Friday, December 17, 2010

Noodle Boy

My coworker and I found Noodle Boy when we were planning on eating Shin Sen Gumi on a chilly day but the parking lot was way too full and there was a long wait.

We liked the sound of Noodle Boy and decided to check it out. Even though it is a bit of a hole in the wall, the food is pretty good. It has the feel of the type of specialized food served in Asia under tents in those crowded narrow alleys amidst busy markets, though without the fear of being run over by a motorcycle. The price is very reasonable as well. You get quite a large bowl with a reasonable amount of toppings for under $6. I got the meatball, which is pork; and my coworker got the fishballs.

The staff consists of little old ladies who speak little English. They seem to be more fluent in Cantonese but they speak Mandarin as well. Fortunately I speak Mandarin and it made the ordering process easy than it otherwise would have been. When we sat down, they gave us hot water in plastic cups. The coworker wanted cold or non-hot water; they couldn't understand him so I had to translate. They apologized and brought non-hot water right away.

Our food came fresh and piping hot. The coworker wanted a cup of ice to cool his soup down immediately to make it more palatable for his enjoyment. I asked for a cup of ice and the lady came right away with it.

For the price and what it is- Noodle Boy, I would say it is a pretty decent establishment and would recommend it if you are into noodles. It might be frustrating if you can't speak Chinese, but one can always point and order Tarzan style with simple sign language.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Carl's Jr. Teriyaki Burger

Mom wanted to take advantage of Carl's Jr's 2 Teriyaki Burgers for $4.

Total with tax came out to be $4.39. The cashier gave me back the coupon to use again if I wanted to. It expires this weekend. She asked me if I was getting off work or school. I told her I wasn't employed and I did just have an interview. She asked me if I was going to school and just got out. Wow...

This is the location at Las Tunas. Service is pretty good. After I ordered, I stood around and looked at the kitchen lady and the equipment she used and this other lady that got out all these buns. Well one of them tells the cashier that I was waiting...I guess they thought I was waiting to order or something...but I said no, just for my that was when she did that small talk that I'm not so sure I'm appreciative of but maybe should.

Anyway, the burger was pretty good. What a deal, considering that crappy burger I had in Oahu, HI from a crap of a shack claimed to have the World's Best Pineapple Burger that had no taste, more onions than pineapple which was paper thin and was a whopping $8. I'm not even going to mention the name of the place because I don't want anyone to go to check it out.

Well first of all, the Carl's burger did not have a pineapple slice as large as you see in their ads. I didn't get a good look or taste of it until I was about a quarter way through eating it. The teriyaki sauce is marvelous though and I'm someone that is infamous for hating sauces, but their sauce is great!! It also has some onions, some purple and some white grilled ones, but they are chopped in pretty thin slices.

On the other hand, Island's Pineapple Burger is much better. But nevertheless, for the price...2 thumbs up.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Curry House

Before watching opening night of the Prince of Persia movie, we had dinner at the Curry House in Little Tokyo. We arrived at 7pm Friday night and we didn't have to wait to get seated.

I had the Tofu and minced meat curry with a side of potato croquet and soft boiled egg. The egg was just the way I like it, truly like a golden nugget.

It came with a cup of soup and I chose the creamed corn which was very good, nice and buttery all over. I can't say enough nice things about the soup. Get it!

The potato croquet was definitely worth the extra cost, better than Genki Living (which is frozen, takes forever to come out, and comes with nasty tartar sauce). It was crispy and has that extra flaky texture on the outside, but so nice and warm and soft on the inside. It was like eating real food! Somehow taking a bite of it was like a memory of childhood when everything you ate was made with an extra touch of love instead of artificial flavors and preservatives like at most modern establishments.

Service was good. Waiters/ waitresses were fast and efficient. I especially like how my friend was trying to order iced coffee and was telling the waiter it wasn't the normal kind, it was the special kind but he didn't remember what it was called and the waiter said "ah yes I want the fatty kind." Isn't it great when the waiter can read your mind?

There wasn't a wide variety of deserts to choose from but I think if I hadn't been so full, I would have liked to try a little something.

This is my 2nd time at the Curry House at this location and enjoyed it both times. The Little Tokyo location is much better than the Rowland Heights one, though it's hard to say whether or not it was really the quality of the Rowland Heights restaurant that's at fault or the quality of the company at the time that ruined the eating experience. One thing I noticed was there seemed to be more Japanese people serving at the Little Tokyo location than at the Rowland Heights one, so that may have been one factor that helped make it appear more "genuine". The staff at the Little Tokyo location appear more knowledgeable and professional.

Lunchtime on the weekends require a fairly long wait. I think I waited half an hour last time. It is in a great location and after you're done eating, one can stroll downstairs to the Marukai Japanese market in search of Hello Kitty goods. For example, this time the greatest find was the Hello Kitty macaroni product which I first read about here.

The Curry House at the Little Tokyo location is a must for the novice connoisseur while I give the Rowland Heights one a thumbs down.

The only downfall would be looking for and paying for parking in the area. However, be sure to get your parking card validated to reduce the parking cost or to park for free. If the servers are good, they will ask you for the card when you pay.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Thrifty's Ice Cream

Thrifty's ice-cream in a 1.75 quart container is only $1.99 with the wellness card! Make sure you sign up before you pay. The lady behind the counter was nice enough to tell me about the great deal because otherwise without the card, it is $3.49. And best thing is they don't tax you for it. it was $1.99 exact!

They've got some really fantastic flavors like chocolate malted crunch. The taste and the price just can't be beat. Now that's what I call a cool deal!!

My other favorite flavors are mint and chip and coconut pineapple.

I know it's always made fresh because the factory is right in El Monte! Beat that Ben and Jerry's (which I have never been a fan of except during their free cone days).

This is another great item that brings me back to my childhood days. I remember back then a single scoop was only $0.35! Now I think it's over a $1.00? And the quart packaging did not have a lid, it was merely a square carton with flaps to open and close. Ahh...the simple days.

Update. Price has gone up to $2.50; 2 for $5.

Burger King Original Chicken Sandwich

This is a classic chicken sandwich! Reminds me of childhood. I haven't had this in a really long time and I had been craving it, especially since mom has been saving the buy one get one free coupons. So, yes, I got 2 chicken sandwiches for $3.83, not bad at all.

I was pretty hungry and took a bite and nearly burned my tongue! Wow, it was so hot. Now that's what I call freshly made! Yes I know it's ironic, enjoying the burning sensation of freshly made food, but one of the reasons why I had not gotten it for a while was because the last few times, the sandwich was cold like it had been sitting around for a while. This is the BK on Las Tunas, near the Pet and Jungle so I am going to have to remember to go to that one from now on. The crappy sandwiches was from the BK near the K-mart so I will have to remember not to go that one.

I really enjoy the elongated shape of the sandwich and the sesame buns are soft and just wonderful!!! I hate mayo but I do appreciate whatever white sauce it is that's in it. There's no cheese, just lettuce, nice and simple.

Unfortunately, Burger King no longer has cheezy tots! It's sad, I know. They were tots with piping hot cheese embedded inside. But guess what? A Sonic's has opened closer to my house and they have really good tots, so I'm going to have to visit them so I can do a blog entry soon!!

BK has a buy one get one free promo going on.

Sunday, May 23, 2010


After a pleasant hike at Crystal Cove National Park, we headed to Maggiano's for an early dinner at about 4pm.

They served us fresh hot sliced herby bread with a side dish of olive oil & vinegar. Not being a fan of the oil & vinegar I requested butter and they came out with a dish of sliced butter which was very good, but hard because it must have come fresh from the fridge but good.

I had the Creamy Chicken Potato soup to start off with. It was soo good. A shame there were no noodles instead of the potato within as that would surely have soothed the soul. It was really creamy, not fake creamy like with starch.

Two hungry hikers ordered the 4 cheese Ravioli. Because that was part of some special pasta category or some others, they were each offered an extra order of pasta to take home!

Well, I shared a Mushroom Ravioli. It was pretty hearty.
Typical restaurants usually only offer 4 pieces; this plate had 8! The mushrooms were like meaty; reminds me of UK Quorn, a popular meat substitute for vegetarians, made of fungus. Mmmm...fungus. My only complaint would be I don't like my pasta swimming in a sea of cheese as pictured. I like the combination of pasta and cheese to be just right.

And finally the moment everyone waits for- desert! One person ordered the Tiramisu. It looks very delicate.

But as usual, I was more curious about the creme brulee. It was a huge serving, but it did not affect the quality. Perfect texture with the burnt sugar on top and pleasant creaminess on the inside, flavorful but not overpowering vanilla, topped with fresh berries and a sprig of mint. An excellent way to end the afternoon.

On the other hand, service could have been better. Our waiter had a habit of chatting too much with the other waiters hidden along the hallways, keeping us waiting, even when we were ready.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Shin Sen Gumi

Ramen at Shin Sen Gumi.

We went to the one on Valley Blvd and it was right next to a fruit shop. With Durian! Yipe, what a stench! It smelled like rotting fruits! Isn't that an environmental odor violation? On the other hand, I don't think the AQMD regulates agricultural sources.

The food is not too bad, though the selection is very limited. Instead of offering the major ramen types like seaweed, miso, salt and the like, they have just one kind with different sets, like ramen bowls that come in these chicken balls or gyoza. Or you could add seaweed or an egg and other things separately. Half portions are also available, which is an interesting twist to the american fast food cuisine which usually has super size portions as options. On the other hand, for the non-half portions, you can request more noodles for an extra 95 cents.

Since it was dinner, the sets were actually not it was a bit of a pain choosing what to get. I finally settled on the half portion with a side of the chicken ball.

The menu did not have a good photo of what a chicken ball was...turns out it is merely a triangular balled shaped rice with stuff inside, but I don't taste any chicken. It's got these orange and brown bits that are definitely not chicken pieces; tastes a bit like turnips, but I'm not sure. It was not to my palette.

And in the ramen, I asked for an egg, and was expecting it to be lightly cooked into the soup...instead it was hard boiled!

But the green tea creme brulee was good, no disappointments there.

It turned out I had actually been here before a few months back except I forgot what I had ordered. The chicken balls did not make an impact on me the first time around because I didn't remember I ordered that upon my first visit until I ordered it a second time, saw them and recognized them and remembered I didn't like them for not tasting nor looking like chicken! So, now I'm writing all this down to make sure I don't order them again!! They are nothing more than fancy looking rice balls and just not worth the price.

*update- 2/2/11
Tried the Sesame Ice-Cream. It is full of flavor, rich and creamy!!
My only complaint is that there is only one scoop per serving!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Gypsy Den

The Gypsy Den is located at the anti-mall, a rather laid back area in Costa Mesa. I love the atmosphere and the food was not bad either. It has both indoor seating and outdoor seating. Indoors seemed a bit cramped and dark; we chose to eat outside in natural setting. There are trees and green plants abound; a bright red lounging chair in a cozy corner. People reading; on the computer; singles; couples; families. It was very pleasant and relaxing.

My dining buddy had the Special of the Day- Garlic Chicken Broccoli Casserole. I had a sample; it was a bit cheesy for my taste, but he had no complaints. It came with a soup or salad; he chose the potato corn chowder. And some kind of Italian soda to drink.

I got the Garden Quiche and Garden Salad with a green herby dressing on the side. The Quiche looked more like a huge chunk of cake instead of a slice of pie as I'm usually more accustomed to. But the shape did not hinder me from enjoying it. They did not skimp out on the bread, like a lot of places do these days. The bread appeared to be homemade. And the butter certainly made it better! The dish is excellent for aspiring vegetarians like myself. I even liked the salad with its fresh leafy veggies. The dressing was not bad as in it wasn't vinegary; usually I detest dressings because of the high vinegar content.

The quaint cafe has an excellent selection of green and black teas. I had my meal with Dragonwell tea. I was excited to see that tea on the menu. But Dragonwell tea tastes better as loose leaves at an authentic Taiwanese tea place than as a tea bag.

Service was good with friendly waitresses.

The only downfall would be it doesn't have its own restroom. I didn't need to use it at all, but it would be an inconvenience for those who do.

All in all, highly recommended!!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Hsin Hsin Shau May

This is the one at the food court next to 99 Ranch.

I am amazed at how empty that food court got. Only half of the shops are doing business there.

Well, that night, it was buy 3 and get the 4th free with rice and soup. I chose the lionhead meatballs, green veggies, snow peas with tofu strips, and some kind of fish. I was disappointed with the lionhead meatballs. Maybe it was just meatballs because they were quite small. And they appeared to be mixed with 80% soy product. It was very soft and not all that flavorful. The fish was ok, though I did detect a slight fishiness in it. My term for fishiness means that the seafood doesn't seem 100% fresh. It had a really wierd medcinal taste to it. I liked the veggies ok, though they were slightly on the greasy side. The snowpeas and tofu were eh.

The soup was sweet and sour...not my fav.

The food overall wasn't all that fresh. I finished the meatballs, rice and soup; the rest I kept in the fridge. Well, next morning, I had it and the veggies had gone off; there was a sour stench to it. Still ate it, but I wouldn't recommend it.

I guess there is a reason why business had gone bad; because the food had gone bad. They leave those food out for god knows how long. I won't be going back to that food court again.

The only exception would be the one connected to the Full House Seafood Restaurant.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Market Broiler

Last night, I had dinner at the Market Broiler at the Block in Orange.

The person I was meeting was already sitting inside and I thought if I gave them the name they could lead me to the table, but they don't take reservations.

It looks like a semi fancy place, but I wasn't all that impressed. It has a bit of a fishy smell, but I suppose that's only expected, being known for fish.

Well I ordered a Mac and Cheese by itself. You have the option of having it with shrimp for double the price.

It's too cheezy! It didn't say in the menu, but I could definitely taste and feel all 3 different cheeses- Cheddar, Parmesan, and Mozarella, I think. It was almost as goopy as the broccoli and cheddar chowder I had the night before. Just awful! I told a manager looking guy and he said most people say that aren't enough cheese.

I prefer Yard House's mac and cheese with bacon bits and bread crumbs. BJ's is so plain. But I suppose you get what you pay for. The Mac and Cheese was only $7.95.

The bread is ok; this bread had more garlic and butter than the corn/ garlic pizza I had at BJs.

Service was a bit off as in the waitress came with the bill about halfway through eating without asking if we wanted desserts or anything. I was really curious about the creme brulee, but oh well. And the crazy thing was after it was paid for, she asked if I wanted a box and I said no, I didn't like my meal enough to want to take it home to eat and she apologized and asked why I didn't say something before she ran the card. But why was she in a hurry to give us the bill? Aside from that, she was nice and friendly.

I don't think I'd come back to this place. It's good if one likes seafood and fish. They don't have a good selection of much of anything else. And it's definitely not the bother to have to drive to a mall like place. It must have been prom night last night because some teenagers all dressed up walked right in front of me in the parking lot and they weren't walking like they were crossing the street, but walking like they were one of the annoying!! They would have had to see me with my lights flashing at them and everything. Ugh! Malls, hate them.

One plus for the restaurant is that they do serve bread before the meal, nice piping hot bread with butter!

Friday, May 7, 2010

BJ's Restaurant' Brewery

BJ's is always crowded Friday nights so I joined my friends for dinner before they headed to watch Ironman 2.

One guy ordered the Mediterranean topped with fetta cheese and olives. I don't like it. Not just because of the toppings but because the crust is like mushy.

I ordered the mini pizza with just 2 slices; I had corn and roasted garlic, but it was really lacking in flavor of any kind. Would it have killed them to add butter to the corn, salt and pepper? And for roasted garlic as one of the toppings, I sure didn't taste much of the garlic. Again, the crust wasn't crunch at all; it was like doughy, like it hadn't been baked long enough or something.

My friend later explained to me, it's because it's deep dish; that's all BJ has. And that thin crust is for me.

I had the broccoli cheddar chowder and it's too much cheese! Why don't they call it cheddar chowder instead with broccoli bits? Also I had to ask for crackers. They don't give you crackers or bread to start out.

As for the dessert, everyone else liked it. The Pazookie is essentially a large thin cookie topped with like 5 scoops of vanilla ice cream. How come they don't make their pizzas like that, thinly crusted? Anyway, it seemed like a kid made it. You could do the exact same thing buying Pillsbury chocolate chip cookie dough, stick it in the oven for 5 minutes. It was kind of a disappointment to me. And would it have killed them to decorate it up a bit with a cherry on top?

Friday, April 30, 2010

Zelo Pizza

For a unique pizza experience, go to Zelo Pizza where their pizza base is made from cornmeal. The corn pizza is topped with roasted red peppers and of course corn. There is also supposed to be sausage, but I couldn't taste it. Mostly I tasted mozzarella cheese. They put too much mozzarella. This is my second time at this place. My dining partner did not appreciate the lack of marinara sauce.

The place does not offer ketchup. I give it extra points as a non-ketchup lover. Instead it has the Chinese rooster chili sauce and the Mexican Hot Sauce- Tapatio.

The first time I also got the wild mushroom pizza which was very tasty. It is also one of the few places to have Orangina and Pelligrino if one is into those European drinks instead of American sodas.

I don't know what they did to the corn pizza or not did, but it tasted rather bland this second time around. Of course, the first time is always the best. It has a fairly thick crust, but not doughy. The price is a bit on the high side, but it is a different type of pizza and the place is family owned, not a chain restaurant. I'm all for supporting your local business. For two people, there were still 2 slices leftover.

I do recommend it as something different to try. I would like to try their pastas next time. They don't have a wide variety of desserts. Just the homemade Zucotta made from layered ladyfingers.

It is a quaint place; parking could be a problem. There is some parking in the back, but barely any. Street parking may be the best way to go, although some idiot honked us when it was pretty clear we were trying to park.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Donuts To Go

The Donut place in the same plaza as Taipan is also definitely worth a visit. The owners are friendly and very accommodating to your sweet tooth needs.

One evening, I wanted the lemon jelly donut which they ran out of. However, the owner offered to transfuse some lemon jelly into a plain donut. She stuck some dessert needle thing into the donut and attached a tube of lemon jelly which got pumped in. Amazing! The donut was completely overflowing with lemon jelly!

Ocassionally, they throw in some freebies like donut holes or an extra donut in, but that is usually if you buy a lot.

If you tell them you want the ham and cheese, they may end up giving you a frozen one though.  I don't mind it too much as it tastes pretty good once it has been heated, but those who stick to only freshly made stuff may mind.

My sis doesn't like the man that works there because one time he called her Mommy!  lol.  He thought she was my mom.  I thought it was funny.

Taipan Bakery

Don't let the lack of long lines fool you. Taipan Bakery on Baldwin Ave is a great little bakery with fresh breads, cakes and pastries. Like most other bakeries, visits are best in the morning than evenings, in which the scant leftovers are all that you can choose from.

Additionally, this bakery is the only one I know of with curry bread.

They also have egg tarts, mini chicken pies and curry pies.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Dumpling 10053

I had Dumpling 10053 for lunch with mom.

We ordered the steamed pork dumplings, a mixed dumpling plate, and a beef tendon noodle soup.

The steamed pork dumplings has a thicker skin than Din Tai Fung and possibly more meat as well. However, I prefer the taste of DTF more. There is a "freezer" taste, but maybe it's just me.

The dumplings were Emerald spinach flavored skin with pork and cabbage, Golden carrot flavored skin with pork and spinach, and Gochi flavored skin with chicken and spinach. Very colorful and not too bad. The meat is well cooked but not pink on the inside.

The beef tendon noodle soup was really good, full of flavor. Noodles tasted fresh, possibly hand made and the beef was a wonderful tender texture as well as the tendons, naturally.

They present you with mint chocolates when you're ready for the check.

Another nice thing is that they also offer sesame oil in addition to soy sauce and vinegar! However, they don't have fresh ginger, like DTF.

Restaurant atmosphere is pleasant, doesn't stink like some typical Asian places. Staff is friendly, patiently answering questions and explaining the dishes. And the County Public Health Department rates it an A!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Sunday Bistro

I went to Sunday Bistro for dinner. The food was good as well as the price the first time I went. I had ordered the Portugese seafood pasta then. They were not skimpy about the shrimp and seafood at all.

However, this time I ordered the Salmon Alfredo pasta with "creamy mushroom sauce". However, it lacked flavor. They make it creamy by putting in starch. It was just bleh, like gruel.

The first time there, the servers kept coming to our table with food we didn't order. And when we asked what it was, they didn't know. That happened at least 3 times before the food we actually ordered arrived. This time, we sat at a corner, and were ignored unless we waved our hands. Maybe it is a typical Asian thing- to ignore unless waved at. Not a big deal if you don't need anything; inconvenient if you are dying from thirst or something.

Despite the cold demeanor of the staff, the food arrives relatively quickly. They seemed to have left the flavor in the kitchen though.

Do I recommend this restaurant? Yes...but steer clear from anything that describes itself as "creamy". I have learned that many Cantonese- Euro fusion styled restaurants that try too hard to be fancy have foods meaning to be "creamy" but is really "starchy" and instead of creamy, looks and feels more like a clear slug slime or sticky saliva.

The nice thing about the restaurant, as is typical of most Cantonese-Euro type are the free drink refills including iced teas and coffees.

Yard House

After the free Screenwriting Workshop at the Newport Beach Festival, located at Fashion Island, my friends and I had lunch at the Yard House. I got the Macaroni Cheese squared. They got the BBQ Bacon and Cheese Burger and the Crab Cake Club Sandwich. No complaints, so I assume all the dishes were good. Maybe because all the dishes had bacon. Service is excellent, as usual with friendly staff. One friend wanted steamed veggies instead of french fries that come with the sandwich so they were happy to make the substitute with no extra charge.

The Mac and Cheese had thick slices of bacon and chicken with truffles. It is one of the best Mac and Cheese I've had. However, this time around, I felt they might have overdone it with their truffle oil.

I don't approve of their Creme Brulee. It is mushy, but not very creamy and not brulee'd much, with bananas and chocolates, a combination I'm personally not too fond of.

Yard House never gets old. There are chains all over including Costa Mesa, Newport Beach, Rancho Cucamonga and Pasadena, so you should have no excuse to not have dined at one.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

85 Degrees Cafe

The first time I went to the 85 Degrees Cafe, the line went out the door. This time there weren't that many people, and for a good reason too. None of the bread I got was hot! I went at around 2:30pm on a weekday.

I got the Hawaiian Pizza bread. I am typically wary of breads that call itself a pizza but there were several suggestions for it on yelp. Unfortunately, it was not fresh and not even warm at all. It was tough and chewy, not soft like I'd expect. I only took a bite of it; it wasn't very tasty either. I decided to save the rest to be nuked in the microwave at home.

The garlic bread was good even when not warm and fresh. How can bread not be good when it's full of garlic buttery goodness? It had a decent enough texture as well, slightly crunchy, but not hard and stale.

The coconut cream bread was the best out of the three I chose. It definitely does not need to be warmed up to be enjoyed. The bread was wonderfully soft like a sponge and the coconut cream was not too sweet. However, it would have been nice if they put more coconut flakes or coconut milk. The cream kind of just tasted like whipped cream otherwise.

There were advertisements for their iced sea salt coffee, so I ordered a medium of that. It's decent enough for a typical non-coffee drinker. Reviews on yelp had been good for the sea salt coffee. It's a bit bitter for me. Added a pack of brown sugar.

My major complaint was that you have to wait for the drinks to be made. They call out your number, but they don't call it very loud. You have to stand right next to the counter, staring into where they display the cakes and sweets, where a lot of other people are standing around (some waiting for drinks, some just staring at the sweets). So, someone had called out some numbers and a guy had asked me what numbers they had just called and I repeated "122, 123". And he asks me "they said 123?" and I said "yes". Well, then he asks the guy at the counter again the number. I hate it when people do that, makes you feel all self-conscious, like your answer isn't good enough for some reason. And on top of that the girl he was with pointed to the label stuck on the cup which also had the number. It's like how many sources do they need to check their numbers.

The cakes look pretty good as well. Coffee creme brulee anyone?

The Chocolate Marble cake isn't very tasty by the way.

A curious thing is how come the branch in Taipei has bread and pastries that are always piping hot and the crowds don't act quite as crazy as those in the US?

I have also realized that there really isn't a wide selection of breads. It's just garlic bread, multi-grain bread, that black squid inked break, the blueberry cream one, coconut cream, some Danish, Pizza, pork sung, some French cheese bread, hot dog, and that is it! That is what they have one one wall and they have the exact same thing spread out on 2 other sides! Why is there such a freaking long line on the weekends? How is this place different from Cloverleaf or JJ Bakery?? Is it because they don't have the traditional red bean paste bread! They also don't have curry bread, one of my favorites from other bakeries.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Burger King Steakhouse XT Burger

Used the coupon for a buy one get one free Steakhouse XT Burger at Burger King.

I rank it higher over KFC's Double Down, but it still doesn't beat Carl's Jr's Western Bacon Cheeseburger.

It's got lettuce, tomato, cheese and even bacon on top of a very thick patty. It costs about the same as the Double Down, and it has all that and buns! The buns aren't as soft as the WBC. It seems large, clumsy, and a pain to eat and the sauce gets all over the place with each bite.

There are three types of sauces to choose from. I couldn't hear too well through the speaker thing what they were exactly. I think it was original, BBQ and smoked cheddar. So I ended up getting original and the smoked cheddar. So both were in the bag, unlabeled and the one I happened to bite into was the smoked cheddar, with a very distinct smoky taste. I don't like feeling as though I've smoked a pack of Marlboro's when I eat my food. Mom took the original one; not sure how that fared. She said it was ok, but definitely wasn't as excited about it as the Double Down.

Not great; not horrible; it does the trick to satisfy hunger.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Din Tai Fung

Mom and I went to Din Tai Fung today for lunch. We got there around 1pm and it was about a 45 minute wait. So we went around the corner where the 2nd establishment is at and only had to wait 10 minutes for a seat. We sat on the 2nd floor.

I have been to Din Tai Fung plenty of times. The first few times I had it, I was fairly impressed, but now it's just kind

They are known for their Juicy Pork Dumplings which are petite and delicately wrapped in thin dough. The first bite you take in squirts out a hot liquid like an incontinent pig pissing inside your mouth.'s that good.

The Pork Chop Noodle Soup came rather quickly after that. It has a light flavor with chopped green onions, good for those who don't like heavy oily stuff; not good for those who do and don't like onions. I would have prefered that the pork chop be put on another plate instead of soaking inside the soup like a wet soggy kitten.

Next came the Shrimp and Pork Shiaomai. It is decent enough, not too shrimpy, like some places whose dishes reeks of dead fish with any seafood related foods.

Mom ordered a 2nd Juicy Pork Dumpling. It was much hotter and fresher than the first one that came out.

Service was overall pretty fast and efficient until then. We still had a dessert dish. Mom had to ask at least three times if it was coming and they kept saying they were checking on it. Mom went to the bathroom and the dish still hadn't arrived when she got back.

At first I was thinking how efficient the service typically is. They give you a menu to fill out while you wait so that by the time you're seated, your food is being made; and hence is brought out fairly quickly. I think this may be an illusion though considering that the first set of dumplings that were brought out was mildly warm, not really piping hot. They would have to constantly make the dumplings because that is their most popular menu. Virtually everyone gets it; so that in fact that dumplings aren't really custom made. And if they ran out of something, then they've ran out and the chefs aren't going to bother making them just for you.

Therefore, for dessert items, which aren't as popular, does require a longer wait as we had experienced.

While we waited for our dessert, mom wanted to inform me that normal urine color is the color of tea. Maybe a little lighter. I had told her earlier normal urine color should be clear. If it's too yellow, it means you're dehydrated. Mom doesn't like drinking water or tea, so naturally I was a bit concerned.

Our dessert arrived eventually. It's the Red Bean Rice Cake. It's a white spongy cake with red bean inside. They tried to cheer it up by adding red and green jelly dots on top. It tastes ok. Those who have a serious sweettooth wouldn't enjoy it though. It is not sweet at all. I like the fact that it was made fresh, even though we had to wait awhile (I think they forgot about us), soft and dry on the outside...and soft and oozy (but not too oozy) on the inside.

I've noticed that at this new establishment, the servers are not as friendly and attentive as the first. The table next to us were a couple with two young daughters. The couple wanted water and kept trying to get the server's attention. They finally succeeded by waving their hands frantically and calling out "hello!" The server turned her head, said "hello" back and walked off. The couple gave each other a "wtf" type of look. The server then walked back to the table and they said they wanted water, that they had asked for it three times already with nothing. I think they only get the male server to get the waters because I didn't see any of the females serve water. There were like 3 female servers and 1 male server.

All the servers except one (maybe she's the head manager) are all equipped with microphone head sets. I'm assuming this is to communicate with the cooks in the back and with each other to see if people's dishes are ready. They didn't do too good of a job with checking on our desserts though.

This place doesn't provide water unless you ask. They do provide a pot of tea though which I do enjoy. They don't offer to pour it for you though.

Look who makes the dumpling dough!

The restaurant attracts all types of people. Screaming babies are not my favorite type of people though. I noticed that the baby that was screaming was screaming out of satisfaction. He didn't look angry or upset or anything, so that is what I'm concluding. And I've realized that happy screaming babies are the worst because the more you appease them, the more they will scream and there really is nothing you can do in public about that. Whereas, if they were screaming out of anger and hate, there is hope you can quiet them down by bribing them and such. Just thought I'd share that bit of baby insight as I'm on the topic of babies in resturants.

Overall, the food is ok. However, for food that is just ok, it is a tad bit pricey. They could attempt to improve the flavor by mixing spices in or something to justify the cost.

They give you all the soy sauce and vinegar you need. However, they are stingy with salt and pepper- there are none to be found.

The decor consists of some framed Chinese pictures and characters. The only plants are some cat nip looking grass in pots.

My initial thought was that DTF is a convenient place to eat out at because it's local and so close to home. But because of the crowds, it is not that convenient due to the long wait. And the only time when there isn't a crowd is when it's not during peak hours (ie lunch time between the hours of 10:30 am and 2pm; and between 5pm and 7pm is packed!) which means you would have to wait until everyone's eaten first, not a problem if you're not hungry; but if you're not hungry, why would you be eating? What a Catch-22.

I think during the early days, DTF was worth going to because there wasn't another dumpling place like it around. Now, with all the crowds and other restaurants with decent food popping up as alternatives, it is definitely overhyped.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Haiku Kitchen

Haiku Kitchen provides a variety of different dishes (as opposed to just chicken) for those who like to choose instead of being influenced by a condensed menu with only one type of meat (like KFC). It has a good selection of appetizers, ramen, salads, sandwiches, curries, and rice bowls. The only type of soup is the traditional Japanese miso soup.

Sesame chicken wings (4) and chicken ramen

On this occasion, I went for the seaweed ramen with a side of musobi. My dinner partner had the chicken ramen with a side of sesame chicken (ahh not chicken my mind couldn't help silently scream- I had KFC's double down and 10 piece hot wings the day before).

Seaweed ramen

The seaweed ramen tasted ok. The broth wasn't particularly flavorful, compared to that of ramen I had at other places. Their website says the broth is made from homemade chicken stock (not chicken!) That may be why; my gustatory sensation is numbed by too much chicken for the week! The noodles were good, tender and elastic or al dente as the Italians would say. The bowl is topped off with red ginger, green onions and of course pieces of kelp seaweed.

musobi (2)

The musobi was good. I had it just once in Hawaii. Someone had brought in a homemade kind on a Friday at work. Again, like most of my comments, it wouldn't have hurt if they had made it bigger, because the homemade version I had was larger than the one at this place. But it was tasty with spam and lightly seasoned with Furikake and what looked like either light soysauce or terryaki sauce.

As for the sesame chicken wings- it was a bit sweet and tangy, like they had marinated it in honey or sugar to it, topped with sesame seeds. I wasn't thoroughly impressed with it.

I saw an ad for Japanese tacos. They had salmon, steak and chicken topped with onions, tomatos and cilantro. It looked pretty good, but I will have to come back for that next time. I also noticed Thai Iced Tea on the menu, but I don't like ingesting hot and cold liquids in one sitting so I didn't order it.

It is a small place with just a few tables. A family of four were the only other people eating there. It is clean with friendly staff.

Overall, the place is not bad and is worth another trip for a quick snack.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

KFC Double Down

The new KFC Double Down sandwich is real! This one-of-a-kind sandwich features two thick and juicy boneless white meat chicken filets (Original Recipe® or Grilled), two pieces of bacon, two melted slices of Monterey Jack and pepper jack cheese and Colonel's Sauce. This product is so meaty, there’s no room for a bun!

Sandwich Calories Fat (g) Sodium (mg)
KFC Original Recipe® Double Down 540 32 1380
KFC Grilled Double Down 460 23 1430
If you are looking for a well balanced diet, steer clear away from the Double Down. It is essentially goopy cheese with bacon bits enclosed between two slabs of chicken meats. Dr. Atkins might approve considering it is free from carbs. However, it is not for vegetarians!

Mom was craving burgers today. She saved a bunch of Carl's Jr coupons and I informed her of the new KFC's sandwich. She is a crazy fan of chicken so without me telling her much, she wanted it. Two double downs was a whopping $9.98.

Double down commercial version

Real take-home version

It looks small, smaller than you would expect for the cost anyway, but it is very filling with two thick chicken filets. My double down doesn't look as neat as on the picture. The Monterey Jack cheese had melted all over the place, but I suppose that's what you can only expect with melted cheese. It was steamy hot and plenty flavorful. However, I am not a huge fan of spicy foods and it is a bit spicy. Not spicy spicy flaming hot, but spicy in the sense that it's got some wierd jalapeno picklish taste to it. I would have preferred it without the colonel's special sauce. Another disappointment was that the bacon was thinly sliced. You couldn't taste much of it as it was buried between the chicken pieces and the strong taste of the sauce, the bacon might as well not be there. In this case, bacon does not make it better.

Apparently there are two versions. It is not yet on the menu so I didn't know and the guy I ordered from didn't ask if I wanted grilled or the original recipe. I think I got the grilled version. It was somewhat soggy on one side, the side that sat in the box.

I couldn't finish my sandwich, but mom gobbled all hers up. She loved it! I think I prefer Carl Jr's Western Bacon Cheeseburger though. I like bread too much for it to be replaced with meat.

It is a unique idea but I'm not sure if it's something I'd order again.