Objective & honest Restaurant & Wine Reviews by F. Scott, AKA "Jersey Foodies!" Thanks so much for stopping by my blog!
Thursday, November 18, 2010
Houseki Asian Fusion - Hamilton, NJ
How many times do you go out on a Thursday night and have a 10 course dinner? Well, for us, my answer is never, and this was a first! But we had an absolutely amazing dinner tonight at Houseki Asian Fusion in Hamilton. The new owner/host Patrick did a great job introducing us to his new restaurant, and our server Patrick was awesome! What a night! We will be back soon for certain!
Well, tonight was originally going to be a Delorenzos Tomato Pie night in Robbinsville, but then we both got a craving for Asian, and figured we’d hit the original Delorenzos on Hudson Street in Trenton on Saturday. So instead, we hit Houseki Fusion in Hamilton, after visiting them last Monday for their grand opening.
Tonight we walked in to a pretty slow restaurant, but for a Thursday night, and early in the evening, that is not surprising. The place ended up filling up some by the time we left, with customers at the sushi bar, as well as at the hibachi tables, and at the other tables.
We sat at a table along the right hand side of the restaurant, and the new owner came over to say hello. We had met him previously at the grand opening, and he asked if he could show of his chef’s talent a little bit and do a tasting menu for us, of which we agreed to. One of his biggest things that he changed from the old restaurant is that he has added more Chinese and Japanese dishes, as well as a few Thai dishes. He is very proud of his chefs talents, and for good reason!
First course out was our own choice, and this was the harumaki, which are vegetable spring rolls. As usual, these are stuffed with fresh vegetables, and fried to a gorgeous golden brown color and served with a sweet and sour/duck sauce. I love spring rolls, and what is there to say other than awesome? These are always good, and like I have said before, you could stuff these with anything and I would probably enjoy them.
Next out was the pizza. Now this is an awesome concept, and something that I really enjoyed. The crust was firm like a homemade tortilla that you would have at a Mexican restaurant and fried, and it even tasted like a corn chip a little bit. It was then layered with a thinly sliced tuna, topped with a seaweed salad, and a creamy sauce that was to act like the cheese. This is a great concept, and the flavors here were delicious. I really like the crunch from the “crust,” and all of these elements just melded together nicely. This was also topped with some roe (fish eggs).
Next out was the rock shrimp tempura, and again, breaded and fried anything make for a winner in my book! Well, not really, but I do like some fried stuff on occasion! Who doesn’t? These were pieces of shrimp cut into bite sized morsels, then breaded in a light and fluffy tempura batter and fried to perfection. These were cooked absolutely perfectly, and had amazing flavor.
What I really liked here was the presentation. These was served in a martini glass, but inside the martini glass was a clear blocked that was about the size of a large ice cube. Inside this block was a color changing light that added dramatic effect. This was then covered in rice noodle to help camouflage it so it could not be seen. Sure, this is a bit over the top, but I dig it!
Next out was the Houseki Christmas salad, and I don’t think that this appears on the menu. This is a salad of romaine lettuce and mixed greens, tossed with a sweet ginger dressing, and topped with thinly sliced peppered ahi tuna! A don’t know that it is possible for a salad to get any better than this. On top there was a small mound of Panko bread crumbs which added a very nice crunch, and on top of that was some good salmon (I think) roe. This is the king of Asian salads in my opinion, and absolutely delicious! The flavors of the peppered tuna were incredible, and this was another dish that had so many flavors that worked well together. This was served in a giant glass bowl shaped like a martini glass, and again had the lighted cube in the bottom for presentation purposes. All in all, this was a solid dish and a heck of a great starter!
Next out was a staple, and one of Zelda’s favorites, the General Tso chicken served with white rice. This is a good as anywhere, which large chicken pieces cooked to a nice crisp, then rolled in their house made General Tso sauce, served with broccoli. This is a classic dish, and as good as anywhere. The flavors were nice, and the chicken and broccoli were cooked very nicely. I could eat this every time I come here, as this is one of my favorite comfort foods.
From here came what I would consider the piese de resitance! First out was a gorgeous martini glass filled with a plethora of thinly sliced Kobe beef. The marbling on this beef is gave me no doubt in my mind that this was high grade Kobe, and my mouth was watering. I had actually had this as an old appetizer back when this restaurant used to be Fusion 2, but back then, they would just hit it with the torch for a few seconds to give it a little char on the outside. This is no longer how this is served.
To accompany my martini glass loaded with Kobe was a fire pot of sorts, topped with a metal mesh grill plate, where you actually cook the Kobe tableside. This is what I am talking about, and this is awesome! The beauty of this is that you get to cook it yourself, to whatever temperature you want. I used to love this next to raw at the old restaurant, so I gave these maybe 15 seconds of char if that per side. Upon first bite I was in absolute heaven. Not only are these grill pots tasty, they are also seasoned with great flavors. I really didn’t look all that closely, but I am assuming there was a Sterno or something similar inside the pot. Regardless, there were no chemical or gassy flavors whatsoever.
The beef came off the grill very tender, and the flavors were amazing. The fatty marble does create a just a bit of grease, but this is not bad grease by any means. This is flavorful and delicious. This was also served with a sauce of sorts, but in all honestly, it didn’t need it, and I can’t even remember what the sauce was. It was a brown sauce, probably soy based, but in the two bites I tried, I would have rather have tasted just the Kobe so I did not use it. In short, this is as good as it gets, and this was heaven on a plate for me! WOW, what a dish!
From here we were brought a chicken curry dish that comes from the new Thai portion of the menu. We love curries, and this did not disappoint in the least. This was served with a sort of homemade bread, that was almost like an airy flower tortilla. This was puffed up and filled with air, and very soft, hot, and chewy. The flavors of this alone were hot, and it really would make a nice flour tortilla. The curry sauce was seasoned nicely and flavorful, and in the sauce were some potatoes, as well as some nicely cooked chicken. If you are into curries, this was very delicious, and I would order this again in a heartbeat!
By this point, were we both stuffed, and it would really be hard to eat another bite, but in all reality, the new owner, whose name is Patrick we have come to find, is nowhere near finished sending us food. Ugh, I cannot eat anymore! But thus far, everything has been wonderful, and they really are doing a great job in the kitchen. But next out was a whole Peking Duck. Oh my goodness, at this point I am accepting of the fact that I am going to have leftovers for lunch tomorrow. As you know, we had our semi-annual wine tasting at the Peking Duck House in Manhattan not even a week ago, but I so love my Peking Duck!
The duck looked gorgeous with a great color on the crispy skin! At this point, one of his employees came out to slice it tableside, and he had it down to a science. First he scored the bird with his razor sharp nice, and then he sliced it into bit sized pieces and placed it on a plate. Out next was some homemade bread to serve this over, along with sliced cucumber, scallion, and homemade duck sauce. You almost make this into something sandwich like, where at Peking Duck House, it is more burrito like. Regardless, this was the best Peking Duck I have had hands down in New Jersey. Never has anywhere in this area served Peking Duck as good as this!
The flavors on and seasoning on the skin were spot on, and the skin hard that crispy texture that I absolutely love! On to the meat, it was cooked perfectly, and very tender. It was not greasy in the least for duck, and I could not have been any happier with this. All in all, this was an absolute A+, and the excitement factor I had from this rivaled that of the Kobe beef!
So by this point, I figured we were done. Oh no, not the case at all, and next out was the grilled trio called the Triple Delight. This was fresh scallops, shrimp, and sea bass, cooked nicely and served with a house special sauce and asparagus. The flavors of the fresh seafood were awesome! The scallops were tender and not rubbery in the least. The shrimp were also cooked perfectly and not tough in the least, and the sea bass was awesome. I don’t know how anything could still taste good to me at this point as I am so full, but somehow, everything continued to wow me! This was also served with asparagus spears, and then topped with the creamy sauce. What is there to say other than delicious? I would definitely order this off of the menu!
So at this point we are once again ready for the check, but oh no, we’re not done yet. Final item out was a dessert. If you know me well, you know my love for Banana’s Foster! But this is Banana’s Foster on steroids! Just when you thought that this couldn’t get any better, someone comes up with the bright idea to roll this in rice paper that is used to make spring rolls, then deep fried, and garnished with vanilla ice cream! WOW! Another winner, and another crowd pleaser, and believe it or not, we both finished it.
By this point however, we are both stuffed, and looking to open up some chambers in our stomachs, but thankfully, the food has all been served, and there will be no more dishes coming out! Thank God!
At the end of the day, I am scared to see the check for this dinner, but regardless of what it was, it was worth every penny! The service from our waiter Keith was second to none, and the care taken from the new owner was very nice. Unfortunately, some of these items are not yet on the menu, so If you go, you have to be patient. Some of the items might be feature now as specials which will be nice. Even so, we were very pleased that he took the time with his chef to create some of these dishes for us!
When all was said and done, we were leaving with a bag of leftovers worthy of another entire meal, and sure enough, this smorgasbord was shared with many others for lunch the following day. Even reheated, this was crowd pleasing to the 6 others who this was shared with, and I know that Houseki now has some new fans! I am sure we will be back next week! Great job to Houseki, and we look forward to frequenting this restaurant for our Asian cravings from here on out! Cheers! -F. Scott
Welcome to F. Scott's Foodie and wine adventures in and around New Jersey, New York, Philadelphia, and more recetly Old Town Alexandria and the DC Metro! Stay tuned for reviews of the latest up and coming East Coast establishments, and up and coming wineries! Cheers!
Born in Illinois, I spent my younger years as a local Chicago Foodie checking out restaurants in the city, and working as a waiter at many of the finest restaurants in the suburbs of Chicago. Look for me visiting a restaurant near you, or at one of the many local wine offlines throughout New Jersey