July 07, 2007

Dining Around Salt Lake City

Between stints at the Family History Library, where we spent large chunks of our holiday week surrounded by films and fiche of 19th century New England and 18th century Italy, we had some interesting dining experiences during our stay in Salt Lake City.

John had enjoyed Happy Sumo Sushi in the Gateway Shopping Center during a previous visit, so we made sure to add it to our lineup. The short story: I thought it was a bit over-trendy, but quite tasty. The fish was uber-fresh, the rolls were creative and well-executed, and the Dragon Scales - spicy tuna tucked between two shiso leaves and lightly tempura battered and fried - was the runaway hit of the meal for me.

When we're out of town, we like to try new restaurants, steering clear of the chains we see at home. Lunch at Z'Tejas was the closest we came to the chain restaurant experience; they have nine other locations around the western United States. The menu showed potential. Unfortunately, it failed to deliver. I'm allergic to many legumes, most acutely black beans. Which appeared anonymously in both of the lunch entrees I ordered.

Looking for picnic fare for the fourth, we stopped by Caputo's Market & Deli... and walked out forty minutes later with an eclectic collection of salumi and cheese. Prosciutto. Mortadella. A yummy aged goat. A creamy herb-crusted blue cheese with hints of nutmeg and clove. And in deference to my immigrant grandfather, the imported chocolate hazelnut biscotti he doled out as treats in my childhood. Who knew I'd find a sense memory in Salt Lake City?

The in-room restaurant guide suggested that we'd find "traditional, authentic sushi" in a "fun and funky atmosphere" at Ginza Japanese Cuisine and Sushi Bar. Well they were partially right. The atmosphere *was* fun and funky, our sushi chef Brendan was friendly and attentive, and the dishes he put before us were creative and tasty, but the 'Jezebel' (tuna, cilantro, tempura-fried jalepeno, avocado, lime and cream cheese) doesn't strike a 'traditional authentic' tone. If you can accept a bit of creative license in your sushi experience, Ginza's worth a stop though.

Our favorite appetizer at The Garden at Temple Square was the chef's special Fried Dill Pickles -- carefully coated in a delightful dill-seasoned batter, deep fried and served ala pommes frites with a trio of dipping sauces. Dill on dill. But it worked. What I loved about The Garden was the simplicity; from the friendly, unpretentious service to the simply seasoned but soul-satisfying entrees, the Mormon community has hospitality figured out.

Happy Sumo Sushi | 153 South Rio Grande (at the Gateway), Salt Lake City, UT | 801.456.7866
Z'Tejas | 191 S. Rio Grande (at the Gateway), Salt Lake City, UT | 801.456.0450
Caputo's Market & Deli | 314 West 300 South, Salt Lake City, UT | 801.531.TONY
Ginza Japanese Cuisine & Sushi Bar | 209 West 200 South, Salt Lake City, UT | 801.322.2224
The Garden at Temple Square | 10th Floor Joseph Smith Memorial Building, 15 East South Temple, Salt Lake City, UT | 801.539.3170

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