charcoal), which is a dense, hardwood charcoal. It burns super hot which produces fantastically crispy foods without drying them out. It’s an different smokiness that I’ve come to really enjoy. It’s more expensive than regular charcoal, but you don’t need a lot and it burns for a long time.
Hmmmm … yakitori party anyone? Me thinks it may be time …
I ordered skewers of pork and pineapple, asparagus and bacon and a whole grilled squid which was delicious and tender. They were a bit heavy handed with the togarashi (a Japanese chile condiment that I’m also kind of addicted to) but overall the food was good.
I’d read the reviews before I went and their service did not get high marks. Food always wins out with me. A waiter could stand over me as I ate and emotionally abuse me all night long if the food was good. But the reviewers were spot on – the staff was a bit clumsy and everyone seemed new. Being a food nerd, though, I raved about everything and toward the end of the night my waiter suggested if I stopped back through on my way home, he highly recommended the Five Spice Duck.
I loves duck. Lots and lots.
The noodles underneath the squid (above) are glass noodles, are made from starch; sometimes mung bean starch, yam, or potato starch (gasp!). I’ve never been a big fan of glass noodles so it was easy to leave them on the plate.
The sushi, however, was my one guilty pleasure. I could not turn away just one maki roll – a lovely little rainbow with tuna, yellowtail and salmon. It was only five little pieces!!!
My boss, Gary Yamamoto, loves to cook and eat Japanese dishes whenever possible, but even he eats every meal with a small bowl of rice and he’s a rail! I will admit that the rice to meat/vegetable ratio is quite small.
Tomorrow I’ll be heading down to Conroe, TX where I’ll be hanging for a week to cover a fishing tournament. On the way, I’m stopping off in Fort Worth to enjoy me a little Woodshed Smokehouse. I’ve been reading a lot about it lately. They focus on BBQ, which is definitely Paleo. On trouble is, they have a BBQ Ramen on the menu. BBQ Ramen!!!!
I’m not making any promises.