Monthly Archives: March 2016

Steppin’ Out – Hodgepodge (Burger King, KFC, A&W)

Burger Kingkfcaw_logo

Every few weeks one or another of the “fast food” (some are slower than others) restaurants comes up with something new. For a while it was, “I can add more bacon than you,” and then “I can make my burger spicier than yours.”

Recently, they have been trying to “out cheap” each other with “4 for $4,” “4 for $5,” etc., giving you a burger, chicken sandwich or nuggets, fries and a small drink for the same price as their regular burger.

I tried the one most local, the “4 for $5″ combo at Carl’s Jr., and it was okay. The burger was a two patty, two pickle sandwich, the chicken sandwich was pretty bland, but the fries were good and I always order a small drink anyway, because when you eat-in, you can refill it as many times as you like. That, folks, is a money saver.

Burger King recently sent out an email announcing something new (actually they had hot dogs before), grilled hot dogs: a Classic Grilled Dog and a Chili Cheese Grilled Dog. I forwarded the announcement to my friend Russ Salazar and we decided to drive to the far end of Iron Point Road in Folsom (our nearest Burger King) and try them. By the way, it is rumored that our WalMart will be getting a Burger King inside where Blimpie’s was located.

We ordered the two dogs and a small order of Jalapeño Chicken Fries, which are strips of chicken, breaded with a jalapeno mixture. I had tried them before, but Russ had not. We also ordered two small, 16 oz. drinks from the “Dollar Menu.” The nice lady at the register only charged us 49 cents each for the drinks because we are seniors, to which Russ said, “How did she know we were seniors? She didn’t asks us.” As usual, I didn’t answer that eternal question.

The chili dog was very good. The chili was good and the grilled dog was too. The Classic dog was a different story. Russ thought it should be called the relish dog, since it had more relish than anything else. Their picture shows it with lines of mustard and catsup on top (catsup on a hot dog? I thought that was against the law after you turned 16) but those were covered up by the relish. It was good, once you got rid of some of the relish.

I had been to this same Burger King before and they needed some additional training, the owner told me. I think that would still be a good idea.

The Jalapeño Chicken Fries were okay. They were lukewarm, and had probably been reheated. They had a bit of spiciness which we both liked. I think they were supposed to come with a dipping sauce, but catchup was good enough. I always forget to order dipping sauce anyway.

Since we hadn’t consumed that much food (we split everything), we decided to wait a bit and then stop by the KFC near Sam’s Club in Folsom (Bidwell St. end of Iron Point Road) and try the new Nashville Hot Chicken.

This KFC is also an A&W, so we decided to also try one of their chili dogs along with the chicken.

The place was in a bit of chaos because their router was not working and they couldn’t take credit cards. They rebooted their system and finally, everything was working (we thought).

We asked the cashier for the cheapest way to sample the new flavored chicken and he told us to order the three Nashville Tenders, which came only in “Extra Crispy.” He asked if we wanted the combo, to which we said no, and then we added an A&W chili dog, without cheese and with just a few onions (Russ doesn’t like anything on his chili when he wants to judge it).

While we were ordering the register failed and they had to move to the other one. Electronically, they were having a bad day.

When our order came we started with the chili dog. The chili was good, but the dog was way too salty. We were disappointed in it.

The Nashville Chicken Tenders were tender, crunchy and nice and spicy, but oily. We first noticed that when the napkins we placed them on became so oily that it immediately soaked through to the table.

I picked up the plastic container they came in and tipped it. At least two tablespoons (one ounce) of oil gathered in the corner, and that was just the run-off. The nutrition guide says the three have 20 grams of fat. I don’t think they count the nearly 30 grams of excess oil. I hope this is just a local issue with that store, because I would like to try them again.

We had another issue with the food, the price. For some reason by ordering the tenders without the combo (biscuit and cole slaw) they cost nearly a dollar more.

Russ took the receipt back to them and ended up getting the biscuit and cole slaw from the cashier. The manager, who I understand was under a bit of pressure do to the electronic failures, was way too condescending for someone in a service industry and ungraciously returned the difference in price. I think from now on we will stay local for our KFC, although it was nice to have and A&W to patronize.

I mentioned this to a friend I walk with in the morning. He had tried the Nashville Tenders too, and they were way too oily. He also added something I had noticed, but not commented about. The containers that KFC uses are such thick plastic that some people reuse them at home. However, most end up in the trash. In this day and age KFC really doesn’t need to use that much plastic!

I rarely make so many adverse comments about one restaurant, but I immediately contacted KFC about the chicken, the oil, the pricing and the ungraciousness of the manager and received no response at all.

Steppin’ Out – Wonderful Chinese Restaurant, Pleasant Valley

Sweet and Sour Pork

Sweet and Sour Pork

I have always had good food and service at this little Chinese restaurant at the corner of Pleasant Valley and Mt. Aukum roads, across from Holiday Market.

Well, almost always since one time about five years ago they tried to make me hot tea with cold water. They were confused until they found out someone forgot to turn the kettle on.

The new owner, for the past four years, likes to be called Mei and she is a delight. She was taking all the orders and serving all the food when we were there around 1 p.m. on a Thursday.

My friend Russ Salazar, who actually arrived before me for once, is a great fan of Honey Walnut Prawns. He raves about the ones he used to drive miles to get in Sacramento, before that restaurant closed down. They are on the Lunch Specials Menu here (served from 11:30 – 3 every day except Monday, when they are closed), so that is what he ordered.

I decided to try a chicken dish and settled on Kung Pao Chicken, which is a somewhat spicy dish with lots of vegetables. I chose steamed rice, he the Pork Fried Rice. We both had hot tea.

The lunch specials also come with Egg Flower soup (except for take-out), a small green salad with vinegarette and a Cream Cheese Wonton.
The soup was very good, especially after a small dose of the hot oil you find on the table (Mei just looked at us when we did that and later, while smiling, offered us a second bowl of the hot oil for our table).

The salad was very crisp (Russ pointed that out to me before I even tried it) and a nice interlude between the soup and main dish.
As usual we split the main dishes and rice so that we could both try them.

I loved the Honey Walnut Prawns. The batter and sauce (it tasted like it had a hint of lemon) were both good and the prawns were fresh and perfectly cooked. Russ told me the batter was a bit thicker than the ones he used to love, but that they were very nicely done and very, very good.

Russ also commented on the Kung Pao Chicken, which I was really enjoying. Again, he especially liked the crispness of the vegetables. Now comes the most interesting part of the meal.

Russ bit into the Cream Cheese Wonton and said, “I don’t know what is in this, but it is delicious.” As Mei walked by the table, he asked her what was in them. “That cheese from Costco,” was her reply. Then she went into the kitchen and came back with a large package of Cream Cheese. He asked here if that is all she puts in them because they are delicious. Her reply was, “No…a family secret.”

The multi-page, take-out menu starts with Lunch Specials, which includes over two dozen Chinese favorites cooked different ways, all on order. Be sure to watch out for the little chile peppers printed to the left of the dishes. Those mean it is spicy.

Then come the Family Dinners (Happy Dinner and Wonderful Dinner) for a set price, then Combination Platters.

Next on the menu are a dozen Appetizers / Salads including a Combo Tray (flaming) for two with a mix of appetizers.

On the following page are the seven or more soups and a dozen seafood dishes, all based on prawns served a multitude of ways (I have to find out what Salted Pepper Prawns taste like. Maybe next time although it will be difficult to not go back to the Honey Walnut Prawns again).

The seven Specialities include sizzling platters, clay pot dishes and Egg Foo Young combinations along with Prawns and Lobster Sauce.

There are four categories of meat or meatless dishes, including beef, pork, chicken and vegetables. If you can’t find at least one of your favorites there, I don’t know what to tell you.

The last two categories on the menu include the different kinds of Fried Rice and Stir Fried Noodle dishes. Here you find the Chow Mein and Chow Fun dishes, along with a few house specials.

For beverages they serve soft drinks, tea, domestic and imported beer, house and premium wines and Japanese sake.

I have to add that the whole place was very clean and nicely decorated. The food was excellent, the service was outstanding and Mei was delightful and full of life.

Additionally, when I went to leave I found my car battery had died (dumb mistake on my part) and since I had no cell coverage there, Mei generously loaned me the business phone to call AAA, took a call back from them and even offered to let me sit inside and wait.

Wonderful Chinese Restaurant is open Tuesday through Sunday from 11:30 until 9 and closed on Monday. Lunch Specials are served from 11:30 until 3.

For more information give them a call at (530) 647-8111.

They also have a Facebook page with lots of recommendations and good reviews from their customers (some of whom are very humorous).

So, I have always wondered why they put peas, carrots and corn in fried rice? Is it just for color and only here? I don’t think any of those are native to China.