I finally got my wish; a Japanese restaurant very close to me that’s open for lunch and is fairly affordable. Not only that but it’s pretty good as well.
Kawa Japanese Restaurant moved into the space that was Verizon wireless and some old dry cleaners and is very new, probably less than a month since I’d driven by that space looking for Verizon & it was empty at the time. It was because of Twitter that I even learned that it existed, and it’s only 5 minutes away, in what I call Aldi’s plaza (it’s actually next to Aldi’s) in Liverpool, and across the street from what’s still my favorite place, Pier 57.
I went on a whim for lunch, not sure what to expect because depth perception isn’t my friend, so I was expecting a very tiny place. Instead, it’s long, if narrow, and its inviting. When you first walk in there’s the desk where you’re greeted and where you’ll pay your bill unless you pay at your table. To the immediate right you’ll see a well lighted sushi bar with a cool sign behind it with the name in it. The light rotates between 4 or 5 colors, and unfortunately it was too bright for you to see the name in it.
Across from the sushi bar begins the seating, bench seating on one side with chairs across the table. Further back are booths, but I’ve yet to go that far back. For my first meal I ordered what I always order, salmon teriyaki. I asked for fried rice instead of white rice, and was told it would have to replace whatever else they were thinking of giving me. At no extra cost that was a very easy decision, and immediately there was a difference between Kawa and Koto, where they charge you $5.95 extra for fried rice instead of white.
As you can see in the picture above, the presentation is pretty cool. The vegetables that came with is are some that I’d normally eat, but they’re served extra al dente, thus were a bit harder than I normally eat with a meal. However, the salmon teriyaki itself was very tasty, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. They also brought me a salad that wasn’t bad and some miso soup that I normally don’t consume, and it was okay but didn’t alter my taste buds any. The cost of the meal, including my soda, was still under $20, almost $8 less than it is at Koto and 20 minutes closer; works for me.
As an additional story, I went again with my wife for dinner one evening. She ordered the shrimp tempura which was tasty, although for my palate I might have wanted the sauce a little more flavorful. They gave us a free sampling of something they called volcano sushi. I normally don’t eat sushi but this was cooked and warm, and much different than what you’ll see online described as a volcano sushi roll. As you can see in the image, you get 8 pieces (in this picture I’d asked for 2 orders), and when you bite into it there’s a slight yet delicious crunch. It’s not spicy at all, so I’m not sure why it’s called volcano unless it’s because it’s sushi that’s served hot. It was great.
Finally, the staff is very friendly and constantly checks on you to see how you’re doing. They’ll also engage you in conversation, which I’m not sure if they’re doing as a normal course of business or because, since the place is still new, there hasn’t been a crowd in there any time I’ve been. I might have to experience a Friday night to see if it gets crowded, but it is still new.
This is easy to recommend. They offer hibachi cooked food but, as far as I could see, don’t have a hibachi set up where they cook the food in front of you. You just have to check it out; I ran into someone else I knew ordering take out from there and she said she loved the food as well.
Some weeks ago I went downtown in Syracuse to the main Onondaga County Library, which is in the Galleria Mall between South Salina Street and Warren Street. Since I don’t live in the city I hadn’t paid much attention to the area for a long time. There have been a lot of changes; most of them aren’t all that good.
For one, the Galleria is now less of a mall and more of a place for some fancy office space. Gone are all the stores that used to populate it. Some of the spaces are still empty, while others have been filled by some kind of business. Luckily, the library occupies most of the space, upwards of 4 floors, but I have no idea if many of the upper spaces in other areas of the mall have any residents in them at all or not.
There’s still the diner/bakery Cristo’s, along with an office supply/gift shop, but that’s pretty much it. The food court, which was a big deal when there were still tenants in the old Sibley’s building space (Medicare used to occupy that space but they’ve been long gone), has been closed in and now Traveler’s insurance is there. Just like other cities that have tried putting malls into their downtown areas, it’s an idea that just didn’t work, and that’s unfortunate.
What’s also unfortunate is what’s going on in the rest of that block. While you see all sorts of things happening in the 300 block (where the Landmark Theater is) and in the 500 block (where the new Greyhound transportation center is), the 400 block is a mess of dilapidated and empty buildings with no purpose and not even any consideration as to what can be done about it. There’s still a large space that may or may not contain a post office; it was dark when I was there, though it could have been the windows keeping the light from escaping.
Part of that mess includes what was supposed to be both a community center of sorts and luxury hotel rooms or condos in some of the old Hotel Syracuse space that overlooked the city, now empty with a chute of some kind coming out of one of the rooms, as if the place is up for demolition. Frankly, it was pretty depressing walking in this area and it made me wonder how or if someone, anyone, might be trying to market it to prospective buyers.
This is definitely a major eyesore, especially being in the middle of two blocks going through some major renovation. Once again I have no answers; I’m only pointing things out. As we look towards making downtown both beautiful and prosperous again, a place where people will not only feel safe but want to shop, we can’t forget things like this, which aren’t going to be easy to solve.
Actually I don’t spit on snow unless I can’t breathe, but here in central New York we don’t sweat the small stuff all that much. There’s something about living in an area where 9 of the last 10 years have given us more than 150 inches of snow in the Syracuse area, way more on the outskirts, that makes us feel pretty arrogant and dismissive when we hear that other areas of the country might be getting hammered.
Such is the case of the last 24 hours where, trying something different, the Weather Channel decided to name a winter storm for the first time ever, calling it Nemo. This was once again predicted as a perfect storm that would drop feet of snow all up and down the East Coast and dump grand amounts in certain places further in as well.
Truthfully, it lived up to its hype in many areas. Some areas of New England got more than 2 feet, some 3 feet, and a few other places got more snow than they’re used to. Something many of us weren’t paying attention to was another winter storm that was hitting Michigan at the same area, dumping a nice load of snow on their as well.
The Syracuse area got somewhere between 7 and 10 inches, depending on where you lived, and up north they got between 10 and 20 inches. Yup, that’s a lot of snow for sure. Here’s the thing though. Syracuse acknowledges that it gets a lot of snow, so it and the surrounding communities budgets its money to take care of the roads.
The main roads were actually pretty clear yesterday when the hardest snow was hitting, which was around rush hour, although it was slippery in many areas. My wife and I were driving home and it wasn’t even a blinding wind that we’ve seen in much worse weather. It could have been worse in other places.
I’m thinking we’ve all gotten to a place where we realize that weather patterns are changing. Any Eastern communities of the United States who aren’t starting to plan for these types of winter events better, budgeting for real snow removal services and equipment, and able to clear their runways so they can keep air traffic going are failing and should be ashamed of themselves. The only reasons planes don’t leave Syracuse is because the airports those planes have to fly to are shut down; that’s just a shame.
Massive weather events… we get it. Here, 8 inches is just another day; a messy one but we get on with life. If we get hit with more than that in a day, or are averaging an inch of snow an hour, yes, that will slow things down some, and we had that for a few hours yesterday. But the ability of a community that’s prepared to get roads clear as soon as possible for the protection of its citizens is a community to be admired for its foresight.
Winter weather… yeah, we’re living in the right place. Some might have said at some point yesterday they wished they were in Florida… hmmm, I’ve got nothing for that.
For someone who doesn’t drink, it seems like I’ve been to Al’s Wine & Spirits on Clinton Street a whole bunch of times. This time it was for a get together of local bloggers, something I got invited to at the last minute on a very windy night and decided I just had to go, especially since I was having a last minute massage at Armory Massage in the same area.
When I walked in the door I was recognized by Renee Benda, aka cusecomm, who writes about local things like I do on this blog, who was talking with Mark Strong, aka phomancho, who writes about food. I was connected with Renee, though it wasn’t until later when I put her picture and seeing her in person together; much more attractive in person. I didn’t know Mark, but we’d talk a lot early on.
Eventually people started trickling in and I got to know some of the names. There was Christopher Malone, aka chris___malone (that’s 3 underscores), who works in politics and writes short stories, and was soon followed by Kelly Covert, aka trimommykelly, who writes about life as a triathlete, mother, and all around superwoman, and Amber B, aka amberbinteriors (that’s all I got out of her lol), who writes about interior design.
Once Margaret McCormick, aka mmccormickcny, who I wrote about almost 2 years ago when she challenged the Doubletree hotel in a cookie contest, showed up, Mark and I went to save us a space in the establishment, where we talked about his penchant for loving to create interesting food combinations, including desserts he won’t eat; strange concept to me that one, but I’m hoping to talk him into making this cookie thing surrounded by a brownie in a cupcake wrapper for me; oh yeah!
When others finally joined us we were off and communicating. I knew some of the folks already, like Sunny Hernandez, aka sunnyinsyracuse, with whom I’ve shared a few adventures I’ve written on this blog, including my first visit to the B’ville Diner and the day she tried to kill me at Green Lakes State Park, who writes about pies of all sorts, and Steve Borek, aka steveborek, a local business coach and theater arts producer who, along with Sunny, was part of a theater production I saw called Urinetown, a strange little show that I actually liked, though I wasn’t sure I would, who writes about business and coaching; makes sense.
And there were some people who came I didn’t know or hadn’t yet met in person. Those folks were Joanna Giansanti, aka joannagiansanti, who writes about graphic design and creativity (we were connected already so it was our first meeting), and Christie Jones, aka bedsidesign (who also doesn’t always look like her pictures), who writes about interior design, and her husband Ian, aka helloianjones, who’s the spitting image of Elvis Costello and even plays guitar!. And Sunny came with her man Steve, aka SMARTASScny, who runs Trivia Night at Wise Guys every Tuesday and informed me that real Irish people don’t eat corned beef & cabbage; who’d have thunk it?
It seemed like everyone had a great time as no one was left out of a conversation that I noticed, and maybe the one thing we didn’t do that maybe next time we will is have a quick moment to talk about our blogs, although I’d have had to figure out which one to discuss with so many of them. There were a lot of other people who said they wished they could come but couldn’t, and it was put together pretty quickly so maybe next time it’ll be an even bigger event, with better weather. Hey, this is Syracuse right?
It’s great finally meeting local bloggers, and I’m someone whose said that it’s great when we can support each other since most of us seem to have bigger followings elsewhere. I’ve looked at all the blogs on this list that I’m about to share with you below; go take a look, comment if you have something to say, and look for a message concerning the next time we get together, because I know it’s happening. Anyway, here’s the list:
Bendiful Eat First The Proof Is In The Eating My Life As A Trimommy Simple Dwellings The Infinite Abyss(es) Sporadic Attic Creating Leaders, Followers Want To Follow. Giansanti Design Bedsidesign For Your Pies Only
A couple of weeks ago a friend of mine asked me to come over to help him put an antivirus program on his computer. I got there, figured out what he’d done, and went through the process of uninstalling what he had and downloading an antivirus program I use all the time.
I decided to run a speed test, and the site I usually go to is Speakeasy Speedtest. I ran it and his speed topped out at 1.15 MBPS. That’s barely faster than the slowest “hi-speed” internet service you can get; that made no sense. I ran it a few times using the Chrome browser; browsers have nothing to do with download speed but you’ll know why I mentioned it in a few minutes. I told him that Verizon tells people their minimum speed is around 3 MBPS, and of course Road Runner just went up to 15 MBPS, so we knew there was a problem.
He got on the phone to contact customer service. After 10 minutes or so someone comes on the phone to take care of his problem, and I immediately knew we were in for a long time. Like most call centers, they employ people who have no idea of how to take care of your problem. Instead, they have a manual that they go through, and they say that you have to go through all these steps with them or else they can’t take care of your problem; sigh…
For the next 15 minutes we went through trivial things I knew made no sense, but that’s how it goes. We had to reboot the computer. We had to run the speed test again, this time on Internet Explorer using their recommended site, Speedtest.net; same result. We had to turn off the antivirus, even though I had just loaded it and thus knew it wasn’t the program slowing anything down. We had to reboot the computer up into safe mode with networking and then run the speed tests again… nothing. After a few more things which resulted in nothing she said she had to talk to a technical specialist. That took another 10 minutes of waiting, but at least she did come back a couple of times to say she was still waiting for an answer.
When her response came, it seemed ridiculous at first. She said that they had on file that because of the location of his house, the fastest speed he could ever get would be 1.5 MPBS. That made no sense, as he lives in the Tippary Hill area, but that was pretty much that. She passed him along to the billing department so they could change the rate of what he was being charged based on their promise of 3 MBPS as a minimum. As I thought about it all I realized the problem wasn’t his neighborhood, but the city of Syracuse in general; they don’t have FIOS! Many of the outlying areas have FIOS, the high speed fiber optic cable that can bring multiple speeds depending on what you want to pay for, but in the city… nada. That he was told one thing, then had to spend all that time on the phone waiting for information that they should have had readily available was almost insulting.
This is one of those times when relatively good customer service was inept in more ways than one. It was also appalling that sales didn’t know this information up front, wanting to get the sale more than take care of a potential new customer, as he still would have probably purchased the TV and phone package. He’s planning on switching to Road Runner internet service for more speed, and now lamenting what he had to go through. This is more of an informational piece about getting specific information on how things will work in your location than a bashing of Verizon, although I guess both can occur at once.