Thursday, September 18, 2014


Place: Hibachi Grill & Supreme Buffet
Lunch: Buffet, Pepsi

A new Chinese buffet ("the most elegant Chinese, Japanese, and American Buffet in the state" according to their website) opened this week in the building that used to be Lone Star Steakhouse.

Did I ever tell you about the one time I've been to Lone Star Steakhouse?  Some of you who have been creepily stalking me since my radio days might remember this story.  Wife #1 and I came to this very Lone Star at around 4 or 5pm on a weekday.  We were greeted and seated.

And that's it.

No server.

We sat there twenty minutes.

We walked out and had dinner at Red Lobster.

No staff member asked why we were leaving, and there must have been five servers available for every table of customers at the time.

So it's no wonder this building has been abandoned for two years.  The Hibachi Grill people did an extensive and beautiful overhaul of the building.  Nothing about this structure will make you think of Lone Star.

The interior is also very nice.  Nice and dark.  When I left, I had trouble adjusting to the sunlight and almost fell down the stairs at the entrance.  They might want to paint yellow stripes on the edges.  But the dining areas...there's several divided up...are pretty dark.  They have a nice big lobby area with an extensive water feature and big sitting area with what looked like copper couches.  I should have tried them out.

The food area has colorful LED accent lighting glowing on the ceiling and the buffet stations themselves are well lit so you can see what you're getting.  And there's a lot to get...Hibachi Grill claims there's over 250 items.  Plus there's the namesake "Hibachi Grill" where you can create your own raw concoction and have the grill guy cook it for you.  We have a couple of Chinese buffets in town that also offer this, but nobody ever seems to take advantage of it.  But here, people were using it.  Maybe because these guys do a better job of making it a focal point.

Taste-wise, it was fine.  There were highlights and lowlights.  I'd put them overall third taste-wise compared to the other two Chinese buffets in town I frequent, but that doesn't make them bad.  Highlights included "Cheesy Wontons", which are a wonton-wrapped version of a Crab Rangoon.  Those were awesome.  They had a really nice smoked salmon sushi.  I'm not really a sushi expert, but I liked that.  They also had some unusual things like roast beef and "cheesesteak", which was some sort of Stromboli-ish looking thing stuffed with what simply tasted like roast beef.  Pretty rich, actually.  You could eat one piece of that and be all like "Dang, I'm full.  And I still have 249 other things to try."  The salad bar had several pre-made salads, like a Caesar.  Dessert options included the usual, but a more extensive selection of cakes and ice creams.  They even had a green tea ice cream.

But it's the traditional Chinese food items...the General Tso's Chicken, the Lo-Mein, the Garlic Beef & Broccoli...where they fall short of the competition.  It's still fine, but the others are better.

But for $9.16 plus tax and tip (lunch price), you'll certainly feel you got your money's worth.

Monday, September 15, 2014


Place: McDonald's
Lunch: Mega Mac, Mc Chicken (no lettuce), Hi-C Orange Lavaburst

McDonald's is doing BOGO Big Mac Mondays during the NFL season, which is quite a deal considering a Big Mac today costs $4.49.  In related news, why exactly does a Big Mac cost $4.49?  It uses no more meat or cheese than the less-than-a-buck-and-a-half McDouble.  There's no way lettuce, special sauce, and an extra piece of bun justifies this.

Big Macs should be two bucks, tops.

Anyway, I disassembled the sandwiches and created a Mega Mac.  Mega Mac is a wayback LTO that has been offered in two versions over the years...the version where the regular patties were replaced with two Quarter Pounder patties, and this version, where they simply used four regular patties.  My version has an extra slice of cheese and extra pickles since they came on the extra sandwich.  But McDonald's pickles are amazing, so there.

If McDonald's ever started a grocery line, the first thing I'd buy is McDonald's pickles.  The closest equivalent you can get today is to buy Vlasic Original Dills (NOT kosher) whole and slice them yourself.  Slice them as thin as you can.

Have you noticed the increasing number of restaurant chains who are getting into the grocery business?  Some have been around forever, like Marie Callendar's and Bob Evans.  Heck...the Chi-Chi's grocery line outlasted the Chi-Chi's restaurant chain.  Nathan's not only offers a wide variety of hot dogs (including the restaurant-grade ones), they offer pickles, sauces, and fries.  But in the past couple of years, names like PF Chang's and Chili's have started appearing in the frozen food section, as have Arby's Curly Fries and Checker's Wild Fries.

Not all of the items are actual restaurant menu items, and even when they are, they usually aren't the same recipe.  Steak n Shake has offered canned chili for years through supermarkets.  It isn't the same as going to the restaurant.  But some things, like Checker's Wild Fries, come out pretty good.  Cincinnati's Skyline Chili in the can is a dead accurate replica of the real deal, as is LaRosa's pizza sauce in the jar.

What I would love to see in the grocery is Taco John's Potato Ole's.  You just can't duplicate those at home with standard potato crowns.  I used to live near the plant that made the Potato Ole's for Taco John's.  If you had a friend who worked there, they could get you the restaurant pillow packs from the company store for a ridiculously cheap price, and you could fry them up at home whenever you wanted them, hot and fresh.

It was a great time to be alive.

It's gotten cooler, football is in full swing, and Steak n Shake's rolled out the seasonal caramel apple milkshake.

It IS a great time to be alive.