Monday, August 7, 2017

Nine Spices Hotpot in Orlando, FL

I visited Nine Spices Hotpot on Kirkman Drive in Orlando. I've been to other hotpot places a few times before, but this one was even more fun because Nine Spices features conveyor belts! At dinner there were a few options including all you can eat from the conveyors for about $24. Other menu options included soups with pre-selected ingredients. I decided on the all you can eat. When you enter the restaurant, take note of the helpful sign telling you the cooking times.
There was a choice of several broths. I tried their Original broth. It was a bit bland on its own, but they had a sauce bar which flavored the broth nicely.
Once the broth quickly came to a boil on the induction stove built into the table, it was time to start cooking food. The conveyors were endlessly being refilled with various ingredients. I started with several items and started cooking!

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Dumplings, noodles, lamb, tofu, taro, and greens went into the pot first.
After a few minutes the contents of the pot were scooped out of the broth, eaten, and the whole process repeated!
I had fun eating at Nine Spices. Cooking soup with lots of ingredients chosen from conveyor belts makes for an interesting meal!

Monday, July 31, 2017

Biscuits Restaurant in Longwood, FL

I had dinner at Biscuits in Longwood. They are located in the strip mall behind where Polenia used to be. I had heard that Biscuits has the same owners as Polenia and served a hybrid diner/Polish menu to consolidate their restaurants. Once there, I was sort of surprised to see that the menu pretty much was the same as what used to be offered at Polenia. I was fine with that because I liked the food at Polenia, but I don't quite get the name change to Biscuits. Especially when there were no biscuits on the menu. Maybe at breakfast?
The only biscuits I spotted were on the sign out front and on the artwork of these poodle chefs...
I ordered the Polish Sampler. It came with stuffed cabbage topped with tomato sauce, smoked kielbasa, potato filled pierogi topped with onions and bacon, and sauerkraut. I've eaten this in the past back when Polonia was a restaurant. I liked it back then, and I still liked it at Biscuits. Can't go wrong with a dish that includes potato dumplings and sauerkraut!
The identity of Biscuits/Polonia was confusing and I don't think I was the only one who felt this way. On all of my visits to Polonia in the past, they always seemed to be doing good business. During my visit to Biscuits, we were the only customers in the restaurant. I guess most of Polonia's old customers haven't gotten the message that Biscuits basically is Polonia...

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Earls Kitchen + Bar in Orlando, FL

I had lunch at a newish restaurant called Earls Kitchen + Bar in the Mall at Millenia. They are one of the strange outer restaurants that are in the main mall building, but aren't accessible from inside the mall itself. I'm not sure what Earls replaced. I had never eaten at whatever it was.
I had the Chicken Pibil Tacos. The two tacos were served on corn tortillas with nicely marinated chicken, topped with cheese, radish slices, pickled onions, and cilantro. The tacos came with a side and I choose the caesar salad.
The tacos were pretty tasty, but a bit pricey at $14. I've been to plenty of other actual Mexican restaurants in town where I can equivalent, if not better tacos for under $3 each. The caesar salad didn't make up the value difference. I guess they have to make that money for expensive mall rent somehow...

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Leaning Palms at Typhoon Lagoon

I visited Typhoon Lagoon at Disney recently. In terms of Orlando water parks, Typhoon Lagoon is the park that I've been to the least. I believe this was the second time I've been there and it has been years since my last visit. Being that it was so long, I was surprisingly pleased with the quality of the oldest water park in Orlando.
While there, I had dinner at a restaurant called Leaning Palms. The menu was typical water park food, mostly consisting of burgers, hot dogs, etc. I ordered the one thing which seemed unique.
The Mojo Chicken was shredded chicken, served with rice, black beans, and plantains. The chicken appeared plain, but was really flavorful. The black beans had sausage mixed in, and the rice and plantains were as expected. I was pleased with my meal.
Food inside of Disney theme parks has been disappointing to me on my more recent visits to the parks. I'm glad this Mojo Chicken changed the trend!

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Tijuana Flats Flat Outrageous Menu

Tijuana Flats has added a new section to their menu. They call it Flat Outrageous. This new Flat Outrageous menu features street tacos, flautas, and tostadas. I was recently invited to one of the newest Tijuana Flats locations in Orlando near Millenia to sample some of the items from the new menu.

Tijuana Trio: Chips, salsa, queso, and guac. Not from the new Flat Outrageous section of the menu, but chips and dips are always a standard.

Crispy Baja Fish Street Tacos: Crispy fish, chipotle crema, shaved cilantro cabbage, and pineapple salsa.

Jerk Chicken Street Tacos: Crispy jerk chicken, MoreFire! hot sauce, shaved cilantro cabbage, pineapple salsa, and cotija cheese. Of the street tacos, this one was my favorite. It had much more heat than I'd expect from tacos in a chain restaurant.

Lime Steak Street Tacos: Grilled garlic-lime steak, avocado crema, shaved cilantro cabbage, pico de gallo, and cotija cheese.

Philly Cheesesteak Flautas: Cripsy tortillas stuffed with shaved sirloin steak, mozzarella cheese, grilled onions & peppers served with queso.

Bangin' Chicken Tostadas: Cripsy corn tortillas with Smack My Asss Bangin' Chicken, refried beans, cheddar jack cheese, grilled onions & peppers, tomatoes, and ranch dressing. Another item that I really enjoyed. I think this is what I'll be ordering on my next visit to Tijuana Flats.

Cookie Dough Flautas: Chocolate chip cookie dough in a flour tortilla, lightly fried and topped with powdered sugar. Served with a side of chocolate syrup.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Hard Rock Cafe World Burger Tour (Orlando, FL)

I was invited to the Hard Rock Cafe in Orlando to sample some new burgers from their World Burger Tour menu. As they described it, World Burger Tour is a limited-time offering of Hard Rock Local Legendary Burgers, inspired by the taste and flavors from cafe locations around the world. The World Burger Tour is available at participating Hard Rock Cafe locations around the world now through June 25, 2017.

The burgers being sampled from the World Burger Tour included the:

Seminole Cattlemen Burger (Florida, United States) – pay tribute to the tribe! This Legendary burger is a combination of zippy swamp cabbage, also known as hearts of palm, fresh tomato and tupelo breaded gator tail atop a seasoned Seminole beef patty and smothered in Seminole wing sauce
English Breakfast Burger (London, England) – a Certified Angus Beef patty topped with sliced ham, a sausage patty, a fried egg, a Portobello mushroom, arugula and garlic aioli and served with a side of baked beans
Kimchi Burger (Seoul, South Korea) – a tradition years in the making, Certified Angus Beef patty topped with Sriracha-seasoned kimchi, bulgogi sauce, fresh tomato and lettuce and Sriracha mayo
Jambalaya Burger (Louisiana, United States) – this big easy burger features spiced up Certified Angus Beef fixed with Cajun mayo, pickles, andouille sausage, pepper jack cheese and a jammin’ jambalaya rice cake.
The Jambalaya Burger was my personal favorite of the burgers sampled. The jambalaya rice cake was an interesting touch which I've never seen before. It looked like an onion ring from the outside, but was filled with jambalaya deliciousness inside.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Z-Best Ethiopian Food in Orlando, FL

I ventured down to Lake Eola Park on Earth Day. Earth Day in the park was interesting because the March for Science was happening at the same time as the Central Florida Earth Day celebrations. The two events contrasted a bit with one promoting science alongside another that was promoting a whole lot of pseudoscience. Besides the tents telling me the the horrors of chemtrails, the Earth Day celebrations also had some food vendors which aren't normally in the park. I tried Z-Best Ethiopian Food.
I had their three item combo. I picked a lentil-filled sambusa, collards, and chickpeas. The sambusa was good, similar to a samosa in an Indian restaurant but with a flakier crust. The lentil filling had a nice bit of spice to it. Chickpeas were also good, cooked in a flavorful tomato based sauce. The collards were just okay, with not much standout flavor.
Z-Best was my first time eating Ethiopian food in Orlando. I know there are a couple other Ethiopian restaurants in town that I need to try, but so far I only have one data point. I guess that means Z-Best lives up to their name for now in Orlando.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Sassagoula Floatworks & Food Factory in Disney's Port Orleans

I ventured over to Disney's Port Orleans hotel for dinner on a recent evening. After wandering around the property looking at the different food options, I ended up at Sassagoula Floatworks & Food Factory in the French Quarter section of the hotel. The restaurant was set up food court style, with several different counters serving various menu options.
I tried the Jambalaya. It was served in a large bowl topped with a square of cornbread. As far as taste goes, the jambalaya was good, but it also sort of lacked something. It consisted of chicken, sausage, and rice, and that was about it. I'm used to seeing a little more in jambalaya too. Usually there's vegetables in there as well. Celery, green peppers, and onions seem pretty standard in the dish, but there was no trace of them here.
Someone else ordered the Shrimp and Grits. Definitely the better option. The large portion consisted of a large serving of grits topped with a freshly made serving of shrimp, various vegetables, and sauce. Sundried tomatoes aren't normally in here, but they were added upon request. It was really tasty and definitely outshined the relatively boring jambalaya.
Beignets were also ordered for dessert. Doughnuts topped with powdered sugar are always good, and these were better than other theme park beignets I've come across which are basically square funnel cakes. These were light and fluffy and had the proper beignet consistency.
Although my jambalaya was a little subpar, everything else I tried at Sassagoula Floatworks was good. I'd go back!

Friday, March 31, 2017

Suki Hanna in Hunters Creek, FL

I went to Suki Hanna in Hunters Creek upon a friend's recommendation for lunch. I ordered their Sushi Bar Lunch Special, which included soup, salad, and two rolls. The salad was the standard Japanese restaurant salad, consisting of mostly iceberg lettuce in ginger dressing. Miso soup is also always good.
As for the rest of the lunch, I ordered the Tuna Avocado Roll and the Spicy Shrimp Roll. Pretty much what I would expect as well for sushi rolls. The spicy shrimp roll could have had a little more spice.
Suki Hanna was exactly what I expected when going to a Japanese restaurant for lunch. They offered affordable lunch specials which were Japanese restaurant standards. A very similar meal could be found at countless other Japanese restaurants all over Florida, but being that Suki Hanna did the lunch well enough was a good thing.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Market on South in Orlando, FL

I've ended up at Market on South in Orlando on a couple occasions recently. Market on South was described to me in a way that made it sound similar to East End Market or Plant Street Market, as in one building that houses several separate food centered businesses. Technically, that's what Market on South is, but the separate entities are all sold from one single counter inside the building. Until my first visit there, I also didn't realize that everything sold at Market on South is vegan.
Dixie Dharma is the name of the food vendor inside of Market on South that serves sandwiches. I tried their Carolina BBQ Pulled Jackfruit Sandwich. The menu described it being topped with crispy fried onions, garlic pickle, arugula, preserved lemon & coca-cola reduction, all on Texas toast. This was my first time ever trying jackfruit on a sandwich and it was pretty tasty.
I also traded a sandwich half with the person I ate here with and tried the Florida Fried Green Tomato Sandwich. This had deep fried green tomatoes, with smoked eggplant remoulade, garlicky kale & chow-chow on Texas toast. Of the two sandwiches I tried, I preferred this one. Both were good, but this one had a little more going for it. I did like that Dixie Dharma didn't pretend that they we serving meat when they weren't like I've seen done in far too many vegan/vegetarian restaurants. My main complaint with both of the sandwiches was the Texas toast. The white bread didn't do it for me...
Valhalla Bakery is the bakery portion of Market on South. It seems like most of their baked goods are doughnuts, but when I saw they were advertising King Cakes for Fat Tuesday on their Instagram, I stopped in a picked a few up. My most recent experience with vegan baked goods before this from a bakery which will not be named was like eating corrugated cardboard that was supposed to be a brownie, so my expectations weren't high. These King Cakes luckily exceeded my expectations. I had a Publix King Cake the day before, and these were way better. I'm not sure how Valhalla Bakery does it with no eggs or dairy, but the cakes were moist, held together well, and didn't fit the stereotype of vegan baked goods at all. Unfortunately, babies were not supplied with the cakes.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Thai Thani in Celebration, FL

I had dinner at Thai Thani in Celebration. Located in a space which was once one of the last few holdouts of Gooding's Supermarkets, Thai Thani has no resemblance to once being a food store. The restaurant was about half full when I ate there, yet all the servers were acting flustered and apologizing about how overwhelmed they were. It was strange to see all the servers act like this, when in all actuality, the service was fine besides all the apologizing.
I had the Chicken Red Curry. This was a coconut milk based curry with string beans, eggplant, basil, bell peppers, peas, and bamboo shoots. Steamed rice was served on the side. It was pretty standard for a Thai restaurant curry dish, which is good. Only complaint was that I ordered the dish with medium spice and it had no heat at all. Still tasty though. I'd eat here again.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Fish on Fire in Orlando, FL

I had dinner at a restaurant near Orlando International Airport called Fish on Fire. I went here with a a few people from a convention I was attending at a hotel a few doors down. If I was alone, I probably would have walked out because the whole place had the unpleasant stench of cigarette smoke. Nobody was smoking in the restaurant because that's illegal, but the large open doors leading to the patio brought the smell straight into the dining room.

I ordered the Cobia for my meal. The fillet of fish was cooked well, with a nice bit of flavored seasoning. I had a side of collards which were good. My side of grits weren't so good. They were dry and crunchy.

Our server seemed angry throughout the meal, but his service was okay until we were ready for the check. It took a good 45 minutes after we were done eating before we saw the bill. This was while asking our server repeatedly, then asking other employees who referred us back to our server. The fish was good, but Fish on Fire had too much going against them. I don't think I'd return.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

MidiCi in Kissimmee, FL

I was invited to try a new restaurant in Kissimmee called MidiCi. Located in a shopping center near the intersection of Osceola Parkway and 441, MidiCi is a quick service style restaurant. Neapolitan pizza seems to be the star here, with the entire kitchen centered around a wood-fired oven. You can either choose to order of the menu, or customize your pizzas by selecting what you want on your pizzas. I wanted to leave the flavor combinations to the experts, so everything I tried came straight off the menu. 

We started out our visit with the House Cheese Board. This consisted of a selection of house cheeses: black truffle cheese (sottocenere al tartufo), smoked mozzarella, goat cheese, gorgonzola, and parmigiano-reggiano. The cheeses were accompanied with fresh pears, king walnuts, organic honey, and wood fire-toasted ciabatta bread
House Meat Board: This was similar to the cheese board, featuring a selection of cured meats. There was black truffle salami (tartufo), prosciutto di San Daniele, spicy Italian salami (calabrese), Neapolitan salami, and rosemary ham (cotto). The meats were served with gourmet pickles, two mustards, and wood fire-toasted ciabatta bread
Burrata with Melon & Prosciutto di San Daniele: Fresh soft burrata cheese, fresh melon, prosciutto di San Daniele (imported from Italy and aged 24 months).
The Devil's Pizza: Crushed Italian peeled tomatoes (sauce), fresh whole mozzarella, housemade all natural spicy sausage, spicy Italian salami (calabrese), all natural Fresno chilis, all natural Italian chilis, parmigiano-reggiano, organic non-gmo extra virgin olive oil, and fresh organic sweet basil. The pizza had a fair amount of spice for what is essentially a fast food restaurant.
Pizza Bianca e Prosciutto: Fresh whole mozzarella, oregano, fresh garlic, parmigiano-reggiano, organic non-gmo extra virgin olive oil, topped with prosciutto di San Daniele and baby arugula after bake. Of the two pizzas I sampled, this was my favorite.
Nutella Calzone with Fresh Berries: Our signature Neapolitan dough, light, thin, soft and chewy, baked fresh with Nutella, blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries. Topped with a hint of balsamic reduction and shaved coconut. I've had similar desserts at other fast food Italian chains. This was better.
The Drowning Gelato (Affogato): Italian vanilla gelato by Italian Master Gelatiers Leo Leo Gelato, drowning in espresso. I'm not a big coffee person so the espresso flavor was a bit strong for my liking.

Everything I tried at MidiCi was delicious. The pizzas were done really nicely. All the appetizers and desserts were quality. I look forward to returning to MidiCi in the future!

Monday, January 23, 2017

Chicken Waffle Grill Food Truck in Orlando, FL

I had lunch from a food truck which was new to me called Chicken Waffle Grill. They were parked outside a hotel near the airport where I was attending a convention. My first time trying chicken and waffles was also from an Orlando food truck called Melissa's Chicken and Waffles, which I don't think is around anymore. I'm glad there's another chicken & waffle food truck around to fill the void.
I had the Mac & Cheese Waffle. The waffle was topped with fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, lettuce, potato chips, and a slightly spicy sauce. Fries and syrup were served on the side. As unhealthy as this might sound, overall it was actually really tasty and all the flavors worked together well.
My big complaint was with the plastic silverware that the truck supplied. It was really flimsy and I went through three plastic forks snapping in half as I was trying to eat my lunch. Otherwise, I enjoyed my waffle!

Friday, January 13, 2017

New Mexico Food (La Posta de Mesilla, Church Street Cafe, Frontier Restaurant, Standard Diner, Los Magueyes, and El Toro Bravo)

After spending some time in El Paso for a convention, I rented a car and went on a whirlwind tour of New Mexico. Here's some of the food from that whirlwind.

La Posta de Mesilla:

The town of Mesilla was very pretty with lots of adobe architecture. While there, I had lunch at a sprawling restaurant called La Posta de Mesilla. They've been around since 1939 so they must be doing something right. 
I had a combination plate which included a tamale, taco, enchilada, chili con carne, rice, and beans. It was a huge amount of food for a reasonable price.

Church Street Cafe in Albuquerque:

Moving on to Albuquerque, I had breakfast at Church Street Cafe in Albuquerque Old Town. My decision on where to eat was made easy because this was the only restaurant I found open for breakfast in Old Town.
Chips and salsa at 10:30 am.
I had Huevos Rancheros topped with half green chili and half red chili sauce. Homefries, beans, and tortillas were served alongside the eggs. New Mexico's green chili is delicious.

Frontier Restaurant in Albuquerque:

This restaurant was recommended to me by somebody who grew up in Albuquerque. Located right across the street from the University of New Mexico, Frontier had somewhat of the same feel of the indoor portion of Atlanta's Varsity with very different food.
I had the Mexican Combo, which came with an enchilada, taco, rice, beans and flour tortilla. I also ordered a cup of green chili stew, because green chili must be eaten everywhere in New Mexico. The combo was good, but not the best Mexican food I've ever had. It didn't seem nearly as authentic as my meal in Mesilla. The green chili stew was delicious though.

Standard Diner in Albuquerque, NM:

A second breakfast the next morning in Albuquerque. This time at a restaurant called the Standard Diner.

I had the Rail Runner. This was named after the commuter rail connecting various cities in New Mexico (with a way cooler paint job and better sound effects than Orlando's SunRail). It consisted of scrambled eggs and chorizo over a cheddar biscuit, topped with New Mexico green chile, pimiento queso, and white cheddar. Black beans and hash browns were served on the side. This was pretty delicious!

Los Magueyes in Santa Fe:

Moving on to Santa Fe, I had dinner at a restaurant in downtown called Los Magueyes. They were located on a side street closed to traffic called Burro Alley and had seating in the street.
Live music was happening.
I had the Nuevo Guadalajara Special. It came with flautas filled with chicken served over a piece of steak, a tamale, rice, beans, and garnishes. For some reason I was expecting a chicken flauta and a steak flauta rather than chicken flautas served over steak. It was unexpected and resulted in a lot more food. Everything was good (although the steak was a little tough).

El Toro Bravo in Roswell:

Roswell and aliens are such a big part of American pop culture that I couldn't not stop at the UFO museum. I had lunch on the next block at El Toro Bravo. How could I not want to eat at a restaurant with mariachi aliens painted all over the outside of the building?
They had a lunch buffet going on. How about we not talk about the food on the buffet and focus on the cute tire tread alien above? After the Mexican food deliciousness that I had eaten all week, this was pretty disappointing. I guess the extraterrestrials haven't quite figured out how to have good Mexican food on a buffet yet...


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