Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Thai Cafe, Irvine

What more can you ask for when you get a Saturday to spend with best friends, get facials and massages and follw that with a great Thai lunch! Give me thai food every day of the week and I'll eat it with a smile and no complaints. Such is my love for this awesome cuisine. 

One of my recent favorite places to go and devour some good thai food is Thai Cafe at the intersection of Jeffrey and Walnut in Irvine. The fact that I've been here at least once every 2-3 weeks for the last few months says plenty about this place. Now, anytime someone says - let's go thai food and someplace close by, this is where my car automatically navigates. Thai Nakorn still stands my favorite even though its a 20 min drive for me. So, I can rate this my second favorite thai restaurant in OC.

Yes, this is one more place where they can cook up a vegetarian version of all their entrees if you ask them nicely. And always be nice, didn't your mama teach you? And besides that they also have a list of vegetarian specialities on their menu.

Veggie Fried Rice. Except for the big stalks of cilantro, this was a wholesome plate of comforting goodness. Loads of veggies, some tofu and a flavorful rice. This would be a perfect take out food that you can gorge (without anyone seeing) while watching your gotto see movie on HBO with your legs up in a recliner. Not that I did that. Just saying.

This was my find of the week. This was a veg substitue of the cashew chicken dish and this is now becoming a fast favorite for me. The sauce was delicately flavored and it was just the kind of thing that you still want to put the last piece in your mouth even when you are stuffed and food is all the way to your throat. You just can't get enough of this. If you go there and want a new dish - do try this. It'll make you happy!

Panang Curry. When you're really hungry and someone gives you a piping hot plate of panang curry and some comforting rice, you feel blessed and want to give that person a great big hug or something. Not that we hugged the guys working here - but we thanked them enough. And paid a good tip. Because this panang is worth it.

My favorites entree I order by default in any Thai restaurant is the flat noodles -the one that has many names - monsoon noodles, drunken noodles, pad kee mao, kee mow pak..and so on and so forth. Well - its the flat noodles cooked in a brown sauce with veggies and tofu. Just the taste of this helps me determine what kind of a restaurant I'm sitting in and in Thai Cafe, this dish is just awesome. Try it for yourself and you'll go back many times just like me.

And Pad Thai's always got to be there, right? My friend's fav and she loved it too! I have moved away from Pad thai over the years though - maybe it was the mixed sweet and spicy flavors and my palette was just confused all the time. I still don't mind a couple of forks of these.

Check out the restaurant's website here for all they offer and the prices. There is usually 5-10 min wait time if you go for a friday lunch or a weekend dinner. But, stay hungry and wait it out. Coz you'll fill up happy once you're seated. The service has always been consistent and good. They do offer some coupons in the Irvine mailers, so make use of it if you get those.

Enjoy. Peace out.

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Veggie Grill

There is a breath of fresh air about this place The Veggie Grill located at Irvine Spectrum. Maybe it was just the weather that day. But this food and the great company of 6 other girlfriends made it an afternoon lunch to remember.

This place is located right where the action is. My friends were visiting from the bay area and we went to spend a few hours here. They loved the place and the crowd and it was a very hip and happening place to be as per them. I agree. I love just hanging out at the spectrum, eating out, a little sinful shopping and a warm hot funnel cake. What's not happening about all this?

The Veggie Grill has a complete vegetarian menu and has all the meat look alike options. There is veggie steak, veggie chicken etc if you'd like those. They operate on the Plant-based Veggie Protein philosophy. But all I say is that the end result is definitely delicious.

The restaurant has 5 locations in the Los Angeles and nearby areas. Veggie Grill folks - if you're listening, you should open more soon. At least in the bay area. I know 6 people who will show up immediately! 

Without further banter - here's what we all ate that day.

Started out with a salad and some sweet potato fries. This was the Baja Fiesta Salad. It had a lot of quinoa inside which was absolutely tasty to eat. We were literally fighting over this one salad! I would have never imagined in my weirdest dreams that I'd fight over a salad. Oh what has the world come to!

And the sweet potato fries. Perfectly done. I got up to go get some ketchup and these were all gone before I came back. Next time I'm not getting the ketchup! And yes, strawberry lemonade is a good choice for a girls day out.

This was the Bali Bliss - sauteed and grilled tempeh.

 And this was the Chipotle BBQ sandwich. My friend felt that this was a little strong on the smoked flavor.

The Grillin Chickin. This was had by a avocado lover friend and she probably just picked it since it had avocado in here!

This shot was just to showcase the side red cabbage salad. You could either pick this or the chilli as a side to any sandwich or wrap. If you go, pick this and let your company pick the chilli. Can't miss them both. Red cabbage has not tasted better than this anywhere - it was fresh, crisp and just perfectly flavored.

And the wraps look worth devouring too!

I think this was a entrĂ©e on a bed of kale. Whatever it was, looks wonderful indeed.

I did taste this and if Veggie chilli can be made this way, why can't the others do it everywhere? It had a few spice notes but also had the warming base of a chilli.

And this was my order - a Papa Portabello sandwich. I'm a big Portabello fan and this just made me a bigger fan. Hail to you, O great one!

So what are you waiting for? Go and devour some of these specialties coz this place has great vegetarian fare to offer! And please think of me and eat some of my sweetheart fries. 

Restaurant Website: The Veggie Grill

Enjoy. Peace out.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Counter

You can definitely count on The Counter to offer an exceptionally awesome veggie burger.

I've been to this place many times now. Custom built burger with a home made veggie patty is all I need on a lazy Sunday afternoon or a happening Saturday night (that is before all the happening, maybe). But deciding between getting grilled pineapples or organic mixed greens is the tough part.

This joint might feel like you stepped into a 1970's beach cafe with steel bar stools and just a lot of gray and silver. But the neat and simple lines of decor make it inviting and you don't have to feel anymore that you might be under dressed. Both prom dresses and shorts & flip flops feel at home here. There's something really sexy about a babe in a beautiful red prom dress with mile high stilettos just biting down on a big juicy burger while downing a cup of shake. And there could not be a better place to do this. Paris Hilton, take note. Even though you're a little old for prom.

I visited The Counter at Woodbury, Irvine. Love this location - its just sooo..Californian, if you will. Palm trees all around, clean wide roads, lots of stop signs...yes..very Californian.

So you walk in and are greeted by friendly staff. They show you a place to park yourself in and hand you over little clip boards with creative gastronomic material aka..the custom burger sheet.

There is a small bar on the side with two huge screen TV's. It was the Green bay packers playing the Chicago Bears and there were a lot of cheers and oohs and maaannn's going on.

Depending on how hungry you are - you get to select how many pounds of patty you want on your burger and then what all you want to go on top of it. Including sauces and cheese and also the type of bun. One very worthy mention here - they have one of the softest tenderest burger buns EVER. Those things just melt in your mouth. I wish I can walk in and buy a whole tray of that thing just baked. And the multi grain bun is my favorite pick among all three.

If you're too lazy and don't really care to choose what you want, you can pick one of their featured selections available - someone with taste came up with all these and I'm sure you won't be disappointed.

They are also famous for their shakes. And this months' featured shake was the Birthday cake shake. Heard it was good.

And then you see this part? The fifty fifty - a little of french fries and a little of onions strings or sweet potato fries. This is quite popular. But wait, what if you want to eat a little of all three - I can never choose two out of the three.

And that's where this comes into place - The Trio. Not on the menu. But they do it for you. They do charge a dollar extra for it - but all worth it.

The Trio - ask for it, its not on the menu. A little of the potato fries, a little of the crispy onion stings and a little of the sweet potato fries. My fav? Sweet Potato fries, handsdown! This also comes along with 3 dipping sauces - barbecue, chipotle and ranch. Tip: you get to order a fourth different sauce to go with your burger!

The thing I love about this place is the mini burgers for kids - and vegetarian too of course. They have little bite sized patties on little buns and you can add cheese if you'd like. But, the kids meals are also served with a  whole lot of french fries.

There's the veggie burger with organic greens, carrots and grilled onions.

This patty by itself is delicious and you can see it has a whole lot of real vegetable in there.

So if you have not tried The Counter yet, do so today. Good things are meant to be shared.

And you don't have to really feel guilty about all the fries coz,

And yes, the Green Bay packers won the match. Great Play!

Enjoy. Peace out!