My weekday lunchtime habits have changed as of late. Working at a restaurant group with nearly 2,000 locations, I’ve been thinking about and eating at more chain restaurants than I ever did before. Fueled by a desire to scope out the competition and by genuine curiosity, I’ve been exploring places that I used to pay little mind to.
So while I usually dedicate this space to touting the merits of under-appreciated mom and pop shops, I thought it’d be fun to change things up a bit and shed some light on two permanent fixtures in the American dining landscape: Red Lobster and Olive Garden. Humor me, yes? Thank you.
First up, Red Lobster‘s Endless Shrimp®! For $17.99, I had my fill of six different shrimp preparations: Sriracha Grilled Shrimp, Parmesan Shrimp Scampi, Hand-Breaded Shrimp, Garlic Shrimp Scampi, Shrimp Linguini Alfredo, and Coconut Shrimp Bites.
The offer also included a salad (not pictured and not eaten) and unlimited Cheddar Bay Biscuits®. Whereas the former was anemic and sad, the latter were tasty lil’ carbohydrate bombs. We asked for seconds, thirds, and fourths. No joke.
Continue reading ‘Chain Reaction: Red Lobster’s Endless Shrimp® & Olive Garden’s Never Ending Pasta Bowl®’
For the nominal price of $17.99 per person, Hae Jang Chon provided my cousins, The Astronomer, and me with an all-you-can-eat Korean barbecue feast that was so stupendous that it left our clothes and pores imbued with smoke and meat for days.
What set this barbecue emporium apart from others that I have visited in Koreatown [See: Don Day, Don Dae Gam, Tahoe Galbi] was the smooth stone grill used in place of the more common metal grates.
According to the restaurant’s website, the stone grill is “nature’s best cooking surface.” It “produces various healthy minerals,” “absorbs and decomposes heavy metal ions,” and best of all, “absorbs excessive oil to bring out the exquisite taste of pork.” I don’t know if any of these claims are actually true, but I am sold nevertheless.
Another one of the restaurant’s notable touches was the homey tablescape that was neatly set before we were seated. Each place setting included an array of condiments in addition to silverware and plates. I went through two dishes of the fermented bean paste during the meal because meat just tastes better with a hit of salty funk.
Continue reading ‘Hae Jang Chon – Los Angeles (Koreatown)’
Along with playing slots and attending a show, dining at a sumptuous buffet rounds out my list of Vegas must-dos. Every Sunday morning, Jasmine at Bellagio is transformed from a Chinese restaurant into a wonderland of brunchy delights complete with live cooking stations, a raw bar, and chocolate fountains.
Saturday nights in Sin City can be a bit of a blur, even for good kids like The Astronomer and me, so the Fountains Brunch was just the thing to replenish our minds and bodies before hitting the road home.
The setting here is as tranquil as can be. The room is filled with plenty of natural light and faces the famous fountains that never seem to get old.
Elegant touches throughout the room, like this elaborate charger plate, made the girly girl in me smile.
Continue reading ‘Fountains Brunch at Jasmine – Las Vegas (Bellagio)’
Cousin Phil is my favorite person to feast on all-you-can-eat Korean barbecue with. His appetite for animal lifeblood rivals that of a T-Rex and his skills on the grill are top notch. When it’s just The Astronomer and me protein-loading in K-Town, there’s always a possibility that we won’t be able to polish off the final plate of galbi or that we’ll somehow burn the delicate shrimp or squid. However, when Phil’s around, everything is carefully managed and under control.
When a recent business trip brought Phil to Los Angeles for two days, The Astronomer and I whisked him away for a Korean barbecue dinner. After picking him up at his downtown hotel, we made the short drive to DonDay in Koreatown. According to my friend Danny, the restaurant’s all-you-can-eat specials offered good quality and value. Our party of three settled on the $19.99 per person option that included a variety of animals, cuts, and marinades.
Included in the price of admission was a small army of side dishes. The Astronomer and Phil didn’t care too much for the banchan, but they’re my absolute favorite part of Korean dining.
Tonight’s selection included blanched broccoli with sesame oil, pickled daikon, kimchi, macaroni salad, marinaded cucumbers, bamboo shoots with jalapenos, and rice papers. I appreciated how the ladies who run the joint happily refilled my mac salad and rice papers when I ran low.
Continue reading ‘DonDay – Los Angeles (Koreatown)’