Feb 25, 2010

Review: Tei-An restaurant in Dallas

We took a friend to Tei-An in the One Arts Plaza building for dinner a few weeks ago. It was truly an exception meal. We ordered the omakase (Japanese for "it's up to you") which they offer at $50 and $80 per person. The more expensive version (the one we had) includes more courses with additional ingredients. Started off with a bottle of unfiltered sake ("Nigori"). I can't describe every course in detail but this is what we had:
  • White seaweed salad
  • Sashimi - tuna, halibut, sea urchin with organic wasabi
  • Wagyu beef and duck on a hot rock
  • Baked halibut with pickled ginger and lotus root
  • Tempura shrimp and dragonfish
  • Pressed eel sushi
  • Curry soba
  • Tiramisu with green tea powder
  • Sesame mousse
  • Angel food cake with green tea ice cream
The courses progressed logically, from light to heavy. Don't order a 10 course meal if you're in a hurry - I think we were there about 3 hours. The service was excellent, attentive without being bothersome. Ambiance in the restaurant is low key but appropriate. There aren't many seats in the relatively small venue so reservations are critical. My only (admittedly minor) complaint is that the omakase didn't include even a small dessert course.

If you like Japanese food, Tei-An is the total package. Nearly flawless from start to finish (and for the price, it ought to be). And of course, any review of Tei-An would be incomplete without a mention of the heated toilet seats in the bathroom. Just be careful with the buttons you press on the control panel.

Feb 11, 2010

Review: The Bliptronic 5000

The Bliptronic 5000 is a cool gadget based on Yamaha's Tenori-On, a hybrid electronic musical instrument. Sure, less features than the Tenori-On but the Bliptronic costs only $50 instead of $1,000. Easy to learn but difficult to master. It's tactile, auditory, and visual. Plus, it has the potential to drive anyone around you crazy with its repetitive electronic bleeps. I recently gave one to a friend as a gift. I think it will help him achieve his lifelong dream of becoming Philip Glass and/or Steve Reich. Just make sure you include batteries.

Feb 3, 2010

Review: The Eco Cup Mug by DCI

I recently received the Eco Cup mug from DCI. Unlike the similar I Am Not A Paper Cup mug by the same company, the Eco Mug is single walled (no insulation) and holds 16 ounces instead of 10. Since it's solid porcelain, the Eco Cup comes with a silicone sleeve to keep from burning your hands - the mug gets hot, especially if you put it in the microwave. The sleeve does a fine job of protecting your digits. Overall I think the capacity of the Eco Cup makes it superior to the I Am Not A Paper Cup.

I bought this mug because the vast majority of travel mugs on the market are made of plastic or metal, and I haven't had good luck putting either of those in the microwave. I like my coffee hot, so by the time I drive to work, I'm ready to zap it for 30 seconds and bring it back up to operating temperature. The Eco Cup lets me do that. I've had several co-workers confuse the Eco Cup for a Starbucks paper cup until I thunked it on their desks - even empty, it's heavy.

Downsides: The white silicone lid can pick up coffee stains over time. You're not supposed to put the lid through the dishwasher, rather, you soak it in boiling water with lemon. That works okay but doesn't quite get all the coffee color out. The mug's capacity is listed at 16 ounces (in reality it holds closer to 14 unless you fill it to the brim) which is a decent amount but I wish it were a little larger. The mug is not insulated, so it won't keep your drink as hot for as long as a thermos if you're traveling away from civilization. However, since there's no metal or plastic in the mug, you can easily microwave it once you get to the office. The lid is not airtight so if it tips over, it will spill.

I like the Eco Mug and would recommend it to anyone who wants to be able to get their coffee extra hot in the microwave. Be careful to buy the mug made by DCI, and not one of the cheaper knockoffs that Amazon also sells.

Photo: Nikon D90 with 17-55mm f/2.8