Tokyo Falls, Nori Rises (Sushi Adventures)

Once upon a time the IT team at BHQ went out to lunch (a lunch to which I was inexplicably invited). One of the programmers suggested a sushi place called Tokyo, a little dive on Main Street in Lehi. It was the best sushi I’d ever eaten. In the years since that first visit I have been to Tokyo dozens of times and, with very few exceptions, the flavors and textures impressed me every time.

Imagine my surprise when I went there a few weeks ago and discovered a series of strange exterior banners promising exciting new menu options. Inside I discovered a new menu with some interesting additions such as ramen and sushi burritos. Instinctively I could feel something was wrong but I resisted the impulse to run and decided to have lunch. I got a few of my favorite rolls, some nigiri and then decided to get a sushi burrito as I had been recently craving just such a thing (weird, but absolutely true). Fran decided to try out the Ramen. When the waitress came over and asked if everything was okay we nodded our heads like morons. I wish I’d had the balls to say, “No, it’s not okay…”

While I wasn’t courageous enough to say anything on the spot I’ll say it here, online (because everyone is tough online). Call me a sushi snob if you want… The knife work on the nigiri was sloppy and each fell apart as it was lifted.The rolls were careless, the flavors diminished. This sushi burrito was barely edible (in fact I ended up just throwing half of it away). What I should have said was “This food is not up to the previous standard. This new stuff is mediocre. What happened?” I wasn’t at Tokyo to eat trendy sushi treats- I wanted the best damn sushi ever, like before (I know, I got the sushi burrito so some of this is definitely on me). By no means am I suggesting anything akin to a boycott – the sushi was still okay. But I’m not after okay. I’m after exceptional.

My wife, heartbroken by the loss of our good friend, Mr. “great sushi” Tokyo, endeavored to find a suitable replacement. Her efforts led to a new sushi bar in American Fork called Nori. We gave it a try and came away pretty impressed. The rolls are well constructed with good texture, ingredient ratios and flavor. The nigiri was very good in all respects (also not pictured was some excellent miso soup). The setting is very pleasant-  modern, yet traditional. While it’s not quite as good as what Tokyo was, it’s fantastic sushi and it will be my new go-to sushi stop for the foreseeable future.

I’m fairly certain I’ve tried every sushi establishment in Utah County at this point but please feel free to make any recommendations that some to mind- maybe there’s something I’ve missed.

Restaurant Reviews – 2015

4/30/2017 – This post is part of a large release of “DRAFT” entries. Many of these these entries were never finished (and may still not be) or were composed but never published for one reason or another. If you run across one of of these in a strange spot or out of chronological order that may be one reason.

Bona Vita

CAPTION

Can be very good. Hit or miss.

TemptAsian

CAPTION

Tried it once but the food was only so-so

May 1, 2017: This was going to be part of my restaurant review section. But I never got around to it. The caption text is woefully inadequate, I know- never bothered to write anything real. 

Preoccupation with “Progress”

We hear memorable sayings about living in the moment, the “now,” all the time. It’s good, solid advice. I often catch myself saying things like “I’ll feel satisfied when…” or “After such and such I’ll feel better.” This mentality robs us of our ability to appreciate what’s right in front of us. It’s misdirects our focus and attention. It can rob us of our ability to live in the present. Of our happiness.

This post may feel like it’s headed somewhere substantial, but I assure you it will be as superficial as usual. Let’s talk about my car (which is really more of a metaphor in this post). I am perpetually fixated on what parts I’m going to get, what I’m going to do and what it will be like “when.” What’s up with that? I have done a bunch of cool upgrade and all I can do is think about the next one. There must be some emotional component at play I’m not in touch with (spoiler: there is).

Realistically the Turbo S has all the power you’d ever need in a street car. But there I am online looking at the COBB AP, Kline exhaust systems and an IPD plenum. Why? So it will go a little faster? I don’t even open the car up as it sits. I live in perpetual fear of being pulled over or crashing; more power has got to the last thing I need, logically speaking. I have had some bad luck with car upgrades in the past and, again logically assessing the situation, I don’t know why I’d want to void my warranty and risk catastrophic engine failure to achieve a higher trap speed in a quarter mile I won’t even run. Insane.

Visually I’m super happy with my car. I love the black wheels, the carbon fiber accents and the ’16 styling in general. And yet… I look at rear diffusers, I consider putting in different door sills (With lighting? Yes please!), carbon fiber side view mirrors, a spoiler swap and maybe painting that rear valance… maybe I’ll just trade it in for a 2017. Again, I’m so fixated on going another round I can’t even appreciate what’s just been added, what’s right in front of me. All to common, I think.

So the question is “Why?” Is it the “more” mentality that seems to drive this generation? Is it the fear of missing out on something better? Other people have this stuff and they’re happy, right? Or maybe it’s just a hole – and emotional void – that I try to fill by dumping endless stuff into. And as I explore my feelings I begin to realize that I loath things. Not all things are bad, of course. But things are demanding. They need other things. They need your time.

Thinking about what’s next for my car isn’t limited to upgrades and modifications. No, it extends into worrying about what the next problem will be. It involves thinking about that little speaker buzz I couldn’t find, the clicking noise I imagine I hear, the fear that my boost level will drop, the transmission will fail, the car will literally fall apart. To what end? Every drive should be a chance to enjoy the car’s capabilities and performance but part of it inevitably ends up as a worry session. An opportunity to try and predict the most negative future I can imagine based off of fear. Fear controls. Things control. Somehow they have to power to grab our attention and shift it.

Things often distract us from what’s important. Every moment wasted thinking about my car is time I could have writing, reading, learning, spending time time with family, friends. Don’t get me wrong- a hobby is fine, probably even healthy. But when a pastime consumes you and tricks you into giving more time that it deserves and removes you from the now then you lose and everyone around you loses.

As I mentioned my car is a metaphor; you can substitute the idea of a car for anything, really. I chose a car because it’s clear to me that my car gets more than it’s fair share of my time. I see people who become obsessed with all kinds of things (some, like me, are not limited to just one thing): work, money, food, interior decorating, home improvements, Facebook, video games, health and exercise, travel, art, toys and phones. There are no end to worldly diversions.

So I’ve recognized a problem. What’s next? Far from being preachy this post is simply an exploration of my own feelings. None of these ideas are new to me, but I wanted to put them somewhere. I don’t have advice to dispense. After I finish this post I’ll probably look at carbon fiber car parts, see what’s new on Facebook and think about home improvements. Alas.

After I wrote this post I actually did a Google search for “living in the now” and found this TED talk. I’ll just put this here for later. Maybe what I’m really blogging about (saying) is that things can be an obstacle to our happiness. Duh. But it’s more than that. I’m also trying to convey that things can take us out of the moment. And being out of the moment can diminish our happiness.

But won’t being content and living in the moment rob us of our motivation? Maybe I’m misconstruing vision and progress as an obsession with material goods. Eh.

May 1, 2017: An Update- For the record I find that I become hyper-fixated on my car when I have something very stressful looming over me, as I do right now. 

Fit Bit Mini Review

4/30/2017 – This post is part of a large release of “DRAFT” entries. Many of these these entries were never finished (and may still not be) or were composed but never published for one reason or another. If you run across one of of these in a strange spot or out of chronological order that may be one reason.

fit-bit-review-2006

Great way to keep track of activity levels. It doesn’t always recognize exactly what you’re doing but you can make manual adjustment.

Difficult to remember to input foods and liquids, but when you do it can be a very effective measuring device.

Not always comfortable, but fairly no invasive on the whole.

One time when I took it off to charge it the Fit Bit thought I went to bed. Hmm….

Heart rate seems fairly accurate (seems like it should have helped out with that sleeping issue “Oh, he’s dead… well, we’ll count that as sleep.”) but sometimes gets thing wrong.

The interface on the watch is simple. Interface on IOS is straightforward too. Very manageable in all regards.

Bluetooth synching can take forever if you don’t do it everyday.

Not a perfect device, but the best I’ve tried yet.

Hughes Family: January 2015

January was a blur. There’s no other way to describe it. I feel like we did a ton of stuff, but the photographic evidence doesn’t seem to support the claim. Maybe the best thing to do is just pretend it was a relaxing month. January was like a slow motion massage.

CAPTION

What better way to start off the 2015 than with a little skiing? Fran, Catherine, Randall and the kids (most of them) hit Sundance for a day of snow and fun. One of these days I’m going to go skiing again. Green diamonds all the way.

CAPTION

The beginning of the year is the perfect time to make poorly thought out resolutions. “Be healthy” Vague and yet impossibly difficult. Lots of veggies and lean meats? Check. Good thing these kind of resolutions only last a couple of weeks!

CAPTION

Gabe is playing basketball again! We put in a quarter court (is that a thing?) in our side yard and he and Mike play all the time. I actually played a quick game against both of them. I am really out of shape, but I crushed them. Keep practicing kids!

CAPTION

Per French tradition Francoise made “la galette des rois” (the cake of the kings). In addition to being delicious there is a hidden treasure in the cake. Whoever finds it while eating is the king! This year I was the lucky guy so I got to wear this sweet crown.

 

CAPTION

How is this even possible? I swept up an amazing pile of trash. And then a few days later I swept up another pile. Our kids just seem to dump trash and food on the floor wherever they go. This isn’t “haha” funny to me either.  I feel like it denotes a serious lack of respect and consideration. What can I do? I know… just keep sweeping.

CAPTION

Even taking into account their messes I feel like I have wonderful kids. I spent some time with Gabe playing on the SNES and working on a few projects- he’s quite the little builder. Chloe is enrolled in dance class and loves it. Claire is turning into quite the little chef and can make cookies completely on her own. Mike is an adept strategist and it’s fun to play games like Pandemic with him. Yes, the rewards of parenthood often outstrip the costs.

CAPTION

We’re working on landscaping! The HOA here in Ivory Ridge has been fantastic. They have completely ignored everything we have asked and our repeated submissions. I don’t understand why the HOA hasn’t been turned over to the community or why no one who actually lives in Ivory Ridge is part of any decision making process. We are just plunging ahead. I don’t see why they wouldn’t approve our beautification efforts but nothing surprises me anymore.

As I said, the visual documentation of what I experienced in January is lacking. Perhaps that’s due in part to being gone for a few days at the SHOT show. Perhaps I need to take more pictures. Or perhaps my brain just makes stuff up to hurt me.

 

Hughes Family: December 2014

Another year draws to a close. As as the old year goes out, gasping for life, it throws one last month-long party. As always I thought “Oh, surely things can’t get any busier than last month!” Wrong as always. It’s a running joke with no punchline. Here are a few highlights from December, my nemesis.

CAPTION

Another birthday! This seems to be a recurring problem. Wake up! Here’s a blue birthday. Donuts at school. Presents from the grandparents. And then a trip to Texas Roadhouse (what is it with this family and steak?)  along with a  few more gifts. What do you get the boy who has everything? Cash. Cold hard cash. For games. But not cold hard games (digital goods- what a scam).  A nice birthday, but we weren’t quite done.

CAPTION

A few days later we took Mike and some of his friends to play Laser Tag at Jack and Jill’s.  After the lasering and tagging we had pizza, cake and presents. Spoiled enough? Since these collages are getting much more “advanced” I have upped the resolution on some of them (like this one… but unfortunately not the next one).

CAPTION

Behold the yearly graham cracker “gingerbread” houses. I crammed a lot of magic into this shot. Just like real life that day- lots of magic. Or maybe it was yelling… sometimes I get them confused. And this year one round of houses wasn’t enough. So…

CAPTION

…we did it again! We had Fran’s sister and her daughter over for more faux-gingerbread house-making. This time I opted to make the houses in advance instead of letting the kids “help” (note the horrific mess in the last picture and compare it to the relative organization in this picture). Next year I hope we’ll try and make three houses each.

CAPTION

The Hobbit: Battle of the Third Movie courtesy of Blade HQ, Megaplex Theaters, Zupas and Peter Jackson. I love our yearly work movie. Next year: Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I will camp out to get tickets if I have to. People are going to get jobs at Blade HQ just to watch that movie.

CAPTION

Ever heard of Cup Bop? Korean BBQ. They came and catered a work lunch for us (BHQ BBQ). I thought it was fantastic food and now I feel like some kind of weird stalker because I’m willing to drive for miles and miles to get their delicious Cup Bop cups. Last time I went  I dragged along Claire and Mike. They were not mighty fans of Cup Bop. I wept a little. Next time I will go alone. Shhh…just eat.

CAPTION

We did Sub for Santa this year (to offset our selfishness). We got our family sort of last-minute and spent part of Saturday afternoon before Christmas shopping at Target (oh… wow… busy!). The kids got somewhat involved and I think by the end we were all feeling pretty good. Chloe, Claire and I wrapped most of the presents. Later as were dropping off the gifts the kids got into a fight. I may have yelled something like “Do you even know what the hell we’re doing here?!” It was a bad parenting moment. I was trying to force my kids to feel the spirit of Christmas and I was angry at them that it wasn’t working. Really I have myself to blame. I don’t know if our act of “service” will count, but hopefully some of our good intentions made it out alive.

CAPTION

Christmas Even dinner with Fran’s Family. Delightful as always. As everyone knows I love to have parties / dinners/ events at out house so that’s where we did it this year. To be fair Fran’s extended family is pretty wonderful.

CAPTION

Here is a picture for the ladies! Les bûches de Noël (Yule Logs for the English speakers).  The origin involves a King named Pierre. One day he decided to eat a log. He liked it so much he made a rule that everyone would eat logs for the holidays. Eventually a clever baker made a cake that looked like a log. People rejoiced and have eaten log-shaped cakes ever since.

CAPTION

Christmas Day. It snowed during the night which was a treat (white Christmas – check). The family managed to pry me out of bed by 9:30 am which might be a new record. We had our traditional hot chocolate and croissants and then it was time for gifts.

CAPTION

I’m not sure if everyone got what they wanted, but supposedly it’s the thought that counts. Sometimes I feel like we are too preoccupied with what we are getting as opposed to what we are giving or even what we  already have. I think we were able to keep things fairly simple this year (the presents here are from my parents and sister too) and we tried to incorporate serving others which is a step in the right direction. Merry Christmas!

CAPTION

Christmas Dinner with my family. We had amazing prime rib and appetizers courtesy of my mother. And we had amazing green bean casserole courtesy of my Grandma. It was a pretty amazing feast (Did I mention it was amazing?). Afterwards the kids opened presents from my Dad’s sister. I have never seen a family have so much fun with balloons. Ever.

CAPTION

We really didn’t want to have a party this year- there was just too much going on and the house was (is) still getting moved into. We did get together with the Browns (and Browns) for dinner. Then they followed us home for some small talk and a few games until the new year hit.

CAPTION

Snow means sledding. I missed out on this one. It looks like they’re sledding on a trail. Is that allowed?

CAPTION

But sledding on a hill (or trail) just doesn’t cut it anymore. Eventually you upgrade to being pulled on a sled by an ATV. Good times with the Ercanbracks! I missed out on this one too. A plot, perhaps.

CAPTION

Determined not to be left out of the next round of sledding I decided I would need to make my own hill. The whole family gathered snow from the driveway, poured it in bins and hauled it to the backyard We made a small ramp feeding into a snow covered decent inside our trampoline pit. If you were brave enough to take the ride a concrete wall rewarded you at the base of the pit (no one got hurt). Not a bad way to spend an afternoon!

And then, like a flash, it was 2015…

Hughes Family: November 2014

I always feel like November goes in like a lamb and comes out like a lion. At work we have a lot of holiday preparation to take care of and things go crazy right after Thanksgiving (and they don’t let up for a solid month). Lots of family events and activities create an even tighter time crunch. But we love it, right?

CAPTION

We started off the month with a Thanksgiving feast. We hosted Fran’s side of the family in the wee days of November and had a dinner fit for a king. A good time was had by most.  Party number one- check. Tip: You can fit twenty five people into a room meant for six.

CAPTION

We recently acquired more warehouse space in the building where we currently operate BHQ. This allowed us to consolidate some of our assets and we decided to turn our detached warehouses back over to the landlord. Since we had some of our personal effects in these warehouses we moved them into our new home. We had almost no storage space in our last house so this was super exciting for me (I like having things together). Randall and Catherine showed up with a mega trailer and  many of our friends came by to help and we made short work of the move. Thank you guys! Couldn’t have done it without you. Tip: Nothing builds character faster than hauling giant metal shelves down stairs.

CAPTION

Another trip to the Museum of Natural Curiosity. Curiosity killed the cat, but so far it seems no children have experienced the same fate at the museum. Tip: Shaving cream- not just for shaving.

CAPTION

A fun little dessert party with Erin and Doug and my parents. Eat, eat, eat. Seems like there’s a lot of that this time of year. Luckily conversations with the family are calorie free. Reading with Grandpa- also calorie free. And erasers shaped like food from Grandma- very cool and calorie free. Tip: Don’t ingest calories.

CAPTION

This year we decided to add an extra holiday event at work. I’ve always felt like there’s just not enough stuff going on. What better way to address that than by having a bowling night? So we rented out the VIP room over at Jack & Jill’s (Lehi) and bowled the night away. I’m pleased to report that nearly all of us had scores over thirty. Or maybe I’m embarrassed to report that. Out of the eighty attendees the highest scores of the night were in the 160’s. Not too bad. The lane my family played on had broken bumpers but we suffered though endless gutter balls with dignity and long-suffering. Tip: When you write a blog historical accuracy is subject to foggy recollection.

CAPTION

Moving in feels like an endless process. But we’re getting there, little by little! We liked the built ins from our last house so much that we decided to go that route again. It took about two months for them to make and install the shelves and desk but we were finally able to unpack most of our office items. That felt good. Tip: Every office should have a little girl reading in it.

CAPTION

The Living Planet Aquarium… again. Do these kids ever get sick of this stuff? More importantly- do the appreciate that their mom takes them to do these things? I’m out of tips.

CAPTION

In preparation for another dinner Fran made pies and rolls. Claire is turning into a great kitchen helper!  I wrangled out some long lost roll-making skills from my Great Harvest days. Chloe made a mess.

CAPTION

And here is another dinner. Thanksgiving with the Hughes family (and my wonderful grandmother who is technically a Francis). We dined, we laughed. Mike’s plate of dessert made me question the meaning of life.

CAPTION

Here’s a collage of us eating some more. Do we we go out and eat enough? I seriously can’t even describe how sick I am of food. Maybe this seems like a ridiculous thing to say but I have a really hard time controlling myself when there are group feasts, when we go out to eat or basically any time I see food. I would like a food break. Is that too much to ask? Give my food to someone who needs it please.

CAPTION

Cocoa before trimming the tree. And then the decoration ritual. Here is the only picture I have of Chloe not pulling off ornaments. She looks concerned (probably contemplating ornament trajectories). I was sick that day so I sat on the couch and complained about tangled garlands. The holidays always bring out the best in me.

CAPTION

Other November highlights. We put up a growth chart to keep track of the kids. If any of them hit the seven foot mark we’ll buy them ice cream. We had the first snow of the year and Claire made a snowman! He was very cute but in the sun he melted, melted. And somehow we made it to to the Lehi Legacy Center to run with the Sabins. It’s like running with the bulls except usually no one gets gored to death. November- a month of miracles.

Well… I think that’s enough sarcasm for one month. Let’s get together and do it again sometime. Maybe I’ll be a little less on edge next time. I can’t imagine that would be the case but you never know. Tallyho!

Hughes Family: August 2014

What did we do in August? Oh yes… we moved. We have been moving perpetually. In between moves we found time to go have a few adventures.It was a busy busy month!

CAPTION

Toward the beginning of the month Fran had a baby and a bridal showers to attend I got to hang out with boys for the day. We hit JCW’s, went to see Guardians of the Galaxy (great movie) and worked on moving things and getting our old home cleaned up.

CAPTION

Later that week we went to Lagoon with the Sandbergs. I know thatLagoon isn’t Disneyland but I think it’s a fantastic local park with plenty to do if your expectations are realistic. The weather was overcast so the park crowds were just right and everyone had a fantastic time.

CAPTION

Lagoon has plenty of fun rides for thrill seekers. Wicked, in particular is a blast. Samurai is another fun ride… until is starts going backwards. For people not impressed with Lagoon’s coaster options the Cannibal is opening in 2015.

CAPTION

Chloe had a lot of fun this time! She was pretty fearless and wasn’t afraid to go on any of the rides (and on some of the rides the kids have to go on alone).

CAPTION

What trip to the park would be complete without some ice cream? And a broken phone. Fran’s phone was a victim of the Samurai- midway through the ride those of us on the ground watched her phone literally launch off the ride and sail about fifty feet through the air onto a bathroom roof and then onto the ground. Amazingly the phone still worked.

CAPTION

The carnival games at Lagoon were as popular as any of the rides. Personally I don’t see the allure of throwing my money away on junk (okay, I’m sure some would disagree). The park food is so-so but there’s something exciting about eating it (maybe knowing you could barf it back up later).

CAPTION

Here are a few fun parting shots. A pic from Colossus (it was really hard to hold my camera going to through the loops).  I went with Chloe on the BomBora roller coaster. Claire was really worried when I pulled out my phone for a pic on the Rocket. “No Dad! No! Put your phone away. Hurry!” But I’m not the one who breaks my phone on rides 😉

House stuff…

CAPTION

After selling our Hunter’s Grove home we moved into a rental up in Traverse Mountain. It’s an interesting place (both Traverse Mountain and the house). The home has some quirky features…  For example the only outside access to the [very tiny] backyard is through a gate on the side of the home. It’s conveniently blocked by a rather large retaining wall. If you actually managed to work your way to the gate you’d find that it swings open into one of the porch supports ensuring continued difficulty. Awesome. And in the kitchen “there are four lights!” There is a strange sad little fifth light with a burnt out bulb. I think you could make a case that this is the location Captain Picard was held after being captured by the Cardassians. I discovered the lights while I was lying on the ground trying to hold our dishwasher door closed with my foot (otherwise it won’t complete a wash cycle). Aside from the home’s strange quirks we enjoy having potential buyers walk though at all times of the day.

CAPTION

The house is coming along. The exterior is mostly finished at this point. I saw a rainbow shooting into our house and I’m totally sure that’s a sign we’re supposed to live here. Sigh.

CAPTION

Lots of concrete! I’m happy we pushed the driveway out  (via the retaining wall). Can’t have to much driveway, I always say…   I’m pleased that Ivory epoxied the garage floors- they look great and it saves us a ton of money. I love a nice garage… Wish I had something to put in it.

CAPTION

There’s always time for a wedding! Caroline and Brian were married in August. Beautiful wedding and a fun reception. Congrats! “What? That’s all your going to write about the most important day of her life?”  Uh… yeah?


I happily accepted the ALS ice bucket challenge extended by my sister, Erin. The water was way colder than I thought it would be! I called out my business partner, Jim, my friend, Tom, and my sister-in-law, Catherine. I think the general assumption is that people who pour the ice water on their head are getting out of donating to ALS, however for the curious I also contributed money toward their research (you can too by visiting www.alsa.org).

The kids got called out by their friends (and each other) and chose to participate as well:

Not done yet…

CAPTION

Over Labor Day weekend we went camping near Mirror Lake with the Ercanbracks- Catherine (Fran’s sister), Lauren (Catherine’s daughter) and Randall (Catherine’s husband). Lots of good food, adventures and fun.

CAPTION

Kids in nature are extra cute! They carve wood, play chess, build traps and collect firewood. They also get dirty and complain. All part of the gig.

CAPTION

Mirror Lake was really pretty and equally as cold. Next time we’ll need jackets and maybe some fishing gear. Or maybe we could just look at these pictures and call it good.