Filtering by Tag: restaurants

Dinner at Texas Roadhouse

Added on by C. Maoxian.

There's a new Texas Roadhouse in town so we gave it a try. I think they have over 400 stores now, nationwide, and the stock has been a big winner.

You can't make reservations but you can call ahead to get on a list which supposedly shortens your wait time. Pleasant covered sitting area on benches outside where you wait with your beeper to be called. They pipe in contemporary country music to the waiting area. We waited 13.5 minutes to get a table at 6:45 PM having called ahead. The place is brand new, probably less than a month old, so they're very busy as people check it out for the first time.

You can pick out your steak from a glass case but we needed to study the menu first. There's a barrel of crayons and coloring sheets for the kids as you come in, which was good. They give you warm sort-of-sweet rolls with whipped butter. We got a far booth that was fairly comfortable. There is a bar area in the center of the place surrounded with a half dozen or so TVs high on the walls which we were blessedly away from. 

Shortly after being seated the waitress came and asked us if we were ready to order. No, we had just sat down that minute. Later, we decided on the New York Strip (the boy) with house salad and mashed potatoes for $18.99, the 20 oz. Bone-in Ribeye (me) with green beans and mashed potatoes (with brown gravy) for $25.99 (recommended by my Twitter buddy, RaginCajun), and a BBQ chicken and ribs combo (baby and mother) with fresh veggies and green beans for $17.99.  I drank unsweetened iced tea ($2.59, unlimited refills), the others had water. 

The food didn't come out too quickly, this isn't fast food. This gives you the chance to fill up completely on the sweetish rolls and peanuts-in-the-shell (there's a bucket of them on the table) before it arrives. I asked the waitress how to log on to WiFi but she said she didn't know, and apparently couldn't be bothered to find out how. 

There were potted cactuses (cacti?) and other southwestern plants placed around, which I appreciated. The rest of the decor is kind of corporate Texas kitsch, murals of Injuns, and woven rugs on the walls, and the required-by-law bullhorns. But there was a frantic quality to the place, the contemporary country music was a little too loud and the chatter of a full house really made for quite a din. And the air conditioning was on too high, it was chilly inside.

When the food came, it brought one thing to mind: salt. Salt City. Texas Saltmine. All the meat was over-salted. Maybe this is just because they're new and getting the hang of salting things, but I suspect not. My ribeye was the best (least over-salted) of the bunch, but everything else was like Wow, this is crazy salty. We each ate about a third of our meal and doggy-bagged the rest. The gravy on my mashed potatoes tasted just like the KFC formula, which I like. Maybe they source it from the same factory.

The grand total for the four of us with tax and tip was $83. 

Some suggestions to management:

  • Turn up (er, down) the air conditioning. Make it warmer.
  • Turn down the contemporary country music
  • Tell the waitresses how one can log on to WiFi
  • Tell the cooks to reduce the amount of salt they use by at least half.

As I said, maybe this is all growing pains stuff and they'll work it out in time. I'll check back in six months to a year from now to see if they've implemented all my free advice.

20 oz. bone-in ribeye with green beans, mashed potatoes with brown gravy, and unsweetened iced tea

Beijing Restaurants -- Tribe

Added on by C. Maoxian.

Finally got over to this place, not sure how long it has been open, months maybe? It's near Hooters ... I had to ask directions at Gung Ho Pizza since I was walking down the shady side of the building; a kind waiter at Gung Ho actually *walked* me over to Tribe, which was great service!

I sat downstairs, in a spot that had a bit of an air con draft, but that was my fault.  There was an upstairs with some cozy tables for two, but I was dining solo.  Ever since it was discovered that I'm not the spoiled son of a Chinese-American medical doctor, my dating pool has shrunk dramatically.

Place has a crunchy granola vibe, must be some California thing they're imitating. There's a chain called Wagas, and a local place called Moka Bros., which are tapping into the same thing... ya know, light wood, chalk boards, healthful food ("grain bowls"), waitstaff in black t-shirts.

T-shirts with slogan

The whip-handed foreign boss was on site, which pleased me. I believe he is an American though he was speaking Chinese to his workers. He also had the good sense, given his balding pattern, to keep his hair very short and some designer stubble on face.  The staff seemed happy.

Glossary of Righteousness

Nice design element on the kitchen door, a slot in the shape of the Tribe 'T' logo ... those are the thoughtful touches I look for. Waitress was friendly (they all are, with *me*) and appeared to have that rarest of all things among Chinese girls: a shapely ass.  Food came out in good time, not too quick, not too slow, just as Goldi likes it.

My Twitter buddy @murdochsj recommended the lamb meatball sandwich, but they were out. So I got a chicken tandoori salad wrap (68 kuai, US$10.95) instead.  I also got some beet hummus (48 kuai, US$7.73), an Australian beer "Pure Blonde?" (38 kuai, US$6.12), and a carrot cake doughnut (25 kuai, US$4.03) for dessert. 

Wrap tap on wood, as Bobby Short sang.

My wrap was too dry. The filling to wrap ratio wasn't right. The filling itself wasn't bad, there just wasn't enough of it given the amount and dryness of the wrap. I like the idea of healthful food, but it has to be expertly done, and this fell short. Of course I'm an American pig and prefer things that drip.

Looks like tomato paste but it's hummus, not enough crisps

The hummus was a lovely color (from the beets) and it tasted good, but the texture was too smooth for me, too goy. Nothing compares with the hummus I ate during my year in Lebanon as a UN "peacekeeper." And the hummus didn't sit with me very well, not sure why, just a brief moment bouncing along the scooter later where I thought, "hmmm." They crisped and salted some cut-up wrap to scoop the hummus with... I had to ask for a second helping of the crisped wrap (no charge) to finish the bowl of hummus -- again a ratio problem.

Vegan schmegan, nuke that bad boy and hand it to Homer

They nuked the carrot cake doughnut (those are coconut flakes on top), which was nice and warm and the electromagnetic radiation negated its vegan quality (I hope).

Grand total 179 kuai, US$28.83, so it ain't cheap. They were doing good business on a Tuesday lunchtime, so the rising middle class in China is not suffering from price shock. Take credit cards, quick with fapiao.

Beijing Restaurants -- Ippudo

Added on by C. Maoxian.

Ippudo is a chain noodle restaurant out of Japan, I guess. I think there are two branches in Beijing, one in the Kerry Center and one in Oriental Plaza, I visited the latter.  There are lots of chain noodle restaurants around (Mian Ai Mian, Ajisen, Kang Shifu, etc.) but Ippudo is a little more upscale than those. 

Masters of redundancy

They pull out your chair for you and give you a glass of water immediately. I went a little after the end of the lunch hour, so it was fairly empty and service was quick and friendly. Seats feel a bit low to me but I'm larger than the average Japanese. I got the "Special Sapporo Miso" (RMB58, US$9.35), a small serving of extra noodles (Kae-dama) (RMB3, US$0.48), a small mug of Asahi draft beer (RMB30, US$4.84), and caramel pudding for dessert (RMB16, US$2.58) (a bit of sweetie at the end of every meal is the law).

Chicken broth was garlicky (which I liked), but way way too salty.  Could be a plot to make people order more mugs of beer (I resisted). Noodles were al dente, the way they should be. Caramel pudding was cold and came in a cute little jar that was tough to clean out (a barbarian might employ the digit usually reserved for nose picking to do this). I could hear an exhaust fan somewhere and they had some frantic jazzish music going, maybe to encourage diners not to linger.

Paying nine bucks for a bowl of chain store ramen means you're a sucker. But it's well lit and appears to be clean and gives you that homogenized, globalized, mall-based corporate blah restaurant feel that induces the anomie (am I in Santa Monica or Beijing?) which we all love. And it was better than the other places I mentioned above; of course it should be for the price bump. 

You pay on the way out. No service charge, they take credit cards and were quick with shousi fapiao. Grand total, RMB107 (US$17.25).

Special Sapporo Miso -- two types of pork, bamboo shoots, soft boiled egg half, seaweed

48 cents for 84 grams of extra noodles -- good idea for when you run out of noodles but still have broth

cold pudding, cute tiny portion

Beijing Restaurants -- Noodle Bar

Added on by C. Maoxian.

I scootered over to the Jing A Taproom intending to have lunch there only to discover that they open at 5 PM. It's up in the 1949 compound behind the IBM building.  It took me 18 minutes and 8 seconds (approximately) to get there from my office the way the scooter flies (via Er Huan).

Below are the hours of the Jing A Taproom.  There was a friendly handsome bearded white guy in there (in addition to a gaggle of youngsters staring into laptops) who told me they open at 5 PM.  I should have called ahead but that isn't my style. 

See the QR code there?  Yes, big in China. 

Next door to the Taproom is the old Noodle Bar, which has been there for many many years, so I had lunch there.  Here's the lunch menu:


I got the set lunch (beef brisket, tendon, and tripe) with thick spinach noodles, snack, and oolong tea for 48 kuai (US$7.74) (actually turned out to be 58 kuai (US$9.35) since the spinach noodles are 10 kuai extra -- not disclosed on the menu or verbally at the time, to my annoyance, though of course they were effusively apologetic later and I didn't make a scene like I would have done in my youth, mainly to show off my ability to scream "fluently" and at length in Chinese) .

I also got a small bottle of Heineken for the low low price of 45 kuai (US$7.25) since I was in the mood for beer, any beer. Oh, I also got the deep-fried tofu cubes with pepper and salt, which are excellent beer food, if you didn't know.  

Deep-fried tofu, good beer food

You can sit in the courtyard, which was pleasant on a warm day like today, though the air quality left something to be desired (05-27-2015 12:00; PM2.5; 111.0; 180; Unhealthy (at 24-hour exposure at this level)). Below are my thick spinach noodles with brisket, tripe and tendon (see them all floating there?). They were OK. I'm not big on tripe or tendon but I'm not picky either, I'll eat anything (once). 

Spinach noodley with floating bits

There is a 10% service charge (the horror!?!), but they do take credit cards and were quick with the fapiao. They did collect the money upfront which always makes me uncomfortable, like they think you're going to pull a runner, but it's actually nice simply to get up and leave when you're finished. Grand total was 133 kuai (US$21.44).

I scootered back to the office via San Huan which took 16 minutes 47 seconds (approximately) the way the scooter flies. 

Beijing Restaurants -- Saveurs de Coree

Added on by C. Maoxian.

Coco (the intern) and I scootered over to Saveurs de Coree for lunch.  SavdeCor is French for Cory's Savory Kitchen.  Seriously, it's a Korean place with a cute little courtyard, perfect for an early summer day. Vedett on tap also important. Authentic 韓國 waitress who speaks Chinese with that adorable accent.  Korean food with no MSG, imagine it!

The trouble with those metal bowls they serve the cold noodles in is that they remind me of dog bowls. 

For dessert we had the melted ice cream in martini glass special (two spoons).

Beijing Restaurants -- Zarah Cafe

Added on by C. Maoxian.

Coco (the intern) and I popped over to Zarah Cafe (Cafe Zarah?) for a bite of lunch.  The food isn't great, but they have a lovely courtyard.  There was a large contingent of glum looking foreigners sitting indoors, silent, staring into computer screens, nursing their $6 cups of coffee (financed by the bank of Mom and Dad, no doubt). Not a pretty sight.

Beijing Restaurants -- Tadka

Added on by C. Maoxian.

Breaking the golden rule of never patronizing a hotel restaurant, Tadka (formerly "Tamarind") in the Marriott Northeast is worth visiting.  They have a lunch buffet (yes, another golden rule, "no buffets," broken) that costs 135.70 (US$21.71) per person which is a pretty good deal. There are two hot meat dishes (predictably lamb rogan josh and chicken masala) and two hot veggie dishes, skewered broccoli and chicken cooked in the tandoor oven, rice, bread, dal, fruit, kheer, and unlimited 7-Up.   Everything is good.

This may be the best Indian restaurant in Beijing, but I'm no expert, I'm just stuffed having overeaten there.

Lamb Joe Rogan, distant relation of Josh.

Beijing Restaurants -- Palms L.A. Kitchen and Bar

Added on by C. Maoxian.

Coco (the intern) and I popped over to Palms for lunch. This is a new place just north of Gulou which I discovered from reading this post at LumDimSum. LDS is one of the kool kids who kindly reveals these hip joints to the old bald crowd.

We got some guacamole and chips to start. Guac was a little lemony to me but it's such a personal thing.  Coco liked it.

I got the Korean fried chicken which I wasn't thrilled with and Coco got some pork tacos which I liked better.  So we switched.  

They have Slow Boat beer (yay!), though bottled (boo!), and the space is nicely done, though very small.  Fortunately there weren't that many people there for lunch on a Wednesday, so we weren't crowded in there, which I could see happening easily. Service was swift.

Best of luck to the friendly guys who are running this new place!

Beijing Restaurants -- Hatsune

Added on by C. Maoxian.

I had lunch today with an old girlfriend ("P") at the new Hatsune in the Kerry Center.  There's a room in the very back of the restaurant which is isolated, i.e., private (though noisy), and that's where we sat.  I hated her new eyeglasses ("But they're from Tiffany!"), which I thought made her look like an old librarian, and certainly not a naughty librarian, which is the kind I like.

We each got a box set lunch (not interesting to photograph) and supplemented them with an order of "LumDimSum" rolls.  They come in a dim sum steamer basket which is a cute touch. LumDimSum is a popular blog, mainly about food, and her local restaurant recommendations are frequently spot on (meaning I agree with her).

The inside of the roll has scallops, albacore tuna, seaweed, and cucumber and the top has avocado, maguro, and a spot of mayo? with black tobiko.  Maybe you can see all of that better in the pic below. I think the rolls were around US$14.

Hatsune is a rock-solid old stand-by restaurant.  The Chinese-American owner must be making a fortune, deserved of course.  Check it out if you haven't been before.

Beijing Restaurants -- Dianke Dianlai

Added on by C. Maoxian.

Coco (the intern) and I had lunch today at Dianke Dianlai, a Yunnan restaurant I like in Beijing.  They do a 12 course set lunch for 128 yuan (US$20.50) which is a good deal.  Pics below of selected dishes with my sophisticated gourmand comments:

No idea what this is but it was spicy and I got a bit of pepper stuck in my throat which sent me into a coughing fit ... tears flowing, though not from joy ... good way to impress the girls.

Shrimpies in a sort of spicy lemony tomato-y sauce with a sprig of dill? artfully stuck in there. I think that's dill.

This is the main dish ... fish that has been split down the middle, spiced and grilled. Mmm good. That's Coco in the background; she's lovely but shy.  All my interns are hired based on their gaokao score (sort of like the SAT but a million times harder).  Coco got a 650, which is high, and she goes to Nankai, which is a top ten university (in Tianjin). I delegate all the hard stuff to her and concentrate on blogging about my lunches.

Nice to end the meal with some noodles.  Note the authentic chipped bowl. They also serve yoghurt and honey to get a bit of sweetie at the end, but I didn't get a good picture of it (or the other seven courses not pictured).  If you haven't been to Dianke Dianlai, I'd recommend you go.