Eat! Lansing

October 13, 2008

Omi Sushi

Filed under: Best of, East Lansing, Japanese, Sushi — Jack Lumanog @ 2:39 pm

Omi Sushi
210 M.A.C. Ave., East Lansing, MI 48823
(517) 337-2222
Mon.-Sat.: 11:30 am 9:30 pm (closed 2:30-5:30 pm); Closed Sunday

Omi is a cool, sleek (albeit cramped) place if you don’t mind waiting and have the patience for outstanding sushi.  It’s rare that I have been able to go right to a table.  I usually wait 15-20 minutes for a space to open up.  From there, it could be more waiting depending on the attentiveness of your server.

The sushi is wonderfully fresh (my favorite is the maguro, or tuna) and the selection of rolls for the sushi squeamish is more than complete with lots of delicious cooked options to choose from.  It’s always worth it, but at $1.95 per maguro piece, it adds up in a hurry (I could eat Omi’s maguro all day!).  The tables are a bit squished together so as to accomodate as many diners as possible.  Getting up every so often if one in your party needs to visit the restroom can be tricky so as not to bump the table next to yours.  We typically eat out with our 2 daughters and considering the tight squeeze in the restaurant, I would not consider Omi to be particularly kid friendly (not a criticism – it’s just the way it is!).

Omi also has a nice small selection of beer, wine and sake to go along with the meal.  A great thing to see is that all of the items on the beer, wine and sake menu are decently priced.

There are other items on the menu but I’ve never bothered to order them because the sushi is just outstanding.  I highly recommend this place  —  but be patient and be prepared to wait a bit.  It’s worth it!

Derek’s Take:

Omi is one of my favorites.  The location is great, walkable from many points around campus.  The atmosphere is modern and feels like it might come straight from a hip neighborhood in Tokyo.  I’ve never had to wait for a table, but I usually go on weekdays at around 5-6.  

I wouldn’t rank the sushi as highly as Sansu.  The specialty roles tend to be extremely salty (even without soy) and the fish isn’t quite as fresh.  However, the prices are far better at Omi.

Service is businesslike, but efficient.  There’s nothing better than a jar of warm sake on a cool, gray Michigan day.  My only complaint about the menu is the seeming lack of nigiri items.  Most of the a la carte items are maki or sashimi.  Sometimes the wasabi can be very fresh but at other times extremely old and dry.  It’s a mixed bag, but overall a cozy, casual place with good sushi.

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October 10, 2008

Moe’s Firehouse Grill

Filed under: Arab, Burger, Campus, East Lansing — Jack Lumanog @ 7:06 pm

Moe’s Firehouse Grill
565 E. Grand River Ave., East Lansing, MI 48823
(517) 333-7040‎

NOTE:  As of today (10-13-08) and driving by on Grand River, the restaurant is closed.

I walked into Moe’s Firehouse Grill and had a bit of an idea of what Chef Gordon Ramsay (Michelin-starred chef featured on FOX’s “Kitchen Nightmares” and “Hell’s Kitchen”) must think when walking into the restaurants that he is about to turn around.  I had a craving for a gyro and didn’t know where to go.  I settled on Moe’s after seeing a Kronos Gyro poster in their window  —  plus a sign that said there was a gyro dinner combo special.  I thought, “what could go wrong here?”  Sadly, the answer was everything that could go wrong  —  would go wrong.

The good news was that dinner set me back $6.50 for a gyro, french fries and fountain drink.  That’s where the good news ended.  After I ordered and paid, I noticed that the grill man took some gyro meat out of the freezer and placed it on the griddle.  If ever I was tempted to take back a transaction, it was right here.  But sadly, the deed was done and I had paid for my dinner.

There was one other customer in the entire place on a Friday night.  There were more flies inside the place than customers (something that Chef Ramsay would point out if he were reviewing the place on his TV show) and I had to swat them away as I tried to enjoy my dinner.  I picked up my gyro and immediately dropped it because the pita was so hot as if it was warmed up on the surface of the sun.  (Too bad this wasn’t an actual firehouse as I might get some water hose relief after getting burned from just picking up my gyro!)

My french fries tasted awful as if the cooking oil hasn’t been changed out in weeks (another thing that Chef Ramsay would point out if he were here).  The fries left a beige stain on the styrofoam container that my dinner was served on  —  a bad sign that the cooking oil is old.  At least my Slice tasted like lemon-lime soda.  The soda helped wash out the remnants of a regrettable meal.

The rest of the menu features plenty of cheap eats:  burgers and fries, sub sandwiches and something called a “chicken wrap.”  I didn’t bother to ask about the chicken wrap.  I bussed my table, took my soda and tried to forget about my mistake of a meal.

Curtis Original Barbecue

Filed under: American, Lansing — Jack Lumanog @ 6:28 pm

Curtis Original Barbecue
Saginaw & Cawood, Lansing MI
(in the parking lot of American Print & Copy – west of St. Lawrence Campus of Sparrow Hospital)
517-333-9287
Thursday, Friday & Saturday: lunch and dinner hours

“You don’t know what you got until it’s gone” applies to me and barbecue.  I lived in Kansas City for 8-1/2 years before moving to Lansing.  Kansas City is one of the capital cities of barbecue along with Memphis and Austin.  Every so often, I have a craving for some good BBQ and usually have to settle with Smokey Bones at Eastwood Towne Center in Lansing (a chain operation that is underwhelming and overpriced … not a great combination).

Enough backstory  —  let’s talk about Curtis Original Barbecue!  At the Old Town BlueFest, after a few bites of a horrible gyro purchased in the vendor area (wow, I’m full of reminiscing tonight!) I moved on to Curtis’s white catering truck with a reasonably priced menu of barbecue.  I settled on the rib tips and I was suddenly transported to Kansas City in a single bite!  It was an amazing meal that could have easily fed 2 adults and it only set me back $5. 

I was looking for something out of the ordinary for dinner tonight (i.e. I didn’t feel like cooking) and thought of Curtis Original Barbecue!  I drove up to his catering truck parked at Saginaw & Cawood and looked over the menu.  So much to choose from:  ribs, chicken, rib tips, beans, potato salad and green beans.  While I was trying to decide, Curtis was so kind as to give me a sample pork rib and rib tip  —  both were heavenly and made my decision all the more difficult.  I eventually settled on the Rib Dinner:  a massive serving of smoked pork ribs, green beans and potato salad for $11.  Everything is served from the catering truck with the grill/smoker right beside the truck.  It doesn’t get any simpler than that.

The drive home to enjoy my barbecue dinner seemed like an eternity but it was worth it.  I uncorked a bottle of Provenance 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon  —  a fine pairing to go along with my rib dinner from Curtis Original Barbecue!

October 1, 2008

Chapelure

Filed under: Bakery, Coffee, Desserts, East Lansing — Jack Lumanog @ 11:08 am

Chapelure
Ste 10, 4750 S Hagadorn Rd, East Lansing, MI 48823
517-333-7172

My wife and kids and I stumbled into Chapelure after taking a walk around Hannah Plaza after dinner.  And, what a wonderful surprise this was earlier this summer finding this little jem in East Lansing!  I also can’t believe that I’ve forgotten to blog about this place because it is amazing.

Imagine European bakery treats like traditional madeleines offered along with an Asian twist  —  green tea madeleines!  As far as I can tell, they do both European bakery items along with Asian bakery items and they do them equally well.  This is the only place where I’ve been able to find Asian sweet red bean buns in town.  The assortment of goodies is eye popping and wonderfully arranged. 

You can enjoy your pastries with coffee and tea inside a very cozy atmosphere with free wi-fi.  We went on a Saturday night and there was a great buzz inside the place. (And, note to bargain hunters: some items are 30% off after 7pm!)

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