Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Quick Hits: 11/15/11: Ziggy's Pizza, Chick-Fil-A, Jerseys

Haven't had one of these in a while, have we?

 
Let's get to it. Bulletpoints, please start us off:
  • There's a new pizza place headed to the College Hill area. It's called Ziggy's Pizza. It'll be located in the former Bay Leaf Cafe at Clifton Square. I've spoken to the two brothers who will be opening the restaurant and they're currently getting everything up and ready to go, working on the type of pizzas, etc. They are working hard for a possible December opening. I can't think of one sit down pizza spot in that area so I'm definitely looking forward to it. I'll be there for the opening so I can give a full review. Stay tuned folks!
  • There is a grill and bar going into the old Johnny Carino's building over at K-96 and Webb. It's called Jerseys Grill and Bar and it'll be open tentatively December 2nd. The restaurant will seat 181 people nad a couple 11-inch screen projectors. They'll have your traditional bar fare. I wish them the best of luck but I must admit, that location is VERY spotty.
  • I have had a report that a restaurant located near 37th and Rock Road could be closing soon. I won't mention the name of it until I can verify it. Stay tuned.
  • Sit & Thai Bistro reopened at Central and Oliver in the old Taco Shop spot. I REALLY have to go try it at least once.
  • Has anybody been to the Sombrero's Mexican Food restaurant on Lincoln between Rock and Woodlawn? Just wondering.
And some big news for you Chick-Fil-A fans: The east side (Central and Rock) Wichita opening is set for February 23rd. I drive by this on my way home everyday so it's been cool to see the progress that has been made there thus far.

Happy Dining All!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Special Dining Report: Ah-So Oriental Restaurant

It's probably no secret by now that I love Asian food. Korean, Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese, Japanese, I love it all. I'm always game to try out new places and compare it to other spots I've been to in Wichita. One of my friends has always recommended a place out on the south side of Wichita (not too far out south though).

Ah-So Oriental Restaurant
855 South Oliver Street
Wichita, KS 67218-2328
(316) 685-2091

It's a tiny little place at the northwest corner of Lincoln and Oliver right by a laundry mat and liquor store. It's very tiny inside. Using my healthy eyes approved by Dr. Greyson Barger with Opticology Eyecare, I was able to count that there were four 4-tops and five 2-tops. So the place seats roughly 22 people. The size of the seating area is probably smaller than the gift shop at Koch Arena.



I've fallen in love with ginger dressing
I wasn't able to locate a webpage for Ah-So nor was I really expecting them to have one but I did manage to find a picture of their menu on UrbanSpoon: Menu

There were about three employees inside who were all extremely friendly. I immediately spotted their salad with ginger dressing and ordered that before looking at the rest of the menu. The salad ran about $2.80 and is just like the salad you get at Sumo's but at around half the cost. Very delicious. I'd order this every time!

Their menu has many of your Asian food staples from Pepper Steak to Lemon Chicken to Moo Goo Gai Pan. My friend who highly recommends this place told me Sweet and Sour Chicken which comes with rice and 2 mandu. He's also had their Sesame Chicken and Chicken Chow Mein. He's a huge fan. 
 
Absolutely Delicious!
I wanted to go a different route and try something new. One thing that caught my eye was #23 Cha Jing Mein. I asked my server what that was and she told me it was a soft noodle meal but it was cooked with a dark brown soy bean paste. She said it's not for everyone but was nice enough to give me a sample of the soy bean paste to try separately. The taste intrigued me so I went ahead and ordered it. It came with shrimp, pork and chicken. Once it came out, I mixed up the noodles and the paste a little and bit into it. Good stuff. I'm not sure if everybody would like it but if you like soy bean paste, you would like this meal. The serving size was very big and came with two mandu. What is mandu you ask? Mandu, for the most part, is a triangle shaped eggroll. You can look at the picture for what it looks like. The Mandu was fantastic and a great way to end my meal.

While eating my meal, the lady who cooked the meal asked from the back how I liked it. I gave her my thoughts and she came out of the kitchen and we just talked for a bit. Very nice and friendly lady. She seemed very into whether I enjoyed it.

All the meals run between $5-6, about what you'd pay at say Dillon's or any other fast food Chinese spot. The only exception is that they cook it fresh for you and it taste much better. Plus you get friendly service and a very nice little building. I was told their rice is very good but didn't get a chance to try it; I was way too stuffed.

This is definitely a place I'd consider going to again and highly recommend to you all. It's worth the drive. For the price, quality of food and service, you can't beat it.

Dining by the Alphabet: Letter P

Every now and then, it's good to get outside of your comfort zone. Humans are creatures of habit. Some people when they go out to eat only order the same thing. Some people will only eat at the same place or from a list of a couple places.

I know one person that anytime he goes to Wasabi, he'll always order a spicy salmon roll. Or that same person will always order the Outback Special at Outback Steakhouse. Or when he goes to Oeno, he'll always order a grape vodka press. Or when he goes to McDonald's, he'll only order the McRib (and if it's not in, he'll leave). Oh wait....... that entire paragraph is me.

For Letter P, I wanted to try something different. Go to a place I've never been before. Go to a place, I'm not sure if 90% of my friends have been to. Try some food that I'm not really familiar with. So that brings us to our choice for Letter P:

Passage to India
6100 E. 21st St
Wichita, KS

the hours are 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. for the buffet Tuesdays through Sundays, 5 to 9:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays, 5 to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 5 to 9 p.m. Sundays.

My guest diner for this go around was Jenny. She's a first time guest diner and also new to Indian food.

Passage to India recently moved to its new location which is in the same little area as Spangles, Subway and some little club that has 3 for 1's on Tuesday. Never been to or heard of the club before but 3 for 1's??? That brings me back to the Kelly's Irish Pub on Wednesday nights in college!

The moment you walk in, the place is very well maintained. The decor was what I expected to be inside an Indian restaurant. They had one TV on with what looked like India's version of MTV. Based on the music selection that was playing, there was no Beiber Fever going on!



When stepping inside, I had no idea what Indian food really is. Admittedly, Jenny was pretty scared as her original impression of Indian food wasn't good. I know they have lots of dishes that have the word "curry" in it. I don't know what it is. Jenny googled it and we still couldn't figure out what it was.

Our server came up, greeted us, brought us out some waters and presented the menus. He was very friendly and would remain that way throughout the night. Always making sure everything was ok, our drinks were refilled, etc. He answered any question we had and never looked annoyed by the insanely amount of questions we had.


You can't get these at Wendy's!
 We wanted to start off with an appetizer and he made a couple suggestions for us. I think we wanted to go with something "safe" just in case the entree we ordered we didn't like too much. We ordered the #5) Chicken Pakora (breast of chicken stripes. with homemade butter) their chicken strips which looked like spicy chicken nuggets. Jenny's initial reaction was that it tasted like a gizzard. I was kind of weirded out by the taste at first. It didn't taste like chicken; the feel was too tender. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed it; it was not bad but the texture shocked me originally. The chicken strips came with two different sauces: a garlic type sauce and a sweet and sour sauce. We both agreed the sweet and sour sauce was much better.


What's with the inky, dinky silverware heads?
This isn't Chunky Soup.....
Now it was time to order an entree. I looked through it all and wanted to order something from the lamb/beef portion of the menu while Jenny was going to stick to the chicken side. Based on our server's suggestions, Jenny went with the #45 Chicken Tikka Masala (boneless chicken sautéed with tomatoes and light cream curry) with mild sauce. I went with the #34 Palak Ghost (lamb cooked with fresh spinach) with medium sauce. All entrees were offered mild, medium or hot. Both items also came with a bowl of rice.
Our entrees came on in a timely manner. Jenny's dinner was something she had never seen before (I was the same way with mine). We both had no idea what to expect and the meals weren't what we envisioned them being. The serving styles are those like P.F. Changs. It comes out in a separate bowls and people can share meals together. Jenny's meal looked like tomato soup with chunks of chicken in it. Her first bite she mentioned was scary but after a few bites later and combining it with rice; it wasn't so bad. She was pretty full after eating half of her meal.

When I make my first Science Fiction Alien movie
this will be used as a prop
Now if that meal looked intimidating, mine was a bit worse. The moment it came out, I was thinking to myself, "What did I get myself into?" The lamb mixed in with fresh spinach looked like an alien was shot by a laser gun and the alien disintegrated into what would be known as my meal. Seriously if you're bothered by texture or look of a meal, this may not be the best for you. I came in fully expecting the unexpected so was ready for what was to become. Took my spoon and cut a piece of lamb in half, mixed it in with the spinach. First bite in....... WOW it was spicier than I thought. That first bite required some water but after that I was ready for the spiciness. Second bite in, I thought to myself, "Hey this isn't too bad." After a while, I started to enjoy my meal. I just had to get over the "weirdness" of it all. I wasn't a big fan of the rice, it was too hard and dry but I guess that's the style of rice they serve. I finished about 3/4's of my meal before I was full.

For those of you who haven't tried Indian food, I'd recommend it at least once. Jenny and I were talking and we're not sure if we'd ever return again. Not cause it wasn't bad, but it just wasn't our thing. I did notice they have a full lunch buffet during the week and that could be a good time for any of you to give it a try. You could sample a bunch of different items.

Rice, Rice, Baby
Like I said, the service was spot on. The prices were comparable to many dinner establishments. Both entrees ranged around $11-13 and the appetizer was in the $6 ball park, I forget. The total bill of the meal not including tip came out to be $31 and some change.

Jenny thought about her review overnight. She told me the next day she ended up giving Passage to India a 3. I eventually went with a 3.5. I went back and forth on 3 and 3.5 but settled on the 3.5. My deciding factors went to I'm not sure if the meal was worth the price paid. The service was great and the food quality unfortunately wasn't my thing; nor was it Jenny's. So the final score for Passage to India. 3.25

I'll be taking the week off again as I'll be heading down to Puerto Rico to see the Shockers play in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off Tournament. For those wanting to watch, it's on ESPNU this Thursday at 6:30 pm CST. After that, it all depends on whether we win or lose.

Up next on the Alphabet is Letter Q. I'm sure there will be an abundance of suggestions for when I return.
Happy Dining All!

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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

November = Shockers Basketball!

It's November. You know what that means right?

Tomorrow is National Deviled Egg Day! So I urge you all to whip up some of your favorite Deviled Eggs recipe and snack on them all day. There are some places in Wichita that sell deviled eggs like Dillons and Wal-Mart. I've been to Redrock Canyon Grill in Wichita and noticed they have deviled eggs on their menu but have never had them? I wonder if they are any good.

More importantly, November means basketball season. With the NBA lockout taking place (which I'm probably one of a handful of people in Wichita that care), that puts more emphasis on College Basketball. And there's only one college basketball team that matters to me: Wichita State.

As a season ticket holder with a couple of my friends, we're all really excited for what the season holds. After last season's struggles which ended with an NIT Championship, it'll be interesting to see how the team fares with the losses of Graham Hatch, Aaron Ellis, Gabe Blair, JT Durley and even Derek Brown. I had a chance to stop by Midnight Madness last week to watch the team scrimmage for a bit and saw some good, some bad. It's hard to gauge how a team will fare based on a 40 minute scrimmage where they are playing each other. Many guys had flashes where you ooh'ed and ah'ed. For those of you who don't know, the first exhibition game is Tuesday, November 8th. Aka, next week. So get your tickets and the following Sunday, the 13th is our first regular season game against Charleston Southern.

Is it sad I'm actually getting goosebumps writing this?

Then it gets even better. 16 days from now, the true test comes. The Puerto Rico Tip-Off Challenge takes place in, you guessed it, Puerto Rico. Five of my buddies and I will be headed down there to root the Shox on to victory. Who knows, maybe I'll stay there if I like it. PuertoRicoByEB.com is still available to purchase through GoDaddy.

I have high expectations for this upcoming season but some hesitations too. It'll be hard to replace our frontcourt. Garrett Stutz won't be able to do it alone. Carl Hall has the potential to be a monster but James Anacreon, Jake White, and Ehimen Orukpe are going to need to put in some quality minutes to make it work. Joe Ragland needs to go to class. Hopefully Toure Murry's ribs heal properly.

And my only prediction I've been making. When Ron Baker starts getting playing time, he will be a fan favorite. People will love him.

Creighton looks tough to beat with everybody returning. They are the obvious favorite coming out of the MVC. Do I think we stand a chance? Of course. And for once, I want to end my St. Louis trip with a win. It sucks driving home after a loss. And the drive home is looooonnnnnngggggggg!

So with that said, Go Shox! I'm not big on sports blogs or writing them. I think the best sports discussions and gathering viewpoints are over a few beers at a bar.

Still taking suggestions on Letter P. There looks to be a lot of places that start with P that I've never heard of or never been to.