Sushi of Peoria: Sushigawa

I’m a little late getting the review written, but a couple weeks ago we added Sushigawa to our Sushi Tour of Peoria (previous stop: Happy Fish ).

We got there a few minutes before it opened and walked in seconds after they unlocked the door. The first thing I noticed was that the background music was a song from Annie–I love Broadway musicals, and rarely run across them being played in local restaurants. The entire rest of the time we were were there the music sounded like anime soundtracks (I’m sure there’s a name for this musical style, but that’s the only association I have with it), which was also a lot of fun and worked really well for setting the feel for a sushi restaurant. At first I assumed that the Broadway music was just something the staff was playing and they hadn’t switched over to their normal music yet, but I’ve heard from other people now that Sushigawa also plays music like the La La Land soundtrack, so it seems like they just have a fun range of background music.

Anyway, moving on with the rest of the experience… The ambiance definitely worked well for us. It had the feel of a nice restaurant without being overly formal, and the decor all fit perfectly with that feel. The only odd part was the ordering process, which involved checking off our selections on a paper menu with provided pens. That would have fit better in a more casual atmosphere BUT I actually liked the simplicity of it and (as an introvert) not having the pressure of listing off verbally what I wanted.

The sushi itself came at pretty standard prices for what we’ve seen in Peoria. We got a Philadelphia roll, yellowtail (which we’d really liked at Happy Fish), plain tuna and salmon rolls, crunch spicy crab, and (I think) spicy salmon. Most of those were $5-$7 a roll, but the crunch spicy crab was a special roll for around $10. We were surprisingly unimpressed with all of their basic rolls. I enjoyed the Philadelphia roll, but most of the flavor came from the soy sauce and wasabi rather than the roll itself. Colton said the plain tuna and salmon were so bland that it was hard to tell which was which when eating them. The spicy crab, however, made up for the other rolls, because it was amazing!

It’s possible we just came on a week when they had a harder time than normal getting high quality fish or something like that. (I actually have no idea how sushi restaurants in Peoria usually manage to get any decent quality fish, but I’m sure it’s one of the challenges of running a sushi place in the midwest.) However, our impression based on this visit was that we wouldn’t come back for the basic rolls, but we’d love to go back and try more of their specialty rolls to see if they measure up to the spicy crunch crab roll. Overall verdict at this time is that Sushigawa is the place to go in Peoria if you’re planning to splurge on more expensive specialty rolls, but not worth it if you’re mostly planning to order basic rolls.  If we do go back I’ll post an update with our further findings.

Sushi of Peoria: Happy Fish

Colton and I ate sushi for the first time a few  years ago. We talked about how we should try sushi from every restaurant in town and compare them, but for a while we mostly settled in at a favorite restaurant, which with its unlimited sushi option, was particularly good for trying out sushi as newbies. (That restaurant was Hokkaido, in case you were wondering.)

Last week we finally decided to start our full sushi tour of Peoria with our first visit to Happy Fish.

We showed up a bit after 5 on a Tuesday evening, since we headed out pretty shortly after Colton got home from work. Happily, this landed right in the  middle of their “Happy Hour”–Monday through Friday, 4-6 PM they have a selection of maki rolls for $3.95 each along with similarly discounted prices on a couple of appetizers and nigiri options. The catch is that each person has to order a drink to get the special pricing, but since drinks were $1.95, it was still a very good deal.

To start with, Colton got sweetened iced green tea and I got hot green tea. Colton’s tea was very good, with a light fruity flavor. My tea came as a tea bag with a small mug, small tea pot of hot water and a piece of lemon to squeeze into it. I got several small cups of green tea out of the pot of hot water, and it worked with the fact that I felt like something hot to drink at that moment, but next time I would definitely get the iced green tea. (They also had the standard soda options and unsweetened black iced tea, none of which really appeal to me to go with sushi.)

We didn’t get any miso soup or any other appetizers on this particular night because we were focused on sushi. Colton ordered a spicy tuna roll (his standard for judging sushi quality), a california roll, and a yellowtail roll (which neither of us had tried before). I ordered a salmon and avocado roll and one of their specialty rolls which I’ve now forgotten the name of. I wasn’t paying enough attention to realize the specialty roll was one of the deep fried ones, which are much heavier than standard sushi, and I wouldn’t have intentionally chosen to go with the other rolls we ordered. (I did enjoy it though–it was a good version of deep fried sushi at least, with a spicy-sweet sauce I liked.)

For my taste, there was shortage of pickled ginger to go with the rolls. Aside from that, all the non-sushi elements of the experience (service, presentation, ambiance) were good in a low-key kind of way.

Overall, we enjoyed the meal. We would both order yellowtail sushi again sometime (which is particularly useful to know since Colton normally goes for tuna and I go for salmon). I would say the sushi was good but not great–not what I would describe as ‘chef’ level sushi. In Colton’s words, the flavors were ‘one note’ instead of being complex.

That said, during their happy hour, they have a cheapest sushi that I’m aware of in the Peoria area–we paid $26 (before tip) for the meal for the two of us. If we were going out for sushi at a time when we’d have to pay full price, I would choose to go somewhere else with better sushi for that price. But if we were going out around dinner time on a weekday, Happy Fish would be high on my list of options, because their sushi is well worth the discounted price.

A New Month (and a new youtube channel)

I had intended to continue my daily thankfulness posts through the end of November, but I got distracted by actual Thanksgiving celebrations and didn’t have a chance to write anything. I briefly thought about trying to catch up on on the missing posts at the beginning of December, but instead I caught up on dishes and cleaning that didn’t get done during the week of stomach flu and Thanksgiving.

Today I launched into Christmas cooking with a triple batch of salted caramel pretzel bark and it’s too late to go back to Thanksgiving. Forward! Never look back! Or something like that…

Today I also launched my new YouTube channel: Good Bad Food. My first video is of my making my amazing slightly famous homemade ketchup, and you can find it here:

I also started a new cooking blog to go with my youtube channel:

I’ll still be posting daily life type stuff on this blog, which may even sometimes include cooking, as there’s a lot of that in my daily life, but the majority of my food related posts will now be going on my new blog. (I think. We’ll still have to seek how this new blog arrangement works out over time.)

So, everyone who enjoys my recipe posts here needs to go subscribe to my youtube channel and my new blog. The rest of you can now be relieved that will be less of that recipe stuff cluttering up this blog. 🙂

Daily Thanks #27: Homemade Ketchup

This morning I made ketchup before breakfast.

We’ve been out of homemade ketchup for a few days, and also out of the tomato paste I use to make the ketchup. While we do have a half bottle of store bought ketchup sitting in the fridge from before I started making my own ketchup, it is increasingly just not worth it to the eat the store bought stuff.

I’ve become accustomed to thinking of ketchup as a healthy addition to a meal, an option for adding a probiotic boost to my food rather than a shot of chemicals. The idea of squirting corn syrup and msg all over my food suddenly makes the whole idea less appealing.

So, when we got tomato paste back in the house I took my first opportunity to make a new batch of ketchup while frying up some (organic) potatoes for breakfast.

It’s really good to be able to have healthy yummy food around the house, and to be so used to it that it’s a shock to have to go without it temporarily is clearly a blessing I should appreciate more often. (Did I just say I should make fried potatoes more often? I think maybe that is what that means…)

Daily Thanks #24: Milk Frothers

Many months ago I picked up a cheap milk frother on sale. It was a little wobbly and despite being touted as useful for beating an egg it froze up in any liquid thicker than milk. Still, it produced a reasonable layer of froth on top of my flavored milk steamers and hot chocolate, and I used it fairly often for such purposes.

And then it died. Whether it simply succumbed to the rigors of months of frothing milk or got water inside it’s motor housing I have no idea, but one thing was clear: I wanted a new milk frother. And, having already established that I would use a milk frother on a regular basis, this time I was willing to shell out money for a shiny new stainless steel Aeorolatte milk frother with four and half star rating on Amazon.

I waited eagerly for my new milk frother to arrive (along with my new cleaver and metal basket for my kitchen scrubbies). By the time it did arrive I had no milk in the house and had to wait until I got more. (Technically I did have sour milk in the house, but as there is clearly no point in frothing sour milk, it is irrelevant to this post.)

By the time I got more milk I was, unbeknownst to myself at the time, on the brink of coming down with the stomach flu. I drank a sip of milk and my stomach *hurt*. I decided this was a bad time to fix myself a latte or frothed hot cocoa.

When I finally got past the stomach pain of the bug I had, having eaten not only rice, but meat and potatoes and butter, I knew exactly what I wanted: a peppermint steamer. The new milk frother didn’t wobble at all and it whirred with a power suggesting that it might not balk at scrambling several eggs at once. It created a thick layer of, not just froth, but full blown foam on my peppermint steamer. It was amazing.

So here’s you, odd little gadget that looks like a battery powered whisk. You make this world a place with a little more foam on lattes and peppermint steamers and hot chocolate, and that is something this world needs very much indeed.

Daily Thanks #23: Rice

I’m not normally a rice person. I can tolerate it if it’s covered with lots of Chinese sauce and meat, but even then I’d normally rather eat the meat and sauce without rice. And if it comes to just choosing a carb I’d rather have any form of potato or garlic bread or plain bread and butter or corn pudding or millet or… you get the idea.

But when you come down with an odd form of the stomach flu where your stomach doesn’t tolerate food but forgets to shut off the ‘hungry’ switch, and you haven’t eaten anything solid except frozen banana puree (which is actually pretty good, but barely qualifies as solid) all day long, rice becomes an amazing substance worthy of sonnets.

Rice. It’s what’s for dinner.

Daily Thanks #22: That My Husband Is Not Overly Particular

Okay, so everyone who knows Colton is going to roll their eyes at this one, but I know better. He’s an organized person and a tidy person, but if he were particular he would be freaking out about me several times a day.

Instead, when I serve hot dog buns with hamburgers because I burned the last roll in the house trying to toast it and all our loaves of bread were frozen, he shrugs his shoulders and moves on.

This is a very good thing (because that sort of thing happens rather often around here).

Daily Thanks #13: Tomatoes

Despite all the complaints you could make about our current food system in this country, and believe me I’m not a fan of the abundance of chemicals in my food or the depletion of nutrients in the soil, I am a fan of the fact that I can walk into any local grocery store and buy fresh tomatoes at any time of the year. Fresh salsa and tomato sandwiches may be a bit less flavorful in the dead of winter, but I’m thankful for the ability to make them at all year round.

Pork Dumplings

Last night I made pork dumplings that Colton said were better than most of the pork dumplings he’s had in his life. I figured that meant I should write down the recipe before I forgot what I did. 🙂

I made my own dumpling wrappers based on this recipe, and made filling based on this recipe. The dipping sauce was more of a general impression of several dipping sauces. 

Dumpling wrappers

2 cup white flour

1 cup boiling water

Put flour in food processor. While the food processor is running, pour in boiling water in a thin stream. Let it mix until the dough forms a cohesive lump, then for another minute or so. Take it out and knead it until it’s smooth and springy, then let it rest while mixing up the filling.


Dumpling filling

1 pound ground pork, raw

1 TBSP minced garlic

1 egg

2 TBSP  fresh parsley

2 TBSP ‘soy sauce

1 1/2 TBSP peanut oil

1 TBSP minced fresh ginger



 Divide the dough into 4 pieces and roll each out as thin as possible. I would have divided it into 2 pieces to do this, but my counters aren’t that big… Also, the dough didn’t get quite as thin as I thought it should, but it was still bordering on ‘translucent’ about a 1/16”, and the effect was quite good even though it was a little thicker than the wrapper on restaurant dumplings. I cut them into roughly 3 inch squares (some oddly shaped edges) and got almost 40 dumplings out of the dough instead of the predicted 50.

 I put a tsp to a tsp and a half of meat mixture in the middle of each square, folded the dough into a triangle, sealed the edges, and then pinched the two triangle points together at the top of the dumpling. I didn’t find applying water to make any difference in whether the dumpling edges sealed or not. 

 I boiled a big pot of salted water and boiled the dumplings in two batches. I didn’t time how long they took to cook, but I cooked them for a minutes or two after they started floating, for good measure. 

 I served them with a dipping sauce made mostly of ‘soy sauce’ with a sprinkle of garlic powder and ginger powder and a TBSP or so of peanut oil.

 Originally I was going to use this as base recipe to experiment with whole wheat dumpling wrappers, but this turned out so well that Colton said he would be very disappointed if I changed it, so I guess this will remain an unhealthy splurge meal. 🙂