Thanksgiving at The Columbia

My latest Creative Loafing article is about my Thanksgiving dinner at The Columbia. This year my family decided to go out to eat instead of the usual tradition of making dinner at home. I decided this would be a perfect opportunity to review a special restaurant dining occasion: eating out on Thanksgiving. I was surprised to find that many people also partake in this every year.

You can read about my experience in-depth by following this link: http://blogs.creativeloafing.com/dailyloaf/2010/11/29/thanksgiving-dinner-at-the-columbia/

Columbia Restaurant on Urbanspoon

For pictures of my meal follow the cut

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THE Tampa Taco Bus

The Taco Bus in Tampa is like a landmark…people are always there and it has over 500 ratings on Urbanspoon and 80 Yelp reviews, which is a huge number for this city. Foursquare shows check-ins even into the wee hours of the morning. A 24-hour taco truck is a godsend to this city where restaurants start to close up shop around 10pm on weekends. They have a great menu with a variety of choices and ingredients; several beverages as well, there is nothing that someone cannot love about the Taco Bus.

If the Taco Bus was in California, it would be just another taco truck…but it has successfully done correctly what I have often pondered was missing in Tampa: authentic tasting Mexican food. Anyone who is from California or some other state heavily populated with Mexican people knows that the majority of the places in Tampa or Florida that claim to be “Mexican” restaurants are actually using canned beans, pre-made rice, and no actual Mexican ingredients.

Everything from the cheese to the seasoning on the meat at the Taco Bus tastes like real Mexican food, and although the style is slightly different from what I’m used to in Northern California, Taco Bus still makes an authentic meal that I can actually enjoy. Their Carne Asada tastes great and I have tried their tacos, burritos, and recently I finally gave their quesadillas a shot. I wasn’t disappointed.

My friends burrito. I like my burritos with Carne Asada and some refried beans/sour cream.

The quesadilla ($4.99) was pressed perfectly to be crunchy and with all the ingredients warmed to the right temperature.

The inside of my quesadilla looked amazing. Plenty of cheese, tomatoes, chicken, and onions.

I also get their horchata on every visit. Although their horchata tastes a little different then how I prefer it, it still tastes great and you get a ton of horchata for just a few bucks. Usually the food comes out quick and although lines get long they move pretty quickly. There is plenty of space inside and outside to eat as well. I am in love with the Taco Bus and would totally wear one of their t-shirts if I had more money.

They are opening a Taco Bus out in St. Petersburg and now all I can do is hope they bring one out to Brandon!

Taco Bus on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Name: Taco Bus

Cuisine: Mexican

Address: 913 E. Hillsborough Ave, Tampa FL 33604

Neighborhood: Seminole Heights

Phone Number: (813)232-5889

Website: http://tampatacobus.com/

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Taco-Bus/151303904885189

Twitter: @TacoBusTampa

Origami Sushi for Jason’s Birthday

I dined at Origami Sushi on Waters Avenue for my friends birthday a weeks back. The place has a great ambiance, it was so dark that we couldn’t read the menu correctly until they turned up the lights a little bit…plenty of couples were in the restaurant. The restaurant had plenty of space so our party could have its own area in the back. The hosts and waitresses were very attentive and helpful with whatever we needed to have a great birthday dinner. One thing I noticed was that there was a picture for every sushi roll on the menu so you knew what a roll such as their Halloween Roll would look like, not many restaurants will go that far and it was a great idea that I wish more restaurants would practice.

Follow the cut for my review:)

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Izziban Sushi (Orlando)

I have a friend who is a sushi guru. He eats sushi every single week, multiple times a week and one of his favorite places is Izziban Sushi. After hearing about it for the longest time, I finally had a chance to come to Izziban Sushi after the Orlando Japan Festival. My time at Izziban was memorable and quite a delicious food encounter!

We showed up just in time for their Happy Hour Special (5-7PM) and were able to have sushi rolls for $3.99 and appetizers as well! The dumplings (pictured above) were quite appetizing. But what was REALLY AMAZING was…

Their cream cheese (crab rangoons) were just the BEST I have EVER had hitting my taste buds without being to creamy but just right…they were quickly devoured by my friends and I and this is when I decided Izziban was a pretty awesome place. If an appetizer can make a place then that is quite a feat in itself. If only someplace closer to home had these…

The atmosphere at Izziban was nice, though quiet. A pretty big restaurant with plenty of seating both a tables, booths, and a sushi bar. The televisions there were playing K-Pop videos and I found out later that the place is actually owned by Korean people and that Izziban has an excellent Korean food menu as well. One thing I noticed while looking around the restaurant was that they had “irrashaimase” or いらっしぁいませ (Japanese for “welcome” frequently said at Japanese businesses when you enter) written in hiragana in the front, I love it when restaurants go that extra mile.

One of my good friends and I.

All the rolls were appetizing and didn’t need much soy sauce added to them, I think Izziban’s sushi gives you way more than your moneys worth during this early bird special.  Service was average, although the waiter could have been a little more attentive to our table.The place was slow customer-wise (probably because it was a Sunday), but still with prices like this and quality like this I would be here everyday if I lived in Orlando. I really liked their Golden California Roll and the masago tasted great.

We couldn’t resist trying some of their Tempura Ice Cream. It was pretty tasty, but couldn’t match-up to the excellent Tempura Ice Cream my friends and I eat at Dragonfly Sushi. Overall, Izziban Sushi had some excellent sushi, appetizers, and dessert all at affordable prices and any opportunity I have to return here will be utilized.  Until we meet again Izziban…

Izziban Sushi on Urbanspoon

Restaurant name: Izziban Sushi

Cuisine: Japanese, Korean

Address: 1700 W Sand Lake Rd Ste D124 Orlando, FL 32809

Phone Number: (407) 850-5088

Website: http://www.izzibansushioforlando.net/