Thursday, 31 January 2013

M&M's Jumbo Crispy Buffalo Wings

DEC 2012

I spent New Years with LJ's family, and they know me so well that they went out and bought chicken wings for me to have while I was there. They are the best.

They had purchased from M&M's Meat Shop the "Jumbo Crispy Buffalo Wings." It had been a long time since I had M&M wings, but I certainly didn't remember them as jumbo. Maybe things had changed? Although reading that the 2lbs of wings for 14-20 wings promising.

I found the message on the box cute: "Thank you for inviting us to your table." I found it interesting that they have both oven and barbecue as cooking option.

Inside the box, the wings are kept in a plastic bag. They certainly looked big in the bag.

This box had 16 wings inside. Not a lot of wings, but they looked pretty big. They went into the oven at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes (as per the directions).

They were flipped once, and after about 40 minutes these wings were ready. Some of the chicken stuck to the pan, which was unfortunate.

The breading on the wing made it extremely crispy. Every bite had that crunch/crackle like a piece of fried chicken. Some of it felt a little too thick.

So were they jumbo? Yes. These were massive wings. I mean they were physically heavy to lift. Very meaty too. They were relatively tender. And heavy.

Time to rant.

M&M's advertises these as Buffalo Wings. IN NO WAY ARE THESE BUFFALO WINGS. NO. WAY. Buffalo wings are a) deep fried b) have no breading or coating c) are tossed in a cayenne/butter/vinegar sauce mixture.  These wings are none of the above. How can they sell these as Buffalo wings?

How did they taste? OK. Really all you can taste is the breading. There is some spice in the breading mixture, but it's weak. What would make this better? Buffalo sauce. You know, like they are advertised as.

Would I get them on my own - yes I actually would. But I would totally have to sauce them.

Thanks LJ's family for thinking of me and feeding me. Happy New Years!
M&M Meat Shop's Jumbo Crispy Buffalo Wings


DEC 2012

Friend and former staff member Monica was moving back to BC and a small group gathered to say goodbye. Not sure where to go, we tried the newly opened Kimchi Korea House just down the street.

 Construction and renovation seemed to go forever on this place, and once it opened up I know I had been curious to try it out.

The colour theme of the place seemed to be black, white and red, which I thought really worked. It has a slight western and korean chic meet feel. The crowd is predominantly young people (early twenties), but then so were most of the people at our table.

Our server was Jane, who was friendly and willing to explain the different Korean dishes, since no one in the group was Korean.

Like Japanese restaurants, the simple salad with thousand island-like dressing was served. Fresh and light it was.

This wasn't really part of my meal I don't think, but these sides came out. I really enjoyed the sweet potato. I did not really enjoy the fish cake, or spinach, but that is more about my tastes than their preparation.

I didn't capture the people's meals around me - a lot of bulgogi and bibimbap was going around, and people at my end of the table seemed to enjoy their meals.

A few things had caught my eye to get for supper: Spicy sweet chicken or katsu, but once I saw wings, well we all know where that was headed.

The chicken wings are listed as one of the mains on the menu, and about 12 wings come in an order.

On the side was some cool and funky garnish - standard parsley, but also carrot and I don't know what the purple threads are. Do you?

Kimchi's wings are not very big. They are small to medium in length, and they aren't particularly meaty either. That is the dissapointing part of the wing. The plus side of the wing itself was that the skin was crispy, and the deep fried skin really held up with the sticky sauce. 

The flavour was sweet and spicy. Sugary from a honey flavour or maybe brown sugar, but there were hints of soy sauce, and just a little kick (little) from possible chili paste. The sesame seeds add more visual flair than flavour, but seem to be the standard with Korean wings.

They weren't big, but they were crispy. The sauce was slightly runny, but very gooey. There were several notes of flavour  - sweet, spicy, savoury. Going back, I wouldn't hesitate to get these wings again. 6.5/10

As for Monica, good luck back in BC, you are missed already!

Kimchi Korea House
149 Dundas Street West, Toronto ON

Cheshire Cat Pub in Carp Burns Down

Sad news; the Cheshire Cat Pub outside of Kanata Ontario had a fire this past week.

 This was one of my favourite places in the National Capital Region for wings. It was a great pub.

There are efforts to help owners and staff out. Check out their "Keep Calm and Rebuild the Cat" effort on Facebook - and there will be a fundraiser: "On Saturday, February 16/13 at the Carp Agricultural Hall we will be having a fund raiser to help staff of the Cheshire Cat Pub who were put out of work by the fire."

Good luck CCP!

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

DOMINO's PIZZA: Pan Crust Pizza & Wings

DEC 2012

Domino's Pizza has been doing a bunch of re-tooling in the past few years. Back in December I saw some ads on TV for their new Pan Pizza. I was hungry, and that sounded good.

Oh, there was also the above ad. Perfect timing. So I ordered, and in 30 minutes or less I had my pizza. Oh, and I couldn't just have pizza, I also went with some wings.

I opened the box and I was excited - I mean this pizza looked pretty sweet.

My three toppings were pepperoni, onion and sausage. I love the little sausage balls. And this pizza was not skimping on toppings.

When I think of 'pan' pizza, I think Pizza Hut. Domino's knows this, and in their ads even attack Pizza Hut by talking about how the 'other guy' uses frozen dough, while Domino's uses fresh dough. The last time I had Pizza Hut I was disappointing in their pizza, so couldn't Domino's recreate the pan goodness I had had a long time ago?

Yes, yes it could. This crust was awesome. It was flaky, buttery and chewy. Everything a pan crust pizza should be. Now to be honest, I do not like the sauce. Too tomatoey and it dominates the pizza. I prefer a sauce with less of a statement. If you overlook the sauce, this was a great pizza pie.

And then there were the wings.

I reviewed Domino's wings back in 2008, and I didn't care for them. So maybe things were different?

Nope. I had hoped with all the retooling the franchise was doing, they would fix the wings. Not yet. Not yet.

The chicken ranged from small to medium but the shapes were also all over the place. Now the wings were very meaty.They were also very tender. But there was a complete lack of crispiness to the wings. You can see the above wing is soggy. To begin with, the wings are baked, which does not make for crispy wings. But then floating in sauce just makes for a soggy mush.

The flavour was slightly spicy, which is surprising. The sauce was also buttery, but it was also sweet for some reason. A little bit would taste great, but there was so much that it become revolting after a while. Chemicals I guess.

The Pan Crust pizza was awesome. Loved it. I hate Domino's pizza sauce, but everything made for a quality pizza. The wings are terrible in my opinion. Like the frozen kind you get from the grocery store. The chicken is super tender and meaty, but the soggy skin and lake of sauce turn this into a terrible option. The wings should be crispy, not a mess. 2.5/09

Dominos Pizza


-- Ajuker Chicken is NOW CLOSED --

NOV 2012

This was one interesting adventure. It starts over a year ago, maybe even two. I had heard about a Korean joint that did Korean style chicken wings. My understanding of Korean wings are that they are very crispy. Sounds good. Where to get them? Ajuker was the place what I kept hearing as the place to go. 3 times I went to Korea town and could not find this place. Three times over that maybe 2 years. But one November night, I got there.

I don't know why I didn't find the place. Well maybe its because the English is tiny on the sign. Anyway, I found the place, and even though I was dining solo and would normally feel a little uncomfortable in a place I couldn't even see inside, I sucked it up and went in.

Inside the place was simple and felt kind of thrown together. Throughout the place were tv's playing a Korean . . . game show? variety show? I didn't know. There were a few times that the screen looked a little odd, and then I realized the show was being played off of a laptop and I think being watched more by staff. The crowd inside was Korean and young and lots of people seemed to be enjoying varieties of fried chicken.

photo from JH on yelp
The above photo is not mine (I took one but it didn't turn out). I knew by the pictures there was chicken wings, but I could not read the menu. What confused me was the pictures at the top that showed wings and Large-Small, but what was that? And then at the bottom had the title WINGS. An older woman (owner maybe?) came to take my order. She did not really speak English and I don't speak Korean. I tried to ask about the wings . . . and it was a very challenging conversation for us both.

First I wanted the 'Bul-dak' or hot spicy chicken sauce, but was told no. I asked what kind of wings the others were, and in broken English I basically got 'plain' 'soy sauce' 'honey garlic' and the last I couldn't understand but it seemed special and had green onions. So I ordered that one, and I was told it was $2. Sure, I just wanted wings.

A plastic bottle of water was brought to my table, as well as the Coke I ordered. I also got a side dish of sweet radishes, which are great with spicy dishes. I didn't have to wait long and my wings had arrived.

I had no clue as to what was coming to my table. I mean, I had my idea of what the wings would be like, but I did not expect the following:

Some sort of weird bird nest of onion on chicken wings with sauce mixed over and some sesame seeds. I was lost as to how I was supposed to eat this; I mean, do you bite the onion with the wings? Separately  Was the onion just garnish? What do I do??!?!?!  Under that onion forest were about 12 wings in there.

The wings were irregular in shape. Some of the wings were large, others small. Some wingettes had the tip, others not. Some were cut in half.

The chicken was perfectly cooked. The skin was very crispy and had a nice crunchy (the last wings not so much). The meat was tender. Did I mention the perfectly crispy skin? It was a crispy coating like a perfect chicken McNugget coating.

The sauce was . . . interesting. I wouldn't call it tasty. It was a seemingly mix of soy sauce and ginger and, well I don't know. It was kind of sweet, kind of sour, kind of bitter too. The green onion gave it a kind of fresh kick. I have never had anything like it. It was an experience, but not one I would go through again. 

FINAL SCORE: Ajuker was quite the experience for me. As a non-Korean, it was a little strange atmosphere and talking with staff was difficult. My chicken was perfectly cooked: crispy and tender chicken. The sauce was, just strange and I don't recommend it. I would love to try the honey garlicky one, or even plain. I would LOVE to have the spicy sauce, but they don't do that. 6/10

680 Bloor Street West (and other locations)

PS: if you can translate anything, please let me know what I was eating, or what I could have eaten!

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Circus Circus Buffet ~ Las Vegas NV


On Hallowe'en, LJ and I took a trip to Las Vegas. Neither of us had ever been, we had time, so we just went. We were worried about our trip not happening as this was the time of Hurricane Sandy that was shutting down flights all over the place. Turns out we got there without any issues. 

photo I took later that night

We arrived on the Wednesday and  headed straight to our hotel: Circus Circus. The place had it's pro's and con's and I won't get into the interesting stories about the place here on the blog, but ask me sometime. Anyways, we were starved and headed to one of the restaurants advertised at the hotel. But when we got there, it was closed (like many things we found in Vegas). So we headed to the hotel buffet instead.

Our time zones were off, so the place was dead inside. A lot of the stations were not running, and not a lot of things were being refilled because, well, no one was eating it. There was a mix of options from Tex-Mex to seafood to all day breakfast. Not the best buffet options I have seen, but not terrible either.

The atmosphere and decor were nothing special. Clean though.

I was very excited to see they had fountain Wild Cherry Pepsi! It's hard to get cherry pop back in Ontario, so I took full advantage of the self serve. The orange pop was awesome too.

I enjoyed the Tex-Mex: made myself a soft shell taco (although you could have hard shell) with rice and beef and nacho cheese and jalapenos. The bacon was, well, I just couldn't resist a strip of bacon.

So not really a wing review, but they did have fried chicken. They also had fried shrimp, and some nice roasted potatoes.

The fried chicken was decent. Breaded, slightly crispy. It was ok. The shrimp was ok. The whole buffet was ok. But I had no desire to go back. Well, maybe for Cherry Pepsi. But not the food. Not really.

Circus Circus Buffet
2880 S Las Vegas Boulevard, Las Vegas Nevada USA