Archive for the ‘restaurant review’ Tag
I have a couple culinary missions in life. First, of course, is to find the best BBQ around. Secondly, I’d like to find the best fish market restaurant on the West Coast (we’ll see if I ever get around to exploring the other side of the country). These coastal gems supposedly have access to the freshest fish around, sometimes getting their offerings right off the boats.
I first heard about Malibu Seafood on Food Network’s “$40 a Day” and have read many positive reviews. I recently had the chance to make it my fourth fish market research project. Though not situated in a busy fishing port, its location right on the Pacific Coast Highway makes for stunning ambiance on a clear day. But let’s keep the main thing the main thing….
We ordered the Ahi Tuna Burger and the Fish and Fries. The fried fish (I believe it was cod) was very good. Piping hot, obviously fresh out of the fryer, it was flakey and moist with a tasty and crispy batter. The tartar sauce wasn’t anything special. Not terrible, just not any better than what you can purchase at the grocery store in a jar. Also, you have to pay extra for more. What’s up with that? Burger is the key word with the Ahi Tuna Burger. Don’t get lulled into expecting a sushi grade Ahi steak that’s seared on the outside and rare inside. It’s ground up, seasoned nicely, but pretty dry and lacking any distinctive tuna flavor. It seriously could’ve passed for a turkey burger. Very disappointing.
All-in-all, Malibu Seafood is my least favorite fish market restaurant so far (and the most pricey). When in the area, I would go back for the fried fish and possibly try one of their grilled offerings. Great location, but you definitely pay for it. And considering their prices, extra tartar sauce should be complimentary!
For more food talk, check out my food blog: The FUNdamental Foodie.
Ventura is about 90 miles from the BBQ Family’s abode. We succumb to the beckoning call of its beaches, BBQ (It’s In the Sauce BBQ) and bargains (Camarillo Outlets and downtown thrift stores) twice or thrice a year. Another great attraction is humbly situated in the quaint Ventura Harbor Village: Andria’s Seafood Restaurant and Market. Along with BBQ, fish markets are one of the BBQthDirector’s top culinary research endeavors (with frozen yogurt just recently entering the conversation — yay for Pinkberry!).
With a constant stream of fishing vessels dropping off their bounty in Ventura Harbor, it’s no wonder Andria’s has some of the freshest fish around. And the locals know the treasure they have at their disposal. Try to go at an off time or you’ll be spending a lot of time in line. If you happen to get there during a major rush, it’s worth the wait. The BBQthDirector recommends that you try Andria’s Fish and Chips, which is some of the best I’ve had. Made out of Angel Shark, which has a firm (almost chickeny) flesh and mild flavor. The batter is just right and the fries have a nice seasoning salt on them. You can spend a bit extra on Fried Cod or Halibut, but you can get those anywhere. Try Andria’s specialty first! The tartar sauce, while not earth-shattering, is good. It’s available at a self-serve counter, along with lemons, cocktail sauce, malt vinegar and Cholula. I’ve also had the grilled Halibut (locally caught, of course). It was impeccably fresh, but just a bit bland (a little more salt and butter would do the trick).
On our last trip, we got two orders of the fish and chips, two orders of the chicken and chips (which were very good), and an order of onion rings (which were excellent). We were thinking the six of us would be splitting a light lunch, but we couldn’t finish it. The servings are very generous, which is really saying something as the BBQthDirector’s appetite can be described as gluttonous. As I brought the tray of deep fried love to our outdoor table, there were a number of “oooohhhs” and “aaaahhhs” and even a, “wow, look at that!”
So, here, look at it…
For more food talk, check out my food blog: The FUNdamental Foodie.
Three words: Deep. Fried. Dog. Okay, here’s one more: Wow! Smack dab in the middle of the San Fernando Valley, a legend is in the making. Nathan’s in New York and Super Dawgs in Chicago are certainly the heavy weights of the weiner world, but Fab Hot Dogs will one day find itself featured in a book and/or a Food Network special. It will be one of the darlings of frankfurter fans across this great nation. Remember, you heard it here first.
Read the BBQthDirector’s restaurant reviews and you’ll know that I’m not quick to proclaim such lofty praise on a food establishment. I will always give my honest opinion. I’m not getting paid for this. Fab Hot Dogs hasn’t asked me for permission to use an itty-bitty picture of myself for a commercial. My experience in this tiny place with seating for maybe ten people is one I want to share with those who think hot dogs are just okay. I’m confident you’ll leave this place with a greater appreciation for the humble hot dog. The BBQthDirector’s Wife is not a big fan of hot dogs, but she thoroughly enjoyed her Chicago Dog:
Who cares about the Bulls, Bears or Cubs? In my mind (and stomach), Chicago’s claim to fame is it’s hot dog. Fab’s all beef beauty is authentically garnished with yellow mustard, neon green relish, tomato, onions, a pickle, hot peppers and celery salt. The delivery system of a soft poppy seed bun is yet another nod to Chicago classicism. It’s the real deal. And it’s real good!
The BBQthDirector’s choice may seem quite plain in comparison, but the taste and texture was truly the greatest hot dog experience I’ve ever had! “The Bald Eagle” is as majestic as it’s name: a deep fried dog topped with Fab’s homemade mustard relish. Goodness, please give me a moment to drool and mumble incoherently as I look back fondly on this special occassion.
Known as the ripper, the deep fried dog is slightly charred, a bit crispy, perfectly juicy and crazy tasty! The relish is a mix of chopped pickles and onions and compliments the hot dog without overpowering it. And is there a cuter food on earth than tater tots? These are not your soggy elementary school cafeteria tots. They’re nice and crisp, a great change of pace from your everyday fries. We ordered ranch garlic fries that were very good. My only complaint is that the garlic wasn’t mixed around real well. But they were burp-a-licious, nonetheless. If you’re a fan of chili dogs, this place delivers, as well. This rich concoction of homemade deliciousness was easily one of the best restaurant chilis I’ve ever had.
We tried to hook up with youth group alum, Melinda Rollema, who was finishing up her school teacher duties and couldn’t get to Fab. We’ll plan better next time. I guarantee, there’ll be a next time.
I had my heart set on seafood. We had planned to get together with the BBQ Extended Family over Easter break and we usually get together around food. Inspired by fellow blogging nerd Jane, we had our sights on hitting up the legendary road side fish market, Malibu Seafoods. Poor weather, a healing ankle, and post-grad school work were all factors in rescheduling to a later date. We decided we should still get together for lunch. A vote sent us to Todai, a Japanese buffet restaurant at the Puente Hills Mall in City of Industry (who in the world named that town?).
Usually, buffets are a smorgasborg of mediocre offerings. Less-than-stellar renditions of everyday food that sit in steam tables waiting to get sneezed on by unsupervised children. You don’t find everyday food at Todai (unless you’re a ninja or samarai). And there aren’t a whole lot of snot-nosed kids, either! I didn’t count, but there are probably close to a couple dozen different sushi choices. The artistry of this traditional Japanese craft is definitely a feast for the eyes. In my opinion, sushi is the most beautiful food on earth. But I didn’t come to Todai to gawk (which I did as we waited for the rest of the fam to arrive), I came to gorge! We prayed and it was on! I went for some nigiri (which is a strip of raw fish laid lovingly on a ball of sticky rice), and an array of sushi rolls (which can have either raw or cooked seafood, usually with some veggies, rolled up in rice and seaweed).
My nigiri standards are ahi tuna and salmon. Both were fresh, with absolutely no smell. The tuna was melt-in-your-mouth delicious and the salmon beautifully rich. I decided to try an unlabeled white fish that had a small piece of lemon on it. I fell in love! Went back for more and was told it was white tuna. Never heard of that before. It didn’t have the buttery consistency of the ahi, but I actually liked it’s firmer texture better. The lemon was a beautiful touch. I had a couple other pieces of nigiri that were weirdly chewy (I think it was tilapia). I don’t get how raw fish can be chewy.
The rolls were good. The California rolls (crab and avocado) were pretty standard and the spicy tuna nice, but not spicy. The unagi (eel) was pretty terrible. Very fishy. On the other end of the spectrum were two culinary masterpieces. The smoked salmon roll was incredible (you know me and smoke!). It had cucumber and cream cheese and an interesting sauce on it. Then there was the tempura battered roll. Absolute love! I had no idea what was in it, but it was so good, it coulda been possum and I’d go back over and over. Turned out to be my favorite of the bunch. Even my corn-fed, meat and potatoes out-law, Dan, liked it (props to him for getting a bit adventurous and trying some of the raw stuff–which he didn’t really like).
Just for kicks, I went after some of the cooked food. I like teriyaki so I sampled both the chicken and beef along with some pot stickers, tempura vegetables, fried rice, and chow mein to round out the plate. The teriyaki and fried rice was no better than the stuff you can get at chinese fast food places and the chow mein had a strong ginger flavor that I wasn’t down with. The tempura was nicely crisp and very good all around, as were the pot stickers. Overall, the cooked food was just decent. Next time, I’ll pass.
A nice surprise was the crepe station. They griddle it fresh on demand and give you some nice choices for fillings: raspberry sauce, bananas, peaches, mandarin oranges, pineapple and whipped cream. There’s also chocolate and caramel sauce and powdered sugar for topping off. Very enjoyable! The BBQthDirector had one with whipped cream, raspberry sauce, bananas, chocolate sauce and powdered sugar. I went back for one with whipped cream, raspberry sauce and mandarin oranges. The BBQ Kids had a great time experimenting with combinations as well! There was also a dessert section with a bunch of bite-sized cakes and such that were all just okay. The crepes are definitely the way to go. Don’t waste any gastronomical real estate on the other stuff!
So, for a “Plan B” type of thing, Todai came through. I’ll definitely return.
Into my Fave Fives of Burger Joints, that is! Driving back from the A.C.E. Regional Student Convention in Riverside gave me the opportunity to do some burger research. Youth group alum, James Burrow, commented that Fuddruckers is tops in his book, and since I haven’t been to one in over a decade, figured I should see for myself. Goodness, gracious, is this place good! I had three of my preacher boys with me (including yet another alum), and we lucked out with a Tuesday deal for 1/3 pound burger combos for just $7.00! Suh-weet! For whatever reason, Kevin got confused and went for the 2/3 pounder plus chili fries. He didn’t finish it. The sight of a burger about as big as your face really intrigued me. I now feel the need to attempt to finish one of those (plus the fries) all by myself. More research must be done!
Love the buttery toasted bun. Love the freshly cooked, juicy patty. Love that you can have it cooked to your preferred done-ness (which is medium-well for me). Love that you can pile on all the fresh veg toppings you want. Love the huge assortment of sauces/condiments (Sarahjane, you really should rethink your position on condiments). Especially love the honey mustard, which I have to say is about the best I’ve had. It’s not just sweet. It really does have the taste of honey to it. Excellent.
So, In-N-Out is still #1, followed by Fat Burger, but Fuddruckers breaks into the list at #3. That gives McDonald’s the boot! That should make a few of my readers happy.
James, thanks for inspiring me. You’ve made me a better person.