Indie Toledo: Phoenicia Cuisine

Part of a series about independent restaurants and stores in the Northwest Ohio area.

Classes at the University of Toledo have started up again, and in honor of thousands of students migrating back to Toledo to learn stuff, I would like to present you with a special edition of Indie Toledo about an on-campus treasure.

Phoenicia Cuisine is a Mediterranean-style restaurant located on the third floor of UT’s Student Union.  Phoenicia serves Lebanese-style food for the most part, but there are also other offerings.

When it’s time to order, you have two choices: a sit-down area and a take-out window.  Busy students may want to just grab an order to take back to the dorm, but it’s always nice to sit in the dining area and just chill out.  It’s a great place to catch up with that friend you haven’t seen since May!

Food & Beverages

There are several main categories of food at Phoenicia, including Entrees, Appetizers, Sandwiches, and Salads.  I’ve tried something from every category, so we’ll talk about at least one recipe from each here.

The appetizer list consists of several dishes, including several Lebanese foods.  I’ve tried the hummus and grape leaves, and both were fantastic.  Hummus comes in a regular and large size, but the regular size is huge!  It was much bigger than I could eat all on my own, and if my roommate had not been allergic to chickpeas I would have saved the rest for later.  (I ended up giving it to a friend.)  The stuffed grape leaves were non-vegetarian, something I like in my stuffed grape leaves, and were served slightly warm.  Mmm.  There are also vegetarian stuffed grape leaves available.

The list of salads is by far my favorite.  While there are regular American-style salads, like the house salad and Greek salad, there are also Mediterranean-style salads as well.  In particular, you can find an incredibly fresh tabbouli and an absolutely delicious fattoush salad.  My personal favorite is the tabbouli – I get it so often, I’m sure that’s how the staff knows me by now!

The sandwiches are fairly standard in terms of American restaurant fare.  There are cheeseburgers and other specialty hamburgers as well as gyros and other sandwiches.  One particular delicious meal is the grilled feta, a pita filled with feta cheese and tomatoes grilled to a melty perfection.  It comes with a side – you can choose fries, but I almost always take rice with it.  Grilled feta is my staple sandwich at Phoenicia because it’s easy and quick when I’m on the run.

You can also order one of their many entrees, which are always made when you order it.  You can order things like the chicken shawarma platter or a Lebanese combo.  Vegetarian entrees, like the vegetarian grape leaves and falafel sandwich, are also available for the health-conscious or those living a vegetarian lifestyle.

Critic’s Conclusion

While it’s one of the pricier options for on-campus food, Phoenicia offers fresher, healthier options for those who spend a lot of time on campus.  They even offer vegetarian options – always a healthy choice no matter if you’re a vegetarian or proud omnivore.

Phoenicia is also a nice place for a sit-down dinner with friends or a casual lunch date with a new friend.  If you attend the University of Toledo, you should definitely check out Phoenicia before you graduate.

Indie Toledo: Taruman

Part of a series about independent restaurants and stores in the Northwest Ohio area.

Sushi may not be for everyone, but those who do enjoy it often have particular tastes: specific cuts of specific types of fish, preferences of toppings or fillings for various rolls, even a liking for the California roll made by certain sushi places.

While I’ve been to several sushi places within five miles or so of the University of Toledo, where I work and go to school, I haven’t found one I like quite as much as I like Taruman.

Taruman, which technically counts more as a sushi takeout restaurant, is located at 7430 West Central Avenue in what the maps tell me is Toledo.  I’d definitely say it’s far out enough on Central to be in Sylvania, though, so if you’re a Sylvania resident near Central Avenue, it’s one of the closest sushi places.

Food & Beverages

As a sushi place, Taruman serves sushi.  Usually, they’re open for lunch and dinner, and from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on weekdays there is a lunch special, which is written on the white board at the front of the shop.  There are a few basic categories of food at Taruman.

First, there’s nigiri sushi.  Nigiri is the type of sushi that has a small pat of rice with a piece of fish, seafood, or other item on top.  I haven’t really tried the nigiri at Taruman, but I have tried one: the tamago nigiri, which is sweet fried egg.  It was a little odd-tasting, but as far as I can tell, it’s because sweet fried egg in general tastes very strange to me.  (I’ve had it elsewhere and felt the same way.)

The second category I would include are the regular and vegetable rolls, or maki sushi.  Maki refers to something round, so a maki is a rolled sushi.  I usually get maki sushi, since it’s my main preference.  There are standard rolls like the California and Philadelphia rolls as well as a variety of vegetable/vegetarian rolls.

The third category is specialty rolls.  I haven’t tried Taruman’s specialty rolls, but those I go with often do.  From the reviews I’ve heard from friends, the Monster roll and the Dragon roll are both very good.

The fourth category of sushi is the te-maki, which translates to hand-roll.  These are cone-shaped sushi often filled with deliciousness.  Taruman actually has a kimchi te-maki, which would sound interesting and delicious if I liked kimchi.

There are other offerings as well, such as udon (a type of noodle), edamame (lightly salted, steamed soybeans in the pod) and miso (a traditional Japanese soup made with tofu).

A variety of beverages are also available, including the Japanese soda Ramune, hot tea, and more.

Critic’s Conclusion

I GREATLY recommend Taruman to any sushi-lover in Northwest Ohio – and anyone just trying sushi for the first time.  Taruman is the second place I had tried sushi, but the first place I actually enjoyed it – and after that, I headed there regularly.

Personally, my favorite thing about Taruman is the service.  The staff there is great – the chef is a very nice lady, and I’m sure that by now she knows my face, since I’m there pretty often and usually get the same thing.  I haven’t met such a friendly staff in a restaurant before!

In regards to food, I widely recommend the California roll or spicy California, especially if you like spicy sauce.  That’s pretty intense coming from me – I usually can’t stand spicy things!  The Philadelphia roll is also good.

One note: I’d recommend Taruman as a lunch visit.  While it’s charming inside, it’s not the sort of place you would impress your date.