Monday, August 25, 2008

Yummm! (Donut Man, Glendora)

When I first learned of Donut Man, I knew I had to try it. But I kept on having this reoccurring conversation in my head. 'damn, it's so far away, but it looks sooooo good! , but damn it's far away'. After having this debate with myself over and over, I finally gave in and drove all the way out to Glendora to try the Almighty Donut Man. Donut Man is located on Route 66. Whenever I hear Route 66, for some reason or another it conjures up thoughts of an old dusty road in the middle of the desert. But on this road and in this desert, lies a pure oasis. Donut Man is simply Devine as far as donuts are concerned.

As soon as I woke up that one morning I knew there was something special about that day. I was finally going to make the trek out to Donut Man. Mr's Gohan couldn't help but laugh at me. I have to admit I was pretty excited. On the drive there I couldn't help but to revert back and act like a little boy on special road trip. I kept on thinking to myself 'are we there yet, are we there yet?'

Finally we arrived and I have to admit, I was beside myself. It was kind of weird. I can't recall the last time I was this excited about going somewhere to eat, especially for donuts. As we approached the window to order, we were eyeing all the different donuts and getting our order ready. But we knew what we were here for....fresh strawberry donuts. The fresh and light glazed donut made to perfection were sliced in half with a dollop of fresh strawberries in the middle. Trust me it doesn't get any better than this! We also ended up ordering a Bear Claw, some sort of donut with cream cheese, and a butter milk donut. They were all scrumptious! But the consensus was that the cream cheese with raspberry swirl was the best besides the strawberries. Unfortunately, the swirl portion was stuck to the paper when we got back home :(

Fresh Strawberry Donuts
Cream Cheese Donut
Butter Milk Donut
Bear Claw

Donut Man definitely is one of the best donut shops ever! Whenever strawberries are in season, I will definitely make the pilgrimage out to Glendora to get me some scrumptious donuts. Donut Man also serves a fresh peach donut when they are in season as well. I'll have to give that a try someday.

Donut Man
915 E. Route 66
Glendora, CA. 91740

Monday, August 18, 2008

Family Style Eating (Buca di Beppo, Pasadena)

I haven't been to Buca di Beppo in YEARS, but the one thing I remembered was that the portions were enormous. The dishes here are definitely meant to be shared family style. On this occasion we were celebrating one of my best friend's birthday. It was a blast! With everyone's busy "adult" lives, getting together with good friends is not as easy as it once was. Oh, how I miss the good old days when we were up to no good hanging out everyday. Life has sure changed but the one constant is that we'll all be friends for life!
It is a definite must to eat family style at Buca other wise you'll only get to have one or two dishes to eat. On this occasion we were able to sample a myriad of dishes that all sounded delectable, and not to mention all the beer that we drank. Usually I'm no too fond of chain restaurants, but I have to say dinner was pretty good. Sometimes dining experiences are heavily influenced by other factors other than the food. Perhaps this may have been the case, but I would have to say I left fully satiated and happy!

Buca Trio Platter
This appetizer platter consisted of Fried Calamari, Pesto Bucacini (which are fried risotto balls filled with sun-dried tomatoes & mozzarella), and the Prosciutto Stuffed Mushrooms which were baked. Initially I thought that I was going to enjoy the Pesto Bucacini, but the Prosciutto Stuffed Mushrooms were the star of this platter.... bravo!

Baked Ravioli
The baked ravioli sounded much better than it actually tasted. This dish was a chain restaurant product through and through. The marinara sauce tasted very generic and the ravioli themselves were okay. All in all this dish was decent, but I would not order them again.

These were absolutely enormous. Each meatball weighed half a pound! I am just glad that we went with a bunch of people, because there is no way I would've ordered a half pound meatball on my own. The meatballs were actually one of my favorite dishes of the night.

Special Penne
When we asked our waitress for any recommendations, she had recommended this special of the night which was not on the menu. This penne dish was my absolute favorite of the night. The penne was served with chicken and some herbs with red chili peppers. This dish was simply delicious. I just wish that it was on the regular menu. Yummmm!

Chicken Saltimbocca
This dish consisted of chicken breast, prosciutto, artichoke hearts, capers, with a lemon butter sauce. Mrs. Gohan liked this dish strictly on the fact that it had artichoke hearts although the chicken itself was a little dry and uneventful.

Porcheta Rustica
The Porchetta Rustica was a pork loin served with a red wine and balsamic vinegar sauce with blueberries (yes I said blueberries), capers, and hazelnuts. Similar to the the Chicken Saltimbocca, the pork dish was a little too dry. The flavoring of the dish however was quite nice. I never had a pork dish with blueberries. I always think of apple sauce but not blueberries. In fact, the blueberries complimented the pork very nicely!

For some reason or another I find myself eating a lot of tiramisu lately. It's not that I like it that much, but for some reason I am eating quite a bit of it. I did not care too much for Bucca di Beppo's version. The flavoring of rum was way too overpowering!

Chocolate Vesuvio
This dessert was definitely a heavy dessert. The chocolate cake must have weighed a couple of pounds, or maybe that's how many pounds I was putting on eating all this food :)

Buca di Beppo
80 W. Green Street
Pasadena, CA. 91105

Monday, August 11, 2008

So Much To Choose From (Sake House Ichiza, Las Vegas)

This was our last meal after a long week in Las Vegas. I can't say that I was craving Asian food, because we ate at Lotus of Siam a couple of nights before, but I think we were all craving Japanese food. The last time we ate at Sake House Ichiza, it was during lunch time and if you have ever been here before you know that there lunch menu is very limited. Now with the knowledge, we returned for dinner and there was so much to choose from! Besides the items on the menu, there were a lot of items written up on pieces of paper and taped all along the walls. Sake House Ichiza is truly an Izakaya (Japanese style tapas) type restaurant. After a long tiresome week and with our hashis (Japanese for chopsticks) in hand, we were ready to eat!

Korokke is the Japanese version of a Croquette. True to form, the Japanese always seem to borrow another country's idea and make it their own. Growing up as a kid, I didn't particularly care for Korokke, but this Korokke was very good. The outside was nice and crispy and the inside was not too heavy.

Chicken Tatsuta-Age
To be honest with you, I don't know the difference between Chicken Kara-Age or Tatsuta-Age. They are basically the same thing. It is a Japanese style fried chicken. When I was living in Japan I used to eat chicken karaage almost everyday. It has to be one of my favorite dishes. So, whenever I see it on the menu, I always order it, but I have to admit, this was one of my least favorite dishes at Ichiza.

Bacon Wrapped Mochi
I would have to say the Bacon Wrapped Mochi (Japanese rice ball) intrigued me the most. Conceptually this item sounded too good to pass up, but it somehow did not live up to my expectations. Perhaps my expectations were too high, but I wished it was a little better. Don't get me wrong you can never go wrong with bacon and rice. I just wish that the bacon flavor was a little more predominant and I was also hoping this dish would have been a little more crunchy on the outside. Nonetheless, the bacon wrapped mochi was pretty good.

Cubed Steak
We couldn't resist ordering this dish. I know personally, I couldn't pass up an opportunity to eat meat and rice. The meat wasn't anything special, but whenever you can have meat with gohan (rice) you're good to go!

Ginkgo Nuts
When I was in elementary school, we used to have a ginkgo tree right outside our classroom. The one thing I remember is that every time the fruit would fall to the ground and someone would step on it, it would emit an odor that you'll never forget. How someone ever wanted to eat these is something that leaves me to wonder. Now that I am a grown adult I don't mind eating the ginkgo nuts every now and then.

Now these aren't my mom's gyoza(Japanese Dumplings), but for a restaurant they were pretty good. Typically, I don't even bother ordering gyoza, because I know that I'll end up comparing them to my mom's home made gyoza, but these were pretty good.

Kushi-Katsu are basically the same thing as Tonkatsu (Pork Cutlet), but they are bite sized cubes on a skewer with onions. I just love kushi-katsu! It's like eating tonkatsu and onion rings on a stick.

Mochi Tempura
This is one dish that sounded better than it actually was. I guess we couldn't pass up on a dish that had the word mochi (Japanese rice cake) and tempura. Sounds like a match made in heaven. However, the execution of this dish was nowhere near heaven. It was not crunchy and it lacked flavor.

For some reason or another, I ALWAYS seem to get the super hot shishito peppers. For those who have never tried these peppers, for the most part they are not the least bit hot, but beware of the few that are extremely hot! This dish was plain and straight forward nothing to get excited about.

Sasami is the Japanese terminology referring to chicken breast tenderloin fillets. These were perfectly deep fried with a panko (Japanese bread crumbs) and topped with yamaimo (grated Japanese yam). The chicken itself was juicy and delicious! The only problem for me was the yamaimo. I really don't care for the gooey texture of yamaimo.

The teba (chicken wings) was another straight forward dish. The teba was cooked nicely in a yakitori style fashion except having the nice charcoal/wood taste of top echelon yakitori restaurants.

Tofu Steak
There are some items on menus that may seem to be the most plain or boring and turn out to be one of the best tasting dishes of the night. The Tofu Steak was definitely one of those dishes. The tofu was cooked with some type of miso based seasoning that was absolutely delicious!

Yaki-Onigiri (grilled rice balls) are one of my all-time favorite dishes ever! The crunchy outside and the soft and warm inside of the yaki onigiri is simply too good to pass up. The best yaki onigiris are the ones that are cooked with care. Too many places make a generic version that is cooked too fast and not seasoned enough with shoyu (soy sauce). The one here at Ichiza was a 6 on a scale of 10.

Soy Milk Mousse
The thing that hooked us on this dessert after reading the menu was that this dessert was served with black molasses and kinako (soybean flour). In Japan, these items are usually associated with mochi and is widely eaten. I would have to say that personally I was disappointed with this dessert because it was too bland. :(

Japanese Pudding
Japanese pudding is a staple on almost every menu at Japanese restaurants. I remember as kid, my mom used to make pudding all the time because it was my sister's favorite dessert. Ichiza's version was pretty decent but not the greatest.

Honey Toast
If you've read my write about Tokyo Table's version of the Honey Toast, you'll know how much I love this dessert. I thought that it couldn't get much better than Tokyo Table's version but I think I've found a new king of Honey Toast. Ichiza's Honey Toast is absolutely phenominal!

Sake House Ichiza
4335 Spring Mountain Road
Suite# 205
Las Vegas, NV. 89107

Monday, August 4, 2008

Lunch time @ trade show (Nathan's & Grand Luxe, Las Vegas)

Working all week long at a trade show is definitely tiresome. Food options are very limited and at times very blah. With the limited time that we had for lunch, we were limited to going to pick up lunch at the food court. And when you're at a convention for 6 days there is only so many places you could go. One bright spot was picking up lunch at the Grand Lux Cafe at the Venetian. The one dish that has become a sort of a tradition is their Sunday Night Pasta. The Sunday Night Pasta sauce is a meat sauce that has braised short ribs along with onions, mushrooms, and garlic. This dish is hearty and delicious. The portions are huge and can be easily shared. Another dish that we ordered was the Pasta Carbonara. The Carbonara was surprisingly very good. Many restaurants that serve a Carbonara tend to be overly rich and heavy, which was not the case at Grand Lux Cafe. And the applewood smoked bacon flavor was perfect. One of my new favorites is the Short Rib Grilled Cheese Sandwich. This sandwich was really good. In my opinion this grilled cheese sandwich rivals the one at Table 8 restaurant in Hollywood. And if you don't know, Table 8's sandwich was featured on Oprah Winfrey's television show. That's how good I thought the one at Grand Lux Cafe tasted. Maybe something in the casino's air had something to with it. Another place that we ordered from is Nathan's Famous. I've eaten at at Nathan's in New York before and to be honest... it's good but not worthy of the hype. The best hot dog that I've had is still at Gray's Papaya. All in all, the lunches at the trade show were okay.

Sunday Night Pasta

Pasta Carbonara

Short Rib Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Nathan's Hot Dog

Grand Lux Cafe
3355 Las Vegas Blvd.
Las Vegas, NV. 89109

Nathan's Famous
3555 Las Vegas Blvd.
Las Vegas, NV. 89109