Dining Divas Brilliant Visit to Mukutan Ninja

Tucked discreetly between the Verizon Store and Great Clips at Wabash Landing, it’s easy to walk by the Mukutan Ninja Chargrill and Izakaya (a type of informal Japanese pub—think of tapas bars or Irish pubs, but Japanese) without noticing it, but you’ll be sorry if you do. The Dining Divas, joined by guest eater Helen Green, met at Mukutan and were impressed by the decor, ambience, friendly service and welcome by the owner, and most of all, by the food.

We had a leisurely lunch–this is not fast food– in a space quiet enough to have a conversation, and it was obvious that everything was made to order. It was a cold day and we all enjoyed a bowl of warm, rich soup, not too salty. We added a bowl of edamame ($3.95) which had an unusual flavor. We narrowed it down to five-spice or star anise, unexpected and fresh.

Dining Divas

Kay ordered from the appetizer menu for her meal because she is on a mission to sample every baby octopus in town. The dish was Tako-Takoyaki ($6.95). Takoyaki is a popular Japanese street food consisting of deep fried balls of wheat flour batter stuffed with vegetables and/or fish. The piping hot balls, with chunks of fish and green onions inside, were crispy outside and creamy inside and accompanied by several cold baby octopi, a great combination of textures, temperatures, and tastes enhanced by the two delicious sauces (JP mayo and okonomiyaki), and just right for a light lunch. The takoyaki were topped with dancing fish flakes, adding to the lovely presentation.

Tako-takoyaki

Jo chose the Kinoko Mushroom Burger ($13.95) made of soy-sautéed wild mushrooms, fried shallots, pickled daikon, and truffle mayo ($13.95), with curly fries. Bacon, cheese, or avocado salad can be added for a small price. Kinoko means mushrooms or toadstools in Japanese. Jo was happy with how accommodating they were to her special requests and was impressed that the ‘burger’ was really lots of individual mushrooms formed into a patty rather than ground up. The combo of mushrooms and daikon was pleasing and again, the sauce enhanced the whole dish. Cheese was a welcome addition and unexpected at a Japanese restaurant. “I would have this again happily,” she said.

Mushroom burger

Our other vegetarian, Margy, tried the Wild Mushroom Bowl ($13.95) featuring garlic griddle-fried wild mushrooms, an onsen egg, fried shallots, shredded cabbage, cherry tomato, marinated radish, & sesame dressing. An onsen is a Japanese hot spring where traditionally this type of slow-cooked egg was prepared. Margy noted that all the ingredients start out separate and are beautiful. The mushrooms are tender and tasty, the egg perfectly cooked, and the varied combination of ingredients made for many different tasty bites.

Mushroom bowl

Meat-eater Bev opted for Chashu Don ($14.95) with its griddle-seared soy braised pork belly, shredded cabbage, JP pickled cucumber, pork jus braised egg, tonkatsu sauce, & Sriracha mayo. Bev said the pork belly was nicely prepared and that the appeal of bowls is that you can customize the experience by picking what to combine in each bite. The serving size was hearty and she looks forward to trying the beef bowl, Gyudon.

Pork belly bowl

Guest eater Helen ordered Duck Duck Sticky ($16.95), an Asian spiced Maple Leaf farm whole duck leg confit, sticky rice, shiitake, marinated radish, fried shallots, & sun-dried shrimp. “The duck is extremely tender with perfectly cooked crispy skin. It’s a challenge to eat with chopsticks because it’s a whole leg, but it’s a nice serving, and worth the work,” she said. “The sticky rice is filled with flavor. Really tasty!”

Duck

The presentation of all our dishes was beautiful with pretty plates and bowls cradling food artfully arranged and sauced. The service is laid-back and friendly and there is a lot of humor among the owner and staff. Visits to the restrooms revealed surprises. Over the toilet in the women’s room was a sign painted on the wall “Ninja will never let the ladies run out of toilet paper,” and on the adjacent wall, floor to ceiling racks of toilet paper. The men’s room, which we peeked into because we are truly dedicated bloggers, featured Subaru memorabilia.

The menu has two sides– one side is for lunch and dinner while the other side is only served at dinner which, at lunch time, serves as a perfect teaser for a future evening visit. Char-grilled skewers of vegetables, meat, and seafood including lobster, are offered at dinner and we look forward to trying them. This is not a typical Japanese menu so it is certain to offer something for everyone. For a group of friends with divided culinary interests, some can take the adventurous path of octopi while others enjoy the comfort of a cheeseburger and fries! Brilliant!

Kay Conner, author and photographer, seafood superstar
Margy Deverall, author of Lafayette articles, dedicated vegetarian
Beverly Shaw, author of West Lafayette articles, bring on the beef (or chicken or pork)
Jo Wade, founder of this food blog, very veggie

Nami’s Bar & Grill Exemplifies Great Flavors

Happening Now!  Planning a stay in Lafayette-West Lafayette, Indiana, area? Whether you are looking for delicious dining, interesting attractions and shops, enticing events or home away from home lodging—a getaway to Lafayette-West Lafayette, Indiana, is sure to satisfy. Right now the talk around town is about one fabulous, new restaurant, Nami’s Bar & Grill, that just opened in the heart of our downtown. Serving American fare and also “pop up” sushi during lunch hours, this new dining experience is sure to satisfy! Nami’s also offers handcrafted classic and original cocktails and select craft beers!

Our staff loves to try out new restaurants and we were so excited to explore the flavors and enjoy the ambiance of Nami’s. When we arrived, we were greeted by a friendly hostess who led us to our table that overlooked our lovely courthouse. We had the perfect seats in the house to enjoy the outdoor beauty as well as the beautiful bar in the center of the restaurant. The tall ceilings and artwork along the walls create a comfortable and warm place to visit.

Now onto the food, (the best part!). I ordered the chicken sandwich with French fries and their special soup of the day, loaded potato soup. The soup was amazing! It had cut up red potatoes perfectly cooked within it as well as tons of bacon and cheese. It was one of the best potato soups I have ever eaten. My chicken sandwich was also amazing! Truthfully, I get nervous ordering chicken as so many times it is dry. This sandwich was the opposite of dry as the chicken was so juicy and flavorful. I added sharp cheddar cheese which added fabulous flavor as well. I can be picky with my bun, and it was fresh and light. The fries were large hand-cut potatoes sprinkled with salt and very tasty as well. I don’t think I have had a fry quite like it and it was great. I recommend their homemade ranch dressing to dip the fries or really anything in.  FABULOUS!!!

Lisa, our Vice-President shares, “I love a good burger and was not disappointed by the Reserve Burger at Nami’s.  This beef burger was yummy and cooked perfectly to my taste. I chose the house made fries over the house chips. The fries were thick potatoes wedges with a mild seasoning and were amazing. I love a good martini and am looking forward to going back to try a martini when off the office clock! They are doing $6 martini nights on Thursdays.”

“The Asian Salad was presented so beautifully! It was a very large salad, I couldn’t eat it all,” shares Ashley, VLWL Director of Sales. “Good mix of flavors and textures from crispy cabbage, creamy avocado, sweet mandarin oranges, crispy noodles, sesame seeds and grilled shrimp. The soy ginger dressing was excellent, with a bit of a kick. It was a bit spicy for me with my mouth burning for a bit when done, but I still really enjoyed it. I’d recommend getting the dressing on the side though, so you can use as much or as little as you like.”

We are all excited to head back to Nami’s and take our spouses out to dinner. Their dinner menu includes filet, crab cakes, lobster tail, pastas and more. If their dinner is even half as good as their lunch, it will be a wonderful dining experience!

Make sure to add Nami’s Bar & Grill to your next dining out adventure. You will be delighted!!

Oh and did we mention they have fabulous desserts?! Caramel salted cheesecake!

For more information about this restaurant and others in Lafayette-West Lafayette, Indiana, check out our website at HomeOfPurdue.com.

Southern Flavors Delight at East End Grill

Walking down Main Street in historic downtown Lafayette you will come across many wonderful local businesses and restaurants but one that really stands out is the East End Grill. As it states in the name, it’s on the East End of Main Street between 10th and 11th Streets. As you walk by, you are welcomed by inviting outdoor seating and stately lanterns on the front of the building. As you enter, you see a large open area decorated with industrial, urban features. This is something you would expect to see in a larger city such as Chicago or Indianapolis. The owners really wanted something urban and modern but also something that was classic and would blend well with the block’s history. The buildings on that block date from the 1870’s after all.

The food here matches the atmosphere, with a more upscale feel than most places yet still casual. The owner has traveled across the U.S. but has spent most of his career in the South. Therefore, you will find, many of the dishes has a Southern flare, such as their famous Shrimp and Grits and another guest favorite, BBQ Ribs.

East End Grill Arancini Balls

While there, our group ordered a good mix of items. To start we tried a couple appetizers, the House Cut Fries and Arancini Balls. The tables at East End are designed to be a bit larger than usual with sharing in mind, which is exactly what we did with the appetizers (and of course we tried each other’s meals too, they were too good not to share!). The House Cut Fries were perfectly cooked, thin cut fries. Crisp on the outside and smooth and soft on the inside dusted with parmesan and herbs. The fries are served with a wonderful roasted garlic aioli dipping sauce, which in our opinion was so much better than ketchup. The Arancini Balls are lightly battered saffron risotto balls covered with house made Bolognese sauce and served over Pomodoro sauce. Again, it was crisp and crunchy on the outside yet smooth and creamy on the inside. We loved the flavor and the texture of these balls.

East End Grill Crabcake Salad

After the appetizers we were getting pretty full, yet we couldn’t resist the entrée items. We each had something different; the Crab Cake Salad, Shrimp and Grits and the East End Burger. The Crab Cake Salad was a large, meaty, flawlessly crisp lump crab cake served over field greens and corn salsa. The dressing is a Remoulade and Roasted Red Pepper Aioli, which was sweet and creamy. This dish was full of flavor and really made an otherwise boring salad, something exciting, fun and filling. The Shrimp and Grits was

Shrimp and Grits

delicious! I’m not a grits person at all and usually curl my lip at it, but my friend encouraged me to try this and I was very surprised. The flavor was amazing and the texture, which is usually what gets me, was silky and smooth. It does have a bit of a kick for my very wimpy palate, but I would even consider ordering it in the future. It was very cheesy and served with smoking goose tasso ham, roasted red peppers and green onions. My friend just calls it “yumminess!”. Now for the East End Burger. The presentation of this burger is fantastic. I had to pause a moment to figure out how I wanted to eat it as it was as tall if not taller than my hand turned on its side. The meat and other toppings were perfectly and evenly portioned. A huge slice of tomato and large chunky slice of sweet pickle topped Applewood smoked bacon, 8 ounces of prime beef, cheddar cheese and baby greens. The flavor was amazing, I couldn’t help but lick my lips to make sure I got every morsel of flavor after every bite.  We are told that the Wagyu Burger is even better than the regular East End Burger. While they were not offering the Wagyu Burger the day we were there, we are told it will be back on the menu very soon. We can’t wait to try that one as well.

East End Grill- East End Burger and Fries

We walked out of East End Grill fully satisfied and very pleased with our meal. We cannot wait to return and try some of the other offerings such as the Cutting Board, Wagyu Burger, Pan Roasted Salmon, East End Pastrami Cobb Salad and the BBQ Baby Back Pork Ribs, not to mention the dessert items! We were too full for dessert, but they sounded delicious!  There is a good variety of menu options for everyone, but they are also very open to working with special diets or religious beliefs that prohibit certain items. Those that like to make dining reservations can easily do so with East End Grill’s online reservation system powered by RESERVE, found on the homepage of their website or social media pages. I know I will be going back very soon! If you go, be sure to tell us what you loved!

Delicious Destination – Home of Purdue Contest 2018 Details

We are celebrating EATING with our Delicious Destination – Home of Purdue Contest 2018 worth over $550! Here are some special details about the local places who have donated:

  • Relax, swim, and enjoy a delicious continental breakfast at Hampton Inn & Suites, which was recently renovated within the last year!
  • Triple XXX or Route 66 are known for their root beer and chopped steak burgers, but we love their breakfasts, which offer homemade biscuits and gravy, Belgium waffles, corned beef hash and much, much more.
  • Arni’s: To experience “Hoosier Hospitality” at its finest visit Arni’s where the food is delicious and the service is exceptional. Arni’s is a staple in the Lafayette area. This restaurant which offers pizza, sandwiches, salads and more has been serving the community since 1965.
  • Greece is calling at the Parthenon! Enjoy Greek delights in a colorful and casual atmosphere at this delightful Greek restaurant.
  • Kathy’s Kandies: Satisfy your sweet tooth with truffles, gourmet popcorn, cakes, toffee, shakes and smoothies, licorice, artisan chocolates; need we say more!
  • Bruno’s not only has delicious pizza, but order their fried shrimp and/or catfish entrees and you will leave completely satisfied. In addition, their Swiss menu and decor will make your dinner very memorable.
  • Town & Gown: Flowers galore can be found in this beautifully landscaped outdoor patio. Smell the fresh flowers as you feast on light and fluffy pancakes, rich and flavorful biscuits and gravy, and decadent cocktails.
  • Dip up smiles at the Igloo Frozen Custard, serving daily flavors such are chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, oreo, mint chip, butter pecan and more. Their custard is soft, smooth and creamy and can be dipped into a cone, dish as a sundae or malt or shake.
  • Outstanding architecture and decor, scrumptious American fare, fabulous, knowledgeble service: Red Seven Bar and Grill.
  • Prophetstown State Park is located in the historic town of Battle Ground. This state park, which served as a home to Native Americans for many years, is named after The Prophet, who was brother to Native American chief, Tecumseh. As Indiana’s newest state park offers hiking, biking, camping, interpretive Naturalist Services, and is now home to an outdoor aquatics center!
  • Recapture 18th century life and delectable dishes at the Feast of the Hunters’ Moon, taking place October 6 & 7, 2018.
  • Beyond the Vine Wine Tour: what is better then sipping wine from winery to winery in a chauffeured shuttle with your friends and family? Nothing but fun!
  • Head to Wea Creek Orchard this year and pick some fresh peaches, nectarines, apples, pumpkins, enjoy a wagon ride, purchase some honey or apple butter, jams and jellies, etc. You’ll have loads of fun!

Enter to win this fabulous contest at HomeOfPurdueBlog.com. Good luck!

Freshness Reigns at Midtowne Oven

Tomato Basil Soup

Tomato Basil Soup

Happening Now!  Planning a stay in Lafayette-West Lafayette, Indiana area? Whether you are looking for delicious dining, interesting attractions and shops, enticing events or home away from home lodging—a getaway to Lafayette-West Lafayette, Indiana is sure to satisfy. Right now the locals are talking about Midtowne Oven, a casual yet sophisticated dining experience in downtown Lafayette serving gourmet sandwiches, an incredible selection of focaccia pizza breads and chef-driven entrees.  The bright, welcoming atmosphere compliments the fresh taste of every dish.

Untuna Salad with side salad

Untuna Salad with side salad

Rachel, Sports Marketing & Recreation Manager for VLWL shares her experiences at Midtowne Oven, “I have visited this great addition to downtown Lafayette a couple times since they opened and Midtowne Oven has added something really special to our area.  Their beautiful brick oven is being used to its full potential creating mastery pizzas, specialty sandwiches, succulent steaks and more. They are using fresh ingredients to create dishes full of flavor and pure deliciousness.

Let’s talk focaccia bread pizza dips! YUM! These customizable pizza creations are one of a kind, and the different dips that accompany the pizza allow for unlimited flavor. I wish I could give you a hint as to which is the best combination, but I can’t decide so you will have to just do that yourself. I switched off dipping in the marinara and Parmesan pepper cream because they both were amazing.

Foccacia

Focaccia bread pizza dips

 

Don’t forget the sandwiches. My coworkers and I struggled to choose just one, so we split the chicken sandwich and grilled cheese with a cup of tomato bisque. Apple butter and gouda on tender chicken breast, doesn’t get much better than that. Hands down the best tomato bisque soup ever, it was slightly sweet and very refreshing even on a hot day!IMG_4569

Last but not least, dessert. I’m obsessed! I told myself to cut down on bread consumption lately, but clearly that hasn’t happened. The beer bread is to die for! Thick slices of sweet beer bread accompany three different creams and compotes to create a flavorful, not overly sweet dessert. This can be a shared dish after eating an entire pizza dip.

Apple Almond Tart

Apple Almond Tart

 

Make sure you visit Midtowne Oven and taste the unique side to Lafayette on your next restaurant adventure in Lafayette-West Lafayette.  The friendly and attentive service will wrap up the culinary adventure you will adore.”

Holiday Dining – Lafayette-West Lafayette

Meet you at Arni's!

Meet you at Arni’s!

It’s holiday time in Lafayette-West Lafayette! Thanksgiving is this week and in 5 weeks Christmas and New Year’s will hit.  Wowza, it’s been a busy, fast year!  Do you ever think, “slow down time!” I feel this way all of the time and so this holiday season, I am going to try to embark on an “embrace every day” mantra.  With this being said, instead of hosting a holiday party at my house which takes hours and hours of cleaning, cooking, and decorating, I am making a reservation at a local restaurant to host my friends and family. Now onto the hard part, which restaurant?  Here is a short list of my top picks.  Let me know what you think??  Where should I book my special holiday party this year?

  • Arni’s – A family fun restaurant serving thin crust pizza, famed Arni’s Junior Salad, and fresh garlic bread.
  • Bruno’s – Hand tossed pizza, famous Bruno Dough, and decadent cocktails served in a Swiss Style decorated restaurant.
  • East End Grill

    East End Grill

    East End Grill – Lafayette’s newest hot spot for fabulous food merging classic steakhouse dishes with innovative bistro style.

  • McGraws – Seafood and steak at it’s best.  Plus a beautiful view of the mighty Wabash River.
  • Restauration– A modern farm to table restaurant featuring fresh, local, simple, and creative foods.  Food allergies?  Check out this restaurant!
  • Red Seven Bar & Grill – Homemade everything! From their light and savory southwestern style egg rolls, to fresh salads and gourmet pastas, this trendy restaurant offers a fun night out.

Share with me your thoughts?  And/or other restaurant ideas??  For a full list of local restaurants in Lafayette-West Lafayette, visit www.HomeOfPurdue.com.

Enjoy more delicious photos:

McGraws

McGraws

Red Seven

Red Seven

Bruno Dough

Bruno Dough

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A Taste of Lafayette-West Lafayette Dining Contest 2015!

A Taste of Lafayette-West Lafayette Dining Contest 2015! Discover why Lafayette-West Lafayette is the best choice for a fabulous weekend that is full of fun entertainment and dining! You can enter to win a weekend getaway worth over $500 to Lafayette-West Lafayette to partake in all our town has to offer! Our local restaurants, hotels, shops, and attractions have donated fun gifts to one special winner. Good luck!

Enter to Win (by answering this question correctly below)!

QUESTION: Arni’s is celebrating a milestone Birthday this year! How many years has Arni’s been in business?

Leave your answer below in the “Leave a Reply.” We will collect all of them and pick a random winner from among the correct answers.

One great winner will win the following package!

Entries will be accepted through Monday, October 12, 2015 at 12pm. A winner will be announced as soon as we have contacted the winner! Leave your reply in the box below and click “Post Comment.” Please note that your answer will show up on your computer, but no one else will see your answer until the contest is over.

If you select “Notify me of follow-up comments by email” you will receive an email for every contest entry. We will be approving and posting ALL of the entries (with your name and answer) at the END of the contest (if you have selected to receive follow-up comments and we receive a lot of entries, make note you will receive an EMAIL for EVERY ENTRY when we approve the answers). By entering, participants release their emails to Visit Lafayette-West Lafayette. Visit Lafayette-West Lafayette will not share or sell your information.

Indiana Food Trails! Embark on a Culinary Trail Today!

Bruno Dough!

Bruno Dough!

What does “culinary travel” mean to you? . The International Culinary Travel Association defines culinary travel as the “pursuit of unique and memorable culinary experiences of all kinds.” Ashley Gregory, Groups Tours & Meeting Manager for Visit Lafayette-West Lafayette, shares how “food” is an important part of truly making a travel experience great and how Indiana has created a trail for visitors to embark on a fabulous food adventure! Ashley writes…

Boilermaker Pete at Triple XXX

Boilermaker Pete at Triple XXX

Do you find yourself searching for a new place to eat, someplace different than the norm, someplace local? Well, I have a great resource for you. The Indiana Foodways Alliance (IFA) is a non-profit, member based organization, dedicated to the promotion of locally owned restaurants and food producers throughout the state of Indiana through culinary trails. There are currently about 20 trails ranging from Hoosier Pie, Tenderloin, Winner Winner Chicken Dinner, Prime Rib and Steak, Ice Cream and more!

Several years ago, I was asked to become an IFA board member and have worked my way up through the ranks to become President of the organization. Through my experiences on the board I have had a great opportunity to travel the state and sample many of our great local restaurants. Our state has so many first rate restaurants, some with very interesting stories behind them. I love chatting with the owners and learning how they came about opening their business, one of my favorite stories comes from Hendricks County and the Mayberry Café.  One of the Owners of the restaurant loved the Andy Griffith Show growing up and thought their hometown of Danville, IN reminded them a lot of the town depicted in the show, Mayberry, so they decided to base the restaurant off of the show. They have some great down home selections such as meatloaf, macaroni and cheese or my favorite Aunt Bee’s Fried Chicken! They offer one of the best fried chicken’s I have ever tasted and it is probably my favorite because I love fried chicken but not the bones and they have a boneless variety! Yum! All this great food and get this, the owners are vegetarians! You would never know it though, because all their meat items are fantastic! They’ve really gone all the way with the Mayberry theme too. When you visit, you will notice they show reruns of the Andy Griffith Show on the TV every day, have a squad car just like Andy’s sitting outside the restaurant, have a goober hat night every week, an Opie look alike contest every year and this year they even started a Mayberry Festival for the whole town to participate in, among other things! Now this is a huge story and a very unique restaurant but our state is filled with other fantastic restaurants with their own unique story, just waiting for people to discover. One of our slogans for IFA is Real Food, Real Indiana, hoping it encourages people to go out and discover these little towns and local restaurants to discover the passion, experience and love at these mom and pop type places.

Sgt. Preston's! Yum!

Sgt. Preston’s! Yum!

Good food doesn’t have to come from a chain restaurant and locally owned doesn’t have to be expensive, slow or out of the way.  So, the next time you are looking for a new place to eat, check out the IFA website and check out a trail or two or search by city to see if there is someplace nearby. The Lafayette – West Lafayette area is lucky to be home of 14 Indiana Foodways Alliance Members including: Arni’s at Market Square, Bruno’s Big O’s Sports Room, EMT- Emergency Munchie Truck, Jane’s Gourmet Deli and Catering, Lafayette Brewing Company, Main Street Cheese & Wine Cellar, McCord Candies, O’Bryan’s Nine Irish Brothers (West side location), Route 66 Diner, Sgt. Preston’s of the North, The Hour Time Restaurant, The Original Frozen Custard, Triple XXX Family Restaurant and Wildcat Creek Winery.  We hope you will experience these Lafayette-West Lafayette area locations and other locally owned businesses wherever you go.