Thursday, September 18, 2014

San Juan BBQ - A little Pueto Rican Restaurant in Riverside CA

Let me introduce you to Mofongo, the only entree that I know of that has the word "MOFO" in it. Doesn't Mofongo sounds like the name of an evil super villain? In reality it is a meaty dish surrounded by a shell of crushed plantains and fried pork rinds.

How was it? I have absolutely no clue because my co-worker, Dan, ordered it and I was not comfortable asking him for a bite. We're just not that far into our relationship yet.

Chicken Mofongo
Chicken Mofongo

Good ol' Yelp helped us find San Juan BBQ - a little Pueto Rican restaurant in the heart of Riverside CA. It has excellent reviews so we decided to check it out.

The walls of the interior are so bright it can probably be seen in Puerto Rico and possibly acts as a homing beacon to get customers to come in. The actual restaurant itself reminded me of a liquor store complete with a gift shop where you can fill up on on your Puerto Rican souvenirs so you can fake a trip to the Caribbean on Instagram and fool all your friends and family.

Why buy a plane ticket when you can just get a hat?

When we first arrived it was about 12:30pm and the place was empty. I didn't think this was a good sign but the service was great since we were the only ones there.

San Juan BBQ Menu
The Menu at San Juan BBQ

I was really debating on the Mofongo till Dan beat me to it. I was also looking to get a hot pressed sandwich but I didn't want to eat anything squished. I decided to go for something off the menu and got a Roasted Pork Lunch Special for $5.99 that included a drink and I threw in a beef empanada just because I'm fat. Pretty good deal.

San Juan Lunch Special - Roast Pork
Slow Roasted Pork, Yellow Rice, Beans, and Plantains

I didn't realize there would be that many onions but they were at least set on top like a hat so I could easily scrape them off. The dish was pretty good looking. I really like the fez shaped rice and the little bowl of beans that didn't automatically merge with all my other food.

Mark Lim
The First Bite

Boy was that first bite salty. I had a little bit of a hard time eating it but after mixing it with some rice it really started to all blend together. The pork was juicy and flavorful and I really enjoyed it when it wasn't turning my tongue into a pillar of salt.

Beef Empanadas
Beef Empanadas

I really loved the empanada. It was a my little ethnic hot pocket. There's little bits of veggies and potato in it to and it actually wasn't super oily or salty. I would have preferred to get a 6 pack of these and ate them as a meal instead.

Roasted Pork, Yellow Rice, and Fried Plantains

The rice itself was good and had a lot of texture and taste. I really just wished the pork wasn't so salty. I'm not sure if that's just how it's supposed to be and that's how it's been in Puerto Rico for generations or if I had a bad plate. Even then I did finish everything. I also wished I had more of those fried plantains. They were pretty dang good.
Category Score Comment
Taste: 6 I would have bumped it up if it wasn't so salty!
Presentation: 7 Food looked great.
Value 8 I think I got a lot for $5.99 + a $2.25 Empanada
Satisfaction: 7I'll definitely come back and try something else
Rating: 7 out of 10

San Juan BBQ Riverside CA

San Juan BBQ - 10203 Hole Ave, Riverside, CA 92503

Dan said he did not like his Mofongo because it was too thick and bland. I really should have snaked a bite when he went to the bathroom because now I'm dying to try it. I might just have a deep seeded mistrust of Dan.

Overall I enjoyed myself. The food was flavorful and the service was great. I definitely want to come back and get a pressed sandwich and maybe make someone get the mofongo so I can actually try it without investing my lunch choice into it.

Be Fat! Be Happy!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Punjab Palace - Crazy Good Indian Food Lunch Buffet in Riverside CA - Rating 9 out of 10

When you first walk in the door at Punjab Palace you are instantly engulfed in the fiery aromas of another world. The smells of India sucker punch you right in the nose with a wild flying haymaker that is almost disorienting at first but you quickly adapt and grow to love it.

Punjab PalaceNan Garlic Bread,  Saag Paneer (Spinach + Cheese), Yellow Curry, Lamb Curry, Vegetable Curry, Rice (sooo goood!), and two baby vegetable fritters scrap.

It has a Discount Carpet Warehouse feel

The front of the restaurant looks like the entrance to a ghetto indoor swap meet or some sort of carpet warehouse where all carpets must go go go! But actually, when you get inside it really does look like a palace. The dining area is quite large and the seating quite comfortable. It's never full and the service is prompt.

Towards the back of the restaurant you have a small buffet that is split into two sections: one with all their wonderful signature Indian dishes, and another with a horrible prison salad bar with piles of that hard white center of the lettuce, ladles of ranch, and off colored jello. Skip that part.

Punjab Palace Lunch Buffet
So colorful it should be marching in a parade

The first item I was excited to try was the Mulligatawny soup because I had never had it before and I keep seeing re-runs of the Seinfeld episode with The Soup Nazi where Kramer makes Elaine order it for him while watches her armoire.

I have to say it is pretty damn good. It has a slight kick and the spices are perfect. It makes my mouth water thinking about it.

The next thing I got was the Tandoori Chicken which I wasn't too fond of. It was a bit dry and I didn't care for the flavor.

Next on the list was the deep fried Vegetable Samosas which I didn't really like either because they were super oily and bready.

But it's ok. the Saag Paneer made up for everything. Saag Paneer is a spinach dish mixed with Indian cheese. It is amazing especially with the garlic nan. It's creamy, it's cheesy, it's just soooo gooooood.

The pile of nuclear orange mess is actually vegetable curry which is my absolute favorite out of all the curry they serve. It is just so flavorful and the vegetables just meld into a tasty spicy mush and when you scoop it up with rice, it just ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh I want it now!

My 3rd plate, I'm going to pay for it in the morning.

Unfortunately I didn't take a lot of pictures because I was too busy shoveling pure goodness into my mouth but here's a couple of items I should talk about:

Lamb Curry - I didn't like this at first because I tried so hard to scoop up some lamb from the tray but someone had already harvested it and all that was left in the mixture were hard boiled eggs. I went back later and was able to get some lamb and it was really good.

Yellow Curry - This was my least favorite of the curry. It was quite sour and odd tasting. But that's just me.

Some sort of Carrot Pile - There was another radioactive orange colored dish in the corner that I didn't try till I was absolutely stuffed but it was pretty good. It had a light carrot flavor coated in a mass amount of sugar.

Cheese Ball - There's also this thing called a Cheese Ball which doesn't taste like the way you'd think it'd taste. Think of a flan like texture in syrup. I grew to like it.

On our way home from the restaurant our tire exploded, probably because we ate so much that my car could not handle the mass we accumulated.

Category Score Comment
Taste: 9 I loved what I loved
Presentation: 7 Buffet is kind of weird looking but food is good
Value 9 All you can eat lunch for about $10
Satisfaction: 9I love this place
Rating:9 out of 10

I have to say that this is the one place I've been craving on a consistent basis. It's a little farther away than I'd like but it is well worth the drive. If your'e in the Riverside CA area and in the mood to try something different. You should definitely check this place out.

Punjab Palace
10359 Magnolia Ave, 
Riverside, CA 92505
(951) 351-8968

Be Fat! Be Happy!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Carl's Jr. Texas BBQ Thickburger - Rating: 7 out of 10

Mark Lim - I have never ever been this fat in my entire life but I figure if I'm going down, I'm going to stare Death right in the face, dual wielding burgers in each hand with mayonnaise and Sriracha exploding from my chest.

Today I had the Carl's Jr. 1/3 lb Texas BBQ Thickburger which is totally out of character for me because I would normally order the 1/2 lb but I could already picture my wife yelling at me because she would check The Cloud and see pictures of the burger and get mad at how I promised to eat healthy but then I could say I chose the lesser of two evils and got the 1/3 lb instead of the 1/2 lb and she'd still be mad. 

Carl's Jr. 1/3 lb Texas BBQ Thickburger
1/3 lb of dead cow and deep fried onion

The burger itself is quite good. I was surprised because I normally don't like Carl's Jr. but I'm really into the whole sweet and savory deal. The real star of the burger though is the jalapeno fried onions. They really give a good crunchy texture to the burger.

Thicke Burger. Get it? Whatever. It didn't take long to photoshop.

The description of the burger says it's a "brisket" which I'm not sure what that means but it's probably to help the illusion that this burger is somehow a fancy steakhouse burger.

Carls Jr BUrger
Burger Autopsy

Usually any burger I get from Carl's Jr. that has anything crunchy is mush by the time I get it back home but these suckers were deep fried with a batter so thick, no BBQ sauce in the world could penetrate it which worked out in its favor. 

Carl's Jr. 1/3 lb Texas BBQ Thickburger Mark Lim
Teeth sinking action

The Mesquite BBQ sauce itself was kind of weird because it had all sorts of jibs in it. It was like eating white person salsa. I got really excited and thought it was chili at first but was pretty happy with the taste of it.

New Carls Jr. Burger
Sweet and Savory Explosion

The bun is supposed to be some new thing for Carl's. Fresh Baked Buns! I wasn't really impressed with it and I actually would have preferred the Pretzel bun at Wendy's which is sooooo goooood.

Carl's Jr. 1/3 lb Texas BBQ Thickburger Final Bite
The Final Bite

My final though: The Carl's Jr. Texas BBQ Thickburger is pretty good. I was quite happy with the distribution of jalapeno fried onions and mushy bbq sauce. I got a little of it every bite. The sweet and savory flavors are really good and the meat itself tasted pretty clean. Overall I think I like this burger and give it a rating of 7 out of 10.

Carl's Jr's nutrition web page is busted so I can't put in the nutrition information for you guys. All I can say is that while the 1/3 lb burger will surely shorten your lifespan, the 1/2 lb will get you there 33% quicker.

Be Fat. Be Happy!