Thursday, August 14, 2008

Quest for the Best: CoCo's Grill

CoCo's is a relatively new contender in the Grandview area. This was my second venture into the restaurant, and again they did not disappoint. However, I find their lack of spring rolls disturbing! But enough about that, on with the chicken!

Restaurant: CoCo's Grill
Location: 845 W 5th Ave
Call: (614) 429-0790‎

Chicken: Soft, but not soggy. A little chewy in spots. About half chicken and half breading, so there is room for improvement, but overall well prepared.

Veggies: No veggies in with the chicken. I think I'm noticing a trend... however, there were peas and carrots in with the rice so I'll let it slide!

Sauce: Tangy, spicy, and thick. Very close to a perfect sauce for a General Tso's dish. A litle lacking in quantity, but the taste is spot on.

Rice: Fried rice with peas and carrots, and some traces of egg. The rice itself is quite soft and pleasant. This is the best fried rice I've had thus far on the quest!

Spiciness: 7/10. You know your General Tso's is packing heat when you have to refill your drink before you're even halfway done. I give the spiciness of this dish a 10/10 in tastiness, but for clarity I've given it a 7/10 in spiciness (10/10 being an experience where you can't down enough water fast enough). It was right on target for a General Tso's dish in terms of spiciness.

Amount of Food: More than satisfying. Plenty of delicious fried rice, plenty of soft spicy chicken. Enough for two meals? Probably. Will you want to stop eating whats in front of you in order to save it for later? Probably not!

Price: $5.95, about average for a lunch-time Chinese meal.

Overall: 7/10 - I was really a fan of the sauce that came on this chicken. It was hot and tangy, two excellent qualities for General's Tso's. In addition, I enjoyed the peas and carrots that came in the fried rice. The chicken was a little lacking, but overall a very pleasant experience from CoCo's Grill.

Cookie: Very sweet, but sadly stale. Brand: Winner (Unknown Origination)
Fortune: "You are interested in public service and would make an outstanding statesman"

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Quest for the Best: Happy House

When I think cheap Chinese, I think Happy House. That's not necessarily a bad thing; it's just quick and dirty, like my love. And that can never be a bad thing.

Restaurant: Happy House
Location: 1267 W 5th Ave
Call: (614) 488-2088

Chicken: Equal parts chicken and breading. Crispy and chewy, but not chewy in a good way. A bit overcooked. However, there is a LOT of it. Half the box is chicken!

Veggies: None. None? Surprising, but it doesn't take too much away from the dish. Still, I can't help feeling a bit like a hedonism bot, only eating chicken and no veggies, but my guess is I'll get over it.

Sauce: Thick, hot, and some decent kick to it. I'm putting my official endorsement behind this sauce!

Rice: Fried rice with no add-ins. Traces of egg and carrot present. Can't complain or lavish praise here.

Spiciness: 3/10. One day I'll find a Chinese place that knows how to make a spicy General Tso's without me explicitly asking for it. It is not this day.

Amount of Food: A lot! Both the chicken and rice are overflowing their respective compartments. Enough food for two meals, no question.

Price: $4.95, and this also includes a drink! When I said cheap Chinese I wasn't kidding!

Overall: 5/10 - I can't say too much bad about this dish, but I also can't say too much good. It has it's ups and downs, but in the end it comes out pretty average. Can't beat the amount of food and drink for the price though.

Cookie: Somewhat stale, not very flavorful. More like fortune styrofoam. Brand: Golden Bowl (New York)
Fortune: No harm in putting all your eggs in one basket - just watch it closely.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Quest for the Best: Mark Pi's Express

Today's installment of QftB takes me to Mark Pi's, a staple of "americanized" chinese food. Typically Mark Pi's is a flagship for tasty chinese food, but today they seem to have missed the boat. Read on for more detail.

Restaurant: Mark Pi's Express
Location: 1290 W 5th Ave
Call: (614) 488-6336

Chicken: Crispy! More breading than meat, but still good.

Veggies: Carrots, Celery, Water Chestnuts, Green Peppers, bamboo shoots. I'm glad to see bamboo shoots make an appearance, but what really dominates the veggies is the celery, cut length-wise isntead of in cross sections. Actually it's more of an angled cut, but I don't see the purpose. It just makes it hard to eat.

Sauce: Not quite enough sauce for the amount of rice. This may be due to the fact that the dish was poured over the rice instead of being on the side like many chinese restaurants do. Also it's not very flavorful nor is it any kind of spicy. More like any traditional brown sauce than a general tso's sauce.

Rice: Plain white rice.

Spiciness: I'd give it a 0/10 on spicyness. Very mild, and that takes away from the flavor of what General Tso's should be.

Amount of Food: Not the most food I've gotten in a meal, but more than ample still. There seems to be an excess of celery, or maybe it's just the odd way they've cut it (length-wise, why?)

Price: $4.95

Overall: 2/10 - The sauce really did this dish in. It was lacking at best, and bland at worst.

Cookie: Overcooked, dark, and dry. A sad experience Brand: Golden Bowl (New York)
Fortune: There will be many surprises; unexpected gains are likely

Monday, August 4, 2008

Review: Panda Express

I know it's not technically a QftB post, but the girlfriend demands a written review of my lunch today. So what the girlfriend demands, the girlfriend gets.

Today I experienced Panda Express for the first time. I must say, I'm quite impressed!

Panda Express handles things a little differently than most other Chinese places. Firstly, they don't cook the food on the spot; they have it waiting there for you in pans like you would see at a china buffet. Secondly, you don't just choose one entree. You can get two or even three entrees on your plate as part of their "standard" meal. Thirdly, you get your choice between white rice, fried rice, or lo mein noodles (yay!).

Finally, they have an event running currently where Beijing Beef and Orange Chicken are squaring off to win over the hearts and minds of the consumer for the next big thing at Panda Express. So I decided, hey, I get two entrees anyways. Let's get ready to rummmmmmble!

Restaurant: Panda Express
Location: 5th ave, between Gerrard and Hess.
Call: (614) 486-6630

Orange Chicken: Although I did not taste anything that could be described as "Orange", it is still quite a tasty dish. Think of the fried "sweet-and-sour" type chicken, in duck sauce. Crispy chicken, good amount of meat (as opposed to breading), very tasty.

Beijing Beef: A spicy counterpart to the Orange Chicken; it seems to be fried as well, before being covered in a delicious dark sweet/spicy sauce. The batch I got was perhaps a bit overcooked (it was a little chewy) but left my nose watering and my mouth wanting more.

Veggies: Orange chicken has no veggies in it. Beijing Beef contains green, red, and orange peppers, in addition to onions. The Lo Mein contains celery, cabbage strips, and sprouts. A well rounded mix!

Sauce: Not a lot of extra sauce for either entree, but the sauce that is on the meat sticks well, so it wasn't really an issue.

Rice: Lo mein! And fantastic lo mein at that. It tastes like it has been grilled, got a little "charred" taste to it. Pure win!

Spiciness: The Orange Chicken is not at all spicy. In fact it's mostly just sweet. The Beijing Beef brings my nose to water, and I'd say it's about a 6 on a 1 to 10 scale. Not burning my face off, but enough so I know it's there.

Amount of Food: I'm more than satisfied with the amount of food given. Add to it the fact that every bite was delicious and I couldn't be happier.

Price: $5.75

Overall: 8/10 - Not much to complain about, and I was very happy with my first visit to Panda Express. The beef was a little overcooked, but flavor wise everything was great.

Cookie: Light colored, but not light on taste. Surprisingly sweet and flavorful.
Fortune: People enjoy having you around