Food Adventure Collage.

carnitas snack shack. c-level. world famous. woodstocks. terra american bistro. buddies. corbins. casey's cupcakes. mandarin beijing. nazca grill. eiffel tower restaurant. gordan ramsay burgr. in-n-out. bankers hill bar and grill. los primos. bistro sixty. ruth's chris.


... to a place I like to call my very own. *waving hello*

I invite you to enjoy reading about the food adventures that I have with friends, family, and colleagues.

I adore food and I cannot just choose one particular food that is my fave.

Food is really is my favorite. Enjoy!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Knowlwood Restaurant - Irvine, CA

 [Old Town Irvine - Historic Blacksmith Shop]

I met my friend, Rod, for the first time at the 2001 San Diego Asian Film Festival (SDAFF), when I assisted with the marketing and promotion when the festival was only in its 2nd year.  Rod's movie was the first Filipino-American film to be accepted into the Sundance Film Festival and it screened on the opening night of SDAFF.  Since we've met, Rod and I have been good friends ever since.  It has been over seven years since we last saw each other, so we scheduled to meet "in the middle" for lunch one Sunday afternoon in July.

Knowlwood Restaurant in Old Town Irvine was a restaurant suggestion from one of my students who is familiar with the area.  I wanted us to meet a restaurant off of the 5 freeway that has the following criteria: something different, delicious food, is a mom n' pop, and is not a popular chain restaurant.

Knowlwood has five restaurants in the Orange County area.  The restaurant has family history that dates back over 50 years ago.  Their first restaurant was opened in 1957 by Roy and Faye Knowlton and Gene Wood in, what was then called, Orangewood Ranch.  That area today is called Anaheim Hills.  They specialize in serving delicious food while offering great customer service.  They trademarked the phrase "World's Best Hamburger", because the locals referred their burger as the "World's Best."

For a Sunday afternoon, it was not busy at all.  I figured that we missed the Sunday breakfast crowd and simply walked straight to the counter after deciding what to order.  The guests eating at the restaurant varied from families, teenagers, college students, and senior citizens.  The decor had an old "country feel" to it, as there is an old truck right in the front of the restaurant once we walked in.  Guests order from the counter and then seat themselves. 

Rod and I placed our order and immediately caught up on the most recent happenings of our lives.  After patiently waiting for about 15 minutes, our order number was called.  Hooray!

Rod ordered the pastrami sandwich with a side of french fries.  The sandwich is served on a baguette with sliced pickles and yellow mustard.  For the most part, the flavors were good, but the pastrami was a bit fatty.  The bread was soft and warm -- and I imagined it to be crunchy and toasted.  The fries were the standard, thick cut french fries that were fried just enough to be cooked -- not so much cooking them to crispy golden brown. 

Remember my Vegas post where I said that if a restaurant is "bragging" about what they do best (i.e. World's Best Hamburger) that I should absolutely try it out?  Well, because of my Burger Quest, lately I have been "burger'ed" out.  I was craving crispy, fresh fried chicken!  I owe it to Jayne's Gastropub for their fried chicken special.  Also, I read a few reviews on Yelp and one person said that they have the best fried chicken.  As soon as I read that, I was sold on ordering it.

I guess the "World's Best Hamburger" will have to wait.

I took a single picture of my chicken platter, which I ordered with onion rings instead of fries for a dollar more.  The succulent pieces of chicken arrived with an assortment of a breast, wing and drummette, and a drumstick.  When I ordered it, the cashier said that it would take a while since they fry the chicken fresh.  YES, please!  They get a plus from me for that!

The chicken was absolutely scrumptious.  I enjoyed every bite.  The chicken meat was juicy, tender, and very flavorful.  My guess is that the chicken pieces were brined.  The skin was fried to a perfect crisp and there were no signs of any overcooked/burned pieces.  It was the true sign of perfectly fried chicken.

After lunch (and after Rod ate all my onion rings), we drove over to the Irvine Spectrum for frozen yogurt and spent the rest of our lunch date talking about our families and our personal lives.  After years of not seeing each other, it was like yesterday that we were hanging out at the festival.  Good times -- that's what good friendship is all about... AW!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Eddie's Philadelphia - North Park

Eddie's Philadelphia Steaks and Hoagies... Mike and I visited this North Park establishment as an homage to my sister, Lani, who moved to Philadelphia, PA, a few years ago.  We miss her dearly and every time the word "Philadelphia" or "Philly" comes up, we immediately think of her.

We drive towards Eddie's on 30th -- a very cute house!  We visited on a weekday at 5:00 PM in the afternoon and noticed that there was one couple eating inside.  The decor of the restaurant consists of all Philadelphia sports memorabilia and a flat screen TV for sports.  You order from the counter, you find a seat, and they serve you the food.  I've been studying the menu, but I already knew what I was going to order... definitely, a cheesesteak.

We ordered our food and used a $10 gift certificate from Restaurant.com that I bought for less than a dollar (no joke).  The rules from the Restaurant.com website states that we were required to spend $20 to use the $10 certificate... plus, they automatically add 18% gratuity.  So... although still a monetary discount for us, we usually would not have ordered two sides ($1.99 each) & two drinks ($1.89 each).  The gift certificate is definitely great for more than two people.

[outdoor patio]

After ordering, we sat outside since it was such a beautiful sunny afternoon.  The woman who took our order brought out our food in a timely manner and even went back inside the restaurant to bring us utensils that we forgot to grab. 

Mike ordered the BBQ Chicken Burger with a side of steamed vegetables.  The "burger" is a grilled chicken breast, smothered in their homemade BBQ sauce, and served with lettuce, tomatoes, shaved white onion, and pickles, on a sesame seed bun.  The chicken breast was delicious -- I was impressed that I could taste the grilled flavor and that it was very juicy.  Eddie's makes three kinds of chicken burgers, including a Parmigiana Chicken Burger and a Teriyaki Chicken Burger.

[yummmm, BBQ sauce was delicious]

[side of veggies: crisp & fresh]

I have always wanted to try a Philly cheesesteak "wit whiz" (that is, with onions and Cheez Whiz).  I know, I know... I can hear it now.  "Ewww, what?  Cheez Whiz??"  As we all are aware, Cheez Whiz is a processed cheese sauce packaged in a jar.  Yeah, who in the right mind would order a cheesesteak with this gooey, orange substance called cheese?  *raising my hand* Well, that would be me!  The "cheesesteak wit whiz" is a popular combination in Philly, and I wanted to experience one.  Eddie's also has provolone and white american as a cheese choice for the steaks.

I ordered the cheesesteak "wit whiz" with a side of the homemade macaroni salad.  The thinly sliced meat is ribeye steak (delicious) and is grilled on the flat top with soft, diced onions.  Eddie's uses Amoroso rolls, a bakery company in South Philadelphia that specializes in baked rolls like for hoagies and cheesesteaks in Philly.

I cut the sandwich in half (about 12 inches) and took my first bite.  OMG, so freakin' good.  The saltiness of the Cheese Whiz brought out the flavor of the steak with the onions.  The bread was warm and soft.  I've never had an Amoroso roll before, but after having it, the roll is a MUST for all cheesesteaks!  Eating the meat alone, I noticed that it was under seasoned, but like I mentioned, as a whole, the cheesesteak was delicious.  Yes, with the exception of letting the hubby take a couple of bites, I ate the whole darn thing and did not regret it.

The homemade macaroni salad was light and delicious.  It was not overdressed with mayonnaise and had chunks of celery, red bell peppers, carrots, and onions. 

[Cheez Whiz goodness]

There is another cheesesteak place in San Diego that I heard serves the best, authentic Philly cheesesteaks, Gaglione Brothers, which I have not yet visited. In the meantime, Eddie's will be on the top of my cheesesteak list!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Studio Diner - Kearny Mesa

 [photo credit: JP using Pam/Louis' camera]

Alright, I am going to admit a few things about the Studio Diner.  I admit that I was aware that the Studio Diner existed in Kearny Mesa and never visited when I lived in Serra Mesa after graduating college.  I admit that my work colleagues and I went to breakfast here a few years ago and my dish was just okay.  I also admit that seeing the diner on "Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives" (DDD) on the Food Network prompted me to go back because I enjoy watching Guy Fieri.  Thanks to that episode, I probably wouldn't have thought of coming back!

[Guy Fieri signed poster]

Money saving tip:  They are a participant of Restaurant.com, so you can't beat getting a $25 gift certificate for only $2 when it's 80% off.... hooray for saving money!

Studio Diner is located right next door to the Stu Segall Productions which produced television shows like 'Silk Stalkings', 'Renegade', and 'Veronica Mars'.  According to the 'DDD' episode, Segall, a Bostonian, decided to have the diner built next to the studio because he missed diners.  The New England Ipswich clams are shipped directly to San Diego from Cape Ann, Massachusetts!  Awesome!  Be sure to check out the menu section called "East Coast Specials" for Stu's New England menu like lobster rolls and creamy clam "chowda". 

The decor inside is "movie production"-related with the director's chair at the host stand, actual film reels to hold the condiments at the table, production lights set around the restaurant, and the dining plates have "film" around the edges.

[first experience]

[outdoor patio]

With a $25 Restaurant.com gift certificate in hand, my sister's family and I decided to have lunch at Studio Diner last December 2009. 

The thing is with me is that if I'm craving something... I satisfy my craving with no hesitation.  I still read every item on the menu, but I usually always go back to my craving.  This day, I was craving a pastrami reuben. Oh, how I love the tang of the crunchy sauerkraut, paired with the cured meat.  Dee-lish!

Yep, I ordered it.  I couldn't resist hot pastrami on grilled rye, swiss cheese, and thousand island dressing.  I swear, I am a complete sucker for these.  Everyone knows that I'm also a sucker for cole slaw too, so instead of french fries, I ordered a cup of the slaw with my sandwich.  The sandwich was good, but just okay.  The pastrami had quite a bit of fat in it.  I wished that the meat was trimmed a tad bit more.  The cheese wasn't even melted.  However, all in all, the flavors were good and the sauerkraut tasted fresh.  I enjoyed the crunch of the grilled rye bread. 

This is my cole slaw after I seasoned it with pepper, what I usually do with my slaw.  Although the slaw had good flavor, there was too much mayonnaise.  I didn't mind the overdressed slaw that much, but I think that the regular customer would have not liked it as much as I did.

My nephew, J, ordered the Crew Sliders - which are four cute, mini cheeseburgers with grilled onions, pickle slices, and a large side of french fries.  He was quick to squeeze Heinz ketchup on his fries as soon as the plate was served in front of him.

The burger was very good and the grilled onions were a nice addition to the plain cheeseburger.  He even gave me a slider to taste and to review.  He wanted to taste my sandwich too.  I asked him if he's had pastrami and sauerkraut before and he said "no."  There was no hesitation, though... he ate the piece I cut for him and although he wasn't that impressed, I was proud of him for trying.

Sheila ordered the blue crab cake sandwich with sweet potato fries.  Yum!  I didn't get to have a piece of her sandwich (didn't blame her - she was six months pregnant *smirk*).  She said that it was really delicious and she enjoyed her crispy sweet potato fries.

My sister's husband, Ron, ordered the fish n' chips ....huge ol' piece of Icelandic Haddock, french fries, cole slaw, and tartar sauce.  The fish was tasty and flaky.  This dish is something I would definitely try the next time I visit.  I love, love, love.... fried goodness!

[second experience]
... all pictures below are taken by Pam/Louis ...

Louis' brother, JP, was in town from London, England, for the baby shower of his god son/nephew.  We met Pam, Louis, and JP at the Studio Diner one summer evening after work for an early casual dinner. JP has never been to an 'American' diner before so it was nice to introduce him to this particular "west coast" diner.  While browsing the menu, he inquired about items like malts, 50/50 shake (with OJ and vanilla ice cream), and what exactly is 'chicken fried steak'.

Pam ordered the patty melt - grilled rye, juicy burger, melted swiss cheese, and grilled onions with a side of french fries.  The fries appeared to be of the frozen shoestring kind by the looks of it but they still were a plate of fried potatoes!  The patty melt was yummy.

Louis ordered one of the "Blue Slate Specials" of the week -- it was a sirloin steak sandwich on a crusty roll with melted cheddar cheese and a side of onion rings.  Part of me thought of ordering this special, but I really wanted to try the Samson steak sandwich!  Louis also ordered the root beer milkshake for him and Pam to share. It was SO darn good.  If you love root beer, you have to try this!  

I guess our description of the chicken fried steak was good enough for JP because he ended up ordering it as his dish.  It was served with thick, country gravy, creamy mashed potatoes, and vegetables on the side.  He also ordered a chocolate milk shake along with his meal.

Mike ordered the Boob Sandwich (great name for a sandwich, BTW) -- grilled sourdough, grilled chicken breast, avocado, lettuce and tomato with no bacon or Jack cheese.  He ordered cole slaw for his side.  The chicken breast was cooked very nice, as it was juicy and not tough at all. 

The Samson Steak Sandwich .... my order.  Segall's father's name is Sam, and of course, Stu is his son.  Therefore, the name of this great sandwich was created.  This is a take on an "Asian" inspired cheese steak sandwich.  The thinly sliced prime rib is marinated in soy, pineapple juice, garlic, sugar, black pepper and sesame oil before grilling it on the flat top to a perfect medium rare.  Spinach, mushrooms, onions, and bean sprouts are sauteed and layered on top of the steak on a toasted roll.  Finally, the sandwich is covered in mozzarella cheese and heated in the broiler until the cheese melts.  You can watch the DDD clip of the history of Studio Diner and how Chef John makes the sandwich here.

This steak sandwich was SO delicious.  I couldn't stop eating it.  The steak was tender and I could definitely taste the marinade.  I love sauteed bean sprouts and how crunchy still were (guess you all probably noticed that I like crunchy food items).  Everything about the sandwich was divine.

Alright, folks... this sandwich alone will keep me going back to the Studio Diner.

Thanks, Guy Fieri and the Food Network!
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