Saturday, February 28, 2009

Nubi Yogurt

Nubi Yogurt. A interesting name, isn't it?

Reviews from both Wandering Chopsticks and Q from Brand Eating were both pretty much positive on this place! So, when we were recently in the area, we decided to sample out this place.

The interior is modern, with many bold colors throughout the store. Like their logo, there is lots of blues and oranges in the interior, as well as a splash of grey and green. The toppings area is different from your usual toppings bar- as for the dry items, they put them separately from the fruit in containers that are closed until you open it. There is also a seating area which has plenty of seating, as well as a cute kids table. Also, there is wifi, which isn't that common in all yogurt places.

What's great about this place is that everything is already placed right in front of you. For example, sample cups are nearby the counter, but the server doesn't need to give it to you, as it is already in your arm's reach. Same thing for the spoons. Also, there are waffle cups, which are also at hand's reach and are 89 cents.

Definitely, being somewhere we haven't tried before, we used the sample cup to try some different flavors. The flavor I didn't really like was the taro tart, which well, was a mix of tart yogurt and taro. In this case, the tart overpowered the taro, and it was a pretty bad combo in the first place. Our friend didn't like the pomegranate/raspberry yogurt.

Obviously though, there were some really good flavors at Nubi. Two of which ended up in our final cup, which was 6.4 ounces according to the scale and cost 2.28 USD. At 38 cents per ounce, it wasn't that cheap compared to Yogurtland at 30 cents an ounce. However, in the receipt, the cashier apparently only charged me for 6 ounces worth. It's nice of Nubi to take off the weight of the cup!

What was in the cup? (Yes, I did try to swirl it, but no, I wasn't too successful as for one part, it pumped ultra slow, and then I stopped pumping and pumped again (dole pineapple)
while the other machine (original tart) pumped so fast I couldn't control it!) Well, there was original tart yogurt, Dole Pineapple, and mochi. I didn't pump too much as my cravings were not as high. Hence less yogurt. I think next time I should just make a big swirl, but I always forget to do so!

Anyway, everything was well, great! The original yogurt was excellent. It was creamy, but not awfully creamy, and slightly tarter than Pinkberry. The first thought I had was that this was so similar to Pinkberry! No other yogurt place has got such great flavor to the yogurt.

Dole Pineapple Sorbet, the other flavor we got, was basically the most popular flavor of the all the flavors. As we saw customers come by and pump their yogurt, almost everyone had at least a bit of the Dole Pineapple. Wandering Chopsticks mentioned this flavor specifically on her blog, and so the first thing I did with my sample cup was to get a sample of Dole Pineapple, and it was excellent! The flavor was just like drinking pineapple juice, but sweeter- just like how canned Dole Pineapple is like. No wonder why so many people got this sorbet!

Mochi, which was the topping for this yogurt, did not have a lot of powder on it, and it chewy and smooth, and not grainy or dry. Good work! The other toppings were pretty fresh too.

During the sample round, we liked the Dole Pineapple over the original, but as we finished half of the cup, we seemed to like the original better. Probably because the original was less icy. At the end, I still wanted more, but a bit was enough! Portion control it is.

Good experience here. I wish Yogurtland could make their yogurt (of those same flavors we had at nubi) as good as this!

Nubi Yogurt
140 W. Valley Blvd, Suite 118G (In Focus Plaza, nearby Tapioca Express and Sam Woo BBQ)
San Gabriel, CA 91776
Phone (626) 573-9988
Sun-Thurs 11:00 am - 11:00 pm
Fri-Sat 11:00 am - 12:00 am

Nubi Yogurt on Urbanspoon

Friday, February 27, 2009

Fresh and Easy's Chicken Tortilla Soup

In case if you haven't noticed already, Fresh and Easy is one of the newer supermarkets in California and other states in the United States. One of their locations, well, was in Arcadia even when it just started out. Now, why? Arcadia won't get you that much customers as compared to Las Vegas, Seattle, or neighboring cities like Pasadena, San Gabriel, or Alhambra.

Well, Vons, which we never ever went back to after some horrible employees which did their job with no enthusiasm at all, had closed down. So, Fresh and Easy came. For months, as we drove around, we pondered what it would be. I guessed it would be like a farmers market due to the name. Was I right? Half-half. More of a mix of a conventional supermarket and more upmarket ones like Trader Joes.

We visited near the first few days of opening and well, definitely liked it. There was a streamlined feel that was like markets we visited in Britain (which their "owner" is from). Each product had a great packaging which was simple, and made you feel like it was going to be of high quality compared to some other supermarkets where their own products look so unappetizing and unprofessional that you wouldn't want to buy it. Would this work though?

Customers didn't come in for many months- the parking lot area for Fresh and Easy was empty, with only about 5-8 cars whenever we passed by.

But, recently, especially in last summer (2008), customers started to trickle. Coupons of 5 dollars off and 6 dollars off constantly came to the mail. It was not long until students and families started to be drinking from a Fresh and Easy water bottle (well...their water costs the least in the area), and the parking lot started to get at least half full.

And it was not long when we also dumped neighboring supermarket Ralphs out of our shopping places to visit. Ms. Cashier said we could get a refund on eggs the next day, as we forgot to bring our rewards card. But, after a quick thought, we knew we would not take the chance, after we almost left the entry door. After coming back, Ms. Cashier forgot about what she said and even lied to us that she never said what she said only a minute ago. Nearby customers snickered, and so did the employees. Of course though, we got our refund :).

So, that leaves only Fresh and Easy left in the big 3 supermarkets on Foothill Blvd in the stretch of Arcadia. And recently, they have been doing a lot of fun stuff.

Special "today's special" items are constantly available. Instead of putting the today special items right next to full priced items, they put all of them into one dedicated section. At night, tons flock to this area.

What else? Tons of much lower prices, and lots of newer products. It's hard to find a place where you can get milk for the same price at Costco. And it looks like they charge less too!

One of the promos they have is for soup. 2.50 for a "fresh from the kitchen" soup which is in the refridgerated section. It used to cost more, but the bowls were taller.

So, when strolling around recently, we got this soup. To our horror though, we found that the dates for the soup varied highly. The ones in front (obviously) were due on March 2. The ones in the far far back were March 15. You know which one we got :).

Unlike what they say to do with the soup, I heated it in a pot with water with a one to one ratio, or slightly less with the water. I mainly eyeballed it. The soup was so thick it was very gloopy when it was cold. Then, I added a bit of frozen corn to make it like CPK's tortilla soup, and then green beans because I wanted to!

The finished product was really good- hearty, spicy (even when I diluted it already!- more like a mild spicy, but after getting a couple sips, you don't feel it much), and very tasty. The tomatoes and the other vegetables gave the soup a great thickness, and the corn added sweetness. Only negative? The chicken, which was dry. Luckily, there were not too many.

Overall, pretty good again! Another soup that F&E has that is good is the wild mushroom soup which has many types of mushrooms, but I haven't seen it in a while.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Yogurtland Arcadia: Visit #2

Yogurtland has been here for now a few weeks, and it is happily running its business. It is almost aweshocking. At night, it is FILLED with people waiting to purchase yogurt. The shocking large pink bowl for the yogurt is now more of a normal sight; people actually will pump that much yogurt and eat it. During the daytime, it is never possible to not see a group of people chatting and eating outside Yogurtland. And looking at any trash bin, you are now clear to see at least one Yogurtland bowl in it.

Mr. Yogurtland, you are sure gaining some great business now! Families purchase your product everyday. Your customers are happy. And the floating strawberry water amazes customers as they wait to weigh their yogurt creation. You are happily stealing customers from Tutti Frutti Frozen Yogurt as well. It now seems like over at TF, people are just eating hot items and their other items, and only occasionally do you see someone eating yogurt there.

Do you see the gigantic pink cup?

I finally took some interior pictures. The layout is simple. Near the front of the entrance is the cashiers desk and toppings table to the left. Farther down to the left is the yogurt machines. To the far right is some fruit advertisements explaining the benefits of the fruit, as well as napkins and bowls for the yogurt. And to the right? It's all just extra space. No tables or chairs have been added.

As usual with any self serve yogurt joint, we had to get a sample first. And that, for me, meant to try some new items we didn't try last time. Here are the flavors we tried out in the sample cup this time:
Arctic Vanilla- Just like what you would get at McDonalds (which means YUM). Very creamy, smooth, and milky. Delicious, but I could get this at McD's. Cheaper than McD's? Probably not as cheap.
Pistachio- Creamy and a bit almondy. But, I don't really like it. If you like pistachio ice cream, this is very similar.
Heath Bar- it's like chocolate frozen yogurt mixed with some nuts. Very well blended if actual pieces of heath bar were really added to the yogurt!
Lychee Tart- slightly pinkish color, has the lychee flavor but tastes a bit artifical and not like real lychee. Also, you can taste the tartness of the original yogurt in this!
Mochatto (sp?)- coffee and chocolatey. Our friend described this as bitter for some reason.

After more tryouts, including flavors that did end up going to our final cup, we choose our flavors for this time around. As like last time, the explanations of each item is well, below the photo!

Blueberry Tart- Out of our friend group this is the highest rated. It's not too sweet compared to Tutti Frutti, and it is slightly icy (more firm), but if you eat it fast it won't get stiff. The flavors are very blueberry and also tart. You can taste a bit of the original plain in this. Somehow, I also felt a bit of blueberry on the tounge. Is this really? If it is, then I am really happy that they put the real fruit into it. If not so...well, it's still good!

If you are thinking flavor profile in general, it's like Dannon's Activia yogurt (blueberry of course for the flavor), but not as rich and creamy, and less sweet.

The machine for this went a bit wacky today! I pumped, and suddenly a ton of yogurt went out at once. And so I made swirls as fast as I could! And I was successful. I made the famous (or not famous) Pinkberry swirl with hole in center!!!

Now, somebody should make something that will make blueberry froyo available at home everyday. Trader Joes, are you listening? You've made my day, as well as others, by introducing your nonfat froyo with "pleasant tang" to our palates. This would be your next mission. Please?

Green Tea- The iciest actually of the 3! You really could taste the green tea flavor- and if you think it is going to taste like the bubble green tea, well it isn't. You can taste the "brocoli" like taste this time. It almost was like drinking straight out hot green tea added with milk, and not too sweet either. A light pale green too.

It's interesting though that when I was pumping it, it looked very creamy, but in the end it got icier. I wonder why.

Dutch Chocolate- As usual, very creamy and chocolatey! The smoothest tasting of the 3.

Blueberries- fresh and not at all lumpy looking or old looking.

Mochi- there was actually no more "very powdery" and just "powdery" form of mochi this time, but there were still 2 bowls of mochi at the toppings counter. They, like last time, were chewy and soft , with no weird flavors, and was slightly sweet. Mmm...

Total cost? 2.64 for all this, and it almost filled up the container too! Conversion would be about 9 ounces. Pretty nice deal. And plus, I got another green spoon this time. The lady at the counter was debating whether to give me pink or green too.

But, with all the good stuff, there has to be something bad. Right? I noticed the "bad" when editing the photo when adding text as well as when we were all done with the yogurt and extra melted liquid was in the bowl. What was it? Well, look carefully at the Blueberry tart yogurt.

How are you, blue?

There is a blue speck which is almost covered by the last swirl's shadow which is going out of the bowl. Do you see it now? I don't know why it was there, and for any reason why. I want an explanation...why would this happen? Is it plastic? Is it coloring ? Is it a problem with the new machine? There were several of them too. I am worried.

633 W. Duarte Rd
Arcadia, CA 91007
Sun - Thurs: 11 AM-11PM
Fri - Sat: 11 AM- Midnight

Read other posts:

Yogurtland Arcadia: Visit #4
Yogurtland Arcadia: Visit #3
Yogurtland: Arcadia

Update October 16, 2009: Yogurtland has never responded back to my email sent to them at the time of this post. Read other posts

Yogurtland Index

Here are all the posts on Yogurtland.

Yogurtland Arcadia: Visit #4
Yogurtland Arcadia: Visit #3
Yogurtland Arcadia: Visit #2
Yogurtland: Arcadia

An Inspiration: Mixed Seafood on Tofu

An inspiration can come from many things. Sometimes, it can come from the shapes and looks of an object. Sometimes, it can just come from something you eat outside and really enjoy.

Phoenix Inn's Mixed Seafood on Tofu

This dish was inspired by something we had before: Mixed Seafood on Tofu from Phoenix Inn. It's very easy to make, and tastes great! So...we made it at home:

Our Homecooked version of the same dish

A slight boo-boo was made during our process of making the dish though. Actually, there was 2. The first was that there was no egg tofu available at the market, so we had to use regular tofu. The second was that we accidentally added black vinegar instead of soy sauce, but it didn't effect the dish at all! It was nice having a slight vinegary flavor. You pick between soy sauce or vinegar. Or, you can just use some stock for the sauce like what Phoenix Inn probably did.

The end result is a great combo of many different flavors of the seafood as well as a nice sweetness from the peas. It's great to scoop on rice and mix and eat!

UPDATE: We made this dish again, and used a splash of soy sauce instead of vinegar. The color that ends up should be fairly clear and not brown like the image which used vinegar. And the taste was very much like Phoenix Inn's Mixed Seafood On Tofu. So there :). A very exact replica!


Mixed Seafood on Tofu
Inspired by Phoenix Inn's Mixed Seafood On Tofu (my review click here)

Ingredients needed:
Frozen Peas
Shrimp (preferably fresh with no head...and if you don't want to shell them, get them shelled. About 6-7 good sized shrimp are good for the dish)
Scallops (4 jumbo size is enough)
5 shitake mushrooms
A block of tofu (soft), or a package of egg tofu
Soy Sauce, or black vinegar

Special equipment? Steamer.

1. Prep the ingredients. Cube the shrimp and scallops, and then put some cornstarch ( one teaspoon is plenty) on them and salt and pepper it and put it in a bowl. Take frozen peas out from the freezer, and use about a quarter of a cup, and defrost (or if you choose to, not). Cube the shitake mushrooms, and place them aside. Also, cut the tofu into cubes, or if you have egg tofu, into about one inch circles.
2. Place the tofu into a plate, if you haven't already. If you have egg tofu, place the circles all over the dish, and if you have regular tofu, just put the entire block onto the plate after you cubed the tofu)
3. Get the steamer ready! For those who don't want to buy a special steamer (we don't), use a thick frypan, a small wire rack to place the plate of tofu on, and then put a cup of water into the bottom of the frypan, and put the lid on and close.

4. After the water has heated a bit and some steam is forming on the lid, put the tofu in. Here's how it should look. Steam the tofu for about 10 minutes. You can also put the tofu in when the water hasn't heated up yet too.
5. Time to cook all the ingredients! First, cook the shrimp and scallops with some oil, but do not cook them well done. About 50 percent done is just about right.
6. Take the shrimp and scallops out, and then start to cook the mushrooms with the frozen peas with some oil. After the mushrooms start to sweat out, place the shrimp and scallops back in.
7. After you have steamed the tofu, there should be some liquid- sometimes a lot of it too! Don't waste the liquid, and put all of the liquid in to the pan with the shrimp, scallops, mushrooms, and frozen peas. Set the plate of tofu aside.
8. Time to flavor the shrimp, scallops, mushrooms, frozen peas, and the tofu liquid mixture. Add two hefty dashes of soy sauce or vinegar into the pan, and swish everything around. If you don't like soy sauce or vinegar, you can also use chicken bullion.
9. Make a slurry mixture with about a tablespoon of cornstarch and some water, and place that into the pan, and cook for about another 2 minutes. The sauce should get glossy looking.
10. Place the whole mixture of the shrimp, scallops, mushroom, and peas onto the tofu, and then serve immediately and enjoy!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Phoenix Dual: Phoenix Food Boutique Arcadia & Phoenix Inn Alhambra

Phoenix Inn, Alhambra CA- Logo wave at back of restaurant

You know, it isn't very so often where someone would eat at two different places that are owned by the same group of people in one day. Sometimes it does happen though. Today's contenders? Arcadia's Phoenix and Alhambra's Michelin Guide "recommended" Phoenix Inn.

It was afternoon, and on such a nippy day, the best thing to warm you up is a hot liquid. Hungry for something sweet, we got this forbidden rice and taro dessert soup at Phoenix in Arcadia. We've had this before, and it always was of a thick consistency and before we bought it, coconut milk was mixed in for us. This time though, was different.

We got the coconut milk on top! It's fun to create swirls of the dessert soup and the coconut milk- it's also very pretty at a glance too. However, the taste wasn't really that sweet compared to before, and the soup was a bit too hot and thinned out. The taro was tender, and there was also diminutive balls of tapioca floating all over the dessert soup.


Move the clock 3 hours later, and Phoenix Inn is for dinner. A "Taiwan" Festival and "new items" have been going over the airwaves these days, and so we were interested in trying Phoenix Inn again, after not going there for a very long time. So...we went in, and the first thing that greeted me as I turned right to go to the cashier desk for seating was a Michelin recommendation. Hmm...does this mean this place is good? After all, our past experiences with "rated" restaurants have been not always great.

As we got seated, we all noticed the paintings all over the place which were very beautiful. The panda painting is definitely very cute, and was in close proximity to our table to glance at.

The second thing we noticed was this more "upbeat" style music that had lots of beating and rhythm. I wonder why. Chinese restaurants rarely have this type of music flowing through their restaurant....

The third thing we noticed was that there was a doggie window that attached their "dessert" store to this restaurant. This way, if one ordered something sweet, the item would be passed from the dessert area to here through the doggie window and then to the customer. Smart idea!

What is the new items? What is "Taiwan" Festival? Well, these are some of those items from this new menu. Above is a mushroom with bell pepper appetizer which was served COLD for $5, and a RAW sliced pumpkin with grapefruit and passionfruit sauce. Interesting take on items. I liked the mushrooms and the bell peppers, but one taste and you know you obviously can make it at home! It was slightly tangy, and the mushrooms were cooked, and the bell pepper was crisp.

The pumpkin for another matter, was unedible. It was extremely hard to chew and to even bite. The sauce was again something you could make at home, and the garnish on top that looks pinkish was actually some pieces of grapefruit! They should have cooked the pumpkin. Off to the steamer this went after we doggie bagged this home.

What came next? Corn and Fish Maw soup please! This isn't on the menu, but it costs the same as the crab with fish maw soup, which is 10.95. There was a very good amount of fish maw in this, probably because we didn't get crab. However, the corn and the soup were almost tasteless! The soup only had a salty flavor- no other special components were added. Pieces of corn were not abundant, and that led to a lighter yellow color compared to other restaurants such as Embassy Kitchen which has a great corn and fish maw soup.

Before we got any of the items though, we got rice. It's served in an interesting looking container too, which I haven't seen before. Then, 3 other dishes came.

The probably best dish of the night was this. Egg tofu that was steamed and then topped with mixed seafood for 9.95. In this case, the topping had scallops, shrimp, peas, and mushrooms. It tasted great- the sauce was lightly flavored, and the ingredients had bursts of flavors, and the tofu was soft and velvety. It inspired us to make this at home, and we got almost the same result :). (home recipe HERE)

Another dish of the night was stir fried pea-tips for 8.95. This was nicely cooked and was crisp, and the sauce was cornstarchy and flavorful. MSG added? Probably.

The last item of the night was a duck and ginger hot pot. It tasted good with lots of duck and stewed flavors, but the brown layer on top was all oil, which we certainly did not like. And no, it wasn't fatty oil either. After a night in the fridge, it was still in liquid form. Makes a great soup though when you cook it with some other ingredients! Fermented bean curd sauce was served on the side.

As we continued to eat, that rhythmic and upbeat music was starting to get really annoying. It seemed to be like a fashion show type of music where the models do the catwalk. Another interpretation? The restaurant wants you to get out ASAP as you finish your meal. And many parties actually did. People who came after us left before us.

Overall? Phoenix Inn was really nothing special. Lots of the items can be made at home without any special materials like a wok. It was also really oily, and not all the items were really flavorful either. The items we came for (the "new items") were disappointing, and although innovative, didn't taste that great.

Phoenix Food Boutique
1108 S. Baldwin Ave. (in strip mall with Din Tai Fung, Life Plaza, Tutti Frutti Frozen Yogurt, J.J. Bakery, and others...)
Arcadia, CA 91007
(626) 446 7668

Phoenix Inn/Restaurant
208 E. Valley Blvd.
Alhambra, CA
(626) 299-1238

Phoenix Inn Chinese Cuisine on Urbanspoon

Phoenix Food Boutique on Urbanspoon

Friday, February 20, 2009

Face Cafe

Something new has happened. What used to be OK Cafe for a pretty long time turned into DJ Cafe with some renovation. After that, there were some other name changes. Then, it became Sikas, for at least a year or so. Now? It is this. Face Cafe. Driving past here for several times over the weeks, one does get interested. As you watch from the street, the moderness of Face Cafe strikes you. It is no longer the old, all beige feeling OK cafe. This well, is something definitely new!

With a problem on which restaurant to eat out, we decided to visit here. Something new should be tried out, right?

As you just enter the restaurant, the new modern interior strikes you. It almost seems like Pinkberry or Yogurtland for a second. Gray colored flooring and green tiles are very similar to Yogurtland right?

Other interesting things? Lots of light colored laminate wood, and lots of high tech stuff. TVs are placed throughout the area, and in the waiting area, there is a slideshow of foods available at Face Cafe. Just makes you even more hungry to eat...

This visit, we get a booster seat table. Menus are then handed out, and the text is very modern. Some of it kind of makes you feel like you are at some special place. Looking at the menu also answers a question. They serve yogurt here (frozen? unknown)!!! Maybe that is where they got their inspiration for the design from.

The interior has some funky lights, a la Pinkberry. Or not so. Toned down a little, but still some quirkyness in it. The second big thing you notice other than the very new chairs and design is that the wall near the back is now gone! A very good idea it is. Now, the space feels very open and large, compared to back then when it felt a bit cramped.

Walking around, we also noticed that desserts were also available, such as egg tarts and tiramisu. I also found a huge vat of red bean dessert soup in a plastic tub which was steaming. I wonder why... would we get this for free later on?

After we just sat down, the waiter asked what we would like to drink. Wow, this is some good service. It's almost like visiting a high class restaurant, you think. So, what do you want? We got lemon iced tea, which is a favorite. And this restaurant serves up a great rendition that is not too sweet and very lemony and has a bold tea flavor. The sweetness does not overpower the tea flavor at all. Yum. And, you can tell lemon juice has been added because the iced tea comes a bit cloudy. Good job.

Soon, you order after asking what the specials at Face Cafe are. Mr. Server said the stone pots are one of the specialties. Looking at the menu though, there are so many other choices. It is almost mind boggling. So many varieties of dishes, and also a bit hard to choose as there are so many!

What came first? A thick rice noodle with satay beef. This was a bit oily, but the satay flavors were all there. Rice noodles were fresh and not powdery at all, and the vegetables were crisp and fresh. The meat was pretty tender, but you could tell nothing was added, like baking soda. It was served in a bowl rather than a plate, and all the sauce/oil went to the bottom. We moved the noodles, meat, and veggies away later on, as it was too oily, and we don't like oily.

There was also bits of chunky pineapple to the dish, which I liked. As pineapple should be, it added some sweetness to the dish which was nice.

After asking how were the clams like today (they were delivered this morning according to Mr. Server), we ordered this clam/rice noodle/soup pot which was on sterno heat. As you can see by the photo, it was pretty spicy, but in the broth, you could clearly taste the clam flavor. Green onions cut roughly as well as other ingredients added more flavor to the dish. Rice noodles did their job- they soaked up the broth well and eating the rice noodle was almost like drinking the broth. Lastly, the clams were fresh, and had lots of great clam flavor. Mmm. But, again, it was a bit oily.

Lamb hot pot with dried bean curd sheets was also pretty good, but I have to say the lamb did have some gamey flavor. Otherwise, it was a good dish. There were also ingredients like water chestnuts which were chrunchy and delicious! It was also a bit spicy. They asked us if we wanted some feremented bean curd paste too, and we obliged. But, in reality, it didn't need it that much.

I ordered this dish. Scallops with egg whites fried rice. Boy was this good! There was a lot of fresh scallop pieces (yay, no skimping), and the gai lan wasn't bitter. Egg whites were long and thin, and pieces of shredded dried scallop were added for some great saltiness. The amounts of flavors were perfect, and it wasn't too salty. But, as one friend pointed out, it was a bit, again, oily. I think they could make it less oily if we ordered it again though and told them to use less oil.

And lastly, the stone pot came! We ordered the minced meat one , and on the top was a good amount of the gravy, meats, and vegetables. They also added a raw egg which was cooking while it arrived at the table, and by the time we stirred everything together it was cooked.

Here's how it looks stirred. Flecks of egg, meat, veggies, and rice. This didn't seem to be much special though. It was more like a regular minced meat rice except for the fact the rice was crisp like how it should be in a stone pot. The beef flavor though, was all over the dish which is nice.

Overall, a pretty good meal, but a tad oily. Our friends agree that we would come back to this place. However, if I had read the Yelp reviews in the first place, I don't think I would have even visited this place. This place on yelp only has only one and a half stars.

The red bean soup I spied was not for us. I don't know what it was even there for. No pre opening savoury soup either.

They also offer Lunch specials as well as Breakfast, which is nice. Not all places serve breakfast, and they have lots of different choices too, which is always nice.

Face Cafe
301 E. Valley Blvd.
Alhambra, CA 91801
Tel: 626-282-8899

-Extra side note: Faces are drawn by me for privacy issue. Do you like them?

Face Cafe on Urbanspoon


Recently, I received the first award for the blog from Selba of Selby's Food Corner. Thank you very much Selba for the award!
However, whenever when receiving an award, you want to know what the award means right? So, what does this award mean? You may kind of recognize the word "proximity" in the word at the bottom of the award photo.

The full meaning of the award? It means this:

This blog invests and believes the PROXIMITY - nearness in space, time and relationships! These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in prizes or self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers! Deliver this award to eight bloggers who must choose eight more and include this cleverly-written text into the body of their award.”

Read the last sentence again.

"Deliver this award to eight bloggers who must choose eight more and include this cleverly-written text into the body of their award.”

So...I will pass the Proximity award to 8 other bloggers:

Food Makes Me Happy
Monster Munching
Pleasure Palate
Shaved Ice Sundays
Two Boos Who Eat
Wandering Chopsticks



Given By Selba of Selby's Food Corner

Selba also gave all of the readers/commenters on her blog this award too, which is to congratulate the bloggers who take time to leave encouraging comments and useful suggestions. This award also tells the recipients of the award to pass it on. You know who you come on in and get the award :)! I am passing it on to all of the people who have commented on Eat. Travel. Eat!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Romano's Macaroni Grill (CLOSED)

***Update June 29, 2009: Romano's Macaroni Grill is now closed, to the surprise of me and other people. It always was pretty busy, with plenty of customers, but yet now it is closed. All the signage is gone, and it feels very empty at the intersection. There's also a huge dumpster right next to it. What will happen? We do not know.***
It stands out from the other places in its block- an oddball perhaps. No other building uses exposed brick in the block, and none look that fancy either. It catches your eye, as you pass by Huntington and Fifth. Yes, there may be other restaurants in the area which are just as fancy, but none are comparable to this for the outside architecture.

The interior is just as fancy. It seems almost if you were dining outside at a fair with the dangling lights. Each table is equipped with a huge piece of butcher paper which by the end of the meal, has been drawed all at, as well as a fine bottle of olive oil. Near the entrance, there is a kitchen, where you can watch all the action going on as you wait. It just makes you salivate while you wait. Also, there is a bar area, as well as a wine wall of their own house wine.

(older image)

After getting seated, one gets a loaf of bread, which is tinged with some herbs and smells of olive oil. On the side is a platter of olive oil and pepper. Balsamic vinegar is optional, but at times, you may want it. While you sit in the table, servers charm you during your waiting periods for your food, writing their name in crayon. In this case, server Nate, which we had for our most recent visit, wrote his name artistically using 2 pens, and spoke 5 languages, and attempted to speak Chinese, which could be understood clearly.

Today, there is no need for balsamic vinegar for bread. This bread today has been adorned with a hefty sprinkle of sea salt, which adds a very new dimension of flavor to the bread. Olive oil and vinegar are now no longer necessary. It is good as the way it is. Unless...if this loaf was a odd one compared to the others.

(Left photo is older image, right photo is most recent visit)

A favorite appetizer? Calamari yes please! A creamy, fresh Basil pesto aioli, wedges of acidic lemons, and a slightly spicy and very tomatoey pizzaiola sauce are serve along side. The calamari are crisp, and tender and slightly salty in the inside. For 8.49, it is a a great deal. But, the cheapskate in you remembers that a year ago, the serving was even bigger...

One special here is Pasta Milano, which we had at an older visit. The website describes it as:

"Imported bowtie pasta with tender, grilled chicken, sun-dried tomatoes and fresh mushrooms in a roasted garlic cream sauce"

And whenever you hear the word cream sauce, it is pretty much obvious that the dish is going to be rich. The sauce embraces everything together and is creamy. Sun dried tomatoes add a zing to the dish, and the chicken is really, in truth, tender. The pasta is al dente and soaks up the sauce nicely. Eat it here though, as if you bring it home, the oil pools up, and the whole dish doesn't taste as great as it was before.

Another great item is the grilled salmon with orzo pasta. The salmon is incredibly tender and is cooked with precision, and is slightly sweet. Orzo is tossed with some oil and spinach, and is al dente. Sorry, but no photo.

Kids Spaghetti from a previous visit is nothing special. After all, if you've been carefully watching in the kitchen, you know that the spaghetti (and probably spaghetti only as the other pastas taste freshly boiled) is precooked. Sauces are added to it only later on, and then the dish is served.

Being precooked already in the first place, this dish is well, decidedly ordinary. The tomato sauce is just tomato sauce. The spaghetti isn't that al dente either. However, the huge meatball which adorns the top of the dish is tender, meaty, and delicious.

Another kids menu item is the pizza, which the cheese is of a very high quality and stretches far compared to most pizzas. The tomato sauce is bursting with flavor in this case, and the dough has flavor from the oven it was in. Sorry, no photo, but the size is about California Pizza Kitchen's kid pizza.

Recently, you've also have been probably hearing about their new lunch specials- the Roma Combos. At 6.99 for two items (one main course, and a soup or salad), or 8.99 for three items (one main course and two soups and/or salads), it is a pretty good deal, that does make you full enough for the day. The soups are all hearty, and although the main courses aren't that large, they are packed with flavor and are tasty. Above here is the Chicken Toscana soup with the Formaggio Melts. Chicken Toscana soup is creamy. Server Nate describes it as half cream base and half chicken stock, and filled with fresh spinach, tomato, onion, and gnocchi, and says it is his favorite soup. And it is very good too. The Formaggio melts are described as mini Italian grilled cheese melts with mozzarella, Parmesan and ricotta cheese with roasted tomatoes and fresh basil on toasted rosemary bread on their website, and the description is accurate. The small bowl of sauce next to it almost tastes just accentuates the tomato flavor even further. Slightly peppery and very tomatoey, it almost seemed similar to El Pollo Loco's house salsa times 10 in flavor.

Another set of Roma Combos is here. A chicken artichoke sandwich, which is described as marinated, grilled chicken breast topped with fresh bruschetta tomatoes, arugula, red onions, Romano cheese and lemon artichoke spread on ciabatta bread, and a seasonal soup, which in this case is a very hearty, and tomatoey tomato soup with some cheese on top. Served on the side is a small bowl of basil pesto aioli. Servers from all over ask how was the chicken artichoke sandwich; after all, it is a new item. The main players, chicken and artichoke, stand out in this dish, and the other flavors are not as pronounced, but are still standing in there.

And to round things out, if you have a kids meal, you're getting this dessert to go along with it. Some ice cream, in a rich, very chocolate-y and slightly hazelnutty sauce topped with a maraschino cherry. Obviously, the thing that is special about the ice cream is the sauce on top, which almosts forms a skin of chocolate when it arrives on the table. How to replicate it? Answer as of right now, unknown.

Romano's Macaroni Grill
945 W Huntington Drive (Corner of Huntington and Fifth, in shopping center w/ Daphnes, Homestead hotel, Baja Fresh, Fedex/Kinkos, and others...)
Monrovia, CA 91016

Tel: (626) 256-7969

My Tripadvisor Review on this place- click here

Romano's Macaroni Grill on Urbanspoon