Applause Japanese Restaurant-
After reviewing the pictures that I took of my family’s lunch at Applause Japanese Restaurant today, I have to say that they are truly awful. There were so many items on our table that I couldn’t take a picture of one item without five other items also making it into to the picture. Our table wasn’t crowded because it was too small. Quite the contrary, the four of us were given a table that could’ve easily seated six. Our table was crowded because there was a lot of food included in each of the four lunch specials we ordered.
I was partially to blame for the awful pictures because I had put on a fixed focal length lens on my camera. Since the minimum focal length of the lens did not allow it focus on items that were too close, I had no choice but to take pictures far enough away from each item that other items were included in the frame. Even though the other items were blurred and out of focus, they still made the pictures look pretty bad (bad moire, I guess).
The only solution that I had to the problem was to crop the pictures; that was the extent of my photo-editing capabilities. Actually, I didn’t even have that much experience making aesthetically pleasing crops. So you’ll have to forgive me if the pictures still look awful after my crop-job.
Crop Job #1: the ‘bento box d’ that I ordered.
It came with the following items:
- Chicken teriyaki on rice.
I thought that the chicken teriyaki was very good. Its skin was flat-surface fried to a nice crispiness, and its meat was perfectly tender. The teriyaki sauce was equally as good as the well-cooked chicken. I thought that it struck the right balance between saltiness, sweetness, and savoriness. The rice was also very well-executed. It was not mushy at all. Instead, it had a slightly firm texture that complemented the tenderness of the chicken as well as the balanced teriyaki sauce.
- Shrimp and vegetable tempura.
The tempura was also very good. It was crispy without being greasy. The shrimp was plump and juicy while the vegetables tasted fresh and sweet. Every single surface of every single shrimp and vegetable was suitably covered in batter. The batter was just thick enough for its texture to be enjoyed, and the crunchiness was indeed very enjoyable.
surf clam, albacore, and salmon sashimi.
The surf clam tasted fresh and I liked that it wasn’t overly chewy. The wild salmon also tasted fresh; it had a firm texture that I enjoyed. I thought that the albacore, while fairly fresh-tasting, had a texture that was a bit too mushy for my liking.
- salmon roll.
The salmon roll was another simple and well made item. I thought that the balance between the amount of sushi rice and amount of salmon was just right. The raw salmon that sat in the middle of the roll tasted fresh. It had no fishy flavours, and it had a nice, firm texture.
I felt the salad was just ok. Even though the lettuce was fresh and juicy, I did not like the dressing. It was too sweet and felt very one-note. I would’ve liked the dressing better if it was less sweet, more tangy, and with a teeny bit of spiciness added in.
Crop Job # 2: The dynamite roll and udon combo that my daughter ordered.
My daughter thought that the dynamite roll tasted like any other dynamite roll. My wife, who had a piece of the dynamite roll, said that the roll was much better tasting than almost every other dynamite roll. She said that unlike other dynamite rolls, she could actually feel the texture of the thin slice of lettuce included in the roll. The lettuce went well with the textures of all the other components in the roll. Among the other components, she thought that the tempura shrimp stood out. The tempura shrimp retained a very crunchy texture even though it was drizzled with sauce. My wife thought that the sauce was another component of the roll that was very enjoyable. She said that it was balanced and savory, much like the teriyaki sauce on my chicken teriyaki and her beef teriyaki (probably because the sauce used on the dynamite roll WAS the teriyaki sauce).
Like the dynamite roll, my daughter thought that the bowl of udon in her combo tasted like any other bowl of udon. She said that she liked the soup, but that it didn’t taste that much different than most other udon soups. She also said the exact same thing about the udon noodles. Since neither my wife nor I had a bite of the udon or a sip of the soup, her opinion is the only one that I can offer up.
Her combo also included the same salad (but with more vegetable components) that was in my bento box.
My daughter liked the fresh vegetables, but she could not stand the sweet dressing. She ended up eating only a quarter of the salad because she disliked dressing.
Crop Job #3: My son’s chicken katsu curry sans curry.
My son is still to young to appreciate the flavours of curry, so we told them to not even bother adding any curry to this plate of chicken katsu on rice. There was actually a plain chicken katsu don on their lunch specials menu, but we ordered the chicken katsu curry because it was a dollar cheaper.
My son liked the chicken katsu so much that he finished everything on the plate. The chicken was well-breaded. Every single cut-up piece of dark meat chicken was totally covered with breading. There was not one single void that I could find. The breading was fried to a nice crispiness while the dark meat chicken was juicy and tender. I know this because I had the job of cutting each pre-cut piece of chicken katsu into even smaller pieces for my son. Wanna know what I used to cut the chicken katsu? A spoon. The chicken meat was so tender that a spoon was all that was needed to cut through it. Each time that I cut through a piece of chicken, I could see juices oozing out of the chicken meat.
My son’s chicken katsu curry also came with a salad and miso soup. The salad was exactly the same as the salad in my daughter’s combo, so I won’t show it again. I’ll show you the soup, which also happened to be an item that came with the bento boxes that my wife and I ordered.
The miso soup was adequate. They added enough miso to the hot-water base that the flavours of the miso were rich instead of thin. Other than that, there was nothing that differentiated this miso soup from other bowls of miso soup served at other restaurants.
Crop Job # 4: Toro nigiri.
I ordered this just to see how the quality of fish at Applause stacked up against the quality of fish at other sushi joints. This toro definitely looked like the real deal. I could clearly make out the marbling just by looking a the the two pieces of sliced tuna belly sitting on top of rice. The sizes of the slices of fish and the balls of rice sitting below them were also just right. There was enough fish to cover the ball of rice, but there wasn’t too much fish to mask the flavours and textures of the rice. The size of the nigiri as a whole was also perfectly bite-sized so that I was able to comfortably chew and analyze the flavours of the nigiri. Sadly, with all that was right about the toro nigiri, it failed in the area that counted the most: its flavours. I just was not able to detect the usually rich and unctuous flavours of toro. All I got was fresh fish that had the appropriate melt-in-your-mouth textures, but no fatty flavours at all.
The only food pic today that did not receive a crop job was the picture of the ‘bento box b’ that my wife ordered.
The bento box came with the following items
- Chicken (wing) karaage – My wife gave me both pieces of the chicken wings because she was too full from eating all the other components of her bento box. Like the tempura in my box, I thought that the chicken wings were very well fried. They were not oily at all; they were even less oily than the tempura. The skin was crispy and the meat was juicy. I was also able to detect a saltiness that I felt accentuated the natural chicken flavours of the wings. These were not the most flavourful chicken wings I’ve had, but they were probably one of the least greasy deep fried chicken wings I’ve had.
- Beef teriyaki – My wie thought that the beef teriyaki rocked. The pieces of beef were not super thin slices like normal local beef teiyaki. They were thicker and felt more substantial to the bite. Even though their thickness resulted in their drier textures, the savory teriyaki sauce provided enough moisture for the beef to be enjoyed. My wife also thought that the pieces of not-overcooked onions provided a nice crunchy textural contrast to the pieces of beef.
- Nigiri – The nigiri was fresh, and my wife agreed with my sentiment that they were properly portioned. But my wife didn’t like the fact that there was no wasabi included in the pieces of nigiri. She thought that the lack of wasabi totally reduced the flavour intensity of the pieces of nigiri. I believe she used the word “empty” to describe how she felt after she had her first piece of nigiri.
- Salad – (see description of salad in section titled “crop job #1″)
- California roll – My wife gave me a couple of pieces of her California roll. I felt that what differentiated this California roll from others was that they used less mayo on the imitation crab filling. Eating a piece of this California roll was one of the few times in recent memory that I was able to actually taste the true flavours of imitation crab. The imitation crab flavours made this California roll different from other California rolls, though I would not say that this California roll was better.
Considering the flavours and textures of the four lunch special items we ordered, I would say that the quality of food was very good, and the quantity very generous for the price we paid. Because the food was good, I felt bad for the awful pictures I took. I wanted to change the pictures in a way that would give you a ‘better picture’ of what the food was like. Unfortunately, the only photo-editing technique I knew was cropping, and I don’t think I even have the proper artistic eye to properly crop food images to make them look more appetizing. But hopefully you’ll get ‘the picture’…what I mean is that hopefully, you’ll have a better mental image of the surprisingly good food that my family and I were served today.