Monday, June 11, 2007

Kind of the End but Not Really

Alright, I have some exciting news to pass along to you guys. I'm going to be writing reviews weekly for uber-blog The Impulsive Buy. I think I'll be starting sooner rather than later. I really couldn't pass up the opportunity. Unfortunately, I am a full time college student and generally anxious person so I can't write for two blogs without going insane. This is why I'm sorry to say that Here To Eat's immediate life is being cryogenically frozen for the foreseeable future. I don't expect to compromise anything or write differently, it's going to be the same tangential stuff with even more irreverent and self-deprecating humor.

This blog started as a hobby and has become something that I am very proud of in the short time I've been doing it. It's worth the awkward stares I get when I tell people what I do for fun. All of you guys leaving comments, writing e-mails, or just reading my ridiculous reviews have made the whole thing very enjoyable and fulfilling.

Thanks for reading and please visit The Impulsive Buy to follow me and read my new reviews every week. Remember, I'm not gone, I'm just moving!

Much love,


Saturday, June 02, 2007

Circle K Sausage/Egg/Cheese Roller Bite

Price: $.99
Rating: * / *****

Here it is. The ROLLER BITE. My god, the things I do for you people. Not only do I scour the ends of the Earth to review everything known to mankind, I also have to eat them. Getting the thing was hard enough, eating it was much, much worse. Okay, here's the a rough outline of my ordeal with obtaining the Sausage/Egg/Cheese Roller Bite.

- I see the sign as I am pumping gas. Finding it to be frightening, I take a picture and post it.
- You fine folks say I should review it. Scared, yet unflappable, I go back to the gas station to find it.
- I drive to Circle K, see the sign, but find that they have apparently run out of said Roller Bites. I am angry, yet resilient.
- I go back half a week later, but find this Circle K no longer SELLS these Roller Bites.
- I call 4 different Circle K's, asking if they have Roller Bites. The first 3 barely know English, cannot understand why anyone would ever want a Roller Bite, and leave me high and dry. The fourth, however, confirms that it has breakfast Roller Bites!
- I drive roughly 15 minutes to get the Roller Bite

All that was left was the eating.


Well, it took a lot for me to muster up the strength to try this monstrosity. As you can see, it is fatter than I thought it'd be and pretty oily as well. It also has a lot more egg than I thought it would. Now, these things could be seen as a positive but only if you're batshit insane. During the time I was staring at the thing I was lost in reverie and decided to wonder what the sales pitch was...

People like hot dogs, right?
Of course! People love the delicious flavor and disturbing texture.
And...and...people like breakfast, right?!
Yes! People enjoy not starving until their lunch break. the fuck are people going to eat breakfast if they can't have it in hot dog form?
You fool, don't you get it? You know how Rachael Ray puts hot dogs in macaroni and cheese and calls it a casserole?
That's what the American public wants to eat! Complete shit!
This is brilliant! But what do we do?
Well what if breakfast was in a hot dog...think about it, people could have breakfast any time.
You mean like Bagel Bites? ROLLER Bites!
::simultaneous crotch grabs:: YEAH!!!

The first bite was quite the experience. I didn't really taste any cheese...but that's not what bothered me. should I describe this? ever try ripping the tires off of your car, cutting out a small piece, and then baking it in a blanket of sea salt like how the Iron Chefs cook their fish sometimes? Oh, you haven't? Then you're in for the treat, because you won't believe how spectacularly unnatural this thing tastes.

I'm pretty sure sausage should taste like meat, but I can't help but feel like Dr. Frankenstein is in a lab somewhere playing a sick joke on me. It's CHEWY. Why is the fucking thing CHEWY?! Maybe because it's been rolling on a heated surface perpetually for a few months, but even I can't make any excuses for this thing. The eggs were extremely dense and hard as expected, probably due to the fact that it's been cooked for roughly 15 years before being introduced to the sausage in some factory in eastern China.

You know that episode of Aqua Teen Hunger Force where Master Shake can't finish the Broodwich or else it'll take his soul? I'm almost certain they modeled the Roller Bite after that. I had two bites before I realized that I had a civic duty to burn this thing in some sort of pagan ritual. However, I had already started to feel the effects. As the pains came in, I immediately went to the kitchen tried to stab my stomach in frustration. I figured it was an honorable way to die, I believe the Japanese call it seppuku, but after a few minutes I figured I could tough it out and live to write this review.

So that was my experience. I hope you all never, ever eat this thing and may God have mercy on our souls for inventing it.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Yoshinoya Large Beef and Vegetable Bowl

Price: $5.19
Rating: *** / *****

People, I can't be held responsible for things I type on the internet. I know I said I'd have something on Memorial Day, but I had things to do that made me jam my fingers, therefore rendering me unable to type. I couldn't even open a bottle of Sprite the next day, so I had to drink this weird thing called "water" instead. I can't keep my massive popularity in check either; it keeps me from being at home during the times I usually write reviews. Sure I could write during the day, but I'm most motivated at midnight staring down a can of Monster energy drink with a spoon full of applesauce in my hand. What is this website? Do you think this is just something where I can just blow on a Nintendo cartridge and a review is going to pop out? Do you think this is a game? Motherfucker, I AM the game!!!

But really, in light of today's big news that local superstar and sexual icon(for better or for worse depending on what you believe about certain deeds in certain Colorado hotel rooms) Kobe Bryant is going on a whirlwind radio tour demanding a trade, I thought it'd be fitting to review Yoshinoya. Kobe Bryant has nothing to do with the chain itself, but he's named after a Japanese city so I guess that's a good enough connection for me.

And if you really think about it, Kobe Bryant is a lot like a Yoshinoya combo bowl. They're both good at crunch time, when it gets heated towards the end. Kobe can be counted on making a clutch shot and you know Yoshinoya's going to have a hot bowl of filling food to satisfy your junk food quotient. They both come in styrofoam packaging decorated with the company logos. They're both delicious seasoned with the ground red pepper flakes that Yoshinoya provides.

Okay, maybe this was kind of a stretch.

Maybe I could compare Yoshinoya's beef with Kobe beef. You know, the famed beef where the cows are massaged, drink sake, and generally live better lives than most of us before getting the axe. Of course, Yoshinoya is not Kobe beef. Hell, I don't even know it can be considered beef in certain parts of the world, but it certainly gets the job done. Kobe beef is known for its intensely fatty and marbled meat. Yoshinoya beef is intensely fatty, but not exactly in the same way. They use a cheap cut called "short plate", which means little to the layman except that it's not quite like any other type of beef. It's basically thin, shaved meat that melts in your mouth because of how fatty and tender it is. It is simmered with onions until it is suitable for human consumption. I actually find it to be pretty good, as the beef goes well with the bed of sticky rice that it lays upon.

What really disturbs me are the vegetables that accompany it in the bowl. The combination of cabbage, cauliflower, carrots, and what appears to be broccoli stems come together to form a troublesome tribe of mush. I could honestly say that if I was looking for some savory baby food, I could take a mortar and pestle to it and have myself a treat. I have no idea what they are cooked in, but Yoshinoya calls it their secret sauce.

Newsflash, people: 5 star restaurants don't have "secret sauces", only shady chain ones do. Normal restaurants have the balls to tell people what their sauces are because they aren't afraid of exposing the truth. You can't tell me that the radioactive glow coming from the vegetables are healthy. I use ramen powder to season my tuna sandwiches and I still think that's better for me than whatever this is.

So the vegetables are slightly scary, but the beef was generally tasty. You also get a lot of food for what you pay for, so I will definitely head back sometime and just ask for the beef bowl.

Expect a review of breakfast Roller Bites sometime within the next 7 days.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Roller Bites: Wave of future or sign of rapture?

So I'm pumping gas the other day and I see a sign for this...


Monday, May 21, 2007

Rubio's Crunchy Shrimp Taco Plate

Price: $5.89
Rating: **** / *****

Rubio's is a mostly-California chain specializing in their famous deep fried fish tacos, which are good enough to maim for. I remember that Rubio's claimed to be so good that people who hated ordinary fish tacos would love theirs. A bold claim and a leap in logic, considering that I would never think to bring someone who hates beef to my favorite steakhouse. So they gave Mandy Moore, who is apparently a fish taco hater, one to try on some MTV show. She visibly choked it down and pretended to like it, struggling to compliment something she clearly didn't enjoy. I guess that was convincing enough for me to go out and try one. Mmm...Mandy Moore...

*ahem* Anyways, Rubio's specializes in fish tacos but they, as most chains tend to do when they expand, are increasing the selection on their menu. Some, like the ridiculously small and overpriced street tacos are a slap in the face of everything I deem tasty in Mexican food. Another, like the new "wrapsalada", is a simple exercise in making an unnecessarily stupid name for a salad wrapped in a tortilla. I ask this question again: when did lazy stoner food become the newest trend in the world of casual dining? Please people, stop the madness, have a seat, and take 10 minutes to enjoy your lunch. And if you work at a place where you're in such a rush that you have to eat your salad in wrap form, please consider leaving immediately or perhaps arson.

However, sometimes you get lucky and they introduce new tacos that are worth trying. This is certainly the case here with the crunchy shrimp tacos, which are both crunchy and shrimpy as advertised. Served on corn or flour tortillas(corn is really the only way to go), the fried shrimp are laid on top of a yogurt sauce spiced with salsa and lime. It is then topped off with a refreshing chunky salsa and a handful of cabbage, which sets it apart from tacos made with lettuce. The cabbage doesn't wilt under the heat of the fried items and produce a crunchy, light texture that further enhances the crunchiness of the shrimp. Though it was very good, I must say that some of the shrimp had a little too much breading and there were times when I hardly got any shrimp when I bit into the tacos. This is a common complaint with fried shrimp, and I'm not sure if a solution will ever be found.

The combo comes with beans, tortilla chips, and a soft drink. Now that I finally got my filling replaced after waiting a month and a half for my HMO dentist to treat me, I can actually enjoy the soft drink without the searing pain of cold liquid. The chips at Rubio's are freshly deep fried and crunchy as they should be, and feel a bit more rustic than the unusually light Taco Bell chips that one gets accustomed to. The beans, which are topped off with a crumbly Mexican cheese, are piping hot and salty enough to make a good dipping partner for the chips. Take some lime and salsa from the condiment bar on the side and you're pretty much set.

One thing I've always found unsettling about Rubio's were the little cardboard stands of Pesky the Fish that line the tables. Pesky is an example of suicide food, a disturbing trend in the advertising component of the culinary world. These are mascots that literally feast on themselves(as opposed to that loud chick everyone hates, who metaphorically does it) and invite you to do the same. It has always freaked me out, and I'm glad to see I'm not the only one to notice the twisted existence that we live in. In the year 2000, when the aliens take over and my name is AN#34589 or something, I will sooner set myself on fire than pose with my deep fried limbs on either hand. Shame on you, Rubio's, for making a fish pose inside a taco. You're lucky that Pesky tastes so delicious, or else I'd take a stand against your demented ways.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Zip Fusion Sushi (In Corona, CA)

Price: Philly Roll $8.95, Las Vegas Roll $9.50
Rating: ***** / *****

I never actually had sushi until I was well into my teen years. I would scoff at the notion of paying a premium for a seemingly small amount of basic food. My logic, of course, was based on being a cheap ass. I figured a roll of sushi was the equivalent of a small bowl of rice with some raw fish thrown on top. But like most things from my early years, it was a grossly misguided opinion.

Zip Fusion is a trendy little sushi restaurant with an eclectic mix of techno dance songs and candlelit tables. They are candlelit because the room is absurdly dark, even during the much so that I actually wanted one of those stupid Owl wallet lights I keep seeing on television. Oh well, all part of the ambience I guess. And for the record, any waiter that pulls out a flashlight on me is getting a swift kick in the balls.

My friend Ariana reccomended that we come here while I was up visiting her. I thought it'd be a nice change of pace from our usual "I don't care, what do you want to eat?" conversations that generally just lead to burgers and a broken heart. So we went, but we also brought along her little sister Ally. I don't know what's worse, knowing that I'm deep in the death pit known as the "friend zone" or having to deal with her sister constantly flipping me off and cracking terrible jokes. Despite these things, the food more than made up for it all.

The rolls were amply sized and quite simply stunning to look at. Like the saying goes, it was almost too pretty to eat. But like my high school art project, I ended up eating it anyway. The Philly Roll is an American invention, named after the Philadelphia cream cheese that turns the already melt-in-your-mouth salmon into velvet. So even though it is not exactly authentic, it is still rather divine. Inside the rice and seaweed is avocado, asparagus, carrot, and the aforementioned cream cheese. The contrast of crunchy and smooth tickled the proverbial fancy. It was topped off with delicately cut salmon slices, which kind of made me wish I was a bear so I could eat salmon this fresh every day. A weird thought to have, yes, but it's really good! I dipped it into some soy sauce which I mixed some wasabi into, a perfect compliment for a wonderful roll.

Up next was the Las Vegas Roll; a sushi roll with a name fitting for its decadence. Consisting of avocado, crabmeat, cream cheese, and 3 different kinds of fresh fish, the ingredients managed to all meld together under a crisp tempura shell. That's right, it's deep fried. And like all things deep fried should be, it is served with a bold sauce that was both sweet and spicy. The best thing about the roll was that even though it was fried, the fish inside remained raw and tender to the tooth while the outside was the epitome of battered indulgence. Filling and delicious, the rich Las Vegas Roll made a great tag team partner for the lighter Philly Roll.

It has been a long time since I had a review where I wasn't a cheeky little bastard, but Zip Fusion has managed to make a saint out of me today. It's almost worth the drive to Corona(and that's saying a lot) and is definitely a place to check out with good company.

Monday, May 07, 2007

KFC Chicken and Biscuit Famous Bowl

Price: $4.99 w/ a drink
Rating: ** / *****

"Okay, that'll be $5.13 at the second window, Ace."
Uhh...I haven't ordered yet.
"Oh, it's a new thing we're doing at KFC. It's called FEF, and it's designed to speed up service to well known customers."
Wow, that actually sounds like a good idea. So now that KFC is doing FEF, I don't even have to order?
"Nope, our records indicate that you order with surprising consistency. In fact, you come enough where we can find out what you order 99% of the time, +/- 3%. Almost like an election."
This sounds awesome! So what does FEF stand for?
"Well in keeping in line with our acronyms, FEF covers up the less desirable Fatties Eat Faster name."
Fatties Eat Faster? How come I wasn't told about this?
"Well, store policy designates that fatties aren't told about the might be considered offensive."
"So yeah, we already have the #2 with extra gravy and a side of fried chicken skins at the second window for you."
How'd you know I was coming?
"We put a tracking device on our best customers. It lets us know when you get into your car."
But I could just be visiting friends or going out or something.
"Let's not kid ourselves, Ace. We know why you drive."
All of this makes sense now. You know, what Jim? I think I'll go with something different today. I saw this commercial for a new Chicken and Biscuit famous bowl and the guy seemed to be really enjoying himself.
"Is that so?"
Yeah...I'd say he was almost getting off just eating it. I think I'll take that one.
"Alright, that'll be $5.36 at the second window."
Thanks, Jim, tell Pam and Dan in there that I said "hi".
"They already received your Hallmark cards. Enjoy your meal."

So Jim was pretty cool today, though I'm not sure how I feel about FEF. Nevertheless, I came home with this disaster of a meal. Not that it couldn't taste good looking like that, but chances are slim to nil that most sane people could enjoy this. Even I, who could be classified as insane in some southern states, didn't enjoy this. I still ate and finished it, though.


I don't know. I was pretty hungry, but looking back, it wasn't a great idea. For those of you who aren't aware of awful fast food creations, the Famous Bowl is KFC's way of slopping all of their leftover ingredients into a plastic bowl and hoping you have low enough self esteem to dig into the thing. First of all, I should mention the ingredients of the meal. This one contains mashed potatoes(more like blended instant potato flakes, but I guess that's fast food semantics for you), a pile of sweet corn like the ones you donate to homeless shelters, a smattering of breaded chicken pieces, a half gallon of country gravy, a sprinkling of cheese, and topped off with the coup de grace. A fucking biscuit. That's right, now you get to eat your biscuit mixed in with everything else like an animal.

The meal doesn't taste BAD per se, but it certainly has many, many flaws that I will begin listing for you fine readers right now. First of all, there isn't nearly enough mashed potatoes and far too much corn. It was almost a 50/50 ratio in my bowl, which is not only unpleasant, it is hard to eat. The corn tasted like it came straight from a can and into the bowl, which is to be expected but it isn't acceptable when the quantity is so high. The chicken pieces were soggy as anticipated, but had the good KFC flavor and can hardly be blamed for the downfall of the meal. The cheese was cheese and the biscuit was a biscuit. That was fine, I guess.

But the gravy! I wouldn't be angry with KFC's sad attempt at country gravy if I hadn't had better tasting gravy from Banquet meals. Now I don't have exactly high standards for what I eat. If it's "yummy" I'll eat it no matter what. This gravy, however, fails miserably at life. It has the taste and consistency of lightly salted milk. Not only is it runny and weakly flavored, but its lacking any of the pepper that makes a white gravy interesting. So not only does it make the chicken and biscuit soggy, it turns the potatoes into a watery paste and adds no discernable flavor to the bowl.

And I STILL finished the thing. Damn, I must really hate myself. So there it is, a two star meal. I don't know how this bowl got famous, but it certainly wasn't based on merit. Does anyone know if KFC has a casting couch?

Monday, April 30, 2007

Pho Dac Biet from Pho 54

Price: $5.49
Rating: ***** / *****

You. Yes, you specifically reading this right now. Why haven't you tried pho yet? You say you have? Awesome. Now, the rest of you...why not? Pho is ambrosia and nectar all in one. The soup that really does eat like a meal, unlike the processed bullshit that is Chunky Soup. And really, is it wise to eat a hot bowl of soup after a long session of hitting the weights at the gym? My flactoids beg to differ.

Anyways, this weekend has been pretty uneventful. After an embarrassingly strenuous hike up a hill for a field trip in my geology class, I could find no better thing to do than unwind with my newly bought copy of Pokemon Diamond. If you think that it's odd that a college student still plays Pokemon games, please seek out the nearest hole available and crawl in it and die. So I played that for a few hours, then found my mind adequately numbed. I was in the mood for some comfort food, so I thought I'd go out and eat some pho.

This really isn't a fair review. I've never had a bowl of pho that wasn't at least edible. I even eat the instant pho that is basically rice noodles and mystery powder that tastes like plastic and feels like plastic. I probably shouldn't be surprised the first ingredient listed is plastic. Still, I throw in some beef and basil and it's a viable meal. This isn't a review of fake pho, however, this is the real deal. Every Vietnamese person with half a soul is going to give pho 5 stars, so I guess I'll just take this time to talk about what makes pho so great.

For the uninitiated, pho is the national dish of Vietnam. It is how we kept the French from taking over during the years they colonized. Don't ask me how, but pho did the trick. Pho is also the reason we are so awesome at school, with relatively few exceptions. So what is it? It is rice noodles with various cuts of meat in a beef broth that rids your soul of the sins you've accumulated during those drunken stupors. The broth consists of beef bones, star anise, onion, and other good stuff that makes your soup yummy.

Look at it in all of its glory. This is called Pho Dac Biet, which is with all the fixins'. Tripe, brisket, rare beef slices cooked by the soup, and tendon. You can have it with just beef slices, or chicken if you're a sucker, but I prefer all the pieces of the cow. There are many different textures in the bowl. The tendon basically melts in your mouth as the gelatin softens after many hours of cooking. The tripe is firm and chewy, though not so chewy that you'll be chomping on the pieces for long. And the beef should be thinly sliced and tender, suitable for dipping into hoison sauce or Sriracha if you're so inclined.

Pho is traditionally served with a plate of basil, bean sprouts, and lime. I like to throw in a good amount of basil and lime, cutting down on the saltiness and bit and making the soup delicious and drinkable. Eating goes as follows: taking a piece of meat, and then following it up with a spoonful of rice noodles and soup. Repeat until you're finished. Then unbutton the top of your pants and hope nobody notices how out of shape you are.

Anyways, go out there and give it a try to see if you like it. I've had a few friends try it and love it, but one that didn't care for it. I couldn't let her live after that. If you are in the Orange County area, you can easily find a pho shop in your neighborhood, so there's really no excuse for not seeking it out.