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Roma Bakery – Lansing, MI

I will now review a place that is technically a grocery store and not a restaurant.  However, they do have a few tables and can make you a sandwich.

I went to Roma Bakery (an Italian store, cafe, and bakery located on Cedar Street in Lansing) Thursday for lunch and shopping.  They have packaged goods along with a wide arrangement of pastries, meats, cheeses and pasta salads.  The only bad thing I can say about this place is that the prices are so high.  I spend around $150 for stuff that I could get at a rival store for $100.  However, it is worth it to me to by from mom and pop shops rather than big boxed food stores, and this place is as mom and pop as it gets.  The groceries are secondary for the purpose of this blog.  The food here is excellent.  I normally order a Tuscan Delight Sub.  It comes on a small sub with a little bit of prosciutto, provolone, lettuce, tomato, and olive oil.  I will do a whole post on the benefits of olive oil later.  There is just enough on this sandwich, not too much and not too stuffed.  Then I get a bottle of San Pellegrino (an Italian sparkling water) and a Limonata (carbonated lemon juice, also made by San Pellegrino).  Then I have an espresso and biscotti.  The sandwich is really good.  It has a perfect meat to bun to cheese ratio and the olive oil does not make it greasy.  They give you a bag of deli chips which quite frankly sucks because it is so greasy, but I don’t think it takes away from the experience of the meal.  The espresso is quite good and has a body.  When I order cappuccino there the drink has just the right amount of coffee to foam ratio.  Then there is the biscotti.  Their pastries are so well executed that I have not tasted anything as good anywhere else.  The biscotti I get is not like the normal crunchy stick like cookie that needs to be moistened by the coffee before consumed.  This one is a flatter, same length cookie that is made soft with a buttery crust.  It is so flaky and soft that you do not need to dunk it only to savor it.  I like to come here with friends because it is a great atmosphere in which to play Scopa (an Italian card game, and one of my favorite card games ever) with my friends.  The staff is really friendly and knowledgeable and when the music is playing it is not too loud and the music is appropriate for the type of place.  I give this place a 4/5 stars and would definitely recommend it to a friend.

4/5 stars

 

 
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Posted by on June 8, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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El Azteco – Lansing, MI

I haven’t had cause to write for the last couple of days since my Florence does the cooking when I’m swamped.  However, we did make the decision to order in last Wednesday night from El Azteco on Saginaw Street in Lansing.

I don’t usually eat American style Mexican food, but I sounded so good Wednesday night.  I ordered Florence and I both the taco meal with three tacos and beans and rice.  Then I ordered some chips and salsa.  When we order in we do it through a company called grub hub which is great.  I’ll do a whole post on Grub Hub sometime.  Anyways the meal came within 40 minutes and still warm.  We certainly did get a lot of food for how little we paid.  I wish I could say the meal was worth the value.  Our food came covered in grease.  Unfortunately, our refried beans were cement like and the rice was flavorless.  The taco meat was fine and the fillings seemed fresh and did not appear to have suffered from being on top of hot food.  However, the taco shells were stale and unappealing.  The chips were good, there was more than enough (probably enough to fill a whole chip bag) and they appeared to be homemade, but I’m not completely sure.  The salsa on the other hand was terrible.  Although it probably would have been better had they taken the seeds out of the jalapenos before crushing them.  It was so spicy it made me choke and my mouth burned for around half an hour.  The next morning we certainly felt the effects of the food.  That is one of the few times I have woken up feeling miserable from a meal the night before.  If the food were better I would give the restaurant a better rating and would try it again.  However, this place is now on our blacklist as somewhere we would never go again.

2/5 stars

 
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Posted by on June 8, 2012 in Lansing Area

 

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Tips for Eating at an Asian Restaurant Like a Pro (not like a tourist)

Ok, so you can read this if you want, but there is nothing worse then making a fool of yourself infront of a restaurant full of people.  So here it goes.

1) Chopsticks are not extraterrestrial or musical objects.  They are a way of life for over 1 billion people in the world.  Please be courteous with them.  If you need silverware just ask.

2) On that note if you do not know how to use chopsticks, the restaurant is not the proper place to learn lest you end up with flying sushi (and jamming one chopstick in food and eating it is not cute or funny, but extremely rude and from what I hear it is part of a funeral tradition).

3) Here is my biggest pet peeve.  Soy sauce is not something that goes on everything.  It a sauce meant for a few dishes.  It is not meant to drown your rice in or flavor your already flavored chicken.  The cooks work hard to make the flavors work together and for you to ruin with a salt lick is disturbing to say the least.

4) Another chopstick etiquette is to keep the tip of them off the table and to keep the sticks together at all times.

5) Finally, do not attempt to pronounce the foreign words on the menu unless you speak the language fluently, lest you order squid pie when you meant cucumber sushi or lest you accidentally call the waitress a one legged potato.  Just point or use the conveniently given English words.

I promise that if you follow these 5 simple rules you will look like a pro and less like a tourist.

 
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Posted by on June 5, 2012 in Miscellaneous

 

Akagi, Okemos, MI

So, every time I meet my friends we eat out.  I met with them yesterday and we went to a restaurant and we did so again today.  Here it is, my review of Akagi in Okemos.

My friends and I went to the restaurant around lunchtime on June 5, 2012.  We were warmly greeted by our waitress whom we have had before.  The restaurant was not busy and we were attended to at all times.  The ambiance was OK.  It was a little loud in the open kitchen, but it didn’t bother us much and the music was at a very appropriate level and the music playing fit the scene.  Upon seating you are faced with a set of chopsticks and a napkin.  If you are adverse to using chopsticks I’m sure they have silverware, but I don’t know.  The first thing we ordered was three strawberry flavored Ramune drinks.  It was given to us in a manner of seconds.  And yummy as always.  A few minutes later we put in an order for 1 avocado, 1 cucumber, 1 eel, and 2 California sushi rolls.  a few minutes after that an order for miso soup and 2 orders of the shrimp tempura set and an order of the vegetarian style udon soup.  The cooks adapted their regular udon for my vegetarian friend without any problems.  Our miso came within a few minutes and while it was good it was pretty standard for a restaurant.  For me a truly perfect bowl of miso soup would have more nori and more or thicker chunks of tofu.  All along the way our empty dishes were promptly taken away and food filled dishes put in its place.  Shortly, after finishing our soup we got our sushi.  Their California roll is out of this world.  It has a ton of crab and is creamy and all around yummy.  The eel and the vegetable rolls are also quite good.  After our sushi plates were cleared our main dishes were brought out.  The bento box tempura set included a ginger salad, a side of white rice, tempura pieces and sauce, an orange slice, a small pasta salad, and a pickled radish.  The large bowl of udon soup included a broth filled with nori, udon noodles, veggie tempura pieces, and served with a side of spices you can add at your own discretion.  Let’s break down mine and my friends bento box.  The ginger salad is OK, but I’m not a fan.  The dressing is not gingery enough and it way too runny (probably due to the wet lettuce).  The rice was cooked perfectly and had not a crunchy piece in the bunch.  It had a nice flavor and a light starchy taste.  The tempura pieces were made from fresh tasting veggies and shrimp then battered not too much and not too little, fried just to perfection.  The sauce had a great flavor and was slightly warm.  When dipped in the sauce the flavor of the tempura pieces were made even better.  The pasta salad is my favorite piece of the bento box sets.  It is only a tiny amount, but it is filled with so much flavor and is so creamy you don’t need anymore than a small amount.  As for the orange and the pickled radish they had a nice flavor which only complemented the meal.  While I did not have the udon soup today, my friend said it was really good.  Overall everything was so good and the meal was produced in a timely matter with everyone being so nice that I would definitely recommend this to a friend.  4/5 stars.  See my “Tips for eating at an Asian restaurant like a pro (not like a tourist)”

 
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Posted by on June 5, 2012 in Lansing Area

 

Olive Garden, Okemos, MI

So, here it is, my first post.  I recently attended the Olive Garden in Okemos, MI on a Monday at 7:30 pm.  Usually it isn’t such a bad place to go on any given evening.  However, this time was not such a good experience.  Here is the “run-down”.

We entered on a Monday evening and found no wait time and most of the tables (that we could see) empty, so they did not appear busy that night.  We were promptly greeted by a nice lady and immediately seated at a booth we requested.  Then our waitress came, shoved a bottle of wine in our face told us the brand and said let me give you a complementary wine.  There was no introduction from the waitress of who she was and no “how are you today,” just a rather grumpy, unpleasant person.  We turned her down and asked for 3 half glasses of Lambrusco.  We asked for half glasses since none of us drink that much.  She did offer us a quartino (not sure if that’s what is was called, but that’s close), which is a glass and a half of wine.  That worked out perfectly.  Then 15 minutes later we got our drinks and even though we were ready to order we had to wait another 15 minutes for her to come back take our menu order.  My one friend and I ordered the lobster cannelloni with a bowl of zuppa toscana.  My other friend ordered the 5 cheese ziti with a bowl of minestrone.  It only took about 5 minutes to get our soups and breadsticks after ordering.  I don’t usually like the Olive Garden breadsticks, there is way too much salt and tonight was no exception.  The soup on the other hand was good for all three of us.  Then about 20 minutes later we got our food.  When it came she said the plates were hot.  We found that the food was rather cold.  The cannelloni shells themselves had been over cooked and were mushy.  The lobster had no flavor other than the taste that someone dumped the salt shaker in it.  I ate one half of a cannelloni and could not eat anymore.  The 5 cheese ziti again tasted like salt and was swimming in grease.  My friend took a few bites and could not eat anymore.  We decided not to send the dish back because the grumpy waitress kind of scared us.  Since we were still hungry from not being able to eat our food we thought we couldn’t go wrong with dessert.  For the most part that was true.  It took us 15 minutes to find our waitress whom we hadn’t seen for about 30.  Then we ordered a berries and zabaione an order of zeppoli with chocolate sauce and a cappuccino.  The waitress had no idea what the berries and zabaione was until I showed her on the menu.  She said it was new so she had not heard of it.  Here’s a fun fact: the Olive Garden has had this pretty yummy treat on their menu every summer for the past few years at least.  I go to the Olive Garden a few times a year and try to go when they have this dish.  It didn’t take us too long this time to get the dessert.  For safe measure I had her bring the check with dessert lest we wait another 30 minutes to pay.  The dessert was not too bad.  The berries and zabaione were pretty good.  The berries were fresh and crisp, the custard was OK, but seemed to lack flavor.  The sorbet on the other hand was very frozen and mostly iced.  The zeppoli were nice, hot and fluffy with a good amount of powered sugar, I thought the chocolate sauce was OK, but my friend said it tasted like mothballs.  The cappuccino would have been hard to ruin.  It tasted good and was nice and hot.  We paid and left vowing not to return, at least until we forget why we weren’t going back.  But, thanks to this post we will always remember why.

Overall I give it 2/5 stars and would not recommend it to a friend.

 
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Posted by on June 5, 2012 in Lansing Area

 

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