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foodzings: October 2009

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Little Star Pizza

From vegas, I headed over to san francisco. J had recommended this deep dish pizza spot, so we headed over to Little Star Pizza. Apparently, President Obama's favorite pizza is basically the deep dish pizza from here. Once when he had a party, he had this type of pizza made for the guests. Can a president be wrong? The place was pretty packed but we only had a short wait. There's a small bar area where you can wait for a table. It's a pretty small place. The menu is pretty small as well. We weren't in the mood for meats, so we got the vegetarian pizza. The large pizza is quite sizeable, and we could only eat half. The crust is a crunchy corn meal crust. It is not very doughy or chewy. All the different veggies are thinly sliced and layered with the sauce piled on top. As you can see, there's very little cheese. We both liked this a lot. But this is definitely not your standard slice. So if you want something different, try this out. They also have thin crust pizza, and I read good things about that type as well.

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Friday, October 30, 2009

Terrible's Breakfast

For our last breakfast, we ventured out and went to Terrible's Casino, to dine at the breakfast buffet there. We showed up too late, so we went next door to the Bougainvillea Cafe instead. It was much like the other breakfast spot, but they also had more mexican dishes. C got the loco moco. You know, the loco moco, it's a hawaiian thing. A heap of rice, with a burger on top, all covered with gravy, and topped with egg. Breakfast of hawaiian champions! I got the blueberry pancakes. Hard to see em, but I swear, there are blueberries there! All on the bottom. I quite enjoyed these. And look, they even have food themed gaming machines! Be still my heart!

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Thursday, October 29, 2009

rumjungle Meat Fest

For our last dinner, our CEO came down and took us to rumjungle. It is a restaurant and club. It is rather outrageously decorate. Strange, yet cool. It is a rodizio type place, so if you choose to do so, you can do the whole all-you-can-eat meat thing. We all ended up doing that. When in Rome! In addition to the meats, you get a "peruvian" chopped salad. Our CEO happens to have grown up in Peru, and he confirmed that there was nothing peruvian about this salad. Ha. But it was good nonetheless. Black beans, pineapple-coconut rice, and corn on the cob. All of these things were delicious. I love me some corn on the cob, and I was stuffing myself silly with these. The "gaucho platter" which has various cold salads and cold cuts and cheeses. Good, but what was annoying about this was that they didn't leave it at the table. This chick comes around and you have to tell her what you want. So not exactly all-you-can-eat. And then the meat started coming around, including sirloin, turkey breast, pork and pineapple, bacon wrapped jerk chicken, chorizo, lamb, and tri-tip. All the meat was quite good, but my favorite by far, was the bacon wrapped jerk chicken. I'm not sure what they put on it (it says bacon wrapped jerk-spiced chicken with guava-chipotle bbq sauce) but it was like crack to me. I could have eaten this all night. They also have some fancy and strong cocktails, and some desserts. I was too stuffed from all the meat to eat dessert, but M ordered the doughnuts, which were unbelievable. They were like heavenly donut holes, freshly made, light, fluffy, and addictive. Service was ok. They try really hard but are perhaps a bit too overeager. The ambiance is a little too much too. For the price, it's actually not that bad. You get a lot more choices at fogo de chao, but that's also more expensive. I actually thought this was a pretty good value for the quality of food. And if you hang out after you eat, you can shake your moneymaker!

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Sushi Roku

For our next dinner, we headed over to Caesar's for some sushi at Sushi Roku. This place is fancy. And the view we had was amazing. We could see down the whole strip. The view is nearly worth the visit alone.
I wanted some veggie, so I ordered the kimchi cucumber sunomono. I imagined this would be like normal sunomono. Boy, was I wrong. It was hunks of kirby cucumbers, that had been sliced, but not sliced off of the cucumber, so they were still seemingly somewhat whole. Instead of a regular sour sunomono taste, it was like a spicy pickle. I really liked this a lot, in fact, I ended up nearly eating the whole thing myself, but it was definitely not what I expected. But I was quite happy with my choice.
The assorted sushi combination. It was really surprising how fresh this fish was. It was definitely high quality and melt in your mouth. They were a bit overeager on the wasabi!
After the initial combo, we just started ordering a whole bunch of stuff. Rainbow roll, baked lobster roll, shrimp tempura with asparagus, etc. All good.
More sushi! This time, some king crab, salmon, and toro. Look at that first piece of salmon. Look at all the wasabi! Yeah, one of those salmon pieces cleaned out my sinuses!
Totally forget what this is, but this may have been an apple type thing. Whatever it was, it came with a giant long cookie.
The volcano cake, a chocolate tort type of thing with liquid chocolate in the middle. C ordered this, but he's allergic to nuts (there was a nut on top), so we all ended up picking at it. Incredibly rich!
I got a banana type of thing, I think. It was sitting in a fried pastry type of thing, which was good, but a bit too thick and crunchy. It was ok.
The sushi here was excellent. While it was incredibly expensive, the quality of the fish here is insanely good. Is it worth it? I'm not sure, but it sure was tasty. The service was great too.

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Burger Bar

Everyone I was with watches Top Chef (I do not) so they all know who Hubert Keller is and all wanted to go to the Burger Bar. This is the burger restaurant that he has in Vegas, along with a few other places. They have chef's burgers which have been pre-designed and you can also make your own burger with whatever normal and crazy toppings you want. They have a $60 rossini burger with kobe, foie gras, and truffles. There's also a crazy surf and turf burger topped with half a grilled lobster.
I got the sliders, which gave me three different little burgers. I also got to substitute sweet potato fries for regular fries. One of these was a buffalo burger, another was angus, and the third was corn fed beef. These little puppies were quite tasty. It was a little bit too much beef for me, but it was ok, I didn't eat all three of them.
M ended up getting one of these sweet dessert burgers after ordering a crazy design your own burger. This was the creamy cheese cake burger. The buns are donuts. The "burger" is cheesecake, and the "cheese" is caramelized pineapple. This thing is wrong in every single way, but I'm not gonna lie to you, this thing was good. If you're really into burgers and willing to drop a buck or two, definitely try this out. And leave room for dessert!

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Casino Breakfasts

We were staying at the Orleans, so for breakfast, we went to the Courtyard Cafe. It's a diner type of place, only it's in a casino. And because it's in a casino, the clientele is random and mixed, along with the staff. Both mornings there, I got the two egg special, which came with canadian bacon, hash browns, and white toast. I'm not a big breakfast eater, especially not so well-rounded, but I love everything about breakfasts like this. This was good food, prepared well and fast, and served with a smile.

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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Chinese In A Casino

I headed off to vegas for a short work-related visit. For our first night there, we had a rough time finding food. We went to the Rio to eat at an italian place that C had been to before, but when we got there, we found out it was no longer there. So then we walked to a different italian place there, but it was too expensive and the advertisements for the restaurant were too creepy. Several other places we tried to go to were already closed. This is why we resorted to eating at Mah Jong. It's a fast food chinese spot. I went with the beef chow fun. It was ok. The hot and sour soup was awful. It's hard to describe why it was so bad, but it was neither hot nor sour nor good. And this food was horribly overpriced as well, for less than mediocre chinese. I like the Rio, but not for this place!

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Sunday, October 25, 2009

Grandmom's 88th!

We visited my grandma to celebrate her 88th birthday. Whoa man, 88 is pretty damn old! A variety of korean foods in fancy aluminum pans. I forget where my mom picked this food up from, but it was actually pretty damn good. Later that night, we trekked to my aunt's house for some more food. She had these freakishly ginormous shrimp. She didn't realize that she didn't have any normal tempura batter, so she ended up having to use this spicy chicken batter. These were so big she could only fry up a few at a time. There's my hand for scale. They really were pretty much as big as my hand. I don't have the biggest hands, but they're quite normal sized. These shrimp were huge. The chicken batter ended up being fine. It's hard to screw up fat giant shrimp being fried in a hot vat of grease. We would be terrible koreans if we didn't bbq some meat. We would have grilled outside but it was storming something terrible, so we had to resort to using an indoor grill. In addition to meat and shrimp, we also had some spicy fish soup.

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Friday, October 23, 2009

Free Chipotle

What's better than a chipotle burrito? Well, lots of things. But really, what's better is a free chipotle burrito! While digging through all the mail that had accumulated from my trip, I found a random free coupon. And man, it totally worked. I definitely enjoy me some free burritos!

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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Flying Home!

The flight back home also featured chicken or pasta choices. I went with the chicken again. This one was not nearly as good as the other one. I think it was paprika chicken? The chicken was on the dry side. The potatoes were ok, and there weren't enough broccoli spears. There were carrots too, but I don't eat cooked carrots. The tomato and mozzarella salad was ok. The dessert, ok as well. But nothing was really good like it was on the flight to europe. Bummer.

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Fire Restaurant - Dublin

On my last evening, my colleague R and I got to talking about food. She recommended Fire as a place with excellent cocktails and steaks. Since I wasn't sure where to go, I decided to head over there. It's next to the Mansion House, which is some sort of event place, and the restaurant itself is kinda huge. It's in one giant room with extremely high ceilings. It's rather daunting, bordering on gawdy. It's another place that probably considers itself fine dining. It sure has fine dining prices, that's for damn sure. Did I get cocktails? No. Did I get steaks? No. So here's what I did get.
Some complimentary bread. It was only ok. They have their own brand of water. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or not.
I got the soup, which was sweet corn and fresh tomato. Only thing though, I don't recall any tomatoes being in this at all. It was more of a creamy corn soup. I quite liked it, but the name and description was a bit of a misnomer.
For my entree I got the pan fried fillet of monkfish, served with a basil and lemon hollandaise sauce with asparagus and scallion mashed potatoes. This dish was quite good, but man, so just not worth the high price tag. It was three fairly teeny bits of monkfish, a small heap of mashed potatoes, and three asparagus. This is all you get for nearly 30 euros? It's slightly offensive. I said it was good, but it was way overpriced. The soup was a bit expensive too, but it was a lot of soup, so that price point didn't offend me as much. I was pretty stuffed though, so I didn't have room for dessert. The food was good, but it wasn't great. It wasn't good enough to have the price tags that it did. The high prices seem to be because of the ambiance, but for me, the ambiance wasn't that rich either. It was a bit showy and cheesy. So maybe I would have done better if I had gotten steak and cocktails as per the recommendations, but I have a feeling I would have found them not worth their price either. For me, I say skip this one. You can get much better food elsewhere in Dublin. Service was only ok. Again, for these prices, I expected much more.

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Burlington Hotel Buffet Breakfast

My last hotel on my european journey was the Burlington Hotel in Dublin. This was my least favorite out of the three breakfast buffets. None of the fruit was fresh, except for whole oranges and apples. These berries were frozen, these apricots and grapefruits were canned, and there wasn't a kiwi in sight. The yogurt wasn't bad. The pastries were ok, but nothing compared to the ones from Basel. Croissants... didn't try them though. Cheese and cold cuts, it's everywhere in Europe. The cereal selection was pretty good. There were these weird cereal blocks here. I think it's weetabix, whatever that is. And I thought I'd try a bit of the full irish breakfast before I left. Sausage, black pudding, and some beans. The beans were fine, a little on the bland side. The sausage was pretty good, and I'm not usually a sausage link type of person. The black pudding wasn't bad either, but it wasn't really my thing. I just wanted to taste it to see what it was like. Not bad, but I'm not necessarily going to order it.

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

French Fine Dining At Pearl Brasserie

After my fine dining experience the night before, I decided to treat myself for the rest of the trip and continue with the fine dining streak. So for my next adventure, I dined at Pearl Brasserie. It is a French brasserie located in a basement. But don't worry, it's a very nice restaurant, despite its underground location. From my first moment in, it was an extraordinary experience. And that's exactly what it was, an experience. It wasn't just a regular meal, it was an event. The place is very nice, but not snooty at all. There are light fixtures that look like pearl onions. I assume that's where the pearl in Pearl Brasserie came from.
Complimentary whole wheat baguette with pesto and butter. This butter was incredibly rich and amazing. And while I'm not normally a pesto person, I enjoyed it on the baguettes.
While waiting for my entree, we were all treated to a complimentary appetizer. It was pork with cumin with a horseradish sauce. Man, was this thing good. With a start like this, I knew my entree was going to kick ass.
And kick ass it did. I got the seared queen scallops and dublin bay prawns. It was served with curried gnocchi, and fresh garden peas, in a prawn bisque. Everything about this dish was amazing. The scallops and prawns were perfectly cooked, the gnocchi was tender, the peas had just enough crunch, and the bisque had an amazing flavor. I could have licked this plate. And if I wasn't surrounded by so many high class people, I totally would have.
I couldn't stop eating. Since it was french brasserie portions, I still had room, and a need to keep eating. So I got the creme brulee, and my server said it was a good choice. I love me some creme brulee, and if it's on a menu, and I'm feeling dessert, there's a good chance I'm going to pick it. This one was particularly great. It was made with organic free range eggs, and you know what, you really could tell. It had good texture, a lovely strong vanilla flavor, and a nice and crispy burnt crunch on top.

And let me tell you about the service. This place is run like a machine. But not in a cold and robotic way. Just in an incredibly precise and well-oiled machine kind of a way. Everyone worked as a team, and they were immaculate professionals. Everyone was nice, friendly, and great at their jobs. And you could tell they deeply cared about what they were doing. This was one of the most memorable meals I've ever had in my life. It was the type of meal where they spoil you a bit, and well, I enjoyed it. I wholeheartedly recommend anyone in Dublin to try this place out. You'll remember it for the ages!

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Monday, October 19, 2009

Brazilian Fine Dining In Dublin

When I went to Green Nineteen, I had actually wanted to go to Sabor Brazil, but it was closed. So when I got back to Dublin, that's where I headed. The weather was a bit warm for hot stew, but I didn't care. My body wanted feijoada!

The place is really small and tucked away on a side street. It looks really crappy from the outside, but on the inside, it's really fancy. Or at least they try to be. It was almost too fancified that it borderlined cheesy, but that kind of made it charming. The tablecloths and the chair covers were a bit too much for me. And fine fancy dining when it comes to brazilian food is kind of an oxymoron. I was literally the only diner there. Which is a shame, but apparently, sundays are really slow in Dublin. It was fine with me, at least I knew I would have their full attention.
While waiting for my feijoada to come out, they gave me a little amuse bouche. This was like a shaved iced type of thing, made with cachaca, lime, and other goodies. Kind of like a frozen shaved caipirinha served in a cute little glass with a spoon. Whatever it was, I liked it.
The menu isn't too big, but boy, is it expensive. I ordered the feijoada, and here's everything it came with. My bowl of piping hot feijoada, a heaping of buttery rice, hot greens, sliced oranges, some spicy oil, farofa, and a veggie vinaigrette. Despite the freakishly inflated price, everything was delicious, and quite authentic. I did not finish everything and I was beyond stuffed. I guess for "fine dining" in Dublin it was not necessarily expensive, but for brazilian food and feijoada, it was ridiculous. If you order feijoada in brazil, it would probably cost a couple of bucks. This was well over 20 euros. And when you translate that to dollars... well, it ends up being about $30 overpriced. But whatever, it was still good, and the service was excellent. After all, I had the server all to myself!

Sabor Brazil
50 Pleasant Street
01 4750 304

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Frankfurt Airport Eats

Going back to Dublin, I had a layover in Frankfurt. I grabbed a few things to nibble on. I got a tuna sandwich on laugenbread. It was great! I loved the tuna because it was extremely fine (no big hunks of tuna) and had no horrible bits of celery crunch. It was almost as if the tuna had been mixed in a blender. I decided to give those paprika flavored chips a try. They were not that exciting. The flavor itself was ok, but there wasn't enough of it. They just didn't take it far enough.
The best thing was this blood orange flavored fanta! It had blood orange flavor, along with some other red fruits. Man, what I would give if this were available in the states! But unfortunately, this would be considered way too exotic for US markets. Damn it!

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