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A Sneak Peak Into SpringRo: Home of Spring Rolls and Bowls

- Sunday, August 2, 2015 No Comments

There's a new Asian restaurant opening in Wichita on Monday, August 3rd: SpringRo.

This weekend, a couple friends and I were fortunate enough to sample some of the items off of the SpringRo menu.

SpringRo is located at 6524 E 37th Street in the building that use to house Tsunami and will be open Monday - Saturday 11 am - 9 pm. SpringRo has an open layout. It's much more open than the old Tusnami used to be.


The concept and menu of SpringRo is very simple. It offers mainly Spring Rolls and Spring Bowls. A spring bowl is essentially a bowl of spring rolls but without the rice paper. So imagine everything that goes into a spring roll; that is what you're eating out of a bowl. It's the same concept as a burrito bowl but without the tortilla.

According to the owner in a recent interview, the concept is healthy, fresh and fast. With a limited menu of spring rolls, bowls and a few other items like egg rolls, wonton soup and drinks, it is all food that is quick and easy to make. They also feature a drive thru.


One our visit to SpringRo we were able to sample a wide selection of items. We tried the pork spring rolls, the steak spring rolls, a pork spring bowl, a steak Vietnamese Sandwich, crab rangoon and Wonton soup with macaroni. I also ordered a strawberry lemonade because it was 200 degrees outside and I wanted something refreshing to drink on top of water.

Everything is made fresh to order. Please keep in mind the pictures seen below will not be the presentation you get when SpringRo officially opens on Monday. The owner told me she's really big into presentation so be on the lookout for that when you go after they open. We were just there to sample some items.




Two of my friends could not get enough of the crab rangoon. Both of them were gushing over how good they were with one friend saying it was one of the best in the city he's ever had. The other friend liked it so much he had to use profanity in his comment because they were that ______ good. I told him I couldn't print his comment in full as this is a family friendly blog. Just due to the cream cheese, I had to avoid eating the crab rangoon but they received the four thumbs ups from my friends.

Next up were the Spring Rolls. The Spring Rolls served are much bigger than what you get at many other Vietnamese restaurants. They were about 7-8 inches long unlike the small stubby ones you get. A basic serving of Spring Rolls at SpringRo is three which will be enough to fill most people up. All reviews by everybody were positive. One friend mentioned he wished the Spring Rolls included Thai Basil inside them but it wasn't a big deal for me. It's also important to note, that there are sides of Peanut Sauce, Hoisin Sauce and Fish Sauce set aside for dipping if you need that.

The steak Vietnamese Sandwich was next. While I didn't try it, my friends both said they liked it especially if you included the fish sauce. They both love sandwiches in general and said it would be something they'd order again. If you try it, give it a whirl with the fish sauce.

The Wonton Soup with Macaroni was next. The soup was your basic broth with a very delicious serving of Wontons with Macroni. We all tried the Wontons and found them to be very tasty. My friend was glad they didn't use cheap tasting meat inside their Wontons. He also said this would be something he could eat a lot of and could see himself eating this everyday when it gets cold. Along with the Wontons, the soup is filled with Macaroni which is a novel idea because in most Wonton Soup you get maybe 3 or 4 Wontons and then it's just broth. At least now, the macaroni gives diners something more to fill up on. Great idea.

Lastly, I dined on a Spring Bowl with some Cherry Lemonade. I finished the Cherry Lemonade in seconds. I was either that thirsty or it was that good.......probably a mixture of both. It was interesting eating a Spring Bowl. I could remember the times watching my mom and my aunt sitting at the table making Spring Rolls at home while I sat there as a kid and just picked away at the noodles they had prepared in a bowl, sneaking a couple shrimp here and there, all this time I could have saved them time by putting it all in a bowl instead of having them make Spring Rolls. It's a concept that sounds so simple I'm surprised it took this long to come to fruition. One of my friends wasn't sure about the Spring Bowl but I was a fan of it. I can see how some people will prefer a Spring Roll over a Bowl or vice versa. They both have their benefits and ultimately the rice paper isn't going to make much difference to the overall taste of the product.

We all left with very positive thoughts on SpringRo. The people who live and work in that area of town will be very excited when they are finally able to try out the product on Monday. I think SpringRo is going to be a winner if they can maintain great customer service, a good fresh product and stay consistent.

Be on the look out folks. SpringRo opens Monday, August 3rd at 11 am. Give this delicious Vietnamese food a try and let me know what you think! I'll for sure be going back this week when they officially open.

Happy Dining!

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Walts Sports Bar: Chicken and Noodles

- Thursday, July 30, 2015 No Comments
Many bars around Wichita have advertised food specials. They have steak night, burger night, taco tuesdays, but one special I was made aware of I just had to try.

It was for Wednesday night's at Walt's Great American Sports Bar and Grill. They have a Wednesday special of Homemade Chicken & Noodles for $7.99. It's a breast of chicken & egg noodles served over mashed potatoes & buttermilk biscuit.

A couple friends were up at Walt's one evening and told me about the special. I love me some chicken and noodles so it only made sense I went.

Walt's Great American Sports Bar and Grill is located at 7732 E Central in Piccadilly Square right at Central and Rock. They are open from 11 am - 2 am everyday but food is only served until 10 pm. You can check out their website for their menu and food specials: http://www.waltsbarandgrill.com/index.html

I saw some other friends while I was up there and they too mentioned they heard that the Chicken and Noodles were great. Oddly enough, everybody I spoke with said that's what they heard but nobody had actually try it. I didn't mind being the first since everybody else ordered burgers that night.


When the bowl of food came out, I was like "Hey, what's up, hello?" The bowl was a huge monstrosity and the picture doesn't do it justice. The bowl was probably around a foot long in circumference and enough to feed 17 to 38 people. It really was a heaping portion of food and unlike other places that charge around $8 for a bowl of food and give you a tiny little bowl.

I really like black pepper doused all over my chicken and noodles so I added much more than what is seen in the picture.

Right dead center in the bowl of food was a big healthy scoop of mashed potatoes. It looked very visually appealing and smelled fantastic. But how did it taste?

The noodles were amazing. I'm a huge fan of the thick egg noodles and the noodles included in the meal reminded me of the Reames Noodles found in stores; my favorite. The Chicken and Noodles wasn't too brothy and there was a very generous amount of chicken cut up in the bowl.

As for taste, the noodles were great, the chicken was good and the mashed potatoes were about average. I could see why though people talk about Walt's Chicken and Noodles. For the most part, I would say it was great. They are much better than average but at the same time for those people who love to compare restaurant food to home cooked meals (which is almost never fare), Walt's Chicken and Noodles is not as good as the ones home cooked in my experiences. Let me rephrase, Walt's Chicken and Noodles is not as good as the ones home cooked by other people besides me in my experiences.

For $7.99, I was very pleased with what I got as would most of  you readers out there. Plus if you're in the mood for a drink, there's that option too. The service is great there; I've never had an issue there before.

Just make sure you allow yourself time to nap after the meal. It's that filling.

Happy Dining!

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Newport Grill Sunday Brunch Buffet Review

- Tuesday, July 28, 2015 No Comments
As a fan of buffets and as a fan of Sunday brunches, I feel it's only right I should start covering more brunch buffets in town.

One of the more popular ones I've been told about and have never been to is Newport Grill. (Newport's website).

Newport Grill's Sunday Brunch Buffet runs from 10 am - 2 pm. It is $21.95 for adults and $7.95 for children ages 5-10.

All non-alcoholic beverages are included in brunch except: Cappuccino Espresso Latte Virgin Bloody Mary Virgin Strawberry Daiquiri Virgin Pina Colada. According to their website, the menu includes: House Cured Scottish Salmon, Peel and Eat Cold Spiced Shrimp, Fresh Fruit Platter, Zesty Pasta’,s Fresh Salad’s, Home Made Biscuits and Gravy, Crispy Bacon and Smoked Sausage, Whipped Potatoes, Seafood Paella, French Green Beans, Omelet Station, Carving Station, Waffle Station, Assorted Dessert Bar.

A friend and I decided to go check it out this past weekend and my cousin along with her family stopped by as well to get in their thoughts.

Newport Grill has long been one of my favorite restaurants. I've done a couple reviews on them before so honestly, expectations were high for this brunch. They layout was quite spectacular; they truly had plenty of options to choose from.





The pictures above are a basic visual of what you can expect from the brunch buffet at Newport Grill. There's plenty more than what is shown above like eggs, bacon, waffles, etc.

When we stopped by around 11 am, it was not too busy and moving up and down the buffet lines were quick.

As with any buffet you go to, there are items that will be a big hit, items that are ok and items that are not your cup of tea. Surprisingly the biggest favorite of not just my table but my cousin's table were the cinnamon rolls; they were truly a taste to behold. They weren't too gooey; just right and perfect. Every single person who tried it, loved them. That and the fruit was a favorite; very fresh.

Among the favorites between my friend and I were the waffles, the seafood paella, and cocktail shrimp. The seafood paella was excellent. Between the spices, shrimp and rice, it was all a blended slice of heaven. The prime rib was a little tough, the server carving it even had an issue getting it cut at the time we grabbed some. Some other items that did not score well were the spicy shrimp and cous cous, the tenderloin hash and pasta salad. The cous cous for example was overly buttery; it was all you could taste. The hash and pasta salad were both dry as well. The salmon was about average to us, not much flavor to it.





My cousin and her family had a different experience than us. They really loved the cheesy potatoes, the shrimp and the salmon. They also sampled all the dessert and liked everything they had exceptfor the cheesecake.

Please note, my favorite dessert in Wichita, the Banana Bread Pudding was not available during the brunch.


$5 Mimosas
One thing we did not get to try was the Omelet Station. While eavesdropping on the servers talk to other tables, it looks as though you had to order omelets through your server. This was something servers were telling other tables. Oddly enough, they did not tell our table; nor did they tell my cousin's table. That's a strike in my book.

Overall opinions were mixed upon the group. My cousin and her family felt this is the best Sunday brunch buffet they've been to out of all the ones they've tried. She plans on going again in the future. Keep in mind, I didn't tell her about the Omelet Station and she probably won't know until she reads this.

My friend felt this was average to slightly below it.

I was really mixed. There were a lot of average items and a lot of really good items. I'd probably go again in the future but it'll probably be a while until I do again. It probably wouldn't be my first choice.

I usually have great service at Newport but this time the service was a little spotty. Maybe just based on past experiences, my expectations may have been a little high. I guess overall I was just a little disappointed with my experience but that's just my opinion. Keep in mind my cousin felt like it's the best brunch buffet she's been to.

So if you go, go with an open mind. The price is about on par with most brunch buffets in town. Definitely get a cinnamon roll and just take small samples of everything until you find something you like.

Happy Dining!

Quick Hits 7/24/15: Wingapalooza, Doo-Dah Diner, Food Trucks and more

- Friday, July 24, 2015 No Comments
Last weekend of the month, you know what that means.

Food Trucks at the Fountains. 


This is by far the biggest food truck event they've had this year. According to Denise Neil, the list of food trucks include:
 B.S. Sandwich Press, RT's Hot Pit, Big Chill Ice Cream,The Brown Box Bakery, Charlie's Pizza Taco Wichita, Chino's Parrilla, Falling Star Concessions, Funky Monkey Munchies, Funky Monkeys Shaved Ice, Hopperoni Express, The Kamayan Truck, Kind Kravings, Kona Ice, Let'm Eat Br├Ąts, Lynn's Curbside Cookout, Mr Natural Soul Kitchen, Ms. Tosha's Chicken, Noble House Hawaiian Plate Lunch, Smallcakes Wichita, Strada by Luciano's, Sunflower Espresso and The Flying Stove.

It's going to be a brutal 100 degrees this weekend so make sure you drink plenty of fluids. I went last month and the lines were long in the 90 degree weather. I'm interested to see how the turnout is for this weekend.

If you'd like to see what the event is about, check out my two previous blogs about Food Trucks at the Fountains:
Food Trucks at the Fountains: What to Expect
Food Trucks at the Fountains: What to Expect Part 2

I'm still back and forth on whether I want to go because the next bullet point has me intrigued as well.....

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Doo-Dah Diner is starting up a Sunday breakfast buffet that will take place once a month.

They will be having it this Sunday, July 26 from 8 am to 2 pm. It's $19.99 for adults and $9.99 for kids 4-10.

I'm sure they will be drawing a huge crowd that morning as well.

Speaking of crowds, if you hadn't heard Doo-Dah Diner now features call ahead seating. Timirie Shibley at Doo-Dah gave me the heads up a while ago and it is sure to save everybody lots of time.

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Missing the Wichita By E.B. Q&A Series?

We are in the works of locking down another interview soon! Be on the look out for it.
 
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Wingapalooza takes place on August 15th.

Anybody going?

What is Wingaplooza? According to the site:
SMG and INTRUST Bank Arena are pleased to introduce Wingapalooza on Saturday, Aug. 15, 2015 at INTRUST Bank Arena. The one-of-a-kind event will feature Wichita-area restaurants and chefs showcasing their best wings. Wingapalooza will take place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the main arena floor and will include all-you-can-eat wings, The Samuel Adams Beer Garden featuring select local craft beer options, and entertainment and music from a live DJ. Fans will have the opportunity to sample unique chicken wing recipes from the more than 20 restaurants and local chefs who will be showcasing their culinary flare and craft and competing for the best chicken wings in Wichita. Participating restaurants and chefs will vie for two awards at the event: a People’s Choice Award or “Lord of the Wings” and a Judge’s Choice Award.

Tickets are $20 in advance at $25 at the door.

If you're a big fan of wings, this could be the spot for you on August 15th at 11 am. Let's just hope this event is organized better than Ribfest and Baconfest.

Want to get tickets?

Head here.

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We've had some pretty popular write ups that have received lots of reads lately. Feel free to catch up on the following blogs!

The Best Ten Burgers in Wichita Countdown! (#1-10) - Over 17,000 people have read this making this our most popular blog ever!

First Look at Molino's East 37th Street Location
First Look at Hurts Donut
and lastly the return of Dining by the Alphabet:
 

Happy Dining!

Dining By the Alphabet: Letter W: Wichita Fish Company

- Thursday, July 23, 2015 No Comments

Many of the very original readers of the blog will be familiar with Dining by the Alphabet. It's where we started off with Letter A. Chose a restaurant that begin with A, then went on to B, then C, and so on. Each restaurant was graded on a scale from 1-5 with 5 being the highest. Last we left off, we completed Letter V and by basic preschool education that means we are now at Letter W!

For Letter W, we head to 1601 W Douglas where Wichita Fish Company has been located at for many years.

According to their website, they have the largest variety of seafood in the state of Kansas. If you are a seafood lover and have tried seafood in and around the area, chances are you've already eaten our seafood since we provide most of the seafood to local area restaurants.

They are open Monday 11 am - 7 pm, Tuesday - Saturday 11 am - 8 pm and closed on Sundays. They also have a location in Haysville. For all the information on Wichita Fish Company including their menu, head over to http://wichitafishcompany.com/.

On this Dining by the Alphabet adventure, I was joined by my friend Kate who has previously been to Wichita Fish Company as have I. She's a first time reviewer on the Dining by the Alphabet series.

We went on a Friday early evening and was able to beat the dinner crowd before it started getting busy. One time I'd recommend not going is on Friday's during Lent. I went once and literally a line out of the door.

Walking in they had a huge assortment of items to choose from on their menu. From the tilapia to the ahi tuna to the mahi-mahi, I really didn't know what to choose from. So I asked the lady at the counter what the most popular item to order was. She recommended me the Southern Style Catfish Fillet. I went ahead and ordered that along with some (fried) calamari rings.

Kate went with the Cajun Catfish which was off of the "From the Grill" menu along with some fries because she doesn't believe in eating vegetables from a place whose specialty is fried and serves everything in to go boxes. She also ordered a side of popcorn shrimp.

From the point of ordering our food to receiving our food, it took around 15-20 minutes. Everything looked really delectable when it arrived.



Starting with Kate's meal She thought the catfish was seasoned really well. Not every bite was overly spicy which she liked. She orders Cajun catfish basically everywhere that serves it and she feels that Wichita Fish Company's is the best so far. She was a huge fan of the hush puppies and felt they were DELICIOUS. It's a must that I type that with all caps. The popcorn shrimp was better than average but not "to die for". She really liked the aioli sauce served with her meal. I second the popcorn shrimp comments. They were good but not something I'd brag about to people. Her one complain was that they put the grilled catfish on the fries which caused the fries to be really soggy.



Moving on to my meal, my main focus was on the actual catfish. Fries were nothing really special; I'm not particularly a fan of hush puppies; and coleslaw is coleslaw to me. I'll eat it all the time but I have no major opinion on it unless its fancy like jalapeno coleslaw. After a few bites in, I knew I really liked it. The breading was done so lightly that the catfish was still pretty fluffy. It broke apart easily that made it not taste so "bready" as with many other places. Sometimes when eating fried catfish, it taste so fried that it sits heavy on you. Such was not the case with the catfish filet at Wichita Fish Company. The aioli sauce was a fantastic condiment to dip it in. I would go ahead and say this was probably the best catfish I've had in a restaurant in town.

The calamari rings were similar to the popcorn shrimp in the fact that while they were good, it was nothing overly special. Would I order it again? Yes as I'm a fan of calamari.

Overall the food was really exceptional in both of our opinions. For the two meals and two extra sides, it cost around $34 which isn't bad for a Friday evening dinner. It's an even better value considering the quality of the meal we had.

The service was almost non-existent after we got our food. They take your order, bring you your order and that was about it. If you ordered a water or iced tea, they had pitchers at a table you could serve yourself. It's almost to be expected at a place like that to keep overhead low. The service wasn't bad at all but as Kate said it also was not overly exceptional.

In closing, we both left as big fans of Wichita Fish Company.

That brings us to rating time. Kate decided to give Wichita Fish Company a 4.5 out of 5. After sleeping on it and tossing and turning on what to give. I too gave them a 4.5 which gives Wichita Fish Company a final rating of 4.5.

From the food and the value of it all, I would easily recommend Wichita Fish Company to anybody. It's not the big upscale place that Newport Grill or Bonefish Grill are. It's a low key, hidden gem as their site says, that anybody can go to and feel comfortable eating at in whatever they are wearing.

I look forward to going back again soon..............just not on a Friday during Lent.

Lastly, I'd like to thank Kate on joining me for Letter W. Next up is Letter X, that is if there is an X. If not, then we move on to Letter Y.

Happy Dining!

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Lina's Mexican Restaurant Review

- Monday, July 20, 2015 No Comments

There's another player in the game when it comes to Mexican restaurants on the Northeast side of town. On Wednesday, July 15, Lina's Mexican Restaurant opened it's doors at 3570 N Woodlawn in the space formerly occupied by Walt's and Smashburger.

After completing the Best Wichita Burger Project, I'm very grateful a third burger spot didn't attempt to fill the space. Not sure when I'll be able to eat another burger again.

Little to my knowledge, Lina's is a regional chain based out of Omaha. While I'm not a fan of many things "Omaha", I was willing to go into Lina's with an open mind.

Lina's other locations are open 24 hours a day but the Wichita based site played it smart to gauge interest and are open from 6 am to Midnight. They feature carryout, dine-in and a drive-thru. Their menu consists of many popular Mexican items, combination platters, and an all day breakfast menu. I have their menu posted at the end of this blog.

For those of you who went to the ill-fated Walts or Smashburger, not much has changed inside. Some of the colors inside stayed the same and they've put up a sombrero and a poncho on the wall to give it a Mexican feel if you could say that. But Lina's is more of a quick service Mexican restaurant so we won't judge them on appearance.


On my first visit, I was on my way home from work and decided to swing in real quick for a bite which turned into multiple bites. Their large menu made it tough for me to narrow down exactly what I wanted. Eventually I ended up on the burrito/enchilada combination plate and ordered a Carne Asada taco on the side.

If you dine in, you get complimentary chips and a selection of salsas from their salsa bar.



The chips were decent quality. They weren't very crunch but also not "easily break apart soft" if that could be deemed a proper description for a chip. Of the three salsas, my favorite was the mild green salsa which had a great flavor to it. I ended up using it on almost everything I ate. The hot salsa was fairly spicy although I can see how others would find it too spicy. Overall, I was a fan of the salsa bar.

While I was eating my chips, it probably took less than 10 minutes for my food to come out.



It looks as though most of the items are all prepared ahead of time so whether taste and flavor was lost during that time remained to be determined and I was ready to find out.

The Carne Asada taco was really good. While the meat was a tad on the overcooked side, I still loved the tomatos, onions, peppers, and seasonings all topped with the guacamole. I even added in some of the spicy salsa for additional kick. The taco alone could probably be filling if you ordered a side with it. I was a big fan of it.

Next up on the combination, the beans were more "meh" to me. They just didn't do it for me and I may have had a couple spoonfuls of them. The rice was nice, nothing special, just fairly basic.

Of the burrito and the enchilada, my favorite of the two was easily the enchilada. I liked the enchilada sauce used on it and the shredded beef was well seasoned. The burrito on the other hand was not my cup of tea. The tortilla was very hard and the plastic utensils supplied with the meal almost broke just cutting into the burrito which seemed to be more tortilla than meat and additional toppings inside. Each bite I took was nearly all tortilla. I ended up throwing half of it away.

Between the tacos, chips and enchilada, I was happy with all those three items. The burrito was a major bummer and something I wouldn't be ordering again.

My friends and I went a separate day and to give some quick thoughts:

Carne Asada Taco Plate

Adobada Plate

Carne Asada Burrito
I had the Abodaba Plate and didn't use any of the tortillas. It was pretty good but nothing special when it came down to it. Both friends who had the Carne Asada Burrito and Taco were pleased with their meals but felt them to be average.

The prices are fair for the combination plates; it'll run you around $8-9 for one of the plates. The service is VERY quick in my experiences. You can get in and out in 30 minutes easily which makes it a perfect lunch destination if you're in the area.

While it may give a fast food vibe, Lina's is a place I'd go to again because it's quick and convenient. Sometimes you just need that compared to the long sit and wait times others have. The food isn't beyond spectacular or the most authentic you can get so if you're ok with that than Lina's can be a great spot for you. I'd compare it to a Alejandro's over on South Rock Road. The food is VERY similar.

The service there though is very friendly. They greet you when you walk in and if they aren't too busy, they'll thank you for coming as you leave.

In conversations with other friends I did not to go Lina's with, opinions were mixed. One friend told me the rolled tacos were average while another friend told me the chicken tacos were pretty darn tasty, juicy and flavorful.

Lina's is probably going to get a lot of mixed reviews from people but it won't be one of those places someone is going to call the best Mexican food in town. Remember: quick and convenient. Otherwise there's not much else that Lina's does that separates themselves from the competition.

Happy Dining.

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