Monday, March 28, 2016

Cardenas -- 2001 S Garey Ave, Pomona, CA 91766

Meal Cost (for 2): $23.94. Health Rating A. Yelp 3 stars

This is the large Cardenas Market where Price Club used to be years ago at Rio Rancho Road and Garey. The building was split and part of it is the Rio Rancho Mall (see previous posting). Inside the store is a full-service bakery and other amenities, but I was honing in on the food service area at the far southeast corner of the store. Here you can order a wide variety of to go or eat-in Mexican food.

Because it's Spring Break for the Lovely Mrs. C, she accompanied me this week, so I can report on more than just what I ate. After perusing the menu boards, Mrs. C asked the well-dressed (shirt and tie) young man ahead of us if he had any suggestions. He suggested the grilled chicken, stating that it was a lot better than the usual rotisserie chicken at a grocery store.

We then looked at the large selection of Aguas Frescas. The young woman at the counter was very friendly and offered us a taste of the Jamica, which we found out is Hibiscus. We liked it so we both ordered a large.

For our lunch, Mrs. C ordered the Carnitas plate (carnitas, rice, beans, salad, and a large roasted pepper, and corn tortillas). I opted for the Chili Rellenos plate (egg battered chili stuffed with cheese, rice, beans, salade, and a large roasted pepperand corn tortillas). While these were good choices, I think I'll want to go back and try some of the caldas (soups, which looked fabulous), the chicken, and perhaps the burritos or tortas. All looked really good as various customers ordered and come into the seating area, which has about a dozen tables set for 4.

The self-described gringa, the Lovely Mrs. C wasn't interested in the pepper, so I took it, but while it had a little char, it was not actually softened, so was quite spicy and I ended up only eating my own. The rice was excellent and didn't require a trip to the salsa/condiment bar (where there was salsa, onion, cilantro, etc.). The beans had a nice texture and where quite flavorful. The Chili Relleno was very good with a nice coating, and the cheese had a bit of a salty flavor which complemented the rest of the dish very nicely. I got at taste of Mrs. C's carnitas and they were both moist and flavorful. A great meal. Again, I definitely will be back to try more things. They also have lengua (tongue) and buche (beef head), as well as other interesting ingredients.

UP NEXT: Papa John's Pizza

Monday, March 21, 2016

Comida China / Tm Chinese Food -- 2001 S Garey Ave Pomona, CA 91766

My meal Cost: $8.36. Health Rating A. Yelp 4 stars (only 2 reviews).

I'm calling this place Comida China mostly because the logo is hard to make out and Comida China is what I could actually read as a name on the sign. Yelp has it listed as Tm Chinese Food and I guess that could be its real name. I'll leave it up to you as to what to call it.

This Chinese fast food site is located just inside the wide open southern facing doors of the Rio Rancho Mall. I believe that this "mall" used to be referred to as a swap meet and then a discount mall. Inside the mall are booths selling cell phones, school supplies, 14 carat gold jewelry, and other items usually found at a swap meet (including the one at Indian Hill and Holt), so you can also call this place what you'd like. There are three 4-top tables between the doors and the steam tray counter for dining in.

When I walked up to the counter with the ubiquitous steam trays, the very friendly young woman behind the counter presented me with a toothpick stabbed sample of their Black Pepper Chicken. This seems to be a specialty for them. They have the usual combo plates, as well as soups and some other simple Chinese items. I'm used to the Panda Express and other Chinese fast food places having the combos with rice and/or chow mien, and then one or two entrees. This menu starts with a combo with 6 entrees, then 4, then 2 and 1. I ordered the combo with 2 entrees and had both the fried rice and chow mien and a large Diet Coke.

First the rice: pretty much flavorless. I'm not a person who likes just plain steamed rice because I find it to be tasteless and bland, and I expect fried rice to have some flavor. Honestly, this version was completely flavorless, despite visible pieces of veggies and chicken. Now the chow mien, had even less flavor, plus was chewy. Even the addition of some soy sauce didn't help it much. Plus the noodles were almost as thick as the chopsticks.

My two entrees were broccoli beef and the Black Pepper Chicken. I chose the broccoli beef because, while I love prime rib, tri-tip roasts, and a nice juicy pork chop, I also like to get some vegetables in at every meal. Most of these types of places have a veggie dish (often called something like vegetable chop suey), but this was the closest they appeared to have. The broccoli beef was good with a good amount of broccoli and beef. It was tasty, not overly spiced, but a good take on this classic dish.

The best part of the meal was definitely the Black Pepper Chicken. It also had some celery and other vegetables in a nice broth that was peppery and spicy. One of the other "veggies" in this dish was large slices of jalapeno. I'm guessing that this was to play to the tastes of their predominant clientele (this place is also next to Cardenas Market). And they seemed to be correct as a Hispanic couple at the next table raved about that dish.

For those who are concerned about such things, while the restaurant did have an A from the health department, I had a small cockroach crawling around on the floor under the tables (no on the tables, probably just in search of spilled food). This may have been an anomaly, but don't say I didn't warn you. This may be an issue with the double doors being held wide open to the parking lot. Most restaurants have closed doors and even those air blowers to keep out flies and other critters.

All-in-all not a horrible experience but after 2 Chinese fast food places in 2 weeks, I'll be ready for a change.

UP NEXT: Cardenas Market Food Service

Monday, March 14, 2016

China Bowl Express -- 2090 S Garey Ave, Pomona CA 91766

My meal Cost: $8.92. Health Rating A. Yelp 3 stars.

In the same shopping center as the last two is this Chinese Fast Food place. Very standard, offering bowls, or combos, along with some fried won tons, soups, and Family Combos. Google maps has this place as China Bowl and Louisiana Fried, but it looks like they got rid of the Louisiana Fried.

I opted for the B Combo ($5.89--the A Combo which only includes one entree is $4.89), which is fried rice, chow mein, and 2 entrees. For my entrees I chose the ubiquitous orange chicken, and the broccoli-beef. It came all dished up in a divided Styrofoam take-out container. Like most of these places (and I'll be eating at several in this blog, including one next week directly across Garey Avenue), the food comes displayed on a steam table for you to pick and choose. They also have mushroom chicken, spicy beef, Kung Pao chicken, stir fry chicken, Teriyaki chicken, BBQ pork, Broccoli shrimp, and Jalapeno shrimp. Plenty of options.

For a beverage I ordered a large Diet Coke (in stryrofoam) for $1. Smoothies and Boba drinks are also offered as well as three large refrigerated cases with canned and bottled beverages. They have about a dozen tables for dining inside with soy and sriracha sauces on the table. Tables are set up for 2 or 4.

The food was OK, not as good as you might get at Panda Express, but better than some of these places. The fried rice was nothing to write home about, very little flavor (until one ads the sriracha sauce), the chow mein noodles were likewise not very flavorful and a bit on the chewy side (I was there at 12:30 which may have been after their lunch rush), a little bit of soy sauce helped them a bit. The orange chicken was not the spicy kind with the peppers in it, but the very mild-sweet kind (the lovely Mrs. C would have been happier with it). Not horrible, but . . . The broccoli-beef was flavorful but the broccoli was cut in pieces that were a little too large for eating with chop sticks (as was the orange chicken). My preference is to eat which chop sticks if that's the cultural dish I'm eating.

All in all I ate, wasn't hungry afterward and didn't have a horrible meal. I'd probably agree with the Yelp 3 stars.

UP NEXT: Comida China

Monday, March 7, 2016

Pizza Pirates -- 2092 S Garey Ave Pomona, CA 91766

My meal Cost: $13.06. Health Rating A. 4.5 stars on Google. Yelp 4 stars.

First, sorry for the quality of the photos. I didn't have my talThe past couple of weeks I've been in "fast-food hell" which didn't end this week and will probably go on for a while. However, at least this week it's not a chain like Jack-in-the-Box or Yoshinoya, but a small local chain with only 4 locations in Pomona, Ontario (2), and Glen Avon.

Pizza Pirates, at least here, is take-out or delivery only. They do seem to deliver to most of Pomona, if that's what you want or you can pick up at this little storefront with only a counter inside (no seating). You can get more information about them, including their complete menu at:

Pizza Pirate's Delivery area.

The service was pleasant and the person at the counter was very helpful. I noticed that they off their pizzas with a variety of toppings AND sauces. I decided to get their My Pie size (the smallest) with Alfredo sauce (for a white pizza), sausage, and mushrooms, with extra Mozzarella cheese. Since I wanted to be fair in comparison to Pizza Hut reviewed here a few weeks ago, I also ordered 5 wings, deciding on the hot Parmesan style. Since there is nowhere there to eat, I drove my 3.5 miles home to eat and get a beverage (for their to-go, they offer 2 liter bottles of Pepsi).

10" Pizza at left and four of the wings at right.

The pizza was a little bigger than the Pizza Hut personal pizza and I got 6 fairly good sized slices out of it. The crust was a little crunchy at the rim, but a little doughy under the sauce, cheese, and toppings. I was only able to finish 4 of the pieces so I'll have a bit left over for tomorrow's lunch (or a snack).

With the wings, you might note that there are only 4 in the photo. I admit, I ate a drumette on the drive home (I usually do the same with a few french fries when I go to In-and-Out). Again, it was 4 wingettes and only 1 drumette. What are these places doing with all the extra drumette's. Are they saving them for "special" customers? Anyway, the wings were fairly hot (well beyond the lovely Mrs. C's threshold--which is already very low anyway). They were nicely coated without the "extra" that was part of the Pizza Hut thing. Couldn't really taste the Parmesan although I could see shavings on top of SOME of the wings.

I think I'd go back. There are a lot of vegetarian versions of the pizza and now that I know that they deliver as far north as the 10 freeway, I may use them for delivery, especially as I'm getting to where the tomato based sauces are sometimes too acidic and a "white" option is always nice.

UP NEXT: China Bowl & Louisiana Fried