Saturday, October 30, 2010

Shabu..huh? Shabu Shabu

1945 E. 17th Street, Ste. 108
Santa Ana, CA 92705

  So I have been telling my wife for weeks that I wanted to try shabu shabu. This was something that I had heard was good, fun and tasty. I had also heard that the Shabu Shabu Bar in Santa Ana was the restaurant for shabu shabu. My family had a good week so we decided to splurge, try a new restaurant and a new style of food we have never had before.

  From the outside the Shabu Shabu Bar looks small and when you walk it is small. There are two U shaped bars that are lined with chairs. At each chair is your own bowl that is used to cook the meat and veggies. There is also a place setting for each customer. I was hoping for a sit down but figured we would still give it a try. Once seated we got the menu and my eyes about popped out of my head looking at the prices. Oh damn this was gonna be expensive. I order the three meat combo, my wife ordered the two meat combo, my son got the seafood combo and my daughter got a side of chicken. With drinks and tip the whole meal cost me $92.

  My son got mussels and salmon for his meat and a plate of the fresh vegetables that comes with each plate of meat. My son had never tried mussels before and he said that they tasted good. My daughter even had a couple of his mussels and she gobbled them down. My son also said the salmon tasted fresh and that is was very good. Since I pretty much hate anything that comes from the ocean I let my son enjoy that plate all to himself. My daughters side of chicken was devoured by her since was really hungry that night. She even enjoyed a lot of the veggies that I did not think she would have eaten at all.

  My wife's combo plate had rib eye beef and chicken. My wife enjoyed her plate of meat and the fresh veggies. She was sharing some of meat with our daughter and veggies too. My wife said she liked the chicken but really though the beef was tender and delicious. She also said the veggies were crisp and that they good. Her favorite was the fresh cabbage dipped in the hot water to cook it quickly then dipped in the one of sauces the Shabu Shabu Bar gives you with your meal.

  My plate has thinly sliced beef, chicken and pork. All the meat on my plate was was good and when briefly cooked in the hot water came out tender. I enjoyed the beef the most of all three meats. This beef was rib eye with some nice fat marbled throughout. The chicken was, well it tasted like chicken. I did not think there was anything special about this chicken. The pork was my second favorite meat on the plate. After being cook it too tender and went very well wit the sauces offered with the meal. I thought the best thing to do was cook a bit cabbage, a piece of meat and roll them together.

  At the end of the meal the staff will make you a bowl of soup using the cooking liquid from your meal. I am not sure what they used for the soup base but this soup was amazing. I asked what the base was made of and all I was told is that it is made fresh every day. I could gone in and just had a bowl of this soup but unfortunately this soup can only be had at the end of your meal. The best thing about this soup is it will be different for every person. It depends on how you use the cooking water for your meal.

  All in all I did enjoy my food at the Shabu Shabu Bar. However I must admit I have had better meals for the price I paid for this meal. The meat was good, the veggies were fresh and I did walk out full. If you have some extra cash and don't mind spending it on food I would suggest you give the Shabu Shabu Bar a try.
Shabu Shabu Bar on Urbanspoon

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Mexican Food again? Yes of course!

Los Sanchez
Mexican Food, Sonora Style
11906 Garden Grove Blvd.
Garden Grove, CA 92843
Sunday thru Thursday 9am to 10pm
Friday and Saturday 9am to 11pm
(714) 590-9300

  It's a Saturday afternoon and my family and I are getting ready to go have lunch with some friends at a restaurant that has come highly recommend by one the friends we are meeting. The family jumps in the car and starts our Saturday journey. We had a lot to do this weekend and this lunch was the start. We pull up to Los Sanchez and the parking lot is pretty full, which is a good sign. It kind of looks like a large house from the outside with a patio area. When you walk in the first you will probably notice is the large menu board above the cash registers. This menu board was huge, so many different things to order. They had burrito plates, taco plates, seafood, dinner plates, side orders and a kids menu. So many items to pick from it was hard for me to choose. So far so good. Time to order our food and you order by number so I ramble off one number 25, one number 17, one number 45 and my wife got a burrito. For the four of us the meal cost $45 including four small drinks. Our friend that recommend this place got a number 39 and his was about $10 including a large drink.

  My daughter got the number 25 which is a three taquitos plate. The taquitos she got were chicken but you have a choice beef and chicken. My son got the number 45 which is a quesadilla which again has a choice of cheese or meat and cheese, he got chicken. My wife got carne asada burrito and a side of chips with guacamole and I got the 17 which is a carnitas plates. The dinner plates are served all day and they all come with beans and rice on the side. Lastly our friend got the 39 which is chimichanga filled with your choice of meat, he got lengua, which is beef tongue. After ordering we found a place to sit and a few minutes later the food was at our table. All the food looked good and we were all ready to grub.

  My daughter is so damn cute, she got the taquito plate placed in front of her and she asked what the green stuff was and told her it was guacamole. She then told me she did not like guacamole and I needed to take it off for her and I did. But then she started licking the taquito and I asked her what she was doing, her response was "I don't like guacamole and there is some still on it." That made me smile, she is silly. She finally got to eating and chowed down all three taquitos the some of the beans and rice with no complaints. My son got a huge quesadilla packed full of chicken and cheese. He too enjoyed his meal telling me that the quesadilla was really good and the chicken was tasty. He also said the quesadilla had a nice crunch on the outside, must have been from how they cooked it.

  My wife got a burrito that was huge and looked like it was about to break out of the tortilla. She cut it open so I could get a picture of the contents and it oozed the filling all over her plate. My wife said this was a good burrito. She said the carne asada had good flavor and the rest of the ingredients in the burrito were also good. I did not try the burrito because it had a ton of sour cream in it and I hate that stuff. Even with that rotten milk stuff the burrito looked really good.

  My plate was filled with carnitas, rice, beans, lettuce, guacamole and a few flour tortillas. I started by grabbing a tortilla and filling it with beans for a base, lettuce, rice, carnitas and guacamole for the topper. My first bite filled my taste buds with flavors that all melded very well with each other. The pork had good flavor and all the other filling were fresh and crisp. I tried the carnitas on it's own they were dry and reminded me more of pulled pork before it gets doused in BBQ sauce. When I think of carnitas I think of tender, juicy and fall apart meat. This carnitas had none of those qualities. Not to say it was bad just not the best carnitas I have ever had. I did finish everything on plate so it couldn't have been that bad.

  My friend got this deep fried gut buster cover in red sauce. The chimichanga was made with lengua which is something I have never had before. My friends asked me to try and I did so with hesitation. I have never eaten anything that could taste me back so I was a little fearful. It was tender, kind of slimy and had the same flavor as the carnitas. It was good but I am not sure I could eat a whole burrito. However my friend was determinately enjoying himself, He kept making comments about how good the whole chimichanga was and how this was favorite dish at Los Sanchez.

  As whole I would go back to Los Sanchez and try some other food off the menu. With so many choices you could have a different meal for weeks and never eat the same thing twice. This restaurant is worth a visit if you are in the neighborhood and craving some good Mexican food. Do your self a favor and give Los Sanchez a try, I do not think you will be disappointed.

Los Sanchez on Urbanspoon

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Dark Chocolate, Smoked Salt and Bacon..Oh My!

Vosges Haut Chocolat
Mo's Dark Bacon Bar
  A few weeks ago I was at Powell's Sweet Shoppe with some friends and saw a candy bar that was 62% dark chocolate with smoked sea salt and applewood smoked bacon inside it. I made a comment to my friends that the candy bar sounded good. I have always heard people talk about how bacon and chocolate was a good combo and I love both item by themselves so I thought this might be worth trying but did not buy the bar. We were at Powell's to get our gelato fix and while eating the gelato my friends pulls the candy car out of her bag of goodies and gives it to me. I was stoked at the time because it was unexpected and I was excited to try this different candy bar.

  I opened up the candy bar and could smell the mix of good dark chocolate and smoke. I assumed the smokey smell was from the smoked sea salt. With anticipation I broke a corner of the bar off and took another sniff. The smell of smoke filled my nose this time. I bit half of the square and started to chew. The very first I tasted was dark chocolate, then the smokey flavor kicked in and completely overpowered everything else. This was not good at all. It was like eating a mouth full of smoke with a hint of chocolate in the background. I like watching Bizarre Foods and the host, Andrew Zimmerman, says you should always try something twice before you say you do not like it. So with that in mind I flung the last half of the square into my mouth. The same nasty flavor filled my mouth. The candy bar had bits of bacon in it that were chewy and every time I crunched into the salt it was just intense smoke flavor. It was just too much.

If I remember correctly this was about a five dollar candy bar and I would recommend you spend your money else where. I'm there is someone out there that likes this monstrosity of a candy bar but I am not that person. I really wanted to enjoy this candy after hearing all the different things I've heard about the combination of bacon and chocolate but it was not anything like what I had hoped for. I'm sure I will try the combo again at some point but never again will it in this form.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Foodie Fest with Food Frenzy at Joe's

Joe's in Fullerton
124 W. Commonwealth Ave
Fullerton, CA 92832

  Last night was spent at Joe's in Fullerton with the Food Frenzy guys for the fourth Foodie Fest. It is a meet a greet event so people who follow the blog can meet the writers behind the blog and eat some good food. I thought it would be cool to check the event out and try a restaurant I had never been to before. I gathered up the wife and kids so we could head over to Joe's.

  When you walk in the front door of Joe's it looks like a small neighborhood bar. You are greeted by just about everyone behind the bar, I almost felt like Norm from Cheers. The family and I headed to the back area of Joe's and it opened up to a nice seating area with plenty of tables, that then went outside to a patio with even more tables. The Foodie Fest had pretty much taken control of the inside area last night and I think that staff at Joe's was a little overwhelmed at first. Once we all settled in the staff at Joe's took on the task of dealing with this large crowd of people and they handled us extremely well.  Everyone on staff at Joe's had and smile and was willing to help us in anyway they could, from offering suggestions on what to eat to getting us extra napkins and encouraging those brave enough to try the rocky mountain oysters. That's right they have rocky mountain oysters and from what I heard they were good. I was too chicken to eat one of those but the rest of food at Joe's was fair game.

  We started off with drinks, ice tea for myself, wife had a coke and the kids had sprite. When the drinks arrived at our table they were huge and I mean huge. I had enough ice tea to quench the thirst of three men. Just by looking at these drinks I thought to my self that this place was going to be really good or just a bunch of flashy nonsense. As for food the little one she ordered mini hot dogs, my son got the catfish sandwich (normally comes blackened but he got it without the spice), the wife got a sampler plate and I got the homewrecker. 

  My daughter absolutely loved the shoe string fries that were piled next to her two mini hot dogs. In fact it took a lot just to get her to eat the actual hot dogs. She loves french fries and this mound of thinly slice deep fried potatoes had her attention. She finally did eat the mini hot dog and she told me that they were really good. My son grabbed his catfish sandwich and started to eat. From the looks of it the sandwich had a piece of fried catfish with lettuce, tomato and some type of dressing. My son later told me the sauce reminded him of tater sauce. I did not try the sandwich but it look very good. The fish looked perfectly cooked, the lettuce appeared to be fresh and crisp, the tomatoes look ripe and juicy. My son did not stop eating until the sandwich was gone only taking a break from the sandwich to eat some of the fries or drink his soda. If you read this blog you know he can be picky eater at times but I am starting to think he is coming out of that phase. He almost tried a rocky mountain oyster but other people were saying how the oysters were spicy and he does not like spicy food.

  The wife got a sampler platter that included her choice of three different sausages, sauerkraut, chopped tomatoes and few other sides. The three sausages she picked were boar, alligator and duck with bacon. I did try all three sausages each of them. The boar sausage had a flavor that reminded me of andouille, the sausage was well spiced but not spiced so heavily that is killed your taste buds. The boar was juicy with a snap from the casing that they used. I was a bit hesitant of eating the alligator because the last time I tried alligator it reminded me of shrimp and food from the ocean is not my favorite. But this alligator sausage was good and well cooked. The seasoning in this one might of had some cajun flare to it but I could not pin point it, still very tasty. The duck and bacon sausage was again perfectly cooked. This sausage was moist and had a flavor to it that made me think of Thanksgiving. I am not sure exactly way but I thought it had rosemary in it and that might be why. My favorite out of three was the boar, it was the star on my wife's sampler platter for sure.

  Now time for the homewrecker! This was twelve inches of all beef goodness (that's what she said) covered in chili, cheese sauce and green onions that was stored in a fresh roll. The hot dag was twelve inches long and was an all beef dog. Not exactly sure how they cooked but it was definitely grilled because it had nice grill marks and hint of smokey flavor that will only come from grilling. The chili on this dog was an all meat chili and it was a chili that could stand on its own in bowl. The cheese sauce might have been cheese wiz sauce which I'm all good with, people don't give cheese wiz the respect it deserves. The green onions added a fresh bite to this dog that really was the cherry on top of this hot dog heaven. I had a hard time figuring out where to start with this monster chili cheese dog, a fork and knife were my first weapons of choice. I cut off one end of the dog so I could try just the hot dog by its self. This hot dog had a classic all beef hot dog taste to it, as if I had bought this off the boardwalk. Once I chipped away at the dog a bit I was finally able to grab the roll and chomp down on this bad boy. All the flavors of this homewrecker meld so well together. The chili added a nice spice to whole taste, while the cheese sauce added a tangy punch and I could even taste the green onions through all it. The roll this beast came in was fresh, soft and chewy all a good sign that this roll was made recently. I devoured the homewrecker while adding in some onion action between bites. The onion rings at Joe's are some of the best onion rings I have ever had. These rings had a light batter on them that stuck to onion. The onion did not come out of the breeding like happens at some places. Overall this was by far one the best wieners I had eaten in a long time.

  One thing I did read about Joe's before I actually went there was how they served deep fried peanut butter and jelly, cupcake, twinkies, snickers and other goodies. Being the jolly fat kid that I am I had to try one of these deserts before leaving Joe's. The family order deep fried ho-hos and a cupcake. When this plate came to our table there was two ho-hos and cupcake that had been batter dipped and deep fried. There also was a large scoop of vanilla bean cream, chopped strawberries in sauce and the plate was drizzled with chocolate sauce. I tried the ho-ho first and it was good, crispy coating and warm cake inside. It didn't blow me away like I was hoping. The cupcake was next and it had a nice crunchy coating and warm chocolate cake on the inside but the cupcake was little too much for me. I love just about anything deep fried but these two items were good just not spectacular. It's not that the taste was bad maybe just too much of a good thing. Ho-hos by them self could be dinner for me and same is true of cupcakes. I just think the combo was a bit overboard for me. However there was one thing on that dish I could not get enough of and was the ice cream. This vanilla bean ice cream was smooth and had such an intense vanilla flavor. I could have had a giant bowl of that ice cream and been a happy camper. If anything I would still recommend trying one of these deserts for yourself so you can be your own judge but whatever you do make sure to try the vanilla bean ice cream.

  What a night the family and I had at Joe's. The food was far beyond anything I had expected. The staff at Joe's was awesome, everyone was so helpful and no request we made went unanswered. Overall I would recommend Joe's to any of my friends and I will be taking the family back to Joe's. The cost of this meal was about sixty-six dollars but the food they serve was worth the price. The portions were huge and each one of us walked out of Joe's in a food induced stupor. I saw they serve breakfast so I will have to go back and try that menu. The time spent at Joe's was great fun. I got meet new people in the food blog world and hopefully made a few new friends in the process. All while trying a new restaurant that has now been added to rolodex of favorites.
Joe's on Urbanspoon

Saturday, October 2, 2010

That's not ice cream, it's gelato

27000 Alicia Parkway
Laguna Niguel CA 92677

  A few months ago some friends of ours told the wife and I about this candy store that served the best gelato ever. I was skeptical because the last time I had gelato is was awful. I watch a lot of Food Network so I had heard many times about gelato and how it was different from ice cream. Here is a wiki about gelato if you want to know more. My first experience with gelato made me hesitant to try it a second time. The wife seemed to have the same feelings as I but our friends guaranteed us that we had bad gelato the first and that Powell's gelato was different. So we agreed to get some before a night at the movies.

  When you first walk into this Powell's your eyes will go crazy trying to figure what to look at first. This place is loaded with just about every kind of candy a person could think of, from old time candy to the newest candy available. This store was impressive just by shear the amount of candy choices they had. I saw candy there that I had not seen since I was younger. The store carried paper dot candy that I remember eating as a kid when my family and I went to amusement parks. They had these salt water taffy candies that are very thin and spread knid of like a candy bar. Again I had not seen these since I was kid. They even had the candy cigarettes that made little puffs of smoke. I remember buying these thing when I was kid and thinking I was so cool. The candy alone could keep you occupied for hours. But the real star of the shop is the gelato.

  That first night the gelato counter has creme brulee, rocky road and abba zaba both had bits of the candy bar in it, dark chocolate, cheese cake and so many more flavors. Enough choices that anyone could find something they liked. I got the regular size which allows you to pick two flavors and cost less then four bucks. I went with the creme brulee and dark chocolate. The creme brulee gelato was so good it reminded me of eating the real thing. This gelato even had bits of caramelized sugar in it which made the taste even more authentic. The gelato it self was smooth and creamy like a soft serve ice cream. The dark chocolate gelato I had reminded me of a well crafted piece of dark chocolate candy. I was hooked from that point.

  Fast forward about month, the wife and I had the opportunity to go out again. We had decided to go see our friends out that way and told them we had to go to Powell's again. They did not argue since they love Powell's as much as the wife and I do. I was stoked, could not wait to get my hands on some creme brulee gelato again. I get to the counter and DOH, no creme brulee. I looked over the counter and saw fresh ginger gelato and asked for a sample, if you like ginger then you will love this gelato. The gelato was a sweet base, almost like vanilla custard with finely chopped pieces of ginger. Oh by the way if you want to sample any gelato flavor before you buy they have absolutely no problems giving you a taste. I was bummed for about five seconds until the wife and I ordered strawberry cheesecake and rocky road. The strawberry cheesecake gelato was streaked with red strawberry goo. I am not sure what it was, it almost looked like jam but it wasn't so I just called it goo that night. Not a bad thing at all. The bits of graham cracker crust made this gelato taste as if you eating a piece of cheesecake. The rocky road gelato had the same ingredients as the actual candy bar and bits of the candy bar mixed in. This was gelato was awesome and just as delicious as any other flavors I had tried from Powell's. A rich chocolate based gelato with whole mini marshmallows and almond chucks.

  I can not wait until the next the wife and I get a chance to head to Powell's. Our friends out there are going to start thinking the wife and I are just coming to see them so we can go to Powell's. Not true guys, we love you. Check out Powell's web site as they have multiple locations, one maybe near you. You may go to Powell's for the vast selection of candy but you can not leave without getting a gelato. Even better get a gelato and then browse all the different candy selections. The prices for both candy and gelato were reasonable and not overboard at all. Powell's fills two places in my I mean tummy, candy and now gelato.