>Sushi Zen Bistro — just roll with it

>I’m always wary about fusion restaurants, however, hunger took over and we ate at *GASPS* a fusion restaurant. I wasn’t gonna order much but my son wanted noodles with tempura so I gave in. I also ordered some spicy tuna rolls and spicy albacore rolls to share with my husband. I think if you just ate the rolls here you won’t be sorry. They’re not bad and they don’t pile on the rice. The udon — they were the packaged kind — with tempura — battered so thick it was actually hard to eat. Put that together with the greasiness and your mouth is left with a coating of unwanted oil that lingers forever and ever. The happy hour here seems really great…. discounts on rolls, handrolls and drinks. If you just want to try it out, I suggest coming for happy hour, eat some above average rolls and have a beer and call it a night. Just stay away from the tempura. It’s pretty goddamn awful!

Sushi Zen Bistro, 1875 Newport Blvd, Costa Mesa, CA 92627. Tel: 949-722-2520
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>Tutto Amore — Italian gelato

>I’m not a dessert fan. In fact, sweets don’t entice me whatsoever. But having said that, there is that odd dessert which peaks my interest and even has me wanting for more. This is one of those times. Tutto Amore Gelato offers unique flavors of creamy gelato such as durian, eggnog (seasonal), ferrero rocher, and many more. I sampled almost all the flavors before deciding upon salt caramel and miso strawberry. I usually hate caramel, but it works here, and works so fabulously that the slightly savory finish left me wanting more. The miso strawberry tastes mostly of strawberry with a delightful finish which you can’t quite put your finger on, but it’s the saltiness of the miso I’m guessing which just balances the strawberry perfectly. I finished my entire cup of gelato — something unheard of really. They also have hot chocolate and espresso. You can offer up your suggestions of flavors on a list by the counter. They have a mystery flavor — it was bacon today, although I didn’t quite taste the bacony goodness I love. Definitely worth a visit! You’ll be hooked!

Tutto Amore Gelato, 247 Broadway Street, Laguna Beach, CA 92651. Tel: 949-722-2520

>BBQ King — king, not a chance!

>Stay away. That’s all I can say. Stay away! That’s what we shoulda done. In Chinese, this restaurant’s name means “Number One BBQ restaurant”, but by no means should you take that to heart because it’s number one in only one thing — bad food!

How can a place claim to be number one bbq place when their bbq pork is fluorescent in color and displays absolutely no flavor whatsoever? We got the roast duck and bbq pork combo over rice and boy, what a mistake that was. My son didn’t want to eat it. When I asked him to eat it he said “I’m not hungry, I just want the rice”. That alone tells me that it was gross.

The wontons in soup was passable, not stellar, but edible at least. Don’t let the photo fool you either. It may look tasty but it ends there. Trust me, there are loads of similar restaurants in Vegas with far better food. Just stay away from this one.

BBQ King, 5650 Spring Mountain Road, Las Vegas, NV 89146. Tel: 702-364-8688

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>Bob’s Big Boy — big and bad

>Believe it or not, I’ve never been to a Bob’s Big Boy before. Nope…. never. So as we walked into one, I was surprised that it wasn’t a fast food place, but rather, similar to a Denny’s or IHOP. My husband told me the burgers were good, but I wasn’t in the mood. I wanted a club sandwich — on rye bread. The server was pleasant enough. I asked for my sandwich to be light on the mayo. Hey, my sandwich was good. I didn’t like husband’s burger. It had some weird sauce on it. My sandwich was so good even my son liked it. There was plenty of turkey, bacon, tomato, lettuce, not too much mayo and on rye — my favorite. You can get onion rings instead of fries and they’re pretty good, surprisingly not greasy. Even the fries weren’t greasy. Usually stuff like that leave your fingers oily, but not these. I’d come back for the club, but definitely not for their signature burger.

We visited Bob’s Big Boy, 2860 Lenwood Road, Barstow, CA 92311. Tel: 760-253-5107. Various locations, check out website at http://www.bigboy.com

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>Hangari Kalgooksu — kaching on kimchi

>I think I hit the jackpot in finding the best tasting kimchi evar! Went to lunch at this noodle place and they give you this little pot of kimchi. Yep, no other banchan, just kimchi, and it was kimchi made with bok choy, not napa cabbage. I coulda just eaten that alone with the barley rice they were serving. I couldn’t get enough of it. The kimchi was very fresh and crunchy and none of that sour fermentation going on. They were generous on the spice too so it had a nice kick to it. I hate eating kimchi that’s not spicy — eh, what’s the point? Unfortunately ya gotta order something since the kimchi is free. I say get the mandoo since they were a hit with everyone! Kalgooksu wasn’t bad either, but it’s definitely the kimchi I’m coming back for!

Hangari Kalgooksu, 9916 Garden Grove Blvd, Garden Grove, CA. Tel: 714-537-0100

>Z-Tejas — holla at happy hour

>So this is the second Friday in a row we go for happy hour. I’ve never really appreciated how cool the aspect of HH is, but I think I’ve FINALLY gotten the hang of it. I mean, food is cheap, if you wanna get your drink on, it’s discounted as well. It’s a win-win situation. I don’t usually drink and I certainly won’t if I’m driving, so food is vital for me to stay interested. Well, unless it’s cheap as hell like it is at Z-Tejas. Ten of us came and shared a multitude of appetizers which are 50% off during happy hour. At the end, the food tab came to $4 per person, tax and tip included — very generous tip might I add. Out of all the appetizers, what I enjoyed the most were the blackened fish tacos (pictured), quesadillas — choice of three types, we got the pesto cilantro shrimp — and the catfish beignets. They’re not exactly beignets, but rather, cornmeal crusted catfish. Tasty! My only gripe is that they didn’t have any sauces with a kick. The only thing they could offer up was a chipotle sauce which had a slight kick. Overall, it was okay and at $4 a pop for food, I think we’ll be back for more.

Z-Tejas, 3333 Bristol St, Costa Mesa, CA 92626. Tel: 714-979-7469. At South Coast Plaza.

Z'Tejas Southwestern Grill on Urbanspoon