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.
Gino’s Restaurant & Bar
Address: 10006 North Armenia Avenue Tampa, FL 33612
Phone #: (813) 933-1089
The Wat Thai Temple Market (Open Sundays from 10am-2pm)
Address: 5306 Palm River Road, Tampa, FL 33619
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
Address: 12690 International Drive Orlando, FL 32821
Phone: (407) 239-7400
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.
You can visit my page at http://www.foodspotting.com/carloseats
They also have an iPhone app.
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.
Tampa Bay Brewing Company
Address: 1600 E. 8th Ave. Tampa, FL
Phone #: 813-247-1422
Address: 1600 E. 8th Avenue, #C208 Tampa, Florida 33605
Phone #: 813-242-6688
East Coast Pizza
Address: 13340 Lincoln Rd., Riverview, Florida 33569
Phone #: (813) 234-1700
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.
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.
Over the weekend I went to P.F. Chang’s with the family for my Mom and Sister’s birthday dinner. We had reservations, but the place was crazy packed and it still took about thirty minutes to get our table, so keep that in mind when making reservations at this restaurant.
The first thing I tried was their Salt and Pepper Calamari. The first thing I noticed when I got it was that the portion was tiny compared to the price. It seems that over the years P.F. Chang’s has cut back on how much food they serve. It wasn’t such a big deal for me personally, but I would imagine any party with more than two people would not really get the family dining experience out of P.F. Chang’s current portion sizes.
The Salt and Pepper Calamari was a bit of a disappointment. The seasoning comes on the side and when you dip it, it doesn’t taste right and then the dip wasn’t all that appetizing either. I probably wouldn’t order it again.
The lettuce wraps were alright, but nothing worth bragging about.
The Mongolian Beef, my favorite entree, was just as good as it normally is with a tenderness to it and the usual sauce that gives it such a powerful and appetizing taste.
Finally their Crispy Honey Chicken was excellent. Not too sweet and the crispiness making the texture much more enjoyable then the other entrees. It is probably one of the best variations of honey chicken that I have had.
Overall, P.F. Chang’s still has some great entrees although the portions are smaller, it is Chinese food which is filling regardless of smaller portions and there was still plenty of food as long as everyone ordered something. The atmosphere was relaxing as usual with dim lighting and a relaxed environment to have dinner in. The service was great and the waitress was quick to help out with whatever we needed.
My Aunt recently held her birthday dinner at Ocean Prime, one of the most upscale restaurants in Tampa Bay and I was excited to check it out and of course try some of the food there. We were given a private room with glass surrounding us to the rest of the restaurant, it sure was a different experience then the last time I was there lounging by the outdoor bar with my parents.
The waitress was friendly, but it was hard for her to frequently keep up with us since she still had assigned tables outside our room…I was convinced that she was trying her best though. They tried their best to make my Aunt feel special (singing happy birthday to her on the piano) and even one of the managers there came in and introduced himself to my Aunt. They even brought her two complimentary cakes and a drink. Talk about high-class treatment.
Now on to the food 🙂
I ordered two potato sides and their She Crab Bisque with Crab Fritter ($9) instead of ordering one of the main entrees, such as steak or fish.
The She Crab Bisque was probably one of the best soups I have ever tried. Sweeter than a lobster bisque and hitting just the right taste buds to have a powerful yet perfect taste to it. I honestly preferred it without the crab fritter which, in my opinion, took some of the taste away. For $9, you could probably visit Ocean Prime and have a decent meal with just this soup without spending the big bucks. I highly recommend this dish.
The Creamy Whipped Potatoes ($8) were blended very well, but were missing something. Maybe some gravy on top would have helped it out. I could have passed on this one, and it was something you really need to share. I’ve had better potatoes honestly.
The Sea Salt Vinegar Fries ($8) were tasty, having almost a salt and vinegar chip taste just with fries instead. I think dipping them in ketchup makes it too salty and doesn’t give it the right taste, though by themselves they were not too appetizing either. These might be good with some other kind of dip for future ventures.
Honestly, the She Crab Bisque was really what made my meal at Ocean Prime pretty great. I wouldn’t have really enjoyed the food or time there without it. Ocean Prime does have a very relaxing kind of environment to it (if you’re smart you can even eat there without spending too much money), but at the same time I think I prefer a nice more family style dining restaurant instead. As a small side note Derek Jeter ended up in the same bathroom as me, which was a little odd to say the least.
Restaurant Name: Ocean Prime
Address: 2205 Northwest Shore Boulevard Tampa, FL 33607
Phone Number: (813) 490-5288
Today on an adventure to try some pupusas on Martin Luther King, my sister and I found ourselves outside an establishment that is closed on Thursdays. We ended up over at the West Tampa Sandwich Shop on Armenia Avenue, a favorite place to grab a meal for her. Apparently my parents used to bring us food from here when I was younger, but since we never dined there I can barely remember it.
The restaurant itself isn’t too big. The tables are just barely adequate for a party of four and you sit pretty close other people. The place really reminds me of a true mom and pop diner with pictures all over the place and television playing the local news. The waitress was friendly and although nothing to brag about, she was helpful and put our orders in for us in a timely manner.
My nephew order pancakes, his current favorite breakfast food and they looked quite delicious with a nice golden brown color to them.
He snuck on camera.
My sister ordered their scrambled egg combo which looked like a nice blend of many ingredients, she says it is her favorite. She also ordered a mango milkshake, which I regretted not ordering after trying hers, simply an amazing shake, thick with a rich mango taste. She says it is the main reason she comes to the West Tampa Sandwich shop.
The amazing mango shake.
The prices were really affordable. Most items were less than $6 and even dinner prices are around $8. The sandwiches are around $3 which is a pretty unbeatable price. The shakes were around $2. It is certainly a good place to come by when you are on a tight budget.
I ordered their BLT sandwich and requested that they put a fried egg inside (hadn’t had breakfast yet), along with some french fries, and a Malta. The BLT sandwich was fantastic, the bread they use for it is what really made it taste so good, the bacon was cooked just right and the tomatoes tasted very fresh. They cooked the egg just how I asked, with plenty of yolk but not excessively runny even though it was sunny side up, sometimes you have to be cautious with this at restaurants because your egg just ruin your meal if they do not make it correct, but here it was just right.
The french fries were also quite delicious. I can associate the taste closest to that of Steak N Shake (though almost 10x thicker fries) and they went great with my sandwich.
Their steak sandwich, which my sister’s boyfriend ordered.
Overall this place is a pretty nice find with affordable, quality meals, and I certainly want to try out their steak sandwich and other menu items in the future.
Restaurant Name: West Tampa Sandwich Shop
Address: 3904 N Armenia Ave. Tampa, FL 33607
Phone Number: (813) 873-7104