Bay Area Vacation: In-N-Out Burger

I did not count on driving that far. On the map, Yosemite to Santa Clara does look near and I thought it would be Interstate road conditions all the way. A big part of the trip are on windy, narrow roads until I get to the valley.


Dang … California sure had so many fruit plantations. It was delightful driving through so many fruit stops. We stopped at one place to get some strawberries. The strawberries looked so good — big and bright red. They are very good and cheap too. We asked the guy at the stall to wash a basket for us to eat in the car but he said it’s already cleaned. We did not trust him. Since we had so much bottled water from the road trip to Death Valley, we gave it a thorough rinse before we set on our way.

Two years ago when we had our Disneyland vacation, we noticed a lot of burger joints called In-N-Out. We did not try any that time and so made it a point to drop by one … one more food place to blog about, you see.

In-N-Out is basically a California burger place. Although they do not have as many outlets like McDonalds, Wendy’s, DQ, etc, they are very popular among Californians.


What we like is their menu — it is so simple. They have only three, as I recall. There is the Cheeseburger and the Hamburger … and then there is the Double-Double. Off hand, you would know what burger size you want. You know, in McD’s, it’s kind of confusing sometimes making the difference between a BigMac, Big Xtra, Quarter Pounders and what nots. See that menu above the cashier’s head? Well, the menu is that simple. I like it.

The major difference in In-N-Out is their focus on freshness. The burgers and fries are made to order. So, you see a bit of a wait while they prepare your order.

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Yosemite Vacation: Buffet Breakfast at Curry Village

Back to normal programming …

We had a rough night in those tents in Curry Village. It was so bloody cold. Moreover, me being such a hero, did not bring along even a light jacket for this trip. Suanne insisted everyone bring one but I thought, well, it’s summer … why would I need a jacket right? The blanket was so thin and SHORT … does not help a bit at all. I decided to wake up at 5AM and took a walk to warm myself up.

Everyone else woke up at 7AM. Decided that since this place is so rough, we let the boys go without brushing their teeth for today! I was amazed that Suanne allowed that. Well, considering we had to take a long cold walk to the bear lockers to grab our toiletries and then endure a long wait to use the limited washrooms, I guess it’s quite OK to skip brushing their teeth for once. They were happy.

About the only warm place that morning was the Curry Village Buffet. We did not plan on having another buffet since we had so many already in Las Vegas. It was either this or we take a bus to the Yosemite Lodge.


Service was atrocious even though it was a buffet. The people who worked there are obviously seasonal workers who does not care to give us a fake smile or a fake greeting. No eye contact … mono-syllable communication … in another words, just plain rude, if you ask me. After a rough night, I admit I am quite cranky … but these kind of attitude will not bring these workers far in life. Sorry for being so judgmental! I had already decided then and there … no tip whatsoever for you guys … sorry.

The good part is this place is warm.


There were lots of food though. Count on this as standard American breakfast fare. It was quite good and we enjoyed it.

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Las Vegas Vacation: Carnival World Buffet at Rio

We got up extra early that last morning in Vegas as we had a long day driving from Vegas to Yosemite. This is one breakfast we know we want to load up on as we have no plans to stop for lunch until we get to Yosemite.

Since Rio is known as an All-Suite hotel, I figure that they would be worth checking out. The Rio hotel is not located along the The Strip but a few blocks west of the South Las Vegas Blvd. Driving down the Strip, one would not miss noticing the red and blue tower.


The Carnival World Buffet is known to be the first buffet in Las Vegas to have multiple action stations and the buffet that introduces high-end buffets to Las Vegas.

Rio’s buffet is quite cheap compared to Bellagio’s. Here is what I gleaned from their website:

  • Breakfast $13.99 plus tax, 7am-11am Mon-Fri, 7:30am – 10:30am Sat-Sun
  • Lunch $16.99 plus tax, 11am-3:30pm Mon-Fri
  • Dinner $23.99 plus tax, 3:30pm-10pm Nightly
  • Saturday & Sunday Champagne Brunch $23.99 plus tax, 10:30am-3:30pm

They have several electronic payment machines, much like an ATM to make your payment. I was very impressed and thought why didn’t the other buffets do this.


We were there early at slightly past 7AM. There were hardly anyone around when we were there.

The buffet tables were the longest we have ever seen. What you see below is just perhaps a quarter of the buffet counters around. They are arranged by themes. The food are more authentic than any we have ever been to.


The fresh carved meats was our favorite station. The meat were just fresh out from the ovens. Don’t you just love it seeing steam rising as they carved the meats? I do.


I know this is breakfast but I just must have the prime roast. I figured this will be the last time we’re gonna have this until we get to Reno … so why not eat to our fill, right?

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Las Vegas Vacation: Bally’s Big Kitchen Buffet

Updated: 11th Jan 2015; This restaurant is closed according to

Our original plan was to try that go-just-before-they-change-menu stunt at the Flamingo’s Buffet. I had thought that they operate the the same way as the other buffets which they change their lunch spread to dinner spread at about 4’ish every day. It would have been absolutely awesome as we wanted to be able to watch live flamingos in a lush garden while enjoying our buffet. But … their brunch ends at 2:30PM and then re-opens at 4:30PM for dinner. Shoot! They are closed for two hours in between meal times.

We did not have a Plan B. So, the closest nice place we can think of is Bally’s across the street. From the looks outside and the name itself, it seemed like a nice place for a buffet. We had no idea what this looked like. It was pretty hot that day and we did not feel like hotel hopping to scout for a better buffet. Moreover, our intention is still to pull the 4PM menu-change stunt and we are running out of time. Bally’s it was.


We’ve been spoilt. I can’t help but comparing the Bally’s Big Kitchen Buffet to Paris’ and Bellagio’s. For one, they don’t have long queues. When we walked in just before 4PM, there were no one at the cashier’s and only a few tables were taken.


The buffet tables had a very simple layout. It’s located in a corner section of the dining room. Price wise, it was $64 for the four of us.


They were pretty generous with the Prime Roast and sliced a thick piece even without us asking for a extra thick one. Needless to say, Arkensen and I had several of this.

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Las Vegas Vacation: Breakfast AND Lunch at Le Village Buffet

We decided to go to Paris for another buffet in the morning. To me, Paris is one of the classiest hotels on The Strip. Its very well planned and especially for one who had been to Paris recently, I could related to many of the designs in this hotel, in particular the Eiffel Tower, the Arc du Triomphe, the Fountain and Louvre.


The interior is designed like you’re walking down a cobbled Paris street in an evening. I love that feeling especially in the front entrance and the casino area where it does not feel overwhelmingly casino-ey.


The Le Village Buffet came highly recommended from a lot of friends as being the best buffet. It is one of the expensive ones, like Bellagio.

MammaViv told us that once they went to Le Village at 10:30AM and ended up having both breakfast and lunch at the same time. This is because Le Village changes their breakfast spread to lunch at 11:00AM. So, we decided to give that tactic a try to land a larger choices of buffet items for a lower breakfast price.

I thought I had timed it well. Well, I thought if I had gotten to Le Village by 10:15AM, I would have been OK to be able to get in by 10:30AM. To my surprise, the buffet line was already long at that time when we got there! Comparing this line with Bellagio’s, I estimated that it will take 30 minutes or even longer to get in. Fortunately, the line went faster than I anticipated and left us time to sample their breakfast spread.


The bill was $64 for the 4 of us. It’s more expensive for lunch but don’t have the numbers. I think it’s really cheap after what we had spent for Bellagio’s dinner buffet.


Everyone would love how Le Village is setup. It is designed like a French village square. You get a choice of sitting “out” in the courtyard or in one of the “buildings” along the sides. We were shown the “outdoor” table — just what we wanted.

Even though we learned that the buffet tables were organized by provincial cooking style in France, I did not even pay attention to it at all.


I like that they came by with a flask of coffee just as we sat down even without us asking for it. Suanne and I need our coffee every morning.

Oh, I expected to be greeted in French … well, at least a Bon Jour. The only frenchy thing about the waitress was her uniform.


You know what disappointed me the most? They don’t serve baguette! I was so looking forward to trying good old French baguette here and was pretty sure they would have it — but no, none at all. I guess behind the facade, this is also very much an American breakfast.

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Las Vegas Vacation: Lucky 7’s Buffet at Plaza Casino

Updated: 11th Jan 2015; This restaurant is closed according to

Really, this is unplanned for! Although we had planned for buffets in Las Vegas we had just wanted to get a small(er) meal for dinner. Well, walking down Fremont Street we can’t help but notice a sign that said $7.77 All Day Every Day Buffet. After spending almost $30 per head the previous two days, this is a bargain we can’t resist. No harm right? At the very least, we could just go in and check it out.

This was at the Plaza Hotel Casino and the Buffet is called the Lucky 7’s Buffet.


Bad move … first we see a long queue into the buffet which means one thing … that this is popular. And then checking what they served, oh boy, this is exactly what we like. Lots of meat and some comfort food. The boys love these no frills buffet … i.e. they enjoy sushi, burgers, fries, beef over crabs, seafood, and such.

One cannot compare this buffet in any form with The Buffet at Bellagio — not in any stretch of imagination. It’s just a simple buffet … why, even the buffet we had at Ole Country Buffet is posh compared to this.🙂 Still, they have more food choices than I would care to try everything.


Arkensen and I loves meat … particularly roast prime beef … and only medium rare. This is really juicy and had the perfect amount of fat.

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Las Vegas Vacation: The Buffet at Bellagio

Las Vegas is not only about casinos … it is also known as the buffet capital of the world. There must be dozens of buffets all over the city in various types. There are buffets that costs under $10 and there are those that costs up to $40.

We decided to try The Buffet at Bellagio because they claim to be the best (and one of the most expensive, if not the most expensive) in Las Vegas. Whatever it is, two words describes Bellagio best — High Elegance.


The Buffet at Bellagio serves American, Italian, Japanese, Chinese and Seafood cuisine. The attraction is their Alaska King Crabs and Kobe Beef. We had never tried Kobe Beef before but only found out that they only serve Kobe Beef on weekends.


We were at The Buffet at about 5:00pm which we thought is early before the queue starts. We were wrong. Even at 5pm there was a line which stretches out to the entrance. The wait was supposed to be about 45 minutes from where we were.


After waiting for about 20 minutes, someone gave us their Line Pass which allows us to get on the shorter line. We got in in just 3 minutes in the shorter line. We were pretty pleased with it. He he he … we felt pretty important too.


Here are the rates for The Buffet:

  • Breakfast 7am-11am: $14.95
  • Lunch 11am-4pm: $19.95
  • Dinner 4pm-10pm: $27.95
  • Sat & Sun Champagne Brunch 7am-4pm:
  • without champagne: $23.95
  • with champagne: $28.95
  • Fri & Sat Gourmet Dinner 4pm-10pm: $35.95

There are no discount rates for children at The Buffet. All kids pay full price!! Obviously they deliberately do this to discourage families eating here.


The buffet islands and counters were bright and clean. We had a first visual sweep of the entire area and had a tough time deciding where to start. For sure, there are no way we could try everything that is available as much as we try to get only bite size servings as much as we can.


At the dining area, the seating, tables and lightings were comfortable, not plush. However, the table settings were good … no paper napkins, silverware and such. Oh well, we are here more for the food.

Service was prompt and they kept our glasses filled and took our plates away as soon as we’re done.

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Summer Vacation 2007: McDonalds Breakfast in Bellingham

Here it is everyone … our new series of our summer vacation this year. For the next few weeks, we will be blogging about our travel, and food adventures in our journey around Nevada and North California.


We started off very early in the morning. It was 5AM when we started off from Vancouver and headed to the Bellingham, WA International Airport to catch a flight to Las Vegas — our first destination.


There were just six cars ahead of us at the border crossing at Peace Arch. On our last crossing a few weeks ago, it took us 45 minutes to cross the border. This is kind of spooky … immediately after we passed our passports to the immigration officer, he actually knew the name of the hotel that we are staying in and the number of days we have bookings for! The only way he would have know it is that they have access to Expedia’s records … or maybe it was a lucky guess.

I asked how he knew … and he told us that he works for the US government and the US government knows everything. He gave us a wink and sent us our way. What do you think? Was that a lucky guess or he actually have records like that.


We couldn’t think of anywhere else other than the McDonalds nearby the airport that is opened before 6AM. We had decided to skip lunch and then hit the Las Vegas buffet for Lunch-Dinner.

Now, for Breakfast-Lunch you call it Brunch. What do you call Lunch-Dinner? Lunchner? Dunch? Dinch? LOL!


It was just standard fare we had … Suanne and I shared a Big Breakfast … or at least I think it was the Big Breakfast. It consists of some scrambled eggs, pancakes, sausage and biscuits. I’ve never knew why they call the patty like thingy a sausage. Shouldn’t sausages be long?


Arkensen and Nazaro had theier McMuffins and McGriddles. Continue reading

Tim Hortons on No. 3 Road

It sure was a scorcher the past few days here in Vancouver. I guess I shouldn’t complain because it’s still less than 30 Celsius. By this time tomorrow, am gonna be in Vegas which hit 47 Celsius!! Gosh! I sure picked a lousy time to be in Vegas. What more, am gonna drive thru the Death Valley from Vegas to Yosemite. I am having second thoughts of that right now.

Back to Vancouver, it’s so freaking hot, we decided to pop over to Timmy Ho for a cup of our favourite iced cap. We went to the one on No 3 Road in Richmond. As you can see below, the Skytrain Canada line construction had reached the Aberdeen station now. Traffic had been a nightmare nowadays here.


Did you know that there are more Tim Hortons’ outlets in Canada than Mickey D? Yup, kind of hard to believe it but it’s true. I believe that McD still had more outlets here in BC but in the east, Timmy Ho reign supreme.

We simply love Timmy Ho’s Iced Cap … more than the other iced cappuccino from other places like Starbucks, and Second Cup. This came in three sizes.


They had a new iced cap on the menu. The Iced Cap Supreme is available in four flavours: Butter Caramel, French Vanilla, Hazelnut and new Strawberry Shortcake. I chose the Butter Caramel.

I remember reading in the papers comparing Tim Hortons’ Iced Cap with Starbuck’s Frap, Dairy Queen’s Chillate and 7-Eleven’s Slurpucino … and Tim Hortons’ won hands down in number of calories. I can’t recall exactly what it was but it seems something like 1000 … give or take 500.🙂

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Golden Award Cafe & Restaurant in Richmond

Please note that the Golden Award Cafe had already been closed. In it’s place is now the Silver Tower Cafe.

There are dozens of Asian restaurants along Alexandra Road in Richmond. We had barely tried 10% of them. For sure, we hated the uncertainty of going into restaurants that had chandeliers on high ceilings or rows of Mercedes and Audis parked outside. Then there are those that had not a single English word visible from the outside — you see, we are illiterate.

But we found one that is more like our kind of restaurant. Well, to us it’s a HK-Style restaurant, well, because of the ubiquitous iced milk tea … but with a slight twist. The Golden Award Cafe and Restaurant is located in the Connaught Plaza on Alexandra and Kwatlen.


Although they have the HK style menu where you pay a price for an entree which comes together with a drink, we like their “combo” menu. For a fixed price, you get to select a number of dishes (for the Cantonese, it’s like “chow choy” style … know what I mean?). We ordered the 2 dish combo which comes with two selection, soup and rice (no drinks included here). The kicker is that it costs only $13.99!! That is enough to feed the three of us.

The soup was not great but is flavourful. Well, what can one expect from free soup.


The first dish we selected was the Pork Chop in Honey and Rock Salt. This one is awesome — the sweet sticky gravy is a bit spicy. I don’t know why they name this “rock salt” because it is not even a bit salty at all. The dish is large and we had a tough time finishing this off between the three of us. You should try this one, you will like it I’m sure.

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