Monthly Archives: May 2014

Passion Blog..ALL YOU CAN EAT!

Buffets for me are always planned events. Since I was a kid I always remember the preparation it took for my family to go to a buffet. Days of minimal eating so that we may be hungry enough to devour as much we can to get our money’s worth (all ten dollars of it..) REGARDLESS, there’s nothing quite as satisfying..and guilt filled as going to an all you can eat place and consume to your heart’s content.

Surprisingly, there are a bunch of all you can eat restaurant downtown. From make it yourself eateries to classic asian buffets, if you have a need to be fat than State College has you covered. We’ll get to what a make it yourself location is, but before we begin allow me to introduce you to our three contestants for the showdown.

SHOWDOWN CONTESTANTS

1. Green Bowl
131 W Beaver Ave, State College, PA 16801
green bowl

About a half block behind the State College Theatre, Green Bowl is the first of one our make it yourself buffets. In order to avoid writing this twice, let me explain what make it yourself means with bold letters. Make it yourself restaurants are places that gives you the option to start off with a bowl and add whatever you want, they would then take the bowl and cook it in front of you. If you’ve ever had hibachi grill, it’s exactly like that. These places aren’t your traditional buffets, but it is all you can eat since you can get as many bowls as you want. Within walking distance, Green Bowl is a great thing to try out if you’ve never bad hibachi related food before, just be careful of what you put in to your own bowl.

2. Ni Hao Buffet
289 Northland Center, State College, PA 16803
ni hao

Right next to the Giant north of campus, Ni Hao is your classic asian buffet. If you’ve ever been to an asian buffet, its exactly like that. The dinner prices are unusually high (13$) here but come for lunch and its only 10$.

3. Chen’s Mongolian Buffet
1880 S Atherton St, State College, PA 16801
chen's

This place is a little out of the way, about a 10 to 15 minute drive south of campus, Chen is our other make it yourself buffet. A hibachi style bowl buffet, Chen also has a variety of sushi buffet that is offered with your meal.

THE SHOWDOWN

This one was really fun for me to “research,” especially since I love all you can eat places. The only advice I can offer you is to NOT COMPETE WITH ANYONE IN A FOOD EATING CONTEST. The food at these places are actually extraordinarily good  for buffets, weird for state college right?

1. Ni Hao Buffet (only during lunch, else it would be Chen’s mongolian)
The pricessssssssss…why does it have to be 13$…
But if you go during lunch than this place is awesome. Clean, delicious, and bountiful, Ni Hao blows most asian buffets out of the water. I couldn’t get over how nice the decor was and how clean everything it was. The attendees literally run around cleaning every inch of the place, and they are all really nice to the patrons. The food is good for a buffet place, with everything asian you could find (Fried rice, noodles, chicken, etc) and a variety of American cuisine (burgers, pizza, friend whatever). My favorite part is that I enjoyed the sushi here! Sushi is my favorite food, if you do a bad sushi I’ll hate it immediately. It even tasted fresh! Fresh seafood in State College can you imagine! But back to Ni Hao, take your girl out on a date or your parents here when they visit and no one would disappointed.

2. Chen’s mongolian buffet
I like make it yourself places, because I like to play chef and create either delicious or terrifying creations. Chen beats out Green Bowl because somehow the food tasted alot better. The added sushi bar here also might have helped my decision. It would probably beat out Ni Hao if the location was better, this place is FAR. Still the creative aspect and how good it tastes makes it a good contender on the list. One thing you have to know about make it yourself, you don’t have to follow the recipes they give you (as in what goes good with what, for example a particular sauce with onion beef and rice) but nine times out of ten if you don’t follow their recipes, its going to taste terrible. CREATE AT YOUR OWN DISCRETION.

3. Green bowl
If you want to try make it yourself without driving all the way out to Chen’s (because you really just can’t walk there), Green Bowl is a good option to try. The decoration is very hipster and quite clean, the food however is not that delicious. It’s still very good, but I’m totally compare it Chen’s and that makes it lacking. This place is especially good if you are a vegetarian, they have an entire recipe list for vegetarians.

WELL GUYS, this is my last passion blog..for the semester. BUT I REALLY LOVE WRITING FOOD BLOGS, so idk, we’ll see if I can continue this.
Thank you professor Babcock, for a great year. Freshmen year had its up and downs, but I honestly want to say I loved honors english. It was fun, and it gave me a perspective on how college is going to work for writing classes. Please allow me the chance to take you to the faculty dinner next semester.

Passion Blog – Japanese Cuisine

japanesefood

If you’ve read any of my passion blogs from last semester you would know that I had lived in Japan for a good number of years when I was young. Of all of the countries that I’ve ever been to, I think I may have enjoyed Japan the most. Not that I want to be Japanese, no but just the country itself is just extremely enjoyable. Clean, polite and simple, these three words describe a majority of what Japan is like, including the food.
Japanese food is definitely my favorite, there’s something about the simplicity of the cuisine. A Japanese style dish would have less than 5 ingredients and each component plays a critical part. There’s usually not an insane amount of oil and I usually walk away from a meal feeling good about my well being.

So one of the first things I did when I first moved to State College was exploring around to find a good Japanese inspired restaurant.
AND WITH THAT, allow me to introduce our three contestants for today.

THE JAPANESE SHOWDOWN
1. Tadashi – Noodle bar
206 W College Avenue, State College
tadashiii
I became obsessed with visiting this place when I first found out it opened back in January. Growing up with good ramen, I was so insanely excited when I found out that an “authentic” Japanese Ramen shop was opening within walking distance. I’ll get to my review of the food and restaurant during the actual show down.

2. Maki Yaki – Japanese Cuisine
407 E Beaver Avenue, State College
maki yaki
Sushi, noodles and a variety of “authentic” japanese fast foods, Maki Yaki is one of those places that you go to on a whim. I spent the first couple of months at Penn State almost depressed that I can’t find a sushi place, so out of desperation I decided to walk to Maki Yaki for “sushi.” You’ll read about why there’s quotations around that word later.

3. Okinawa II Japanese Restaurant
450 E College Ave State College, PA 16801

okinawa
I first heard about this place from an alumni who had told me how much he liked the place when he went to school here. However, that was either a VERY long time ago or I went to the wrong place. Let this blog post be a public service announcement, if you enjoy japanese food, nay if you enjoy eating in general, DO NOT COME HERE.

The SHOWDOWN

In first place we have
1. Yummy Cafe! – Let me be frank, NONE OF THESE ARE TRULY AUTHENTIC and Yummy Cafe and Tadashi were neck and neck.
The one reason Yummy Cafe won over Tadashi was because the food was less disappointing. The cafe itself is small and out of place, with scrambled setting that always looks like its about to move. The food is the saving point though, the chef (who i got to speak to) said that he grew up in Japan and cooked asian food all his life. Over all I’d say give Yummy Cafe a try if you’re in the area, other wise just go to chipotle.

In Second place we have
2. Tadashi Noodle Bar tadashi-580x348
Honestly I feel bad about the review I’m about to give to Tadashi. The restaurant isn’t bad at all, I promise, but I came with sky high expectation and it disappointed that entirely. With that said, I think everyone should come to this resturant at least once, more for how the place looks than anything else. The aesthetics are AMAZING, coming from someone that has lived in Japan for a number of years, Tadashi looks 98% authentic. However, regardless of how  much I love the look of the restaurant, the  food was SO DISAPPOINTING. First of all, $11 for a bowl of ramen is never acceptable. Ramen is suppose to be cheap, everyone knows that. More importantly, it didn’t taste good…it tasted edible but either too salty or completely bland. Still, its a really fun place to go on a date or to impress an asian friend. (Oh and before I forget, appetizers here are actually fairly tasty.) Tadashi would have totally won this showdown if I didn’t have such high expectation.

3. Okinawa II Japanese Restaurant
DON’T, for the love of god DON’T come here if you like good food. The things that I do for this blog, seriously…I have never eaten such bad food, and I’m pretty sure it made me sick.. The restaurant is definitely on my blacklist now. The food wasn’t fresh, what they pass for sushi is, dare I say it EVEN WORST THAN BUFFET SUSHI. Sushi is my favorite food, if you mess with it, you mess with me. Over priced, disgusting and seriously just bad. I repeat, do not come here if you value food.

Next time we take a look at..dare I say it..Fast food..(ugh)
Till then, Chow on.

Mama Mia…Pizza Showdown

There’s two kinds of pizza, good pizza and bad pizza, and bad pizzas are still pretty good.
Regardless of whether or not you enjoy fast food, EVERYONE loves pizza. I’m 98% sure its every school children’s favorite “vegetable” (still not buying it school systems in America). On a school campus such as ours, pizzas are the go to delivery item on the weekends. That being said, my review of each pizza restaurant is based on two factors, the actual taste of each pizza AND what ordering from them is like.

The list that I have decided on today is based on their popularity and how well known each restaurant is.

And now we are at the point of the show where we introduce our competitors, on the chopping block today we have

1. Canyon Pizza
260 E Beaver Ave, State College, PA 16801
canyon

You might have never stepped in Canyons, but i’m sure you would recognize the black and white police inspired Canyons Pizza delivery car. Canyon has become more or less a staple for Penn State Students, greasy and dependable. Especially after a night on the town, the walk between frat parties to Canyons is one that has been trodden times again.

2. Gumby’s Pizza
300 S Pugh St #101, State College, PA 16801
gumby

If you don’t keep an eye out for gumbys you can easily miss this tiny inconspicuous pizza parlor, so its a good thing that gumby’s has a few tricks up its sleeves.

3. Mama Mia’s Pizza
128 E College Ave State College, PA 1680
mamamia

Sorted right across our main hall, Mama Mia’s is more known for as one of the “nicer” pizza restaurants. I will discuss the matter of taste during the ranking but it’s safe to say that the main reason Mama Mia has been added on this list is due to the quality of their pies.

SHOWDOWN – May the best pie win

In FIRST PLACE we have Mama Mia’s Pizza
This really wasn’t a hard question to make, in terms of taste and quality Mama Mia’s blows the competition out of the water. Let’s all be honest, Canyon’s and Gumby’s pizza are more or less designed to satisfied slightly tipsy college students, their main concern wasn’t how gourmet they could make their pies. Mama Mia’s tasted the best, with a very sweet sauce and lots of attention to details. As for the interior decorations, Mama Mia’s had a very cute Italian themed that was used to the full extent. The only downside to Mama Mia’s I guess would be that it is slightly more expensive than the other options on this list.

In SECOND PLACE we have Canyon Pizza
canyon pizza
We’ve all have Canyon Pizza, whether or not it was wanted or not, we ALL have had Canyon at least one time or another. Cheesy, oily and best of all, cheap as dirt. To be completely honest, I actually think Canyon’s is pretty tasty too, once you get over the fact that you’re basically drinking a class of cooking oil while eating a slice. (The bar-b-que chicken pizza is my personal favorite.) There’s really nothing too bad I can say about Canyon pizza because everyone already recognizes the faults, we know what we’re about to put in our body isn’t good for us. The store itself looks like a party deck for college kids, high ceilings and more often than not filled with drunk students on a Friday night. While the aesthetics aren’t five star material, you get you pay for.

In THIRD PLACE we have Gumby’s
I don’t like Gumby’s. 
Whew, had to get that off my chest. For some weird reason, most people I know have a soft spot for Gumby’s that I never really figured out why. The pizzas taste mediocre at best and Pocky sticks are basically baked pizza dough with a minimal amount of cheese on top. The store is small, dungeon like and not very clean. The only saving grace is that a large box of Pocky Sticks (Which are a Gumby’s special, baked pizza dough with cheese) is only around 6 dollars, but even then the enjoyment in these hard pieces of dough is very limited.
pokey

Regardless there are many other pizza place in State College and I think I want to write another pizza related blog soon!
Until next time, chow on!

Passion Post, Sammich edition

Bread, lettuce, tomato, cheese, meats bread. The sandwich is a magnificent creation that capitalizes on the best aspects of all of its components. Having the solid base of bread, the freshness of vegetables, the creaminess of cheese and the savoriness of meats, I can publicly make my announcement that I LOVE SANDWICHES.

However, Sandwiches are also not created in equals. Like a high school cafeteria, Sandwiches belong in different cliques. The basic, normal sandwiches that don’t really stand out but still remain incredibly satisfying. The massive, “jock,” sandwiches that scares and intimidates upon first glance. And the “artistic” unique sandwiches that have a special flair upon them, such as a unique ingredient or creative visuals.

Regardless of our individual love for sandwiches, I am here today to help you find the best sandwich on campus. And with that, allow me to graciously introduce today’s three restaurant combatants.

1. The sandwich shops on our school commons. commons sand
-The reason I choose to include our school sandwich shops is because of its “commonness,” (haha). No but really, these sandwich shops used primarily because of their closeness to campus and of its compatibility with meal points. For 1.50$ a sandwich, the commons were definitely my go to Sandwich joint during my freshman year. Grabbing a quick sandwich on my way out to class during lunch, the commons definitely have a special place in my heart.

2. Irvings
– 110 E College Ave, State College, PA 16801
irving-s-sign-c-irving

A popular bagel sandwich shop located right on college avenue that is open basically all day (7 am to 12 am). If you haven’t gone to Irvings, than welcome to State College, because EVERYONE has gone to Irvings who live here. There’s nothing better than looking forward to going to Irvings, grabbing a nice bagel sandwich and a delicious milkshake.

3. Lemongrass
-432 E College Ave, State College, PA 16801
lemon grass

Located near the McDonalds, Lemongrass specializes in uniquely vietnamese food. Although the store isn’t specifically sandwich based with tons of other vietnamese options, their sandwich (Banh Mi) is one of my favorite foods on campus and I thought it would be nice to add on to this list.

LET THE BATTLE BEGIN
while the competition was pretty fierce with this one, a decision has been made regarding the best sandwich hub on campus. AND THE RANKINGS ARE AS FOLLOWS

The winner
1. 
Irvings Bagel Shop
This was a close one, between lemongrass and Irvings I had a tough decision to make but Irvings did win by a slight margin. The sandwiches here are definitely delicious but that wasn’t what made Irvings the winner, it was the setting and small details. Creaky wooden floor board, charming decor, and a variety of other tasty meal options made the aesthetic  eatery a great place to grab a drink and just hangout. Personal favorite is the smoked salmon bagel sandwich, and a strawberry milkshake. For all of you protien heads out there, bring your own powder and they’ll even make it into a tasty treat for you. Price range is fair to cheap, if you haven’t been to irvings yet…do yourself a favor and GO.

2. Lemongrass banh mi
Lemongrass has a special place in my heart, I came here once a week for the majority of my first and second semester. The manager is a good friend of mine and you really can’t get better service anywhere else. The bahnmi sandwich is honestly to die for, especially the pho-wich or the vietnamese cold cut. The reason that this sandwich is even on this list is because of its uniqueness. While most sandwiches we consume contains bread cheese and meat, lemongrass creations contains pickled radishes, seasoned carrots, salted cucumbers and an assortment of asian inspired condiments. It’s a really refreshing sandwich after a lifetime of tomato, mayo and shredded lettuce. Pricing around 7 dollars for a footlong delicacy.

3. Dorm dinning hall creations
I feel almost bad giving this place a bad review, it’s not a bad place at all just…too ordinary. That being said, I’ll always love dining hall commons for their dependability, and their price. For less than 50 cents a sandwich, there is no reason not to love dining hall sandwiches.

Hopefully this review has given some people something to chew on (haha). And until next time, chow on!