Issho Ni Ramen, Sushi & Hibachi

Issho Ni Ramen, Sushi & Hibachi in Willoughby (not to be confused with Issho Ni Poke in Mentor) is in an unassuming strip mall on Euclid Avenue in Willoughby. Issho Ni is a bit out of the way compared to other options closer to the city proper, but it’s definitely worth the drive out for its great flavor and fresh fish. One of my friends had been suggesting we go for a while, and I decided to give it a go in July because sushi is a great cool dinner.

I looked at Yelp photos and the menu first to get an idea what to expect. Yelp showed me that Issho Ni was serving things like Ikura with quail egg or nigiri with scoring and sauces that I had only seen at Kura (the conveyor belt sushi restaurant in Troy, Michigan). I was completely intrigued by the Sunshine Roll. My home computer and wifi network is called Sunshine, so I like the name. I was intrigued by the fact that they top it with lemon and honey. The Sunshine Roll features crabmeat, cucumber and avocado topped with fresh salmon, lemon slices, tomato, bell pepper, sesame seeds, and a honey wasabi sauce. My roll came out without tomatoes, but I certainly didn’t notice. The roll was one of the best I’ve ever had, and the entire table agreed that it was the best choice of the night.

I also ordered a California Roll (bottom of photo with black sesame seeds) and the Rock n Roll (top of photo), which is essentially a Philly roll (minus the avocado) deep-fried in tempura. The California Roll also comes deep-fried as an option, but I thought the cream cheese roll would be tasty with a little heat. The California Roll was your basic crabmeat, cucumber and avocado roll, but I don’t remember any avocado and barely noticed the cucumber. The Rock n Roll had smoked salmon and cream cheese inside and was topped with scallions, masago, sesame seeds and eel sauce. My friends were teasing me because I was liberally applying the wasabi to them, but I just found both of them pretty bland. I had ordered an expensive Seared Toro Nigiri (fatty tuna), but the server never brought it. I was full enough from the rolls, so I told him not to bother. I honestly think he had forgotten it. I don’t know many servers who would forget a $17.50 item, but it was easier on my wallet in the long run.

My one friend ordered the Albacore Lover Roll and a seaweed salad. The seaweed salad came out first, and it had a great flavor. I can see myself ordering it the next time I am there. The sesame oil was liberally and perfectly used. I won’t even mind that it sticks in between my teeth. Note to self: only order it when dining alone – LOL.

My friend has a shellfish allergy, so she was thrilled to hear that the crabmeat was imitation crab because she was able to try all of our rolls. Her Albacore Lover Roll was also tasty. It contains spicy tuna and cucumber topped with albacore, fried onions, scallions, and ponzu sauce. I enjoyed the crunch of the fried onions, and the flavors came together really well.

My other friend ordered the Issho Ni Roll, which features crabmeat, avocado, and cucumber topped with spicy tuna and deep-fried eel tempura, spicy mayo and eel sauce, masago, scallions and sesame seeds, and the House Roll, which features crabmeat, tuna, salmon, yellowtail, cucumber, avocado and a sweet mustard sauce. They were both good, but the House Roll was really awkward to eat. It was sliced very thin and was very tall.

We were given our checks without asking if we wanted dessert, which we did. Two of us ordered the matcha tiramisu, and one ordered the sweet pudding. All three came out partially frozen. The server was appalled by the look of the pudding and took it away, saying he couldn’t charge her for it. We enjoyed the matcha tiramisu because it was so refreshing semi-frozen.

It also would have been nice if he hadn’t started to wipe a table and mop the floor immediately adjacent to us while we were still eating. The overpowering detergent smell did not lend itself to the enjoyment of the dessert.

I went back to try the Yakisoba on a Sunday afternoon. I ordered the Scottish Salmon nigiri as a starter, which was just delicious. The rice fell apart a little too much, but the fish was perfect.

The server then brought out my Yakisoba and thanked me for my patience. I told her there was no patience needed because I had only ordered it minutes ago. The kitchen was super quick. I really liked the flavor of the Yakisoba. It had a basic sweetness to it that I liked, and the light vegetables added to it were great – cabbage and some scallions. ordered the chicken and debated adding shrimp for a second, but decided to just stick with chicken.

I also ordered the Sunshine Roll again and the Volcano Roll. They were out of the seafood mayo topping for the Volcano Roll, so the server suggested another roll that was similar called the Firecracker Roll, which features spicy tuna, cucumber, avocado, crab stick that is deep fried and then topped with shrimp tempura, habanero and scallops. Once I figured out what was making it so spicy (habanero) and removed it, I enjoyed the roll much more. I ended up taking half of everything and another Sunshine Roll home as leftovers.

Contact info:

Issho Ni Ramen Sushi and Hibachi
34302 Euclid Ave Unit 1-2
Willoughby, OH 44094
(440) 306-8020
Closed Mon. & Tues., open Wed-Sun from 11 am to 9/9:30 pm

Yonder Brunch & Vibes

Yonder Brunch & Vibes opened this year in Midtown in La Bodega’s old location. This is not fast food so a wait was to be expected, but the wait during my initial visit was ridiculous. I brought a small group in for breakfast, and we must have completely overwhelmed them. We were probably the first people through the door, but more people arrived after us. The first person who ordered from our group ended up getting his food last – an hour after he ordered it. That said, the food was really good.

I ordered a coffee and an apple juice as well as a breakfast that featured soft-scrambled eggs, bacon, buttered and grilled Texas toast, and smashed potatoes. It was a lot of food! I ended up packing some potatoes, toast and bacon to go because it was a lot. When I say buttered and grilled, I mean buttered and grilled. This was the most buttered toast I have ever had – I swear they SOAK it in butter before grilling it. It also leaves your hands greasy, so keep the breakfast sandwiches in the paper wrappers when you eat them.

The coffee is good and you can go up to the counter for a refill. They have milk, half and half and liquid creamers available. They have the sugar, creamer packs, stirrers, etc. with the silverware, syrup and butter on the side counter.

Most of my friends ordered the Yonder breakfast sandwich or some variation thereon. It features the buttered and grilled Texas toast packed with bacon or sausage (or avocado), egg and cheese. The Yonder features Applewood bacon, caramelized onions, soft-scrambled eggs, cheese, chives and Chipotle Mayo. Everyone loved their sandwich.

Two of my friends ordered the Pancakes Classic, which features two pancakes, two eggs and your choice of meat. The soft-scrambled eggs had some cheese in them, and the over easy eggs came out perfect.

They also serve cocktails and special iced teas, but it was too early for a cocktail. They are only open from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., so I can’t imagine they do a rocking alcohol trade (particularly during the week). The iced tea was very refreshing, if a little boring – it only had a couple citrus wedges when some of the other photos I’ve seen are more decadent.

Despite the wait, everyone left happy. I’m not sure if anyone went back on their own, but now that they have opened a second location in South Euclid I think it is pretty likely they are doing good business.

I went back again to try the Cereal Killa French Toast. They use the Texas toast and coat it in breakfast cereals. The Cereal Killa features 4 slices of French toast (you can choose from Fruity Pebbles, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Apple Jacks and Frosted Flakes), while the French toast breakfasts have 2 slices and egg and meat. I tried the Fruity Pebbles French toast with two eggs (I chose well-scrambled with no cheese) and a meat (pork bacon for me). I can’t decide if I liked the Fruity Pebbles French toast. They had a weird scent and flavor. I think the heat might change the molecular structure a bit. The flavor lingered with me throughout the day. I’ll try Frosted Flakes next time. They even have an Oreo French toast now. The menu is a little longer than it is online.

Contact info:

Yonder Brunch & Vibes
Midtown location
3859 Superior Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44114
(216) 465-3046

Cedar Center North location
13957 Cedar Road
South Euclid, OH 44118
(216) 400-6201

It’s Fish Fry season again!

This has been a very weird year. I’ve been disconnected from the restaurant scene because I am at high risk and have been sheltering like a pro. I’ve been doing my part in getting take-out, but oftentimes I have been relying on restaurants I regularly enjoy and have probably already reviewed. I pivoted my Instagram, which was set up to feature my food adventures, to featuring Pampered Chef products. I became a Pampered Chef consultant in July and have been cooking at home with all my fun new and old Pampered Chef gadgets. I particularly love our Air Fryer and put my VitaMix in storage in favor of the Quick Cooking Blender, because it doesn’t just heat up but cooks the soups and hot chocolate and makes other things like jam.

But I too am getting corona-weary and miss a good piece of fried fish, so I decided to shake things up and do Fish Fry Fridays again. I missed Ash Wednesday because it snuck up on me, and I wasn’t in the mood for fish yet. Nevertheless, last night I decided I needed a good fish fry and referred to the shortlist I made from the Scene’s 50 Cleveland Fish Fries to Try This Lenten Season. I whittled down my choices to a select few this year: DiCillio Tavern, Post and Beam on Snow Rd, West Park Station, the Flat Iron Cafe, the Firehouse Grille in Willoughby, the Little Polish Diner, Tavern of Little Italy, and Larder. I may or may not also grab one from Ohio City Provisions and/or Melt.

Cleveland Independents Deck

My favorite Christmas present this year is the Cleveland Independents Deck. I can’t wait to start using it. The Deck looks like a deck of playing cards and contains 52 $10 coupons for lots of Cleveland Independent restaurants.

As the Cleveland Independents website explains:

Imagine being able to save $10 at 52 of your favorite, locally-owned Cleveland Independents restaurants. Each card in The Deck features a $10 special offer from some of Northeast Ohio’s favorite restaurants. No wonder The Deck is ideal for corporate gift-giving or for anyone who loves to explore the area’s many diverse, local flavors.

* Each card features an informative description of the restaurant as well as its special offer
* Each card is a $10 Gift Certificate at the restaurant it describes
* Each card includes the restaurant’s location and phone number.
* Each card is easy to redeem. Present it to your server. It’s that simple!

I promise there will be plenty of posts on the way this year with the help of The Deck. I can’t wait to try Ponte Vecchio and Bistro 185 as well as revisit personal favorites like The Mad Greek, L’Albatros and Luxe Kitchen. If you want your own you can order it here.