Saturday, November 26, 2011

Little Rock, Arkansas - Istanbul Mediterranean Restaurant

                 When I go to any food establishment, I would like to say I look for two things, good service, and good food. However if staff is underhanded, or if I have to wait for a table to get served, I am more than willing to wait. I'm not the type of person to throw a snide remark or leave because of a long wait. However, if I am going to be waiting for a long time, if a server can say,"I'm sorry this will take a while", or, "We're underhanded at the moment", it would be better than ignoring customers for almost 30 minutes.

         Now normally I am not the type to talk badly of an establishment, but if the customer service is this long, I feel I have to say something about it. Me and my friend came to the place a week or two ago, for the first time, since we hang around the Pleasant Ridge Town Center alot. (Where this restaurant is located.) It looked like a sit yourself in situation, which is what we did, as we noticed it was a fairly small place, and other customers coming in were doing the same thing.

           We came around the end of lunch hour, some time around 2 or 3.  The restaurant was a small shop; and you can see all the seating at one glance. The decor was slightly ethnic, but mostly simple in design, with a studio ceiling and dangling lights. Some foreign photos were hanged here and there in an otherwise blank wall. The place was a little full, but not really packed. They had a few empty seats around.When we entered we noticed there was only two servers, a boy and a girl. The girl took a group of guys that came after me and my friend, and we figured she just wanted to get the bigger crowd out of the way so we sat and waited. The boy disappeared sometime in the back for a while, taking care of his own orders, so we focused on the girl most of the time. She took their orders and went to the back, then came out and took dishes and plates from some older women who were finishing up. That was fine, we didn't see an issue at this point. A little bit after, when things cooled down, and most of the people left, a few new customers came in, and we noticed this girl was taking their orders. At this point, me and my friend felt a little uneasy, because technically we were there first, and no one even glanced at our table.

              The boy took some orders on the other side of the place and went back. Meanwhile the girl whizzed back and forth next to our table, and not looked at us at all. I would like to say at this point that some of the new customers were sitting right behind our table. Finally, about 20 minutes in waiting, the girl glances at us and asks," Have you been helped?" I wanted to say something, but all we said was," No ma'am." She got us some menus really quickly and asked for our drinks. When we told her, she left, and came back some 10 minutes later with it. At this point she left us alone again, to take care of other orders, and it was probably another 10 or 15 minutes when she arrived to ask what we wanted to eat. Well, at this point we were given plenty of time to consider it, and we told her what we wanted before she spirited away again.

              Food preparation took an average amount of time, which was probably another 10 minutes or so, for two people. We had lamb gyros,(they called it something else in this place), and tomato soup. Some time after we finished eating, she came some 15 minutes afterwards to remove our dishes, and offered us some free baklava,( a Mediterranean dessert like this. ) In the end she apologized to us for the long wait and didn't charge for the dessert nor the drinks, which was kind of her. However, the whole incident could have been avoided if she or the male waiter at least apologized for the delay  before the long wait, or offered some sort of excuse.

             I don't have complaints with the food itself;that was prepared nicely, and tasted fresh. However, due to what occurred here, this left a bad first impression on me, so I will probably not be visiting this place for a while. Perhaps next time, if I have a better experience, I'll put a better review...

                  The food was good; I won't complain of it, but I wish I could have provided more photos to point out how tiny the restaurant is. Technically, under normal cicumstances,  I feel it would be hard to miss somebody there.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Japanese Sweets - Botan Rice Candy

            Today I'm doing a small entry on a candy I found. Botan Rice Candy is a Japanese hard candy that has a tangy taste, which seems to be a mixture of lemon and orange.When you undo the wrapper, the candy is covered with a type of wax paper that dissolves in the mouth as well.
          I first saw it in Arkansas, in the large Walmart off Cantrell Road. The box is decorated with traditional Japanese items. One picture has an "Inu Hariko," a traditional dog toy for children. The box also has a peony flower, since "Botan," is Japanese for peony.(The Wikipedia page states this nearly word for word, but if you google both words, you will see the article is accurate.)  Like you probably suspected, it is a small candy targeted to children, and comes with a sticker in every box.

         I recommend it to people who already have a sweet tooth; it's tart, but only slightly. It might feel a little wierd eating an edible paper thing, but it really doesn't do anything to the candy, and you can also take it off if you didn't want to eat it. The candy is a bit hard, but softens when you chew it. For folks looking for small foreign goodies, and/or people with a sweet tooth, this is a good confection to try. ^^

                                                                Front side.
                                                             Back side.

                                             Some nutritional facts and company logo. :p
                                                       The sticker it came with.

                                          That plastic stuff is the edible wrapper. XD

  Wikipedia Page
  JFC Website  (The candy is not listed.)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Little Rock, Arkansas - Panda Garden

                   Open buffets can be found in any town, but I think people can tell quality food when they see and taste it. Panda Garden is a Chinese open buffet that is located in Shackelford. It seems they don't have a website at the moment,but here is a link that provides an address and some reviews.  ( The google search has a restaurant of the same name in Texas. But, like Buffalo Grill, it seems it's one of those places with a similar name, but with completely different food and ownership.)

                      The buffet is large and roomy, but not expensive or formal. The entrance has a large chandelier when you enter, but as it's not a fussy or fancy restaurant, so don't worry if  the large space seems slightly intimidating; it's a perfectly casual place to relax in, and you can sit down as long as needed. The place has two ways to do payments, you can pay a one time fee, (usually $11, depending on the time you're there), and take a takeout box with whatever you want, or you can dine- in. If you choose the latter, you will be asked what drink you would like, sit down in the dining area, and then you go to the buffet once you receive your dink.

             Now what's in the buffet? They have a dessert section, with small cakes, pastries, pie, and fruit salad. ( I usually get the fruit salad since it has marshmallows in it. XD) They have a decently sized sea food section, with crab meat, ( the type sold in Chinatown),  stuffed clams, oysters, shrimp, shrimp salad; all the works. I can proudly say that I tried nearly all the seafood there, since I love seafood!  (Probably not too healthy, but it's not like I go there everyday... :p) They have an appetizer section with bread or egg tarts on occasion.(An egg tart is commonly found in Chinatown bakeries, and yes it's made from egg. It looks like this.) What else? They also have typical Chinese chicken, like Sesame Chicken, Honey chicken, Teriyaki chicken, etc. They have a sushi section, and a place that has soup, usually a Chinese kind like Egg- Drop soup, or Wonton soup.

              My overall verdict? For about $11 dollars, you get all you can eat? Heck yeah! Go and drop by, they have something for everyone, even for those who don't like to eat Chinese food. ^^

                                      Taking cell photos at night... not the best idea. XD
                                         (But at least you can see everything. :P)
                                             I always liked looking at chandeliers. C:
                                                             Inside of the buffet.

 The buffet.
         Honey Chicken Wings, Breaded Shrimp, Steak on a Stick, Bacon and Crab, and some
                                                             Macaroni in the bottom. 

I went recently, getting almost the same thing.
                            The cup has Egg-Drop soup, and that's an Egg Tart on top. XD
                                              The stuff next to it is Lo-Mein, and rice.

                                                             See you next time!