Sunday, October 26, 2008

Caribbean Gardens

Caribbean Gardens
2007 Foothill Blvd
La Verne, CA
(909) 593-7824
Type: Caribbean/Guyanese

As of this writing, I found out that Caribbean Gardens is no longer with us-- at least in its original La Verne location. I looked it up on Google, and they might have possibly moved to Pomona. I'll give them a call and get to the bottom of this as soon as I can. Til then, this will be just a short eulogy....

Caribbean Gardens and I were friends. We weren't close friends like me and Banana Bay, Hole Mole, or even Maxim Cafe. But we had a special relationship. I'd go there on somewhat special occasions and if I had some money to spend. I'd go all the way to La Verne just to eat there and come right back after. I found out the hard way that this place was gone. I drove all the way over there with a friend and when we pulled up in the parking lot, the name was different. My first initial thought was, "Oh. They changed their name?" But I very quickly realized that the chances of them changing their name to a Chinese restaurant-sounding place and keeping their original menu in tact was just wishful thinking.

The flag of Guyana

Really quickly, I'll try to shoot off about the food, although I don't think I can keep my composure re-living all the memories here.

This place serves Guyanese food. (Guyana is located in northern South America) What's Guyanese food? I haven't had much Caribbean food, but the name of this place pretty much says what it is. I mean they got plantains, jerk chicken--which I know is also eaten in Jamaica. They have some veggie dishes, fish dishes, and different meat dishes. I think this place has some Indian (from India) influences with their daal (lentil soup) and other things. They also have roti which is a type of flat bread from India as well. It's kind of like Cuban and Peruvian food too. Durr... they're both in the Caribbeans.

The prices here aren't that cheap but I personally didn't mind paying up once in awhile. If I could, I would've eaten there about every 2 weeks. Maybe if their menu had more selections, I would've liked to go every week. But alas.

Here's their fried fish meal ($15) nice and salty

Roti and vegetable curry with more plantains $9.25

more people should've known about this place

Why did they close down? WHY??!!!! WHHHHHYYYYYYY!!!!!?????? I don't know how many people were exposed to this place. It was a small spot in a shopping plaza. It was never packed when I came to eat here. Is it me? Do I have bad taste? I don't think so. My friends and girlfriend thought it was cool. Maybe they were being nice to me cuz they knew how happy I was to eat here. Could it be that nobody should ever listen to my recommendations and this food blog is just a waste of everybody's time? Yes. Likely. But I still refuse to believe that this place shut down cuz of less than par food.

Caribbean Gardens... wherever you are. You'll be missed. Come back to me, please. *sob* *sob* *sob*

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Boiling Seafood

The Boiling Seafood
19705 Colima Rd Ste 415
Rowland Heights, CA 91748
(909) 594-1889
Type: Cajun Seafood Boil

There's this new craze around So. Cal for Cajun-style seafood. You just order the type of seafood you want (shrimp, crab, lobster, or crawfish) and choose the type of seasoning. When it's done they bring you the finished product(s) in plastic bags. To eat it, you just get the stuff out of the bag, peel it, and toss it somewhere on the table (covered with butcher paper). That's it. But it gets messy.

I was a little late to this new trend-- if you wanna call it that. My friends used to rave about these kinds of places, especially a place known as Boiling Crab (review coming soon). I was put off from a similar experience when I went to San Pedro with some friends and had a similar style meal. It was just wack to me. Plain. Seasonings sucked. Never again. But it wasn't Cajun-style.

Some new place opened near the hood and my friends said it's supposed to be similar to Boiling Crab. They really really wanted to try this place out, so I dropped my past notions and joined in the hype and anticipation of trying this place.

The day of reckoning finally came. A big group of us rolled through. Luckily for us, the place was empty. Or maybe it's not so lucky for us. Not a good sign?

Since I didn't know crap about these places, my friends had to be our tour guides. First up, they ordered us 1 pound of king crab legs ($14.99). They said to get the "whole shebang" seasoning which is all their seasonings combined (rajun cajun, lemon pepper, butter). You get to choose how spicy you want it. We got medium. Next up 1 pound of shrimp ($8.99). Same deal. Whole shebang medium. We decided to get some items from the lower part of the menu. We got crispy oysters ($9.99), some corn on the cobs ($0.50 each), and some fries ($1.99).

you read their menus sideways

So first comes the side stuff. Crispy oysters and fries. You get about 10 oysters per order. They're deep fried obviously. I liked them. Nothing super outstanding, but they're cool. In my notes, I put the fries are decent and they give you a lot for 2 bucks. But having been to a few of these places now, I'm not getting fries anymore. Not that they suck. I prefer to eat the seafood with rice. What's good about this spot is you can order steamed rice, or you can probably bring your own. Yup. Do that instead.

crispy oysters and fries as a filler

(Before you get into all this mess, they give you a bib to protect part of that new, white shirt you stupidly wore)

The shrimp came next. I didn't do a great job with the picture cuz I took at an angle that makes it look plain and dry. Not the case. It's really soaked in a red sauce known as the whole-shebang. I think they had to change that name though cuz that's Boiling Crab's sauce name. I liked it. You just soak the shrimp in the sauce, remove the head, suck the head of all the juices, suck the body of whatever juices it has, peel the body, dip the peeled shrimp into the sauce again, and enjoy. No, this is not an instruction manual for a porno. But it might give you an orgasm or two. After my many experiences at these places now, I order more shrimp than anything else. For the money, it's just the best deal. I'll still order crab or whatever, but this is the staple of the meal for me.

Hi guys. Sorry you taste so good.

Alright. You gotta get some kind of crab. We always get the king crab legs cuz 1) I heard there's more to eat, and 2) it's cheaper than the dungeness. What can I say. It's crab. It's good. There's a lot more work to it than the shrimp, but the efforts are equally rewarded. Sometimes though, karma bites you in the ass when you're cracking them open and you get stabbed by the thorns on the legs. It's like I can hear the crab watching over us saying, "Take that!" But once you come out the battle field with your hostage (a fat slab of meat), I use a fat technique of pulling the pieces apart a little and soaking them back in the sauce. By pulling the meat apart, it exposes more surface area to absorb the sauce. It's a mathematical fact.

These things bite back.

somebody ordered some fried shrimp, but who cares, right?

I forgot to mention they also give you some lime, salt, and pepper that you mix together for a more citrusy flavor. It's good to have to change up the pace of whole-shebang.

bag o' goodies.

the rest of the carnage


So what's my take? For many who've tried this place and had the chance to compare it to Boiling Crab, they didn't like it. Some just straight up despise it. As of this writing, I've been to Boiling Crab about 3 times, and this place about 3 or 4 times. I've tried both, and yes, Boiling Crab is superior to this place in every way except that you can order rice just in case you forget to bring some, and it's closer to home. In all honesty, I don't mind going here again. And I probably will go here soon. I've brought people here who haven't tried B.C. and they liked it. Why spoil it? If they like it, they like it. I like it.

p.s. I heard they changed the name of this place to Michael's Cajun something or something. But for now, just look it up on Google as The Boiling Seafood. Also, don't wear anything nice. And maybe you might not want to go anywhere fancy after cuz you'll be smelling like seafood and garlic for a little bit.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

The Stinking Rose

The Stinking Rose
55 N La Cienega Blvd
Beverly Hills, CA 90211
(310) 652-7673
Type: Californa-Italian / garlic

Being my girl's bday (back in March), she wanted to try something different from the normal special-occasion-spot of sushi, sushi, and sushi. I don't think it took long for her to decide on The Stinking Rose in Beverly Hills. When I first heard of the spot and passed by it a long time ago, I thought it was an upscale restaurant. Fortunately it wasn't as upscale as I thought.

The Stinking Rose, like Garlic Jo's is known for their garlic themed dishes. The term "stinking rose" is universally known as garlic as the website claims-- hence the name. I read that they use about 3000 lbs. of garlic a month at their San Francisco location.

Ironically the decor inside reminded me of vampires and how they would decorate their castle. There's different themed dining rooms throughout the place.

I have to make a quick confession. The notes I took about this place are almost non-existent. All I put down in my phone is "there's a separate bar area." That's it. I don't really remember what dishes are what and if it was really good or not. All I can provide for you are the professional quality pictures I took of the food:

here's one looking from the beer goggle lens

this one's a scenic pic. notice how I got the table with the lights reflecting off the glass and the silverware. The bread and that other stuff couldn't have been in better spots. Art just sometimes happens.

Ok. The next one was mine so I had a good view of it. I think it was the sea bass ($25.95). It had some kind of small pasta balls for the carbs. I think it tasted good. I don't think I got full from this one though. It's possible I'd get it again.

the sea bass in its habitat

So my girl's friends came and my friends came and we had like 20 heads in the place. Bad thing when it's your bday. You know why? Every single person is gonna try to get you a drink. What's wrong with people buying you a drink? Nothing-- when it's 1 or 2, or 3. But maybe 7 or more mixed drinks spells disaster. My girl was throwing up in the bathroom by the end of the meal. But she recovered and we went clubbing soon after.

Again I apologize for the horribler-than-usual review. The Stinking Rose is a good spot to take out-of-town visitors (unless they come from Frisco) who want something cool and different. I consider these kinds of places the go-to spots when you wanna impress visitors and make it seem like you're hip and know what's up in your city. The prices are a little high especially if you're treating. The food is good (that I vaguely remember). I'd go here again for another special occasion. I'll take notes next time.