Thursday, November 29, 2007

Brodard Restaurant

Brodard Restaurant is neatly hidden away behind a shopping center. So many people have gotten lost trying to find it that getting to the restaurant seems to be like being invited to a secret club complete with complicated stealth handshake and all.

Brodard’s is known for their spring rolls, particularly the pork ones. Although they do serve other types of Vietnamese dishes, the spring rolls are what keep people coming back.

The Chai Gao, or Eggrolls, are filled with pork, shrimp and crab along with vermicelli noodles and vegetables served with a chile lime fish sauce. The eggrolls come steaming hot, clearly right out of the fryer. When bitten into, a nice resounding CRUNCH can be heard and felt. The balance of ingredients work well together. The addition of vermicelli noodles is a Vietnamese twist on the Chinese classic and may catch diners off guard if eating them for the first time. The eggrolls are served with pickled daikon and carrots in addition to the chile lime fish sauce. The sauce is not overly hot, but it helps to cut through the richness of the oil.

The Nem & Chao, Hai Cuon Moi Loai, or Mixed Spring Rolls, come two to an order. This is split between the infamous shrimp and pork spring rolls. These are not made with distinguishable pork or shrimp, but instead is a paste with a slightly sweet taste. The first thing you notice about the spring rolls are their size. These are, by far, the biggest spring rolls that I have ever seen. In addition to the sausage like pork or shrimp paste filling, each spring roll contains lettuce, carrots, mint. Cucumbers and spring onions that stick out one end of the spring roll like antennae. The spring rolls are served with a “house special sauce”, which is an Oompa Loompa orange and is a mystery as to what it contains.

The Bun Bo Xao is a meal in a bowl. It contains sliced beef over vermicelli noodles with crushed peanuts, shallots and greens. The dish is very refreshing and is almost like a noodle salad. The dish is served with a chile lime sauce that gives an acidic punch to the dish but not much heat. Like most Asian dishes, the amount of protein in this dish is minimal compared to an American counterpart, which is my only complaint about this dish.

Brodard’s is definitely a destination restaurant for their spring rolls. Although the other dishes are okay, it’s the spring rolls that keep people coming back for more.

Brodard Restaurant
9892 Westminster Avenue, Suite R
Garden Grove, CA 92844
(714) 530-1744

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Joey's BBQ

Joey’s BBQ is a neighborhood joint that has three locations in the Inland Empire. Many people swear that this is the best BBQ around, and while although good, I’m not sure that I agree with that statement.

Joey’s is set in an old house that has an Old West feeling and styling. In the back, there are picnic tables where an old Cowboy plays Country and Western music to entertain the waiting throngs of people to be seated. You can also choose to sit outside and eat if you choose.

The Meatloaf comes wrapped in bacon. How can one resist not ordering this? The portion is rather generous and comes with a light BBQ sauce glaze. The meatloaf is just what you’d expect, nice and meaty inside that is nice and juicy. The bacon fat rendered in the cooking process gives the meatloaf even that much more flavor. The meatloaf comes with two sides; the corn on the cob is your standard fare. Nice and sweet, the corn is just perfect with some butter, salt and pepper. The Homemade Potato Chips were a bit on the wilted side. I think the chips were cooked in oil that wasn’t up to temperature as most of them were on the greasy side.

The Beef Ribs are nice, thick and meaty. Although Joey’s is a BBQ place, the ribs had a distinctive grilled flavor. There was a giant smoker outside, so perhaps they are smoked first and then finished on the grill. The ribs have a slightly sweet BBQ glaze on top of them, adding a nice sweetness and cutting down on the richness of the beef. The Baked Sweet Potato comes topped with butter and marshmallow crème. The Sweet Potato could have been baked a little longer to bring out the inherent sweetness of the tuber, but the amount of butter seemed to overwhelm the taste of everything.

Joey’s is a good neighborhood place. Without that many BBQ places to choose from this is a good choice with good value and friendly service.

Joey’s BBQ
3689 Riverside Drive
Chino, CA 91710
(909) 628-1231

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Starbucks Secrets?

I recently received a message from someone who used to work at Starbucks. Since I'm not much of a coffee drinker, I don't know the validity of this message, but it couldn't hurt to try some of them if you frequent Starbucks.


1. Drinks to try that are not on the menu
2. Drinks for those on a budget
3. Refills Anyone?
4. Eating there...
5. A special ESPRESSO experience that's really unique
6. Legendary Service and what that means in the real world
7. Things to look out for that make your Starbucks life easier


* Penguin/Zebra/Tuxedo: This is a mocha (with caffeine) or hot chocolate (no caffeine) that is half white chocolate and half regular chocolate. It's tastier than the regular hot chocolate and less sweet than a white mocha.

* Hot Chocolate with a shot of vanilla: Once you try it this way, you'll never drink regular hot chocolates again.

* Strawberry Lemonades: A lemonade concentrate is mixed with a strawberry puree. Can be blended!

* Gummi Bear: Only SGV-based Starbucks know how to makes this sweet fruit punch that tastes exactly like a gummi bear. I forgot the recipe.

* Steamer: Half regular coffee with half steamed milk. For those who like lots of milk in their coffee but don't like it cooling when they add creamer.

* Red Eye: Regular coffee with an add shot.

2. DRINKS ON A BUDGET (Don't be fooled by the word "kids).

* Kid's Hot Chocolate: It's a regular hot chocolate that's put into a short cup. It's only $1.

* Kid's Milk: Just as it sounds like. Milk for $1.

* Kid's Cider: Want to warm up without caffeine? It's yours for $1.

3. Refills, anyone?

Very few people know the very lax refill policy. If you purchased a Starbucks drink earlier that day and saved your cup, you can have refills of the following:

* Regular Drip Coffee
* Regular Ice Teas (including black, green, and passion)

Doesn't matter what size cup you have either and it's 50 cents! Technically, you could bring in a cup that's a day old but it sounds kinda gross. If you're going with the hot coffee, ask them to swish some hot water in it to clean it out.


Let's say you're on a casual date or plan to be there for awhile. Let's just also say you don't like eating food out of a paper bag.

Ask for your food to be served on a "for here" plate. That way you get some real china and some stores have real silverware. Also, it's always nice to have a cappuccino with extra foam served in a "for here" cup.

5. A UNIQUE ESPRESSO EXPERIENCE - Recommended for people who truly love dark coffee AND a regular. Trust me, they wont do it for everyone. Once you've made friends with one of the baristas (or a supervisor), you can ask for this and it's truly memorable. Plus, it really impresses a date who is into coffee.

* Ask the supervisor to make you a batch of coffee that is in a FRENCH PRESS. Yes, they have these.

* Ask for a stronger coffee that has real flavors like the Sumatra.

* Ask for at least two grandes (come on, be fair) to be made and to be served in "for here" cups. They will charge you for two grande coffees (hella cheap).

What you'll get is a large glass FRENCH PRESS of wonderfully made coffee in nice mugs. What might have tasted like "sludge" before, now tastes better. The french press brings out additional flavors and aromas that get lost when it's processed in the electronic machine.

This is a great experience for a true coffee lover and if you go when they are slower (i.e. Sunday mid-mornings, late afternoon weekdays). My dad and I used to do this. Drink fast though, the coffee in a glass french press only stays hot for 20 minutes.

6. LEGENDARY SERVICE IN THE REAL WORLD - I used to be a barista and I'm always surprised that people don't know what they are entitled to.

* If your drink sucks or you tried something new and didn't like it, you can return it at any time. They should immediately throw away the drink and then make you a new one. They are also supposed to not make any faces or comments when doing this. Plus, you don't wait in line again. You just go up to the bar and tell them.

* They will offer a suggestion or make you another drink in the same price range.

* If it's really really really terrible and your barista is rude to you or spills on you, a supervisor might give you a free drink coupon. This is in cases of extreme neglect.

* Every time your drink is handed to you over the bar, the barista is supposed to look up and acknowledge your existence.

Obviously, this legendary service varies at different places. For instances, I find beach Starbucks more accommodating than the business Starbucks.


* Ever wonder why your hot drinks drip on you sometimes when you drink from it? It's because you lined up the drink hole with the cup seam. It creates a small leak. For those with hot drinks, always position the drink hole away from the seam (preferably 180 degrees).

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Jolly Jug

The Jolly Jug is an old school diner. Famous for their sandwiches, this place has been seemingly around forever. Beige Naugahyde booths adorn the small dining room. This is a mostly locals joint, where regulars often frequent.

The Beef Dip is a large sandwich with loads of chopped beef on top of a French roll. The bread has a very thin, but super crunchy crust, while the interior is cottony soft. This is a straightforward sandwich, just meat and bread. What accompanies the sandwich is a different story altogether. Instead of au jus, a small bowl of gravy accompanies your sandwich for dipping. This is your standard brown gravy, but has a slight hint of something in the background, perhaps nutmeg. The beef was a little dry, but the gravy did its job in moistening and giving extra flavor to the sandwich.

The Pastrami Dip Sandwich is unlike any that I have ever had before. The pastrami is not cured for a very long time, and has sort more of a brined flavor. This gives the meat a fresher, and somewhat saltier taste than your normal Pastrimi. The meat is very lean and piled on high. As with the Beef Dip, the same gravy is served with the Pastrami. The unusual combination of the pastrimi and gravy was a new and interesting twist, which perked up your usual Pastrimi sandwich.

The Jolly Jug serves good food at a reasonable price, but more than anything is a bit of nostalgia.

Jolly Jug
4264 Peck Road
El Monte, CA 91732
(626) 444-8425

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Break Of Dawn

Break of Dawn was the setting for a get together for the OC Food Blogs group. This restaurant has garnered much attention among the foodie world. You have a highly acclaimed chef in Dee Nguyen, who was the Executive Sous Chef at the Ritz Carlton, who opened this restaurant in order to spend more time with his family.

The space is rather quaint, but is set up to appear very open and minimally decorated with splashes of Asian touches throughout the restaurant. Above the kitchen, Chef Nguyen proudly displays his kitchen whites from his Ritz Carlton days. Articles about the restaurant also find their way around the walls. Break of Dawn is very informal, with picnic type benches inside while a couple tables are set outside for those who prefer to dine al fresco.

The Crème Brulee French Toast sounds like a winner on paper. What’s not to like when you combine French Toast and Crème Brulee. Four large slices of raisin brioche are dipped in an egg wash and then set in barely set crème brulee. Sugar is then sprinkled onto the very coconutty crème brulee then torched to give it that familiar crackle. The French Toast is then liberally dusted with powdered sugar, like Al Pacino in that infamous scene in Scarface. There were a couple of problems with this dish unfortunately. The French Toast was pre-cooked and was stone cold. The second problem was that the flavor of coconut totally overwhelmed the taste of the dish. It was hard to taste anything but coconut.

The Corned Beef dish was a slight take on the old standard Corned Beef and Cabbage. Thin slices of briny corned beef sit atop a sweet potato hash that is also mixed with potatoes. All this sits in a glistening pool of mustard sauce. To fit in with the breakfast theme of Break of Dawn, two poached eggs are served with the dish. When cut into, their bright yellow liquid gold comes rushing out like an oil gusher. An astringent topping of braised cabbage finishes the dish. All of the elements worked well together, however, I thought the acidity of the cabbage was a distraction from the rest of the dish.

Perhaps we caught Break of Dawn on a bad day, or they weren’t ready for a party of 17 people. With Chef Nguyen’s credentials, a second chance is definitely in the cards.

Here’s Chubbypanda’s review.

Break of Dawn
24351 Avenida De La Carlota #N-6
Laguna Hills, CA 92653
(949) 587-9418