Carl’s Jr/Green Burrito’s Crisp Burritos

As much as I am trying to save money by eating out less, I can’t help but want to satisfy a craving for a Carl’s Jr. Six-Dollar Guacamole burger every once in a while. Oh, so good.

I don’t have much else when I go to Carl’s Jr. I once tried a Chicken Club sandwich – it was okay, if it wasn’t for the coupon I had for it, I wouldn’t have tried it.

But now I’ve found another option on their menu – the limited-time only crisp burritos. Essentially these “burritos” are chimichangas.

Carl’s website description is “A crispy flour tortilla filled with seasoned ground beef, cheese and jalapenos – served with Carl’s Jr. Taco Sauce,” but basically they are burritos with seasoned ground beef - fried – which makes them chimichangas (I don’t recall much cheese or any jalapenos).

But not all places can properly fry these little burritos to make the tortilla crispy on the outside and still soft and doughy on the inside and not burn it – Carl’s somehow managed to do that though.

 

25679-crispburritos_carlsjr-thumb-300x280.jpg

That was really what I liked about them. They were crispy, soft inside and the seasoned beef was good enough. Plus the side of “freshly-made” guacamole (available for an additional charge of 75 cents) is good compared to plenty of other fast food places that offer guacamole. I can’t really say if it was freshly-made but it was tasty and a little chunky so it resembled fresh pretty well. 

The burritos come in 3 or 5 pieces, for $2.89 and $4.59 respectively. They’re definitely a snack though, which is what they were intended for – to prevent men from being ‘crabby’ in between meals (I don’t get it).

If Carl’s decide not to make these “burritos” a staple on their item, they need to come up with more value menu items – because my wallet and health sure can’t afford to be scarfing down Six-Dollar burgers all the time.

Dining on a budget: Johnny’s Shrimp Boat in WC

By Eric Terrazas

For variety’s sake, I attempt to mix some fish into my diet at least once a week.

Though I’m more of a meat eater, I could always go for a good seafood meal. And if that meal consists of shrimp, my mouth especially waters.

Since I have always been a big fan of shrimp, I decided to give Johnny’s Shrimp Boat in West Covina a try recently.

I am no stranger to Johnny’s Shrimp Boat, which also has locations in Whittier and East Los Angeles. I have visited the Whittier location a few times over the years.

When I made my first visit to Johnny’s Shrimp Boat in West Covina, I decided to order one of their four $5.95 specials. I selected the four-shrimp meal, which includes rice, pinto beans, gravy and a soft drink.

I thought the shrimp tasted good – it was one of the better shrimp meals I have tasted.

The rice, which was doused with gravy, and the pinto beans both added to an already scrumptious meal.

25672-JOHNNYS_SHRIMPBOAT-thumb-300x225.jpg

Three other $5.95 specials are also offered, and those include the following combinations: two shrimp and two short ribs, two shrimp and one piece of fish, and two fish tacos. All meals come with a soft drink and rice, beans and gravy, or French fries.

For those with slightly bigger budgets, there are $6.95 specials available as well. Those include the six shrimp meal, and the two shrimp, one hamburger steak combination. Those selections also include the soft drink, rice, beans and gravy.

If you’re not in the mood for shrimp, however, Johnny’s Shrimp Boat offers other options.

Johnny’s menu features hamburger choices such as the double burger, bacon, avocado, pastrami and chili. Sandwich choices include chicken, club, fish, Philly cheese steak, grilled cheese, pastrami and tuna. Fish tacos, and beef and chicken teriyaki are also featured on the menu.

If you’re craving a salad, your choices include green, chicken, tuna and chef.

Johnny’s Shrimp Boat is located at 803 S. Glendora Ave. in West Covina. For information, call (626) 813-3818.

Twittering taco truck stops at Rosemead

Dining on a budget – by Emma Gallegos

By the time you read this review of the food on the Kogi BBQ truck, it will be obsolete.

At this moment in time, it’s safe to say the truck serves Korean fusion cuisine at rock-bottom prices to snaking lines of foodies who follow the truck on the web from the Venice to Rosemead. But it’s hard to keep pace.

The little taco truck that sets out into the night a-Twitterin’ is gaining steam in an economy that’s grinding to a halt.

25197-KOJIBBQ2-thumb-200x133.jpg

When I visited the truck first a mere two weeks ago, it was a simpler time – the truck was charging a tax-free $2 for its tacos. The Kogi crew was ironing out the kinks in the second taco truck they had just launched.

And it had only been last Thanksgiving that the first taco truck made its failed inaugural round on the streets of LA. On that first night, the crew slashed prices, they pleaded and offered the tacos for free but barhoppers stumbling out onto the curb refused to give the Korean fusion tacos a try.

Saying the tides had turned for Kogi BBQ would be an understatement.

A week after my first taste test, Kogi BBQ was paying taxes, employing a staff of 25 and they had made the transition to selling tacos in a brick-and-mortar joint – Alibi in Culver City – in addition to the two roving trucks. Chef Roy Choi added taro and lotus chips and Korean-spiced french fries to the menu, rendering my initial taste test obsolete.

As I was finishing up this column, the Kogi BBQ bloggiste Alice Shin posted that they’ve hired a pastry chef to make ice cream sandwiches with ingredients that run the gamut from oreos to beer.

I’d like to review those, but I did manage to try a couple Kogi originals and one of the specials. I tried the tofu taco ($2), a Korean short rib taco ($2) and kimchi-filled quesadillas ($4).

I hope I’m not cresting on a wave of hype, but I was sold. The food was fresh and hot and flavorful. Normally, that would be enough for $2.

25199-KOJIBBQ3-thumb-250x166.jpg

But the cabbage and lettuce was fried with toasted sesame oil – unwilted with just enough crunch. Both tacos had a spicy red sauce and a tangy vinaigrette. The tofu was tasty, but short ribs were something else entirely: tender, sweet, rich – almost like a savory caramel. The kimchi quesadillas were fiery and drizzled with a rich red sauce and sprinkled with sesame seeds.

Kogi has become its own beast – its head chef Choi will admit as much. It’s spawned its own culture – Kogi Kulture – through blogs and music and the crowd that gathers to greet the truck at its stops and wait long into the night. It’s not for everyone.

25201-KOJIBBQ4-thumb-200x133.jpg

Initial crowds skewed toward the young, the patient, the tech-savvy. They are an army of foodies armed with cameras, taking pictures of food, taking pictures of people waiting for food and self-consciously discussing the insanity of this venture with strangers. They bring friends, too, and sometimes lawn chairs and DJs. They wait. They make it a night. Only $2 a pop – plus tax.

Kogi typically docks in the parking lot of the Glendon Hotel in Rosemead Saturday nights around 6. But! Sometimes they don’t. To find the roving Kogi BBQ truck’s location, log on to www.KogiBBQ.com. For precise, up-to-the-minute information follow them on Twitter @KogiBBQ .

Dining on a budget: News Cafe & Sushi in El Monte

By Claudia S. Palma

News Cafe & Sushi in El Monte is like two worlds in one.

The counter on the side facing the open kitchen and the signs for breakfast specials give the place a diner appeal.

But the table settings and chairs make the cafe look like a small Japanese joint. As you look around and head towards the back, the Asian decor and sushi bar counter say they mean business when it comes to sushi.

The menu is expansive. There is a separate list for sushi items, which were not all available during lunch the last time I went.

The menu is expansive. There is a separate list for sushi items, which were not all available during lunch last week.The cafe menu featured typical breakfast and lunch fare, from country breakfast to cobb salad and pasta dishes to a bacon cheeseburger.

There are also plenty of vegetarian and salad choices.

The Japanese lunch special featured a bento meal, with items such as chicken or beef teriyaki, miso soup and choice of California or spicy tuna rolls. There were also cut rolls such as caterpillar rolls and crunchy rolls.  

Unfortunately for me, having too many choices is not always a good thing. I am not a very picky eater and want to try everything. I eventually just gave in and tried something from both worlds.

The crazy salmon roll, $9.95, called to me, as well as the Reuben sandwich (nix the sauerkraut).

The Reuben sandwich combo, at $7.95, came with either a pasta salad, cole slaw or fries. I went for the pasta salad (which I regretted later when I saw someone else’s plate with huge steak fries – darn, I love thick fries.)    

25193-NEWSCAFE_DINING2-thumb-250x187.jpg

 

The corned beef, sandwiched with squaw bread and cheese, was good but could have used more pepper or seasoning and I would have preferred it more moist. The pasta salad was made of colorful rotini pasta, some crunchy pieces of bell pepper and onion and a light, tasty vinaigrette.

The crazy salmon roll featured spicy salmon, avocado, cucumber and rice rolled in seaweed and completely covered with long strips of raw salmon and topped with a special light sauce and sesame seed.

25195-NEWSCAFE_DINING3-thumb-200x150.jpg

The whole roll was surprisingly good but I wouldn’t make it my favorite. Having their own separate sushi chef was a good call though.

The spicy salmon wasn’t as spicy as I expected. Usually when I order spicy anything from a Japanese restaurant, it really does have a kick.

Warning - the cafe was pretty busy when I went around lunch time and there didn’t seem to be enough waitresses for the crowd swarming in for some cafe food. Be patient or call ahead of time if you are picking up. 

News Cafe & Sushi is located at 11357 E. Valley Blvd., next to El Monte City Hall. They are open from 6 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Monday to Thursday; 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday to Saturday; and 7 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Sunday.

For information or delivery, call (626) 443-2603.

Leftover corned beef – yum!

I don’t know many people that have yearly traditions for St. Patrick’s Day, but I am so glad my boyfriend’s mother has one.

25189-four-leaf_clover2-thumb-50x53.jpg

She prepares a whole St. Patrick’s Day meal every March 17 with corned beef and steamed cabbage with potatoes and carrots. And if there is enough room, rye bread and butter.

Everything is deliciously homemade.

25191-corned-beef-thumb-250x169.jpg

The beef is nice and moist, perfectly seasoned and not too salty. The vegetables are so tender, you can cut them in pieces with your spoon or fork.

What I love most about this tradition is she is smart and cooks plenty for a big crowd and for us to take home for leftovers later.

My boyfriend loves to make corned beef sandwiches with mustard. I have a whole meal again, with the vegetables and all.

Yes, I did have beer with my meal last night, but no, it wasn’t green this time.

So what other St. Patrick’s Day traditions do any of you have out there?

Dining on a budget: Casa Del Rey in San Dimas

By Maritza Velazquez

Finally a Mexican restaurant with a little authenticity. 

I was in downtown San Dimas, looking for a place that would quiet my growling stomach, when I came across Casa Del Rey. It’s just a little further down Bonita Avenue, away from the cute Western-style shops.

I had never heard of the place, but what I found within was very surprising.  The dimly lit dining room was pretty empty, as it was well after the lunch rush. 

It was a beautiful day outside, so I opted to sit on the covered patio, which has heaters for the cooler winter days and is decorated with a line of pretty blue and flowered wall tiles.

I found that the service here was exquisite from the time I walked in. As soon as I took a seat, the server was already at work, taking my drink and meal order.

After scrolling down the expansive menu, I decided on the El Ranchero plate ($12), which comes with two enchiladas, one cheese and one beef, rice and beans and choice of soup or salad.

As I waited less than 10 minutes for my meal, I feasted on the fresh chips and salsa. My server dropped off both a mild and hot salsa, but I find my tastebuds always favor anything with more kick to it. 

And the hot stuff had just enough kick. 

My soup was just as good – albondigas – a small cup with thick pieces of tender meat, onions, carrots and celery. 

But what really impressed me was my entree, the enchiladas. Right when the hot plate was dropped off at my table, I knew I would enjoy it. 

24654-CASADELREY_dining-thumb-300x300.jpg

Both the shredded beef enchilada and the cheese enchilada, topped with a red ranchero-style sauce, a huge dollop of sour cream and lots of cheese, were as delicious as they looked. 

So were the beans and Mexican rice. 

According to its Web site, Casa Del Rey uses no lard in its beans and uses no trans fat oil in all of its fried dishes. 

And for those of you who want to spare your arteries further, this restaurant offers many vegetarian and low-carb options such as the vegetarian tacos and health-nut salad. 

When I find a good Mexican restaurant, I don’t hold back at all, and I will definitely be heading back to Casa Del Rey for more. 

Casa Del Rey is at 345 W. Bonita Ave. in San Dimas. The restaurant is open seven days a week. For more information, call (909) 592-2776.

Dining on a budget: Cafe Massilia in Monrovia

By Lafayette C. Hight Jr.

Things were going so well at Cafe Massilia until I made a terrible mistake.

I chose to visit this fairly new French restaurant in Monrovia early on a Sunday morning, which happened to coincide with the only day the restaurant serves breakfast, but opted to sample dishes from the lunch menu instead.

I decided to begin with the $7 Soupe de la Corniche, the restaurant’s onion soup (In a French restaurant, French Onion Soup is simply called onion soup) and it arrived in a ramekin with toasted French bread and parmesan cheese.

24649-CAFEMASSILIA_DINING2-thumb-250x166.jpg

This style of soup is one of my favorites and what I generally look for is the right type of cheese, which, for me, is the kind that doesn’t turn into a mile-long, unbreakable strand when eating it with a spoon.

Cafe Massilia’s version had the right amount of sweetness, and the cheese and French bread.

My lunch companion – the best part about doing reviews like this – chose the vegetable soup of the day, cauliflower soup, which I have to admit was very good.

Now I should probably point out that cauliflower is my second-favorite vegetable. My favorite? Every other one. 

I’m happy to report that this soup was seasoned so well that I wouldn’t have had any qualms about ordering a portion for myself on my next visit.

Before I get to the main course, and my grand error, I’ll tell you about the restaurant itself. Located near the corner of Myrtle and Lemon avenues, it has occupied the site of another, now-defunct French restaurant for the past six months.

The maitre d’/co-owner Chris Giovanelli keeps French music playing – everything from “La Mer,” to the French version of “How Much is that Doggie in the Window,” called “Le Chien Dans La Vitrine” – and during the course of the meal played a couple of classic French DVDs to show us, and the other patrons, his homeland and famous French actors.

I found it humorous that the table water was served without ice – exactly the same as my dining experiences in Europe – except that Giovanelli gladly gave us a couple of hi-ball glasses full of the stuff instead of turning his nose up at us and giving us one cube, like they do across the Atlantic.

For my lunch entree, I chose the $11 Baguette Pan Bagnat, a sandwich made with white tuna, a boiled egg and bell pepper, with a Caesar salad.

24651-CAFEMASSILIA_DINING1-thumb-300x200.jpg

The Caesar dressing was the best I’ve ever had. I thought there was a hint of horseradish, or cayenne pepper, because it had a degree of spiciness that I really loved, but after asking the chef, he told me that it was just a very large amount of garlic and anchovies.

I started eating my sandwich, which was made with chopped tuna and was enjoying it until I made the mistake of sampling my fiance’s $11 Crepe de la Mer.

It was this cheesy, creamy, buttery mix of smoked salmon and asparagus that was sauteed in white wine which made my sandwich pale in comparison.

And unfortunately I could only finagle a couple of forkfulls, so I’m going to be itching to go back and get my own crepe.

Cafe Massilia is located at 110 E. Lemon Ave., Monrovia, (626) 471-3588 or visit www.cafemassilia.com