Jan 30, 2010

News: 6000 Set to Compete in the Krispy Kreme Challenge

On February 6, 2010, 6000 competitors are set to run in the Krispy Kreme Challenge at NC (North Carolina) State University.

The Challenge, which originally started out in 2004 as a dare between students, is a two mile run from the NC State bell tower to the nearest Krispy Kreme donut shop at the corner of Peace and Person St. in Raleigh.  Upon arrival at Krispy Kreme, each competitor must eat a full dozen Krispy Kreme donuts before dashing back two miles to the bell tower.  Furthermore, for challengers (casual participants are allowed to sign up as well), the Challenge must be completed in one hour or less.

This year, registration closed early with 6000 competitors on January 26, 2010 because there's simply not enough room for more people to compete.  Proceeds from the event benefits the North Carolina's Children's Hospital.  Last year, the event raised $35,000 for the hospital.

Of course what I'm wondering is, "How many people are going to throw up after trying to run two miles with a belly bloated with Krispy Kreme donuts and who has to clean it up?!"  This is definitely must-see TV (and by that I mean you should go in person) if you're in the area.

By the way, a dozen Krispy Kreme original glazed donuts contains 2400 calories (half of which comes from fat) 144 grams of fat, and 120 grams of sugar.  At least, if the participants can metabolize fast enough, they'll have plenty of energy!

More information about the event and its history is available at:
Jan 29, 2010

Review: McDonald's - Sausage Biscuit

Straight off McDonald's new Breakfast Value Menu (new in prices, the items are taken from the regular menu) is the Sausage Biscuit.  Simplicity in itself, it's a grilled sausage patty in a warm biscuit for $1.

Jan 28, 2010

Local Review: Spitz - Little Tokyo - Classic Döner Sandwich

Very similar to the Greek gyro, the Döner or Döner Kebab is Turkish in origin (it means "rotating roast") but has spread across much of Europe as affordable street food.  Spitz is a restaurant specializing in European-style (specifically Spain) döners with two locations in Southern California. I went to the Little Tokyo Spitz to try their most basic sandwich: the Classic Döner Sandwich.

Jan 27, 2010

The Asia Trip: Mister Donut in Japan

I walked by a Mister Donut one morning in Kyoto and decided that I wanted a French crueller donut (read about my love of French cruellers here).  Mister Donut used to be a big donut chain in the U.S. back in the day but there are now only a scattered few here, across the Pacific however, it has become the largest donut chain in Japan and has expanded to several other East Asian and South East Asian countries including China and the Philippines.

Jan 26, 2010

News: Play Qdoba's Version of M.A.S.H. for a Free Food Coupon

Promoting their new Craft 2 menu, Qdoba is running their own version of M.A.S.H. (Mansion, Apartment, Shack, House) which gives you a 90% chance of winning a free food coupon at:

The Details (i.e. the "yadda yadda yadda").  The promotion runs until February 22, 2010 or until 250,000 coupons have been given out.  There is a limit of one coupon per person per day.  The coupons expire 48 hours after they are printed.  One coupon per customer, per visit.  At participating locations only, etc.

So far, people have won coupons ranging from a free beverage with a Craft 2 purchase to a free Craft 2 with a beverage purchase.

Craft 2 is Qdoba's newest menu item.  You basically pick two smaller version from a list of five of Qdoba's most popular items, mixing and matching as you like.  The five items are: Naked Burrito, Naked Taco Salad, tortilla soup, grilled quesadilla, and taco.  The regular price for a Craft 2 order is $5.99 though it may vary with location.

Review: Burger King - Double Cheeseburger

Ah, the Burger King Double Cheeseburger, the burger that led Burger King franchisees to sue the company over concerns for their profit margins.  The cost of the food itself for the Double Cheeseburger averages out to about 55 cents.  Update: the Double Cheeseburger now retails for $1.19 and its $1-slot has been filled by the Buck Double.

Jan 25, 2010

Review: Jack In The Box - Stuffed Jalapeños

Jack In The Box probably has the most varied (and sometimes random) menu of all the major fast food chains ranging from their mainstay burgers to Greek-style pitas to Chinese-style egg rolls.  It's pretty much your best bet for when you don't know what kind of fast food you feel like plus Jack In The Box is usually open 24 hours.  It's no surprise, that they also offer Stuffed Jalapeños, or Jalapeño Poppers, on the menu.

News: Minnesota - Free Punch Neopolitan Pizza - Today, January 25th Only

For any of you Viking fans dwelling in the Twin Cities area, here's a consolation prize: local pizzeria chain, Punch Neopolitan Pizza has a free pizza coupon up on their Flicker page for a free Margherita or Napoli pizza valid today, January 25th, 2010 only.  The coupon can also be used to take $5.95 off your order.

According to the coupon, you can show it to them on your laptop or phone or you can print it out.  Limit one per customer.

Click here for coupon.
Jan 23, 2010

News: White Castle Taking Reservations for Candlelit Valentine's Day Dinner

White Castle is offering the whole nine yards for Valentine's Day this year: tableside service, flowers and dinner by candlelight.  Dinner service ranges from 4pm to 10pm varying with participating restaurants.  You can get more details and a list of participating White Castles at their site here.  They're even selling "Love Castle" V-Day shirts and blankets.

I thought this was pretty interesting.  Might be funny for couples who don't take Valentine's Day too seriously or who love (or have fond couple-type memories at) White Castle.  I wonder if any of the White Castles get fully booked (update: apparently they book as fast as any other prime V-Day destination).  I'm just picturing a lot of guys with really pissed off girlfriends/wives as they drive up to White Castle on Valentine's Day.
Jan 22, 2010

Review: Ono Hawaiian BBQ - Chicken & Beef Combo

Ono Hawaiian BBQ is a Hawaiian BBQ chain, located in Arizona and California, that features mostly grilled i.e. barbecued meats as well as other Hawaiian specialties on the menu.  For about $7.50, the Chicken & Beef Combo Platter features lean, thinly-sliced BBQ beef and skinless, boneless chicken meat on a bed of steamed cabbage.

Jan 21, 2010

News: Some McDonald's Restaurants Giving Free Hot Mochas

It appears that some McDonald's franchise groups are running a promotion for a free hot Mocha drink (they should just call it a McMocha!) on Wednesdays until the end of February.

According to McDonald's official twitter, this is not a McDonald's Corp. promotion so your mileage may vary but I'm guessing if your local McDonald's is participating, they'll be some sort of signage up.  Otherwise, you can just call ahead and ask.  No purchase is necessary.  I haven't been able to verify if you get a normal-sized cup or an 7-ounce sample cup like the promotion last July.

(Mis?)Adventures in Cooking: Homemade Braised Pork Loin

Pork loin was on sale for cheap so I bought one and decided to braise it.  The thing I like about braising is you can adjust the stock on the fly and can taste as you braise.  For this recipe, I decided on a soy-based broth.  Just a word of warning, you might learn what not to do from this post or maybe why you should follow an actual recipe instead of winging it but it works for me.

Jan 20, 2010

The Asia Trip: Blenz Coffee in Japan

When I first went to Blenz Coffee, I thought it was a Japanese coffee chain since I had never heard of it, but Blenz is originally from Canada.  Their trademarked slogan is "Never Burnt, Never Bitter."  I ordered myself a latte and got some nice latte art!

Jan 19, 2010

Around the Web: The Best Fast Food in America and Top French Chefs Now Serving Fast Food

  • Esquire Magazine surveyed some of America's top chefs (including Thomas Keller and Alton Brown) to find out where they go when they feel the need for fast food.  The winner by far was unsurprisingly beloved California-based burger chain In-N-Out.

    Check out what other fast food joints made the cut as well as which restaurants they thought were the worst.

    Interestingly enough, Jack in the Box was picked as a favorite as well as a worst.

  • I thought this was pretty interesting: even fancy French chefs are turning to fast food due to the weak economy.  Pricey Michelin-rated restaurants are turning to express meals and sandwiches at (relatively) low prices to drum up business in the economic downturn.

    Check out the UK Telegraph story here.

News: Free Coupon for Fresco Taco at

In an effort to promote their somewhat dubiously-named "Drive-Thru Diet Menu," Taco Bell is offering a free coupon for a Fresco Taco at their website here.  The coupons are valid from 7 days from printing or until 1 million coupons are redeemed.

The coupons are limit one per customer and one print per customer at participating locations only.

The Fresco tacos available on the menu are: the Fresco Grilled Steak Soft Taco, the Fresco Crunchy Taco, the Fresco Soft Taco, and the Fresco Ranchero Chicken Soft Taco.

Each features shredded lettuce and Fiesta Salsa (i.e. pico de gallo) instead of the usual condiments (i.e. Cheddar cheese).

News: El Pollo Loco Adds Beef to Its Menu

That's right, the Crazy Chicken, home of flame-grilled Mexican chicken, has added flame-grilled beef to its menu.  It's a bit like KFC adding hamburgers to the menu, no?

In an effort to attract more visitors of the beef-eating variety, El Pollo Loco has added several sirloin-based dishes to their menu. The sirloin is prepared "carne asada" style meaning it is marinated in a citrus-based marinade and then grilled over their trademark open flame. Carne asada is usually served sliced thin.

Here are the new sirloin beef items:

  • Steak Taco - served "street-style" with cilantro and onions.
  • Grillmaster Steak Taco - with melted Cheddar and Jack cheese, pico de gallo (chunky salsa), and guacamole.
  • Sirloin Steak Bowl - steak, cilantro, pico de gallo, and onions served atop Spanish rice and pinto beans.
  • Steak & 3-Cheese Quesadilla - the three cheeses are: Cheddar, Jack, and Cotija.

Hopefully, the steak will be made to order and not stored in a heating tray like most fast food places. If so, it might be pretty good.
Jan 18, 2010

Review: Taco Bell - Beefy 5-Layer Burrito

The latest addition to Taco Bell's "Why Pay More" value menu, the Beefy 5-Layer Burrito features two flour tortillas with a layer of nacho cheese between them wrapping a filling of seasoned ground beef, grated cheddar cheese, sour cream, and refried beans. Basically, it's a quesadilla burrito.

Jan 17, 2010

News: Wi-Fi Now Free at McDonald's

Since Friday, January 15, 2010, over 11,000 (out of roughly 14,000) McDonald's across the U.S. are offering free Wi-Fi to their customers via AT&T.

Seems like another straight shot across the bow at Starbucks, which currently offers 2 hours a day of free Wi-Fi to customers with a registered Starbucks Card (also from AT&T), but charges $3.99 per two hours otherwise.  Perhaps fancier McDonald's decor and a more lounge-like atmosphere are in the works?  Will more people hang out at McDonald's and imbibe their McCafe offerings or refillable sodas?

Jan 15, 2010

The Asia Trip: A Look at a McDonald's McCafe in Japan

I only saw one McCafe in Japan.  They are no where near as prevalent as Starbucks is over there.  But still the setup was pretty interesting in comparison to here in the U.S.

I had heard that the McCafes abroad were much nicer and sometimes standalone from McDonald's unlike here in the U.S. where our McCafes are just a Melitta super automatic espresso machine placed inside of your everyday McDonald's.

Jan 13, 2010

Review: McDonald's Mac Snack Wrap

McDonald's recently did a nationwide rollout of their Mac Snack Wrap.  The Mac Wrap is basically a quarter of a Big Mac wrapped in a flour tortilla.  It sells for $1.49.  As a disclaimer, I'm not a big fan of wraps.  Generally, the only things I want wrapped in a flour tortilla are burrito ingredients.

Jan 12, 2010

News: $1 Oatmeal Every Wednesday in January at Jamba Juice

Jamba Juice is running a New Year's promotion this January 2010.  Until Feb 3rd (I guess that makes it mostly January huh?), you can buy their steel-cut oatmeal with fruit on top for $1 on Wednesdays.  It seems they are targeting people with New Year resolutions to eat healthier with this one.  At participating locations only.

I'm more of a oatmeal-is-easy-to-make at home kind of person though.  I might try it if I coincidentally passed by a Jamba Juice on a Wednesday in January but otherwise it'd be a pass for me.  It does look pretty good in the promo picture though (then again it never looks like the promo picture).
Jan 11, 2010

The Asia Trip: Apple Croissant

I got this little baby at a bakery at Shin-Yokohama Station before we boarded the bullet train for Kyoto.  The caramelized sugar coating its crust especially caught my eye.
Jan 8, 2010

The Asia Trip: McDonald's Japan - Gateau Marron McFlurry

Along with the Shaka Shaka Chicken, I also tried a Gateau Marron McFlurry from the McDonald's in Kyoto.  My cousin and I also tried to buy a McChicken that was advertised in the window but being the idiots that we are, didn't look closely at the date of the promotion which had not yet begun.  In our defense, the date wasn't that prominent on the poster.  Add to the fact that the cashier didn't speak English and we didn't speak Japanese, and wild gesticulation occurred with little result.  Eventually, we realized there was a date on the poster and just pointed to pictures of what we wanted instead.

Jan 6, 2010

The Asia Trip: McDonald's Japan - Shaka Shaka Chicken

McDonald's Shaka Shaka Chicken in its wrapper

A while ago, I did a spotlight on McDonald's in Japan (not knowing that I'd be actually going there not too soon thereafter).  One of the items that caught my interest in that post was the Shaka Shaka Chicken which upon going to Japan, I had to try.

As you can see above, the Shaka Shaka Chicken is served in a folded-over paper pouch with easy-to-follow picture instructions.  There are even some English words thrown in in case you get confused!  The dotted line that runs through the middle of the pouch is where you tear the pouch open after shaking for easy access without making a mess.

Jan 4, 2010

The Asia Trip: Subway Japan

Subway in Japan!  Okay I didn't actually eat here but couldn't help snapping some shots as I got out of the subway station at Omoto-Sando in Tokyo. They also have Subway in Taiwan but the ones there were very much like we have here in the States. Japan however was a little bit different...

Jan 1, 2010

The Asia Trip: First Meal... Chicken Katsu!

My first meal in Japan was a takeout bento. I thought I'd start the new year with the long-awaited posts of my trip to Asia (AKA The Asia Trip).