I once worked as a “Manager of Animation Development” for a then fairly successful producer of children’s television programs. My duties included developing series concepts, scriptwriting, story-editing, creating pitch packages, and, best of all, enjoying the occasional dinner with prospective clients. I remember traveling to New York once where I was treated to a grand dinner by the President of a major entertainment company. Following the completion of our main course and as the waitress was clearing the table, our host turned to me and asked: “Would you like a second helping?”. I stared blankly back at him. Huh? If we had been dining at his house, he explained, he would have certainly offered me a second helping. Why should it be any different in a restaurant?

Given my love for variety, it was a dining philosophy that stuck with me, and one that I put into practice whenever we traveled. If I was ever torn between menu items, I saved myself the agonizing decision-making process and simply choose both – a second appetizer, dessert, even main course “for the table”. After all, I would reason, when’s the next time I’ll be in Elizabeth, New Jersey?

With the proliferation of tapas menus, however, decisions have gotten a whole lot easier. Finally, I can enjoy a variety of plates without suffering the bemused looks of the wait staff or fellow diners. I can have multiple orders of a single dish. I can go to Yuji’s Japanese Tapas and sample 16 different menu items.

Okay, sixteen may seem like a bit much but, in all fairness, they were tapas-size portions and we were three. Of course, in saying 16 different items, I’m not counting multiple orders of the same dish or the three complimentary dishes Chef Yuji sent our way.

Other, more high-profile, Japanese restaurants may receive all the press but, in my opinion, Yuji’s offers some of the city’s freshest and most inventive creations.

Chef Yuji started us off with some complimentary starters: a sweet and smoky octopus and carrot dish, seaoned lotus root, and steamed cod milt in ponzu sauce (check out my December 3rd, 2006 blog for the story on this one). Although it’s no longer on the menu, I put in a special request for the Meguro mille-feuille – alternating slices of thick, melt-in-your-mouth Meguro tuna and avocado topped with a black sesame sauce. We followed this up with a wonderful wild salmon tataki which was served with crispy capers, green onions, and garlic chips in a ponzu sauce, and then a terrific Big Eye tuna carpaccio, also topped with crispy capers and garlic chips, but finished with a white truffle olive oil. Next was an all-around favorite: deep-fried spicy tuna roll – crispy on the outside, tender and medium-rare on the inside. We also had the creamy Meguro avocado crepe accompanied by both sweet and spicy chili sauces, the house prosciutto roll (mango and cream cheese on the inside, topped with prosciutto, served with pesto sauce), and an uni tempura maki roll.

Hang on. Let me catch my breath.

Okay.

The black cod was sweet, our only foray into sushi (uni nigiri and the salmon ikura with the quail egg) fresh and satisfying. The sweet potato tempura sticks was a guilty pleasure while the kobe beef was a mini event in itself, served raw then blowtorched at the table. The curry calamari was a huge hit, as was the anago tempura – huge AND a huge hit. We ended our mains with the thinly sliced beef grilled beef tongue. Dessert was an excellent green tea creme brulee topped with premium vanilla ice cream.

Service was quick and friendly, the wait staff more than eager to offer their recommendations.

There are cheaper Japanese restaurants out there but, when one weights the quality of the ingredients and, yes, the variety, Yuji’s is very hard to beat.

Let’s check the mail –

Marla writes: “So which was your favorite Superbowl ad?”

Answer: I thought it was a pretty weak crop. The only one to really stand out – in a good way – was the Bud Light hitchhiker commercial.

Gwen writes: “Most of my Canadian friends are totally uninterested in football. How did you get so into it?”

Answer: I’m an atypical Canadian. I prefer NFL football and NCAA basketball over the hockey. My love of Canadian film is limited to the 1983 A Christmas Story, truly the greatest Canadian movie ever made. I don’t ski. I don’t skate. But I have tobogganed on occasion.

Neep writes: “Can you recommend a place with chocolate cake worth the trip from New Zealand?”

Answer: Straight chocolate cake? Hmmm. Not sure. But if you’re looking to do the dessert rounds in Vancouver I would highly recommend –

1. The Sticky Toffee Pudding at Caffe de Medici: Order it with an extra scoop of ice cream.

2. The Chocolate Lava Cake at La Terrazza: Crack the top of this chocolate souffle to reveal the pool of dark and milk chocolate.

3. The Stilton Cheesecake at Senses: It makes me long for the Gorgonzola Creme Brulee they used to serve at C Restaurant.

4. The Pecan Pie a la Mode at Memphis Blues: My favorite pie at my favorite rib-joint in town.

5. The Thomas Haas Signature Chocolate Bar at Diva at the Met: A crispy chocolate fondant with caramel, chocolate sorbet, and a sparkle cookie.

6. Deep Fried Mars Bar/Snickers Bar/Smores at Wing Nuts: If you’re worried about the calories, I’d suggest skipping the wings and just having dessert.

7. The Chocolate Creme Brulee at La Regalade.

Lynn writes: “What I’ve always wondered is when you’re writing a scene that needs a specific effect, do you give ideas to the special effects expert, or see what they come up with? Are you familiar enough with what they do to give imput on the process, or do you just trust their expertise? On the same subject, have you ever been totally impressed with what they came up with, and it took your idea farther than you expected?”

Answer: We always have something in mind when we write the script, but are always surprised by how our visual effects team can take that initial thought, build upon it, and produce some of the best visual effects on television. The minute-long bomb-dropping sequence in First Strike is a great example. Martin told me what he envisioned for the sequence when he was working on the script, but I was truly amazed by what Mark Savela and co. came up with.

Jason writes: “Do you know if MGM is planning on selling the DVD movies separately or together as a package?”

Answer: I honestly don’t know what MGM has planned regarding the release of the DVD movies. However, I’d imagine they would want to release them as soon as each became available rather than waiting for a double-release.

16
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Nolamom
Nolamom

You are fortunate indeed to have tapas-sized portions available at some of your favorite eateries. I’ve noticed that some of the most accomodating chefs and interesting menus often get ignored by the press. I wonder why that is?

Peter
Peter

Hello Joe! My my, that’s quite a list of desserts…given that I actually live in Vancouver, I should probably ditch my hermit shell that I call “My Bedroom” and go to some restaurants from time to time.

No questions this time, but let me just say that First Strike was…AWESOME, AWESOME TO THE MAX. And if it isn’t that much of a chore, could you please inform Martin Gero that he is a God?

Thanks.

(huh…I guess I did ask a question)

Bugguy
Bugguy

I don’t know if this has been asked before, but I just saw First Strike. What a great episode. When will the next season air? Either on Sky, Scifi, or Movie Central/Network? Thanks

“The day Microsoft makes something that doesn’t suck is probably the day they start making vacuum cleaners.”
– Ernst Jan Plugge

Anonymous
Anonymous

Hi Joe smile Just wanted to let you know how much I’ve loved the 9th and 10th season episodes of Stargate. Sam/Cameron, Vala/Daniel are fantastic to watch, and Teal’c seems to be having a lot more ‘non torture’ screen time (which is hella awesome for the big guy).

I wanted to ask you, what are a couple of your favorite scenes from the episodes in the latter two seasons?

Thanks for your time!
~ Dem

wurlitzer153
wurlitzer153

“My love of Canadian film is limited to the 1983 A Christmas Story, truly the greatest Canadian movie ever made.”

I’d like to point out that about half of this movie was filmed here in Cleveland, Ohio. I pass through Public Square and by the old Higbee’s department store on a daily basis. The house is located in the Tremont neighborhood and is now a museum featuring the leg lamp :P.

I do realize that parts were filmed in Toronto and St. Catherines, Ont, but I feel Cleveland should get its due in the making of this great film.

D
D

Are we going to get any great Sam and Daniel friendship scenes in the last episode (or at least somewhere in the last two or three)? I was recently rewatching the earlier seasons of SG-1 and I really miss their interactions. On that same note, will there be any great scene(s) between Sam, Daniel, and Teal’c in the last episode?

Neep
Neep

Oh wow, thanks for all the dessert recommendations! I’m going to print those out and add them to my life list.

It’s more of a life folder.

Enjoy your Wednesday!

Sophie
Sophie

OMG! Just saw First Strike, and it was absolutely brilliant! The CGI was awesome!!! The bomb shots – I’m speechless. If the proposed cast changes are incorporated as well as the two new recurring characters were here, then I’ll be delighted with Season 4! Ellis and Keller were wonderful, and I had been previously somewhat concerned. Just goes to show, watch with an open mind, as I did, and you may actually like what you see and be pleasantly surprised!!!Now I’m really looking forward to a certain other recurring character being stirred into the mix too, and am not concerned about Weir’s reduced role at all. Militarising Atlantis would be good, in my humble opinion. I’m really feeling positive about Season 4, and just a little impatient to see it!!! Okay, the promise of some good Shep whump has me just a little excited too… what can I say? Once a Shep whumper, always a Shep whumper, and we never get enough!!! wink

Sheppard's Delight
Sheppard's Delight

Oh I agree with the previous poster Sophie, First Strike was awesome. I liked the fact that the new characters have been introduced already and think that they are going to be great new additions to the show and give it a fabulous new feel.

I particularly liked the fact that Ellis showed respect to Sheppard (made a nice change). I hope that we get to see more interaction between these two in s4.

I must also join in with the Shep whump squee! Joe is just an awesome actor and nobody acts whump better IMO – with that in mind I will be crossing off the days until S4 and indeed Travelers aires!!!! smile

Anonymous
Anonymous

Hi Joe

Do you know if the season will ever be release in HD? I remember SGA season 1 being on Sony’s list a ages ago.

Stillhere
Stillhere

I do realize that parts were filmed in Toronto and St. Catherines, Ont, but I feel Cleveland should get its due in the making of this great film.

As a fellow Clevelander, I agree completely..if that’s ok with you:)

Two streets down from me on the East side is a house they used for the exterior scenes in a Harrison Ford movie and of course parts of Downtown Cleveland are going to be doubling for NYC in the soon to be released Spiderman 3 movie.

And parts of my original Ohio hometown, which is in a different part of the state, are featured in a movie about lady wrestlers titled All The Marbles and which starred Peter Falk.

Marla

majorsal
majorsal

i know it’s a bit early into the shake-up to be asking this, but i’m going to anyways…

i know sam’s going to be a recurring character in atlantis, and i know she’s only going to be in 14 eps, but is there going to be a ‘sam ep’ in season 4?

sally smile

Ivona
Ivona

Oukay, i’m SERIOUSLY hungry now, and it’s 1 am…gotta wait till morning, late snacks aren’t good…so they say. What kinda food you wanna but haven’t tried yet?

Stillhere
Stillhere

Just watched Bounty. Very good episode. I liked the Cameron Mitchell backstory in this one and his parents reminded me of Jonathan and Martha Kent from Smallville.
s
p
o
i
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s

Just a quick question. Seeing the scene where the female bounty hunter was threatening the woman with the baby carriage reminded me that I could have sworn that Michael Shanks said in either a convention appearance or a magazine interview that his youngest daughter Mia had a small part in a season 10 episode.

If this is correct and I am remembering rightly could you tell us which episode that is and if it’s been aired yet either in the UK or the USA?

Thanks Joe.

Marla

Anonymous
Anonymous

Just watched First Strike… great stuff! I hope that Sheppard ends up being the one in charge if Atlantis does get militarized in S4. It wouldn’t be fair to demote him from military commander sad

And that’s not an actual question, I know, but feel free to reply anyways grin

Mariposa
Mariposa

I just saw First Strike and I have to say it was fantastic! The sfx, the story, the characters- really great stuff! S3 was awesome, and I’m really looking forward to S4, with whatever comes our way.