Sunday, May 23, 2010

H2O- Revisit

I am bumping my other posts out a bit and squeezing this one in immediately for the sole reason that I want you to get in there and eat these soft shell crabs while you can. I was really hopeful when we decided to go to H20 on this night that there would be soft shell crabs…I just kept missing them everywhere else. But this time I was in luck.

They were offering them in a traditional spider roll, but they were also offering a tomato salad with an option of adding a soft shell crab on top. We added two (no way were we sharing one). Wow. That’s all I can say. I seriously just wanted to skip the rest of the stuff we ordered and just get another order. The tomato salad itself (which you can get without the crab, but you would be insane) was really really good as well. The tomatoes came from My Neighbor’s Garden and were also really good for early season tomatoes. They were cut into large chunks with lots of thinly sliced basil, an almost guacamole-ish avocado topping, some beautiful sliced cheese and wonderfully tasty vinaigrette (drag your crab through THAT—perfection). Seriously, so get in there soon, these little babies don’t stay around too long (they start getting their regular hard shells).

The crabs were lightly fried and were quite large, but in the perfect state of soft-shelled-ness. Sometimes you get pieces that are still just a little too crunchy. These were not, just the right crunch with what was quite a meaty crab. (In the picture, you can only see one crab because I couldn’t stop hubby from removing the other one before getting my camera out).

Ok, now that my frantic rant is done. I will tell you about the rest of the food. We also had one of the chicken buns which was a soft doughy bread (sort of like a pita in shape, but smaller) that was holding some exceedingly tender slices of chicken that were seasoned with a slightly sweet sauce giving it a slightly more mild flavor similar to that in a Chinese pork bun (which is usually heavily sweet barbeque sauced shredded pork of which I am not usually a huge fan). This was nice though, and was handled with a much more delicate hand. There were some barely pickled cucumbers on top that made for a nice variation in flavor (although I would have liked them more if they were pickled a teeny bit more).

We were also served a special dish of “temple and cheek” pork tacos that were outstanding. Just some tortillas with exceedingly tender pork from literally the head of the pig (hence the name temple and cheek) and topped with a bit of pico de gallo and a wedge of lime on the side. These were outstanding as well, especially with the squirt of lime which made the tender pork so bright and tangy. I hope these go on the menu.

We also had the marinated beef lettuce wraps. Hubby was reluctant because we generally aren’t a fan of lettuce wraps, but we thought we’d give them a go. They weren’t our favorite thing, but the beef was lovely and rare and sliced thin and the presentation was beautiful. The beef was placed on top of some kim chi in a super fresh cup of butter lettuce. There was some nice sticky rice on the side as well. However, I can't say we are any more a fan of lettuce wraps in general.

Finally we ordered the hamachi (or yellowtail) served with chick peas, arugula and a light brothy truffle scented jus. The hamachi was seared, and a nice piece of fish, but unfortunately was a little too dry to really enjoy because it was overcooked. The broth was amazing though and if the fish was cooked a little less, it would be amazing (hell, you could throw that fish in there raw and have an amazing combo).

Oh man, and we had the cookies. Those cookies will knock your socks off. Now this is not news to a lot of you , but since Eli and Nicole Anderson have re-purchased the restaurant and brought back Nicole’s cookies and sorbets, you can get an amazing cookie at H2O. For me, this was my first Nicole Anderson cookie and I was suitably impressed. It was a warm oatmeal raisin cookie served with some lightly flavored espresso cream (great for dipping). This was a perfect ending to our meal.
I am going to reiterate what I said before on my last H2O post though—I think we have a gifted chef in our midst and I hope people get in there and take advantage. And don’t worry if you don’t like sushi (I am not a big fan of rolls myself) because I think the best (and most creative) things are going on on the left side of the menu.

H2O Sushi
1912 Broad Ripple Avenue
Indy 46220
317/254-0677 (please please please update the website with the current menu items! I would love to be able to see what is on that left side)


  1. "And don’t worry if you don’t like sushi (I am not a big fan of rolls myself) "

    Uhh...sushi does not comprise rolls only. In fact, I don't consider rolls truly sushi myself; "sushi' should be pieces of fish on sushi rice. OK, call it nigiri if you must, but "sushi rolls" does not equal "sushi".

  2. well, sushi I think technically refers to the vinegared rice itself, and traditionally is probably usually nigiri, but I think also includes rolls, particularly in American Japanese restaurants. I, however, am not a fan of the rolls, which is what I refered to in my parenthetical.

  3. H20's Facebook page is updated pretty regularly with the more interesting things that they have going on. I'd check that out instead of the website.

  4. Jessica in NoblesvilleMay 24, 2010 at 10:06 PM

    Thanks to Condimentality for the Facebook tip, their page looks great! Curious to learn what the new vacuum sealer does for their menu.

  5. Yeah, I think restaurant webpages are becoming a thing of the past for places that have constantly evolving menus. It's just so much easier for a chef to update the menu or announce specials via facebook or twitter.

  6. Condimentality:
    Agree the facebook pages for a lot of these places are great and helpful...but a lot of people aren't on facebook or twitter and restaruants shouldn't count on people finding them there. Also, Recess does a great job of updating both their website AND their facebook page, so it can be done. If you are going to have a website, keep it updated. That is all I am saying.

  7. Oh, I wasn't trying to imply that there is anything wrong with expecting an up to date webpage. Just speculating as to the reasons why a restaurant's webpage might be out of date while the same restaurant's facebook page might not be, that's all :)

  8. Erin, true - "sushi" actually refers to the vinegared sticky rice and yes, 'more traditional' "sushi" would tend to be nigiri. It just seems to me that many people in the West [but not you :-)] tend to think of sushi rolls (makimono) immediately when they say "sushi", with nigiri (nigirizushi) as an afterthought. BTW the 'inside-out' rolls (rice on the outside; uramaki) more commonly seen here are not as popular in Japan, it seems; my understanding is that the nori-on-the-outside rolls (makizushi, futomaki, hosomaki, temaki) are more so. (And many here don't really think of sashimi either...)

    I myself would vote for updating webpages. I cruise past a restaurant's Facebook page only if I have to, and have done so only of late. I myself have no desire to join Facebook... Just my personal stance.

  9. I am a big fan of H2O for their SUSHI and their regular menu items. I find it ridiculous that you are reviewing a sushi restaurant and claiming to not be a big fan of sushi or not know much about it. If someone googles Indianapolis and Sushi, they might find your blog, and that would be unfortunate because you seem to not know much about it. And you are rude to people who actually take the time to read your blog and comment. Unbelievable. You really should relinquish the rights to your "Indianapolis Restaurant Scene" title and give it to someone who has the ability to really deserve it. Like a chef or food critic. The chefs at H20 are wonderful and deserving of a much better review.

  10. Anon:

    Well, I have never claimed to be an expert at anything. I am a woman with an opinion on food. You know, I am sure lots of people don't agree with me, and that is totally cool. I welcome everyone's opinion here. And I have never, NEVER, claimed to be any kind of expert on sushi. It isn't my fave food for sure.

    But hey, it's my blog, and I made up the (somewhat uninspired) name and I am keeping it. I write it because I love to eat, and I like to share what I find.

    The thing is, if you don't like what I say, go ahead and comment and disagree. And hey, if I really bother you, you don't even have to read it if you don't want to.

    As for my H2O review, did you read it? Because I really like the place. Even if I didn't eat the sushi.


  11. Alright I understand you want a blog to share your ideas and opinions about what you eat. But when someone finds this blog with this title, they assume that it is an official Indianpolis Restaurant review site. Maybe "Erin's take on the Indianapolis Restaurant Scene" would be more truthful. The fact that you are probably eating at all these places for free and getting paid to advertise on your blog is crazy to me. Yes, I saw that you liked H2O, but I did not like the review because they do WONDERS with sushi and rolls...and to omit such a huge part of their menu was a disservice to them and people searching for restaurant reviews. After reading many of your reviews, I see that consistently your palate seems quite untrained and your tastes so limited. I'm all about you having your own blog...but honestly it seems to me you are benefiting from a great blog name that you didn't really train or work for in the food world.

  12. Dear anon (how come you know my name but won't give yours?):

    It's a blog. MY blog. Seriously, if it bothers you so much you should stop reading it. I appreciate feedback, but I do sort of have a rule against personal attacks, which I am slightly more lenient about when they're about me, but I will draw the line at some point.

    I do NOT eat for free and very few chefs and/or restaurants even know who I am. If you read my policies post you will see that. My ads are making me very little cash, trust me.

    It is your perogative to think I have an untrained palate and yes I do not like every type of food put there. I have a lot of loyal readers who do value my opinion. As long as they like reading it, and I like writing it, it will exist.

  13. A rule against personal attacks is good. I guess I should have given my criticisms in a more gentle way. And I know your name because it's on your site. I need not give mine because I am not advertising to you. I am the customer in this situation and the product is your blog. I am just annoyed that every time I google a restaurant name and Indianapolis your blog comes up as if it is a viable reference. I thought maybe you would have some humble, kind, or witty reply that would show you don't take yourself or your reviews too seriously and thus redeem the misnamed blog. I love an "average joe" review but only when I wasn't tricked into reading it. So personal attacks aside, my constructive criticism is rename your blog to better reflect your individuality and then someone won't be mad when they take the time to read a review on a Sushi restaurant and find out the writer does not even like sushi.
    Thanks for your time and good luck.

  14. Hey anon--being insulting and judgmental does nothing to gain you
    credibility here. As a frequent dining companion, I will assure you
    that there is never favoritism or free service--and any reservations are made in my name. Your evaluation of Erin's motivations is woefully (and willfully?) inaccurate. And I take offense that you suggest she is rude to her commenters--nothing could be further from the truth. I'm not sure what you're reading that would indicate such a

    And as a certified and dedicated "untrained palate," I wonder who these chefs are hoping to serve? Fellow chefs? People specially trained in eating? The truth is, I know good food when I eat it. I actually don't care to know the details of how it is prepared and even what might be in it (hehehe, to Erin's dismay probably); I just like to eat it. I can tell it is good because it is, and when it isn't I can tell that, too. I would imagine I'm exactly the type of person a chef would want to cook for: I like to go out to eat good food, and it pisses me off when I spend money on crappy food.

    Re. the review at hand: From the contents of this review, why would
    anyone think that the sushi at H20 isn't good? Erin simply stated
    she's not a big fan of sushi, not that the sushi they serve is bad. I
    would think anyone who likes sushi would be inspired to try it judging
    from the actual content of this review--it is extremely positive and complimentary!

    Ultimately, this is Erin's sandbox. If you don't like it, go play somewhere else. And for the record: I would never trust a professional critic to recommend food to me. That's one of the great things about a blog like this: A reader can find out what Erin's likes/dislikes are
    generally, and be able to extrapolate from that how they might fare in the same place.

    Finally, there is nothing on this blog to suggest that it is anything than what it is: One food fan's experiences at restaurants in our town. To suggest that anyone is going to come here and think it is some sort of "official," sanctioned statement is weird. It makes me wonder at your motivations for contributing here. The strength of blogs like this is exactly the absence of "special" treatment by the kitchen. A good kitchen is putting out quality product to every diner, not just the ones they think are "important."

  15. Erin - you have a great blog, it's entertaining and intersting. It is completely understood that it is a subjective review.

    I'm not sure what exactly the complaint is about your blog name being "official".... To make it official, should it be authorized by.... who? The Mayor? Mitch? Should government get involved in personal restaurant reviews? That makes no sense.

    It is called the internet. There's nothing more democratic than that.

  16. But Grub... this blog just pops right up LIKE THAT when you do one of them there fancy google searches for a restaurant. I mean, come on! The CIA has to be behind this.

  17. >>Maybe "Erin's take on the Indianapolis Restaurant Scene" would be more truthful. The fact that you are probably eating at all these places for free and getting paid to advertise on your blog is crazy to me.

    Whoa, dude, what is this supposed to mean?! I believe Erin has a review policy and a comment policy. And what's crazy is that you would think she's getting comps or kickbacks from restaurants she reviews. You reveal yourself as pretty ignorant. So, what, she didn't have the sushi -- if you're as familiar with H2O as you seem, then you'll know they're about much more than that.

  18. Jessica in NoblesvilleJune 8, 2010 at 10:18 PM

    Erin, you're awesome, anon I don't know who you are and I don't really care. I take this blog for what it very clearly is, one local diner's take on the restaurant scene, with a bent for local owners (and a fetish for fried chicken and perfectly cooked seafood). I'm curious where exactly anon thinks you've been rude?

    I started coming here and a few other blogs (wibia) because there is a serious lack of good local "professional" dining reviews in Indy. I appreciate that Erin is an average eater who happens to know her likes and dislikes. I already knew H20 sushi served great sushi, but her review informed me that they have a lot more than that. This has actually persuaded me to check out H20 over other closer sushi places.

    Erin, keep it up, call your blog whatever you want, I'm a fan. You know you're hitting the big time when you're getting some negative feedback.

  19. wow, thanks all you all for the kind words, and Jessica, you scare me for how you have me all figured out ("a fetish for fried chicken and perfectly cooked seafood"). Hubby says, "she has you nailed!" :)

    But honestly to all of you, I am just so glad that you care enough about our Indy scene to comment, please keep it up!


  20. Hey All-
    Just wanted to post a little update on H20. I went back a week or so ago and had another great meal. The Ramen and the Bibimbap were both excellent as were the little chicken lollipops. We also had a yummy homemade pickle platter. And as always, the cookie for dessert is the best cookie in Indy. Seriously.

    They have also gone to a daily menu (LOVE this) and everything (including the sushi) is on one page, so I can no longer refer to the "left side" of the menu. :)

    There is a lot of creativity and amazing ingredients going into the food here. Still one of my favorite restaurants in Indy.


  21. It's not clear if you have had their Omakase menu... have you?