Sunday, August 26, 2007

Houston's-Irvine


Houston's
2991 Michelson Dr
Irvine, CA 92612
949-833-0977

Houston's. Yes Houston's is part of chain. Yes, it's overpriced. Yes, the food is good. But it's just not worth the time and money to dine at Houston's.

I ordered the pork ribs, for $27. These were the small ends of the spare ribs. Ask the server what kind of ribs, she will say baby back STYLE and pork ribs. The ribs are not smoked but slowed cooked in an oven and finished on a grill. There is no smoke flavor to the ribs. But these ribs are good. Meaty, not a lot of fat, since it's the small ends, and the BBQ sauce doesn't overpower the taste of the meat. You get your choice of two sides, I picked the cole slaw and mashed potato. Both were average, nothing special about them.

Service was good. Our server was helpful and we didn't lack for many things. Everytime I ran out of my drink, she quickly came by and refilled the drink. But the hostess here suck. I made 8:30pm reservations. When we arrived, the hostess said you will be seated in about 5 to 10 minutes. No problem I figure. So we wait and wait and wait some more. I see three parties of two people get seated before us. Now why the hell did I make reservations? Aren't reservations suppose to get seated before people who are just walk into the restaurant? Finally we went up and the hostess gave some BS excuse that people were staying longer. What a bunch of crap. She was kind enough to offer a free appetizer. But that doesn't make up for our wait.

I would not go back to Houston's again. Even if we got seated quickly, the food just isn't worth the price. $27 for a rack of ribs? I can go to Phillip's and get two rib dinners, 2 sodas, and 2 red velvet cakes for less than that. Ok, ok mayb $5 more. But the point is Houston's is overpriced and there is no reason to go back.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Stroll and Savor - Belmont Shore

Stroll and Savor - Belmont Shore is a great way for people to try all the great restaurants on 2nd St. Belmont Shore is a section of Long Beach. You buy a book of 12 tickets for $10. Each restaurant sets it's "ticket" price. Some are two tickets, others can be tickets. Most places will take cash. But the tickets are a much better deal.




Yen Sushi
4905 2nd St.
LB
562-434-5757

I got the Philadelphia roll and shrimp tempura at Yen Sushi. The Philadelphia roll, cream cheese, asparagus and avocado inside, salmon on the outside was outstanding. Very sushi and oo so good. And I didn't even put any soy sauce.

The shrimp tempura was very crispy and tasty. The shrimp was a good size.

I want to go back here for sushi. I was impressed with the quality of their sushi.




NY's Upper Crust Pizza
5291 E. 2nd St
Long Beach
562-987-4700

NY's Upper Crust Pizza served their pepperoni thin crust pizza. Now understand that my favorite NY style pizza place is Village Pizza in Larchmont Village. So I compare everything to them. Well NY Upper Crust doesn't compare. The pizza is OK but nothing special. I felt like I was eating a pizza from Costco.

I will not go back to NY Upper Crust Pizza. Why should I, if I can get better pizza at my local Costco.




Magic Lamp
5020 E 2nd St
Long Beach
562-987-3080

A Middle Eastern Restaurant that surprisingly has a lot of competition on 2nd St. Open Sesame and another middle eastern restaurant are within walking distance of Magic Lamp.

They served a combo plate with beef shawarma, salad, hummus, rice, and falafel. I found the beef to be very dry and lacking any flavor or spices. The salad was fresh but nothing outstanding. The hummus was nice and fresh. I think the best part of this combo. The rice was pretty standard, nothing special. The falafel was overcooked and not flavorful at all.

The girl who was serving was a bitch. She was rude and pretty arrogant. I also noticed she gave the woman in front of me much more food than I got. Not sure why. I wasn't rude or anything to her. Maybe she's just a bitter bitch.

I would not go back to Magic Lamp.





Caffe La Strada
4716 E 2nd St
Long Beach
562-433-8100

This place was amazing. The pizza was very good. Lots of gooey melted cheese and good pepperoni. But the shrimp scampi!!! WOW So tasty and flavorful. The fresh shrimp were a good size and the scampi was maybe the best scampi, I've ever had.

I will go back here but I saw their menu and it's a bit on the pricey side. But if they give you five or more shrimp in their shrimp scampi, it's well worth the price.

I enjoyed my Stroll and Savor- Belmont Shore. This is a yearly event during the summer months. Most of the restaurants on 2nd St. do offer a taste of their food. A great way to spend a summer night.

21 Choices Frozen Yogurt


21 Choices Frozen Yogurt
85 W. Colorado Blvd.
Pasadena
626-304-9521

After lunch at Mi Piace, what better way to top this than frozen yogurt, especially on a hot day. So a few blocks west of Mi Piace, is 21 Choices Frozen Yogurt. There was a long line here too. I came here back in January and there was still a long line!!!

21 Choices has six flavors of the yogurt each day. You combine them with any toppings you want. Everything from candy to cereal to fruit.

We had a medium, strawberry honey melon yogurt which is organic strawberries, watermelon, & honeydew, mixed with gram crackers, $5.20. The yogurt was a bit tart but was very smooth and refreshing. It mixed well with the graham cracker.

Service was average. The kid was nice enough but he was slow as hell. Maybe he's new or was overwhelmed by the crowd. But it took forever for him to get our yogurt ready.

I enjoy the concept of 21 Choices but I think it's a bit pricey. $4.25 for a medium cup and $1 for each topping? I think a triple cone at Thrifty's ice cream is a much better deal. But dispite that I would go back here. The yogurt is well made and tasty. It's very refreshing on a hot day.

Mi Piace



Mi Piace
25 E. Colorado Blvd.
Pasadena
626-795-3131

Located in Old Towne Pasadena Mi Piace is a very popular restaurant. Everytime I go there is a line for tables. I think people are more attracted at the location than the food. Not to say the food is bad but it's just nothing outstanding. But most importantly I don't think the food is worth the prices they charge.

Caprese is my standard appetizer at Italian restaurants. I like caprese because they are light and refreshing. Most appetizers at Italian restaurants are heavy, fried items. That doesn't work when you're going to have pasta for the entree. This caprese has the best presentation I've seen. They cut the tomato and then put slices of buffalo mozzarella. The tomatoes were fresh and firm. But the mozzarella was a bit soft and wattery. But overall a good solid appetizer. But is this worth, $10.50? Not in my book, no matter how nice it may look.

My entree was the spaghetti con polpette, a fancy name for spaghetti and meatballs. Now I will say the meat sauce was very tasty. It had a nice taste to it, with a little spice. The meatballs were huge, though a bit dry. But that is solved by cutting them up and mixing it with the meat sauce. But one thing I didn't like was the small amount of spaghetti. I mean there is more spaghetti in a can of Chef BoyRdee. I mean come on. Priced at $11.95 another example of how overpriced Mi Piace is.

Service was average. We wait a bit longer than usual for the server to come to our table. But she was nice and kept our drinks full. But there were long stretches of time she was gone and we didn't see her.

The host who seated us, either thought he was a comic or was just an arrogant jerk. It was about 3pm and there were plenty of empty tables. We asked to be seated outside and the host said "I wouldn't mind doing that." Now I was a bit put off by that comment. Again he could have been trying to be funny. But really he came off like an arrogant jerk.

I would not go back to Mi Piace again. The food is good but not outstanding and certainly not worth the prices they charge. If you go to Mi Piace on a Friday or Saturday night, you can expect to wait a very long time for a table. It's that busy thought I don't see why.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

D' Antonio's-Closed



Dantonio's Ristorante
808 N Diamond Bar Blvd
Diamond Bar
909-860-3663

Dantonios has been in Diamond Bar for over 20 years. It started as a family owned Italian restaurant. The family has changed, it recently changed ownership, but Dantonio's is still going strong.

I ordered the calamari, $6.95 and the lunch lasagna, $10.95, to go. While I was waiting there was a very large lunch crowd. While waiting for my food I talked to the new owner and he told me he bought the restauarant about two weeks ago.

The calamari were shaped like onion rings. When I first saw them I thought they were onion rings. But they were in fact calamari. The batter was crispy and just out of the fryer. But the calamari was too chewy and you could tell it was frozen. I wasn't happy with that.

The lasagna had tons ricotta and mozzarella cheese but it was drown in a marinara sauce that was just too sour. The pasta was cooked just right, the cheese was great but the sauce left a lot to be desired.

Service was average. They did seem to take a longer than usual time to get more order ready. I know I ordered a deep fried item but it seemed to take longer. Maybe they were busy with their lunch crowd? But the owner was nice and friendly and answered my questions. Though when he saw me take pictures of the menu, he said I could find the menu on their website. Now I'm not sure how he meant that. Was he upset that I was taking pictures of the menu? Or was he trying to be helpful?

I would not go back to D'Antonio's. The lunch prices are on the pricey side but the dinner prices are overpriced and even if they give you a larger portion, the food isn't that good to justify the higher price. Service is average at best.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Stubrik's Steakhouse




Stubrik's Steakhouse
118 E. Commonwealth Ave
Fullerton
714-871-1290

Stubrik's Steakhouse used to be a very nice steakhouse that served good steaks and provided quality service. I haven't been to Stubriks in over six years and I'm sad to report that they quality of steaks and service has gone down.

I ordered the rib-eye medium rare, $24, which comes with salad, mashed potatoes and gravy and veggies. The salad is a simple green salad with sunflower seeds and onions. Standard stuff, nothing outstanding but fresh.

The steak arrived and was cooked correctly. But it was very tough and not tender. They do say their steaks are USDA Choice so it's not like they are trying to pass off USDA Prime. But the steaks weren't seasoned at all, very bland. I also thought there were a lot of fat and grizzle with the steaks. Not a good piece of meat.

The mashed potates were made from real potatoes and the veggies were crisp and fresh.

Service was below average. It took a long time for our salads to arrive. Not sure what the delay was. It wasn't busy, maybe ten tables. And it's not like it's hard to make a salad. Our server was unfriendly, she never smiled, she just gave us the impression it was a job she hated and clearly wanted to be somewhere else.

I wish my trip back to Stubrik's was better. I am sad to see the quality of food and service slip at Stubrik's. It was once a very good steakhouse for the price. Now it's an over priced steakhouse with bad service. Not a good combination.

Zeke's Smokehouse- Montrose



Zeke's Smokehouse
2209 Honolulu Ave
Montrose
818-957-7045

After experiencing some good and some bad restaurants in the the Bay Area, we returned to the LA area and went to Zeke's Smokehouse in Montrose.

I've read some mixed reviews about Zeke's and I found them to be true. I ordered the 4 bone pork spare rib special, $10.95. The special, which I think is the best deal on the menu, you can get either 2 beef ribs or 4 pork ribs, including baby backs. The meal comes with two sides, I picked mashed potatoes and gravy and cole slaw. The ribs were cut "St. Louis style" meaning they cut off the tips and give you just the bone. The ribs were very good, though a bit chewy. They weren't as meaty as other places but the meat that was there was great. The ribs could have been smoked a little longer but overall a solid good rib.

I tried two of their BBQ sauces, regular and hot. They had a mustard based sauce which I left alone. The regular BBQ sauce was just too sweet. The hot BBQ sauce was terrific. Not too spicy but had a nice kick.

The mashed potatoes were great. They were made with real mashed potatoes, not out of some box. The gravy maybe a mix but the potatoes were great. The cole slaw was too dry, they need to add more mayo. But the cabbage was fresh.

Service was bad. Nobody greeted us when we walked inside. Finally I asked somebody and they said we can sit anywhere we want. We picked a table outside and it took about ten minutes before anybody came to our table. We finally ordered and while the food came quickly, we didn't see the server again for at least ten minutes. I mean don't servers come around and ask how the food is? And not right after placing the meals on the table. I mean we may need more gravy or more drinks. I tipped 10% and I really thought about not tipping anything.

I would only go back to Zeke's for a take out order. There is no way that type of service is acceptable. They need to improve the quality of their service before I think about dining in.

Yank Sing






Yank Sing
One Rincon Center
101 Spear St
SF
415-957-3900

I know SF is an expensive city. But I never expected dim sum to cost so much. Yank Sing has pretty good dim sum but it's very expensive and not worth the price.

The first picture has chicken egg rolls, stuffed crab claw, and phoenix tail shrimp. The eggs rolls were crispy but very greasy. They were some piece of chicken but it was most vegetables. The stuffed crab claw are stuffed with shrimp paste and then deep fried. There is a very small amount of crab at the claw but it hardly noticable. I did not like this dish at all. My favorite dish was the phoenix tail shrimp. A huge piece of shrimp, coated in batter with some green onions then deep fried. The shrimp was crispy and tasty. It was greasy at all.

The second picture is the chicken satay. This was terrible. The chicken was like processed chicken or mystery chicken. They put a small coating of peanut sauce on the chicken and that was salty and overpowering. Not the thing to order.

The third picture has shrimp dumplings, pork siu mye, and Shanghai chicken. The steamed shrimp dumpling, while small were tasty. The pork siu mye was smaller than the siu mye I'm used to. But they were steamed and tasted fine. The Shanghai chicken is basically Yank Sing's version of Kung Pao chicken. It was tasty but nothing special.

The bacon wrap shrimp was ok. The bacon would have been better if it was crispy. But it was chewy, as if they cooked it at too low temperature. The shrimp was pretty fresh and tasty. But the combination would have worked better if the bacon was crispy.

Service was good. The dim sum carts came around frequently, almost too frequently. But we weren't left wanting anything, service wise. But our wallets and palates were left wanting. The cost for two people, was $60!!!! $60 for TWO PEOPLE FOR DIM SUM????? Something isn't right here. We had two plates, no sure which, for $9.20 each. I'm guessing the shrimp and maybe the Shanghai chicken? But neither was worth $9.20.

I would not go back to Yank Sing again. Most of the food is good but there are not worth the prices they are charging. There has to be many places in SF Chinatown that serve just as good if not better dim sum, at much better prices.

House of Sushi



House of Sushi
2157 Polk St
SF
415-441-1797

Polk Street in the Russian Hill section of SF is filled with many restaurants and bars. After tapas at Pesce, we went to House of Sushi for our main entree, if you can call sushi an entree. But I was pretty full from tapas so I only had the yellow tail and tuna sushi, both $3.75.

I thought the tuna was one of the best tuna sushi I've had. It was so fresh. The texture was perfect and the color was eye pleasing. I left thinking I should have gotten another order.

The yellowtail was fresh too but there was nothing outstanding or bad about. It was basically average.

Service was outstanding. You're greeted by friendly people and they are there to make your dining experience a pleasant one. Many restaurants could learn from House of Sushi about service.

I would go back to House of Sushi anytime. The sushi is fresh and tasty and the service is outstanding.

Pesce





Pesce
2227 Polk Street
SF
415-928-8025

Pesce is a seafood tapas restaurant. We ordered the Capasante, $13, pan seared day boat scallops and lobster mushroom cream. This was an amazing dish. The lobster mushroom cream sauce was so tasty and wonderful. The scallops were so fresh, I'm pretty sure they were in the water earlier that morning. The

The Granchio, $9, dungeness crab risotto cake and rasted pepper vinaigrette, wasn't as good. First of all there was little to no crab at all, mostly fillers. For a kid from Baltimore that's not a good thing. The vinaigrette was pretty good but I'm not paying $9 for a dipping sauce.

Service was OK. The server was very friendly and helpful, when we saw her. There were long stretches of time when she wasn't anywhere to be found. What she was doing, I have no idea.

I wasn't aware this was a tapas restuarant, I had expectations of bigger portions. But the scallops, were worth the price, even if it was a small plate. I would go back to Pesce but I would not order the crab cake. The oysters on the half shell look fresh and I may give those a try. But I will either sit at the bar or get another server because our server just wasn't around enough.

Mastrelli's Sandwich





Mastrelli's Sandwich
One Ferry Bldg. #47
SF
415-397-3354

Located in the Embarcadero Center in SF, Mastrelli's Sandwich is a popular sandwich shop. Saturdays there is a Farmer's Market in the Embarcadero and even with all the other vendors, this sandwich shop is packed.

First thing to know about Mastrelli's is that you need to take a number, which are located by the front register. You will not be served without taking a number. If you order a sandwich you pick your bread from the bread box by the front counter.

I ordered a roast beef sandwich, $7.75, with mayo, lettuce and tomato on wheat bread. The meat was fresh and lean. But the sandwich was too dry. There needed to be more mayo or something on the sandwich. Dispite the dryness of the sandwich you can tell they quality of the meats and breads.

Service was good but there is a long line on Saturdays. The guys work hard and quick, much faster than at Claro's.

I would go back to Mastrelli's anytime, I would just ask for more mayo on my sandwich. Grab a sandwich and something to drink and sit down on a bench and see one of the most breath taking views of the Bay Bridge.

Steps of Rome Trottoria




Steps of Rome
362 Columbus Ave
SF
415-986-6480

So I'm in the city of San Fransisco. North Beach is Little Italy with tons of Italian restaurants. The one thing about the city by the bay. Parking sucks and is expensive. They have a great public transportation system. If you can take public transportation or call a cab. It will save you a lot of grief.

Caprese, $6.99, fresh tomatoes topped with mozzarella cheese and olive oil. The tomatoes were fresh and firm. The cheese was also fresh and chewy. It was very good.

My entree was the rigatoni alla norcina, $14.95, tube pasta with Italian sausage and mushrooms in a light cream sauce. This dish was great. The tube pasta was thick and it was cooked just right. The Italian sausage wasn't spicy was had great flavor. The sauce added a nice taste to this dish.

But really this is why I don't like going to Italian restaurants. The rigatoni alla norcina was $14.95 but the portion wasn't big and it's just pasta, some sausage and some sauce and they have the gall to charge $14.95? It's just not worth the price for what you get.

Service was below average. Well, service was good up to a point. As we got to the door, we were greeted by a very nice friendly man. He made everybody feel welcome. We were seated quickly. Our server was friendly at first. Our caprese and dinner were served without incident. Then he asked about dessert. He gave us the dessert menu. We asked to see one of the desserts. He said the desserts are made to order and he didn't have a sample display. He then walked away and igored us for the next 15 mintues. It's as though we weren't there. I'm not sure why he was so offended by that simple request. He could have came back and asked if we wanted dessert. He could have given us a small sample but he just ignored us. Only when I called him over and asked for the bill did he come to our table. Such an arrogant bastard.

I would not go back to Steps of Rome. The food was good but not worth the price. And service was below average. There is nothing wrong asking to see a dessert. I can't believe this place has stayed in business for so long with their arrogant attitude and high prices.

House of Bagels



House of Bagels
1362 Park St.
Alameda
510-522-6580

After a great diner at Hong Kong City, I knew Park St. was the place to go for breakfast the next morning. So I find a bagel place, House of Bagels. Now they have a lot to live up to, since Brooklyn Bagels is awesome.

I ordered the pumpernickel bagel with cream cheese, $1.70. The bagel was fresh, I could see their kitchen in the back and it looked as though they make their bagels on side. Always a plus. The bagel was chewy like a bagel should be, the texture was perfect. But I didn't think it gave much of that pumpernickel taste. Not sure why but it was almost as if I was eating a plain bagel. The cream cheese was standard, nothing outstanding about it.

Service was good. The guy was nice and friendly. He took out order and quickly toasted and got us our bagels.

I would go back to House of Bagels but I would not order the pumpernickel bagel. I liked the fact the bagels were fresh made. I just wasn't impressed with the pumpernickel bagel.

Hong Kong City






Hong Kong City Seafood Restaurant
1425 Park St.
Alameda
510-523-4568

Ok, so this isn't in the LA area. I'm up in the Bay Area surrounded by moron Giants fans and Beane Sprouts. But the Bay Area has lots of good food so I figured I would do some reviews. Park St in Alameda is a nice quiet street filled with all kinds of restaurants and shops that reminded me of Montrose.

Found Hong Kong City Seafood Restaurant and decided to give it a try. Shrimp lo mein, $6.95. Filled with shrimp, mushrooms, carrots, and noodles this dish had a heavy sauce/gravy. The sauce was a bit bland, not much flavor. There was a ton of shrimp and it was fresh. The noodles were tender and all the flavors mixed well together. Not a great dish but good.

Shrimp and broccoli, $8.50. Again, lots of fresh shrimp. The broccoli was crisp. I like the light sauce but I wish they had put more sauce. This dish was very good but a bit dry.

Kung pao scallops, $9.50. This was my favorite dish. Ok it's an Americanized dish but it was great. Filled with tons of tender scallops in a heavy sauce this dish was a wonderful mixture of flavors and textures. Watercrest, bell peppers, peanuts, carrots and onions, wow what a great dish.

Lemon chicken $6.95. White meat chicken deep fried then covered in a sweet lemon sauce. Great stuff though a bit on the sweet side. The chicken was fried to perfection and was moist. The lemon sauce was good but they could have used less.

Service was very good. Nice friendly people.

If I was in the Bay Area I would go back to Hong Kong City. A very good restaurant with tasty food, good service and great prices. Too bad I would have to be surrounded by fans of a steroid user and Beane Sprouts.