Thursday, August 30, 2007

Taco Nazo

Taco Nazo specializes in Baja style fish tacos, meaning that battered fish fillets are deep fried. The fish taco is then finished off with shredded cabbage and a white sauce that is a little like thinned out mayonnaise. These tacos are of the street variety; the tortillas are a little smaller than your average tortilla at Taco Bell and are doubled up to prevent the tortillas from tearing. The fillets are on the large side, but on closer inspection the secret to their enormous size is that the fillets are breaded rather heavily. That does detract somewhat from the flavor of the fish, but the taco eaten as a whole package is wonderful. The tacos are served with grilled yellow peppers which are a nice contrast to the tacos. They are a little spicy, but not overwhelmingly so. They are sprinkled with salt and pepper, which give it another layer of flavor.

And for you bargain hunters, the fish tacos are only 99 cents on Sundays.

Taco Nazo
1267 N. Grand Ave.
Walnut, CA 91789
(909) 595-0555

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Jerry's Wood-Fired Dogs

This new spot, for me, caught my eye when I was in the area a while back and decided to give it a try the next time I was in the area. From the name of the place, it looked promising. Not your run of the mill hot dog place. These claimed to be wood fired, which to me meant being cooked on top of a grill with an open flame.The hot dogs are all beef; they also have a turkey dog and a veggie dog on the menu. They also offer sausages, salads and burgers. If you like your hot dogs with a lot of toppings this is the place for you. You can top your hot dog with over 30 different items, all of them complimentary. The only toppings that you pay extra for are chili, cheese and bacon slices. They also offer wheat buns, and will grill or steam them upon request.

I decided to try the Spiral Dog, a quarter pound all beef hot dog that has a spiral cut to help impart more smoke and help some of the fat render out. The hot dog is quite large and looked appealing. Upon ordering, they took the hot dog and placed it on top of the mesquite grill. When the hot dog was done, I was then asked which toppings I wanted. I chose the spicy brown mustard and bacon bits. One things is for sure, they definitely don't skimp on the toppings. The hot dog has no natural casing, so for those who like that “snap” to their dogs, you may want to look elsewhere. The hot dog is very meaty, flavorful and does have a distinct smoky flavor, but I was in for a big surprise with my first bite. They pre-cook their hot dogs and then place them on the grill when you order it to basically warm it up again. Sadly, my hot dog was nearly ice cold despite the fact that it was thrown on the grill. I got my order to go, so I was on the road when I discovered this annoying fact.

Jerry’s Wood Fired Dogs
2276 E. 17th Street

Santa Ana, CA 92705
(714) 245-0200

Sunday, August 26, 2007

The Venice Room

Inside this small neighborhood bar lies a well hidden secret. It’s actually advertised on the outside of the building, but you probably will never notice it. What is it? A place where you get to play Executive Chef for the evening. It’s a steak dinner, which includes a salad, baked potato and a dinner roll. All for the bargain price of $13.50.

As you enter, you immediately encounter a large bar that gradually encircles much of the room. There is also a piano where they also sing karaoke where they seem to sing whenever one of the locals feel like it. There is a small attached dining room, where a nice big gas grill greets you. To begin the steak dinner, you are directed towards a rather small salad bar. There is a small refrigerator underneath the salad bar in which plates are chilled. The salad bar consists only of iceberg lettuce, but is a nice and refreshing way to start the meal. There is an array of salad dressings to finish off your salad.

You are then presented a plate with a baked potato, a French roll and a raw strip steak. Next to the grill is wide variety of spices and condiments to season your steak before throwing it on the grill. The great thing about this place is that your steak will be season and cooked to your liking. If it’s not the way you like it, you have no one to blame but yourself.

The dining room is dimly lit and is a throwback to the 50’s with faux leather banquettes lining both walls. A huge mural of the canals in Venice adorn one wall. If you didn’t know any better you would think you were in an Italian restaurant given the establishments name and d├ęcor.

The steak is a nice and thick and probably weighs at least 12 ounces. A nice fat cap encircles one side and has just enough fat to help give it that extra boost of flavor. The steaks are nice and juicy and are bursting with flavor. This certainly isn’t a Prime cut of meat, but it is still full of flavor nonetheless.

For a great hands on and fun dining experience at a great price, The Venice Room can’t be beat.

The Venice Room
2428 S. Garfield Ave.
Monterey Park, CA 91754
(323) 722-3075

Friday, August 10, 2007

Beverly's Best Bakery

A review has been written on OC Food Blogs. The entire review and pictures can be found here.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

The Loft

You call this butterfish?

I had my eye on the lau lau since it advertised that it had butterfish in it, just like small kid time. It's hard to find butterfish in lau lau anymore, most restaurants will tell you its too expensive to make it that way. The places that do have butterfish use a very small piece that is mostly fat and very little meat. I know that the butterfish is really only there to help flavor the pork, which usually has little to no flavor on its own. But, the amount of butterfish that the Loft uses in their lau lau is a joke. It's about the size of a small Band-Aid, and is all fat. Ho, da stingy buggah's can't even put a decent amount of fish in da lau lau. I almost wen give em da stink eye. As a whole, the butterfish was under seasoned and was sorely lacking some salt. It was a pretty decent sized lau lau, but the mysterious butterfish was still missing.

The bacon fried rice was not all that special. There were big pieces of bacon, but it was under cooked and not crispy. It also had a strange taste to it, like old oil had been used in the dish. This version of bacon fried rice was just tired and uninspiring. With all of the framed pieces around the restaurant endorsing "ohana", this isn't the kind of food you would feed your family.

All in all, I don't think I'd make a special trip here. I have heard that the Cypress location is better, but I've only eaten at the Torrance location, which was better.

The Loft
20157 Pioneer Blvd.
Cerritos, CA 90715
(562) 402-3538

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Cafe Jimenez

Located in the old and tired shopping center , which has seen better days, in Phillips Ranch, Cafe Jimenez occupies a fairly large space. The space is rather open, with the bar and seating in the middle, with the more formal sit down tables lying on the outskirts of the restaurant.

What is unique about Cafe Jimenez is that they serve a sit down buffet of Mexican food which includes burritos, tacos, tostadas, chile verde, chile colorado, taquitos, chimichangas and a few other items. They start you off with chips and salsa, and your choice of soup or salad. All of this for $8.95.

The Albondigas soup is chicken stock with large chunks of carrots and potatoes and a rather large meatball. The soup was rather salty and otherwise uneventful.

After the soup or salad, you are free to choose three entrees. The Chile Relleno was dipped in a light battered and fried to a nice golden crisp. A generous amount of cheese was stuffed into the poblano pepper. The chile relleno was then topped with more cheese and put under the broiler until the cheese was melted to a golden brown.

The Carnitas is not shredded as most are accustomed to. These are large chunks of pork that are crispy on the outside, while still retaining their tenderness on the inside. It's as though the pork was fried before serving to give it that added crunch to the outside.

The Chicken Chimichanga Burrito is a fairly large burrito that is deep fried to a nice golden brown. It wasn't as crispy as I would have liked but wasn't soggy either. The chicken was tender but rather uneventful otherwise.

The taquitos come two to an order. The taquitos are filled with chopped beef that has little to no flavor. A good amount of beef is stuffed into the rolled corn tortilla, which is something that a lot of restaurants fail to do. It is served with sour cream and guacamole on the side.

The Chile Verde are nice large chunks of braised pork that still has a nice browned color and a little bit of a crunch to it. The pork is very tender and flavorful. Bits of chiles and tomatillos are still identifiable. This is a drier dish than some that I have had, which tend to be on the soupier side.

The Beef Burrito is rather large and filled with big chunks of shredded beef. Cooked in a nice tomato and red chile broth, the beef is very tender and flavorful. The burrito is then covered with cheese and placed under the broiler. The burrito is served wet and topped with a semi spicy sauce.

The Beef Enchilada is filled with the same flavorful beef as the burrito, but the only difference is the corn tortilla rather than the flour tortilla that is used in the burrito. The enchilada is topped with melted cheese and a nice red sauce.

The tamales taste and look like they are store bought unfortunately. A thick layer of very soft masa encase a beef mixture that tastes likes its been pulverized into a brown paste.

The beef taco is served in a crispy shell and topped with iceberg lettuce, salsa and cotija cheese. The beef was fried to a burnt crisp and was very dry and flavorless.

For the price, Cafe Jimenez is a rather good bargain. Just stick to the braised beef and pork dishes and you should be happy.

Cafe Jimenez
6 Village Loop Rd
Phillips Ranch, CA 91766
(909) 622-7787