Friday, March 23, 2012

Wichita By E.B.'s Official Review of Chick-fil-A

Ladies and gentlemen, children of all ages…..
Pack your tents…….
Bring your bags……..
Line right up…………
For the eagerly awaited, highly anticipated, ground breaking, day making, earth shattering, always mattering ORIGINAL chicken sandwich.
Occupy Chick-fil-A
STOP! Let’s end the hype right there. Probably the biggest restaurant news to hit Wichita since White Castle briefly came to Wichita (oddly enough in the same area of town too), Chick-fil-A has finally opened its doors to the public. Since I’m in the area, I was able to drive by Wednesday before the opening, the day of the opening and the day after. Let’s just describe the scene with one word: ridiculous. On Wednesday when I drove by, there were tents in the parking lot, people just playing catch, a live flash mob of people doing choreographed dance. I felt like I was watching a live cult in action. All this for just a chicken sandwich? I had to find out for myself what the hype was all about.
The guy in the white shirt is probably saying
"Screw this line, let's go to Popeyes!"
For those that already don’t know, there’s a Chick-fil-A on the Wichita State campus, I’ve been to it just once in my life and never to a free standing Chick-fil-A location. It’s all new to me. Everybody tells me that the regular locations are better than what you can get on campus. Being the adventurous type I was willing to brave the lines and see for myself.
After a few days and letting the popularity subside, I gave it a go. Drove by Tuesday for lunch and saw a line of probably 30-40 cars and decided to get my chicken at Popeye’s. Gave it another go on Wednesday and saw another line of the same amount of cars. I figured I could always blow some time and go inside. Found a great parking spot; avoided being hit by cars and hopped in line. The line ran outside of the building and it was starting to sprinkle…..just my luck. All this for just a chicken sandwich. As it started to rain, many employees brought out a little tent for people to stand under. It was very nice of them to do so.
Once I was inside, I glanced over the menu trying to decide what to get. I grabbed some suggestions off of Facebook and Twitter since I’m a man and inherently cannot make decisions for myself. I would go with the spicy chicken sandwich, fries and 12 pc nuggets. Yes I was ready to gorge myself with food.  The line of people probably ran about thirty plus people but with 5-6 cashiers going at the same time, the line moved rather quickly. Much better decision than the drive-thru even though there are two lanes.
The prices are comparable to what you would see at any fast food restaurant for a meal. I broke mine all out since I am not drinking pop. Sandwich was about $3, large size fries were a little under $2 and the 12 pc nuggets were $4. A regular meal of a sandwich, fries and a drink will run $5-6. I wanted to try the popular items everybody was telling me to just in case I never went again. From the moment of ordering to receiving food, it was about 5-7 minutes. Not too bad for how busy the place is. There were probably just as many employees working as there were customers. (Highly exaggerated but there were a lot of employees working when I stopped by).
Moment of truth. I started off with their waffle fries. First thought was I should have ordered a medium size; the large was well……large. The waffle fries were good; they weren’t overcooked or smothered in grease. I liked how there wasn’t a crunchy feel to them which many waffle fries tend to have especially in bars. They were good fries but I’d still rank Arby’s curly fries, McDonald’s fries, Spangles fries, Barn’rds fries, Freddy’s Frozen Custard skinny fries and even Wendy’s new sea salt fries over Chick-fil-A’s waffle fries. So there are definitely better options out there for fries.
Now on to the spicy chicken sandwich. First few bites and I already knew it’d be delicious. It had a fresher taste than say McDonald’s spicy chicken sandwich. My main complaint is the bun was pretty greasy. I don’t like it when my bun has more grease than John Travolta’s hair while singing “Grease Lightning”. Regardless, the sandwich was very good and possibly the best chicken sandwich you can get at a fast food restaurant. It had a good flavor to it, not too much breading, not overcooked…..all in all just a good chicken sandwich.
By this time I was starting to get full but had to move on to the 12 pc nuggets…..well 11 since I gave one away. Generous, I know. The look of the nuggets through me off. I was expecting it to look like the Tyson brand you buy at the grocery stores or something like McDonald’s, Wendy’s or Burger King. Nope. They looked a little smaller than usual. I had two dipping sauces, bbq and Chick-fil-A sauce. They offered other types but I was in a rush when my cashier rattled off all the sauces she had. So I opened up the two sauces and went to work. Don’t be fooled by the size of the nugget. It packs more punch and can fill you up. There’s a lot of meat inside each nugget. Lots of flavor and it was to the point I didn’t want the sauce. I think more so because I just didn’t like their bbq or Chick-fil-A sauce. Next time, I’ll try different sauces.
Did I like Chick-fil-A? Yes. It was very good and decently valued. Is it worth waiting in line for? Probably not. I’ll say that going inside may be less of a wait then the drive-thru method. If you’re in a rush for lunch, don’t go to Chick-fil-A. Getting in and out of the parking lot may take more time than actually waiting in line, ordering and receiving your food. By no means is Chick-fil-A the greatest thing in the world and worth all the hype. I would say that there is no better fast food chicken sandwich currently in Wichita but let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. I’d compare Chick-fil-A to LeBron James. Both very very good but not the greatest ever. Too much hype with zero championships to back it up with.
Once you go, I bet you’ll be happy with Chick-fil-A. Just don’t waste a lot of time and go through a big hassle just to get it. Definitely try the nuggets. When you go, make sure you order, not one, not two, not three, not four……….
Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook
Chick-fil-A on Urbanspoon

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Dining by the Alphabet: Letter U: Usuloteca

Well college basketball has kept me busy and I think I’m finally over the Shocker basketball loss so I can now write this up for you all. Letter U……many of you by now know where we want so let’s get on to business.

Usuluteco Restaurant
1714 East Northern Street  Wichita, KS 67216
(316) 409-3820

Usuluteco Restaurant is what I believe to be the only Salvadoran restaurant in Wichita. They serve a wide range of authentic Salvadoran food. Curious what exactly is Salvadoran food? I wikipedia’d it and this is what I found: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salvadoran_cuisine

Usuluteco is located on the south side of Wichita near Hydraulic and Pawnee. It’s kind of off the beaten path so make sure you Google map it or something. Upon walking inside the place wasn’t too busy. Inside the building, there is 4 free standing tables that seat four to six people, 4 booths that seat the same and 11 seats at the bar.



The departments of El Salvador
I was kindly greeted by an older gentleman. Since I was the first person in my group to arrive I striked up a conversation with the man and he told me they’ve been around for about 7-8 years. I asked him where the name Usuluteco came from and he walked me towards a map they had up of El Salvador. Quick history and geography lesson folks. El Salvador is split up into many different departments or as we U.S. citizens could compare it to, “states”. Usulutan is one of them. It’s actually the largest of the departments with a population of 350,000. It was founded in 1865 when all of you were still not in existence….well I have one friend that may have been born at the time. He’s old. Anyways, Usuluteco’ s name derives from that department in El Salvador.

Shortly after, my group of six other friends arrived. One of them is less than a year old so she would not be participating in our authentic dinner. My official guest diner for Usuluteco was Emily. She’s been with us for Marchello’s officially but has joined me in many other dinners.

Once we were all seated, most of the guys at the group ordered a round of beers from Usuluteco’s authentic offerings of Caribbean beers. I went with the Estrella Damn just because it had the word damn in it and I could say it over and over without it being profanity. It said Barcelona on it so I’m assuming it’s from Spain unless there’s a Barcelona, Delaware or Michigan…….

The ever so delicious pupusas.
The one thing I heard is a must order is their pupusas. They are thick handmade stuffed corn tortillas filled with a variety of ingredients. We went with their revueltas pupusas which is filled with ground pork mixed with cheese. It runs $5.85 and comes with three. It’s served with a side of pickled cabbage that you can place on top and hot sauce if you want it. These were absolutely delicious. I share Emily’s sentiment that if you ever go, you must try the pupusas. She said next time she goes she would just get the pupusas. They could make a great meal if you had enough to eat. Can’t stress enough that this was probably the highlight of the meal. By the way, this is not foreshadowing of a bad review.

Pickled cabbage for the pupusas.

Next up was our decision for what to eat. I asked our server who was also the kind older gentlemen what to order and he mentioned the top five items on their Platillos Especiales were their most popular. With that said I went with the “Bistec Encebollado” (top sirloin steak topped with onions, tomato and green peppers). Emily went with the "Pollo Guisada" (sautéed chicken carrots and potatoes). All meals were served with rice, beans and two tortillas. Both meals ran $8.49. All other meals on the Platillos Especiales list were either $8.49 or $9.99.

Bistec Encebollado
Pollo Guisada
After a while, the food came out. Everybody’s first bite was the rice. It was estrella DAMN good rice. Some of the best rice I’ve ever had in a restaurant and if you know me…..I know my rice. Other commented on how delicious the rice was. If the United States ever decided to get rid of the letter N, I’d recommend “R” to double up as letters, “N” and “R” because that would make the rice at Usuluteco really rice. Emily mentioned the chicken in her meal was all dark meat which she was cool with but others might not like. She liked that the food had a Latin flair but wasn’t overpoweringly Mexican…not a lot of cumin or cilantro. She felt that the tortillas were not what she was expecting as they weren’t really thick and not like traditional Mexican tortillas at all. She wasn’t a big fan of the non-pupusa tortilla. Admittedly, I don’t even think I tried their tortilla. Once I started on the rice, I went directly to the top sirloin steak which was mixed in a sauce with onions, tomatoes and green peppers. Really really good stuff. I was able to finish the meal and was stuffed but managed to fit in another pupusa before I threw in the towel.  

Just listening around the table and others opinions on food, they all seemed to enjoy their meals very much and were satisfied with what they ordered. Here are some pics of what others ordered:

Tamales de Pollo
"Chicken Tamale"


Carne Desebrada
"shredded beef with onions and green pepper"

Emily though the experience was really fun. It would be a great place for a first or second date when you are looking for something unusual or new to try. The food is different enough that would have something fun to talk about. Despite being way out west, she would go again.

I liked how I didn’t have to wait in line in the rain to get food like I did at Chick-Fil-A.

The service was a one man show; well two if you include the cook. Business started to pick up a little as the day went on so service was a wee bit slower. But that’s ma and pop restaurants stay alive with their limited family staffing. So we’ll give them a break in that department. Prices were fair and comparable to what you would spend at any other restaurant for a dinner and an appetizer.

That brings us to rating time. Emily decided to give Usuluteco a 3.75 out of 5. (She did mention had she only eaten the Pupusa and rice it would be closer to 4.25). I, on the other hand, gave them a 4.5 out of 5. I liked it all from the food, friendliness of service to the atmosphere which didn’t feel so corporately owned. I felt for a second there I was in Usulután which I’m not sure if you’ve heard, is the largest department in El Salvador. Some of the best beaches located in El Salvador are in Usulután. End of side note. So that gives Usuluteco Restaurant a final score of 4.125. Anything over a 4 is a great score for Wichita By E.B. I think that’s a definite recommendation from us.

I want to thank Emily and the rest of the gang that joined me. Great times as always.

That ends Letter U putting us with only five letters left to end this “over a” year long adventure. Next up is Letter V. Any suggestions anyone?

Before that is likely the official Chick-Fil-A review.

Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook!
Usuluteco Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Big Brothers Big Sisters: Noodles & Company Fundraiser

·   Noodles & Company Fundraiser Tuesday, March 26th 2012, 3300 N. Rock Road
Pass the word (email, Facebook, Twitter) to all of your family and friends to head to Noodles & Company on North Rock Road for dinner on Tuesday, March 26th!  Sedgwick County Big Brothers Big Sister will receive 25% of all food and beverage sales between 5pm – 9pm for anyone who mentions BBBS.  To view the menu, please go to http://www.noodles.com/food/

Friday, March 9, 2012

The Doritos Locos Tacos - Is It Worth the Adventure?

If you hadn't heard, Taco Bell has a new creation out. It's called the Doritos Locos Tacos. The simplest and only way to describe it is it's a taco with a hard taco shell that's really just a big Doritos chip. You read right: a Doritos taco shell.


If you think about it, it's really a novel idea. Kudos to the man or woman who came up with the creation. What's next a Doritos Cooler Ranch taco? Taco Bell could really earn my business if they came out with an Art and Mary's Jalapenos Taco.

The latest creation spawned by the R&D department of Taco Bell was intriguing enough to get me to go inside and purchase two of them. I went for lunch the other day to give it a try. I’m not the biggest fan of Taco Bell so for something to get me to go in there is quite the feat in itself.

Place was busy when I walked inside, at least 10-12 customers already eating. And I am not lying when I say; every single table with a customer had at least one Doritos Locos Tacos on it. Everybody was just as intrigued as I was. The specialty taco runs $1.29 so I went ahead and purchased two. I grabbed some hot sauce and sat down and waited.

....and waited.....

....and waited.
Some dude yells #226!!!!! That's me!

Opened my first one up, poured some hot sauce into it, and took a bite.........taste like a taco. Shocking, I know. I broke off part of the taco shell and it was definitely a Dorito, complete with the feeling of it with the dusty cheese seasoning feel all Doritos have. As I took another bite, you could somewhat tell the taco shell had a different taste to it. The shell for sure tasted better and didn't have the cheap stale quality of a hard taco shell you find at some outlets. On the second taco, I poured less sauce on it to see if I could really tell the difference. Minor change. Overall, I didn't get the "wow" factor I originally had when I heard about the taco.

The taco didn't taste any better than what one could get at a Taco Pronto or Taco Shop, two of the better fast food taco establishments in Wichita in my opinion.

Is it worth a try? Sure. Go buy one and see for yourself. I wasn't blown away but the intrigue was enough to get me to go in. I don't think I'll be going anytime soon to get another one. I think one time was enough for me. And lastly the nutritional information for the taco for you health nuts.


Doritos Locos Tacos
serving size (g) - 78
calories - 170
calories from fat - 80
saturated fat (g) - 3.5
total fat (g) - 9
trans fat (g) - 0
cholesterol (mg) - 25
sodium (mg) - 340
carbohydrates (g) - 13
dietary fiber (g) - 2
sugars (g) - 1
protein (g) - 8

===========================================

Its official Letter U has been completed and I'm currently gathering opinions and writing the blog. That should be out soon.

Otherwise, don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook!  New followers being added on each day

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Wheat State Pizza - Food and Fundraising!

Wheat State Pizza & Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Fundraiser
236 W. Greenway St
Derby, KS 67037
http://derby.wheatstatepizza.com/indexs.php
Menu: http://derby.wheatstatepizza.com/printmenu.php

Who doesn’t love March Madness? I know I do and one of the biggest things I’m looking forward to, outside of the Shockers going to the dance, is filling out my brackets. But did you know, there’s more going on for March Madness than just basketball?


Yes, that is a ventriloquist!

Yessirreebob! I found out on Monday night's from 5-8 pm, there is a pizza buffet at Wheat State Pizza. Not only that, but Wheat State Pizza is helping out the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society at the same time. Not only that but there is live entertainment! How much fun can one ask for?

I've never been to Wheat State Pizza before so this was a great way to try out many of their delicious offerings, help out a great cause, see a ventriloquist in person, and listen to live music. They were also giving away a Blu-ray player, toys and other items. Unfortunately I did not win a single thing but I'm not complaining.

When Tiffany and I arrived, the employees there were all very friendly and helpful. They were quick to ask if there were any particular pizzas we wanted. I looked at the menu and was overwhelmed at the number of specialty pizzas they had. We eventually just told them, we'll be glad to try whatever they had out and would like whatever they suggested.



Throughout the night, they probably had an assortment of 8-10 pizzas out. Seriously if you haven't been to Wheat State Pizza, the buffet is the best way to try it out. They also have "Family Buffet" on Wednesday nights according to their Facebook page.

The pizzas we tried were:
The Farmer (Pepperoni, Pork Sausage, Ham, Beef, Red Onions, Green Bell Peppers, Black Olives, Mushrooms, and Mozzarella)
Pad Thai (Peanut Sauce, Sesame Oil, Cilantro, Siracha, Onions, Chicken, Mozzarella and Crushed Peanuts)
Mediterranean (Pesto Sauce, Spinach, Green Olives, Sun Dried Tomatoes, Feta, and Mozzarella)
Luau (Ham, Pineapple, Spinach, and Mozzarella)
The Hawk N' Cheese (Cream Cheese, Chicken, Red Onions, Green Bell Peppers, Mushrooms, Provolone, and Mozzarella)
Jalapeno Popper (Cream Cheese, Jalapenos, Bacon, Garlic, and the 3 Cheese Blend)

There was another one I tried but it was unlabeled so I am not sure what it was. Of all the ones I tried, the Farmer and Luau were my two favorites. Tiffany really liked the Hawk N' Cheese, she's really starting to like cream cheese on her pizzas. Of all the pizzas, the Pad Thai was the most interesting. To this day, I'm still not sure what to make of it and if I liked it. Tiffany didn't but I'm still intrigued by it all.

What stuck out most for Tiffany was something that didn't even dawn on me when she brought it up. The pizzas are hand tossed with wheat dough. It definitely had a different taste to it but I don't think I could have been able to guess that.

Entertainment for the kids and gentlemen in your family!
If you live on that side of town, Wheat State Pizza is worth the try. Many people I've spoken to have said good things about it. It's not in the area of town I live at so I won't make it out there much but would if I just happened to be driving on the way back from the casino or something! Plus if you go on Monday nights in March, you can help out a great cause.

And finally on my calendar for this week is Letter U. Guest Diner has been lined up, the place has been chose and the date has been set. Stay tuned folks!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Android vs. Apple: A First Hand User's Experience

Android vs. Apple

With the looming iPad 3/HD announcement tomorrow, I've come to terms with something. I've sold my soul to the Apple Devil. For years, I was the biggest advocate of non-Apple products and would try to speak to others about giving other items a try like Android, Zune, etc. Well in the past year I've purchased both an iPad 2 and an iPhone 4S. Times changed. I tried to give the other non-Apple items an honest chance but eventually bit the forbidden Apple. The tablet choice was easy as to me, no Android tablet out was comparable to what the iPad offered despite the price tag. As for the phone, it's been years in the works.

The Samsung Epic
I don't own the white one.
I was told only girls buy the white ones.

Before this I spent nearly two years using a Samsung Galaxy phone (The Epic, the one with the full keyboard). It was running the Froyo (2.2x) operating system for such a long time until I decided to manually upgrade it to Gingerbread.

I was able to get an early discount deal through Sprint so earlier this year I had the decision to upgrade to the latest Android phone that was out or I could switch to the iPhone. Many things have always intrigued me about the iPhone but there were business practices by Apple that turned me off such as their app approval process, the inability to customize options on the iPhone compared to Android, among others. But in the end, the iPhone won the battle in the latest phone for me to purchase. I had to see what all the hype was about with the iPhone. I needed to see first hand if it was that cool. It's been well over a month now since I've had the iPhone so I decided to write up my opinions on Android vs. Apple. Figured since I've used both phones for a good amount of time, I could write an unbiased review on what I thought was better.

THE APPS
Let's face it. For most smartphone users, apps are very important. It's like running a computer. What's the point in using a computer if you don't have any programs on it? It's the same for a smartphone; it's more than just a tool for people to talk and text with. One of the major pros the iPhone has to Android is the availability of the apps. Developers are quick to always release their apps out on iPhone well before Android. Take "Scramble With Friends", a game I’m totally addicted to, for instance. It's already out for iPhone and still awaiting an Android release. It was the same case with "Words with Friends". But in the long run, the apps do come out. Also the total number of apps available on iPhone beat Android's number even though a huge portion of those apps the average user will never use.

On the flipside, Apple doesn't give you free trials of apps. For Android, you can buy an app and request a refund in a set amount of time. I think that is now 15 minutes but I could be wrong. It used to be longer than that. Plus on Android, Amazon gives a free Android App of the Day which is excellent and can save you lots of money. There are many more apps available on Android that let you customize your phone compared to Android.

Winner: Android

THE OPERATING SYSTEM
iPhone's operating system is locked down. You can't really do much to change what's there. The Android is much different, you can change how every single thing looks from every single detail of the home screen, to text messages, icons, etc. It's incredible. The biggest issue with Android's operating system is there are so many different versions out and the availability of which OS on your phone is determined by your cell phone provider and cell phone manufacturer. While one Android phone can get the latest update, another Android phone could wait six months later. There's no uniformity to it all. This in comparison to Apple's where once it's announced nearly every phone can run it. You can download it yourself.

Since iPhone's OS is locked down, that leaves it less vulnerable to bad things happening. My Android phone was getting to the point it would automatically reboot. It just wasn't my phone, I knew of others that had the same issue with different phones. It was getting to be very annoying. Plus on the Android phone, there's more bloatware (apps you don't want but can't get rid of).

Winner: iPhone

BATTERY LIFE
I have the newest version of the iPhone currently available so it's kind of unfair for me to compare this to my old Epic phone that was two years old. But I can basically judge this off of other Android phones I've played around with or heard from friends. Android's battery life is NOT good. I'd wager to say if you used the iPhone 4S and another comparable Android phone that came out at that time, the iPhone would last longer. On my trip to Omaha, we had an Android, Blackberry and iPhone all start the day with battery life. By end of day, the iPhone outlasted everybody and I'm a heavy cell phone user.

For the record, my Epic phone had an extended battery when I had it. Still sucked.

Winner: iPhone

PHONE POWER
The iPhone is a very good phone. Everything loads up fast; moving from screen to screen is very quick. This is compared to my Epic that would take a while to load up the text messages. That was annoying. But it's unfair to compare these phones because there are Android phones out there now that are much more powerful than the iPhone.

Winner: PUSH

KEYBOARD
I loved my Epic when it came down to it. The keyboard was so nice to have. I was able to type out long e-mails on it without issue. When I wasn't using the keyboard, I was using SWYPE which is the keyboard where you can swipe your fingers across many different letters to form words. It's very cool. Before the Epic, I owned a Palm phone which had a full QWERTY keyboard too. Old school!!! The iPhone was my first all touchscreen phone. It took me a while to get used to it but the predictive text slowly came around and I got used to it.

Winner: Android

OVERALL
I like both phones. I think if I ended up purchasing one of the newer Android phones out there, I would have been very happy with the decision. But if I had to choose between the two phones, I'd go with the iPhone.

It's a very slick interface and I really don't need to customize the phone that much. As long as I have the apps I want, that's all I need. The future of phones will end up being with no physical keyboards so in time, I'll have to get used to it which I already am.

One of the reasons I went with an iPhone was because I wanted my phone to match whichever tablet I purchased which was the iPad. It all syncs together and I have no problems at all with it. The whole iTunes interface makes it very easy to sync it all up including all the music I listen to whether it's the newest Drake song on the radio, some old school Red Hot Chili Peppers, Jason Aldean or even the coolest bubblegum song ever, Miley Cyrus' "Party in the U.S.A."

The iPhone is just smooth overall from the look and feel of the phone to how it runs and loads up every app or text. I'm very pleased with it and probably won't be looking to switch anytime soon. The only thing that could probably sway me another way is Microsoft. If they could incorporate their Office suites into their phones and tablets, I'd consider it especially if Microsoft made it very manageable in the business world.

But for right now, if I had to do it all over again......I'd still purchase the iPhone.

Ok tech glasses off, food goggles back on.