Saturday, March 31, 2012

Slight changes

One slight change will be made to my posts starting with my April 1 entry, and no April Fool's jokes are intended. In order to promote faster site loading times, I plan to make each blog entry more of a "teaser" using jump breaks. You will still be able to see the full review by clicking on the actual individualized posting.

(EDIT @ 12:10 p.m.: As part of my "small site overhaul," a few of my late March posts will also utilize jump breaks to accommodate the change)

That's all from me. Enjoy your weekend!

The Honey Pot

(Second Review -- March 2013)

The Honey Pot, located at the Good Food Here food pod (SE 43rd and Belmont) serves both savory pies and sweet pies. According to their website, Mary is the main baker, a trained pastry chef. Her business partner, Lisa, may also be in the truck and does the bookkeeping.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Fried Egg I'm in Love

(UPDATE April 2015: Fried Egg I'm in Love is back to one cart -- and has been for quite some time now.)
(UPDATE 8/13/13: Fried Egg I'm in Love also has a second cart at the Good Food Here pod near SE 43rd and Belmont.)

"Fried Egg, I'm in Love" is a food cart currently located at the corner of SE 32nd and Hawthorne in Portland, Oregon. Co-owners Jace Krause and Ryan Lynch have done soft openings from March 22, testing various possible menu items. Their grand opening is slated for April 1 -- and they're even having a grand opening party to celebrate!

I dropped by on their second overall day (3/23). Unfortunately, snowy weather had detained me in Salem so I missed their soft open debut. Nonetheless, my food cart craving was at an all-time high because this spicy panda hates being caged indoors.

The cart may have looked plain yellow on my visit, but the cart now has a wonderful logo.

(UPDATE 4/4/12: I've added a couple more photos to the full review, including the full menu from their opening week! Check it out!)

An amazing photo from their Twitter website, showing the updated paint job (3/28)!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Sandwich Shop

(NOTE: The Sandwich Shop is now closed, but you can still get Ian's food from Iggy's Catering!)

(Second Review -- May 2012)

The Sandwich Shop is located inside a convenience store on Hawthorne Ave. NE in Salem, Oregon. Ian Johnson (of Iggy's Catering) is the man creating these amazing meals seven days a week. According to the business Facebook page, this place just opened on March 5, 2012.

Yeah, it's inside this convenience store, adjacent to a Texaco gas station!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Twinsies Coffee & Cupcakes

(Second Review -- May 2012)

Twinsies Coffee & Cupcakes is located on High St. SE in downtown Salem, Oregon. This was the former home of Lil's Cupcake Cafe. At the time of my visit, Twinsies had only been in business for a couple of weeks.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Momiji (Part 2)

My friend mentioned that she had not had sushi in a long time, so we decided on Momiji so she could take advantage (at least a little) of $1 nigiri sushi on Sunday nights. 4 to 9 p.m., fellas.

Church St. Pizza (Part 4)

(Original Review -- May 2011 (previous management))
(Second Review -- January 2012 -- Demitri now owner)
(Third Review -- February 2012)

Buns, buns, and more buns! Panda sees yummy spicy buns on Saturdays!

March 17 may have been St. Patrick's Day, but it was also yet another chile consumption day. My spicochistic side lured me back to Church St. Pizza after Demitri and Amy got a hold of some ghost peppers.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Falafel King

Falafel King is a food mart right at the corner of Church St. and Marion St. in downtown Salem, Oregon.

Dang sunny glare didn't do me any favors

The picture board menu featured nine different items. I did not notice the full menu (nor was I offered one) until I had already placed my order. But even that was an excessive adventure:

In-house picture menu
(March 2012)

I kept inquiring about what I'd get on each particular order. #1 was falafel at $6.49. Would it be just falafel, or a sandwich? Wait, #4 is a falafel pocket pita, so is that also a sandwich? I'm confused already.

Three shawarma sandwiches were pictured for the #2 order ($7.49), yet the customer only receives one of them. Apparently the three are pictured just to show the differences (chicken, beef, and a lamb/beef combo are the picks).

My head spun like I was playing Dizzy Bat baseball. Put your head on the bat, spin around 10-20 times (no cheating, you must go very fast), and then try to hit a home run. Not that easy to hit the ball, is it?

I just went with the falafel sandwich (#1 on the board) and a piece of baklava for $8.49 total.

Part of a tray of baklava...I wish I could afford to eat the entire tray!
Piece of baklava
(Falafel King)
The baklava was very good. Moist and sweet, with a little nuttiness shining through. If it wasn't $2 for a small triangular piece, I woulda bought the whole tray. This felt like a happy-sad panda hybrid dealie, don't think you'd envision that one very often.

The sandwich, on the other hand, was a disappointment. Being the "falafel king," you'd think this is the signature item to get. The falafel was on the dry side, the tortilla wrapping (their version of a sandwich, I guess) was overtoasted, even giving off a slight burnt smell. I would have liked a bit more lubrication (yogurt sauce) to help unite the filling together. To be fair, the flavors were quite good and the sandwich (wrap) was pretty lengthy in size. That's what she said. Yeah, I went there.

#1 Falafel Sandwich
(Falafel King)
Inside the wrapping
The man taking my order is probably learning the ropes. He had a positive attitude throughout, but seemed nervous and/or inexperienced. The person taking orders is the messenger, connecting the customer with the cooks. Prompt, confident communication is vital.

I even told the man I would eat here, but I received everything in takeout containers. This didn't affect the overall experience, but it's just something to note.

I may still give Falafel King another shot down the road, but I'll likely wait a few months before venturing back, just to allow everyone to get situated. 4.25/10

Love Love Teriyaki II

Love Love Teriyaki II has several locations throughout Salem, Oregon. This separate review is for the new High St. NE location in downtown Salem. It officially opened on December 26, 2011, replacing Young's Teriyaki (a place I did not have a kind rating for).

Waiting area

Dining area
Ordering counter
Upon entering Love Love Teriyaki, I saw Asian-inspired decor and affordable lunch specials. Good grief, you have made me a triply comfortable panda seeing the bamboo in the corner.

I ordered the spicy chicken and gyoza plate for takeout ($6.50). A healthy portion of rice came in a separate container, while a larger container held a good portion of salad and "spicy" chicken -- emphasis on the quotation marks. While it may have had kick for mere mortals, spicy pandas shrugged any spice off without effort.

Lunch specials menu
(March 2012)
Spicy Chicken & Gyoza Lunch Special
(Love Love Teriyaki II)

Rice in a separate takeout container
Moist sliced chicken, filled with pleasing teriyaki flavors, engulfed my mouth. The salad included a side dressing of sesame oil and soy sauce, very refreshing.. Four fried gyoza cut through the middle of the presentation, each potsticker staying crispy and warm. Perfectly cooked rice rounded out my noshing.

As mentioned earlier, the spicy chicken for me had no heat. But for the average consumer, it's a lovely menu item. I seriously should carry around hot sauce wherever I go.

Head to Love Love Teriyaki II for awesome ambiance, delicious food, and affordable prices! 8.5/10

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Willamette Valley Fruit Company

Willamette Valley Fruit Company is located on the NE outskirts of Salem, Oregon, on the way to Silverton.

Pies, pies, and more pies!
And even more pies
Since it's locked away in an area surrounded by a ton of farmland/agriculture, this was my first visit to this place, despite being here for over four years. Oops.

As part of National Pi Day (3/14), WVFC would be selling slices of pie at their happy hour rate ($1) all day. Can't think of a better deal with exceptional quality. Happy hour is Mon-Fri, from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Happy Hour is Mon-Fri (9 a.m. to 11 a.m.)
I tried a sample of the Forest Berry pie, using marionberries, raspberries, and blueberries. The fresh fruity sweetness comes through, the filling wonderfully chunky. It'd be virtually perfect with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and some dessert syrup (any spicy-sweet option would work for me!).

The friendly woman behind the counter said the marionberry and marionberry crunch pies were the top sellers, but all the pies were good. They were out of the marionberry crunch at the time, so I got the regular marionberry slice instead. And again...$1. Point me to another business that sells good pie for that price.

Pie choices on 3/14/12
Marionberry Pie
(Willamette Valley Fruit Company)
The marionberry filling was thicker and more pronounced than another slice I got at another food establishment. It's not overly sweet and damn, did I ever want more of that pie! I'd happy panda dance, but I wanted to finish eating first.

And holy panda, they have a chocolate pie. I should get that next time during happy hour. Dessert in the morning is totally allowed! No rules in this game of food consumption!

After eating your pie (they also have other pastries, like turnovers, if you want those), browse the store. Take a pie home to bake, or get some jams and sauces to top your next few meals. This place is open by 7 a.m. on weekdays, and at 9 a.m. on Saturday (closed on Sundays).

Check out Willamette Valley Fruit Company ASAP! 8.75/10

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Beanery (Part 3)

(Original Review -- May 2011)
(Second Review -- January 2012)

I ventured back to The Beanery as part of National Pi Day on March 14. Having loved the panini and chowder last time, I knew I wanted to try the quiche and pie next.

Kaneko Cafe (Part 2)

(Original Review -- Early March 2012)

Mere hours after my original post, a friend told me Kaneko Cafe served sushi on Tuesdays. And since this panda loves sushi, I had to return to Kaneko Cafe ASAP to get my fill!

(Taken last month, when there were no snow showers)
A couple of Tuesdays ago, snow showers pelted Salem. Didn't matter. Mother Nature couldn't stop my food craving on her best day. I walked through the puddles, covered in slushy ice.

The cafe this time also served udon, curry, and yakisoba. But bring on the sushi! With several choices to pick from, I pondered for a good couple of minutes before deciding on the Kaneko Roll, eight pieces each filled with imitation crab (eh, it's a university cafe, what do you expect?), cucumber, fresh tuna, and more.

California rolls (left) and spicy tuna rolls
75 cents per piece...ouch

Sushi menu on 3/13/12
I also took a couple of California sushi pieces and spicy tuna pieces for 75 cents each. That would be a dozen pieces of sushi for $10. I don't think my wallet approved this one. At least the soy sauce is free.

The spicy tuna was the best sushi item I had on this trip. A nice hint of wasabi permeated the fresh tuna. The California roll was fine for what it was, but, I'd rather shell out the extra money for fresh crab meat.

California roll in front, spicy tuna in the back
(Kaneko Cafe)
I ordered the Kaneko roll because the components sounded tasty, but also because the cafe's name is on it. In the end, I thought it was fine, but not anything to go and call home to rave about it. The rice on this freshly made roll was well prepared and lukewarm.

Kaneko Roll
(Kaneko Cafe)
Cross-section of the Kaneko Roll
Yeah, I ate sushi with my hands. My hands are more reliable than chopsticks any day. Did I look like an animal to some people? Maybe. But it's perfectly fine to eat sushi with your hands...really.

I'll probably head back here again at some point, since I'm close by. The noodle dishes, donburi bowls, and the curries all look tasty, so that might be an option for next time. If I get sushi, spicy tuna is my saving grace. All hail the spicy tuna.... 6.75/10

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Word of Mouth (Part 5)

(Original Review -- May 2011)
(Second Review -- July 2011)
(Third Review -- December 2011)
(Fourth Review -- January 2012)

Good grief, Salem got snow in late March?! Mother Nature must be messed up. I don't just get in my car and drive through the snow for any ol' place. But Word of Mouth is one of them.

Snow in late March?!?!

The previous night (3/21), I checked what the following day's specials would be at WOM. Breakfast tacos. Shredded and smoked beef breakfast tacos. Holy taco almighty! My friend, who I was chatting with online, pretty much echoed my sentiments. And it was only $4.95 if I ordered it before 8 in the morning.

"Should I trudge through the snow to get the special?" I asked.
"Duh" was the response. Good for me!

Special on a snowy day (3/22/12)
Although snow had stopped falling the next morning, the icy white stuff on the ground still made driving not the most ideal thing to do. Screw it, I'm getting my tacos.

I mean, how can you resist shredded and smoked beef brisket, three eggs, green chiles, caramelized onions, and pepperjack cheese in two flour tortillas? Add those baby Yukon Gold breakfast potatoes, salsa, and sour cream. Nirvana can be attained on earth after all. I simply got a takeout order this time.

Shredded Beef Breakfast Tacos
(Word of Mouth Bistro)

The potatoes were perfect, with that browned crunch on the outside from the flattop. All that breakfast taco filling united for a rare sexy panda somersaulting moment. Juicy, tender shredded beef and killer pepperjack. I admit, the filling could have used just a tad more seasoning, but I was too busy noshing to really care. Tortillas were presented ideally warmed, with slight brown spots showing where it had been heated up. I wish I had a rewind button. Multiple rewinds to keep enjoying all this, please. At least I can keep salivating this meal after taking pictures.

$4.95. What a deal!
(Erin was a great server, as always!)
The cinnamon roll pancakes I had in late January recently became a permanent menu item. I still remember how incredible they were. I don't know why, but I'd take those pancakes home, just to see how well they'd go with my newly acquired bacon syrup.

Also the place to go to fill up on carbs!

The snow didn't deter several people from dining in, even at 7:15 a.m. Erin, my server, was excellent, as always. Anyway, I'm off to continue my food coma. Happy sleepy panda.... (snooze) 9.5/10