Jun 30, 2008

Review: Banh Mi Che Cali - Teriyaki Beef Sandwich

For $2.25, you get sauteed slices of beef, onions, tomatoes, jalapenos, and lettuce in a buttery, crispy fat banh mi baguette. The beef is sauteed with the onions and seem to be flavored with maybe sugar or honey, garlic, and soy sauce if I were to guess. It doesn't taste like teriyaki really, but it's still tasty if a little misleading.
The jalapenos give the sandwich a nice kick and the lettuce was crisp.
All-in-all, a nice change from my usual Banh Mi Dac Biet.
Banh Mi Che Cali
647 W Valley Blvd
Alhambra, CA 91803
(626) 293-8396
Jun 27, 2008

Review: Baja Fresh - Grilled Chicken Cabo Cobb Burrito

I prefer Baja Fresh over the other fast casual Mexican chain dining establishments (i.e. Qdoba, Chipotle, etc.). At the particular location that I went to, they were kind enough to give me free tortilla chips while I waited for my order -- plus the burritos all come with some chips.

For $5.95, I tried one of Baja Fresh's featured Grilled Salad Burritos: the Grilled Chicken Cabo Cobb Burrito (the other is the Grilled Chicken Caesar Burrito). The Grill Chicken Cabo Cobb Burrito features grilled marinated chicken, Jack & cheddar cheese, romaine lettuce, chopped tomatoes, ranch dressing, Cotija cheese, black beans and avocado.
I thought it was very tasty. I liked the way the burrito was grilled; it gives the tortilla a bit of a flakiness and crispness. Since it's essentially a salad in a burrito, it's lighter than most of Baja Fresh's other burritos like the Ultimo. I could taste the separate distinct ingredients and they went well together. I would definitely eat this one again.

Baja Fresh
Store Locations
Jun 26, 2008

News: Chick-fil-A Celebrates Cow Appreciation Day (Free Food!) - July 11, 2008

On Friday, July 11, 2008, Chick-fil-A will celebrate Cow Appreciation Day by giving free meals (your choice of entree, side, and drink) to visitors who are fully dressed as cows. For those less willing to dress like a cow, Chick-fil-A is offering a free entree (sandwich, or salad) to visitors wearing some sort of cow attire.

The promotion is related to Chick-fil-A's "Eat Mor Chikin" marketing campaign which has gone on for the past 13 years and features self-interested cows encouraging people to eat chicken rather than beef.

Cow Appreciation Day (Free Meal for Dressing Like a Cow)
Friday, July 11, 2008
Restaurant Locator
Jun 25, 2008

Review: Subway's Spicy Italian Sub Sandwich

I'm not a huge fan of Subway, since I sometimes get it for free at school, but without liquid condiments. I am, however, a fan of Italian subs plus my interest was piqued by Subway's $5 everyday value menu which features eight of its regular subs including its Spicy Italian. The thing is, at some locations, before they had the value menu, some of the footlongs on it were priced less than $5, so I don't know how much of a value it is.
Anyway, this is pretty much as many veggies as I eat in a week. It's sad I know. There's cucumbers, bell peppers, olives, tomatoes, banana jalapenos, iceberg lettuce, and red onions in there. I really should eat more veggies. I was pleasantly surprised; I actually liked it... though I did have very low expectations. I don't think I'd ever crave it, but it's not bad eats in a pinch. And, I feel better eating some veggies.

Jun 24, 2008

Review: Chick-fil-A - Chicken Sandwich - Fresh Version

My Favorite Fried Chicken Sandwich

A little while ago, I wrote about the Chick-fil-A Chicken Sandwich my brother brought me back from Texas. While there still haven't been any Chick-fil-A's erected in my vicinity, there's one in Upland near my cousin's place in Pomona. As you can see the bag is in much better shape then one that's been through LAX. The sandwich is a bit pricier here at $2.99.
The Chicken Sandwich itself looks better as well.
You can see the buttered toasted top bun and patty. Looks like the Texas patty spent a little more time in the fryer though since this one is much lighter in color.
Chick-fil-A puts its pickles beneath the patty rather than above like McDonald's. It's an arbitrary difference I think.
You can see a good view of the chicken patty here. It was made to order and tasted like it: super juicy and chock full of flavor. I loved it. It was totally worth the trip (since I was visiting my cousin anyway).

Restaurant Locator
Jun 23, 2008

Review: Ikea - Swedish Meatball Platter

Ah... nothing like food from a Swedish furniture store... It's a little bit odd that Ikea offers food at all but I guess they're just spreading the culture. I don't think I've ever heard of or seen a Swedish restaurant around these parts.

Ikea offers a pretty broad selection of food in a cafeteria setting. For $4.99 (update 1/13/13: it's only $3.99 now!), I got 15 meatballs smothered in gravy, a scope of mashed potatoes, and a spoonful of lingonberry sauce. Lingonberry tastes a lot like cranberry to me. I've never really taken to eating cranberry with my turkey, so I didn't care much for lingonberry with my meatballs. I did enjoy the meatballs and the mashed potatoes however. The meatballs tended to be on the dry side but that's what the gravy is for. I like the gravy, it goes well with the meatballs and mashed potatoes.

Ikea also sells the gravy, meatballs (frozen in 3lb bags), and lingonberry jam for people who really like those items and want to take them home.

Store Locator
Jun 20, 2008

News: Jack in the Box's Two Free Tacos Day - June 26, 2008

In an effort to drive customers hurting under high gas prices to its restaurants, on Thursday, June 26, 2008, Jack in the Box is offering two free regular tacos (you know, the ones that go 2 for a buck) to anyone who brings in a gas receipt.

Duplicates or copies will not be accepted. At participating locations only. Limit one order per person. No purchase necessary.

Two Free Tacos when you bring in a gas receipt.
Thursday, June 26, 2008

Jun 19, 2008

News: Starbucks Offering Free Beverage Coupon For Joining Starbucks Card Rewards

In an effort to get consumers to join its Rewards Program, Starbucks Card holders who join the rewards program online at by July 14, 2008 will receive a free beverage coupon in the mail good for any Starbucks beverage.

To join the Rewards Program, customers can load a new Starbucks Card with $5 or more or take any existing Starbucks Card (even one with a zero balance) and join the program by visiting Participants must use their Starbucks Card for purchases to receive Reward Program benefits.

Benefits of the Rewards Program include (further details about the program can be viewed at
  • Select complimentary syrup and milk options;
  • Hot and iced brewed coffee refills on the house during your visit;
  • Complimentary tall beverage of your choice with the purchase of one pound of whole bean coffee.
I'm not a regular Starbucks drinker but it looks to be a great program for those that are. Of course if you're like me, you'll still join just for the free drink!

Free Beverage Coupon by mail with Rewards Program Registration
Offer expires July 14, 2008
Register at:

News: Caribou Coffee - Coolfest Free Fruit & Tea Blended Beverage - June 21, 2008

To celebrate the beginning of summer and its 4th Annual Coolfest, Caribou Coffee will be giving away its new 12 oz. Fruit & Tea blended beverage on Saturday, June 21, 2008 between the hours of 3 and 4pm.

Caribou Coffee's Fruit & Tea beverages are available in three flavors: White Tea & Peach, Green Tea & Mango, and Red Tea & Raspberry.

CoolFest will not be available in stores that are not open on Saturdays and in the Duluth, Canal Park location.

4th Annual Coolfest 2008 - Free 12 oz. Fruit & Tea
Saturday, June 21, 2008 from 3-4pm at participating locations.
Jun 18, 2008

Review: Taco Bell -Strawberry Frutista Freeze

The Frutista Freeze is Taco Bell's new frozen beverage introduced just as the summer heat began (about mid May). It features real strawberries in syrup over a mixture of ice and strawberry syrup. It's a bit like a 7-Eleven Slurpee in that respect but with more syrup. The high amount of syrup makes for a sweeter strawberry taste. It's quite refreshing with how hot it has been getting around here.
Jun 17, 2008

Review: Chick-fil-A - Waffle Potato Fries

Chick-fil-A's Waffle Potato Fries feature skin-on, waffle-shaped potatoes deep-fried in peanut oil.

Jun 16, 2008

Review: McDonald's Premium Crispy Chicken Club

I've noticed a lot of McDonald's ads (billboards in particular) tend to tout the quality of their ingredients such as "all white meat premium chicken" and "100% beef." And it makes me think, what did it used to be? Especially the beef... What was it if it wasn't 100% beef? Regardless, I'm not exactly expecting quality at any fast food establishment and when I think of McDonald's besides childhood memories, I think of convenience.

Jun 14, 2008

News: "Free Taco Bell Fruitista Freeze with Any Purchase" Coupon

Taco Bell is offering a coupon off its website for a either Frutista Freeze with any purchase at participating locations.

The Frutista Freeze looks to be some sort of smoothie that comes in Mango and Strawberry flavors. Taco Bells big emphasis seems to be on the fact that the drinks are topped with real strawberries. The drinks are priced at $1.89 for a 16 oz. cup.

You can print out the coupon here. The coupon expires on Thursday, June 19, 2008.

Coupon for a Free Fruitista Freeze with Any Purchase
Store Finder
Jun 13, 2008

News: Free Small Cup or Cone of Frozen Yogurt for Dad's on Father's Day at TCBY - June, 15, 2008

TCBY (originally "This Can't Be Yogurt" but a trademark suit prompted a change to "The Country's Best Yogurt," which managed to keep the initials) is offering a free small cone or cup of its soft serve or hand-scooped frozen yogurt to dads to celebrate Father's Day, this Sunday, June 15, 2008.

I don't know if you have to bring your kid(s) along to get your free yogurt... I'm sure any rugrat will do, even if they're not technically yours... Hell, they'd probably give it to you if you could say with a straight face that your friend, spouse, uncle, etc. is your kid.

Free Frozen Yogurt for Dads on Father's Day
Sunday, June 15, 2008
Store Locator
Jun 12, 2008

News: Free Hot Dog on a Stick Day Tomorrow - June 13, 2008

From 5pm to 8pm, tomorrow, Friday, June 13, 2008, you can stop by any Hot Dog on a Stick to celebrate Free Hot Dog on a Stick day and get a free hot dog on a stick (aka a corn dog but made fresh; one per person).

If you happen to be escaping the summer heat at your local mall, you might as well drop by the food court and get your free grub on.

Free Hot Dog on a Stick Day
Friday, June 13, 2008, 5pm to 8pm
Locations (mouse over "HDOS" for locations)

News: National Free Float Day at A&W Restaurant on June 16, 2008

On Monday, June 16, 2008 from the hours of 2pm to 8pm, A&W Restaurants will be offering free small root beer floats (no purchase necessary, one per customer/per visit, at participating locations only).

Of course with the price of gas being what it is, it's really not worth it unless you happen to have an A&W Restaurant nearby.

National Free Float Day
Monday, June 16, 2008, 2pm to 8pm
Jun 11, 2008

Review: Nubi's Yogurt - Frozen Yogurt

Offering portion control, if you have any self-control, Nubi Yogurt, in the heart of froyo central (southern California), offers frozen yogurt in 14 different flavors that you pull and top yourself for 38 cents an ounce.

Since Nubi offer free samples, I've pretty much tried all of their flavors. The flavors are mostly non-fat with a couple of low fat ones. The fruit flavors are expectedly sweet and tart whereas the non-fruit are just sweet (I only say this because my friend mentioned trying coffee flavor at a Pinkberry and said it was tart!). Most of the flavors tend to be more than a little on the sweet side for me and in the end, I liked and opted to go with original "plain tart," which I like to think of as "the blank canvas."

For toppings, I mostly went healthy with strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries, but splurged a bit on mochi and cheesecake(!). I put cheesecake on at the recommendation of my friend and it goes really well with "plain tart."

Anyway, I'm far from being a yogurt connoisseur; I tend to go for original since, at least to me, original tastes equally good anywhere you get it... But I like the choice available at Nubi Yogurt, where you can get as much or as little of everything as you want.

If you live in the San Gabriel-ish area, chances are you can locate a 20% off coupon in your local ad flyer. Nubi Yogurt also has locations open in Redlands, CA and Apple Valley, CA. Another location is slated to open in Millbrae, CA.

Nubi Yogurt
Focus Plaza
140 W. Valley Blvd, Suite 118G
San Gabriel, CA 91776
Phone (626) 573-9988
Sun-Thurs 11:00 am - 11:00 pm
Fri-Sat 11:00 am - 12:00 am
Jun 10, 2008

News: Pizza Hut Offering $4 Pizza Mias to New Online Customers on June 12, 2008

In a move to garner more online customers, on Thursday, June 12, 2008, Pizza Hut is offering first-time users of its online ordering, its Pizza Mia deal where they can buy three or more one-topping 12" Pizza Mias for $4 each, rather than the usual $5.

The Pizza Mia is Pizza Hut's value pizza which "they tout as being made with whole milk mozzarella cheese, sauce made from sweet vine-ripened tomatoes, and dough made from Great Plains flour." I'm assuming the ingredients used in making them costs less than Pizza Hut's regular pizzas.

Pizza Hut rival, Domino's, offers a similar value deal with its 444 Deal where it offers its one-topping small 10" pizzas for $4 when you buy at least three.

Little Caesars also offers a similar value with its HOT-N-READY large 14" pepperoni or cheese pizzas for $5 (no minimum purchase) for pick-up only. It's very much an impulse buy since you don't have to order ahead and wait.
Jun 9, 2008

News: FDA Warns Don't Eat Certain Types of Tomatoes

Due to an outbreak of salmonella, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a warning that certain types of tomatoes may be responsible for the outbreak.

While still under investigation, preliminary data points to raw red round tomatoes, raw red plum, and raw red Roma tomatoes as the cause.

The FDA warns consumers who eat tomatoes to only eat the following types as they are NOT likely to be the source of the outbreak:
  • cherry tomatoes
  • grape tomatoes
  • tomatoes sold with the vine still attached
  • tomatoes grown at home

It is also safe to eat tomatoes of any type if you know they are from the following areas that the FDA has found to NOT be the cause of the outbreak:

Safe Sources (U.S.)
New York
North Carolina
South Carolina
West Virginia

Safe Sources (Foreign):
Dominican Republic
Puerto Rico

As a result of the warning, you may find that many of your local restaurants have temporarily stopped using tomatoes altogether rather than risk contamination. You may also find that your local supermarket have temporarily stopped carrying Roma, plum, and round tomatoes.

For more information and updates, you can visit the FDA webpage on the warning at:

Homemade Recipe: Texas Toast

Texas Toast is basically buttered thick-sliced toast made in a pan or grill. According to Wikipedia, Texas Toast was first served at the Pig Stand (a now defunct fast food chain) on Calder Avenue in Beaumont, Texas in the 1940s. As the story has it, Royce Hailey, Pig Stand president, requested that the bread from the Rainbo bakery be sliced thicker, but the bread was too thick for the toaster, so a cook buttered both sides of the bread and placed it on the griddle, toasting it medium brown.
Since I had extra thick-sliced bread from making French Toast, I decided to make Texas Toast as a quick snack. All you need is:
  • Thick-sliced Bread (sometimes sold as "Texas Toast" even though it's not toasted)
  • Butter
  • Garlic Salt if you like (Other ideas would be to mix cinnamon and sugar with the butter to make Cinnamon Texas Toast.  If you want fresher flavors, mince garlic and parsley and mix it with the butter before spreading.)
All you need to do is butter both sides of the bread, sprinkle whatever seasoning you like, plop it on a pan on medium heat, and cook to your desired color.  


You can also cook it on the grill if you're having a barbecue out back.  Just butter the bread and place it right on the grill.  Just be mindful of burning the bread since the heat is higher.
Jun 7, 2008

Review: Jack In The Box - BBQ Bacon Sirloin Burger

Jack In The Box's BBQ Bacon Sirloin Burger is the burger that prompted Carl's Jr to send out this press release expressing its displeasure with imitators of its Western Bacon Cheeseburger (which I recently had and was unfortunately doused with BBQ sauce). At $4.79, Jack In The Box's BBQ Bacon Sirloin Burger comes at a premium and size that I wouldn't normally pay. However, I was hungry after a late night of class and I figured I could blog about it.
With a number of fast food burger joints offering premium burgers featuring Angus beef patties or sirloin patties, I thought I'd explain the difference. Angus is a supposedly superior type of beef, it is known to have a higher degree of marbling that is desirable in cuts of beef. Sirloin, on the other hand, is a specific cut of beef from the lower portion of the cow's ribs. It is commonly cooked as a cheap steak.

Of the two, I would think the sirloin would have a higher tendency to dry out when cooking. However, I don't know how much that would matter, since all fast food places cook their burgers well done nowadays to decrease the chance of bacterial contamination.
I have to say, while a bit more than I would normally like to eat, I enjoyed this burger more than the last Western Bacon Cheeseburger I ate. As you can see, it's not slathered in BBQ sauce; as a result, I could taste the flavor of each individual ingredient. The onion rings were very crisp since they weren't drenched in BBQ sauce and the meat had a bit of char, which I liked, but was a bit dry. The proportion of the ingredients was balanced well, and everything is held together by a large toasted kaiser bun.
While I'm not sure I'd get it again unless I was sharing it with someone, it's a pretty good burger when you're in the mood for something "western."

Jack In The Box
Jun 6, 2008

News: Crumbs Bake Shop's - Free Cupcakes At New Larchmont Location on 6/6/08

I got this tidbit from LAist here. I've never heard of Crumbs myself or ever been; I'm not that into the whole cupcake craze. I like the idea but the execution and high cost are a bit underwhelming.

Anyway, Crumbs' new location on Larchmont Blvd. in West Los Angeles is giving away 1,000 cupcakes today starting at 8 am to celebrate. The cupcakes usually go for about $3.50. Its best seller is the Artie Lange Cupcake created by the eponymous comedian of the Howard Stern Show.

Free Cupcakes - June 6, 2008
Crumbs Bake Shop
216 North Larchmont Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90004
(323) 464-8400
Jun 4, 2008

Review: Carl's Jr - Western Bacon Cheeseburger

The Carl's Jr. in my area (southern California) recently started offering their Western Bacon Cheeseburger 2 for $4 which gave me as good an excuse as any to buy two. The burger features a charbroiled beef patty, two bacon strips, American cheese, two crispy onion rings, and BBQ sauce on a toasted sesame seed bun.

Jun 3, 2008

Review: Baja Fresh - Churros

My Favorte Churro

As a kid, I would always remember eating those long churros they served at Disneyland. I was fascinated by how they would go through the toasting machine and then were rolled through a tray of sugar and cinnamon. Sometimes, just thinking about it makes me want to go to Disneyland... But then I remember Disney now costs $66 (compared to $25 or so back then!) and those churros are now probably at least $5 a pop.

Fortunately, the other day I decided to go to Baja Fresh and saw that they now have churros(!) on the menu for 99 cents.

I think they bake it, but I could be wrong. It was very tasty: crispy, sweet, and crunchy on the outside, moist and soft on the inside. I took a good picture too! I kind of want a churro now...

Baja Fresh
Store Locations
Jun 2, 2008

Homemade Recipe: Tortilla Soup

Here it is! My super secret tortilla soup recipe! Okay, it's not really super secret but whatever. Here's what you'll need:
  • 1.5 pounds of chicken (usually I use breast but I've also just thrown in half a small chicken before. But it you use dark meat and/or skin be prepared to skim the grease.)
  • a 16 ounce can of diced tomatoes
  • a can of corn (I just use whatever size I happen to have usually 14 ounces)
  • 3 to 4 cans of chicken broth
  • salt, pepper, and sugar to taste
  • a large brown onion diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic chopped finely
  • 1 to 2 chipotle peppers (bought in a small can with adobo sauce. You'll want about 2 teaspoons of that adobo sauce.) Put more if your mouth can stand it. Be sure to put in that adobe sauce!
  • tortilla chips (or strips if you feel like cutting and frying some corn tortillas)
  • shredded cheese (I usually just buy a bag of shredded "mexican" blend cheese but you can also used monterey jack, colby, cheddar, or a blend of the three)
  • sliced avocados (if you like, I don't usually.)
Start by searing the chicken a bit with some oil in a 4-quart pot (or whatever large pot you have available) on medium-high heat until you get some nice browning. Add the onions and garlic and let them cook until you get a good aroma and sizzling. After that, you can put all the other ingredients in and let it simmer for at least 30 minutes, but longer if you like. Be sure to taste the soup and add salt, pepper, and sugar to suit your tastes. Serve with chips and cheese. Makes 6 - 8 servings.
It's soup! Taste it while it's cooking to make it to your liking. Don't be afraid to experiment by adding and subtracting ingredients, adjusting amounts and what not.