“Roadhouse!” Says Peter Griffin

(Excuse this entry, I don’t have much photos taken.  Most of my photos came out blurry.  Must. Take. Better. Pictures. Next. Time.)

So my sister from a parallel universe, Cez came for an impromptu visit last Saturday.  With her two kids, Eljae and Tiara, in tow, they hitched a ride with my husband from their choir practice.  Her husband had to go back home for awhile to finish up with some work but would follow later that night.  Cez, and her husband Ethan Dave (he’s really just Ethan, but we like calling him by his full name), are one of the couples we have the twist of good fate to be very close friends with.  (The rest of the bunch, you’ll get to know as I go along with my blog life.)  Yes, we’re this close *putting both pointing fingers together*.   Her kids love visiting us because of our papillon dog, Nala.  She’s their favorite pet, nevermind that Tiara lately had to take Benadryl just to be with her.  She somehow acquired the allegry to dogs.  We figured, fortunate for her, she got it very young (she’s only 5) and would definitely outgrow it soon enough.  So allerfy or not, that won’t stop her from playing with Nala till Nala, the hyper dog that she is when they’re around, gives up and won’t budge.

Five Guys!!! I love!! (Photo credits: Tripadvisor.com)
Five Guys!!! I love!!  (Photo credits: Tripadvisor.com)

So where was I, oh yes, the impromptu visit.  We were texting, she, while at choir practice and me at home doing my blog,  I mentioned that I was getting hungry and haven’t had a bite to it.  This, at 2 pm.  She said she hasn’t eaten either and we thought it would be a good idea for her to come over and we can have lunch then go “window” shopping.  At 3pm they arrived.  I took a quick shower, fixed myself, then headed to have some yummy Five Guys burgers along Campbell Blvd here in White Marsh, MD right in front of the new Nottingham Commons Malls.

We had bacon cheeseburgs, fries and sodas. Tiara, had her favorite hotdog sandwhich.  The biggest thing I love about Five Guys is that their burgers have that “actually made and grilled” taste.  In laymen’s terms – it doesn;t taste like fastfood.  And those fries!!  How can they actually afford the production cost to give you that much fries?  The answer – it doesn’t really take much to acquire and prepare them.  So for any restaurant that would be stingy on the fries, be ashamed… be very ashamed.

Their hotdog, I wasn’t too enthusiastic about.  Altho it still tasted better than some hotdogs I’ve had before, it’s just too salty.  But I don’t blame Five Guys.  All the hotdogs I’ve tasted here in the US have always been like they were doused with too much salt happiness at the factory.  (I’ve always longed for Purefoods’ or Swifts’ juicy hotdogs from back home.)

So from there, we took a trip to the outdoor mall right across.  The Nottingham Commons is a very new mall that was opened just this summer.  Alas, no bounty was gotten!  (It happens, don’t be surprised…)  So we decided to head back home and chill out till Ethan Dave comes.  Anna, one of our “younger sisters” who we happily bumped into at TJ Maxx by accident followed after her massage.

Cez and I could actually talk, interjected with too much laughter, incessantly.  Between the two of us, poor Anna just couldn’t butt in often enough.   That was how the rest of the afternoon till early evening went by while waiting for Ethan Dave.  By the time he arrived at 8, we were hungry enough and already planned to go to Texas Roadhouse – a steak house restaurant that just opened a few months ago.  Its located at 8207 Town Center Dr Nottingham, MD 212, right across The Avenue on their left side.

(Photo credit: https://www.facebook.com/txrhNottinghamMD/)
(Photo credit: https://www.facebook.com/txrhNottinghamMD/)

Hubbie and I had been here before and I do love their steaks.  I’d really like Cez to try it, the foodie that she is. The atmosphere of the place is really informal and casual.  Much like hoe downs happen here everynight.  The waiters even do a western dance number every so often to the delight of the audience.  But there’s a catch tho, if you’re allergic to peanuts, this might not be the place for you.  Peanut shells are scattered all over the place, since they’ve got huge barrels of peanuts by the waiting area, just like at Five Guys.  And if you’re a little OC (obsessive-compulsive) about cleanliness, this might not be the place for you either.  Same peanut shells lie on the floor, untouched, unswept.  Much like a hoe down, really.

We started off with their famous Cactus Blossom.  A soooo good and tasty fried onion appetizer with their signature sauce.  I’ve never ordered this before, thinking they’re just onions.  But I was wrong.  From now on, I am on the quest for the best fried onion appetizer and this one of Texas Roadhouse would be my base.

The Cactus Blossom that will now be the base of many more onion blossoms to try.
The Cactus Blossom that will now be the base of many more onion blossoms to try.

I also ordered their Original Frozen Margarita.  I like my margarita frozen and as much as I was planning on getting another kind, they didn’t serve some of them frozen.   I wished they could serve all their margaritas this way because, really, it shouldn’t be that hard to mix it in a blender, right?  (Any bartender out there willing to tell me otherwise?)  But their margarita was just ok *shrug*. I have to say, I’ve tried better ones somewhere else.  I think it’s a little watered down and I couldn’t quite taste the alcohol.  But booze is booze and like I said, I’m a lush. (ha ha ha!)  And it would take more of this to get me drunk. I guess, there’s the rub…

The dinner rolls were also a special treat.  It’s the sweet roll that taste so much better because of their butter.  Ethan Dave had to order 2 more servings of their rolls. (He had to forget he was on a no-carb diet.)  They were that good.  For some reason, I consider this a big thing.  I will always assume that the better restaurants, at least, the ones worth your money, should always welcome their guests with an exceptional teaser of what other special food they can offer.  I know they’re just rolls, but if the restaurant takes the extra mile to make sure their rolls are superb, then you know every food that comes after should taste as good if not better.

Came my much awaited moment – the entree. I ordered a 10 oz fort worth rib-eye steak with a side of sauteed mushrooms, house salad and buttered corn.  I always order my steak medium rare.  I like biting into the texture of the tender pink meat in the middle – melts in your mouth.  And Texas Roadhouse didn’t disappoint me again.  It was grilled and seasoned the way I wanted – not too much of any steak sauce.  Just a bit of salt and pepper.  The steak was cooked really good – juicy and tasty, with just the right amount of fat.  Yes, I love a little fat on my steak.  (No cringing, please!)  That’s where most of the taste comes from!  So I don’t mind that at all.  Shoot me.

Now, looking at the pictures I took, I wished that their cooks would present the food better.  This is exactly how they served my plate, sans the knife.  There were smears of sauce on the sides of the plate that their cook or their waiter could’ve cleaned up a bit.  I know the whole ambiance of the place is very informal, but one way or another, I feel that there’s no excuse for mediocre presentations.

The mouth-watering juicy steak. I just wished they cleaned up the plate better...
The mouth-watering juicy steak. I just wished they cleaned up the plate better…

 

Solo Arigato (Mr. Roboto)

My husband and I had been living on my mother-in-law’s backyard harvest and whatever food she would kindly bring us in the morning after her daily church routine.  (Now, these veggies are the REAL organic!)  Thank God for her, I didn’t need to bring out my culinary skills (ha!) much this week and my husband had been eating his vegetables cooked to perfection (I have a tendency to overcook veggies for some reason :/).

After earning my keep at work for the whole week, I think I needed to get me some favorite food to celebrate Friday.  Not that I did’t enjoy my mother-in-law’s cooking.  But I wanted to eat something else.  Husband had to work today, unfortunately, because he said they’re “fully booked” with patients at the hospital.  So it’s just me.  But that’s not a problem.  I actually enjoy eating alone.  He teases me a lot about how I can sometimes eat at a Chinese buffet by myself, but I really can.  *Shrug*  I just can.  I really can’t find any explanation for that.

Arigato Hibachi right inside the Belair Beltway Plaza
Arigato Hibachi and Sushi right inside the Belair Beltway Plaza

My taste buds were in the mood for something light and uncomplicated.  There really wasn’t much to think about – I decided to go to the sushi place hubbie and I go to.  When we want instant satisfaction for Japanese craving we will always choose this place because a.)  it’s just 5 minutes from home, b.) their staff are friendly (the Filipina waitress knows us already), c.)  the food is delicious and d.) it won’t make a dent on the bank.  So, at 5:30 pm, I was out the door and drove down Belair Rd to the  Belair Beltway Plaza Shopping Center and in about 10 minutes, tops, I was parked right in front of the Arigato Hibachi and Sushi.  They’re on the right side of the mall, along where Verizon Wireless is and it’s in between Anchor Staffing and Cash Plus.

The Sushi Bar
The Sushi Bar

First, a little description of the restaurant.  It’s not a big place (I honestly have no concept of measurements but believe me it’s not big ;).  The sushi bar is on the left as you enter the door with the kitchen right next to it.  There’s probably about 10 – 15 tables including the booths by the other wall.  It has a very cozy vibe, nothing strict, nothing fancy.

Around this time, thee were a few customers but most of the tables were still free.  The corner table wasn’t occupied, which happens to be my place everytime I eat there alone.  One of their friendly waitresses approached me and I didn’t waste much time thinking of what to order. I wanted sweet iced tea, and a bowl of their Chirashi sushi.  I was thinking if I wanted some tempura, but I decided not to and I’ll tell you why later.  A few minutes after, their Filipina waitresses came by my table to ask how I am.  She’s really very sweet.  I like her.

The busy kitchen
The busy kitchen

The food came in no time at all.  Maybe because there isn’t much preparation anyway for a Chirashi sushi.  “Chirashi Sushi” in Japan means “scattered sushi”.  Most Japanese restaurants I’ve been to usually have about 8 to 10 slices of different fish sashimi arranged nicely on top of sushi rice in a bowl.  So the rice isn’t hot, which would probably cook the fish if it were.  Contrary to what I’ve been used to, a lot of chirashizushi on the web show Japanese recipes made entirely of non-fish items – carrots, noodles, mushrooms, bamboo shoots, eggs, tofu… Whatever leftover you have and then just “scatter” them on your bowl, hence the name.   A no-brainer kinda meal.   In fact, I might try one of the chirashi’s on this page I discovered that shows 50 Chirashi (Scattered) Sushi recipes.  Interesting…

So there was my bowl, looking so pretty with 2 slices each of octopus, salmon, red tuna, white tuna (my favorite), yellow tail and red snapper.  My mouth waters…  There really is no hard and fast rule of eating this.  Some mix all the rice and fish together picking on the pieces randomly as you go along.   Me, I am a sucker for order.  I leave the rice at the bottom and take one sashimi at a time, smear a little wasabi on it, dip it in soy sauce, eat it and follow it up with rice .  This makes me fully taste each fish and let my tastebuds enjoy the ecstasy of it.   I even have a heirarchy I follow – from my least to my most favorite.  So this time it would be octopus first , then red tuna, yellow tail, red snapper, salmon and finally, white tuna.   Oh that white tuna that just melts in your mouth…

Delectable!
Delectable!

At a different restaurant, I’d be alternating my sashimi delight with a bite or two of shrimp and vegetable tempura.  Unfortunately, this is the single item on Arigato’s menu that I do not have any fancy for.  I like my tempura coating airy but crispy.  Unfortunately, their tempura is densed, like its made with panko.  I know some restaurants do that, but it just reminds me of the box of ready-made ebi (shrimp) tempura you buy from the restaurant depot.   Its just not for me.  I think I prefer the panko breading on tonkatsu (Japanese made-for-western-tastebuds deep fried pork chop with breading) instead.

All done!
All done!

But even without the shrimp and vegetable tempura.  I still enjoyed my meal.  I savored every slice of sashimi alternating with small chunks of sushi rice.  Heaven.  So while I caught up with friends on Facebook (and checking out for Pokemon sightings) from my Samsung, I was enjoying my dinner.  By the time I was done I still had some rice left, but I didn’t feel like loading up just on carbs.  (I’m being good.)  I paid my bill, said goodbye to my favorite Filipina waitress and I was out the door probably after an hour from the time I came in.  And in that span, the restaurant was full.  Just a normal night for Arigato.

I’ve already recommended this place to friends who also live around the area.  It’s a perfect spot for a quick lunch or dinner when you can’t cook… or don’t want to, ha ha ha.

Ah, sushi. I wish I could have you everyday.
Ah, sushi. I wish I could have you everyday.