Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Hole in the wall Chinese

Ho-Toy's Chinese Food
734 S State College Blvd
Anaheim, CA 92806
714-956-8430

   I have been patronizing Ho-Toy's Chinese Food for almost fifteen years now and finally have gotten around to writing about them. It was Friday night and my wife braved the crowds to get some dinner. A typical dinner time rush means you will be waiting in a line outside before you can order. This is partially due to the size of the establishment but mostly due to the popularity. My wife ordered three two item combos, a rice bowl for my daughter and four cream cheese wantons. This meal cost of about $33.

   I only took the time to take a picture of my two item combo which was BBQ pork and Teriyaki Chicken with steamed rice. My BBQ Pork was mixed with some fatty pieces, some charred pieces and some in between pieces, just the way I like it. The pork it self has a great smokey flavor and tiny hint of sweetness. The pork is served in large pieces but it is still tender enough to easily enjoy every bite. The real star of Ho-Toy's is the teriyaki chicken, the pieces of chicken are large, tender and moist. The teriyaki sauce covers each piece and is simply delicious. The sauce is more on the sweet side and almost candies the chicken when it is cooked. A slight bit of saltiness comes through to help cut some of sweet which balances everything perfectly. This is by far my favorite teriyaki chicken of any Chinese food place I have eaten at so far.


    I constantly recommend Ho-Toy's to anyone that asks me. This hole in the wall joint has been serving up scrumptious Chinese food for many years and has been a family go to joint since the first day I tried it. If you are anywhere near St. College and South St. make sure to stop by Ho-Toy's and you will not be disappointed.

Ho-Toy's Chinese Food on Urbanspoon

Monday, October 28, 2013

BBQ in Fullerton

Leadbellys Barbecue
711 N. Placentia Ave.
Fullerton, CA 92831
714-646-9560

  Leadbellys Barbecue has been open for a total of five days. My wife and I ended up there because my wife knows the people behind the restaurant and my wife promised me good barbecue. I was honestly hesitant at first because good barbeque is hard to do and if you flub barbecue it can end up being really bad. Well Leadbellys Barbecue certainly surprised and satisfied me. My wife and I got the garlic, cheese fries with pork belly as an appetizer and we shared a two meat combo plate. With two drinks this meal was about $23.

  The garlic, cheese fries with pork belly was a great way to start the meal. While not exactly barbecue this was a unique starting course that I had not had before. The ingredients were simple, french fries, cheese, garlic and pork belly. The french fries were cooked to a golden crisp and seasoned well enough. The cheese was a bit sparse for my liking but where there was cheese it was melted and gooey so it would string with each fork full. The pork belly was crisp on the edges like bacon and tender the rest of way like a well made ham. A very good dish that I would easily order again, I just want a little more cheese next time.


  On our two meat combo plate we asked for something not on the menu, burnt ends and we also got the house made sausage. We had a choice of two side so we decided on barbecue beans and corn bread. The burnt ends were tender, juicy and full of smokey flavor. The small bite sized pieces were fatty and meaty at the same time, a great balance between the two.  With the house made barbecue sauce these burnt ends were the hit of the night for me. The house made sausage was moist and with the addition of peppers and onions it was a great combo. The sausage slices had a nice snap to them and the flavor was that of a gourmet link. The barbecue beans were slightly spicy which was a nice contrast with the meat. The corn bead was lacking a bit in the sweetness department and needed some butter.


  If you know anything from reading my past reviews I am not one to pull punches and this is no exception. Just because my wife knows the owner I felt I have represented our meal fairly and accurately. The food was on point and the service was friendly. I have feeling that Leadbellys Barbecue will be around for a long while and would recommend that you get over there and give them a try. I know I will be going back soon.


Leadbellys Barbecue on Urbanspoon

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Hot Dogs in Temecula

The Hot Dog Shoppe
43810 Butterfield Stage Rd.
Temecula, CA 92592
951-491-0606

  I went to spend the day with my friend Jeff before his band Soto St. played that night, and we needed to eat some lunch. Jeff suggested The Hot Dog Shoppe, and well I am always down for a good wiener, so I said "Sure let's do it". Walking in, The Hot Dog Shoppe has a bar and couple long tables, all in all, it has a very casual feel to it. We took a few minutes to decide on what we wanted but Jeff went with the Mac and Cheese dog, which is what is sounds like, a hot dog topped with mac and cheese. I got a Ruben dog minus the kraut, again exactly what it sounds like. We also got an order of gravy fries and two drinks. This whole meal was $25 bucks.

  Jeff's hot dog was covered in gooey mac and cheese and topped with some shredded cheese. This looked like a simplistic yet tasty dog. It really reminded me of  my childhood eating mac and cheese with cut up pieces of hot dog in it. Jeff said it is one of his favorite dogs on the menu.




  There were so many good choices to pick from but I ended up with the Ruben dog. The dog was meaty and juicy, the pastrami was thick and a bit too crispy for my liking. The 1000 island dressing was plentiful while the Swiss cheese and pickles were lacking. The combination of flavors did make me think of a classic Ruben sandwich. But for me personally, I could have used more cheese and another pickle. Overall it was a well made hot dog that I think anyone would enjoy.


  The gravy fries were also pretty good but it is really hard to find them better then The Hat. The gravy on these fries was thin but still full of beefy flavor. The fries were crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. The fries stood up well to the gravy and even at the bottom of the basket the fries were still crunchy. A very good version of this classic that I personally grew up with.

      
  I did savor my meal at The Hot Dog Shoppe and would definitely go back if I am ever in the neighborhood again. The prices were fair, the service was nice and the food was good. That to me equals a winner winner hot dog dinner.


Hot Dog Shoppe on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

An average Saturday morning

The Broken Yolk Cafe
2810 E. Chapman Ave.
Orange, CA 92869
714-2899655 

  The Broken Yolk Cafe just recently opened and I was pretty excited. A new breakfast joint in the neighborhood always makes me happy. So three out of four of us took a Saturday morning to try out The Broken Yolk. My daughter got the kids pancakes with sausage, my wife got a Canadian bacon  and cheese omelet with hash browns and I got two eggs with corned beef hash. With drinks this meal was about $35.

  My wife started by trying to cut up my daughters pancakes. My wife said the pancakes felt tough while she was trying to cut them. My daughter did not seem to mind too much because she did finish almost all the pancakes and finished both sausages. I did try a couple of the left over pieces of pancake and I thought they were chewy and dense. An okay stack of pancakes.



  My wife's Canadian bacon and cheese omelet was loaded with thick cubes of Canadian bacon and lots of melted cheese. My wife felt the omelet was a little bit undercooked for her liking. She also asked for her hash browns to be well done but that did not happen. I also tried some of this omelet and I thought the eggs were fluffy and the filling was plentiful. The Canadian bacon was warm but I thought it could have been cooked a bit more. Other then that no real complaints here with the omelet. The hash browns  were a bit under cooked even for my liking. The inside of the hash brown was almost like mashed potatoes but lacking any kind of seasoning.


  Desperate to find a good plate of corned beef hash I thought I would order this and see what The Broken Yolk Cafe had to offer. Unfortunately for me it was some canned variation of corned beef hash that was simply laid down on a flat top griddle to crust it up. The texture of this type of corned beef hash is not pleasant and simply unappealing. The two eggs were cooked to a perfect over medium so there was plenty of yolk to help mask the tinny flavor of the hash. They had a fantastically fluffy blueberry muffin however and let me tell you, it was awesome! Chalk full of ripe blueberries and the perfect amount of sweetness. The muffin was moist enough to were I did not even need any butter.
 

  I would call our breakfast at The Broken Yolk Cafe mediocre at best. There were no glaring mistakes that made me dislike The Broken Yolk Cafe but at the same time there was nothing special that made me want to revisit The Broken Yolk Cafe. My search continues for a local establishment that servers a great plate of corned beef hash. If you have any tips feel free to leave a comment. If you decide to check out The Broken Yolk Cafe do not walk in expecting mind blowing food and you will be satisfied with your meal.


Broken Yolk Cafe on Urbanspoon

Friday, September 13, 2013

Just the three of us

Stonefire Grill
3966 Barranca Pkwy
Irvine, CA 92606
949-777-1177

  I have been hearing a lot of advertisements about Stonfire Grill from one of the radio stations I listen to on my drive home. The food sounded good and the radio host raved about the food, so we took a Saturday night to drive down to Irvine and give Stonefire Grill a chance. My little one was with the Grandparents so just the three of us went out to dinner that night. My son ordered the pulled pork sandwich with a side of mashed potatoes, my wife ordered the baby back ribs and I ordered the half BBQ chicken. With drinks this meal was about $45.

  I assumed that Stonefire Grill would be a traditional sit down style restaurant but I was mistaken. It was similar to a few places I have been to lately where it is more like a fast food place. Where you order and pay when you first walk in, then you find a table and the food is brought to you when it is ready. I am not a huge of fan of this setup simply because this is more of what I expect from a fast food hamburger joint, not a place where the food is supposed to be much better. The disappointments didn't stop there.

  My son's pulled pork sandwich looked good from the outside but he ended up eating just the pork and leaving the bread behind. My son said the bread was dry and crumbly which made it difficult for him to eat. He did like the pulled pork it self however. He asked if I wanted to try the sandwich so I did and I too found the bread not to be the best quality, however the pork was smokey and moist. I think most of the moisture did come from the BBQ sauce though. He also was not too thrilled with the mashed potatos saying they were bland and lacking seasoning.


  My wife's order of baby back ribs was a half slab and came with a side, which she got a salad. I snagged a rib from my wife so I could try them for myself. The rib it self was tender and it easily pulled away from the bone. They too had a nice smokey flavor to them but my wife and I agreed that the rib meat it self was dry and lacking BBQ sauce. I felt as though the ribs were slathered with the BBQ before cooking but received no BBQ during or after cooking. My wife did end up getting a side of BBQ sauce to help moisten the meat. My wife also felt the ribs were burnt but I did not think so from the one rib I had.


  My half chicken arrived to the table already quartered and covered with BBQ sauce. I was hopeful that my chicken would be better then the rest of the meal. For the most part my chicken was good. The thigh and breast were luscious and tender. The BBQ sauce reminded me of a teriyaki sauce but with a bit of spice, a sweet and heat kind of BBQ sauce. The wing was also tasty and it happened to be my favorite part of the half chicken. Where it fell apart for me was when I went to eat the drum stick. The drum stick was cold and almost felt as if it was brought out of the refrigerator, thrown on the grill to heat it up and then covered in BBQ. When I mentioned that the drum stick was cold the woman that responded was asking what she could do to make things better and I simply asked for a new drum stick. She agreed but it felt like there was hesitation to my request.


  I do not like saying anything negative about a restaurant that I visit and I could have over looked maybe one or two things from Stonefire Grill but when all three of us have some kind of issue with the food I have issues with that. For me and my family the food at Stonefire Grill was average at best and I doubt I will be back. I know we may have got unlucky with a dish but when all three of us walked out of Stonefire Grill we were all unhappy with our meal.

Stonefire Grill

Stonefire Grill on Yelp

Stonefire Grill on Urbanspoon

Thursday, September 5, 2013

You Spin! me right round

Spin! Neapolitan Pizza
1623 W. Katella Ave., Ste. 102
Orange, CA 92867
714-633-7746

  I'm not sure how long Spin! Neapolitan Pizza in Orange has been open but I saw the sign a couple times when visiting other establishments within the area. I decided it was time to check this place out. They took the space that used to belong to Bob's Big Boy so if you are familiar with the area it should be easy to find. When we walked in we were greeted by a friendly staff member that explained how to order. We got my little one a kids pepperoni pizza while the rest shared a #9 -BBQ di Pollo and Pineapple and a #10 - Tre Carni. With drinks this meal came to about $42.

  After ordering you pay for your meal and then have a seat. A staff member then brings you your food after it is ready. I have been to a few other places like this and I am not a huge fan of this type of setup. If I am sitting down to eat I would prefer to do it all at the table but on this night things were not busy so it was not a hassle.

  The food came quickly and my daughters child's pizza was nicely sized. My daughter devoured all four slices with little regard for the temperature of the melted cheese. She said she really liked this pizza and that she enjoyed the peperoni. She was very pleased with her meal and definitely enjoyed the child's sized gelato that came with her dinner.


  My son, my wife and I shared the other two pizzas. The first slice I tried was the BBQ di Pollo and Pineapple which is roasted chicken, fresh mozzarella, caramelized onions, roasted pineapple, and Lucille's BBQ sauce. We got our pizza minus the pineapple since my wife is allergic. The pizza was littered with chunks of chicken that were tender and moist. The sauce was classic Lucille's BBQ sauce that added and nice tang with a tiny hint of heat behind it. The caramelized onions were a little too scarce for my liking, I wish there would have been more. If you like caramelized onion you may want to get extra added to the pizza. But the onions did add a nice hint of sweetness. The crust of this pizza was thin and crispy but pliable enough to still fold for easy eating.


    I tried the Tre Carni second and this pizza is made with roasted meatballs, pepperoni, and Italian sausage. What a great pizza this was, the crust on this pie was also thin and crunchy. The amount of tomato sauce was just the right. You knew it was there and it added a good amount of moisture to the pizza but not so much that the toppings slide off when taking a bite. The pepperoni were large and in charge but not over powering. The roasted meatballs were soft and full of garlicky goodness while the Italian sausage was meaty. Each bite of this pizza had a little bit of all three meats and each meat played well with each other. Nothing over powered the other making each bite the perfect bite. This was by far one the best pizzas I have had in a long time.


  The family was happy for the most part, we all walked out of Spin! with full bellies but were not stuffed. I would come back to Spin! and recommend anyone give them a try because I know you will not be disappointed. My only word of advice would be to watch the cost of what you are ordering because it can become expensive real quick. I never have a problem spending money on good food, which this was, but if your on a budget you may want to consider another place. Overall the experience at Spin! was awesome and the quality of the food was worth the price.


Spin Pizza on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Finally Made It to Haven

Haven Gastropub
190 S. Glassell Street
Orange, CA 92866
714-221-0680

  When Haven Gastropub first opened all I heard was how great the restaurant was and how epic the food tasted. I kept telling myself that I would get there and write about it but it just never happened. My wife and I found a day that allowed us to get over to Haven and finally try the food. The best part for me was Haven now has a breakfast menu, so we both ordered from that menu. We started with the pretzel, my wife got the biscuits and gravy while I ordered the hash pile. With two lemon-aides the bill was about $38.

  I must start by saying I thought the lemon-aide at Haven was some of the best lemon-aide I have had in a long time. Sweet and tart without either overpowering the other, full of lemon flavor. I even was surprised to see that the ice cubes in our drinks were actual cubes of ice. Just a little thing that I thought was really cool.

  The Hand-twisted Pretzel is covered in ilocano asin Philippine sea salt and comes with beer mustard and bacon-fontina cheese sauce for dipping. The pretzel itself was crisp on the outside but still soft and chewy on the inside. The beer mustard starts sweet but finishes with that classic mustard twang. The bacon-fontina was full of bacon flavor while remaining creamy from the slightly sweet cheese. Even the salt was very clean and fresh tasting. This was an excellent pretzel and something Haven must go through a lot of because I kept seeing these bad boys coming from the kitchen.


  My wife decided to get the biscuits and gravy. The biscuits are made with pork fat and the gravy is made with breakfast sausage. The biscuits themselves were layered and full of porky flavor. These biscuits were light and fluffy while still being dense enough to fill you up. The breakfast sausage gravy was loaded with bits of sausage, it was smooth and peppery. My wife got a side order of eggs to go with her biscuits which she placed the eggs on top of the biscuits. She said that she really liked the combination of the gravy and biscuits with the yolk from the egg. She managed to finish one biscuit and a few bites of the second before she tapped out.


  Because we got to Haven at around noon we had the option of ordering from the lunch menu. I was stuck between the hash pile on the breakfast menu and the lamb neck poutine on the lunch menu. I mentioned this to the waitress and she recommended the hash pile, so that is what I ordered. The hash pile is hash browns, lamb neck gravy, cheese curds, and two eggs. This was basically a breakfast version of poutine anyway so I was happy. The hash browns were on the bottom of the cast iron skillet and very crispy. The lamb neck gravy came next and it was loaded with unctuous, shredded pieces of lamb. The gravy was silky and brimming with strands of tender lamb. The cheese curds were melted, gooey plots within the gravy. The cheese curds added a lusciousness to the entire dish. The eggs were laid on top of this hash pile and the yolks added a succulent touch to the entire meal. My only complaint was that the hash browns were a little over done which added a slight bitter taste. If the hash browns were not cooked so much the potatoes would have added a good starchy bite that would have helped to cut through some of the richness.


  Did the Haven Gastropub meet all my expectations? Most definitely! I cannot wait to go back and try some of their other offerings. I was very happy with the quality of the food, the service was excellent and very attentive. I never had to ask for a refill of my drink, which I think is awesome. The prices were fair for the level of food quality that was served to us. I know Haven has a steady flow of loyal customers and after this meal Haven Gastropub now has one more in me.


Haven Gastropub on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Wanna Get Some?

Hapa Cupcakes
1210 Jefferson St., Ste. Q
Anaheim, CA 92807
714-567-HAPA (4272)

  Last week I was invited by the ladies of Hapa Cupcakes to come to their location and try a few of their signature cupcakes. Hapa Cupcakes is currently sharing a suite in a industrial complex with a deli. I personally had a little trouble finding the place but my sweet reward was worth the minimal effort.

  Currently Hapa Cupcakes is mostly an online business where customers can order many different kind of their signature alcohol infused and/or classic cupcakes. When an order is received Akemi and Hanayo jump into action and can have your order ready for pick up quickly. The store front is the location for your pick up but you can walk in an order a hot cupcake sundae. What is that you may ask?

 The picture does not do this cupcake justice. The warm cupcake, slowly melted the vanilla ice cream which gave me the best of hot and cold at the same time. The cake was soft and moist while still being full of rich chocolate flavor. The chocolate sandwich cookie pieces added a nice crunch to each bite. This was a hot fudge sundae but in cupcake form. I'm sure I looked a fool while eating this in front of Akemi and Hanayo and trying to find out more about their appearance on Cupcake Wars. I spent a little bit more time chatting with them and was given a four pack of cupcakes to take home for later.


  When I told my wife that I was going to taste cupcakes she said that she wanted some herself so it was pretty awesome that Hapa Cupcakes gave me this four pack so I could share them with the family. I like hearing what my family has to say about the food we eat so we ended up each sharing a bit of all four cupcakes.


 We started with the "Red Velvet Stiletto" which is a classic red velvet cake with a cream cheese frosting and candy red heart. No booze in this cake but it did remind me of a classic red velvet cake. The cake was spongy and moist while the frosting was sweet but not too rich. The chocolate flavor was present but not over powering. A very well made and tasty cake.


  Next we dove into the raspberry vanilla cupcake, which is only available to people in the know. This was my wife's favorite cupcake. This cupcake was full of vanilla flavor from the cake it self and from the frosting. The small dollop of raspberry added a hint of tartness to the cake. I personally would have  liked a little more of the raspberry flavoring.


  "Nuts about you" was our next cupcake. This is a Valrhona chocolate cake with a peanut butter cream cheese frosting. This was the winner for my son and my daughter. My son said this cake was rich and chocolatey. My daughter loved it because it was chocolate and peanut butter, two of her favorites things when they are alone, put them together and she was happy as can be. It very much reminded me of a peanut butter candy cup, you know which one I mean. All the flavors were spot on and the cake it self was delicate.


  Last but not least we ended with the "Will you remember me in the morning?" cupcake. This is a Madagascar vanilla and Kahlua cupcake with bits of cinnamon streusel and topped with cream cheese frosting. The smell of cinnamon was coming off this cupcake as soon as my fork went into it. The cake it self reminded me of pumpkin pie, I thought I could taste some nutmeg in the cake. The cream cheese frosting was just enough to kick up the sweetness without being over powering. While the bits of streusel added texture to the cake.

   
 As for me, my favorite out of all the cupcakes I tried was easily the hot cupcake sundae. These little cups of a chocoholic's dream come true were just perfect. All the cupcakes by Hapa Cupcakes were moist, I know I sound like a broken record but it's true. All the cupcakes were light and fluffy while still having some bounce to them that gave a really good mouth feel. None of the frosting were cloyingly sweet and all were the perfect accompaniment to the cupcakes. Make sure you check out the link to Hapa Cupcakes web site if you are interested in ordering.

Hapa Cupcakes

Hapa Cupcakes on Yelp

Hapa Cupcakes on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

A night without the kids

El Matador
1768 Newport Blvd.
Costa Mesa, CA 92627
949-645-0324

  It's not often my wife and I get a night out alone or a night out with friends. On this night we spent it with good friends that we have not hung out with in a long time. My friend plays guitar in multiple bands and he happened to be playing in Costa Mesa. We all wanted to meet for dinner and his suggestion was El Matador because it was within walking distance of the venue. This worked for my wife and I so we met our friends at El Matador for dinner.

  The parking for El Matador can be a pain but there is parking in the back so keep that in mind. When we first walked into the restaurant, this place was packed! The service was attentive and took our order as soon as we were ready. My wife got a chicken enchilada with green sauce and a chicken taco and I got a Mexican pizza. With two sodas the bill was around $30.

  My wife enjoyed her meal. She said the chicken in the enchilada and the taco was moist and tender. She said the green sauce was good and flavorful and she said the taco was crisp and crunchy. I was too busy with my Mexican pizza to even try what she ordered but from the picture below you can see it looks like one heck of meal.


  The Mexican pizza was described as crisp flour tortillas topped with shredded or ground beef or chicken, chopped onions, peppers, tomatoes, sauce and melted cheese. I got mine with chicken. There were also some beans in the mix of ingredients. This sounded good to me and it was something that I have not had before. When the plate was placed in front of me this Mexican pizza covered the entire dish and it was coated in melted cheese. I started to blindly eat the crisp pizza but was kicked in the mouth by the heat from the peppers. Wow was it hot, beyond what I like so I was on a pepper hunt from that point on. With the heat gone from the pizza I was able to enjoy the rest of my food. The chicken was shredded but remained moist. The flour tortillas were crisp, the beans were creamy while the chopped onions and diced tomatoes added some tartness and sweetness. The melted cheese held all components firmly to the tortillas so each bite was loaded with flavor. I was surprised at just how filling this Mexican pizza was, I'm glad I didn't try any of my wife's dish so I had plenty of room for mine.


  I love finding new places like El Matador. I have driven by this restaurant countless times but just never had any interest in stopping to try it. Well I am certainly glad my friend recommended El Matador because it was worth the stop and it is a restaurant I can easily recommend to anyone. If you are in Costa Mesa for any reason then it is a must. If you are near Costa Mesa then I would say take some time to head to El Matador, I do not think you will regret it.

El Matador 

El Matador on Yelp 
  
El Matador on Urbanspoon

el Matador on Foodio54

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

No More Home Pride Bread?

  I have been struggling to find a good quality replacement bread for Home Pride Bread ever since Hostess and Wonder went out of business. I was excited to see that Hostess was coming back but could find no news on Home Pride Bread returning. So I went to Facebook and sent the question to Hostess since I could not find a Facebook page for Home Pride Bread or Flowers Foods (which is the company that bought out the old Hostess Company). The answer I got was not good and from the screen shot included it appears Hostess is strictly focusing on snack cakes only. I truly hope this is not true or it is a decision they will reconsider. I do a few more emails and phone calls out there that I am waiting for responses from and I will update accordingly if I get any replies.


  Home Pride Bread was staple in my child hood life, in my early adult life and in my kids life. It is a food product I have sincerely missed since it was removed from my grocery store shelves. If anyone out there has a good recommendation for a Home Pride Bread replacement feel free to leave a comment here or head to my Facebook page PapaKaster Eatin' and leave a comment there. It may seem silly to be so upset about bread but I know I am not the only person out there that has this kind of love for Home Pride Bread and not the only one that will be upset about this news if it is true. The search continues!

UPDATE:

  I never did hear back from any of the contacts I tried to reach when I originally made this post but checked the Flowers Food web site today (7/22/2013) to find Flowers Foods has posted a new press release stating the completion of "acquisition of bread assets, including 20 bakeries; the Wonder, Merita, Home Pride, Butternut, and Nature's Pride brands; and 36 depots from Old HB, Inc. (formerly Hostess Brands)." Does this mean the return of Home Pride to our local shelves? Quoted from the press release "Consumers across much of the country can expect to see these well-known and loved bread brands returning to store shelves over time." said Allen L. Shiver. I certainly hope Home Pride is one brand slated for return.

Flowers Foods press release 7-22-2013 

UPDATE #2:

  I finally received a reply from one of the email inquiries to Flower Foods and the reply was some what promising. Most of the email was just about the press release I posted in the first update but what this representative said gives me hope but it is still not a conformation that Home Pride is coming back.

"Flowers plans to begin re-introducing these former bread brands into its core markets (markets it has served for five years or more) as soon as possible. The company is not sharing any other details regarding its plans for these brands at this time."

UPDATE #3:

  Flower Food made an announcement on Monday (9/23/2013) that Wonder bread has returned. The title of this announcement is "Wonder, Merita, Home Pride, and Butternut breads return to grocery stores throughout Flowers Foods' geographic market area." My beloved Home Pride bread is in the title I cannot wait until it returns to my local grocery store.

  "We're thrilled to be baking these wonderful breads and know that millions of consumers will be smiling when they find their favorite back in their grocery store," noted Keith Aldredge, Flowers Foods' vice president of marketing. "We are using the same recipes and paying close attention to quality and freshness. We want these breads to be great from the very first taste." "Where ever these brands were available before within our market area—they are returning," Aldredge explained. Quoted directly from the press release, link below.

  I will definitely be keeping my eyes open for the return of Home Pride bread and I am truly excited to hear this news. I have been able to find acceptable replacements but nothing that even comes close to Home Pride. It looks like all of us Home Pride bread fans will soon be able to again enjoy our favorite bread.

Flower Foods press release 9-23-2013
 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Something new at Pei Wei

Pei Wei Asian Diner
985 E. Birch St., Suite D
Brea, CA92821
714-989-5570

  I have know about Pei Wei Asian Diner for a while now but have never taken the time to check them out. Recently I was contacted by a member of their PR group. I was asked to go check out the new menu at the Pei Wei in Brea, CA. For doing so I was given two twenty-five dollar gift cards. I used one for my meal and at the end of this post you will have the opportunity to join a giveaway for a chance to win the second twenty-five dollar gift card.

  Having never been to Pei Wei before the family spent a few moments checking out the menu and I also wanted to try a few of these new menu items. To start we ordered a small ginger and orange edamame, Thai chicken lettuce wraps, and the Korean steak lettuce wraps. For our main dishes the little one got honey seared chicken, my son got ginger and broccoli steak, my wife got Mongolian steak and I got orange peel chicken. With drinks this meal was about $53.

  I started munching on the ginger and orange edamame, these were not like other edamame I have had in the past. The edamame were tender but not mushy. The ginger flavor was prevalent with some sweetness from the orange. I was surprised by how much I liked them but even more surprised because my daughter really enjoyed them too! So much so that she brought what was left of the edamame home to snack on later.


  Then came the two different lettuce wraps we ordered. I started with the Korean steak wrap. The "steak" reminded me more of ground or chopped beef then steak. When I saw steak I was thinking there would have been strips of meat and not the ground texture that it was. However that aside the Korean lettuce wraps were a hit with the family. The level of spice added a good kick of heat while the cold lettuce helped to cool it down. I very much enjoyed these wraps despite the "steak".


  Next I tried the Thai chicken lettuce wraps. As with the "steak" wraps the chicken seemed to be chopped really fine. But I had an issue with the flavors in this wrap. It was not horrible tasting but there was just something about this that I did not like. I'm not sure if it was the over powering taste of onions or the pungent flavor of cilantro. These wraps weren't liked by any member of the family and it is not something I would ever order again.


  The honey seared chicken looked good but I did not try a piece because the portion size was small and I wanted to make sure my daughter got enough to eat. She did say how much she liked the chicken and even attempted to use chop sticks, but in the end she decided it was too hard. So she was using one chop stick like a spear to eat the chicken pieces. This worked for her and it allowed her to gobble down all of the chicken. It was good to see her having fun while eating and also enjoying her food. Not sure why but I spaced on getting a picture of my daughter's dish.

  My son ordered the ginger and broccoli steak or broccoli beef in my eyes. Like always we shared our main dishes so I grabbed a couple pieces of beef and broccoli. The beef was tender and the sauce very much reminded me of the sauce you get at P.F. Chang's. The broccoli was crisp and bright green when added with some of the sauce it was just about perfect in my opinion. My son had no problems finishing his meal. He also said that it was just as good as P.F. Chang's.


  Mongolian beef is pretty much a go to item for my wife and I when ordering at P.F. Chang's so it was an easy choice for my wife here at Pei Wei. Again I was pleasantly surprised to find that this dish was very similar to what you would get at P.F. Chang's. The beef in this was also tender, the green onions added a nice hint of flavor and my wife said the mushrooms were good. The mushrooms are something different that Pei Wei does and my wife was a happy camper to see this addition. She loves mushroom on her steak so this was a natural fit for her.


  Not knowing what to get but wanting to get something other then the norm, I decided to get orange peel chicken. This is a dish the family has never got at P.F. Chang's so it was new to all of us. The chicken was moist and delicate. The coating was thin but added a bit of crunchy texture. The sauce was sweet and full of garlic. The heat was just enough to tickle the back of your throat to let you know it was there. The addition of fresh snow peas added some flavor and texture contrast that helped the dish. The snow peas were fresh and crisp which worked well when putting some of the sauce on them. This was very well done version of orange chicken and something I will have to order again.


  Being that Pei Wei is basically the fast food version of P.F. Chang's I did expect some of the main dishes to be similar, they were and that made the family happy. We love going to P.F. Chang's any chance we get and now we can get our fix more often. The Brea Pei Wei location was great, the service was friendly and helpful. The food came to our table quickly and the portions for the prices were fair. The only down side for us was the Thai chicken lettuce wraps. I would definitely recommend any of the other dishes we tried and recommend you head on over and try them for your self.

Pei Wei 

Pei Wei Brea on Yelp
 
Pei Wei Asian Diner on Urbanspoon

Pei Wei Asian Diner on Foodio54

  Now for the fun part, a giveaway! Here is your chance to enter and win a $25 gift card to Pei Wei Asian Diner within the U.S. This gift card is good at any Pei Wei location so you do not have be in California to win. Make sure to head over to PapaKaster Eatin' and like the fan page if you have not done so already.

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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Meat Lovers Paradise

The Meat House
415 South Associated Road
Brea, CA 92821
714-529-6328

    I first stumbled across The Meat House in Costa Mesa and I was in awe when I first walked in the door. But that day I was looking for place to eat and not a place to buy meat. So Father's Day comes around and my Dad said he would like to barbeque hot dogs and hamburgers, so I think to myself that I want to get Pops some good meat and not something from the local grocery store. That was when The Meat House came to mind and I find out they also have a location in Brea. Score! The family headed over there before our Father's Day barbeque with Dad and grabbed some meat.

    The Brea location is tucked away in a dense shopping center right off the 57 freeway at the Imperial Highway exit. If you are familiar with that area it is in the same shopping center as Lucille's Smokehouse BBQ. We easily found the store front and walked in and again I was in awe with this location. The side counter was loaded with fresh cheese from more places then I could count. The meat counter, front and center was load from edge to edge with fresh cuts of meat. Anything from hand made sausages, pre-made burger patties, fresh hot dogs, and a lot of nice looking cuts of beef.


    We went with the all beef hot dogs and the cheddar, bacon hamburger patties. The hot dogs were $6.99 a pound and the patties were $8.49 a pound. We also got freshly sliced cheese, fresh rolls for the hamburgers and hot dogs and we got a jar of the most amazing pickles I have ever had. The total for this haul was about $45 bucks. Now I know this sounds expensive for hot dogs and hamburgers and I would tend to agree but the quality of these meats was well worth the cost.

    I ended up cooking the meat and I must say that everything turned out fantastic. The burgers were juicy, full of beefy flavor with a enough cheddar and bacon to let you know it was there but not overpowering the beef. One of these burgers and I was almost too full to enough my hot dog, I said almost. The hot dog it self was also moist and spiced just right. This all beef wiener was a winner in my book and my Dads. So much so that my Dad had proclaimed to his wife that he must have more the next time we barbeque.

    I wish more places like The Meat House existed. The service was outstanding, the quality of the food, both the meat and the other items were superb and for what you are getting the prices were fair. I would highly recommend that you take the time to check out your local The Meat House or even drive to one of the three location here in SoCal. Oh and if you want to really splurge they have all kinds of exotic meats and dry aged beef as well.

The Meat House

The Meat House Brea on Yelp

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

A Hawaiian Lunch

Da Lu'au Hawaiian Grill
41 Auto Center Drive
Foothill Ranch, CA 92610
949-916-5221
  My co-workers have ended up being a good source to find restaurants that I have never been to before and also serve up great food. Da Lu'au Hawaiian Grill was no exception. I ended up there on a Friday afternoon and parking was scarce. I did find a parking spot and inside Da Lu'au there was small line even at 11:30am. I ordered myself the two item combo with Kalua pork and chicken Katsu. This also comes with two sides, so I got white rice and potato, macaroni salad. With a drink this meal was about $11.50.

  After ordering to eat there you are handed a number and off to find a table. There were plenty of tables and even outside seating. The wait for my food was not long and it was delivered to my table by a friendly member of the staff. I started with the Kalua pork and this is some of the best Kalua porks I have ever had. The pork it self was full of smokey flavor but not so much it was over powering. The meat was tender, moist and had tiny bits of fat that really added a nice richness to the pork. I moved to the chicken Katsu next. The chicken was breaded and fried to a nice crisp texture. The chicken remained moist on inside. I had one small issue with this chicken Katsu and it was the dipping sauce. This sauce reminded me more of barbecue sauce then the sweeter teriyaki sauce I am used from most other Hawaiian BBQ places. The side dish potato, macaroni salad was a mix of the two and normally it is just mac salad. This combo was good but not the best mac salad I have had and crave for at times. The white rice was pleasantly sticky and worked well with Kalua pork.


  Da Lu'au Hawaiian Grill left me stuffed and ready for a nap, which would have been a good thing if I still didn't have half my work day left. The food was awesome, the portion sizes were generous and the staff was super friendly. I know that Da Lu'au will remain in my memory rolodex of lunch spots when I need a Hawaiian BBQ fix.


Da Lu'Au Hawaiian Grill on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

A Fantastic Breakfast

Fantastic Cafe
1727 E. 17th St.
Santa Ana, CA 92705
714-541-7997

  Always on the look out for good yet inexpensive breakfast, our search brought us to Fantastic Cafe on the recommendation from a co-worker. I have passed Fantastic Cafe hundreds of times traveling down 17th Street and have thought in my head I need to stop and check this place out. The family had a free a morning so we did just that.

  My daughter ordered the two pancakes, two eggs, two sausage and two bacon meal deal and it was less then five bucks. I though this was the meal of the morning. The pancakes were fluffy with a hint of vanilla in them. With the addition of syrup my daughter was loving every bite of the hot cakes. She chowed down the sausage which was good to her and the bacon was crisp like good bacon should be. She even said that she thought these were some of the best eggs she had every tried. Except her mom's eggs of course. My daughter ate until she was stuffed full and satisfied.



  My son ordered the sausage and egg breakfast burrito. This burrito was loaded with three eggs, a heaping pile of crisp hash browns and three or four sausages. My son said the burrito was good but he thought the hash brown were lacking some salt and pepper. He managed to eat half of this burrito before he tapped out and called it quits. Such a simplistic looking burrito but it filled my son quickly and left him happy until dinner time.


  My wife got her self an order of steak and eggs. This order came with the steak, three eggs, hash browns and toast. The steak was cooked nicely and even had the visual appeal of perfect grill marks.
The steak was thin yet still moist and tender. The eggs were done to correct temperature my wife asked for, over medium. The whites were fully cooked with a still runny yolk. The hash browns were crisp and filled out the rest of her plate. My wife said the breakfast was good and she too was happily stuffed to the brim.


  If you have been reading PKE for any amount of time or stumbled across one of my breakfast posts you know that my favorite breakfast meal is a ham and cheese omelet, so it was an easy choice for me. My omelet came with hash browns and toast. The omelet was three eggs with a lot of chopped ham mixed in. There was cheese folded into the center of this omelet and two slices topped the mound of meat and eggs. The omelet was cooked just right, giving me the crispy edges and soft inside. I dislike an omelet that is not cooked all the way and still bit a runny, none of that here. The hash browns here done just right, crunchy and crispy on the outside while staying soft and delicate on the inside. As with the rest of my family I was quite content with my meal and one happy Papa.


  This entire meal with drinks was only about $35. The service at Fantastic Cafe was excellent and the food came quick with table side service. For anyone needing a quick, cost effective and tasty breakfast then I recommend checking out Fantastic Cafe. My next adventure into this restaurant will be to some of the other menu items that looked equally as good as this breakfast. As an added bonus Fantastic Cafe serves breakfast all day so you can get your morning grub on anytime of the day.
Fantastic Cafe was a fantastic surprise to me and my family!