Grilled sandwiches at Jack in the Box

I was one of probably many that took advantage of Jack in the Box’s promotional offer this last Tuesday – get one of their new grilled sandwiches for free with the purchase of a large drink.

The sandwiches come in two choices – there’s the Grilled Turkey Bacon Cheddar with roasted turkey, cheddar cheese and bacon, and the Grilled Deli Trio, with salami, sliced ham, roasted turkey, provolone cheese and pickles. Both served on toasted artisan bread 

I decided to give the turkey bacon cheddar sandwich a try first.

When I first unwrapped my sandwich, sliced in half, I reached for one piece and as the melted cheddar cheese stretched from one slice to the other, so did my smile. I love melted, stringy cheese!

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I’m not a huge fan of turkey but I love bacon. The cheese, turkey and bacon blended so well, there wasn’t one flavor that overpowered the other.

The bread was nicely toasted, a little greasy but it was more like butter grease than oil grease, which is fine with me. It reminded me of grilled cheese butter. I can’t confirm but I believe the artisan bread is sourdough, or that’s what it closely tasted to, to me.

For $4.19 plus tax, it’s a little pricey for Jack in the Box, but I believe the taste and size was worth it. The $2.29 I paid for the drink and free sandwich was a good price, even though I couldn’t finish the monstrously sized “large” drink.

I’ll have to give the Deli Trio a try soon…

DID YOU GET YOUR FREE SANDWICH? TELL US WHAT YOU THINK ABOUT JACK’S NEW SANDWICHES OR WHERE YOUR FAVORITES ARE.

A grilled cheese burger? C’mon Carl’s Jr!

Of all the fast-food choices out there, Carl’s Jr. is one of my top choices if I want to grab something tasty to go.

But their new menu item had me excited and then disappointed all in one commercial.

I love grilled cheese sandwiches – they’re so tasty, buttery, and cheesy. Simple but they can hit the spot perfectly every time.

So when I saw the commercial about Carl’s new “grilled cheese,” I was ready to go out and try one until I realized their “grilled cheese” is just another big Carl cheese burger with bacon and extra cheese on sourdough bread.

Not to insult either fast-food chain restaurants but I would call it a Sourdough Jack with bacon and extra, extra cheese.

Saying they want to give their customers that comfort food they crave, the fast-food chain’s newest creation started out as a menu item for vegetarian customers but instead created Carl’s Jr. Grilled Cheese Bacon Burger – a charbroiled burger patty, bacon, four slices of melted American and Swiss cheeses in between grilled sourdough buns.

Though the vegetarian is also available, I wish they could have just given this new burger another name so as not to confuse (and excite) customers for no reason.

I have not tried the “grilled cheese” yet but not sure if I want to – I could just go order a grill cheese from my local Rick’s.

WHAT’S YOUR TAKE? REAL GRILLED CHEESE OR JUST ANOTHER CHEESY BURGER?

More free food – Jack in the Box

To promote their new grilled sandwiches, Jack in the Box will be giving them away next week.

On Tuesday, Feb. 23, only, buy a large drink and get one free grilled sandwich of your choice. No coupon necessary. At participating locations only.

You can either go with the turkey, bacon and cheddar which includes roasted turkey, bacon and cheddar cheese with a sun-dried tomato sauce on grilled artisan bread; or the deli trio with genoa salami, sliced ham, roasted turkey, provolone cheese and pickle filets with creamy Italian dressing on grilled artisan bread.

 

Free Pretzel Day at Auntie Anne’s

Whether it’s a great marketing ploy or just an evil plan to get people addicted to their goods, but I am sold on Free Pretzel Day at Auntie Anne’s.

On Saturday, Feb. 20 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., anyone who walks into their local Auntie Anne’s pretzel shop can get one free original or cinnamon sugar pretzel – no strings attached.

If you think you’ll go about your daily routine on Saturday and completely forget to go get your free pretzel, visit www.freepretzelday.com to sign up for a free text message reminder.

And if you’re really a pretzel fan, take photos of you and your crew on Free Pretzel Day and email them to Auntie Anne’s. Photos will be shared on the pretzel company’s facebook page and 100 lucky winners will be randomly chosen to receive a free t-shirt.

Check with your local Auntie Anne’s for details or visit www.auntieannes.com .

Sora Sushi & Roll in Covina

After a couple of restaurant groups were didn’t have much staying power at the site of the former Sam Woo BBQ on San Bernardino Road and Azusa over the years, I hope the new inhabitants, Sora Sushi & Roll, will have better luck.

After a few colleagues made a few return trips there for lunch, I thought I would give the new Japanese cuisine a try myself to see what they had to offer.

Though there are many Asian restaurants in the neighborhood, there haven’t been too many that have such a variety of sushi and rolls offered, and taste good too.

Although the teriyaki plates and combination platters were very tempting, I felt it only fair to give the sushi rolls a try.

With everything from a simple California or tuna roll to the specialty, fresh, tempura and baked rolls, I grew hungrier as I read the description of each roll. I finally settled on the Alaska roll (spicy scallop inside, topped with salmon and avocado and rice) and a spicy tuna roll.

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Sushi and roll orders come with a cup of miso soup and salad. The soup was perfectly temperatured for me to enjoy right away, I would have liked more tofu pieces but the broth was seasoned well for a tasty, warm start to my meal.

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The small salad was a simple mix of greens with radiccio and carrot. The dressing, not knowing exactly what it was, was very tasty with a slight tangy and light flavor.

The Alaska roll ($8.95) was beautifully displayed and it tasted as good as it looked. The spicy scallop had a nice tender kick, not too strong, and the salmon and avocado was a nice fresh and cool balance to the roll.

The spicy tuna ($4.95) cut roll had a little more heat but was still not overwhelming the rest of the flavors in the roll.

The rice in the rolls were cooked just right so they stayed sticky to keep the rolls in place. A good indicator of the sushi chef’s talent.

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I was pleasantly full with the size of the rolls but the dessert was so tempting, I ordered some strawberry mochi ice cream to go ($2.50 for two pieces) – perfect ending to my Sora experience.

Although it can get pricey, I will definitely have to return to Sora to try the rest of the menu, starting with the Jalapeno Bomb and Soft Shell Crab in their Little Bites menu.

Sora also offers salads, sashimi combos, noodles, bowls, tempura plates, and party platters.

The restaurant is open from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and from 4 to 9 p.m. on Sunday.

Sora is located at 519 N. Azusa Ave., Covina, 626-332-1201.

National Pancake Day at IHOP

With National Pancake Day coming up, IHOP has been spreading the word for weeks with public service announcements starting NFL Hall of Famer Steve Young for their fifth annual fundraising event to be held Feb. 23.

The restaurant is partnering with the Children’s Miracle Network for the event to raise money for the non-profit organization as part of NPD. IHOP’s goal this year is to raise $1.75 million.

On National Pancake Day, IHOP will give guests one free short stack of its signature buttermilk pancakes from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. at its more than 1,400 restaurants throughout the United States.

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In return, the restaurant asks that guests make a voluntary donation to support local children’s hospitals through Children’s Miracle Network and other local charities.

To help spread the word even more, Children’s Miracle Network announced that a number of its celebrity supporters plan to make National Pancake Day wake up calls to remind interested individuals to stop into an IHOP for free flap jacks on February 23, and IHOP announced a “Stacks for Good Acts” online contest offering a year’s supply of free pancakes to the winner.
 
Children’s Miracle Network National Pancake Day Celebrity Wake Up Call Program invites interested individuals to receive a wake-up call from their choice of celebrity as a reminder to stop in on Feb. 23. 

Celebrity callers include NFL Hall of Famer Steve Young, entertainer and Children’s Miracle Network co-founder Marie Osmond and newly crowned Miss America 2010 Caressa Cameron.  Wake up calls can be ordered at www.IHOPPancakeDay.com.
 
IHOP’s “Stacks For Good Acts” Online Contest invites good Samaritans to submit a 250-words-or-less story, at the website above, about a good deed they or someone they know did in 2009. Entries will be judged on emotional impact, originality and entertainment value.  One grand prize winner will receive free pancakes for one year.
 
More information and complete contest rules can be found at www.IHOPPancakeDay.com. Entries can be submitted online and the contest ends at 11:59 p.m. ET on Feb. 19, 2010. One (1) grand prize winner will receive free pancakes for a year (defined as one free short stack of buttermilk pancakes per day for 365 days) at IHOP.
 
Fun fact about National Pancake Day:
For centuries, the English have ‘flipped’ for pancakes in celebration of Shrove Tuesday, which heralds the beginning of fasting during Lent. Long ago, strict rules prohibited the eating of all dairy products during Lent so pancakes were made to use up the supply of eggs, milk, butter and other dairy products, hence the name Pancake Tuesday. 
While IHOP’s National Pancake Day typically takes place on Shrove Tuesday, which lands on Feb. 16, this year the company will host its free pancake event on Tuesday, Feb. 23 instead.

$1 Oatmeal at Jamba Juice

So I took advantage of Jamba Juice’s $1 Oatmeal Wednesdays today to start my day.

I went with a fresh banana and brown sugar crumble topping – simple and healthy. For just $1, the portion size was satisfying. The oatmeal itself was warm and softly cooked but not much taste.

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The bananas were freshly sliced in small rounds and together with the brown sugar topping were pretty much the only flavor in the whole serving, but what else do you expect from fresh oatmeal?

I don’t know if it was worth having the brown sugar crumble because there were hardened pieces throughout and I worried some would crack my teeth. They were just too hard.

It would be nice to have more berry flavor options also because I don’t care too much for blueberries, dried cranberries or cherries.

Healthy, tasty breakfast for just $1

Today, Jamba Juice has announced its own solution to many people’s new year resolutions to eat healthy and save money - oatmeal for just $1 every Wednesday, all month long!  

The smoothie company offers their oatmeal, made with 100% organic, steel cut-oats, with a choice of 3 real fruit toppings - fresh banana, blueberry/blackberry and cinnamon apple – and now for a limited time the Berry Cherry Pecan, a mix of premium dried fruit, glazed pecans and a brown sugar crumble.

No microwaves here, the made-fresh-daily oatmeal takes a full 40 minutes to prepare, but ready to serve when ordered. 

The oatmeal offerings contain no artificial preservatives, no artificial flavors, zero grams trans fat and are a great source of protein and fiber. And on for only three more Wednesdays this month – you can get all that healthy, tasty goodness for just a buck – $1, regularly priced $2.95.

Good for you and your wallet.

I know what I’m having for breakfast tomorrow. Check back here Wednesday afternoon for the verdict. 

Modern Thai in Montebello

Working in the San Gabriel Valley, specifically West Covina, has definitely expanded my dining palette.

Even on the weekends, I find myself craving Japanese or Thai food, and one day I finally had to search for a Thai restaurant in my city of Montebello.

I’ve shopped in this shopping center plenty of times, my bank is even nearby, but I never really paid attention to Modern Thai next to the post office and CVS in the Montebello Plaza Shopping Center before.

I found about it online (go figure) and dragged my boyfriend in on a night when he wasn’t in the mood for cooking.

This would have been my boyfriend’s first time trying Thai food but I, on the other hand, had plenty to compare it to.

To get a good comparison, I ordered the Tom Kha Gai soup ($5 for bowl), a spicy coconut cream soup with chicken and mushroom, and the Chicken Pad Thai ($8) noodles.

We also ordered the Spicy Basil dish with beef stir-fried with chili garlic sauce and basil leaves ($8), and a side of steamed jasmine white rice ($1).

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The first thing that caught me off guard was the way all the chicken was cut. It’s like they tried to slice them any way they could to use every part of the chicken. They were good size portions but they were a little dry in the noodle dish.

The soup was spicier than I’m used to but very tasty with big pieces of mushroom.

The Pad Thai was not spicy and a little disappointing. It didn’t have as much flavor as other Pad Thai I have tasted and the chicken didn’t help much.

The best dish was the Spicy Basil. It had the right amount of spice and meat and I actually scooped up some of the sauce to mix in to the Pad Thai.

I went back another time for take-out and thought I would try a starter this time.

36343-MODERNTHAI_mtb1-thumb-200x150-36342.jpgI ordered the calamari wonder ($7), which is pretty much fried calamari with sweet and sour sauce, to start with, and King’s Curry ($9) for a main dish.

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The calamari reminded me of popcorn shrimp from its size and the fried batter. They were decent but heavier on the grease and not on the flavor. The sauce didn’t help much.

The King’s Curry is shrimp and green beans sauteed in a sweet and spicy King’s curry sauce.

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The amount of shrimp in the dish was perfect and they were perfectly cooked. The green beans were a perfect combination with the shrimp and the spicy sauce brought it all together. This has been my favorite dish here so far.

The Thai iced tea ($2.50) is also one of my favorites. It doesn’t have that coffee taste and is not too sweet.

The restaurant is at 2557 Via Campo in Montebello. They are open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Lunch specials and catering is available, as well as free delivery within three miles. For to-go orders, call 626-724-9245.