Tuesday, May 28, 2013

A Fantastic Breakfast

Fantastic Cafe
1727 E. 17th St.
Santa Ana, CA 92705

  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!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Mother's Day with Mrs. Knott

Mrs. Knott's Chicken Dinner Restaurant
8039 Beach Blvd.
Buena Park, CA 90620

  The family decided to spend Mother's Day at Knott's Berry Farm. The lines in the park were not too bad and we ended up on every ride we wanted to ride. It was eventually time for dinner and being Mother's Day I asked my wife were she wanted to eat and she proclaimed "I want chicken!" So we walked to Mrs. Knott's Chicken Dinner Restaurant. The wait was not too long for being Mother's Day about twenty minutes. We took a few minutes to look over the menu. Each adult dinner was $16.95 and the little one's meal was $8.95. Because we are season pass holders we got a discount so the total cost with drinks and a tip was about $70.

  My daughter got the kids fried chicken meal which included jello to start the meal. The main course was two fried chicken legs, mashed potatoes and gravy with a side of corn. The kids meal finished with a scoop of ice cream. All the adult meals start with a choice of cherry and rhubarb or chicken noodle soup, a salad, the main dish and choice of dessert. My son got the chicken pot pie, my wife got the fried chicken dinner and I got chicken and dumplings.

  My daughter was into this dinner, she gobbled down both chicken legs and most of the sides. When I asked her if she liked the chicken she nodded while continuing to eat. It was nice to see her eat her dinner and not have to constantly ask her to finish. Too bad I can't order from the kids menu because this plate of food would have been enough for me.

  My son methodically cut his chicken pot pie into pieces and finished just about all it. He said the pie was loaded with chicken and veggies. He said the crust was crisp and flaky. He also said the pie was very filling due to the thick sauce binding all ingredients. This pot pie was as large as small dish and covered in chicken gravy. My son told me that he did like the pot pie but next time he would probably order something different.

  My wife got her fried chicken and loved it. Typically we get this chicken to go and it is just not the same as eating in the restaurant. By the time the chicken gets home the steam has done its work to make the skin soft and soggy. Eating in the restaurant the skin is golden brown and delicious and stays crispy. The chicken it self is moist, tender and cooked perfectly. We had a happy MamaKaster on our hands! My wife's only complaints was that she did not like the gravy on the mashed potatoes, she thought it tasted too floury.

  I love the fried chicken at Mrs. Knott's but decided to try something different on this visit. The chicken and dumplings stood out to me and it is something I strive to find a good rendition of. The dish had two dumplings on each side and the middle was piled with chopped white meat chicken. The dumplings reminded of the biscuits they serve but with some seasonings in them. The dumplings were dense yet crumbly and easily cut with a fork. The chicken was moist and flavorful while the gravy really added a boost of chicken taste. Every fork full I moved was full of dumpling, chicken and gravy. This felt more like a plated meal then a soup or stew which was different then almost all other chicken and dumplings I have had in the past. I did enjoy my food but I think next time I will stick with the tried and true fried chicken dinner.

  All in all the family was happy with our meal at Mrs. Knott's Chicken Dinner Restaurant. We all had full bellies and for a theme park dinner the price was fair. I am all for trying new things and sometimes trying new things leads to wonderful new discoveries. However in this case the discoveries were good just not mesmerizing. I am very glad I tried something new and can say the chicken and dumplings were good but next we eat here I will get the fried chicken and stick with what is some of the best fried chicken in SoCal.

Mrs. Knott's Chicken Dinner on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Birthday Dinner

P.F. Chang's China Bistro
61 Fortune Dr.
Irvine, CA 92618
  It was my sons birthday and just like every year he gets to pick where the family eats. P.F. Chang's is a popular pick in this family so that is where we went. We went to the P.F. Chang's at the Irvine Spectrum because they recently remodeled and added new items to the menu. We ordered California rolls and heirloom tomato and Thai basil salad to start the meal. For our main course dishes we ordered Mongolian beef, grilled swordfish in pineapple chutney, Korean BBQ stir fry and a child's order of crispy honey chicken. These are not our typical menu selections, but I wanted to try some of the new menu items. With drinks this meals was about $86.

   The starting dishes came to the table and I went for the tomato salad first. This salad was made with heirloom tomatoes, avocado, Thai basil and finished with a ponzu dressing. The tomatoes were plump and juicy, the avocado was creamy and rich, the basil and ponzo were a little kick to the taste buds. With my first bite of this salad I got a little bit of everything, in an attempt to make the perfect bite. The basil was prominent but the freshness of those tomatoes came through with the tang from the ponzu. I thought it was a great way to start the meal.

  I am not huge fan of sushi or rolls of any type. These were ordered mainly for my wife and son but I did try one so I could comment on them. The rice was sticky and sweet. The small pieces of avocado and cucumber added texture. The seaweed added a tiny bit of saltiness to the roll and the crab was tender and not fishy. It was the best California roll I have ever personally had before. My sample of California rolls not being huge am I not sure how much that means but I did like it and would try it again. My son really liked them and ate most of them to himself. He discovered that with one of the dipping sauces provided to us that the roll was even better.

  My daughter got the kids sized crispy honey chicken. She really likes this chicken and ate almost every piece. She said the honey sauce was sweet and the chicken was really crunchy. The hostess offered my daughter some child's learning chop sticks and my daughter loved using those. She was grabbing chicken, dipping it in the honey sauce and munching down with out hesitation. I was glad to see that she was enjoying her meal because sometimes it can be difficult to find something she likes. Unless it is a cheeseburger and fries.

  When we go to P.F. Chang's we always share the main dishes so we all got a little bit of each. I tried the swordfish first because this was something I had never had before. When I first tasted the swordfish it had a real grilled flavor to it which made me think beef. The texture of swordfish was firm yet still flaky. As I continued to eat the swordfish a slight ocean fish taste started to come through but not anything that was overpowering or off putting. I was surprised how much I liked swordfish. My dad has told how much he likes it for years but not being a seafood eater I have never ordered it. Looks like I just may have to expand my pallet and try swordfish again. As for the rest of the family my wife also liked the swordfish and my son devoured almost the entire piece. It was a hit with us.

  The Mongolian beef was awesome as always. This is a staple for us when we visit P.F. Chang's and never disappoints. The beef it self is tender but has some kind of coating on it that makes it a tiny bit crisp. The onions work perfectly with the sauce and beef. The Mongolian sauce is sweet but not cloyingly sweet. This dish did not last long at our table and will continue to be an easy choice for this family.

  The Korean BBQ stir fry was another new item for us and the menu describes it as Korean-style chicken stir-fry with red peppers, onions and green beans in a sweet, spicy red chili sauce topped with a refreshing summer kimchi slaw. That sounded good to me but I got the spicy red chili sauce on the side. Not being a chili head I wanted to try this dish but not burn my mouth with heat. For me being able to control my level of heat was best and allowed me to still taste the chicken without reaching for drink after every bite. The pieces of chicken were coated in a batter that made the chicken crisp on the outside yet moist on the inside. The chicken was tender and cooked just right. The onions were barely cooked so they remained firm. The green beans appeared deep fried which made them delicate. The spicy sauce was spicy by it self but when dipping the chicken in the sauce it helped to cut through some of the spice but the heat still got me if I dipped too much. I did enjoy this dish and if you're a chili head I am sure you will really like it!

   The new menu items at P.F. Chang's were enjoyable and the family walked out of the restaurant with full bellies and satisfied. P.F. Chang's is one of a few places that we celebrate special occasions at and with these new menu items it will continue to be a family pick. As of right now I believe the P.F. Chang's at the Irvine Spectrum is currently the only local location that serves these new menu items. I would recommend you check these new items out and if they branch to other P.F. Chang's then this family will be able to expand our menu choices the next time we patronize one of their locations.

P.F. Chang's China Bistro on Urbanspoon

P.F. Chang's China Bistro, Inc. on Foodio54