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!

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