Sunday, October 07, 2007

Las Vegas
(finally getting to it..and no, I'm not proud about how long it's been since I've last posted)

Ahhh, Vegas. There are so many great things about it, all based around greed and a slimy underbelly (yeah, I've seen Casino.) But sometimes you gotta indulge and get outta the city.

A stop at a restaurant while driving to Vegas was necessary to stretch our legs and to try out the Mad Greek...

...a funny restaurant in the middle of the desert, open 24 hours, filled with wacky Greek statues and memorabilia. But I feel the place is more than a gimmick, because their food was delicious.
Owen got one of his favorites - watermelon juice. And this was no ordinary watermelon juice from a carton. They took a mini watermelon, cut off the rinds and threw the whole thing in a blender, all for Owen's drink. Doesn't get any fresher than that.
An order of their onion rings and zucchini once again proved their strive for freshness. These onion rings and zucchini strips were freshly cut and fried - no frozen stuff here. I have to admit though, as fresh as these were, they weren't as tasty as I wanted them to be. The zucchini was a little bit bitter, but a dip in their tahini and all was well.
Bryan's bacon cheeseburger...I guess if you want a regular cheeseburger you have to ask them to hold the bacon! That's the kind of place this is!!! His order of fries looked good.
Owen and I got the beef and lamb gyro combo - a luscious flatbread filled with char-grilled meats, fresh tomatoes and onions, and came with tahini and rice. Completely satisfying.
Here's another sexy shot for all the food pornography appreciators out there.

The next day was all about hitting the town. For lunch, we went to Caesar's Palace, and stopped at a restaurant whilst inside their Forum Shops - Trevi. The atmosphere was nice, as it was "outdoors"..or as outdoors as the Forum shops can get. Under an artificial pleasantly cloudy blue sky, we chewed on our bread while we waited for our food.
The best part about the bread was the DELICIOUSLY FRAGRANT olive oil. It was some of the best olive oil I've ever had. Really. It made everything so tasty.
For an appetizer, we ordered some blue crab dip that came with some buttered bread slices. This was excellent - it didn't look like much but once we dug into the creamy, rich crab meat, we were blown away. This plate was scraped CLEAN when we were done with it.
Here's Patty's caprice salad - buffalo mozzerella, thick slices of tomato, a few leaves of basil, drizzled with balsamic vinegar. I didn't taste this but doesn't it look pretty?
Polenta fries were a miss, apparently. Brad said they sucked, and that they were too thick and too filling. I'll take his word on it.
Here's Owen's Trio of Roast Beef sliders, that came with fries. They are just too cute, lined up in a row, ready to be EATEN. Their round little buns covered shaved cheese, succulent roast beef, and a tomato slice. Very delicious.

Justin got a pizza - sausage, onion, potato and bell pepper (I think). He managed to finish off most of it. I tried a slice...pretty good but VERY filling because of the potato. The crust was very good.
And it's unfortunate, but this is the only (blurry) picture I took of one of the most amazing chicken alfredo pizzas I've ever had. Slices of white meat chicken, bacon, garlic, over mozzarella and a white sauce instead of red. FULL of flavors, and so savory good.
We had to get dessert of course. Patty and Brad chose to share 2 scoops of chocolate gelato with bananas. It looked rich and creamy.
Our side of the table, which contained a certain chocoholic named Owen, insisted on getting a massive chocolate dessert. So he ordered a chocolate mousse slice, with raspberry and chocolate sauce. This...was pure decadence. I liked the raspberries the best, and really could only take 2 small bites...I was really full.

Now on to the big dogs. Patty was kind enough to make reservations for us to go to - DANIEL BOULUD BRASSERIE within the Wynn, because we were going to watch Spamalot ( the way...check it out if you have the means!) We were seated outdoors - it was finally cooled down enough for it to be pleasant outside instead of unbearable - in front of the huge waterfall. Very nice. The staff was super attentive, and gave suggestions as to what we should get.
The bread basket was stocked with many delicious crusty-on-the-crust-soft-on-the-inside slices of bread...
...served with fancy little pats of butter with Daniel Boulud's signature symbol on it (swanky, no?)
Brad and Patty were so kind as to order a few things for the table - the smoked salmon platter being one of them. Mmmm, I love smoked salmon. These pieces were beautifully pink, with capers dashed longside them. Chopped red onions and bread slices finished out the plate. The salmon was...great. Not too salty, not too mild, just...tasty.
They also ordered a tuna tartare. Fresh fresh ahi tuna chopped up and formed into a cylinder...with tasty rabbit food on top makes me happy.
Owen and Patty decided to go with the waiter's suggestion and got the Braised Short Ribs. They were covered in a tasty glaze sauce, atop a bed of mash and perched on top of the meat, a bit of root veggies and string beans. The highlight, of course, was the meat...
Oh, yes, look at that beautiful meat being tore up! The meat was so tender and juicy that it FELL apart when touching it with a fork, but it was not dry at very delicious this was (well, the taste I had was delicious...Owen completely annihilated this plate + scraped it CLEAN.)
The rest of us decided on getting the "Original NY DB Burger", which we could not resist as the ingredients in this burger were most special - the burger is a 9 oz sirloin, stuffed with SHORT RIBS, FOIE GRAS and BLACK TRUFFLE. What?!! That's like 4 other rich meals rolled up in ONE burger. All of this is nestled on a Parmesan bun, with golden tender french fries. Now I have to say, these fries were some of the best I've had. And I've had a lot of fries in my life.
Now to the burger. I mean, what can't I say that the picture does not say? The meat juices get soaked up by the sturdy but fresh bun. The foie gras is foie gras - decadent organ meats were in full force as the middle of this burger was protected from overcooking by the ground sirloin outsides. I honestly didn't really notice any of the truffles but then again, I don't think I've had them otherwise, so I probably couldn't tell with all the meat surrounding it. The short ribs were mashed along with everything, giving it a different texture. The whole thing was seriously an effort to eat, as it was so rich. I think I did my best with the meat but left the bun.

After watching the hilarious Spamalot show, we got a bit of dessert at Chocolat - the chocolate store inside of the Wynn.
I got a raspberry macaron. Ohhh boy. This was perfect. So good, not too sweet, crisp outside, chewy satisfying fruity inside. I should have these more often, but glad there's not a place that's closer. I think I'd probably gorge myself on these until I hurt.
Patty got herself a croissant from the cafe. HOW BEAUTIFUL! Puffy, buttery brown, crusty on the outside soft as air on the inside. Lucky her!
This is Owen's chocolate croissant - he can't resist when it comes to the combination of dark chocolate and flaky buttery-ness. A top quality croissant all the way!

The next day, my dad, my brother, Owen and I went to Paris for some lunch. The line to every restaurant was trailing out the door, so we went to their cafe for a few sandwiches. They were fairly quick and efficient. My brother got an italian sandwich combo (which came with the grossest potato salad I've ever had - sloppy wet disgustingness. ) A number of deli meats were inside this sandwich - salami, ham..topped off with artichoke hearts and rabbit foods. The bread was super thick, and way too filling.
This was my smoked salmon sandwich, with red onions and capers. They were VERY generous with the smoked salmon, which I was very much pleased about. I traded halves with my brother so I got to try the Italian sandwich.
Dad got the roast beef with caramelized gracing the top. The roast beef portion was overly generous. The quality of the meat was alright. Nothing to write home about.
Owen got a tuna salad sandwich. Same as the other sandwiches - overly generous with the meat, way too big to finish.
That night, we went to Planet Hollywood (formerly the Aladdin Casino and Hotel, now changed to Planet Hollywood, with the dumbest logo of all time...a "ph" on the outside. WHY?) for their Spice Market Buffet. They were having a special dinner because of the holiday weekend. I don't know what's usually there, but I throughly enjoyed huge split king crab legs, tons of shrimp (different kinds, too - boiled, tempura, sushi), oysters, a Mediterranean BBQ, prime rib, and countless other things I sampled. I remember having the top crust off of a creme brulee and some frozen yogurt from a soft serve machine.
So yeah, a pretty good buffet for buffet standards. Everyone seemed to be having a great time.

What a weekend that was! Vegas never fails to disappoint!

The Mad Greek
Baker, CA

Trevi at Caesar's Palace, in the Forum Shops
3570 Las Vegas Blvd South
Las Vegas, NV 89109

Daniel Boulud Brasserie, Chocolat and Terrace Point Café, at the Wynn Hotel
3131 Las Vegas Blvd South
Las Vegas, Nevada 89109

The Cafe at Paris Hotel
3655 Las Vegas Boulevard South
Las Vegas, Nevada 89109

The Spice Market Buffet at the Planet Hollywood Hotel
3667 Las Vegas Blvd South
Las Vegas, NV 89109

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Burbank Cuisine

Trying the different types of food in my work neighborhood is tasking - not unlike the first day of high school or Christopher Walken playing Russian Roulette (click on the link if you're ready for disturbing, you've been warned) in the Deer Hunter. Okay maybe not that extreme but sometimes it feels like it. Bottom line, you don't know what you're getting.

However, most of my coworkers either had worked around this area or live around here, so they do their best to steer me in the best direction. So here's a few choice places I've been to...

First up, Bob's Big Boy, immediately down the street from my workplace. Most Bob Big Boy restaurants have disappeared, but this is, I think, one of the first and oldest, so it's going nowhere soon. This place is hopping crowded during lunch hours, and it's a bit of a wait to get a table inside. Patio seating is no waiting, but with uncomfortable lawn chairs.
Here's Mike's cheeseburger with fries. It's not their "famous double decker" burger, which is basically a restaurant version of a McDonald's Big Mac, (down to the size and texture, taste for taste - exactly like a Big Mac.) this version is more like a regular sized restaurant burger. Nothing special here, it seems like - a burger is a burger is a burger.
I wanted to get something different, so I chose a open face meatloaf sandwich, that came with a scoop of mashed potatoes. First off, the sandwich was completely swimming in their brown gravy. The gravy itself...tasted super duper salty...and...brown. I know that's a weird way to describe the flavor of something, but I swear if you tried some of this, you'd also say it tasted brown as well. Other than the over saltiness of the gravy, this dish wasn't bad. Very classic diner food, the meatloaf was laced with shreds of carrots, (that's the only identifying thing I found when I dug in, other than mystery meat) the potatoes were mashed...thoroughly. Basically, alright.

Even closer down the street is Salerno's Italian. It's a pretty good lunch spot, with impossible parking.
I got a melted turkey club sandwich, which came with a side salad with creamy vinaigrette dressing. This was a really decent sandwich, especially because of the bread, which was fresh and toasty. The cheese was melted just right, and the garlicy pesto spread was really good. The salad was a nice mixed greens salad, with dressing that was pretty tasty. I luckily saved half this sandwich - one half was plenty for lunch.
Brandy got a meatball sandwich - same deal with the bread, but with meatballs and meat filled tomato sauce spooned on top. She seemed to like this.
Peter got some Chicken Penne with garlic bread. This plate was scraped clean after he was done. It looked pretty good - chunks of chicken breast abound - but I'm not really a fan of penne (yes, some things are even too carby for me). That garlic bread looked good though!
Kevin got a personal pizza - I THINK it was sausage and mushroom pizza. It was nice and fresh - amazingly, he was one of the first people to get their meal, so they either had it ready (I don't know about that, I mean, how did they know what toppings to put on?) or they were just super quick. I'm assuming super quick, but you never know....
More of the same, Victor's turkey sandwich with fresh mozzarella. Almost exactly like mine, but with different kind of cheese and not toasted.
The best thing about this restaurant was their criss cut fries. I would go back again just to get these if I'm feeling especially gluttonous one day. These...are magnificent. Crispy, flavorful, succulent on the inside. Anyone who likes fries would love having a plate of these set in front of them. My only complaint would be their method of serving them on a Styrofoam plate - these fries are hot! So they start melting the plate, which is totally gross.

More grease abound...hey, what's wrong with a little grease?

Next up is Steve's Grill...a Korean owned little lunch spot that is fairly crowded during lunch hours. "Grease is the word" here. Grease, grease and more grease.
This is a double chili cheeseburger ordered by Steven. Pretty good meat, times two. I like the fries. I also like the pickle slices on the burger itself.
Kevin likes a more plain style burger - meat + bread, plus nothing else. Simplicity at its' best.
I think this is what I got - a plain turkey burger. I love me some regular burgers but I've been trying to choose turkey when I can. This wasn't bad, but definitely of the "frozen then thawed" variety of turkey burger. Nothing that can't be fixed with a huge dollop of siracha sauce.
Now to the piece de resistance...their corn dog. It's truly one of the best things here. I've been to many places that feature corn dogs, and have sampled many near and far...but this's a piece of art. Almost truly perfect in every way. And what is their secret? It must be the way they fry it...I'm almost 100% sure they're frozen and then fried in their fryer. Is it the oil? Is it the timing of how long that it's in the oil?This is a shot of the crispy insides. YES. Hot dog, gracefully nestled by a bit of fried goodness...not too overpowering, not mealy, just perfect. Really one of my top 3 corn dogs to have in your LIFE!

Downtown Burbank has a few things to offer, other than food court fare (the standard in any mall ridden town!) The main street in Burbank has a few more unique places to eat....for instance, Seoul Korean BBQ.

This place is super cute - obviously a family run place, service is super nice and attentive. Many specialty Korean BBQ places have a cooking mechanism in the middle of the table, where they give you the raw meat and you do all the work. Not at this place. It's great for lunch because they cook everything and it's not a huge ordeal. Plus, they REALLY hook it up with food...for not that much!

Here's an appetizer we all shared - crispy gyoza. These little dumplings were excellent - crunchy crispy edges, succulent meat morsel on the inside, perfect with the vinegar-laced soy sauce.
This is what I got - the combo kalbi and bulgolgi plate. It's a massive pile of meat. Tasty kalbi marinated ribs, hot of the grill, with a mountain of moist flavorful bulgogi. It's more than enough for two meals, especially since it comes with...
...this plate of two white rice scoops, bean sprouts, cooked spinach, and kimchi. A perfect accompaniment to the pile of meat provided.
More combos - an all bulgolgi plate....
...and an all kalbi plate. This place is just goood. If you like meat, this is the place to go for lunch.

But don't let me speak too soon...because another meat-filled day includes a visit to Philadelphia Sandwiches. These guys are serious about their meat intake, and they know where to go. This narrowly situated little shop demands a certain style of ordering, which they outline at the front. They ask that you figure out money situations before you get to the front of the line. "Wit" means with bell peppers and mushrooms, and you have to specify what kind of cheese you want. "Wit out" means just meat. Large or small. Beef or chicken. So many choices.

What's amazing here is the sack of fries. These fries aren't messing around - crinkle cut, some extra crispy (extra delicious), covered in salt but somehow not too salty, super freshly made - almost completely the perfect french fry.

Note the Hunt's Catsup on the bottom. The ketchup packet gets warmed up while mingling with the hot fries - thus making hot ketchup! If you prefer your ketchup cold, take the packets out before you enclose them with the fries.
We got a three part reveal for the it is in all of its loafy aluminum foil glory....

Here it is after being half naked....still covering all the sexy parts with its' ample bun (is this getting too racy?)....
...and here this beautiful sandwich is, finally revealed to all - its' delicious succulent meat glistening with grease and heat, the bell peppers giving a different texture as you bite in, melted cheese that ties the whole thing into one beautiful sandwich. I've never had a proper Philly Cheesesteak from Philadelphia or anything, but I have to say that this is the best kind of this sort of sandwich that I've had. Throw a bit of hot sauce on this and you're good to go.

Almost right next door to Seoul is Ohana Hawaiian BBQ - a great place to get your fix of teriyaki'ed/bbq'ed meats plus rice and mac salad. A good way to start off your meal is with a spam musubi.
Yeah, it doesn't look like much, but the beauty is in the simplicity. A slice of spam, a bit of teriyaki, sticky rice all wrapped up in seaweed. It was a mouthful but it was great.
Here's a take out platter of their Hawallan BBQ Chicken, and a good amount of it too. They were very generous with their portions. The chicken was grilled with their teriyaki, and came with two scoops of white rice and a scoop of mac salad. Everything was good .
This is the everything plate - the Hawaiian BBQ Mix. A serving of their BBQ beef, BBQ rib and more of that chicken. This is a heap of food - definitely not edible all in one sitting. I really liked the ribs - cut kalbi style, covered in their teriyaki marinade, which was a sweet mellow flavor. Totally great for the price.

By the way I guess this is the first and last posting about food in Burbank...if you want to know why go ahead and ask in the comment section.

Bob's Big Boy
4211 Riverside Dr
Burbank, CA 91505
Phone: (818) 843-9334

3902 W Riverside Dr
Burbank, CA 91505

(818) 845-8115

Seoul Korean BBQ
122 N San Fernando Blvd
Burbank, CA 91502
(818) 559-5578

Philadelphia Sandwiches
11112 Magnolia Blvd, North Hollywood, CA 91601
(818) 985-4929

Ohana Hawaiian BBQ

150 N San Fernando Blvd- Btwn Orange Grove & Olive Ave
Burbank, CA 91502
818 842-0001
For the life of me I couldn't find the contact information for Steven's Grill. I have to ask my coworkers about this one. Sorry guys!