Saturday, September 25, 2010

Grillin' Hawaiian Style

Nalu's Island Grill
27000C Alicia Parkway
Laguna Niguel, CA 92677

  It was a Saturday evening, the wife and I left the kids at home with Grandpa. We had a night out without the kids and decided to visit some friends of ours. The plan was to eat dinner, go to Powell's (blog post about Powell's coming soon) go to the movies and then go see a friends band play in Fullerton. What a busy night. When the wife and I arrived at our friends she asked where we wanted to eat and I suggested some place the wife and I had never been before. Our friend told us about this Hawaiian bar-be-que place that was in the same shopping complex as Powell's. The wife and I agreed it sounded good and since it was close to Powell's that was an added bonus. I figured this would be just another food stop but damn was I wrong.

  Nalu's Island Grill is where we ended up. From the outside it looks like any other average store front eatery, nothing special. When I first walked the huge menu board caught my eye. The tables appeared to be randomly placed on the floor with some bar style seating around the walls. The workers busily plating food and taking it to the customers who had ordered before us. It was not packed full of people but there is also outside seating available so I would assume people were out there. The menu I have linked does not show all the items available. I assume this is because the linked menu is titled a to go menu. The wife and I both got combo plates, unfortunately I have forgotten the actual names of the combo plates, hers was beef and chicken, mine was kahlua pork and chicken. Each combo plate comes with a choice of two sides, I got steamed rice and garlic noodles my wife got mac salad and garlic noodles. Our friends got the garlic noodles with a kahlua pork and a shrimp combo plate. Damn I wish I could remember the names of the dishes but that is not the important part. What I do remember is the taste of the food.

  The first thing I started with was the chicken which was placed on top of a pile of kahlua pork. The chicken was thinly sliced like a chicken cutlet and was breaded with panko bread crumbs. There was nothing special about the taste of the chicken by its self, it just a well cooked piece of chicken. What made this chicken so good was the dipping sauce that came with it in a small plastic cup. I am not sure how to describe this sauce but it was sweet, salty, tart and spicy. Not hot spicy, flavor spicy with some garlic in the mix. This sauce in combination with the panko covered chicken was a piece of golden brown deliciousness. Couple pieces of that later I grabbed my plastic fork and went for the garlic noodles. These reminded me of chow mein noodles but thinner. The noodles had a mix of stir-fired veggies in them like a typical chow mein would have. The difference here was the intense garlic taste these noodles had. Not so much that it overwhelms the taste of the veggies but more then I was accepting. I love garlic so it was no problem for me at all. The steamed rice was steamed rice, what can you really say about steamed rice? It was cooked well and sticky the exact way I like my steamed rice. The star of the plate in my opinion was the kahlua pork. The first fork full was headed to my mouth but I stopped before devouring it because the smokey smell of slow cooked pork hit my nostrils. Just the smell of this pork was outrageous. The only thing I could think of was a smoke pit full of pig parts and the hours this must of have spent there. The pork finally crossed my lips and it was juicy, tender and full of smokey flavor. This pork could have been served on a dirty shoes and I would have had more it was that damn good. The next time I go to Nalu's it's all about the kahlua pork. There was steamed cabbage below the kahlua pork that when eaten at the same as the pork added a snap to moist pork. The bits of pork that were the outside had the most intense smokey bark that gave you shot of flavor. I can not say enough about this pork it was out of this world good.

  Of course I had to try some of the wife's food so I could comment about here. The spare ribs were good with a nice sweet glaze cooked on them. They didn't stand out in my mind as anything super. That's not to say that were bad but nothing special. The chicken my wife had was a teriyaki style chicken again it was good but I only one piece so maybe I missed the boat. The wife also had mac salad which I normally do not like but this mac salad was very good. It was not too heavily dressed and the pasta was cooked al dente. The crisp snap of shredded carrot added nice mouth feel to the salad. I definitely would order this mac salad next time instead of steamed rice. The plate of shrimp looked good but I did not try and of that, still not a fan of sea food. My friend was eating her garlic noodles and side of kahlua pork and asked me if I wanted more pork. I of course said yes and finished off the rest of her pork. With drinks the wife and I spent about twenty-two bucks. Our friends spent about the same for the food they ordered. For two people that may be a little high but it was worth the expense. I am telling you this pork is well worth the cost admission.

  Overall Nalu's Island Grill is a place I want to visit again. I want to explorer the menu a bit more and try a few other things. I would recommend anyone in the area give Nalu's a try. I think you will be pleasantly surprised by the food that is placed on your table. The people behind the counter were nice and the atmosphere was pleasant. My time at Nalu's was not just about good food but was also about the company I had. Good friends, my wife and great food. What an excellent dinner. Guess what's next? You got it, the pictures! After seeing these pictures if you don't at least consider going Nalu's you would be crazy.

Nalu's Island Grill on Urbanspoon

Sunday, September 19, 2010

aka "The Boat"

Clearman's Galley
7215 N. Rosemead Blvd.
San Gabriel, CA 91775
   About a week ago the family and I decided to go visit my mom and my grandma. We had not seen them is a while so I wanted to spend the day with my mom and grandma so we could visit and catch up. I also thought it would be a good time to go out to lunch so we could just sit, have some good food and enjoy each others company. I mean what's better then tasty food, great company and good conversations? Nothing that I can think of. The day started with the family and I driving to grandmas house where my mom has been living. Once we got to my grandmas house we decided to go and visit my grandfathers grave. On the way to see my grandfather I made a comments to my wife that I hoped we were going to eat right after this visit because I starving, the wife agreed with me and both my kids chimed in from the back seat. We had an nice visit with my grandfather, it was the first time I had been there since the funeral. We all said our peace and now it was time for lunch.

  When I was a kid this restaurant used to be called The Boat because it was literally inside the body of boat. Today the location where The Boat was is a chain store, The Boat has moved a few hundred feet away and is now called Clearman's Galley. The good thing is this place still exists and still serves the same food it as always has. The parking lot was packed but we were able to find parking and when we walked in I realized it was a football Sunday and the seating was limited inside. Clearman's seating is family style, there are long pic-nic type benches or long tables with chairs. They also have a nice patio which is were the family and I ended up sitting. The line to order reminds me of my lunch room in high school. You pick up a tray, place your order, get your food and pay all within the same area. If anything needs to cook longer the you have in that short amount of time they give you a number and bring the food to your table. The little one ordered chicken strips and fries, my son got fish and chips, the wife got a steak sandwich, I got a cheeseburger, a side of onion rings, a large blue cheese salad and extra slices of cheese bread. With drinks for all four us this cost me about fifty-five dollars. Which a high for a family of four but once in a while I am willing to pay this much. My mother got a pastrami burger, large salad that was half blue cheese half red cabbage and my grandma got a chicken salad. With drinks their meal cost about twenty-two bucks.

  Food arrives at the table and gets divided out to the proper person and we all dive in like it has has been weeks since we last ate. I'm sure other people would have noticed on a normal day but most people were glued to the TVs watching football, so the six of us were in our own world. The first thing the wife and I went for was the blue cheese salad, which nothing more then ice burg lettuce chopped up with a huge amount of blue cheese dressing poured over it. Typically I do not like blue cheese dressing, thousand island is my preferred poison but there is just something about this blue cheese dressing. I am not sure what it is but this is by far the best blue cheese dressing I have ever had and is the only blue cheese dressing I will order every time I have the chance. The wife is also not a blue cheese kind of person but she ate more of that salad then I did. The burgers at Clearman's all come with house chili poured on top of the meat patty and since I got cheeseburger it is basically a chili cheeseburger. The burger patty is nothing special and is thin like you would see from a store bought frozen package. The burgers are cooked on a well seasoned griddle top so they get a nice sear on them with a tiny crunch. However that's not say this burger is bad in fact quite the opposite this burger was delicious. The generous topping of chili definitely makes this burger. The onion rings, which I had never had before, were off the hook. The breading was thin and crispy with a perfectly cooked onion in the middle of it all. Now the best part, for me, is the cheese bread. I think they put crack in the spread because this cheese bread is addicting. They even sell the spread in separate tubs so you can make it at home but it is never the same. The cheese spread tastes like a mixture of a few different cheeses with a hint of garlic. It slavered on a piece of what I think is sourdough and placed under a salamander to cook. When it's finished the bread is crusty, cheesy goodness.

  The little one got a basket loaded with chicken strips and a pile of skin on fries. This kind of food is staple for her at this point in her life so if they sucked she would not have finished. Her basket was void of chicken strips in a few minutes and most of the fries disappeared. I'm not sure where it all went but it was gone and she was quiet which meant she was happy. My son also got a basket full of fries with fish which was placed on top of the fries. He devoured the fish, tauter sauce wasn't even opened. He said the fish was really good but he did not like the fries. So of course I had to try them myself and I found the fries to be good. What one would expect from a skin on fry. Perfectly salted, a slight bite to them but fluffy on the inside. The steak sandwich my wife got was just the sandwich but it looked like a hearty combination of steak, cheese and the proper fixings. My mom got a pastrami covered burger but this burger does not have any chili. I had to try the pastrami and it was good but nothing that blew me away. I like my pastrami with a peppery spice and this was lacking that spice but it was still good. My ninety-four four year old grandmother, bless her, got a chicken salad. She was vocal about the salad and said it was okay and she thought the lettuce was old and had been sitting around. Which is possible since that salad was just pulled out a refrigerator already made. So that may be the kind of thing they make in the morning and just pull out as needed.

  Overall I enjoyed my meal at Clearman's Galley. The food there is not gourmet but it is prepared correctly and tastes good. The service was attentive and quick. The atmosphere is something that reminds me of how an old village pub might be, bench seating, people cheering at TVs, drinking and eating food. There are also some very cool replica ships on display. It is a great touch that can take a some time to really look over as these model ships are very detailed. Someone spent a lot of time making these and it shows. It might be a bit hard for me to completely rip on this place because of the nostalgia that I have for it since I have been going there ever since I was kid. But as a once in a while expense I would say that it was worth the money and time spent there. Good food and family on a Sunday afternoon, a good day to say the least.

Clearman's Galley on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

chicken and waffles..yum!

Roscoe's House of Chicken and Waffles

  Friday at 5:45 AM and I hear BUZZ!! BUZZ!! it's my alarm going off to wake me up for what would be a Friday I will not forget for a long time. This was not my average Friday because I had to go get a root canal and fitted for a cap on my tooth. Normally it wouldn't be too much of concern but the family and I had plans to eat out with friends at Roscoe's and I was not going to miss this opportunity. My dentist appointment was at 8 AM so after the kids got ready for school and were dropped off the wife took me to the dentist. Three and half hours later my root canal is finished and I have a temporary cap. My jaw hurting from it being manipulated in so many different directions. My tooth throbbing with pain and I only have over the counter pain medicine to help. The day goes on and the wife asks me if I still want to go to Roscoe's and my only response is "You know it". Seven o'clock rolls around and it's time to go, kids are strapped in and we are off to the Long Beach location.

  We get to Roscoe's and are seated almost immediately which I was happy about since I was one hungry dude. The little one order a single waffle, my son got a Carrol C, my wife got a Carrol C and I too got a Carrol C with a side corn bread. The Carrol C is the menu item I would recommend for anyone going to Roscoe's for the first time. This will get you one waffle and a fired chicken breast. Food arrived on the table about ten minutes after we ordered it which again was awesome because I was about to eat my napkin. Everyone was ready to dive into the food but my pictures had to be taken first. I almost lost a finger trying to get the plate away from my son. Pictures done, let the food frenzy begin. 

  For me I started with the waffle since it was soft and easy to chew, I figured it would hurt my mouth the least. I snatched up my fork and butter knife covered the waffle in whipped butter and all the syrup I was given. I take my first bite and I was wrong, it still hurt like crazy to eat but I wasn't about to stop. The waffle is not thick but it is light and fluffy with some spices in it. What those spices are I can only guess, maybe some cinnamon and nutmeg. That waffle was gone in about four fork fulls with as little chewing done as possible. The task ahead of me was to conquer that massive chicken breast. The coating on this chicken is light but so crunchy and flavorful. I'm thinking they use some of the same spices in the chicken coating as the waffle so they match with each other.  You think the Colonel makes good chicken he's got nothing on this chicken. The chicken is moist, perfectly cooked and tender. The chicken breast is typically a difficult piece of chicken to cook well and Roscoe's knows how to cook this piece of meat. It is crispy piece of hand held deliciousness. I was ripping pieces of the white meat off the bone, dipping it in the left over syrup and doing my best to chew on the good side of my mouth but failing miserably. Even the pain of a root canal could not stop me from savoring ever last bite of that chicken. The corn bread is served with a small scoop of whipped butter. This corn bread almost reminds of a piece cake due to the portion size. The corn bread has a slight bite to it due to the corm meal used in it's making. A meal fit for a king or a some guy that just walked in from the street.

  For anyone out there that says "chicken and waffles they don't go together" you could not be any more wrong. I too though this same thing until I finally got to Roscoe's and tried it for myself. There is something about this plate of food that sounds wrong but is so right. Walking out of there with a full belly, a satisfied wife and two kids that cleared their plates was worth the price. For my family to eat there, including drinks it was about forty-five dollars. Anyone reading this blog post that is anywhere near a Roscoe's should take the time to visit this little piece of heaven on earth, you will not regret it.

Roscoe's House of Chicken & Waffles on Urbanspoon

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Orange Street Fair

The Orange Street Fair
Labor Day weekend 2010

  So this past weekend was Labor Day weekend and with that comes the Orange Street Fair. I had all kinds of grand plans to eat at as many food stalls as my stomach would allow but sadly that did not happen. My plans went south with the sheer amount of things my family and I wanted to fit in that weekend. With the wife working, the kids wanting to go swimming, me wanting to stuff my face and waiting to see my friends band play. It ended up that the wife and I got the street fair on Sunday and only had about an hour to spare before my friends band was going to start playing. So the wife had a chance to eat at one food stall and we decided to get a gyro from one of the Greek food stalls.

  The idea to have a gyro was embedded in my wife's head by her friend that recommended we try this Greek sandwich. I had never had one before and was not a fan of some of ingredients that are typically in a gyro. I do not normally like raw onions or yogurt based sauces. While in line I kept asking myself if I should ask to get one without sauce then I asked my wife and she said that we should try the gyro as it was made so we can get the full experience. I agreed and got the gyro as it was made and I am glad I did so. For those that do not know what gyro is, here is a link to the Wiki page.

  This gyro had juicy pieces of well cooked lamb, fresh onions, two thick slices of ripe tomatoes and the yogurt sauce. The whole combination of flavors in my mouth just worked so well that I was very surprised at how much I actually enjoyed the gyro. The baby sheep was very well seasoned and perfectly cooked on a flat top griddle which gave it a nice crust that added a little bit of texture. The onions, while not a fan of raw onions, we fresh and added a nice bite to the gyro. The tomatoes sweet sweet but had a hint of acid that helped to cut through the richness of the lamb. The yogurt sauce was the lynch pin that tied this whole experience together. The sauce was spread on pita bread in a thin layer but just enough to let know it was there. An all around great meal and I was had got two.

  What else can I say? It was a great start to an awesome night of music and beer that followed. Due this I have come to the conclusion that I will have to be more open to trying new thing when it comes to food. When I was a kid the choices I made for food were very small and I see that same thing in my own kids today. If I can show them that I am willing to try new things then my hope is to get them to also try new food. So that way they do not grow up on just hamburgers, fries and chicken nuggets. As I grow I notice my taste pallet is growing and I am truly enjoying the new food that I am eating.