A new Italian in Bonnevoie: Moka Bar & Restaurant

Last couple of weeks have been awful and I am really looking forward to a break. The sudden changes of weather are killing me off this year and it is also a quite stressful period between work and private matters. This is just for saying that, after a very busy August, we have been slightly missing. We have a bit of backlog of reviews and we are going to bake them off soon. In fact, we did not stop trying new places!

Last week it was the turn of this tiny Italian restaurant located at the start of route de Thionville, coming from town, in Bonnevoie district. Moka Bar & Restaurant opened just the week before but I have seen so many people I know going there already that I decided to make it jumping at the top of my “to-try” list.

We arrived there around 8.30 pm on a Thursday night without reservation. During the evenings, you can easily park in the car shop slot just in front. The location, as said, is cozy, with a lovely interior design and a warm atmosphere. We were allocated at a table on the side of the room and we ordered some drinks to start – I had a Spritz with Campari while A. had a Diet Coke.

The owner came back after a while with a proposition of dishes: indeed the restaurant does not have a proper menu card, but offers daily dishes based on the market availability and on the mood of the chef. Several interesting options were anyway available for main, while as starter we were proposed a mixed Italian platter that was anticipated by a small pot of olives.

I had a dish of octopus “alla Catanese” accompanied with vegetables – the initial dish was proposed with spaghetti but I am not a fan of pasta as side dish – while my friend had strozzapreti (a kind of fresh pasta) with lobster and shrimps.

During the dinner, I drunk couple of glasses of Montepulciano and we concluded with an espresso and two digestifs that were offered by the house.

Total bill (1 Campari Spritz, 1 Diet Coke, 2 glasses of red wine, 1 mixed starter, 1 pasta dish with seafood, 1 seafood main) read 65 Euro.

Find the pictures of our dinner and my final considerations.


What I loved about Moka Bar & Restaurant:

  • The atmosphere is great and you feel “like at home” as the service is smiling and polite. We were asked several times during the dinner how we enjoyed the night and the owner stopped at the end to explain us a bit the concept of the restaurant. At the same time, I find the decoration were accurate, from outside the place does definitely not look like the neighborhood’s trattoria, but a more refined restaurant.
  • The food was very tasty and the presentation is amazing for this kind of place. I enjoyed both the starter and my main and I am looking forward to come back to try other dishes ( I heard steak with truffle and I regret not having it as well!). You can feel ingredients were really fresh and the preparations “like in Italy”, with the right aromas and spices.
  • The bill was surprisingly fair: right, we did not have a lot to drink, but still, I think I fail to pay 32 euro for my meal even at Burger King’s – and we had fresh sea food!

What I liked a bit less about Moka Bar & Restaurant:

  • While dishes were presented and explained in details, on the wine side I was slightly deluded. I asked for red wine and they just asked me if I wanted it strong or light (guess what). Then they got my glass and I had to stop the waitress to ask which kind of wine was it. It was a Montepulciano, as already said, and it was pretty fine – unpretentious, but fine. I definitely liked it at the end but don’t have too many expectations on the wine by glass I suggest. We did not ask for bottles, I suppose it will be definitely different in that case.
  • This is not a negative point – there were no indeed in our evening, even the note about the wine above is one of the picky things from me – but more a recommendation: I lived in Bonnevoie for more than 10 years – and I will be back sometimes soon, finally! – and I have seen several of this kind of places opening their doors. I don’t name them, but I suppose if you are familiar with the area you might guess at least two. The formula was really similar – no menu, just daily dishes. At the beginning the quality was amazing and the prices extremely fair. Going on, as customers were more and more, they started to cut drastically on the quality (frozen food, microwaved dishes, cheap ingredients) and increasing exponentially the prices (last time in one of them, we paid 80 euro for 2 beers, a mortadella starter and two pork sausages mains without side). I really hope Moka will stay like it is as I found one of my perfect places.

In conclusion, Moka is the kind of place you might go when you don’t want to cook, but it is definitely lovely as well as for a date or for a friend’s dinner. Fresh products, an extremely nice service and reasonable prices are making it for me one of the best Italian in Bonnevoie at the moment.

 

 

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Where to: go for a date in Luxembourg

You don’t necessarily need a special occasion to arrange a romantic date. Whenever you have been in couple for long time or it is your first date, Luxembourg offers plenty of options to impress your partner.

Splurge

After-Work / Drinks

Le Sud (Rives des Clausen)

While their restaurant is very well known in Luxembourg, not many know you can visit the last floor bar of Le Sud even if you don’t have a reservation for dinner. The lounge, in fact, is open every day until 1 am and, over the week end, until 3 am. They offer a great selection of wine and cocktails, amuse-bouche bar to accompany your drinks and, during the warm season, one of the best terrace in town. Definitely worth the spent.

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Piano Bar at Le Royal Hotel (Centre)

This might appear as an easy choice, not it is not so obvious. Among several classy hotels in Luxembourg, under my personal point of view, Le Royal is definitely the one that offers the most accurate service and the most uptown ambiance. Drinks presentation is stylish and, during the warmer season, the terrace offers a calm and sunny background for a romantic date. Not to mention the elegant cigar room in the corner.

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Dinner

Bick Stuff (Clausen / Neudorf )

Bick Stuff was one of the first places where I had a date in Luxembourg, almost eleven years ago, therefore it kept for me very special memories. This restaurant has a very romantic allure not only for its cozy settings, but as well thanks to the amazing service (one of the best in town for me) and the refined French cuisine.

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Giallo (Centre / Place D’Armes)

Among several noisy and family-friendly Italian restaurants, Giallo has a distinctive characteristic to be THE different place. For a special night, don’t forget to book the table downstairs near the water cascade. On the food side, Giallo will not disappoint you as well, with a “wow” presentation and great combination of tastes. Don’t miss the Italian bubbles to surprise your companion.

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Mid-Budget

After-Work / Drinks

L’Avenue (Kirchberg)

In the heart of Luxembourg financial district, with its amazing terrace and stylish interior design, L’Avenue is the perfect place is you are taking your date out straight after-work. Enjoy the sun on their lovely terrace and accompany your drinks with “a la carte” yummy tapas.

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Franz (Hamilius / Centre)

I ended up a Franz one night slightly heartbroken and decided after couple of gins that was not definitely the place for me on that specific night (joking!). Indeed, if you are on a date, the atmosphere is very romantic, Ronan Keating singing in the air and they have one of the best drink selections in town together with delicious platters to share at the after-work. It might happen, like it was for me that night, also that some brave couples are even dancing at the bar near closing time.

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Dinner

La Grappe D’Or (Dommeldange)

This Portuguese restaurant off the beaten tracks is for me a hidden gem, a very well preserved secret. The kitchen is mainly concentrated on fish, with great classic dishes and grilled platters to share. But the value point is definitely, during summer, the incomparable view, one of the best of the whole Luxembourg – get there on time to enjoy the sunset.

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La Cantine du Châtelet (Hollerich/Gare)

If you are looking for a place with a wow effect on the atmosphere and food side, but not on the bill, La Cantine is the perfect place to take your partner out. You can eat at the restaurant for a fancy evening or in the lounge bar room for a more informal date. The point in common between the two is the lovely service and the amazing wine list (with fair recharges). The dinner menu is refined and creative but tapas are also available if you are more into your partner than into food.

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Informal

After-Work / Drinks

Cafes Des Tramways (Limpersberg)

Candles: that should be enough to ensure you all the atmosphere and at Cafes des Tramways you definitely have a lot of them. Slightly out of the city center, in the posh district of Limpersberg, it still maintain its original relaxed allure. If your other half is not into dressing up, this is definitely the place you might want to take him / her.

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Bellamy – Bar & Cookery (Old Town)

The last born of the Goten/Tube family is a cozy, tiny bar on two floors in the old town. Over week-ends, it might be packed, but if you managed to gain a seat at the counter or in one of the corners, nothing can ruin your date. The service is on point, cocktails are delicious – and you don’t have to stay with your classic Gin Tonic, the card offers more extravagant choices – and if you need something more than butterflies in your stomach, they can prepare for you yummy tapas (order the avocado fries if available, it’s a win win).

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Dinner

La Briscola (Gare)

The thing I appreciate most, when I am invited for a date, is the capacity of my partner to surprise me with non conventional choices. La Briscola is a brand new place that opens recently next to the station. While the area might be not really appealing, once inside you will definitely forget about where you are. Friendly atmosphere, great selection of Italian wines at fair prices and a tasty innovative authentic Italian cuisine are making the rest.

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Beim Siggy (Clausen)

If you’re date is coming from out of Luxembourg, there is no better place to take him/her than Beim Siggy. The brasserie offers definitely the most stunning view in town together with a French / Luxembourgish kitchen, perfect if you wanna try local tastes but you want to maintain a classy profile – my recommended dish is definitely their beef tartare.

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What about you? What are your favorite places for a date in the City?

 

 

Sushi Lovers, Gare, Luxembourg

Sunday is one of the night I go out most for easy dinners, those that don’t request to dress up and where you basically try to recover from a week-end floating in Gin – well, me at least.

So couple of Sundays ago we decided to try Sushi Lovers, an all you can eat Japanese / Asian restaurant, located near Place de Paris. We did not reserve: the place was quite full but there were still several tables available.

The nice thing about this restaurant is that you are allocated one I-pad per table and you do you order directly from there – it is straight forward and also funny I would say. You can order how many times you want for meal, maximum 5 items per person per order in the evening. At least 15 minutes should pass between orders. It seems complicated but it is not at all: the time and the orders are clearly displayed on the I-pad, as well as each item on the menu has nice pictures.

The menu includes several different choices: from sushi to Chinese dishes as well as dessert. Everything is included in the all-you-can-eat price (23,8 Eur per person) except very few items that have a supplement.

We ordered 5 times in total, including dessert. Only one order was just sushi while others included as well Chinese and Asian dishes. As dessert, the choice is relatively limited and we went for ice cream (all the flavors 😛 ) and fruit salad.

Enjoy some pictures followed by my impressions.


What I liked about Sushi Lovers:

  • Let’s be honest: if you pay 23 eur for eating whatever you want, including fish and meat, you cannot expect to have Michelin star food. Anyway, compared to the others all-you-can-eat I tried so far, the quality of the food at Sushi Lovers was decent on average. There were great dishes: the fried duck was OMG, the Kimchi was also pretty good and I liked the grilled Japanese rolls.
  • The ambience is nice, very informal, and the Ipad formula creates a nice atmosphere at the table. It is a lovely idea for me, not mentioning the fact you have quite realistic pictures of the dishes on the tablet, so you have already an idea of what to expect.
  • With 32 Eur including drinks, you have an inexpensive and rather fine and various dinner, including small portions of several things. If you are on a budget, this is not that bad for Luxembourg standards.

What I liked a bit less about Sushi Lovers:

  • As per above, the quality of the food was in average sufficient. There were anyway some great dishes I mentioned, as well as some dishes that were honestly awful. The steamed ravioli was one of them – their taste was between plastic and floor cleanser. All the chicken dishes were undercooked, with the center more pink than white.
  • Notwithstanding the name, if you come here for the sushi, you might be disappointed. Definitely not the best sushi you can have in town and fish quality not amazing.
  • Service is basically not existing: you order from the tablet, so no interaction with the waiters, but you expect at least someone to come and check for your drinks – as they are not listed in the I-pad menu. There is a: “call for service” button on the I-pad, but even through I pressed it several times (trust me, several) nobody came and I had to go back to the counter in the main room to order some more water.

In conclusion: If you are on a budget and you don’t have high expectations, Sushi Lovers is a fine all-you-can eat in town. It is perfect for a night out with friends, as the formula with the order via tablet is quite playful. The fried duck was definitely the dish I would order again.

 

La P’tit Maison, Rollingergrund, Luxembourg

This is probably the first time since the blog has started that we are reviewing twice the same place without a change in the management nor in the chef brigade. But La P’tit Maison definitely needed an exception after our first review more than one year ago.

We actually ended up there quite randomly: at the very last night of a week of business meetings, after having already explored my favorite spots and with a limited choice due to vacations time, we decided to give La P’tit Maison a second chance. The first visit was not bad as a whole, but I was definitely not 100% convinced by the place.

We called for reservation at 5.30 pm and informed we had a guest who is allergic to gluten. We were replied nicely that it was not an issue.

We arrived there around 7.30 pm – the area is quite busy but the restaurant has a valet service for parking at the door – and accommodated on the terrace. The location is indeed lovely, both the terrace and the indoor rooms are perfectly decorated in style and you can feel like in a peaceful bubble, a corner of Marais in Luxembourg.

We ordered a glass of champagne as aperitif and we were offered black olives and summer truffle oil, together with their lovely homemade bread.

We were given our time to look at the menu – that is not really extensive but proposes several interesting choice, both on the meat and fish side.

I went for the pig foot stuffed with foie gras and truffle as starter and for the monkfish with ham and mushrooms. The other guests had the breaded egg with mushrooms and the mixed fish grillade as main.

We had a young Pouilly-Fuissé to accompany our dinner.

To conclude I had a platter of cheese, while my colleagues went for a Vacherin to share. Homemade madeleine were offered together with the coffee.

Some pictures – mainly of my dishes, as unfortunately being a business occasion I could not go around snapping others’ dishes 😛 – and then what was my idea of the dinner.

What I liked about La P’tit Maison:

  • I loved the food: both my dishes were tasty and delicious. It was very difficult to choose from the menu as all the options looked amazing. I particularly liked the fact kind of traditional choices (as beef filet or grilled fish) are combined with some more sophisticated alternatives (veal head or pig foot). As per last time, my dish taste was pretty strong and on the “salty” side, but this time I appreciated it more – better for dinner than for lunch, definitely.
  • I loved the atmosphere: the terrace is out from the pages of a fairy tale and the interior design is also accurate and warm. It is definitely the perfect place for a business dinner like ours or, as well, for a very romantic date.
  • I enjoyed the service: it was friendly but still formal, in particular the guy who helped us choosing the wine and explained the dishes was very professional. I appreciated the fact the chef came to our table at the end of the dinner to cheer us. I was also surprised by how flexible they were to accommodate our gluten-free guest. They basically told her she could have chosen whatever dish out of the menu and they would have done it gluten free for her. Only thing not available was the gluten-free bread – for that, you have to book in advance and specify it.

What I liked a bit less about La P’tit Maison:

We had the perfect moment and I was really happy to have given La P’tit Maison another try, as I loved dining there this time and I really looking forward to come back. Our visit did not have very big downsides, if only I have to find couple of points:

  • the young waiter was a bit clumsy, unbalanced while taking dishes at the table, had undone tie bow when we got there (adjusted it only afterwards) and was messing up our main courses. It was still fine, but if you are taking clients out maybe this is not the level of service you expect.
  • while the restaurant room is lovely, the restroom area was a bit overlooked. Nothing too bad, still you might expect something different from a place like that.
  • lastly, let’s face it, this is still a rather expensive place – but definitely the spent is worth for a special occasion.

 

In conclusion: my second time at La P’tit Maison was the perfect one. I loved the food, with its intense taste and rather unconventional choices mixed with classic dishes. This is a very recommended places to take your clients out or to impress your other half. Enjoy the cozy terrace until you can. Bonus point: the homemade bread is to die for.

 

 

 

 

 

Ginko Sushi, Strassen, Luxembourg

Sundays’re calling sushi during summer time, so last Sunday, after a small walk in town and a drink at Go Ten, with a couple of friends we decided to book a table at Ginko Sushi in Strassen. We called the restaurant and, as the weather was really nice, we requested for a table on the terrace. The lady on the phone was very nice as she told us that the terrace at Ginko is directly on the street but they have a better terrace in the restaurant just next door – Le Zai – and she would have booked for us there.

Indeed Le Zai and Ginko are in the same parking lot and shared the same owner. As atmosphere, I have to say Le Zai looks definitely better but you can order Ginko menu as well there.

The terrace was lovely – with all these red lamps around – but the interior design was also impressive. We received all the menus – the one from Le Zai, the one for Ginko as well as the seasonal menu – and ordered a first round of drinks – Asahi beers and Diet Coke.

The decision concerning food takes quite long time, but we managed to get to a conclusion. All of us ordered three type of rolls (I had rolls with foie gras, rolls with lobster and dragon fruit and rolls with sea bass and avocado) and I ordered as well a miso soup (yes, soups are addictive for me, more or less like chips).

Our order was anticipated by a small starter of the house – two nems veggie rolls.

To conclude the dinner, M. ordered a sake while K. and I went for Chinese tea.

Pictures – Impressions are next.

What I liked about Ginko Sushi / Le Zai:

  • The atmosphere is lovely – the terrace is very nice as well as the interior design, perfect for a girls night out, family dinner, romantic date, even a business meeting. Details and decorations are just perfectly in place without being cheesy.
  • Service is great – but not formal: even if we took some time to order, the lady waited patiently for us. She was really available to reply to our questions and to explain dishes.
  • The figs / foie gras rolls were to die for and the lobster rolls were pretty good, would ordered both again. I also like the fact we had several “freebies”, like the tasty rolls at the beginning and the fried vegetables to accompany the sushi – bit melted but still good.
  • Price is fair: we did not drink much (only M. had beers, while me and K during the dinner had water and coke and tea) but still, having sushi, we spent “only” 34 eur each, not much in terms of Luxembourg standards.

What I liked a bit less about Ginko / Le Zai:

  • There is too much choice on the sushi menu for me. While this might be a nice thing for some, I was feeling a bit overwhelmed in terms of decision, above all as the mixed platter were very simple while out of the composed menus you have much more choice. Again, points of view.
  • I also did not like much my sea bass / avocado roll: the lady came saying they did not have more sea bass, so she proposed to change it with tuna (actually mine was half tuna and half salmon) and I did not think it was a good choice. Also M. pointed out he did not enjoy at all his California sushi as the tempura was icy cold – so feedbacks on the food were quite mixed.

In conclusion: the location and the service at Ginko / Le Zai are really nice and the final bill came out fair. The sushi menu is very extensive – too much for my taste – but still pretty good. Looking forward to come back and try as well the Chinese alternative.

 

Restaurant Tibet, Gare, Luxembourg

Were you missing my Indian reviews? I am not over them yet – still looking for the perfect Indian restaurant in town! – but in the last months I have to say I confined my passion to take-away delivery – mostly because I am running out of friends who like Indian food – (sad face)

Anyway, last Sunday I came back to the roots and after analyzing the “open” options – you know, even when everything else is closed, there is always an Indian restaurant welcoming you somewhere in town – and decided to visited Tibet restaurant near the Zitha Clinik, Station area. I have been there couple of years ago and I have frankly good memories, so I said, why not to refresh them and see how it competes with other Indian I have tried recently?

We arrived there without reservation and were accommodated to a nice spacious table on the side of the room – near a plug, so I could charge my mobile to take the pictures as after a full day around my mobile was off 😛

One of the reasons to like this place is the simple but colorful main room.
We had Indian beers to start with and ordered a mixed Indian starter, anticipated by offered papadam. I have to say that I am a huge fan of papadams and their sauces and I appreciate here at Tibet because the pots were really small, so you are given the possibility to finish your own sauce. In other Indian restaurants the pots are huge, so you ask yourself if you are actually handled the sauce that was not finished by another table… (better not to think about it, really!).

The mixed starter dish was nice, contained chicken tandoori, sesame scampi, samosa, vegetarian rolls. Even if I like pretty much everything, I have to say next time I will come back to my usual soup starter – except samosa and their sauce that were very good, the rest was not memorable.

To continue we had Murgh Timuri (boneless chicken cooked in a special Himalayan spice timur), Gosht Gulkhar (diced lamb with green chili, mushrooms, curry leaves and madras hot curry sauce) and Tibet Special Vegetarian Curry. The dishes were lovely presented and the portions were fair but not huge (still I took back home in a doggy bag small remaining of lamb). We accompanied with some garlic naan – that was delicious!

We concluded with a round of pan liquor (my favorite) and a second one (not my fault this time, it was offered, hands down).

Total bill, including two further large beers, read 130 Eur.

Let’s go for the pictures before talking about my impressions.

What I liked about Tibet restaurant:

  • The place is really nice and you basically feel at home. It is informal, but cared in the details, the atmosphere is lovely and the service is very friendly – like in most of the Indian restaurants I have been honestly.
  • The food choice is various and includes also a Tibetan menu – but I had it delivered online and it is too much on the creamy/sweet side for me, so I am not a fan. Anyway, the best things I had were definitely the garlic naan and the chef vegetables. I would order them again.

What I liked a bit less about Tibet restaurant:

  • I am a fan of spicy food – you should have learned it by now – and even if I asked to have my chicken hot spicy as it was indicated in the menu, it was not at all. Indeed the person who was with me is not eating spicy food and I suggest him to try and he confirmed me it was fine even for him. Unfortunately for me this is a big delusional point and one of the factor to choose one Indian on the other. If a dish indicated as hot spicy is not spicy at all, this is not the place for me. But I perfectly understand for someone it might be a great positive side 🙂
  • We ordered quite a lot of stuff and it was good. Still I will not categorize the place among the “cheap” Indian in Luxembourg. Quality was good, but still, slightly overpaid. I appreciated anyway they offered us the second round of digestif.

 

In conclusion: if you are looking for a colorful Indian place with as well Tibetan options, Tibet near the station might be your place. It is perfect as well as for a date and you should not be afraid of chilli, as dishes are definitely not spicy hot. Not the best Indian in town anyway if you are on a budget, anyway.

 

Awada Japanese Restaurant, Clausen, Luxembourg

On Tuesday night I decided, together with Sunny, to tick off another restaurant out of the list of “new one” to try in the City and, in a certain Asian mood, we headed to Awada, a new Japanese traditional restaurant that opened recently in Clausen area – or at least, I spotted it just recently 🙂

The location is really nice, just off Rives de Clausen, and the interior design is cute: a small entrance floor with a typical counter and a (bit cheesy) fountain plus some tables. On the upstairs floor a bigger and calmer room, where we were accommodated. It was Tuesday evening and we got there at 7.30 pm, so it was not definitely crowded – even if we reserved just to be sure.

I got there a bit earlier, so I started to study the menu card and ordered a Japanese green tea. Together I was offered some (commercial) shrimps chips.

Once Sunny arrived, we were ready for our order: I had a Soup in a Tea Pot as starter (Dobin Mushi) while she had Veggie Gyoza. To continue I had Japanese Beef Curry while she went for Bibimbap, a Korean rice dish with veggie.

I concluded with a hot sake. Total bill for 2 persons read 69 Eur, including two bottles of water.

Enjoy the lovely shots from Sunny of our dinner and find my impressions about the restaurant after.


What I loved about Awada:

  • For me Awada was a super pleasant discovery and I honestly look forward to come back again. While the menu includes also a pretty wide selection of sushi, that I might try during next visits, the most interesting part for me is the traditional Japanese menu. Most of the “Japanese” restaurants in Luxembourg offers together with sushi only a selection of Chinese / Asian / Fusion dishes while I was really missing the real Japanese style food you have in Asia – one of the only nice thing I had memories of in Singapore – that to date I have found only at Kamakura – for a different price.
  • Indeed the price for the dinner was very fair as well as the one for the drinks (3,8 Euro for a big pot of lovely green tea I drank from the start to the end of the dinner, 8 Eur for the small hot sake that was around 6 shots, 18 Eur for the Japanese curry main dish with beef).
  • Bonus point: the service was one of the best I have ever had in Luxembourg (for real). The waiters were speaking perfectly English and French, they were checking on us from time to time to see if we were missing anything or if everything was going well, we had hot tissues at the end of the dinner and I really felt pampered. Well done, we need more places with such great service!

What I liked a bit less about Awada:

  • Honestly, for me the dinner was just great. I cannot find anything bad, not in the place neither in the food. If you want to be picky, hopefully the “coming soon” items on the menu will be available at my next visit and what about having edamame instead of those nice but cheap shrimps chips as welcome?

In conclusion: I loved Awada: the location is cozy, the service is amazing and the traditional Japanese food was a refreshing surprise. I look forward to come back and try other items on the menu, including sushi. Perfect for whatever occasion, from a romantic date to a girls’ night out.