Wednesday, September 17, 2014

W Bistro at 1010 (Honolulu)

W Bistro at 1010 is at the corner of Victoria and King Streets, diagonally across King Street from the Honolulu International Center's Concert Hall.

It's where Le Guignol moved to about five years ago (a guess), from its original Kalakaua near King location. 

If you didn't know it was there, in the Medical Arts building, you might miss it completely. I think W Bistro opened early this year in January (I forgot to ask/confirm). 
I had their special iced tea before ordering – Lavender/Camomile. At first, I was a little concerned, for lavender can be a bit cloying if the flavor is too intense. The hostess assured me that it wasn't. She was right; it was very refreshing. It sure did look like a glass of ice-cold beer.

Our server, Bianca, was extremely helpful with her descriptions of the entrées, both the day's specials and menu listings. Which was good, because I was having a difficult time making up my mind. You know how it is when you dine somewhere for the first time and everything on the menu looks so good. 

The wife had no problem all. Her preliminary choice was Grilled Mahimahi, but when offered the Pan-Seared Onaga (red snapper) Special, she jumped ship and ordered it. 

Perfectly crusted to tender perfection and accompanied by a scoop of sweet Jasmine rice and a melange of fresh local vegetables, it looked, and tasted marvelous. 

As for me? I had a problem deciding. I mean, I first thought of getting an appetizer variety order of Crab Cakes with Remoulade Sauce, Seared Sea Scallops with Butternut Puree and Bosc Pear, and Pork Belly with Bleu Cheese, Arugula, Grapefruit Slices and Corn Bread. Then, I shifted my thoughts to their Boneless Braised Short Ribs (because I love short ribs). 

The Steak Frites (Hawaiian-salted rib eye with veggies, butter and fries) made my eyes drool, the Special Poulet of the Day (chicken schnitzel) sounded delicious too. 

Well, I settled (wait, "settled" is not a good choice of words) ... I decided on their Seafood Coconut Curry – scallops, shrimp, fish in a spicy, creamy delicious curry sauce that caused the top of my head to moisten with perspiration, with strips of local sweet peppers and other vegetables. And, it came with two large scoops of Jasmine rice. 

Can you just imagine how wonder the curry sauce tasted with the sweet Jasmine rice? Yep, just as good as you might imagine. Man, that was good. 

A wonderful dinner deserves a great dessert. This time it was their best-selling favorite, White Chocolate and Blueberry Bread Pudding topped with a thick whipped cream (creme fraiche?) and a sprig of mint. Delicious. Sinfully delicious. 

W Bistro at 1010 is a BYOB restaurant with no corkage fee that's open for brunch (weekends), lunch (11 a.m. to 2 p.m.) and dinner (5 to 9 p.m.). They're closed Mondays and Tuesdays.
W Bistro at 1010: 1010 S. King St. Phone (808) 589-2295.

Monday, September 15, 2014

The Country Way Restaurant (Fremont) 2

Well, I told the wife we'd get back to The Country Way, and we did. This time I ordered their French Toast Combo (wasn't too hungry, so I figured I'd eat the sausage and eggs and go light on the French toast).

Hoo-wee, did I miscalculate or what?

Look at the size of the french toast slices. They didn't just take two slices of white bread, slosh 'em in the egg batter mix and slap 'em on the griddle. No siree Bob. They got the largest loaf of freshly baked bread they could find, and filled my plate. Just two slices, mind you, and they were practically overflowing on the plate.

Now THAT was a delicious and filling meal. I took one home with me for a snack later.

The Country Way Restaurant: 5325 Mowry Ave. Phone (510) 797-3188.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Country Way Restaurant (Fremont)

Now, this is my kind of diner – relatively small, packed to the gills, hopping busy, noisy from sounds of the kitchen, staff communicating loudly, and customers babbling, all music to my ears.

It's apparent right from the git-go that The Country Way is popular. The prices are reasonable, and the portion sizes will knock you for a loop, as they did the wife and me when we got there for breakfast, a short 15-minute drive on the 880 from my son's house. It's easy to find too, about a hundred yards on the left side of Mowry Avenue after a right turn off the freeway.

Look for an A-frame building. You can't miss it.

View of service counter and kitchen from our counter seats

Looking left down the counter from my seat

Looking right down the counter from my seat
It was crowded when we got there at 10 a.m. on a Friday afternoon, with a 10-minute wait for a table. But they do have a long no-wait counter so we quickly grabbed a couple of seats right in front of the service window, where we could watch the five (FIVE) cooks ply their magic. Our waitress, Josie, was Josie-on-the-spot, and ready to help.

The wife decided on their special $6.25 Club Breakfast – two huge pancakes, two sausages or bacon, two eggs any way, and toast. What can I say, the usual stuff. The pancakes were very good, by the way.

I was in a pork chop mood. Well, actually, I was in a hash and eggs mood ... but only if they made their own hash. Wishful thinking. Josie told me they scooped it out of a can. Normally, I don't care. If I want hash, I want hash. But not when I'm trying out a new place. So I put myself in a pork chop mood.

Okay, so pork chops. I had two choices – their daily special of a boneless chop, potatoes and two eggs, or their regular two bone-on chops with potatoes and three eggs. I don't know why I ordered the regular chops, I didn't finish and brought one chop home with me.

The nice fella sitting next to the wife got into a little conversation with her after she marveled at the size of the ranch steak and eggs he'd ordered. Now, Country Way uses big plates ... I mean BIG plates. And his steak covered one entirely, so they had to put the eggs and potatoes on another plate. Anyway, she asked him how the steak was, and he said it was somewhere between hard and soft. But, he said, if you want soft meat, get the boneless chop on special.

NOW I find this out, about five minutes too late.

So anyway, the chops came on a separate plate from the eggs and potatoes. They were a bit overdone, unfortunately, because they were very lean. But not oppressively dry or tough. I could not eat the two, as I mentioned up there ^, so I brought it home and the wife had it for breakfast the next morning.

I highly recommend this restaurant; not just for breakfast, they are also open for lunch and dinner. Check out their reviews on Yelp. That's how I found them in the first place. 

The Country Way Restaurant: 5325 Mowry Ave. Phone (510) 797-3188.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Grand Café (Las Vegas) 2

I'd planned to have breakfast outside the hotel, but was too lazy to walk past the Red Rock's Grand Café, trudge over to the valet and drive to where I thought I wanted breakfast. Oh well, I can go there for dinner instead.

The last time I was there, I let my waitress talk me into ordering a Crab and Artichoke Omelet. As good as it was, I thought I'd better order something else. My eyes lit upon their Huevos Rancheros, and when I ordered it, my waitress Raynell said, "Ooooo, that's really good."

Don't you love it when the restaurant staff reinforces your decision? Of course, I hope they realize that they are putting their reputation on the line.

A glass of cranberry juice and a cup of strong coffee later (they bring a whole pot for the table), Ray brought over a plate of the Mexican entrée, warning me that the plate was hot. I immediately dug into the food – soft corn tortillas smeared generously with refried beans, topped with two over-easy eggs smothered in melted cheese and a mildly spicy ranchero sauce.

Topping it all was a large spoonful of salsa fresca. Sitting alongside were two containers – one with guacamole and one with sour cream. And ... and a cooked jalapeño pepper ... a hot and spicy one at that. It looked good. Now, did it taste good?

I dabbed a bit of sour cream and guacamole on my fork before digging into the eggs and accoutrements, and I'm glad to report that the eggs were muy delicioso when popped into the mouth with some tortilla, beans, cheese and ranchero sauce.

That was a good move, dining at the Grand Café again.

Grand Café: Red Rock Casino, 11011 W. Charleston Blvd. Phone (702) 797-7979.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Sushi Yat (Fremont)

I wanted to try Kabuki Japanese Restaurant in Fremont, but it's a good thing I checked Yelp.

They've closed. So, I did a Google search and found Sushi Yat, which had a number of good customer reviews.

Sushi Yat appears to be rather an old soul, a well-worn small restaurant hidden in a shopping area.

It's dark inside, with aging trappings, and doesn't feel very welcoming ... until you get used to the place.

Their menus are all busted up, wrinkled, dog-eared, and look like they've been used thrice too often. The take-out menu was clean, however. According to the waitress, they do good call-in business.

Upon being situated in our booth, the first thing I noticed was that the table was sticky. Clean, but sticky. You expect sticky tables at pancake houses, and barbecue joints, but not in a Japanese restaurant. Come to think of it, so was the lacquered bento box that my meal was served in.

The wife was in a noodle soup mood because it was a bit windy and chilly outside.

So she ordered Nabe Udon, which is brewed with a variety of vegetables, shrimp tempura and an egg in broth with fat udon noodles. Her verdict, not intense enough, it needs more flavor.

I had a lunch bento. They offer two items for $7.99, three for $9.99, and four for $11.99. You choose from a list of 24 items that ranges from chicken teriyaki to tuna sashimi, … tonkatsu to fried oyster … croquette to vegetable sushi roll … California roll to seafood katsura, and quite a few other choices.

They also offer 16 lunch specials. It's quite an extensive selection list, and I haven't even mentioned the variety of sushi rolls, or their dinner menu yet.

For my lunch bento, I had fried oysters, tuna sashimi, chicken teriyaki, and tempura (prawn, potato, eggplant, carrot and zucchini). A fresh green salad, a bowl of miso soup, and a bowl of rice accompanied, along with some chili vinegar dip and the usual tempura dip.

The principal items were good, except that the chicken teriyaki sauce was a bit bland. The miso soup was also thin, apparently they were a little stingy on the miso. The rice was a little dry and hard.

All in all, it was okay. I got to try a new place, but probably won't go back. There are, I'm sure many better Japanese restaurants in the area. 

Sushi Yat: 3353 Walnut Ave. Phone (510) 793-8780.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Washing Pots and Pans

Wash your hands and have a seat. We will be back on Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2014.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Lucille's Smokehouse Bar-B-Que (Las Vegas)

The last time I stayed at the Red Rock Resort in the northwest area of Las Vegas, better known as Summerlin, where Del Webb has begun his residential kingdom of a housing development, I ran out of time before I could try Cabo Mexican Restaurant.

When I was researching dining establishments online before I left for Las Vegas this time, I saw a notification that the Cabo had closed, replaced by Lucille's Smokehouse Bar-B-Que, which has 16 locations in California, one in Arizona, and two in Nevada, both in the Las Vegas area.

My first night at Red Rock, I gave the place a try. I had a nice chat with the young lady in the front, and learned the restaurant had indeed opened soon after I stayed there, about six months ago.

I was given a table in what she laughingly called the "garden area" because of the fake trees sprouting up all over the place.

The neat thing about the garden area is that's where their smoker is situated. I got to watch the smoker guy pull out quite a few racks of baby back pork ribs. So guess what I ordered. Wait, I’m getting ahead of myself here.

Now, about Lucille's food. It's sweet. That's the way I would describe Lucille's – sweet. Everything I ordered was sweet, and not in a bad way, but the best possible way. My waiter, Justin, brought me a small basket of biscuits with a small pot of apple butter – not the kind that that's like apple sauce, but sweet butter with sweet minced apple in it.

I ordered a Lucille's peach sidewalk lemonade, which was served with ice in a large mason jar. Like I said, it was sweet, but tart at the same time, and got even more refreshing as the ice melted. I'm a fan of almost any peachy drink. Peach tea is a favorite, but I have never had peach lemonade before. It goes on my list of faves now.

I tend to over-order at barbecue places, and this time was no exception. I'd already decided to skip the chicken (they're usually too dry for my taste) and ordered their BBQ Two-Meat Combo – choice of tri-tip, half chicken, baby back ribs, St Louis ribs, beef ribs, spicy hot link, pulled pork, rib tips, or beef brisket.

After watching the smoker guy pull the baby backs out of the smoker, it was no contest. I chose baby backs and beef brisket. The plate came with a little pot of sweet barbecue sauce to douse the already sweetened pork ribs and beef brisket. My sides choices were shoestring fries and creamy cole slaw. Yeah, I know, boring. But I'm sometimes a creature of habit.

Oh, by the way, let me tell you, the peach lemonade that I diluted with some of my iced water from a second mason jar really hit the spot between gnawings. I couldn't finish, leaving a couple of ribs, and half the brisket and everything else behind.

And yet, I ordered dessert. I just had to have a serving of Chris' Famous Bread Pudding, as if I hadn't had enough of sweet, already. Justin brought over a sweet and delicious slice of the bread pudding, a fine mixture of sourdough bread, peaches, pecans and sweet custard, all wading precariously in a warm, swirly puddle of bourbon sauce.

And a little sweet extra on the way out was a Tootsie Roll lollypop – your choice of cherry, orange, grape or chocolate. Make mine chocolate, please.

Lucille's Smokehouse Bar-B-Que: Red Rock Resort, 11011 W. Charleston Blvd. Phone (702) 220-RIBS (7427).