Archive for the 'Rosemead' Category

Chain Reaction: Red Lobster’s Endless Shrimp® & Olive Garden’s Never Ending Pasta Bowl®

Red Lobster’s Endless Shrimp®

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.

Red Lobster’s Endless Shrimp®

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.

Red Lobster’s Endless Shrimp®

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.

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{swoon} Wonton Noodle Soup at Noodle Boy

Noodle Boy - Rosemead

Here at this modern and brightly-lit restaurant in the same strip mall complex as Tip Top’s Sandwiches and Shaanxi Gourmet, Hong Kong-style wonton noodle soups are dished up from morning until night. The chef honed his craft in Hong Kong before opening Noodle Boy in 2010. From the bounce of the noodles to the spring of the wontons, it’s clear that there is an expert behind the stoves.

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Bánh Xèo Quán – Rosemead

Banh Xeo Quan | Mr. Rice - Rosemead

Banh Xeo Quan, also known as Mr. Rice, specializes in southern-style Vietnamese crepes*. Owner Phi Tran, who hails from Saigon, opened the restaurant in Rosemead some five years ago to bring this specialty to the San Gabriel Valley. This place came highly recommended to me by my lovely friend Thien. She and her family have been dining here for years, so I knew I was in for a treat.

Banh Xeo Quan | Mr. Rice - Rosemead

A refreshingly succinct menu, neatly laminated and fully photographed, greeted us upon arrival. In addition to its namesake banh xeo, the restaurant also prepared rice dishes, noodle soups, and hot vit lon, fetal duck eggs. Although a banh mi hot dog and soda combo was unbeatably priced at $2.75, no one bit the bullet.

Banh Xeo Quan | Mr. Rice - Rosemead

We passed on boba and beer and settled on freshly pressed nuoc mia (sugarcane juice) and minty green nuoc dau xanh la dua (mung bean milk with pandan). Both were excellent.

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Shaanxi Gourmet – Rosemead

Shaanxi Gourmet - Rosemead

It’s been almost four years since The Astronomer and I visited Xi’an, the central Chinese city famous for its terracotta soldiers and Islamic cuisine. However, the moment we stepped foot into Rosemead’s Shaanxi Gourmet, our dormant memories came rushing back. With its guardsmen-flanked entrance, Chinese-only menu, and homey service, Shaanxi Gourmet transported us back to Xi’an for one night.

Shaanxi Gourmet - Rosemead

We were lucky enough to have the Kung Food Panda in our company this evening, which meant that the Chinese-only menu wasn’t a problem. For those dining without a Chinese speaker in tow, the restaurant’s walls are helpfully plastered with photographs of the most popular dishes.

To start, we dug into (clockwise from top left) shredded potatoes, congealed pig’s ears, and beef shank marinated in chili oil. The silky spuds were the surprise hit of the trio. Who knew raw potatoes could be so refreshing?

Shaanxi Gourmet - Rosemead

We also tried two versions of cold noodles. The one I liked best came simply dressed with chile, Sichuan pepper, and vinegar, which highlighted the noodles’ angular shape and springy texture.

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