Monday, April 18, 2011
Nothing lasts forever, especially when it comes to food. Nori Sushi Bar & Grill, located in eastern San Diego County, demonstrated that in the recent months.
This restaurant is a considerable trek off the beaten path. You'll find it in the city of Alpine, some 40 miles east of San Diego proper, in a large shopping center across the way from Viejas Casino.
The item of interest (for me, at least) at Nori Sushi was the barely advertised Sumo Roll. There's no mention of it on the menu. It's not referenced anywhere inside the restaurant. If you happened to stumble upon their website you might have noticed it, advertised as the "Sumo Roll Challenge."
You get 45 minutes to consume a nearly 5 pound deep-fried monster sushi roll. Succeed, and it's free with a t-shirt. Fail to conquer the beast and you'll pay $36 plus tax.
Since there was little information about this challenge, I decided to inquire about it with the sushi chef on hand that evening in June 2010. Apparently the owner of the restaurant came up with the idea for the challenge. That was simple enough. 4 people had attempted it before me, and they all failed by a wide margin.
Because the Sumo Roll was still unbeaten, I was given the option of ordered it deep-fried or normal style. I went with the normal roll just because I don't particularly enjoy deep-fried anything. Besides, this way it would weigh a bit less and pack fewer calories. Why not make things a bit easier?
It took awhile to prepare the roll, but once it was brought out I proceeded to throttle the entire platter in 22 minutes. The sushi chef refused to believe I had actually eaten it (come on, I wasn't even that fast), insisting instead that I must have fiddled with the timer or hidden some of the product. Restaurant patrons who were watching me came to my defense. My success was recorded at 25 minutes.
They were amazed that someone finally finished their challenge roll. I was told that I could come back and attempt the deep-fried version on another visit. However, future challengers would no longer be allowed to order the standard roll.
How the times change... as of March 2011, I discovered through a friend interested in tackling the Sumo Roll that the restaurant had canceled the challenge. Dreams of a future deep-fried challenge went up in smoke.
Maybe they'll bring it back. And, hopefully, they'll advertise it more aggressively next time around.
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Hometown Buffet in Victorville serves all-you-can-eat weekday lunch for $5.29. That's a steal.
They serve sliders on Tuesdays up here.
And real ice cream, in addition to the usual soft serve.
A few things I've never seen at Hometown Buffet before... they've still got their charm. It may be an omen of things to come.
Monday, April 11, 2011
This is unofficially my 100th post, but that includes a few edits. It's the 90th. Either way I decided to put up a post with lots of photos and less writing.
Last October I stopped by New China Buffet, another inexpensive all-you-can-eat establishment in San Bernardino. Lunch runs for $6.99 including soft drinks, tea, and coffee.
The wasabi was creamier than usual. I wouldn't go here for the sushi in any case.
At this point the wait staff became irritated with me and stopped collecting my empty plates.
Some may debate the quality, but the quantity's certainly abundant.
Sunday, April 10, 2011
Once again I'm putting aside more important endeavors to write about an old restaurant experience.
Meet the Hawkin's Special, from Hawkins' House of Burgers in Watts. All kidding aside, this had to be one of the roughest neighborhoods I've ever visited. The staff was incredibly friendly, but the restaurant's outdoor dining area was covered with bars. Needless to say I bought my food and trekked home.
The restaurant doesn't offer a formal challenge, but this is one serious burger. 27 oz of pre-cooked beef, pastrami (instead of bacon), American cheese, chili, tomato, onions, and lettuce. It's packed like a smaller burger inside of a larger burger.
It comes in a combo with fries and two cans of soda. The fries were still in the bag. If you like playing "Where's Waldo," you get bonus points if you can spot the second can of soda in the photo.
I don't remember the exact cost, but it was around $10. My kitchen scale indicated that the massive burger stack weighed around 2.5 lbs. It was as delicious as it was monstrous. Messy too.
My last visit was October 2009. I think a second sampling is long overdue.
Saturday, April 9, 2011
Up in Longview, WA you'll find a cozy little diner named Stuffy's. I visited their second location - aptly named Stuffy's II - but the waitress assured me that they were just as good as the original.
My visit was back in the summer of 2009. I knew about this place because they have a few challenge meals, including a 12-egg omelet and a 5-lb burger, but I decided upon food a little more ordinary.
Hamburger patty, hash browns, toast, and gravy. This was probably one of the most wholesome meals I'd ever eaten while traveling. I appreciated all the roadside memorabilia that adorned the walls. And a whole bunch of pictures of famous people too. Wish I got a pic or two of all that.
The friendliness of the people of southern Washington state is what I remember best. It was certainly refreshing.
True to form, I couldn't resist getting their 4 lb cinnamon roll to go. Went for $6 at the time. I didn't eat any 'til I got home. The truly adventurous will eat it in the restaurant and get a t-shirt.
There's a goal for next time.
Thursday, April 7, 2011
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Professional eaters and hangers-on will converge upon the city of Hawthorne, CA this June when the Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Championship Qualifying Contest rolls into town.
Some enterprising souls may wander away to B&R's Old Fashion Hamburgers to sample the specimen featured above.
The Monster Royal Burger.
16 oz of pre-cooked meat, chili, cheese, eggs, lettuce, tomato, onions, pickles, banana peppers, and your choice of bacon or pastrami. I picked pastrami.
It's like a Fatburger or the Original Tommy's, just a lot messier and straight to your table with that feeling of home.
A poster on the wall claims it weighs 1.5 lbs all dressed up. Apparently there's even a yearly speed eating contest with this thing every October. Unless it's been canceled.
Definitely worth the $8.50 (back in October 2009). I gave it a good home. The restaurant was clean inside, the staff inviting, the regulars cordial and enthusiastic.
One customer couldn't stand the sight of such an overwhelming burger: "Why would you want to eat that?!"
Not sure how I should have replied. It was definitely an awesome eat. B&R's know their stuff.
Sunday, April 3, 2011
Yummy Grub, an ice cream and sub sandwich restaurant in Sun City, hosted its second annual ice cream eating contest yesterday.
Things were a bit disorderly at first. There didn't seem to be any competitors on hand. Entry fees were still up in the air. Prizes were unknown. All we knew is that there would be an adults' division and a children's division, with a grand prize to the winner of each.
The format was originally billed as hands-free, which would have been unique for me. I don't participate in many formal competitions, so either way I was looking forward to a new experience. My hands-free contests have been limited to small events at the Orange County Fair in years past. I've done a plate of caramel corn and a huge Texas doughnut. Those didn't go so well.
When it turned out there were only two competitors on hand - Matt Cohen and I - the manager gave us alternative contest options. It would be first to finish in any case. Instead of a hands-free 3-scoop contest, we could alternatively hold a contest with a 32 oz ice cream sundae or a huge root beer float mixed with 32 oz of ice cream.
We went with the ice cream sundae option. 32 oz of our choice of ice cream topped with chocolate sauce, strawberry slices, and banana pieces. I went with vanilla, Matt chose strawberry, and a third last-minute entrant chose chocolate. We paid $5 to participate. So details were settled.
There were no names or introductions. Just a lot of flash photography. Rules were pretty simple. We had to eat with spoons, cups could not be lifted off the table, and the first to completely finish the contents of the cup would be declared the winner.
After a simple countdown, we were going. Plastic spoons are a little delicate for working with semi-solid ice cream. I went about it much the same way I attacked the Kitchen Sink in Walnut Creek. Scoop, bite, swallow.
Matt's technique was solid. He seemed to create a continuous stream of consumption, almost as if he were drinking the sundae. His experience with sweets and ice cream shone through vibrantly. In less than two minutes he was scraping the bottom of the cup with his spoon.
"How much more do I gotta go? I can keep going here!"
And with that, the contest was over. I had a few ounces to go. Couldn't resist finishing even though there was nothing on the line. Our third competitor left the table shortly.
"Sweet Tooth" always does a fine job in these sprinting competitions. I have a lot of work to do if I want to offer him a serious threat in that field.
The grand prize, as it turned out, would be a store coupon and your picture on the wall (in the middle of a paper plate you could decorate with drawing instruments). It was more about the thrill of competing than anything else.
The ice cream was made on-site, too. It was excellent. We'll see if they bring it back next year!