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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Cafe Cola-Moved

Cafe Cola
180 W Sierra Madre Ave

I've read a lot of glowing reviews about Cafe Cola and wanted to give them a try. Cafe Cola are known for their fresh food, no freezers or microwaves, and the burgers. So I head up to Azusa and find Cafe Cola in a small strip mall. It's a small place with about six tables and a counter with about 3-4 seats. It is very busy and crowded the day I went, which is always a good sign.

After my trip to the East Coast, I was craving a cheesesteak. So I got that instead of their burger, $6.95 with provolone cheese, onions, and mushrooms. While waiting in line I saw them prepare other cheesesteaks, and they were slicing a fresh rib eye into thin pieces. A very good start. I also heard the owner say they use Porto's Bakery rolls, another good thing. So my cheesesteak comes out, and I take a bite. It's very greasy, and some pieces of rib eye are charred. Not what I was expecting. The provolone cheese, onions and mushrooms were fine, but I couldn't get past the greasiness of the cheesesteak. The rolls, which has a nice firm texture, did hold up very well to the greasiness, soaking up a lot of that grease.

Service is very good. The owner is nice and friendly. But, the wait for the food seems a bit long. I think we waited about 15-20 minutes for our food. I wasn't in a hurry but I thought the food could come out quicker.

Cafe Cola for the cheesesteak didn't meet my expectations, I think Philly's Best is better, but I will come back and try the burgers.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Moscow Deli

Moscow Deli
3015 Harbor Blvd
Costa Mesa

Growing up during the Cold War era, I hated the damn Russians. One of the greatest moments in history, was the Miracle on Ice, when the United States hockey team beat the Russians on January 22, 1980!! And to correct some misinformation, that game did NOT clinch the gold medal for the US. The US had to beat Finland to win the gold medal. Which of course, they did!!! USA!! USA!! USA!!

But now the Cold War is over and the commies, I mean the Russians are more US allies than enemies. I found out about a Russian deli in Costa Mesa and since I was in the area and it was close to lunch time, I decided to give their sandwiches a try.

Moscow Deli is located across the street from Wing Nuts, and it may as well be across an ocean. The owner is Russian, many of the customers are Russian and they are speaking Russian. The store is small store with the deli counter at the back. There are two tables inside and one table outside if you want to eat there.

Kiev sandwich, Russian bread, assorted salami, salad leafs, tomatoes, cheese and Russian sauce, $5.99. This was a great sandwich. I have no idea what kind of salami they used, but there were at least three varieties, but there were all great. The cheese is kinda of like a provolone cheese, with a mild flavor and texture. The bread was firm, I reminded me of a cross between rye bread and pumpernickel bread. The veggies were fresh. My favorite part of the Kiev sandwich was the Russian sauce. It's close to Russian dressing but not as much kick as some Russian dressings I've had.

Service is good. The ladies are nice and friendly people. They are all Russian and have a heavy Russian accent. The interesting part is they gave me the sandwich before I paid for it. I actually finished the sandwich and walked to the register and paid.

I would go back to Moscow Deli anytime. I really enjoyed the sandwiches. Next time I may order some sausages to grill!!!

Update June 23, 2012

I ordered another Kiev sandwich and it was great as the first time. I just wanted to post a better picture, where you can see a better picture of the meats in the sandwich.

I got the Odessa sandwich, Russian bread, Odessa kielbasa, salad leafs, tomatoes, Odessa sauce, and onions. The Odessa sauce has garlic, onions, bell peppers, and spices. I thought it was good, but not for me. The Odessa kielbasa tasted too much like baloney, which I had. The bread is the same bread they use for the Kiev, so it's great. Overall, I didn't like the Odessa sandwich.

Service is good. The ladies are nice, hard working people. I never knew Orange County had so many Russian immigrants.

Next time I go to Moscow Deli, I will stick to the Kiev sandwich, but may try other sandwiches, besides the Odessa. I will try some of their cakes, which look awesome.

Legal Sea Foods

Legal Sea Foods
255 State St
Boston, MA 02109

Boston, a racist city filled with the biggest bunch of whining loser sports fans. A perfect combination for a city that I hate. But, I'm stuck in this hellhole city and figure to make the best out of it. So, I figure I'll try some of what Boston is famous for, lobster and clam chowder. I found that Legal Seafoods is a popular, long time restaurant and decide to give them a try.

Bowl of clam chowder, $6.95. This chowder was very good. Served hot and filled with clams and a decent amount of potatoes. I hate restaurants that use potatoes as fillers for clam chowder. Luckily Legal Seafoods uses the potatoes to enhance their chowder. The hearty broth, fresh clams, and well seasoned chowder made this the highlight of my meal.

Small steamed lobster, with two sides, broccoli and cheese and potato strings, $29.95. So I'm looking forward to the lobster, and when it arrived it was steamed perfectly and the meat was tender and flavorful. But, while it was good, it's not overwhelming or special. Maybe my expectations were higher but the lobster in Boston didn't overwhelm me.

What did underwhelm me was the side dishes. The broccoli and cheese could have been good, if the broccoli wasn't almost raw. I bet the broccoli had been in the steamer for about a minute. Come on leave the broccoli in the steamer for five minutes and make the broccoli tender. The onion strings were luke warm and greasy. They may have been good if I got a fresh batch, instead of a batch that had been sitting under heatlamps for too long.

Service is good, but one thing I'd like to point out. Their menu says certain items were not served after 4pm, like their lobster roll. The server told me, they will make lobster rolls after 4pm. Maybe they should change their menu to reflect that? I would have ordered a lobster roll as an appetizer, if I would have known lobster rolls are served after 4pm.

If I ever had the displeasure of going back to the hellhole city of Boston, I would not go back to Legal Seafoods again. I was expecting more and they didn't deliver.

Bova's Bakery

Bova's Bakery
134 Salem St

So I'm visiting Boston, a city I hate because of it's racist past and the lowlife fans of all their teams. I'm in the North End, which is the Italian part of the city. I wanted a sandwich and found Bova's Bakery after visiting the Old North Church; one if by land, two if by sea!!

Anyways, I asked some people who were at a the laundermat where I could get an Italain sub and they pointed me to Bova's.

Italian sub, pepperoni, salami, hot capicola, and provolone cheese, $7.25. The meats were just regular deli counter meat. There was nothing special about the meats. But, the bread was AMAZING. A chewing crust with a soft wonderful inside, made this bread awesome!! The entire sandwich was made because of the great quality of this bread. The bread is made daily, in house and I bet this bread would be that much more awesome right out of the oven.

Service is good, if a bit slow. The girl who made my sandwich was nice and friendly but she took a long time to make the sandwich.

If I'm ever back in this hellhole city, I would go back to Bova's just for the bread!!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Quickie Dog & Taco Quickie

Quickie Dog & Taco Quickie
7716 Eastern Ave
Bell Gardens

I thought about stopping in at Pioneer Chicken, but I missed the turn to Florence and drove past Quickie Dog & Taco Quickie and decided to stop in.

What an interesting concept tacos and hot dogs in one place. The building looks old and I'm guessing this has been a neighborhood staple.

I got a kraut dog, $1.65. After I placed my order, the girl placed a hot dog on the grill and I figured I was going to get a hot dog that was hot. Well, after she made my taco, which took about 30 seconds, she took the hot dog off the grill and added kraut and mustard. So, I got a cold hot dog. Terrible!!! The hot dog itself was actually pretty good, good snap and quality meat. The kraut was cold and had a slight tang, but nowhere near what is should be. This hot dog could be good but they missed the mark with how it's prepared. Leave that hot dog on the grill for five minutes, not less than a minute.

At least the taco-$1.09, was better. The taco is a ginkgo taco, like the tacos served at Taco Lita and Taco Treat. The ground beef was well seasoned and cooked perfectly. The cheese and lettuce were fresh. The taco shell was light and crispy. I liked how all the flavors blended together. The taco is cheaper than the Taco Lita and Taco Treat and is better than both in my opinion. It would have been better with some hot sauce, which the girl never bothered giving me.

Service was ok. The girl was nice and pleasant enough but just a bit off. If it's SOP at Quickie Dog & Taco Quickie to quickly grill their hot dogs, then that needs to be changed. But, if she was lazy and not following SOP and leaving the hot dog on the grill for longer, then she needs to get more training or fired.

I wouldn't go back to Quickie Dog & Taco Quickie again. While the taco is good, it's not really worth the long drive.

Friday, May 25, 2012

New Dragon Seafood Restaurant

New Dragon Seafood Restaurant
936 N Hill St
Los Angeles

There is a myth going around that you can't get good Chinese food in Chinatown. Well, I've tried a few restaurants in Chinatown and I've found them to be quite good. As good as some places in Arcadia or Rowland Heights? Maybe not, but certainly good enough not to make the drive eastward.

I wanted to try New Dragon Seafood Restaurant for awhile and finally made it there on a nice Friday night. New Dragon Seafood Restaurant is literally across Hill St. from Master Chef, one of my favorite restaurants in Chinatown.

House Special Chow Mein, $7.75,-beef, pork, chicken, shrimp with celery, and carrots. This was my favorite dish. The noodles were cooked perfectly. Everything was seasoned well. The meats were very good, all tender and flavorful. All the flavors worked well together, but the amount of meat can overwhelm this dish. There maybe too much meat in this dish. But, I really liked this dish and would order it again.

Cod Fillet with twin mushrooms, $9.75. This was a very salty dish. The fish, I'm not sure if it was really cod, was mushy and overcooked. The mushrooms were canned but the over veggies-celery, carrots, and green onions were fresh. They must love celery because there was celery in all three dishes!! The chili sauce/gravy was mildly spicy, not overwhelming but you can feel the heat. But, I couldn't get over the saltiest of this dish.

Scallops with straw mushrooms, $13.75. Again the mushrooms were canned and celery filled this dish. But, some well cooked snap peas added some texture to this dish. The scallops were plentiful and pretty fresh. The sauce was leaning towards the salty side, but pretty good overall.

Service is good. There was only one guy working and he took care of me, another two tables, and a couple to go orders.

I was disappointed in New Dragon Seafood Restaurant. I found most of the dishes salty and I'm not impressed with any restaurant using canned mushrooms. I wouldn't go back to New Dragon Seafood Restaurant and it would rank as one of my least favorite restaurants in Chinatown.

Dillon's Pit Bar-B-Q-Closed

Dillon's Pit Bar-B-Q
2232 D St
Ste 101
La Verne

BBQ in and around the Pomona Valley isn't very good, now that Phillips BBQ in Chino has closed. I willing to give Dillon's a try, but I knew before walking in, I should have save me money.

BBQ, real BBQ, isn't about cooking meats at high heat on a grill. It's about cooking meats at low heat and for long periods of time. When I walked up to Dillon's I was them GRILLING chicken, you can see the grill in the picture above. I should have turned around and gone somewhere else.

I got the half rack of spare ribs, $13.05. The ribs were very fatty and mushy, they were overcooked because the meat should not be mushy. They were fatty because they were grilled and not BBQ. If they were really BBQ'd they fat would have rendered off and added flavor to the meat. The ribs lacked seasoning and weren't good at all.

There are two BBQ sauces on the tables, a Texas sauce-tomato based that is sweet with some hint of heat, and a Carolina sauce-mustard base-very tasty and not for me.

Service is good. The people there are nice and friendly.

I wish Dillon's Pit Bar-B-Q the best, but I won't be going back there again.

Colicchio & Sons

Colicchio & Sons
85 10th Ave
New York

Colicchio & Sons is owned by Tom Colicchio, who is a judge on Top Chef. If you watch Top Chef, he is all about SEASONING!! If a contestant doesn't season his or her dish, he will rip them to shreds at judge's table. He can be tough on contestants but if a contestant earns Tom's respect, he isn't that tough of a judge. For example in the last season, he actually asked Paul-who won Top Chef, if his fish was undercooked!! WTF was that? Though Paul didn't win the challenge, it was clear Paul had earned Tom's respect and Tom was going easy on Paul.

Anyways, I was invited to a private dinner at Colicchio & Sons. The three course dinner gave us two choices for an appetizer, entree, and dessert. I didn't have to pay so I didn't know the price of the dinner. But from looking at the menu, the sirlion was $46 but for some reason the seared tuna wasn't on the menu.

Seared tuna, yukon gold potatoes, and a leek vinaigrette. This was very fresh, but the tuna could have been seared a little longer. There is a difference between seared tuna and sashimi. The menu said seared tuna. I don't expect seared tuna to be like sashimi, I want the tuna to be seared and provide some texture. The potatoes were small potato chips, where were crunchy and pretty good. The vinaigrette added a nice balance to the dish.

30 day, dry-aged sirloin, butterball potatoes, spring onion and roasted mushrooms. I asked for this steak to be medium rare but this steak was rare. I expect a restaurant that is owned by Tom Colicchio to be able to cook a steak to the customer's desired doneness. Now, maybe I got the wrong plate, most people at this dinner ordered the steak. But, that doesn't get the restaurant off the hook. They screwed up, somewhere. The steak was good, but not great and not worth the menu price of $46. If I had paid for this steak, I would have been very unhappy!!

Service was very good. The servers were nice and friendly. But, the fact that my steak was either undercooked or I was given the wrong steak didn't sit well with me.

I'm not big on celebrity chefs and I rarely go to their restaurants, I had no choice for this dinner. I didn't get a good impression of Colicchio & Sons and if I was a judge on Top Chef, this restaurant would have been eliminated.

Churrascaria Riodizio Tribeca

Churrascaria Riodizio Tribeca
221 W Broadway
New York

So, I'm in New York City and dinner is being taken care of for me. I have no idea how much the meat at this all you can eat Brazilian Churrascaria maybe. But, I've enjoyed my limited experiences at Brazilian Churrascaria in LA. My favorite churrascaria in LA has to be Fogo De Chao, with it's prime cuts of meats. So I'm looking forward to see how this Brazilian Churrascaria in the Tribeca area of New York City stacks up to Fogo De Chao.

A restaurant is huge and can get very busy, very quickly. The set up is the same as other churrascarias, they have a salad bar set up, then they have carvers coming around with all sorts of meats.

I like Brazilian Churrascaria, but after awhile the meats all taste the same and most of the meats can be very salty.

The salad bar was filled with fresh veggies, shrimp and seafood cocktails, and other Brazilian dishes. The salad I made was very good, with huge fresh tomatoes that were great, very juicy and sweet. The salad bar was well stocked, clean and refilled quickly.

Bacon wrapped filet and sirloin steak. The bacon wrapped filet was very good, but the bacon wasn't fully cooked. The filet was well seasoned, not salty, tender and flavorful.

The sirloin was a bit too rare for me, but still tender and flavorful.

Bacon wrapped turkey. The turkey was dry and the bacon was undercooked. This was too salty for me tastes.

Sausage-The outside of the sausage was overcooked, almost charred. The inside had a nice flavor and spice combination. This could have been a good sausage if the outside wasn't overcooked.

Prime rib-a bit too rare for my tastes, but a fantastic cut of meat. Well seasoned, moist, tender and flavorful!!

Egg plant wrapped chicken. An interesting combination, that I've never seen before. But, the chicken was breast meat and a bit dry, not as dry as the turkey but still dry.

Parmesan breaded pork loin. Another meat I've haven't seen before. I didn't care for this, it was a bit too salty and the breading didn't work well with pork. Parmesan shouldn't be used as a breading.

Flank steak- This was a bit overcooked for me, but for a very tough cut of meat, this was tender and flavorful. Maybe my second favorite meat, after the filet.

Spare ribs-the ribs were so dry and very very salty. I didn't like these ribs at all.

Mango mousse: I normally don't get dessert but it was included and I picked the mango mousse, and what a treat. A very light, smooth mousse that was bursting with mango flavor.

Service was good. The carvers came around very quickly and were helpful. We had a large group and it seemed like every time the guy with the flank steak came by, he would be out of flank steak. So I asked one of the carvers I wanted flank steak and within 30 seconds the flank steak arrives. The servers were very good; they were attentive, drinks were refilled, and friendly.

Overall I was impressed with the beef at Churrascaria Riodizio Tribeca. While some of the meats were a bit too rare for my tastes, they were well seasoned, not salty, moist and tender. But, the other meats- spare ribs, turkey, and chicken were too dry. Though not as good as Fogo De Chao, I would go back to Churrascaria Riodizio Tribeca again.


1 Front St

So I'm in New York City and want to try another pizza place besides Crosby Pizza Stop, which I love. So Grimaldi's comes highly recommended. So I go on the subway to Brooklyn and walk a couple blocks to Grimaldi's. Grimaldi's is located in an old bank building just under the Brooklyn Bridge. It's on the border of Brooklyn Heights and Downtown Brooklyn. I was hoping to see a Sweathog but no such luck.

I got to Grimaldi's right before a huge line started to form. Since it was such a beautiful day I didn't want to be stuck inside and ordered a pizza a pizza to go. I figured I would find a park bench and enjoy the great view of the New York City skyline while enjoying the pizza.

I got the large sausage and mushroom pizza, $19 and change. I actually ordered just a sausage pizza, paid for it, then added mushrooms to the order. The pizza was good, no question about it. But, it didn't blow me away and it certainly didn't meet the hype. The crust was good, but I've had better crust in LA. The toppings was fresh and tasty; I liked the sausage-good seasoning and good quality meat, the cheese was super fresh. But, I've had just as good.

Service was good. The lady who took my order was nice and friendly. When I added the mushrooms, she was nice about it and saw it was more money for the business, not a pain to deal with. I added the mushrooms about 2-3 minutes after placing the order, so it's not something that should be that big of a deal.

I don't want to give the impression that Grimaldi's is bad. Quite the contrary, it is very good. I just wasn't so good that I have to rush back to New York City. I still think Crosby's Pizza Stop is the best pizza in New York City.

Big Nick's Burger & Pizza Joint

Big Nick's Burger & Pizza Joint
2175 Broadway
New York

So I'm in New York City walking around on the Upper West Side. I'm hungry and I pass by Big Nick's Burger and Pizza Joint. I have been here before and decided to stop in and get something to eat. The menu at Big Nicks is huge. They have everything from burgers to pizza to pasta, to sandwiches and everything in between. This is a diner in the middle of the concrete jungle.

I decided to just stick to the burgers and ordered a bacon cheeseburger, $9.75. The burger doesn't come with anything, unless you ask for it. No lettuce, tomatoes, or any condiments. Weird. Anyways. The burger arrives and it's lukewarm. I expected the burger to be hotter. The burger is average, nothing special or remarkable about it. You can get this same burger at any Denny's. The bacon was good and added a saltiness to the burger that was missing, because the meat wasn't seasoned that well.

With the burger came one piece of waffle fry. WTF is that all about?

Service sucked!! The other server who seated me was very nice and friendly. The server was served me was a total bitch!! She was rude, didn't say more than five words to me and should not be working in customer service. Such a total bitch!!

I would never go back to this crappy worthless restaurant again.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Baek Ha Chong

Baek Ha Chong
3929 W Olympic Blvd
Los Angeles

With the 20th anniversary of the LA Riots in the news recently, I realized it's been awhile since I've been to Koreatown. If you don't know, Koreatown was one of the hardest hit areas during the riots. Many Korean owned businesses were looted and set on fire. There were many reasons why Koreatown and Korean owned businesses were targeted during the riots. The rude treatment of blacks by the Korean store owners, the shooting death of a black teenager by a Korean store owner, then in a miscarriage of justice, that Korean store owner only getting probation for shooting that black teenager. But, something that the media rarely, if ever, talked about was the number of Korean store owners killed by blacks during robberies. In the aftermath of the riots, both communities opened lines of communications and there seems to be a peaceful truce so far. Though, I'm not sure if the relationship between blacks and Koreans have improved dramatically in those 20 years.

Anyways, Baek Ha Chong has been on my list of places to try because their BBQ pork ribs were suppose to be great. So, I get to Baek Ha Chong on a Saturday evening around 6pm. The place is almost empty. I was very surprised. Our server told me it gets much more crowded later on at night. It was a good thing there weren't many people, because I was hungry!! Baek Ha Chong is a small restaurant, it may set about 30 people at one time. It's kind of a hole in the wall and has no signage in English.

I'm not into the side dishes at Korean restaurants. Most of that stuff I don't touch. So I'm just going to review the entrees.

Squid in chili sauce, $20.95, seemed like a good thing to order. This dish had zucchini, onions, and green onions mixed in with the squid. The chili sauce was very good. A mild to medium spiciness with a hint of sweetness, I bet they put honey into the sauce.

The squid was very tough and chewy, not really that fresh, but combined with the chili, I liked this dish a lot. I wrap the squid with some chili sauce in a leaf of lettuce or put it on top of rice and made for a filling meal.

So, a lot of people rave about the BBQ Pork ribs, $18,95, at Baek Ha Chong. I wasn't impressed. The ribs are cut up spare ribs, but the portion is small, there is a lot of fat and gristle, and the meat isn't tender. The marinate was sweet, but this tasted a lot like Thai satay marinate. I can get an order of satay for under $10 at most Thai restaurants and there would be more meat when ordering satay, why would I pay almost double that amount, for these BBQ pork ribs?

Service was good. The ladies are friendly and helpful. They did forget to bring rice to our table. But when we asked for it and they were apologetic about forgetting, and brought us rice quickly.

I wouldn't come back to Baek Ha Chong, even though I liked the squid with chili sauce. The prices are a bit high and the quality of the food doesn't justify the high prices.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Pepz Pizza and Eatery

Pepz Pizza and Eatery
726 S State College Blvd

I have known about Pepz Pizza and Eatery for a few years but never made an effort to give them a try, mostly because they are behind the Orange Curtain. But, I was in the mood for some broasted chicken and decided to give Pepz a try.

If the building for Pepz Pizza and Eatery looks familiar, it should, it used to be Zito's Pizza, which I reviewed in 2006.

Pepz Pizza and Eatery was started by two brothers and the name, Pepz, is a combination of pepperoni, pep, and pizza. There are six location, all behind the Orange Curtain. They have a pretty extensive menu, including pizza, pasta, sandwiches, salads, and broasted chicken.

A friend had a coupon for eight pieces of chicken, 3/4 lb of potatoes, and a medium one topping pizza for $26.12 with tax. Not a bad deal. So we got a half pepperoni and half sausage pizza.

The menu price of a one topping pizza is $12.49 + $1.25 per topping. The This was one of the best sausage pizzas I've had in a long time. Full of flavor, with good quality meats and spices the sausage was the highlight of this pizza. The crust was pretty good, a medium thickness, crust that held up to the large amount of cheese and toppings on the pizza.

The cheese was piled high and was gooey, a bit greasy, but overall pretty good.

The pepperoni was standard pepperoni. Nothing outstanding or bad about it.

Regular price for broasted chicken with 3/4 lb. of potatoes is $14.49. The chicken, I only had the breast piece, was dry on the inside. But, the skin was much different than skin from broasted chicken I've had before. It tasted more like regular deep fried chicken. I was looking forward to broasted chicken but I got either a bad example or regular fried chicken.

Service is good. The people there are nice and friendly.

I would go back to Pepz Pizza and Eatery for the sausage pizza, but I wouldn't order broasted chicken again.