Sep 29, 2009

News: Starbucks Via Test Challenge, October 2-5, 2009

Starbucks is enticing customers to try their Via brand instant coffee (coined "ready brew") by offering a taste test in comparison to their normal house coffee in their stores this weekend, from October 2nd to October 5th. As an incentive to come in and taste test Starbuck's Via Ready Brew, they are offering an "offer card" (read: coupon) good for your next visit for a free tall brewed coffee.

Having tried Via before, I remember it being actually better than Starbuck's brewed coffee. The reason is probably that the quality of in-store brewed coffee can suffer (or benefit) from variation in its preparation whereas a vacuum-sealed tube of instant coffee will very likely always be the same.
Sep 28, 2009

Review: Nong Shim - Shin Ramyun Noodle Soup

To celebrate the spring we call "fall" here in southern California, I decided to enjoy a cold weather favorite of mine, Nong Shim's Shin Ramyun (aka ramen). Wikipedia tells me it's the bestselling brand of noodles in South Korea It's been very hot this September, but at least it was sort of cold tonight... well, comparatively anyway. Close enough for spicy ramen weather! A pack for a buck or less is enough for two servings.
Now a package of ramen by itself is just boring, so this time around I decided to boil some beef balls with the spice mix to start before adding some baby bok choy, spinach, green onions, the freeze-dried veggies, and the noodles.
Mmm... tasty! But very spicy and very hot if you eat it out of the pot like I did! See the steam in the third shot.

But there you go, a quick and easy meal for those who like the spicy or something to warm you up in cold weather. And for the super lazy, Nong Shim also makes Shin Ramyun in a Cup. They call it Shin Cup oddly enough...
Sep 23, 2009

Review: Daphne's Greek Cafe - Baklava

For those like myself who have wondered it's pronounced "bah-kluh-vah" and not "bak-la-va" and it's offered at Daphne's Greek Cafe. I didn't care for Daphne's version much. It was too sweet and soggy for my liking. I prefer it to be subtly sweet rather than dripping honey. That way, you can better taste the nuts and enjoy the crispness of the fillo dough.

Sadly, like most things, the longer it sits out, the soggier and less crisp it gets so it's hard to find baklava that I actually enjoy. But this version is no worse than most places.

Sep 19, 2009

Review: Chick-fil-A - Chicken Nuggets

Still no Chick-fil-A's nearby in the foreseeable future but at least they're not like Sonic and Dunkin Donuts and taunting me with their commercials. Besides their Chicken Sandwich, Chick-fil-A (that's "chick-fil-ay" and not "chick-fil-ah" by the way) also offers chicken in other forms including nuggets.
Unlike most fast food joints, Chick-fil-A Nuggets are made from whole chunks of chicken rather than the mechanically-separated variety which gives it a more chicken-y texture. The breading is the same stuff they use on their Original Chicken Sandwich.

There a little bit on the small size; bite-sized really but they're only lightly salted which makes them perfect for the large variety of different sauces that Chick-fil-A offers. Unlike most places which place a limit on your sauces, Chick-fil-A humors your curiousity and gives you as many sauces as you can get your grubby little paws on and my cousin got them all. Actually you can order anything on the menu and still get your choice of sauces! Ranging from Buffalo to Polynesian to Honey Mustard, I have to admit a couple of them were so similar that I couldn't really differentiate between them.

While not spectacular or a good value with the small pieces, Chick-fil-A's Nuggets are a nice change of pace from the typical fast food chicken nugget and are especially worth trying if only to satisfy your curiosity about the sauces.
Sep 14, 2009

Review: McDonald's Deluxe Breakfast

It's almost like everything on McDonald's breakfast menu thrown into a styrofoam tray... it's McDonald's Deluxe Breakfast!

Sep 10, 2009

Review: El Pollo Loco - BBQ Chicken Slider

I tried El Pollo Loco's BBQ Chicken Slider a while back for 99 cents. It was one of El Pollo Loco's entrants to the increasingly crowded fast food slider arena.
El Pollo Loco's BBQ Chicken Slider offered the promise of barbequed chicken and coleslaw on a mini-telera roll (A telera roll is much like a bollillo in texture. Bollillo rolls are the bread typically used to make tortas).

The telera roll usually featured a slightly thick, soft crust with a soft, dense, slightly sweet, interior that I enjoyed. The bbq sauce and cole slaw went well together. But, unfortunately, there just wasn't enough chicken in the sandwich as you can see above. The flavors were there, it was just thrown off by the lack of shredded, barbequed chicken. A bite featured mostly bread and coleslaw.
It is perhaps for that reason that the sandwich no longer seems to be offered. It was a limited-time item but maybe it'll come around again... Hopefully, with more meat...
Sep 7, 2009

Review: Daphne's Greek Cafe - Hummus Snack

At Daphne's Greek Cafe, two scoops of hummus and and a soft, warm pita cut into quarters will run you a buck. Not bad for a snack I suppose. It's nothing to write home about but the "Starter Dip" (also available with Red Pepper Hummus and Fire Feta) is a nice snack.

The pita was soft, warm, and pillowy with a slight oven-toasted crispness on the outside. The hummus, while an unappetitizing shade of yellow (a lot darker than most hummuses... Hummusi? ... Just plain "Hummus?" Haha... I could look it up but I won't!) was comparable to most hummus that I've tried. It's not memorable, but it's nice and worth a try should you stop by a Daphne's.
Sep 2, 2009

Review: Carl's Jr. - Big Carl

My Favorite "Big Mac"
Priced at $1.99 in the L.A. area (but $2.49 in other markets if the ads are any indication compared to a nationwide average of over $3 for the Big Mac), Carl's Jr.'s Big Carl is set to go head-to-head with McDonald's beloved Big Mac complete with an ad campaign directly challenging the Big Mac. The ads mock the Big Mac's jingle, the Big Mac's miniscule patty size, and the Big Mac's third bun. If the voices in the ads are any indication, the Big Mac is the insecure little nerd that got beat up in highschool and the Big Carl is the confident jock that everyone liked.