Food Adventures #002

This past week was a much slower week in food adventures. Most of what I ate was either home-cooked or some form of fast food (in fact I have been eating way too much fast food…such a waste of money and not to mention super bad for you). However, I did make a few stops worth mentioning.

Last Thursday I revisited one of my old neighborhoods out in Carrollwood with some friends. This trip was inspired by a trip to Mr. Dunderbak’s which a German friend of mine wanted to try out. After checking the place out and deciding maybe German just isn’t for me and trying some beer-battered onion rings at Mr. D’s made me remember how amazing onion rings taste at an old favorite of mine, we went to Gino’s Italian Restaurant on Armenia Avenue and Linebaugh.

I used to live right next door in an apartment complex called Deer Path so I was a regular at Gino’s. When I used to call them they already knew what I wanted just by hearing my voice, a tasty burger with onion rings and extra mayo on the side. When we arrived I was pleasantly surprised to see the entire restaurant full, this place deserves a crowd. We were seated within a few minutes.

My friends ordered dessert and I ordered one of my favorite burgers, their Mother Earth burger, which comes loaded with mushrooms and cheddar cheese. While we waited for our food I told some stories of growing up by here, a quiet neighborhood with nothing but a golf course nearby. My friend’s dessert came and everyone demolished it…great taste. I had sold all my friends on this place just with that.

Then my burger arrived. The fresh look impressed my friend. The lettuce, tomatoes, and onions on the side neatly cut. Just the smell was driving me crazy. When I took a bite into that burger it was like I had gone back in time because it tasted exactly the same as when I came here years ago. That is one hard thing to have in Tampa, where chefs are changing all the time and flavor rises and sinks all the time. The cheese had so much flavor and the mushrooms were fantastic. Even the onion rings were exactly the same, crunchy and juicy. Maybe the best onion rings I have had. My friends sampled them and enjoyed them as well. Everyone was wishing we had just gone here first after all my raving was backed up with evidence.

My only other food adventure was to The Wat Thai Temple on Palm River Road on Sunday. I arrived a little late in the day, but was still able to grab some Fried Bananas and those snacks are so delicious. They were hot and I burned my mouth, but I did not care because they were just that good. I will have to go earlier and cover more of their food in the future.

Restaurant/Venues mentions:

Gino’s Restaurant & Bar

Address: 10006 North Armenia Avenue Tampa, FL 33612

Phone #: (813) 933-1089

Website: http://www.ginosrestaurantbar.com/

Foursquare: http://foursquare.com/venue/1849405

Yelp: http://www.yelp.com/biz/ginos-bar-and-restaurant-tampa

Gino's Bar on Urbanspoon

The Wat Thai Temple Market (Open Sundays from 10am-2pm)

Address: 5306 Palm River Road, Tampa, FL 33619

Website: http://www.wattampainenglish.com/

Foursquare: http://foursquare.com/venue/414273

Yelp: http://www.yelp.com/biz/wat-mongkolratanaram-of-florida-tampa-2

Benihana

This past weekend was my step-father’s 50th birthday. To celebrate we went to our timeshare in Orlando and had dinner at the Benihana on International Drive. I used to eat at Benihana in San Francisco’s Japantown all the time as a kid with my father, so I was excited to go to this Benihana and re-experience it. The tall hats, shrimp that goes in your pocket, umbrellas in your drink,  koi fish, among other things are ingrained in my childhood memory.

My Mom made the reservations and we all arrived fairly on time. This location was pretty small compared to the one in San Francisco. The chefs also seemed to have shorter hats, though I’m not sure if this is different or I just have forgotten that detail since my last time in San Francisco. They had to separate our twelve person party in two, which sucked a bit.

I went with the Rocky’s Choice which includes steak and chicken among the other things served with most meals at Benihana. The chef was friendly…but really was the most disappointing part of my experience. Maybe he wasn’t trained enough, but every trick he tried to pull off failed pretty bad. He was quiet and all his jokes seemed forced. He dropped his cooking instruments during a trick and when he tried to do the popular shrimp in a pocket he missed and the shrimp just fell. After awhile I think we all got bored with him and started to look at my parents chef, little did I know that they were looking at the chef at the table next to them as well…It was also one of the shortest shows I have seen and we found ourselves eating our food instead of watching the chef do his job, which quite frankly is the opposite of how my visit to Kobe’s was when I went for my birthday last year.

The soup and salad were decent, but nothing to brag about. The chicken and steak were both bland and despite constantly dipping them in their ginger and mustard sauces, the taste just would not come. I tried their Orange Sorbet and really disliked it. After a few bites I was just poking at it.  For $26 it is pretty disappointing to not be able to taste any flavor.  I understand that most people visit these restaurants for the show, but since that wasn’t going to be any good this whole visit was pretty much spoiled.  I will say, however, that that their green tea is quite good. Maybe the only thing I enjoyed there.

To make matters worse after the shows were over they came out to sing Happy Birthday to my Step-Father and my Mom and half of the party were in the bathroom. They came out of the bathroom to find that the singing was already over…that is not a great way to treat someone who made the reservation to go there in the first place.

Overall just a really disappointing experience. Reviews seemed favorable, but none of them seemed to mention these things. Most reviewers claimed that Benihana beats any other Japanese steakhouse such as Kobe or Arigato’s, but after this experience I have to disagree at least about this location.

Restaurant Name: Benihana

Cuisine: Japanese

Address: 12690 International Drive Orlando, FL 32821

Phone: (407) 239-7400

Website: http://www.benihana.com/

Yelp: http://www.yelp.com/biz/benihana-orlando-3

Benihana on Urbanspoon

Foodspotting

Foodspotting

I was looking around at foodie websites on delicious the other day and came across Foodspotting. It’s a website where you can e-mail or upload pictures of food you eat or just see and then people can vote on the food depending on if they want the food, or have eating the food before (nom). There is a leaderboard for who updates the most and there is a point system. Similar to Foursquare there are badges you can earn and like Gowalla there are certain trips you can go on of places to go to called guides. It looks like a pretty neat service so I will be playing around with it here and there. It’s even in Japan. Thought I’d give the heads up in case someone is interested in joining up.

My Foodspotting Page
You can visit my page at http://www.foodspotting.com/carloseats

They also have an iPhone app.

Food Adventures #001

Last week was full of all kinds of food adventures. Sushi, burgers, and pizza were on the menu for this jam-packed week. It started on Wednesday with the Tampa Mashable Meetup at the Tampa Bay Brewing Company. In the middle of all the socializing and new people being met from all kinds of backgrounds and career fields was me eating the “Bomb” burger, a burger with a soft potato-like shell that houses oozing cheese and lots of beef. Certainly a tasty burger, but probably too much inside for one person. Their other burgers looked pretty appetizing as well.

The “Bomb” burger untouched.

Inside the “Bomb” burger.

After having a good time meeting all those people at the Tampa Mashable Meetup. My friend and I checked out Gameworks and decided we would return the next day for their $10 all you can play special. We returned the next night with a few more friends and played video games from 7PM-1AM for only $10…quite a deal. In the middle we got hungry so we left Gameworks and headed over to Samurai Blue for some sushi.

My friend and I split a Salmon Roll, Geisha Roll, and Crunchy Tuna which were fresh, but probably still not the best sushi I have had, a little too salty and the salmon lacked it’s usual flavor. The waitress was friendly though and quick to put in our orders so that was nice. I haven’t been to Samurai Blue in quite some time so it was nice to visit again. The atmosphere inside is just as nice as always.

Saturday my friend and I were visiting a friend in Riverview and decided to try East Coast Pizza on Lincoln Rd. after hearing some good things about it. She ordered a cheese pizza and I went with their pepperoni with a garlic roll and a fountain drink. I got 20% off because I joined their rewards program and it was my first visit there.

They had some excellent service for a pizza diner and the slices of pizza are big, you can’t tell from the picture but it was probably like 3 slices of a Dominos or Pizza Hut pizza. They cook their pizza in New York brickovens, which gave the pizza a completely different taste. It wasn’t overly greasy and they put just the right amount of tomato sauce so it wouldn’t take over the taste of the cheese. I added some parmesan to my pizza because I wanted it to be a little cheesier. They had all the things you might want to add-on right there on your table. The fountain drink was inexpensive, which was nice when in some places you might have to pay $3 for a fountain drink today. The garlic roll was also great, although it would have been even better with some marinara sauce. I’ll be back for sure the next time I’m in this area.

That wraps up last weeks food adventures.

Restaurants mentioned:

Tampa Bay Brewing Company

Address: 1600 E. 8th Ave. Tampa, FL

Phone #: 813-247-1422

Website:  http://www.tampabaybrewingcompany.com/

Twitter: http://twitter.com/TBBCo

Foursquare: http://foursquare.com/venue/235934

Yelp: http://www.yelp.com/biz/tampa-bay-brewing-company-tampa

Tampa Bay Brewing Company on Urbanspoon

Samurai Blue

Address: 1600 E. 8th Avenue, #C208 Tampa, Florida 33605

Phone #: 813-242-6688

Website: http://www.samuraiblue.com/sb/

Foursquare: http://foursquare.com/venue/354435

Yelp: http://www.yelp.com/biz/samurai-blue-sushi-and-sake-bar-tampa-2

Samurai Blue at Centro Ybor on Urbanspoon

East Coast Pizza

Address: 13340 Lincoln Rd., Riverview, Florida 33569

Phone #: (813) 234-1700

Website: http://eastcoastpizza.com/

Twitter: http://twitter.com/EASTCOASTPIZZA

Foursquare: http://foursquare.com/venue/1572945

Yelp: http://www.yelp.com/biz/east-coast-pizza-riverview

East Coast Pizza on Urbanspoon

Carlos Eats!

Welcome to http://www.carloseats.com

After spending some time frustrated with Blogger I decided it might be time to just go with a domain name and get a nice WordPress theme so I did it. I’m happy with the results. WordPress has a great interface both in the editor and the actual presentation of itself. I hope it will make it easier for me to get quality content to you.

Lately I have re-discovered my love for pizza after not really having anything but ordered pizza from giants such as Pizza Hut and Papa Johns when I recently had pizza at East Coast Pizza. Expect to see some pizza updates coming up and if you have any recommendations on great Tampa Bay pizza let me know. I have been to quite a few places recently so I have lots to write about soon. I hope I can count on your support in this venture of mine.

-Carlos

Jasmine Thai (North Dale Mabry)

The last time I went to Jasmine Thai was a few years back for a high school friends birthday party. I remember during that visit I was feeling really sick and the Pad Thai at Jasmine Thai made me instantly feel better. Considering how I was feeling earlier that day it truly was a miracle.

I recently returned to Jasmine Thai and was disappointed with my experience. The waitress was a little rude and snobby. Many people have noted having a similar experience recently so I’m guessing the current crew just isn’t providing good service.


Chicken Coconut Soup

The Chicken Coconut Soup had a pleasant taste at first, but the aftertaste was powerful and after a few tastes it wasn’t as satisfying. I had to take breaks from it in order to enjoy it…happy that it was just a cup of the soup.


Chicken Pad Thai

I ordered my favorite Thai dish, Chicken Pad Thai. On the surface it was your usual Pad Thai with the same sauce and ingredients you can have anywhere else, but after breaking the initial surface the Pad Thai was bland and was a disappointment. I normally cannot resist finishing my Pad Thai, but I had to actually think about finishing this dish at Jasmine Thai.

The Jasmine Thai and Ploy Thai in Brandon are far superior to this place. I wouldn’t return unless someone else really wanted to visit.


Complimentary dessert was nice though.


Little Half-Thai nephew joined in this time.


So did the sister.

Jasmine Thai on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Name: Jasmine Thai
Cuisine: Thai
Address: 13248 North Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa, FL 33618-2408
Neighborhood: Carrollwood
Phone Number: (813) 968-1501‎