Monday, July 4, 2011

Seafood Village Rowland Heights

Dim sum, its been quite awhile since our last experience.

Searching via yelp and google for Rowland Heights area Dim Sum led us to Seafood Village in Rowland Heights located in a strip mall along with TS Emporium, there is not adequate parking here. In fact arriving 11:30 AM on Fourth of July weekend, I had to park further up by Omni Bank. For a party of two we had to wait 20 minutes, I could only imagine how long the wait would have been for a larger party. Inside they packed people in like sardines, a max capacity rating of 250+ inside. On first coming in, you notice a conspicuous absence of elderly Chinese ladies pushing carts around.

Dim sum here is a little on the expensive side, on weekends 2.38 a dish for the cheapest ones, which include most of your favorites.

What did we choose?
#1. Pork Buns- 3 came in the steaming tray, these were similar to any other dim sum place, solid performance, fluffy outside and meat inside warm and well done, slightly over salty. 3/5 stars

#2. Pork and Mushroom Shumai - they called these Dumplings, these were again solid 3.5/5 stars

#3 Bean Curd - Excellent stuffed with ... oh I don't remember what it was stuffed with, but it was good, juicy, tofu skin with a taut texture 4.5/5 stars

#4 Fried (dumpling) - good stuff here, fried perfectly, texture done well, 4/5 stars

#5 Fried (almost tempura like) seaweed with fish and shrimp inside - this was by fat the star of the show, if we ordered 7 of these instead of everything else, I still would have been happy. 5/5 stars

#6 Beef Hargow - this was average, I must prefer shrimp, but we had a lot of seafood already on our plate, the noodle wrap is excellent, the meat inside cooked well also 3.5/5 stars

#7 Onion Pancakes - I'm usually not a fan of onion pancakes because they consist of too much and too strong onions, but this one was actually edible for me, 4/5 stars

#8 Mango Pudding - this one has condensed milk, taste was good, texture perfect, 4/5 stars

#9 Veggies (Chinese Brocolli in oyster sauce) - too salty and too pricy, really? 4 dollars for any main veggie dishes and on top of that portion is small

Overall a pleasurable experience, a solid 4/5 stars getting docked a bit on price.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Merry's House of Chicken - West Covina

I am a little hesitant to writing this review as it will be a little biased toward the good side since wifey knows owner/friend's with owner's daughter.

So location wise, is it located in a strip mall in West Covina, near the Walnut border. It is a good location for the area, but not so good overall because if you are travelling from afar, it is no where near a freeway. Parking lot space is somewhat inadequate for the strip mall. The restaurant itself is family run, with nice and helpful people. They also have various Indonesian packaged snacks on sale, and previously made Indonesian dessert/snack foods also for sale. They also do some baking here if you are interested in special Indonesian style cakes.

The food:

Their Specialty Fried Chicken - (Ayam Kremesan) - We ordered a full chicken to eat between the 4.5 of us. Of notice, this isn't your steroid injected chicken, this is more what Indonesians call Country Chicken, or what we call Free Range Chickens. They are relatively smaller than what you are used to. The chicken was cooked well, no pink areas on the insides, the meat still moist despite the thinness of the chicken. The star of this is the "kremesan" which is the crunchy flour bits that is sprinkled all over the chicken. This and their awesome spicy sauce (sambal) is golden. 4.5/5 stars

We also ordered an oxtail soup - this one is the one in regular broth. I have actually never had oxtail before so I have no comparison, but the broth was rich and the meat soft and tender. It was tasty overall. 4.5/5 stars

Also on our eat list was the martabak telor - which is like egg pancakes. I have tasted better at other places for this one. Maybe too much onion? or too much scallion? I am not sure what the difference is exactly. 3/5 stars.

We were able to taste clippings off a cake their were making for twins birthday. When they shape the cake, they cut off yummy little clippings. The cake was typical Surabaya layer cake (a yellow and brown layer). Overall good tasting, similar to what I have tasted in the past. 4/5 stars

Martabak Manis/Terang Bulan - this is an Indonesian breakfast/dessert that could be described as an oversized pancake folded into halves with a combination of Nutella or chocolate sprinkles, nuts, cheese, and (sometimes coconut). This one I'm not sure if they made it or someone else was selling their wares in the store, but it was slightly overdone (slight bitter taste in the cake). 3/5 stars

Prices are a steal compared to other Indonesian places, but in general portions reflect those prices.

Overall 4/5 stars, if you want are itching to be exotic and try Indonesian food, this is authentic and I would recommend giving it a try.

Waba Grill - Fontana Location

New job, new places to eat. Overall I was a little disappointed, I personally prefer Flame Broiler than this place. They are very similar in scope. Both are terriyaki bowl type places, noth have Kim Chi, both have brown rice options, this place has Salmon as a menu option also, also both have their spicy sauce and hoisin type sauce (although here is isn't called "magic sauce". This place seems to be a tad more expensive.

Today I ordered the beef bowl and a soda. I was taken aghast that the meat+veggie options cost more than the pure meat option. Initially I wanted to go healthy, but based on the price, I had to go with the pure meat option. It still cost almost 8 dollars for myself.

Beef Bowl - no onions
The beef bowl is a charbroiled beef in their Teriyaki type sauce. The beef was well done, not burnt anywhere, It was not dry. I tried a little bit before drenching in hot sauce, and it was decent but unremarkable. After adding the spicy sauce, it was a little better, but not quite to my like as Flame Broiler. The spicy sauce is more sour here and less spicy overall.

Service was ok today, place was relatively packed with clients.

Overall a 3 star performance. I may be back one day to try on of their bowls, but there are so many options nearby at similar prices, I would have to try those first! (Including the Sizzler salad bar, but even that is 7.99).

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Hat - Rancho Cucamonga

hadn't eaten here in forever (15+ years?). I remember the pastrami being "to die for", so 2 weeks off, and I came here twice!

This Hat Location is actually very close to Victoria Gardens Mall, visible from Foothill Blvd. It has adequate parking and a drive-thru. On the freebie list includes, hot pepperchinis, black pepper, salt, ketchup, mustard, relish, etc. The location is fairly large, but both times I went around 12:30, they were packed with very little seating left. There is outdoor seating that tends to be more vacated due to high winds and temps in the IE.

The first day I went I went for their pastrami sandwich. Good pastrami, fresh bun, but something was missing. It didn't quite bring back the old days of lore of eating here. Did I need to order it double dipped? 3.5 stars for the sandwich.

The second day I skipped the sandwich, I went with something not quite on the menu. I ordered the wet fries (french fries with gravy on top), but added Pastrami to the top of that. Just under 10 dollars and that was enough for 2 meals for me! Now this hit the spot. This conjured up the sweet aromas and tastes that I remembered from so far away. The fries were made to order, hot and crisp. The gravy a tad sweet with a slightly thickened texture. The pastrami topping everything else like a cherry on your ice cream. Perfection. 5/5 stars. Note: This is a heartstopper, so eat at your own risk!

Overall, I give the Hat and this location in particular 4 stars. Good Fast Food, a little more expensive, but usually their portions make up for it!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Fong Noodle - Ontario, California

Really, Yelp? a 4.5 star Chinese place in Ontario? Could it be? Yelp does not usually fail, so we went to check this place out!

The location for this restaurant is in the same complex as the Edwards Theatres, great location, right off the freeway. The restaurant itself is not a complete sit down type restaurant, you actually order at the counter and they wait at the table. No hostess, they do have a server. The guy cooking is actually Asian. Prices are really cheap. They understand English here (dead giveaway you are not getting authentic food).

What did we have?
I had the Garlic Chicken combo and wife had the curry chicken noodle combo. We also ordered a wonton soup
Each combo comes with a little side salad which was fresh and actually had a good tasting dressing.

The Garlic Chicken was just ok. It must have been on the salty side probably with MSG because at my doctor appointment a few hours after, my blood pressure was higher than ever. Overall, I was disappointed probably because Yelp reviews led me wrong. I should have expected Panda Express style food.

The Curry Noodle was just ok also. My wife seemed to enjoy it though.

The War Wonton Soup was pretty good but again loaded with MSG or salt.

Trying to not be biased by previous Yelp reviews, I'll give this place 3.5 stars. The taste is not quite as good as Magic Wok in Fontana, or Panda Express, but their food is cooked to order and that always is a plus (note, Magic Wok will cook to order also, just order something not on the warmers).

Tasty Garden - Arcadia

I have eaten at the Alhambra location before and reviewed it at and its good solid food. Authenticity and amount of MSG may be suspect.

This place is located in an area not as crowded as the Alhambra location, double the parking of the Alhambra location. The restaurant itself is pretty large with a tea bar in back. On this Saturday at 1 in the afternoon, the restaurant was packed. While in line, they have a paper menu you can start choosing your order from so things are quicker once you get inside.

We did have an incident this time through, not sure if it was lack of communication, mistake, or what. We were given number 41, but there was another group given that number also, and then they put us as 6 people instead of 7, so they made us wait until number 51 was called. Kind of strange, albeit it was only 20 minutes difference.

Once we sat down, it took awhile yet for the waitress to pick up our order sheet. Just a note: you can order stuff not on the sheet but on their full menu also.

The food: (I apologize for the pictures, they were taken with camera phone and in a hurry before hungry peeps tried to grab the food)
Based on recc on Yelp, tried the Walnut Shrimp - definitely not what I would imagine an authentic dish tasting like, but it was so yummy!. In fact, no picture, because it was the first to come out and everyone was hungry! The shrimps are fresh tasting inside and tender, the batter is thick and crispy the outside. The sauce covering the shrimp had a nice consistency and taste. 4.5/5 stars

The Orange Beef was a little bland compared to everything else. It was made more of sour oranges than sweet from what I could tell, causing a strange after taste. 2.5/5 stars

French Style Beef - The beef itself was tasty and tender, as long as you didn't pick up too much basil on it. 3.5/5 stars

Chow Fun with Garlic on top - This was excellent, the cripsy garlic crumbs added a unique taste and texture to the noodles.
4.5/5 stars

Veggies - this had ginger in it, they looked fresh and full of color, I was looking forward to it until the taste of ginger. I'm not a ginger fan, but for those that love it, order this! 2.5/5 stars

Squid with Spicy Salt - Super Salty, but crisp on the outside, chewy but tender on the inside like squid should be 4/5 stars

Yang Chow Fried Rice - Kind of bland actually, but edible 3/5 stars (not pictured)

We also had the Hong Kong Waffle again, excellent, love the batter for this, and the smell is like that of a fresh bakery. Must have. 5/5 stars (previously pictured here )

Overall Service was not great especially with the incident above, food was on par or slightly above average. Prices for "lunch specials" were a little on the higher side despite the portions being a little on the scarce side for many dishes. 3/5 stars

Friday, June 24, 2011

Kosuke - Ramen in Alhambra

Ramen! Gotta love the stuff on a cold day, heck wifey loves it any type of day!

This little ramen place is situated in what I would call downtown Alhambra. Parking is in back, and is a little tight actually. The movie theater parking might be a better option, but its a little bit of a walk away.

The waitress that served us was nice, and talkative (wife's brother is a regular here), and even my wife says she is naturally cute....

On to the main topic: food!

We both ordered ramen, I ordered the Spicy Ramen with corn, and my wife ordered the miso ramen with corn. At first glance, prices do seem a little on the expensive side, 8 dollar ramen and extra for anything added (extra egg, corn, etc), however...

The spicy ramen was excellent. It actually surprised me and had quite a kick. More importantly it swirled in rich broth unlike Orochan's ramen from a previous review. The pork chasu was aplenty with thick juicy slices. The egg slightly underdone on arrival, but the ramen is hot enough to cook it through the way anyone chooses to eat it. The extra corn ordered, actually was a decent amount. The ramen noodles were cooked perfectly al dente and had a different texture to them, giving more substance.

The miso ramen was also good, an even richer broth with hints of pork and seafood in the taste.

Overall Impression: Yes this place is a little bit expensive, they serve ramen in a slightly smaller bowl than most places, but those places usually fill up the bowl with broth only anyway. This place does your ramen right, especially the actual ramen noodles. I will definitely be back.
4.5/5 stars