Cuban a la Plancha at 5300 Chop House

It wasn’t too long ago that I ate at a restaurant with an outdated online menu… and that’s exactly what happened again today.  Bah, what’s up with restaurants not keeping their websites up to date these days?!  Anyhoo, 5300 Chop House* (part of the Provident Doral resort, and Zagat-rated) was the plan for lunch today.

Before leaving the office, I looked up the menu online and definitely had my heart set on the Pan Fried Soft Shell Crab on Baguette (sandwich).  My mouth was already watering just thinking about it!  But alas… on the menu at the restaurant, the crab sandwich was nowhere to be found, so I spent the next 10 minutes brooding and perusing the menu again to decide what I wanted to order instead.  And munching on the complimentary tostones — rating: okay-fine — clogging my arteries.  They had a lot of crisp goin’ on.

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Spicy Chicken Sandwich & Waffle Fries at Chick-fil-A

Chick-fil-A is one of my favorite fast foods — unfortunate as it is for my waistline — and every time I dine in, I order the Spicy Chicken Sandwich and a medium Waffle Fries.  That combo is just so tasty that despite a natural proclivity towards variety, I never feel the need to switch it up, although I wouldn’t mind the occasional Ice Dream.

Since the Sandwich doesn’t come with any liquid condiments — just with pickles — I always top it off with some Chick-fil-A Sauce, that all-too-delicious combo of everything-bad-for-you in a small packet of yellow sauce.  Of course, I save some of the sauce to dunk my fries in.

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Also, just want to note here that I don’t mix food with politics.  The fact that I like the food at Chick-fil-A does not mean I agree with anything the restaurant may stand for.

Anyhoo, what’s your favorite fast food?

Octopus Causa, Peruvian at a Japanese Restaurant

Today was our intern’s last day at work.  What better excuse for a celebratory lunch outside the office?!

The cuisine of choice was sushi, so since my last meal there was so great, I recommended Kamiko Sushi.  Plus, Kamiko has a decent lunch specials menu, which I had all good intentions to order from… until about 30 seconds before I actually placed my order.  You know how that is when you have a lot of choices.

My proclivity for culinary adventure — come on, you shouldn’t be surprised by this point — led me to order the Octopus Causa instead.  Octopus ceviche atop yellow potatoes and avocado.  I’d never had octopus ceviche or causa (yellow potatoes) before, so couldn’t wait!

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Fun fact: Causa has Peruvian roots.  It’s a seasoned mashed (yellow) potato terrine — and in this case, layered with avocado.  Additionally, aji amarillo (yellow chili pepper) is typically added to the potatoes to give them an even more intense yellow tint.  The spice is also supposed to give the potatoes a bit of a kick, but I am fairly certain I didn’t taste anything spicy in the Causa I ordered.

You know the saying “love at first sight”?  Well, this unfortunately turned out to be “hate at first bite.”   Continue reading

Pad Thai Lunch Special at Umami

Pad Thai, one of my all-time favorite Asian classics… and what I ordered for lunch at Umami* today!

Pros?  Since I ordered the lunch special, it came with my choice of soup or salad — salad it was.  I was particularly impressed that the salad bowl was actually chilled — not something I typically encounter!  Also, the size of the main entree was ginormous (though it might not look like it from the picture), so that was a win too.  #doublelunch #lunchanddinner

Cons?  The salad was swimming — or maybe drowning is a more appropriate description — in ginger dressing.  I mean really… did I order salad with ginger dressing or sweet ginger soup with lettuce?!  Also, the rice noodles weren’t very chewy, and I was surprised to find bell peppers hiding among my noodles.  Since when were bell peppers an ingredient of Pad Thai?!  (Not that I really cared that much since I actually like bell peppers…)  Should’ve known better from a restaurant that only earned 3.5 stars on Yelp.  Despite ~150 ratings, my optimism got the best of me!

081414_umami_salad081414_umami_padthaiAlso, did you notice the mountain of peanuts next to the noodles?!  Just wanted to point that out in case you didn’t.  That was one HUGE buttload of nuts that remained unconsumed, as that particular contrast of hard and soft textures just doesn’t work for me.  On a related note, did you know that nuts are actually fruits?  #mindblown

Overall, the food was edible — rating: okay — but I probably wouldn’t order it again.  In fact, there’s a pretty low likelihood I would return to Umami again, given the other (read: better) Japanese restaurants in town.

Umami does get a shout out for having a lot of seating available, so at least we weren’t worried about getting a table there during peak lunch hours.  Woo.

Anyway, since I ❤ noodles, I probably critique harsher than your average Jane.  But hey, if I’m not enjoying what I eat, why eat at all?

*Location:
1400 NW 87th Ave
Doral, FL 33172

Steak Bomb-ing It Up At the Philly Steak Sub Shop

Ever order food to go even though you’re dining in at a restaurant?  I definitely do!  It’s so much more convenient because you don’t have to go back to the counter to ask for a box or a bag — or whatever other container is available — after you’ve decided you can’t stuff your belly anymore.

I must say though, one downside of getting your food to go is that it’s not as pretty to take pictures of.  Yeah, yeah, cry me a river… *violins playing*  You may think the taste of the food is more important than the looks, but looks are pretty darn important to a foodie photographer!

081214_phillysteak_steakbomb_1Anyhoo, this foodie photographer hasn’t had a Philly cheesesteak in a while, so the cure was to stop by the Philly Steak Sub Shop* for lunch today.  I ordered the Steak Bomb, which is your standard cheesesteak with beef and (provolone) cheese — plus onions, green peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes, lettuce, and bacon.  12″ was the way to go — go big or go home — since it was only $1.25 more than the 6″!  (Um… who can say lunch for tomorrow?!)

081214_phillysteak_steakbomb_2The unpackaged product looked less smushed and more delicious, but I had the restaurant pack it for me because I knew I couldn’t finish it and would need to wrap up the rest for tomorrow anyway.  Yay for efficiency!

Rating?  First few bites were fine, but after that, I had to downgrade the sandwich to okay because the meat started to dry up and I decided it could use a slight boost in flavor.  I’ve had better, but it was still a decent sandwich.  Would I go back to the Shop?  Yeah, probably.  Especially since I get a free cookie for paying in cash!

It also helps that they’ve got a few shelves of the essential everyday items for patrons to purchase while they’re waiting in line to order.  6 oz. Colgate toothpaste for $2, anyone?  Hey, that’s actually not a bad deal!

*Location:
8351 NW 12th St
Doral, FL 33126

Snackin’ on Some Potato Skins at Doral Ale House

Restaurants are a great place to hold meetings.  They offer social, relaxed environments and more importantly… food (duh)!  Really, what more could you ask for?

After work yesterday, my fellow Voice of Champions Toastmasters and I stopped by the Doral Ale House* to grab a quick bite to eat and discuss some practical matters.

While chatting, I munched on some potato skins, which were actually pretty substantial.  Not the kind where most of the insides are scooped out, leaving just the skin, sparsely topped with cheese, onion, and sour cream.  No sir!  These potato skins were half potatoes in disguise, with ample surface area on top for cheese, bacon, and onions.  (The sour cream and lettuce came on the side… or really, in the middle.)

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In fact, I only ate one and a half of those bad boys, but was full up for the next 2 hours or so!  (Maybe I just have a small stomach?)  I particularly enjoyed the crispy edges, though would conclude that the skins tasted average, nothing beyond my expectations.

Later in the evening though, I felt like an overgrown blob for consuming such fatty, calorie-packed junk, and my stomach wasn’t feeling as uppity as it normally does, so I may have to downgrade the Ale House from okay to below average.  Lesson learned.

And since this wasn’t my second below average experience there, it might be safe to say that I won’t be going back anytime in the near future.

*Location:
3271 NW 87th Ave
Miami, FL 33172

Punto Sur, I’m Back Again!

Getting six people to agree on a restaurant for lunch is no easy feat, but since I’m not the type of person to back down from a good challenge… challenge accepted, buck passed — hey, asking colleagues for suggestions is perfectly acceptable — and goal accomplished!

This afternoon’s pick… Argentinian at Punto Sur*.  Though I had eaten there before, the food was decent, so I didn’t mind going back again.

I remember the empanadas from last time being pretty tasty, so I ordered one as an appetizer.  Again, the spicy beef.  When I bit into it this time, I was reminded of a pastelito — one of my favorite pastries!  Not only was the flaky golden crust similar to that of a pastelito, but the meat inside was also flavored in a very similar manner.  I like that this little guy was not too spicy, but just spicy enough.  Woo.

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I also ordered the Flap Meat Sandwich (chimichurri on the side) with thick-cut fries.  Taste-wise, there seemed to be little difference between this and the Skirt Steak sandwich I ordered last time, though I would say this flap (pun intended) of meat was a bit more tender/chewy and less tough.  Overall, fine!

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*Location:
7902 NW 36th St
Doral, FL 33166

Try Some Italian American Fusion at Divieto

New restaurant!  And this time, new genre too — Italian American fusion!  I don’t think I’ve been to a restaurant that mixes those two specific flavors, so I was pretty excited to check out Divieto*.

A co-worker and I headed over to the restaurant around noon and luckily just avoided the lunch rush.  Right before leaving the office, we scoped out the online menu and were set on ordering lunch specials off the “Executive Menu.”  We even had the slightest glimmer of hope that we’d be able to ration our meals!  (Seriously, all this eating out is making me fat.)  After being seated at the restaurant, reality slapped us in the face, as we learned that the Executive Menu on the web was outdated and no longer available.  What?!  Fail #1.  #startfromscratch

The ambiance in the restaurant was very nice — vintage, yet modern — so we decided to forgive and forget that the original Executive Menu was unavailable, move on with our lives, and order something else from the current menu — of course still with the hope that we’d be able to ration our meals.  Turns out that not only would we not be able to ration, but the lunch special portions weren’t even really enough for one full meal.  Fail #2.

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Keep reading, it gets better.  I ordered the Shrimp Bistro, essentially linguine in lemon sauce, with shrimp, tomato, and arugula.  Pretty delicious, flavorful.  Fine.  The waitress had introduced it as a “special,” so thinking she meant lunch special — logical, since we had just asked about those — I went ahead and ordered it, along with a house salad.  (Lunch specials are supposed to come with either soup or salad.)  Come bill time, I was unpleasantly slapped (again) with a $3 surcharge for the salad!  Apparently “special” does not mean “lunch special.”  Uuugh… Fail #3.

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Though this culinary adventure might sound like an overall fail, at least we accomplished trying something new.  I actually enjoyed the taste of my meal — though not so much the cost — so I suppose I could be convinced to go back again… but next time, I’d want to first inquire about the current Executive Menu!

Try any interesting fusion restaurants lately?

*Location:
10650 NW 41st St
Doral, FL 33178

Pan-Asian Potluck at P.F. Chang’s

After a looooong tiring (weekend) day of work, a few co-workers and I headed over to P.F. Chang’s at Mary Brickell Village for a late lunch — or I suppose early dinner, depending on how you want to look at it.  T’was about 4:00p when we got there.  No matter, Pan-Asian is pretty good at any time of the day.  Just sayin’.

Mentally immobilized and physically exhausted, we wanted food in our bellies ASAP, so we flagged the waiter over almost immediately after we sat down at a table.  We hadn’t eaten since breakfast, and I’m sure some of us didn’t even eat breakfast!

080314_pfchangs_lettucewrapsAs a starter for the table, we chose Chang’s Chicken Lettuce Wraps, the restaurant’s signature appetizer with wok-seared chicken, mushrooms, green onions, and water chestnuts over crispy rice sticks and lettuce cups.  I’d give it 4 stars out of 5, fine.  The red dipping sauce on the left was spicy, but there was a hint of something in there that didn’t play well with my taste buds, so I avoided it like the plague.  Bleh.

We also ordered four dishes to share for the table… a rice dish, a noodle dish, a chicken dish, and a beef dish.  #familystyle Continue reading

Getting My Chinese Fix at China Pavilion

It’s been a while since I’ve been out for Chinese, so tonight’s visit to China Pavilion* was long overdue.

For the table, we ordered three dishes to share.  #familystyle

First order of business… Pork and Eggplant in Garlic Sauce.  This is one of my all-time favorite Chinese dishes, if not my #1 favorite dish.  (Did I mention I love garlic?!)  The garlic sauce makes it really flavorful, and plus, I get servings of veggies AND meat!  2-in-1, woo, multiple food groups!  Needless to say, this gets a good from me!

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Next up… Peking Pork Chops.   Continue reading