J.R. Tolkien

"Not all those who wander are lost." - J.R. Tolkien

Monday, July 10, 2017

Dress Like a Cow for Free Chicken at Chick-fil-A

One of my favorite days of the year is finally here, Cow Appreciation Day at Chick-fil-A.  It's one day out of the year where you dress like a cow to get free chicken so you can eat like a pig! :)  

I've heard about the event for a few years but felt weird coming in to ask for free food, so never did it.   But after such a fun and easy first experience 2 years ago, we kept coming back.  Many of our friends even joined in.  It's a family friendly event and many come in large groups. 

All you have to do is dress like a cow, go to the counter and choose your free entree.  The staff is extremely friendly, everyone at the restaurant is there for the same reason (so it's not weird at all), and they accept anything remotely cow looking, no questions asked.  Chick-fil-A even has a kit you can print on their website.  Or draw some black dots on your white t-shirt and you are set.  As you can see our costume was very basic!


It was you've never done it before, here's a quick guide.  

When?
  • Date:  Tuesday, July 11, 2017 
  • Time: from restaurant opening until 7 p.m.

Where?

These are the Chick-fil-A locations in Louisville

University of Louisville
2100 S Floyd St, Louisville, KY 40208

Bardstown Road
3420 Bardstown Road, Louisville, KY 40218
6:30 am - 10:00 pm

St. Matthews
5001 Shelbyville Rd, Louisville, KY 40207
6:30 am - 10:00 pm

Mall St. Matthews
5000 Shelbyville Rd Ste 1630, Louisville, KY 40207
10:00 am - 9:00 pm

Dixie Hwy (KY)
6630 Dixie Hwy, Louisville, KY 40258
6:30 am - 10:00 pm

Jefferson Mall
4801 Outer Loop, Louisville, KY 40219
9:30 am - 9:00 pm

Stonybrook
2350 Shane Dr, Louisville, KY 40220
6:30 am - 10:00 pm

Jefferson Commons
4925 Outer Loop, Louisville, KY 40219
6:00 am - 10:00 pm

Springhurst
10501 Westport Rd, Louisville, KY 40241
6:30 am - 10:00 pm

Glenmary
7901 Bardstown Rd, Louisville, KY 40291
6:00 am - 10:00 pm

Middletown Commons
13313 Shelbyville Rd, Louisville, KY 40223
6:00 am - 10:00 pm

What can I get?
Spicy deluxe sandwich, fries and frosted lemonade
Free meal for two (2 years ago)

Official rule from the website states that you can choose from the entrees below.  But we got the whole free meal last year and this year, which includes an entree, fries and a drink (Stonybrook location). 
  • Breakfast Entrée includes:
    • Egg White Grill
    • Chick-fil-A® Chicken Biscuit
    • Chick-fil-A® Spicy Chicken Biscuit
    • Sausage Biscuit
    • Chick-n-Minis™ (3 or 4-count)
    • Chicken or Sausage Breakfast Burrito
    • Chicken or Sausage, Egg, and Cheese Bagel
    • Bacon or Sausage, Egg, and Cheese Biscuit
    • Greek Yogurt Parfait
    • Fruit Cup (any size)
  • Lunch/Dinner Entrée includes:
    • Smokehouse BBQ Bacon Sandwich
    • Chick-fil-A® Chicken Sandwich
    • Chick-fil-A® Chicken Deluxe Sandwich
    • Chick-fil-A® Spicy Chicken Sandwich
    • Chick-fil-A® Spicy Chicken Deluxe Sandwich
    • Grilled Chicken Sandwich
    • Grilled Chicken Club Sandwich
    • Grilled Chicken Cool Wrap®
    • Chick-fil-A® Nuggets (8 or 12-count)
    • Chick-fil-A® Grilled Nuggets (8- or 12-count)
    • Chicken Salad Sandwich; Chick-n-Strips™ (3 or 4-count)
    • Small hand-spun milkshake (Operator discretion), Small Iced Coffee, Small Frosted Coffee or Small Frosted Lemonade
    • No salad this year
  • Kid’s Meal:
    • Chick-n-Strips (1 or 2-count) Kid’s Meal
    • Chick-fil-A® Nuggets (4 or 6-count) Kid’s Meal
    • Grilled Nugget (4 or 6-count) Kid’s Meal
How many can I get?
You can go through the line once, but hey if you're up for it, you can visit as many restaurants as you want!

The restaurant is more crowded than usual but it's fast food so the wait is not long.  Be sure to be there at the counter by 7 p.m.  The cut off time is strict.  

This year is extra special for us because we got a new friend to join us on our foodie adventure (also the reason for the brief blog hiatus!)

Monday, March 6, 2017

7 Louisville Ethnic Restaurants You Probably Haven't Heard Of

My husband’s favorite complaint about me is that he never gets to go back and eat at his favorite restaurant more than once.  Well sir, how else are we supposed to sample all the 2,000+restaurants in Louisville?!  So most of the time my husband, being the supportive man that he is, gets dragged all over the city to try out places that makes him nervous and occasionally wreaked havoc on his digestive system (my stomach is a lot stronger!).  But from those adventures, we found some amazing places to eat in Louisville that’s under the radar and uniquely its own.  I’m proud to say that my Kentucky born and raised meat-and-potato-husband is now a lover of Japanese sushi, Mexican grocery store burritos, Mediterranean gyros, Cajun crawfish, Peruvian chicken and other food he would not have touched in the past.

I’m hoping my blog posts will get some of you out of your geographical and gastronomic comfort zones as well to try something different.  You might not like everything, but once you find something you do like, it opens a whole new world of culinary joy. Let’s start with these 7 ethnic restaurants, some more familiar than others.  But all will make your culinary adventure more interesting.

Nahyla's | Venezuelan
12220 Shelbyville Rd
Middletown, KY 40243
(502) 822-1808

This newcomer is the only Venezuelan restaurant in town, so you're in for a treat.  Even though the menu is small, it contains a treasure trove of items you won’t find anywhere else.  Start off with the tequenos, Venezuelan cheese sticks, the crusty fresh dough is baked with cheese on the inside and comes with a side of light lemony cilantro sauce.  My husband ate most of my portion!

Tequenos, Venezuelan cheese sticks.
Arepas are Venezuelan specialty and a must try for those new to the cuisine.  These Venezuelan corn cakes are made with ground maize dough or cooked flour then grilled or baked.  They are thin, crunchy and filled with your choice of meat, cheese, plantains, beans, and other combinations.  Eat it like a burger and you’ll enjoy the combination of familiar flavors in a different way.

Pabellon Arepas
Pabellon Criollo
Also not to be missed is the Carribbean Lemonade, it’s sweet and made with real sugar cane.

Caribbean Lemonade

What I enjoyed the most here is the newness of all the dishes; my husband is the true fan, he loved everything.  My absolutely favorite part of the meal was the warm soft and gooey brownie topped with the ice cream (not sure if this is a traditional Venezuelan dish), check in on your Yelp app and get this dessert for free.

Kathmandu Kitchen and Bar | Nepali
3825 Bardstown Rd
Louisville, KY 40218
(502) 276-1527

Kathmandu Kitchen and Bar is also the only one of its kind in the city, introducing Louisville to the rich spices and flavors of Nepal and the Himalayas.

A safe choice and everyone's favorite is the fried vegetables mo mos, a type of fried dumplings with a side of garlic chili sauce.  It's crunchy and delicious.  For lover of spicy food, the sukuti chili is a nice treat, it's dried meat (like jerky), mixed with lemon, cilantro, green chili and onion.  I love jerky so enjoyed the tough texture, seasoning and spice.  Beware, you'll be sweating in places you wouldn't think can sweat.

Sukuti Chili and Fried Vegetable Mo Mo
My favorite on the menu is the samosa chat, a tangy salad like mixture of onions, chick peas, tamarind and mint sauce, chat masala, and samosas.  It's an explosion of flavors that'll sure to delight to your taste buds.


The chicken thukpa, a noodle soup, has a mild flavored broth, so I would recommend a skip on this.  The chicken fried rice has lots of spices, which can be overwhelming for some.

Chicken Thukpa
Chicken fried rice


I highly recommend Kathamandu for the adventurous eater and lover of spices.  The staff is definitely new to the American restaurant scene, so don't expect American style service.  You probably will have to flag the waiter down when you are ready to order or to pay, get your own drinks from the fridge in the front corner and complimentary water bottles will be brought out in place of tap water in a cup.

Jasmin Bakery | Bosnian/European
2205 Steier Ln,
Louisville, KY 40218
(502) 458-0013

After a visit to Kathmandu, head a block south on Bardstown Road for some delicious European pastries and gyros.  I don't like my desserts overly sweet, so the desserts and pastries here is a perfect fit.  I suggest grabbing whatever you see in the pastry display; mine was a satisfying flaky concoction with a slightly sweet cherry filling.  I came around 2 o’clock on a Saturday and there were only 3 items left.  The owner said to come at 9 a.m. so you’ll get your pick.

Cherry Pastry

If you still have room, the gyro here is among the best in the city.  The menu is a picture of 4 items on the wall, no prices and no description.  Your choices are: the little ($3.50), the big ($5), the burger or the sausage.  Order at the counter and grab a seat (you pay later). It’s a European/Bosnian style gyro, so the meat and toppings are inside soft European bread.  Behind the counter is an assortment of fresh baked bread, perfect to take home.  The service is a bit slow, but the food is worth the wait. 

The menu and bread selection.
The Little Gyro

Baraka Restaurant | Samolian/Asian
519 W Oak St,
Louisville, KY 40203
(502) 822-3046

Baraka is a true off the beaten restaurant but one worth making a detour some for delicious Somalian/African food.  The menu offers an interesting mix of food from all over, chicken wings, spaghetti, rice, curry, Philly steak, goat, etc.  A sure bet and a favorite of mine is the chicken suqaar (saute chicken cubes) with chapatti (like nan or roti bread) or the wrap form is equally delicious.  The portions are huge and the prices are reasonable.  Ask for the green and red sauce for added spice.  As with a lot of small restaurant, some items might be out and service a bit spotty, but all will be forgiven when you try out the food.

Chicken Suqaar Chapati

Safari Grill | African/Mediterranean
328 W Woodlawn Ave
Louisville, KY 40214
(502) 915-0943

The owners are from Somalia and Kenya, so you're getting a mixture of African food with some familiar Mediterranean favorites.  The restaurant is simple, more thought is put into the food than the décor itself.

The owners are extremely friendly and welcoming. You order at the counter from the menu on the wall.  Choices include vegetarian plates, gyros, suqaar plates (saute cube of different meat options and with vegetables), chapati (unleavened flat bread or roti), breakfast items, salads and a few African dishes. Most items are under $10.

Gyro plate
Our gyro and suqaar plates are large and delicious. Our favorite was the flavorful gyro meat with a large portion of rice and assorted vegetables.  The plates all come with a side salad.

Time 4 Thai | Thai
2206 Frankfort Ave
Louisville, KY 40206
(502) 996-7899

What I love about this place is that the food is good (fresh, lots of flavors and spices), the portions are big, the prices are reasonable, the menu has a huge variety of curries, salads, entrees, and special dishes.  The owners are friendly.

Chicken wings
To start, I recommend the Thai wings, it came out hot, crunchy with the right amount of sweetness to make us want at least two more plates. For fans of sweet and sour, the papaya salad is a refreshing tangy start. The Tom Kha soup was savory, spicy and hit all the right flavor spots. I like the pad woonsen but would've preferred more noodles.  A bit of a warning though, the food might not be consistently good.  After my first visit, I couldn't wait fast enough to bring friends back to share my discovery, the food for that visit was a bit disappointing (we did order completely different food).  I would still recommend a try so you can judge for yourself!

Victoria Mexican Restaurant | Mexican
2918 Hikes Ln
Louisville, KY 40218
(502) 709-5178

With so many Mexican restaurants in town, it's hard to keep track of all the new ones that opened up.  I'm happy to stumble on this one in particular.  The shrimp tostadas is my go to appetizer at any Mexican restaurant and Victoria did not disappoint.  The shrimp is succulent and further enhanced by the tangy freshness of the lime, onion, tomatoes, cilantro, and avocado.

Shrimp tostadas
My taco carne asada was meaty, charred just enough to be crunchy and deliciously seasoned.

Taco Carne Asada
My husband raved about the burrito, made even more special by the cheesy sauce on the side.


For fish fans, order the Mojarra, a large fresh fried fish with all the toppings to make your own wrap or taco.  You’ll need to add the house hot sauce to give it more flavor.  For a slightly healthier option, try the chicken azado, the skin was gold crisp and the meat tender.

Mojarra
Polloazado
The staff is friendly and the service quick.  Also free chips and salsa! We ordered a variety of items on the menu and enjoyed them all, even our 4 year old diner mate approved!

If you are looking for more ethnic places to try, check out an earlier post on 10 meals around the world for under $10.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Yoki Buffet - A Notch Above the Rest

It’s been a while since I’ve had great Chinese buffet, so when I discovered Yoki Buffet and all its delicious offerings, it’s hard not to tell everyone bout it!  So here’s a flash review, since we all know what to expect at a typical Chinese Buffet.

Location
1700 Alliant Ave
Louisville, KY 40299
(502) 267-2277

Yoki is located in the old Hometown Buffet right off of Blankenbaker Parkway, next to Ruby Tuesday.  The restaurant is spacious so plenty of space if you’re coming with a large group.  The sitting area is sectioned off into different rooms so you don’t feel too crowded.
A section of the buffet area

The Food

Confession: I come to Chinese buffet mostly for the seafood because they are expensive elsewhere and you really don’t get a lot of it.  Trust me, most Asians do this :) So that’s my first priority, everything else is your typical Chinese fare.
  • Seafood: The winner for me here is the blue crabs; they are large, meaty, fresh and lightly dusted with flour, seasoned and stir fried.  The best part, on a busy night, they bring it out constantly.  Craw fish is fresh but on the small side (I think because it's the beginning of the season), a little light on the seasoning so you might want to make yourself a dipping sauce.  I don’t do raw oysters, but they were piled high by the sushi bar and fresh looking.  The saute shrimps were large and delicious. 

My favorite, blue crabs.
Craw fish and clams.
  • Sushi: On a busy night, the sushi is made right in front of you, so ingredients are fresh and the rice soft.  Yoki offers more varieties than other places and my husband heartily approved.
    Sushi freshly made
  • Mongolian grill and noodles: Have your Mongolian stir fry or noodles made on the spot.  Lots of fresh ingredients to choose from.  I skipped this section to make room for more seafood in my belly.  
    Mongolian grill bar.
Everything else is good, a notch above all other Chinese buffets in town.  Even the chicken tenders, which we find to be dry in most places, are actually well flavored, tender and moist. The best thing is that everything is fresh and plenty.
A bit of everything to try.
Fresh selections

The Price
  • Weekdays: $11.99
  • Friday, Saturday and Sunday: $12.99
  • Lunch (11 a.m.  - 3 p.m.): $8.49
*note that the seafood (crabs, oyster, craw fish, clams, and a large portion of the hibachi bar) is only available at dinner time.  Crabs is available at dinner time, Friday - Sunday.

The Service

They have a young service staff that’s eager and friendly, quick to refill drinks and clear the table.

Foodie Buffet Tips

Come at peak hours, usually dinners on weekends, and the food is made fresh and your favorite items replenished quicker.  The downside, there is a bit of a wait before you are seated.  Or come right when they’re open, so you know for sure the food is fresh.

Don’t fill up on carbs, such as noodles or nice, unless they are amazing.  That way you have room to try a little bit of everything at the buffet line!

Come check it out while it’s still new and eager to impress its customers.  Sadly at most buffets, the quality tend to go down after the first few months, the now closed Umai Zushi Buffet out east is such an example.  Yoki is my new go to buffet and I hope its quality stays consistent long after the opening period.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

The Case for Cruising


Call me crazy, but I like my vacation a little stressful and hectic.  I love to get lost in the sights of a foreign city, to race against time and borders.  I don't get too many vacation days, so when I do go on vacation, I want to see and do as much as I can.   My husband is the opposite.  He likes to relax on vacation, to know exactly where he's going and when he'll get there.  After a crazy race across 11 cities in 17 days last year, I promised to slow down a bit and to replenish our funds.  Our usual compromise for vacation in that situation: cruising.

If you've never been on a cruise before, here's my case for cruising:

It's affordable.   Depending on the cruise line, you can easily find cruises to the Caribbean and Europe for $500 - $800 for 7 days or to the Bahamas for $200-$300 for 3 to 4 days.  Cruises are all inclusive.  This means you get to travel to exotic places for less than $100/day which includes lodging, all you can eat breakfast, lunch and dinner, entertainment, activities and room service.
Sample rates from Royal Caribbean

All you can eat.  Order as many appetizers, entrees and desserts as you like from a changing menu at one of the sit down restaurants. Or choose from endless options at the buffets.  Ice cream and pizza are usually available 24/7.  Free room service means you can even eat in your room.
Can't decide between the lobster or the prime rib? You can get both.

Lots of things to do on the ship.  Cruising is not just about mini golf and gambling anymore.  The ships are bigger and better, which mean a lot of fun activities on board to keep you busy.
Lots of fun water sports.
Rock climbing on the Oasis.
It's stress free.  Cruises take away the stress out of arranging hotel, transportation and where to eat.  The cruise ship drops you off at prearranged destinations, you get off to explore and return to the ship to relax and wake up in a new location.  Besides figuring out what to do on your excursion at each destination, there's not much planning involved.
You'll have time for this.

Of course the downside to all that is you don’t have as much time to explore each destination and you’re restricted by the ship’s schedule.

If you're new to cruising and are interested, here are a few pointers:

How to choose a cruise.   A big part of cruising is the ship itself since you’ll spend a large part of your trip on the ship, so choose a ship with high ratings.  I use cruisecritic.com to read about the ship's amenities and reviews from experts and previous guests.  Also, each cruise line is different, so pick one that's right for you.  Princess is for older adults (60+), Carnival for the partying crowd, Disney for children and families, Royal Caribbean is a good mix of everyone. Click here for a list of cruise lines comparison.
Choosing the right ships will mean better entertainment and food.
After going the Oasis of the Seas, the largest ship in the world at the time, it's hard to go back to the smaller ships.  For the largest cruise ships, check out the Oasis Line from Royal Caribbean (Oasis, Allure and Harmony).  Harmony is currently the world's largest.  Check out our video of the Oasis of the Seas here: https://goo.gl/photos/aXqJq83FcyMzaGDd8

Where to book your cruise.  I use aggregate sites like Expedia, Travelocity, and Cruisesheet to look for the best rate then go directly to the cruise line to book my tickets.  Or go directly to the cruise line to book, the two that works best for our budget and style (cheap and casual) is Carnival and Royal Caribbean.  If you have a Costco membership, look here first.  It can be cheaper and more than likely you’ll get on-board credits to spend.

When to book.  For cruises, the earlier you book, the better the deal. My in-laws booked theirs a year in advance on the same ship we went on, they got a better room (ocean view balcony) and a bigger on board credit, at a cheaper rate.  There are also last minute deals, but these are not as good or as frequently offered.  Consider travel off season for better prices such as: hurricane season (September – November), during the pre-holiday (first week or two of December) and the post-holiday (first two weeks of January).  If you have time to spare, look into repositioning cruises, when ships travel across the ocean to change ports as the seasons change.  The rate is great but the trade-off is you’ll spend a lot of consecutive days at sea.

Choosing a departure port.  Leaving from the right ports can mean big savings on airfare, which is not included in the cost of your cruise.  From Louisville, you can find reasonable flights ($200 - $300) year round to Orlando (cruises depart from Cape Canaveral, an hour drive from Orlando), Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Tampa, and even Puerto Rico.  Consider flying from Cincinnati to get even cheaper rates on Frontier and Allegiant (details here).  Plan for weather and other incidentals by scheduling arrival to your port a day before your cruise departure date, the cruise ship will not wait for you if your flight is delayed/cancelled.
Explore tropical fruit gardens in Miami if you arrive a day early.
Choosing cruise destinations. The Caribbean is a great choice for first time cruisers, prices are cheaper and there are a lot of cruise ships to choose from.  The water is amazingly blue and warm, activities revolve around the outdoors and the water.  European and Asian cruises tend to be more expensive when you take into consideration the flight there and back but you’re treated to amazing cultural sites and glamorous cities.  Cruises to Alaska are on smaller ships and limited to the summer months.  You'll find destinations do not vary too much from one cruise line to another.
Beautiful Labadee, Haiti
Booking excursions.  There’s plenty to do and see once the ship drops you off at your destinations, the easiest and cheapest is to head to the local beach or town and spend the day exploring.  For other activities like scuba diving, guided tours, etc., you’ll have book them through the cruise ship or find your own tour operators.  There’s pros and cons for both.
Shore excursion in Italy.
  • Cruise ship tours: You pay an exorbitant amount of money but you’re conveniently picked up at the ship and you’re guaranteed to leave with the ship in case anything happens during your tour.  These tour companies has a special contract with the ship so they’re more reputable.
  • Other tour operators:  Prices are almost always cheaper and tour options are more extensive.  But if there’s transportation issue or other delays during the tour, you risk missing the ship.  Do extensive research by reading reviews on Tripadvisoror Cruisecritic to make sure the company is reputable.  These tours are designed specific for cruise ship passengers so you’ll be okay. But it’s a small risk you’ll have to take.  

How to save money on the ship.  Asides from the basics, everything on the ship costs extra.  Beware of what they are and you will save.  If possible, skip the soft drinks and alcoholic beverages or opt to buy a beverage package; set a budget for the casino (on my last trip, one passenger can't pay his huge gambling debt and was not allowed to get off the ship);  avoid buying professional photos, they will take a lot of these;  and eat only at free restaurants.  Tipping is also not included and many ships now require a mandatory percentage added to your account for each day of your trip.  But the staff are always excellent, so don’t forget to set out extra to tip them.

Whenever I get a chance to travel, I take it.  Between every few hectic and crazy travel adventures, I slow down with a cruise and have enjoyed them all (5 of them now).  Whatever your style, happy traveling!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

20 of My Favorite Things...To Eat

I’ve been on a bit of a blog hiatus lately, with everything else going on, it’s hard to find time to write!  I do want to end the year on a delicious note though, so I came up with a list of my 20 favorite dishes to eat in Louisville (on the cheap too).  Because sometimes it’s hard to know what to get from a new restaurant you’ve never been to.  Some of these restaurants are not necessarily my favorites, but they do have that one dish that keeps me coming back.

  1. Koutign Amann | Blue Dog Cafe
    Pronounced “Queen A mon”, this is a flaky pastry glazed with sugar, crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside.  You can only get these on Fridays and Saturdays; they go fast so get here early in the morning.
  2. Koutign Amann. Blue Dog Cafe

  3. Char-grilled Oysters | Portage House
    The oyster is smothered with butter, topped with chipotle seasoning then grilled.  Squeeze a bit of lime on top and eat it with the buttered toast.  It’s heaven on a shell.
    Char-grilled Oysters.  Portage House

  4. Smoked Fish Taquitos | Guaca Mole Cocina Mexicana
    Tiny tacos with a big taste inside.  These tiny tacos is filled with crispy shallots, capers, pickled jalapenos, lettuce, and lemon oil.
    Photo of Guaca Mole Cocina Mexicana - Louisville, KY, United States
    Smoked Fish Taquitos .  Guaca Mole. photo source

  5. Chicken Wings | De’Ville’s Grille and Catering
    I had the fried chicken from this elusive food truck only twice and have been craving these perfectly seasoned crispy wings ever since. (I'm hoping they are still around)
    Fried Chicken Wings. De'Ville's Grille and Catering.

  6. Woon Sen Pad Thai | Simply Thai 
    Sweet potato noodles that’s clear, chewy, savory and delicious.  It makes the visit to this pricey establishment worth it.  It tends to be on the sweet side, so ask for less sugar.

    Vegetable Woon Sen Pad Thai. Simply Thai

  7. Huu Tieu Kho | Café Thuy Van
    Whenever I crave Vietnamese food, I head straight here. This dry rice noodles dish, topped with pork, quail eggs, shrimps and a hot broth on the side is my comfort food.
    Huu Tieu Kho. Cafe Thuy Van

  8. Sweet and Spicy Calamari | Mussel and Burger Bar
    This calamari is beautifully executed, the fried calamari is fresh and goes perfect with the tomato sauce, black olive aioli, capers, and pickled Italian peppers.
    Photo of Mussel and Burger Bar - Louisville, KY, United States. Sweet and sour calamari. Tastes like pizza rolls and calamari, delicious!
    Sweet and Spicy Calamari. Mussel and Burger Bar

  9. New style Salmon Sashimi or Tuna Poke | Sapporo Japanese Grill and Sushi
    Sometimes, the simpler the better.  You can’t get simpler than these lightly seasoned fresh thinly sliced salmon.  Equally delicious is the tuna poke, a Hawaiian raw fish salad that’s often served as an appetizer.  A friend told me the salmon belly is her favorite, it is on my to eat list next.
    Tuna Poke. Sapporo

    Salmon Sashimi. Sapporo

  10. Tripe Tacos | La Rosita
    I’ve eaten at A LOT of tacos places, and honestly this is the best authentic taco joint in town.  It’s in the back of a grocery store, their crunchy and delicious tripe taco ruined me for any other places.
    Tripe and Beef Tacos. La Rosita

  11. Sizzling Sticky Rice | Roots
    It’s BBQ tofu and veggies goodness on top of soft sticky and crunchy rice.  A delicious fusion of Vietnamese and Western food.
    Sizzling Sticky Rice. Roots

  12. Crispy Shiitake Mushrooms | Zen Garden Vegetarian Restaurant
    The Shiitake mushrooms is sliced, battered and fried then sauté with an assortment of vegetables in slightly tangy thick sauce.  If vegetarian food tastes like this all the time, I wouldn’t mind giving up meat!
    Photo of Zen Garden Vegetarian Restaurant - Louisville, KY, United States. Crispy Shiitake mushrooms- delicious! And I don't even like mushrooms.
    Crispy Shiitake Mushroom. Zen Garden. photo source

  13. Kalbi Lunch | Koreanna II
    My favorite here is Kalbi, savory Korean beef short ribs seasoned with a special ingredient, pear.  Get it as part of a bento box for lunch, as an entrée for dinner or grill it yourself at the table.  The banchan or Korean side dishes that come with the entrees are plentiful and generously replenished.
    Kalbi Bento Box. Koreanna II

  14. Pecan Shrimps | Oriental House
    There are at least 20 different items here that are my favorite, but the pecan shrimps is on the top of the list.  These plump shrimps are served on a bed of lettuce and crunchy roasted pecans.  Slight sweet, the waiters nicknamed them the “cracked shrimps" for their addictive nature.
    Pecan Shrimps (top left corner). Oriental  House

  15. Deluxe Burger | Lonnie’s Best Taste of Chicago
    For only $4, you can’t beat the made-to-order, never greasy, and crispy around the edges burger at Lonnie’s.  Get the deluxe burger as it comes with all the toppings.  Everything from this nostalgia inducing Chicago style diner is cheap and delicious.
    Deluxe Burger and Fries.  Lonnie's

  16. Ceviche/Tostadas de Cameron (shrimp) | La Riviera Maya 
    Ceviche is a popular South American seafood appetizer, the seafood is cooked/marinated in lime juice, seasoned with salt, mixed with chopped cilantro and sweet white onions.  The shrimp ceviche here is the perfect combination of freshness and crunch.  We always end up ordering an extra portion.
    Tostadas de Cameron. La Riveria Maya

  17. Kimbab | Choi’s Asian Food Market
    Kimbab is a Korean roll, made with steamed rice, meat and/or vegetables and cut into bite sizes.  My favorite in town is the grab-and-go beef kimbab at the counter of choi’s market for $4.99.  Your other choices include, triangle, vegetable, cheese, avocado or tuna, prices range from $1.99 to $4.99.
    Beef  Kimbab. Choi's

  18. Smoked BBQ Wings and Ribs| Shack in the Back
    It’s worth the drive to Fairdale for a taste of the sweet and smoky wings and fall-of-the-bones ribs at Shack in the Back.  The BBQ meat is well seasoned and so good you don’t need to slather it in sauce.  I wasn’t a fan of BBQ ribs before, but they changed my mind.  

    Ribs and Sandwiches Platter. Shack in the Back BBQ

  19. Udon Noodles | hiko-A-mon
    When the weather gets cold outside, I dream of hiko-A-mon’s steaming bowl of udon noodles with tempura vegetables and shrimps.  The light and flavorful broth, the soft udon and the crunchy tempura always satisfy my food cravings and warm my soul.
    Udon Noodles. Hiko-a-mon

  20. Potato Soup | Orange Clover Kitchen & More
    The creamy, thick and garlicky potato soup at Orange Clover is worth the trip across the bridge, even with the toll in place.  It’s a hearty and goes great with other delicious items on the menu.
    Potato Soup. Orange Clover

  21. BBQ Lamb Ribs | Hammerheads
    I tend to avoid this popular dive because of the perpetually long waits, spotty service and cramp space.  But the ribs keep making me wanting to come back.
BBQ Lamb Ribs. Hammerheads

Here’s to a whole new year of delicious and cheap eats!  Frank and I are working on a new food related project, so I hope you’ll check back.