Thursday, December 9, 2010

Noodles & Company


Noodles & Company
4545 La Jolla Village Dr
San Diego, CA 92122
http://www.noodles.com/

It’s been a long time since I’ve eaten in the food court of the UTC mall. It’s something I used to do a lot as a student, but the food court pretty much lost all appeal in the last few years.

I’d heard that there are a few new options now available at the food court, including a place called Noodles & Company. Then last month they sent me a coupon for a free entree.

I had been planning on checking it out for weeks, but never got around to it. The coupon was about to expire, so while doing some Christmas shopping this past weekend, I stopped in to redeem my free entree. Since we had already eaten lunch, we just chose an entree to go.

Noodles & Company is a chain restaurant that offers noodles “from around the world.” They offer a selection of noodles under “Mediterranean,” “Asia,” and “America.”

I asked BF what he wanted and he chose pad thai. I had a feeling the pad thai wouldn’t be good. The fact that BF chose it only reinforced that feeling (It’s long been established that BF is really bad at choosing dishes at restaurants and will always choose something bad from the menu. He often calls me from restaurants I haven’t even visited before to help him decide what to eat when I’m not with him.) But I have to confess, I was really curious as to what their version of pad thai would taste like even though I didn’t think it would be good. So we went ahead and ordered it.

The quantity was a decent size. At first glance, things looked right. They used flat rice noodles, the sauce was brownish orange color, and there was a fried egg on top.

After I bit into it, I realized the “fried egg” was actually a big piece of grilled chicken which they hadn’t sliced up properly. The chicken had obviously been cooked separately and not with the noodle dish. I thought the chicken was salty and pretty tasteless.

As for the noodle dish…I don’t know how they got the sauce to resemble the pad thai sauce because this dish did not taste like pad thai at all. I don’t like to be too harsh in my reviews because I know everyone has different tastes, but I did not enjoy this dish. Neither did BF. It was pretty much the worst pad thai I’ve ever eaten. I believe I’ve had slightly more believable version made by the students at the UCSD dining halls back when I was a student.

Maybe we’ll be back some other time to try the other dishes. I heard a few good things about the mac n cheese.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Day 3 of Giveaways and Honey Pound Cake

Welcome to Day 3 of the 12 Days of giveaways. If you haven’t yet visited, I invite you to enter  for a chance to win Day 1 and Day2!

In honor of the third giveaway, I made this honey pound cake. This cake is moist, tender and has the lovely undertones of honey. Yum. I used the Nordicware Heritage Bundt Pan to bake it because it’s one of my favorite pans. Everything comes out looking so elegant when it’s baked in this pan.

So why a honey pound cake? Because Day 3 of giveaways is a gift from Royal Hawaii Honey!

On the third day of giveaways, Kirbie’s Cravings gave to me…
Raw Lehua Honey!

(Note: though not part of the Day 3 giveaway, here is the rest of the giveaways for purposes of completing the song, which goes to the tune of the 12 days of Christmas)

  • five chocolate bars (Day 2)
  • and $25 to Oh! Nuts (Day 1)

I first tasted Royal Hawaii Honey at the Foodbuzz Festival Tasting Pavilion. I love honey so when I saw their sign, I made a quick beeline for their booth. Royal Hawaii Honey offers three flavors of raw, organic honey that is harvested in Hawaii. How cool is that? Tropical Traders distributes the honey from Oakland, CA.

I love raw honey because it is so versatile. It’s easy to spread, melt, bake with, or to eat by the spoonful.  (No more squeezing to death the honey bear to get drops of honey out.) I had no idea the depth of honey until I sampled Royal Hawaii honey. It’s not just regular ol’ honey. Instead, Royal Hawaii offers three different flavors of honey: Macadmia Nut Blossom, Christmas Berry, and Lehua. Tasting the different honey flavors was like wine tasting, with all the different flavors swirling in my mouth. My favorite honey was the Lehua Honey, which is only offered for a limited three months every year. The honey is a light golden color, and has overtones of butterscotch.

There’s a couple of things that make Royal Hawaii honey stand out: it comes from Hawaii.; it is certified organic; and it is 100% raw. This means that all the nutrients and benefits of honey remain since the honey has not been heated or processed, like a lot of the honey forms sold at supermarkets.

I contacted Royal Hawaii Honey to see if they would participate in my giveaway, and they generously offered to provide one lucky reader with a jar of raw, organic Lehua Honey.

I received a jar as well, and after excitedly eating a spoonful, I used some of the honey to make this honey pound cake.

Entering Day 3 of giveaways is easy. One lucky reader will be selected at random, through a number generated by random.org. Please note, this giveaway is limited to US readers. Contest ends at midnight, PST, December 15, 2010.

To enter, leave a comment at the end of this post telling me how you like to eat honey.  Eat it plain? On bread? In your tea? Etc.

For an additional entry:

Follow me on twitter (if you don’t already) and tweet the following message:

“Win Royal Hawaii Lehua Honey http://bit.ly/ffry6j @kirbiecravings”

Good luck!  And remember, you can still enter the following giveaways:

Day 2: Ghiradelli chocolate bars
Day 1: Gift certificate to Oh! Nuts

Honey Pound Cake (adapted from Sweet Kat’s Kitchen)

Ingredients
3 cups cake flour

¼ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
6 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
3 1/2 Tbsp honey (if you are using raw honey, heat up the honey and melt it before adding to the batter)

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 325ºF. Spray a 10 to 12 cup Bundt baking pan with nonstick baking spray containing flour.
2. Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
3. In large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add half the flour mixture and mix on low speed. Then add in the sour cream, honey and vanilla extract and mix again. Finally add in the rest of the flour and mix until everything is just blended.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly. Bake for 65-75 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Dust with confectioner’s sugar before serving.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Emerald Chinese Seafood Restaurant

Emerald Chinese Seafood Restaurant
3709 Convoy St, Ste 101
San Diego, CA 92111
(858) 565-6888

I recently found out that Emerald is offering a special where you get order 4 dishes for $24.99 or 7 dishes for $39.99.  I believe the deal has been running for a while, but it’s been a long time since I’ve been to Emerald so I didn’t know about it until my uncle visited a few weeks ago and we took him there.

This weekend, we went to check out the special deal. I was pleasantly surprised to see quite a few options on the special menu. And the prices are even cheaper than their previous late night menu, plus you don’t have to wait until after 9. I also noticed that during the week, they now have a dim sum special as well where all dim sum prices are priced at the price of a small dish. Here’s the special menu:

We opted to order seven dishes. We ordered:

Thai style clams

House Special Fried Rice

Shanghai style rice cakes

Deep Fried milk balls

Pan Fried whole flounder

Cod fish fillet with garlic sauce

Honey walnut shrimp

Everything tasted pretty good. When the food arrived, I thought the quantity was pretty decent, but we had seven dishes and eight people and polished it all off, so I guess maybe the quantity wasn’t as big as I thought.

The service was the only really bad thing. Our empty plates kept piling up and the waiters didn’t take them away. The waitress would bring our food over but told us she was too busy and that’s why she couldn’t take the plates away. I didn’t understand why she could bring the food, but not take the plates back with her on her way back to the kitchen. And it wasn’t even that busy.

Other than that it was a pretty good experience. It’s a cheap meal, with decent food, and decent variety. We will probably be back soon to try some of the other offerings.

Emerald Chinese Seafood on Urbanspoon