Thursday, April 18, 2013

May Hong

This is my favorite Vietnamese restaurant in Albuquerque.  But first, some background and disclaimer.  I used to live in Albuquerque and May Hong opened up shortly after I moved there.  We started eating there the first week they opened, and for about a year, we were regulars and ate there once a week.  It was also some of my first Vietnamese food.

The place is small, with about 10 booths around the outside walls and 8 tables in the center.  The booths are the originals from 1999, and are starting to show their age.  They have some kind of Vietnamese pop/rock playing in the background.

They have really good soups here, so Frank got some kind of chicken soup.  It comes with noodles and a side of sprouts and greens (cilantro, etc.) to put in it.  The serving is huge - it was great!

I got the vermicellli (bun) with grilled pork and shrimp.  In the past, this came on a platter with the vermicelli in woven mats and large pieces of lettuce, and you would make lettuce wraps out of everything.  This time, it came in a large bowl, with loose noodles and the lettuce and cucumbers were all chopped up.  You also get a side of fish sauce.  [When I was in Houston, the Vietnamese restaurants I ate at there all used bowls, too.]   It tasted great!

We also got an appetizer of spring rolls.  These are the noodles and grilled pork and shrimp and mint rolled up in the clearish wrap.  And the fish sauce was a bit spicy too, and delicious.

They have ice tea, but it's Jasmine tea with a slice of  lime.  It was okay.

So, how do they rank now, compared to 1999?  If I hadn't been there before, I would say it was really very good Vietnamese food.  But since I have been there, I compare it to how it used to be.  The food still tastes really good, but the quality has gone down slightly, possibly because of the recession.  That said, I'd still give them at least 4 stars now.  They're much better than any Vietnamese place I've eaten at in Northwest Arkansas.  So, 4 to 4-1/2 stars.  Oh, and did I mention our bill?  Total cost $23!!!




May Hong Vietnamese on Urbanspoon

Twisters

This is an Albuquerque chain, and we always go to the one on Juan Tabo, near the interstate.  If you've never had a New Mexico breakfast burrito, then you've really never had a breakfast burrito.  Twisters offers a huge variety, with different meats and chiles.  My personal favorite is a relatively new creation, the El Nino breakfast burrito for kids.  Every time we visit Albuquerque, we buy a huge pile of breakfast burritos for our drive home (it's about 12-13 hours) and that's literally all we eat on our drive home.

So, the El Nino.  Supposedly this is a child-sized burrito, but it's much bigger than anything you get from your regular fast food places.  If I'm hungry, I can just eat 2 of them.  The ingredients are Carne Adovada and fried potatoes.  Carne Adovada is pork that is slow roasted/stewed in New Mexico red chile sauce.  Combine that with fried potatoes in a burrito and you have heaven!  I swear, Carne Adovada is addictive!  The last time we were in Albuquerque, I had El Ninos for 7 out of the 8 days we were there!  That's how good they are! 

The El Ninos cost about $2 each.  The regular breakfast burritos on the menu run more like $4.50 each.  Before you freak out about the price, remember, these are not the little skimpy fast food burritos you are used to.  These are real breakfast burritos that are designed to fill you up.  So you get plenty of food for your money.

I also like to get my green chile chicken chimichangas here too.  They are really big and very tasty!

I haven't eaten inside in years, usually we just go to the drive-through.  The service is generally fast and friendly.  And they now carry sweet tea too!  So I'm going to give them 4-1/2 stars.



Twisters on Urbanspoon

Los Cuates

Unfortunately, this restaurant is in Albuquerque, not NWA.  I've labeled this restaurant as New Mexican, not Mexican, because there is a difference.  That difference is Chile!

We went to the restaurant on Menaul Blvd, for a late lunch.  They have a number of lunch specials, but these specials make you choose between rice or beans; you don't get both.  So I opted for a regular entree and got one of my favorites:  a green chile chicken chimichanga.

Everyone probably knows what a chimichanga is by now - a fried flour burrito.  Well, when you're in New Mexico, you also get a choice of chile to put on your order - red or green or both.  If I remember correctly, it's the same chile pepper, but the green chile is green because it's harvested early.  The red chile is after the green has ripened.  There's a huge chile industry in New Mexico and these chiles are NOT the same as you get elsewhere in the US, like in California.  If someone tells you they're the same, they're wrong.

Anyway, back to the food.  They brought out the ubiquitous salsa and chips, but their salsa was so hot I couldn't eat much.  The ice tea was okay.

The chimichanga was amazing!  It was huge, and the chicken wasn't dry but nice and moist.  The green chile was a bit mild, but that's fine because it tasted great!  Mine came with a side of guacamole, which was also good.  The beans and rice were your basic beans and rice.

Frank got a burrito that consisted of ground beef and fried potatoes.  He said it was well seasoned and since it was the lunch special, larger than he was expecting.

Overall, I liked the place.  The only problem was that the service was really slow.  But very friendly!  But the food was good enough for 4 stars.


[I don't think I have photos for this one.]

Los Cuates on Urbanspoon

Duffer's Cafe

This is a small restaurant in a strip mall in Bella Vista.  I went there for an early lunch one day, and returned with my husband to get his impressions too.  They're open from 6 am -  3 pm.

It has a good atmosphere.  There are tables scattered throughout the place, with a few nooks and crannies if you want to be more isolated.  The menu is hanging in large print on the back wall, and there are daily specials too.  You order towards the back right of the restaurant, and pay when you order.  They give you a cafeteria tray and a flag with a number on it.  Then you get your own drinks and silverware and grab a seat.  Put the flag in the holder on the table so they can find you.  They also have pastries in a case by the cash register.  And there are coffee pots on the left side of the restaurant, so you don't have to walk across the room when you need a refill.

Frank got a half-Reuben with a side of potato soup.  He said the Reuben had lots of dressing, but it was a decent dressing.  And he really liked the potato soup.

I had a small fried chicken tender salad.  It came with mushrooms, craisins, coated walnuts, and 2 small slices of cheese.  The tenders were okay, but the coating wasn't my favorite.  We also got a small piece of cranberry bread and orange bread.  I think they came with my salad.  The cranberry bread was pretty good, but the orange bread was a little generic.

Overall, I liked the place.  It's a small, local business and the food is decent to good.  Four stars.
[If I find the photos I took, I'll post them later.]


Duffer's Cafe on Urbanspoon

Friday, March 15, 2013

I'm still here . . .

I've been to a few places I haven't reviewed yet, because I just started up my Who Knew? NWA site.  Stay tuned for Duffer's Cafe in Bella Vista and Hibachi Grill in Rogers.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Whole Hog Cafe

We went to the one in Bentonville, towards the end of a UA football game.  This is another restaurant where you place your order at the front and they call your number.  You get your own drinks and silverware.  There were 6 booths, a bunch of tables, and some bar stools, too.

I got sweet tea and it ended up being unsweet, but not bad.  We both ordered the Pulled Pork, because, let's face it, pulled pork rules!  It was moist and tender, and not a strong flavor.  The Potato Salad was one of those loaded baked potato style ones.  The Coleslaw was good.  Too many places have really crappy coleslaw, but I liked this one; it wasn't too sweet.  The Baked Beans were okay.

It gets interesting with the sauces.  There are 6 of them in a container on your table, and you have the option to ask for a really really hot one at the order desk.  We tried most of the 6, but didn't bother with the 7th one.  I liked #1 because it was sweet and tangy.  Frank used #3 and said it was good on the beans, that it added some good heat.  They had different flavors, from maple to mustard, which I really liked.  I got a brownie for dessert and it was very good.

Overall impressions:  Not bad.  This is a chain restaurant, and for a chain it was pretty good.  But it wasn't outstanding.  The people were friendly.  They actually messed up my sandwich by adding the coleslaw to it, but they fixed it very fast.  I think the main problems for us were that acoustically it was very noisy, and there's no real service.  You get all your own stuff, including your food.  Also, I've just heard so much hype about this place and how awesome their food is, that I was expecting it to be better.  Don't get me wrong - it is good barbeque!  But I didn't think it was great barbeque.  So, because of the hype and no-frills and their side dishes, I'm going to have to say 3-1/2 stars.



Note:  Photos to be added.


Whole Hog Cafe on Urbanspoon

Aroma

This is a Pakistani-Indian restaurant in a strip mall in Bentonville.  It's fairly small.  There were 7 four-person tables, and 2 larger tables.  The buffet is up front and is also a little small.  This is more of a "hole-in-the-wall" type of place.

We got there a few minutes before supper officially started, so most of what we ate was actually the remains of the lunch buffet.  And it was still good!  There was no one about, so we sat ourselves and then got our own drinks.  I'm not sure if you usually get your own drinks or not, but it is very small, and a family-run place. The buffet officially started at 6 pm, but they were running about 15 minutes late.  There only seemed to be one person there, so we understood. 

My favorite was the Chicken Qorma.  It was really good and actually hot, too!  They also had a Chicken & Mutton Biriyani, something called Nahri (I hadn't heard of that one before) and some Egg Curry.  The owner came around and brought us some fresh Samosas and fresh buttered Naan.  They were both excellent.  Overall, the flavors were good and some dishes had a lot of spice!

It's a bit hard to judge the restaurant because we were still eating the leftover lunch buffet.  But that was good enough for 4 stars.  Provisionally, they might even go 4-1/2 stars for the fresh buffet.

Note: They do take credit cards, but the receipt did not have a tip line.

Note: Photos to be added.


Aroma on Urbanspoon