Atlanta Trip: Locanda D’Amico at Minneapolis Airport

I flew for the first time on Northwest Airlines. Since NWA is headquartered out of Minneapolis, I had a stopover at the Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport. You know what’s the greatest attraction at this airport? For American, they’ll know that it’s the washrooms!!

For those who do not know, Senator Larry Craig was arrested at this airport for “disorderly conduct”. Apparently what he did was he tapped his feet in the washroom. This is so new to me … tapping of the feet is a signal for people who wants to engage in well, “disorderly conduct”.

Well, I made very sure I did NOT tap my feet when I used the washroom. I have half a mind of taking pictures but there are so many people going in and out that I am sure I would get arrested for taking pictures in the washroom. πŸ™‚ … Enough of that.

Anyway, we had lunch at a casual-Italian restaurant called the Locanda D’Amico.

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They served sliced bread … nothing to shout about.

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I had the Chicken Scallopini with Prosciutto, served with Linguine with Fontina Sauce. The scallopini was exceptionally good with the cheese sauce.

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Atlanta Trip: Chili’s Burger at the Atlanta International Airport

The Atlanta Airport (or rightfully, the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport) is, believe it or not, the world’s busiest airport in terms of passenger volume and landing and take-offs. I believe the reason it is the biggest is because of one big factor — Delta Air Lines. Without Delta, this airport will not be what it is today.

As famous and busy as it is, it is one of the unpretentious airport I had been to … well, Heathrow is worse I think. There is nothing to see and do although there are lots of shops and restaurants. But then after a few trips all the shops and restaurants practically sells the same stuff. I must however give credit to the airport … it is the simplest to navigate despite its size. There is absolutely no way one could get lost. In terms of efficiency, it is simply the best. I would describe this as function over form at its best.

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One thing I do notice is the presence of men in uniforms at the airport. I think these soldiers are either going to or returning from Iraq. They are always there with their grey-green uniforms. And the strange thing to me is that every now and then, the airport will break out in cheers and claps when some of these soldiers marches through. The Americans sure are appreciative of the sacrifices of their men in uniform despite most are opposed to the war in Iraq. I must admit I do gawk at their uniforms and gears … and do think … oh man … these men are the best trained in the world in warfare. They know how to kill despite their man in the street look.

See the lines from the Atrium at the ATL airport? Well, it could get that busy. That FIVE line winds its way across the Atrium and into one of the longest snaking queues I had ever seen. Here is a tip: there is a shorter and lesser know security checkpoint at the far end of the North Terminal. I normally take that because it takes only about 5 minutes to clear it.

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There are a total of SIX(!) concourses in ATL. The concourses are linked by high-speed train. When I have time to kill, I would normally walk to my gate through underground walkways. Of late, they have put in a lot of interesting African art sculptures. It is great to kill time.

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On the recent trip I had my dinner at Chili’s at the airport. It was a very busy restaurant, as in all restaurants in ATL. I had to wait in queue for about 10 minutes for a table which was quite OK. I had a magazine at hand and am not going anywhere for the next hour and a half anyway. Continue reading

Atlanta Trip: Cheesecake Factory – Revisited

I don’t know … there is something I really like about the Cheesecake Factory. It’s not the cheesecake. It’s something else. I like their huge portions — which is particularly important because I eat very little for lunch while traveling. By dinner time, I am simply famished. And it is by design. I so look forward to dinner after a long day at work.

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I like their lavish decor … the high ceilings, marbled floors and the huge (fake I think) columns. It’s just simply classy.

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Since Georgia is also known as the Peach State, I ordered the Georgia Peach for my drink. It’s vodka mixed with peach liqueur and peaches swirled with raspberries. I notice I am beginning to take a liking to these types of fruity drinks.

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Atlanta Trip: Breakfast at the Marriott’s

I almost always stay in the same hotel when I travel to Atlanta. It’s at a Marriott hotel and is located just across from our office block in Atlanta. I like that hotel. It’s clean, comfortable, have free high-speed internet and almost everything you will ever need while on business trips. Almost all their guests are business travelers.

Breakfast for me is almost always at the Courtyard Cafe. I wished I had the chance to go further out for breakfasts but it’s hard for me because of the 3-hr time zone difference between Atlanta and Vancouver. Breakfast in Atlanta’s 8AM is 5AM in Vancouver!

The buffet breakfast in Marriott’s is the same everyday. It costs about ten bucks.

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I always start off with coffee with cream and sugar. I like their coffee.

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What I like best about having breakfast here is that the people knows me already after two years of frequent stays here. Recently, they even remember that I wanted two sunny side up eggs before I asked them for it. Only scrambled eggs are on the buffet table but you can order eggs done other ways from the kitchen.

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Altanta Trip: PF Chang

I sort of gate crashed into a team dinner when I was in Atlanta. I had no qualms doing that since I had never been to PF Chang before … and more importantly, someone else is picking up the tabs for this dinner.

PF Chang’s China Bistro is another American chain restaurant. The one we went to was just walking distance from our office. It’s in the newly renovated Cumberland Mall. Despite it’s name it’s more aptly described as an American Chinese bistro … i.e. it tried to look Chinese but it’s really catered for the American tastes. He he he … you know what the initials P.F. stands for? It’s named after the founder of the chain … Paul Fleming! Enough said! πŸ™‚

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Although this PF Chang is called a China Bistro, it’s more like a more upscale restaurant. The service was prompt and pretty good. I actually have a bit of a culture shock here … seeing how pretentious this place is trying to be chinese. Starting the many lanterns on the ceiling and the candles in the table. Why … if I am not mistaken, you never have a candle on the chinese table because you only light candles in a funeral for the dead! πŸ™‚

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Started with a drink and chose something unique from the drinks menu. It’s called the Asian Persuasion which is basically vodka shaken with fresh brewed organic green tea. Yucks! It was an awful combination — at least to me anyway.

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Well, I was seated at the far side of where the ordering action was and did not managed to get a say on what to order. I thought I better keep quiet since I am a gate crasher this time. But … those guys, all southerners (no Asians) were having problems ordering because I think they eat Chinese only perhaps once every decade or so. Continue reading

Atlanta Trip: Zocalo in Midtown Atlanta

Seems like the whole village was in Atlanta the week we were there — which was good. My boss and my boss’s boss was there too to meet their boss. Separate meetings though. Minions like me have lesser meetings. I had expected this trip is going to be lighter than the previous ones as I am not driving the meetings. I just need to participate … I like these kind of trips.

First thing we did when we landed at the massive Atlanta airport was head over to Midtown Atlanta. Marko had offered to join us for dinner show us around Midtown. For me, I am always game to go somewhere new and try something different. After all these trips to “motherland” Atlanta, I am beginning to run out of places to try in and around Cumberland.

Long story short, Marko suggested Mexican but well, I am not really a fan of Mexican food. Somehow it always conjure up in my mind images of mashed beans … shudder. But then he used the magical words … AUTHENTIC Mexican food … now, that’s a different story altogether. I just gotta try it.

We went to this place called Zocalo. Man, the place was packed to the gills. They seem authentic enough … no aircond, semi open space and guess what … no lights too … just candles. It was unbelievably dark. It was so dark we could not even read the menu. They came by to give us a small torchlight to read. LOL! The place was loud and noisy though … lots of Spanish chatter. BTW, are Latin American ladies generally loud? I can hear their screams and howls and laughters from the other table. The guys are more subdued. They know how to have a great time.

I ordered the Mango Margarita. Wowee … this is the best Margarita I had ever had. It was so fruity that I could hardly detect a hint of tequila. Not a drinker myself, the drink went to my head and felt somewhat tipsy. Nice choice. They came by and asked if I wanted another … no way man, I would not be able to walk after another one. This sweet potent margarita will be my baseline benchmark of what a great margarita is going forward.

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The salsa was awesome. Sure beats the ones we buy from the Superstore about a million times over. Don’t roll your eyes, OK? I got a legitimate question. Guacamole … how do you eat them? Use it like a dip just like salsa here? I saw them making it fresh next to the tables that order them. They looked absolutely delicious. I am gonna try that next time I am in an AUTHENTIC Mexican restaurant.

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Now … for the life of me, I can’t remember what I ordered for dinner. No, it was not because of the Margarita that I have select memory. No, no … it was simply because it was so long ago and I don’t have the receipt. I think it’s some fish dish. It was nice … I liked it. The best part? There were no mashed up beans on this.

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Zocalo Mexican Kitchen & Cantina on Urbanspoon

Tandoori Kona Restaurant in Richmond

We found this little gem of a place quite by accident a couple of months ago. It had been sometime since we had East Indian food. We initially wanted to go and try the Himalayan Restaurant at the intersection of Cambie and the No 5 Road. Instead we were drawn to the Tandoori Kona restaurant by the Lunch Special sign that had put out.

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There were no one in the restaurant when we visited. Being such a minor strip mall in Richmond, we had not expected this. While it was no lavish in decor but it was quite impressive.

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Again, in such an unassuming place from the outside, the place is very clean.

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The Lunch Special meal combo came with freshly baked and warm naan. It was some of the best naan we had.

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2-for-1 Dinner at Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts

Polly and Vincent invited Suanne and I out for dinner last month. Polly wanted to check out the 3-course dinner at the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts (PICA). The PICA is located at the entrance to Granville Island and is an accredited, private culinary institute.

The settings at PICA is alright … it’s not exactly classy, this being a training institute after all. But they do have a great view of the marina for sure. Get a table by the windows, that is the best. For us, we only have a table next to the entrance to the kitchen.

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We chose Monday only because it’s a 2-for-1 night for their three course dinner. We had been meaning to try this but never gotten down to doing it. This dinner is actually organized by Polly and Suanne.

I was so glad that they had scheduled a weekday too. I just enjoy a good meal … and a drink … after work these days. Work had been demanding these days for me. Although I don’t really have to work long hours, the work day had been hectic — I did not even have the time these days to hang around the water cooler as much as I like.

After an order of drinks (I had the Granville Island Pale Ale which was pretty good) came the bread basket. It was a hit and miss … the sweet buns were better than the others. Hey … is there a right way to eat buns? Maybe it’s just me but I think to the Chinese, they will naturally use the knife and slice the bread, spread the butter in between, and then eat it like a sandwich.

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Our strategy is simple, Suanne and I will order different appetizers, main dish and dessert and share it between the two of us. That way we can try as many different dishes as possible. Polly and Vincent did that too but they did not say out loud. Yes, we have no problems with that because it is what I call, being practical.

The first appetizer we ordered was the White Navy Bean Soup. The plate was large but if you really look at it, it was really a small serving. Oh, at a glance the pepper sprinkles on the plate looked like someone dropped some cigarette ash on our plate!

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Vincent and Polly ordered the Butter Lettuce Mimosa. It contain crumpled hard-boiled eggs, chopped parsley and Dijon Vinaigrette dressing.

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#9 Restaurant – Dinner

Hah! Come to think of it, we had never had lunch at the #9 Restaurant. Maybe it’s because we have always mentally associated #9 as a supper place. Anyway, #9 is about the only place we know of getting a full meal at any hour. We had blogged about Late Night Supper and Early Morning Breakfast at #9 before. This time, it’s dinner.

A few weeks back, we went to #9 for dinner. We had enough of HK Style Cafes and of late been trying out more of, you know, chow-choy type of dinners. I am not sure what is the proper English word to describe this … but chow-choy to us means that we order dishes to share. It will come together with steamed rice and nothing else. Generally, that is how a typical family meal is served for the Chinese.

We got the 3-items set dinners which costs $32.75. The prices for the set dinners does not include steamed rice or soup — it’s just the selected dishes.

We ordered the green beans with minced pork in chilli sauce. The grean beans were crunchy and the sauce were great. This is so good that even Arkensen and Nanzaro like this despite this being a vegetable dish.

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The other dish was the Lemon Chicken. This one is dry … too dry for our liking. The Chicken meat was too tough. It was not really good.

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However, the Honey Garlic Ribs were fabulous. The ribs were well deep fried and gives a crispiness to the texture. It is sweetened by the honey.

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We ordered 4 bowls of steamed rice to go along with the dishes. The servings of the dishes were big … so big that we could not finish them and had to take them home.

One thing about the #9 Restaurant … don’t expect stellar service from them. If you are lucky, and I mean extremely lucky, you get to be treated with respect!! No, not everyone is bad but there are some of the waitresses that we can’t stand. If you want to get their attention, like a refill of water, they would pretend they don’t see you. But when it comes to getting the tips from the table, they come by in lightning speed!! He he he … we get a kick out of leaving loose change and pennies on the table, wait for them to come to collect it and then see their faces.

The food is not bad but be prepared to be treated like sub-humans.

No.9 Restaurant 九記 on Urbanspoon

Hon’s on No. 3 Road revisited

Updated: 8th Jan 2015; This restaurant is closed.

It is getting tougher to decide where to eat out these days. The boys are getting more assertive on where they want to go. About the only place that is neutral is Hon’s on the No 3 Road in Richmond. This is because they have something on the menu that will appeal to everyone. The price is right, the service is respectful, and the menu is extensive.

The only thing we gripe about is the lack parking. I don’t hang around the parking lot waiting for a spot. I will just drive directly to the roof top parking in the building across from Hon’s. There is always spots there.

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One of things Suanne normally will get from Hon’s is BBQ’d pork feet. They have the largest and meatiest pork feet we know of. Moreover, it is really cheap … about $3 for a pair. They are great for making Pickled Mustard and Tofu Soup.

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What I always like about Hons is their open kitchen. We normally would peek at what is being cooked to help decide what we want.

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Despite the popularity and crowd, we had hardly need to wait for tables. The turnaround is really quick … lots of seats available. It could be chaotic for those not used to these type of Chinese restaurants.

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This time I had Beef Tendon Dry Noodles. You get to choose the type of noodles … I got the wide egg noodle because I felt it absorbs the sauce better. The beef tendon was fabulous. It’s an acquired taste … not many people likes it but I love the soft texture.

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