Monday, January 21, 2008

indian/buffet: i recommend ALIBABA




ALIBABA
56-58 Nanking E., Rd., Sec. 2, 2nd Floor
(02) 2567-7163

Hours: 12pm to 2:30pm; 6pm to 11pm

website: ali88.com.tw


$$

Kid friendliness: 2 high chairs available. Service semi-kid friendly when they are busy.

Visit reviewed: 11/25/2007

(Blogger seems to not let me upload multiple pictures.. I've been trying to post this for a month.. finally, I did them one at a time and it slowly worked! argh!)

After my terrible experience with the empty trays at Aaleja's weekend buffet, I was a bit hesitant to try another one. But you can't blame a restaurant for an entirely different place right? In the end, it was a lot better than the empty trays at Aaleja's weekend brunch although they were s-l-o-w on refilling the tandoori chicken.

Ali Baba's buffet (NT$399) offers up an array of curries, appetizers, seafood and vegetarian options and even self serve ice cream. They were crowded during the lunch hour, so much so that they tried to squeeze us in this tiny table by the door. A few minutes later we were able to request a different table on the other side with some persistence.



I thought the flavors of the various curries I tried were good- not too spicy to accommodate a wider crowd- and I liked that they had the option of different naans (ie garlic instead of plain) and drinks as part of your lunch buffet, as well as samosas if you could get to it in time. The naan is fluffy and crispy, not like the dense flatbread at Aaleja.



Personally, I'm not a big fan of seafood curries or seafood in Indian food, so I didn't sample that, though they offered up some fried fish and seafood curry, as well as quite a few vegetarian options. The good thing with a buffet is that everyone can pick and choose what they want and it's a good way to sample more than one dish for the price of one dish.

You might not know that Alibaba Indian restaurant is there when walking by on the crowded street... it's on the second floor and this sign hangs in the stairway entrance.

Friday, January 18, 2008

not Taipei part ONE: BIG TOMY's, SOUPLANTATION, RED ROCK CASINO and SIN BALA



hi everyone!

Sorry for the long blogging vacation. Actually my three plus year old Powerbook G4 decided to crash over the holidays.

Luckily, it was before the Applecare insurance expires mid January.

Unluckily, Apple Stores/Genius Bars don't do data recovery.

So luckily, the nice people at Computech SOS were able to recover pretty much all my data from my failing hard drive, replace it and move all the old stuff to the new drive. There are still some kinks I'm working out (they didn't restore my address book, so I have to do an "add email" to all my emails) and I had to do a software update to fix the iTunes and Quicktime before I could open it.

But I was definitely very SAD for a few weeks before I knew for sure whether or not they could recover all my photos and videos (apparently 35 gigs worth!)- so this is my warning to you- back up your data!!! Whether it's to an external hard drive or to CD/DVD or somewhere else online, it's totally better than the last resort of paying hundreds or thousands of dollars of having an expert do it for you!

Anyways, as always, I have been eating lots of great food over here. Some highlights:

Gyros and chili cheese fries from BIG TOMY's- YUM! Although I like the gyros from The Great Greek better (on Olympic and Bundy), you can't beat the chili cheese fries here. It's open 24 hours and there is Orange Bang to wash it down with. Three things that pretty much don't exist in Taipei.



SOUPLANTATION offers an all you can eat variety of soups, salads, pasta and breads/muffins, as well as a frozen yogurt machine and fruit. It's not the most gourmet thing in the world, but it's comfort food and the price is right, seeing that most salads these days are $6-$15 and soups are at least $3-6 a bowl. Personally, my favorites are the chinese chicken salad, the chili, the clam chowder and the chicken noodle soup. Plus gotta get the blueberry muffins, cornbread and a bit of froyo, but avoid the pastas- always seem very bland.



After overloading on food in Vegas, we had a simple brunch before we headed back to LA. An off the strip hotel, the cafe at RED ROCK CASINO offered a variety of breakfast and lunch options. My strawberry waffle didn't disappoint (at about $8) with a light crispy texture, lots of sliced strawberries, and sauce or maple syrup to drizzle on it. I also thought their Griddle breakfast (at about $10) was a great deal with 3 eggs, hashbrowns, sausages and ham steak. BTW- pretty packed for an off the strip casino (about a 20-30 minute wait for Sunday brunch) and looks like a glitzy strip hotel, but off on its own with an in-house bowling alley and movie theater.



Lastly, haven't had Chinese food in awhile and ended up at SIN BALA, a shaved ice/Taiwanese food cafe in Arcadia. Their specialty seems to be chinese sausages, but I ended up getting a Squid Potage vermicelli soup and sharing a shaved ice with my family. Personally, I don't love the black sugar syrup on the shaved ice (about $4) (it's got a strong flavor, almost gingery to me) (just pour on the condensed milk please!) but you can request it without it the next time. Five toppings are included and piled underneath the shaved ice- this time we got red bean, rice mochi balls, ai-yu and boba along with the condensed milk. It was not the best shaved ice I've ever had, but passable. They also have other small eats like oyster omelet (also vegetarian style with mushroom), wonton noodle soup, and scallion pancake. I also thought the service was pretty nice and friendly.




BIG TOMY's
11289 W Pico Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90064
(310) 479-0601

SOUPLANTATION
21309 Hawthorne Blvd
Torrance, CA 90503
(310) 540-4998
and other locations

Grand Cafe at
RED ROCK CASINO
11011 W. Charleston Blvd.
Las Vegas, NV 89135
(702) 797.7777

SIN BALA
651 W Duarte Rd. Ste F
Arcadia, CA 91007
(626) 446-0886

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