Sunday, February 25, 2007

Claim Jumper Chicken and Biscuits

Price: $13.50
Rating: *** / *****

That's a half portion. I was afraid that there wouldn't be enough food.


I was afraid that there wouldn't be enough food.

Claim Jumper doesn't list nutritional information on their website. Do you want to know why? Because we haven't invented numbers that go that high. It's funny that people sue McDonalds for making them fat when reputable sit-down restaurants give you the same thing with five times the portions. Well I'm suing Claim Jumper for making me fat! But I can't complain too much, I don't go to Claim Jumper for diet food. Actually, I don't go anywhere for diet food, but especially not Claim Jumper.

I went with a few hungry friends and was eager to eat since we were having a relatively late lunch. Almost everything on the menu looked good, so the waiter passed by around three times to see if I would ever decide on what to get. Finally, he offered me some recommendations.

"...well, what I like is the Pot Roast, that's really good. My personal favorite is the Chicken and Biscuits, we do it fried southern style. It’s the best. The meatloaf is awesome, we serve it with the mashed potatoes. Uhh...the roast chicken's good, the salmon comes out great. My favorite appetizer is the southwestern rolls. The crab cake is out of this world, you can probably eat that as an entree..."

I looked down at my cell phone and sent a few text messages out. A decent amount of time passed.

"...uhh, the ribs will melt in your mouth. If you want, we have lots of cuts of steak cut fresh right here..."

Holy shit, dude, you just recited the entire menu! That's not a recommendation, that's a soliloquy. He seemed like a nice guy, I couldn’t blame him for trying. I remember him saying his favorite was chicken and biscuits, so I went for that.

Here's the meal: a giant deep fried chicken breast, two biscuits bigger than your fist, a mound of smashed potatoes, and enough country gravy to drown a small child. It also comes with half a cup of know, for dipping or something if you were planning to commit suicide. The green you see on the plate is the garnish.

The chicken was pretty damn good - juicy, crispy, and drowning in a decadent and thick gravy. This was excellent. The biscuits were unusually sweet and didn’t have that melt-in-your-mouth texture that I would expect. Dare I say...a little tough? Not enough lard or too much kneading, I'd say. The potatoes were smashed skin-on and apparently had cream added to them. I thought it tasted okay, but I must point out that it was rather gummy tasting and that the texture really detracted from the meal.

The meal ended up being nearly 20 dollars after the drink and tip, which is way too much for a rustic meal such as this. The chicken was good, but not good enough to make me break the bank. I'm not sure what a Claim Jumper is exactly, but their claim to fame is apparently quantity over quality.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Double Review: Veggie Noodles and Egg Rolls

Buddhist Temple Bun Rieu
Price: Free
Rating: **** / *****

Happy Chinese New Year everyone!

This is the year of the pig, which is fitting for a man of great gluttony such as myself. Not only is everyone freakishly cheery on this occasion, but it's also the time of the year to receive money in red envelopes from older adults. It's generally a good time all around.

Like Randy Moss says: Straight cash, homey.

For my family, Chinese New Year starts with a trip to the Buddhist temple in the morning. I am an atheist at heart, but the Buddhist temple is welcoming to anyone who will show up. A cool thing about this one is that volunteers serve free vegetarian food and sell some fancier foods with the proceeds going to the temple. Knowing this, you might think that the food is throwaway stuff meant as an unappetizing gesture of kindness for the public. Well, you'd be a fool.

The food is actually shockingly good. I almost never have vegetarian food, but I would eat this stuff every day if someone made it for me. There I had stir fried mushroom and tofu, noodles with tofu and vegetables, vegetable rice porridge, and this bun rieu, which is Vietnamese for noodle soup. Regular bun rieu has things like crab brains, pork blood, and sausage, but this vegetarian variety has tofu, tomatoes, and fresh cabbage in a savory soup. After mixing everything together, the thin rice noodles are slurped up and thoroughly enjoyed by one hungry reviewer. The tomato brings flavor and texture, the cabbage brings a crunch, and the tofu gives it substance. This was a simple bowl of noodles that really hit the spot.

Buddhist Temple Egg Rolls
Price: $.50 per egg roll
Rating: ***** / *****

I can't get over how awesome these things are. These are by far my favorite egg rolls ever and there's no meat to be found anywhere. I know, I was shocked too. Deep fried(aren't all good things in life deep fried?) and piping hot, these crispy beauties are unlike anything I've tasted. It is comprised of extremely thinly sliced carrots, glass noodles, tofu, corn, green onions, and mushrooms. Not only are they extremely tasty, they're also light on the inside so you'll want to keep eating more whereas regular egg rolls leave you uncomfortably stuffed. Try using the ingredients I listed and make it at home, I guarantee they'll be a hit for omnivores and vegans alike.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Banquet "Hearty One" Turkey Dinner

Price: $1.68
Rating: *** / *****

Food for thought: doesn't it kind of look like Pac-Man when it comes out of the microwave?

I went to the local Food-4-Less and noticed some Banquet "Hearty One, No We Didn't Rip Off Hungry-Man, This Was a Simple Coincidence" Meals on sale. Seeing as they are the same weight as Hungry-Man's for about half the price, I thought I struck a gold mine. A gravy-filled, salty gold mine. Alas, my excitement might have been a bit premature.

How does this stack up to Swanson's turkey dinner?

Not particularly well, I must say. While it tasted fine, the stuffing wasn't flavorful and basically looked like unseasoned cubes of bread that were tossed in under the turkey and gravy. It looked that way because it WAS that way. Now I'm no stuffing snob, but when you don't bother to add a few measly pieces of onion, celery, or seasoning, it's a slap in my face. Mark my words, Consumer Reports: Banquet slapped me in the face!

But like tying your shoes in the middle of a crowd or having to say the word "venti" at a Starbucks, you soon get over the necessary humiliation. What I've learned from doing this blog is that you get what you pay for most of the time. I also learned this after being tricked by Matthew Lesko, but that's another rant for another blog.

The unnaturally soft and texture-free turkey was fine and there was enough of it to fill me up. It comes with 4 slices of white meat and 2 slices of dark meat. I think I learned in sociology that this is called "pervasive racism", but I may be taking it out of context here. The peas were pleasantly plump, though not particularly flavorful or exciting. I understand that the British like to mash their peas, but I already had one mashed vegetable so I opted not to try this wacky experiment. The mashed potatoes are mashed potatoes.

It's unspectacular, but it's really cheap and will fill you up. Pick some up for the days when you want lunch to tide you over for dinner, but don't have high expectations.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Spicy Chicken Sandwich from Carl's Jr.

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

When did mayonnaise stop becoming a condiment and start becoming a main ingredient? I didn't even notice how much there was until I deconstructed it.

As you can see, EVERYTHING has mayo on it. Both pieces of lettuce, the chicken, and both sides of the bun. And this isn't just a little smattering, they basically dipped the stuff in it.

I came to Carl's Jr. to sit down, eat, and listen to podcasts like most school days. Something was off, though. The cashier seemed to be messing with me. She was relatively cute and shockingly chipper, which should have tipped me off. I firmly believe the dousing of mayo was a cruel joke.

"What will you be having sir?"
"I'll have a spicy chicken...and a small...a small...(Holy shit, she's making eye contact...eye contact! I hate eye contact.)...Pepsi."
"Okay, and will that be for here or to go?"
" YOU come with the sandwich?"
"Excuse me?"

I usually screw things up in the end.

I feel that no person in food service should ever look more than half alive. The cashier who always looks pissed off and like he just killed a hooker ten minutes ago is my small talk, no smiling - just the way it should be. Me, being a slob, ordered a mayonnaise sandwich for breakfast. This shouldn't be legal in the state of California, but nonetheless my school's Carl's Jr. serves all of their menu during breakfast. Besides making for interesting stomach and heart pains, it also messes up the culinary cycle. All around, this was a bad idea.

Other than the mayo, it's a good deal for under a dollar(I don't get taxed with my student ID...saving 8 cents rules!) even if the chicken is processed. It's all you can expect. It's big enough to fill you up and actually tastes like something. It's relatively flavorful, too, though probably impossible to eat without a drink considering the sodium level.

I must say that the Spicy Chicken is the last $.99 cent chicken sandwich that I can still eat since the Cajun McChicken(yes, I really did sign the petition) went off the market. It usually isn't mayo'd up this much, so I will try and give it a pass if I survive. I wish it came with more lettuce, though. I usually request extra lettuce because this stuff has enough fat and salt to effectively need a "keep out of reach of children" label on it.