China Sea Absecon NJ

I’m so sad that it took me so long to eat at the China Sea of Absecon; I’ve literally walked in front of its doors at least 2 times a week, going from one store to another for the entire summer! I am extremely picky about Chinese food, as that is the cuisine of choice every Sunday when we used to eat out for family night when I was growing up. I’ve been let down time and time again here in New Jersey when trying new Chinese restaurants and I must say that this place ranks number one in all of South Jersey! The prices are rock bottom, which is absolutely up my alley. The decor was clean, the room spacious and the seating plenty.

A superb treat from this restaurant was the complementary fried wontons, served with duck sauce and spicy mustard, plus a pot of hot tea upon seating. We were immediately asked whether we would like water or soda, which is unheard of these days.

I began my meal with a tasty and thick egg drop soup ($1.50), which I topped off with fried won tons and soy sauce. The shrimp roll was delightfully delicious too! It was a big roll, which is not normally my favorite, however this roll had cabbage and was fried to perfection. My main dish was the Green Jade Chicken ($9.95) which was as fabulous as can be! The chicken was perfectly cooked, fresh out of the wok and not slimy or rubbery at all (which is more than I can say for most of the Chinese restaurants here in NJ). It is sliced chicken stir fried with broccoli, snow peas and asparagus in a chef special brown sauce. The broccoli was crispy and tender-hard to accomplish! The snow peas were snappy but very soft-I don’t know how they perfected this combo, but its definitely perfection. The asparagus was tender and fresh, not slimy or wilted at all. I asked for the brown rice and it was exactly what I expected.

After tasting my loves roast pork fried rice I wasn’t impressed, it lacks desire and leaves a lot of room for improvement. His main dish was the Hawaii Five-O ($16.50) which consisted of jumbo shrimp, scallops, beef and chicken stir fried with broccoli, carrots, water chestnuts, baby corn, onions, mushrooms and pineapples. The meats in his dish were cooked superbly as well.  He was delighted with the entire dish, but pushed the pineapples aside as they were placed on the plate cold, not stir fried at all.

For desert the pistachio ice cream ($2.50) hit the spot! I will definitely eat here many more times before I head back to Arizona and each time i’m in town too! I recommend this place to Chinese food enthusiasts and any foodie that desires deliciously prepared and presented food. So next time you drive into, or out of Atlantic City on the White Horse Pike, make sure you save room for Chinese!

China Sea of Absecon
662 White Horse Pike (RTE 30)
Absecon, NJ 08201
609-569-1888
http://chinaseaofabsecon.com

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Tonio’s Seafood Shack Avalon NJ

This delicious and upscale eatery is nothing of the shack sense, but it’s in their name. We found this place entirely on accident, as our first choice the Oceanside Seafood restaurant was a hot mess. Lucky for us it was a quick walk from Dune Drive.

When we entered Tonio’s I wasn’t so sure that the food would be up to par, as the dinning room was barren. But the decor was so contemporary and romantic we stayed. Usually I gauge the freshness of the food on the amount of people, the less people-the lower the turnaround on the food=the less fresh. However I am glad to say I was WRONG! Thank goodness we stayed, as after sitting for less than 5 minutes at our table, at least 3 different parties approached the counter to pick up To Go orders. Throughout the evening there must have been at least 15 different pick up’s, and after tasting my dish I understand why!

We had a pleasant server who promptly opened our BYOB wine and brought us water, before we asked-a sign of a fabulous server in my book! They did not charge a corking fee, which was a good thing; as we brought 2 bottles of wine. We ordered the shack bake ($35.99), which consisted of a whole lobster, shrimp, scallops, mussels, clams, steamed corn on the cob, coleslaw and a salad, as well as a broiled seafood combo ($25.95), which consisted of flounder, shrimp, scallops, crab cake, coleslaw, baked potato and a salad. The plating was a little “shack-ie” as the sides were served in plastic containers; but the taste and freshness more than made up for this laziness of the plating.

I must say that this was the most tasty and freshest seafood in Avalon New Jersey. I’m so glad we decided to share both dishes because they were equally delicious. The shack bake seafood was baked directly inside the lobster shell on top of the lobster, melding the flavors of the lobster, shrimp, scallops, mussels and clams, intertwining them beautifully, while creating a melt in your mouth blanket of sumptuous tastiness. I’m usually not a big fan of scallops but they tasted absolutely divine! So divine that I will make a it a point to taste them every chance I can. The mussels and clams were cooked to perfection as well. We ordered the broiled seafood combo, as apposed to the fried seafood combo, which was a pleasant surprise-as each piece of seafood was absolutely soft and tender. The flounder was so delicate it melted in my mouth like straight butter! The crab cake was out of this world, tasty and flavorful-filled with crab and not too much filler. The steamed corn on the cob was so sweet and probably fresh of the farm! The salads were a generous portion and tasty, topped with a house vinaigrette. The baked potatoes were presented with the butter squares pushed down inside the cut opening to heat it up, which was clever; however I’m not sure if this was very sanitary.

Since it was my birthday we also had desert. But I must say that after finishing off our plates, we only had room to share the ice cream ball, which was a wonderful treat. I winced a bit at the description when the server said it consisted of papaya, mango and orange sorbet, but was delighted that there wasn’t a hint of papaya.

Lucky for us we happened to be the only patrons in the entire 8 table dinning room. It was a quaint and cozy place, with two TV’s, contemporary furnishing and not too bright. I would definitely recommend Tonio’s to anyone looking for fresh seafood without all the craziness that comes with most shack’s, as this one is nothing of the kind-except for the plastic and plating techniques.

Tonio’s Seafood Shack & Fresh Fish Market
2475 Ocean Drive
Avalon, NJ 08202
609-368-8862
http://toniosseafoodshack.webs.com

The Parlor Pizzeria Phoenix AZ

Meh, i’ve experienced better….to bad the delicious food had to suffer the wrath of the horrible service on more than one occasion! On one of our visits our server brought us the wrong Pizza, which was a build your own. We ordered 3 items on each of our pizzas, both were ladden with Jalapenos; which one would hope would garner a check back at least one time during the meal. But no matter how much extra heat was packed on by the clueless chef, the server didn’t return until at least 15 minutes after someone else took another 15 minutes to bring me a refile of iced tea. I understand that if the refill was free it wouldn’t be a priority, but the pizza for one was $9.00, my salad was $12 (a horribly unseasoned ceasar salad that tasted like it was dressed in plain mayonaise) and my sisters pizza was $14, so we didn’t expect such a horrible experience. There wasn’t a warning on the build your own pizza menu that made us aware that by ordering jalapenos on our pizza it would be served suicide style. This day in particular only had a handful of patrons too. Our server not only sucked majorly, but he lacked the traits of a mediocre server, poor guy, poor parlor. If his section is the only one open next time, i’m goin to california pizza kitchen or mama mia’s, maybe even le grand orange.

Even with the horrible and pretentious servers I definitely recommend the Funghi pizza, as it is a blend of roasted wild mushrooms, Goat cheese, truffle oil and chives (but I have them hold the chives). Its a tad bit oily, but very tasty. The spinach salad made with applewood smoked bacon, tomatoes, white cheddar, avocado, hard boiled egg and topped with a white balsamic vinaigrette is fabulous as well! A great appetizer to start the meal off right is the caponata bruschetta made with sweet & sour eggplant, roasted peppers, pine nuts, currants and an herbed ricotta spread.

The parking is hard to come by during meal times, so if you can wait; I recommend enjoying this restaurant after popular meal times.

the parlor pizzeria
1916 E Camelback Rd
Phoenix, AZ 85016
602-248-2480
http://theparlor.us

Gallo Blanco Cafe & Bar Phx AZ

It was great from the very first time….fish tacos while lounging by the pool, but even better when we experienced the restaurant full service. Eating at the Gallo Blanco Cafe & Bar for a sit down dinner was definitely much better than just sampling the food at the pool. It is my favorite American-Mexican restaraunt. The food has an american twist on the old favorites. The fish taco is topped with guacamole and pico de gallo. The house salad is made with romaine lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes, avocado, Cotija cheese, pumpkin seeds, orange, jicama, and tortilla strips finished with a citrus vinaigrette and tastes absolutely delicious! I wanted to order another one. The savory taste of the roasted pumpkin seeds left my mouth singing with joy. I can’t wait to eat it again…..soon.

The tacos are served on a taco party tray…its a fiesta in itself. I had the fish tacos, which for this day was Ahi tuna-lucky for me, porque es mi favorita; but on a sour note-when the server announced the fish in the fish taco, not the noted menu item, she never announced the price increase. I didn’t mind paying the extra $2.00 but she should have disclosed the price increase  too. The tacos are on soft shell, which tasted homemade, but this time they tasted store bough (not so fresh). The red cabbage is an american twist gone great! I normally don’t enjoy the white sauce on fish tacos, but i think this one might have had a citrus twist and i didn’t mind it at all. The ahi tuna was lightly seared to perfection! It was bright red and melted in my mouth!

The sides are served ala carte here, which is very american. The beans were great with the tortilla strips, which tasted like they were made in house. I also liked the roasted tomato salsa, it was so spicy and flavorful, not much tomato, just how i like it! One thing I definitely didn’t enjoy, but got the joke (green tomatoes instead of red tomatoes are definitely american) was the rice made with green tomatoes. It was a cross between soft, fluffy and hard sticky rice (that from the bottom of the pan when you leave the pot on the stove and then scrap it) served mixed with a tomatillo salsa made with too much onion…..very weird and not tasty at all! That was one taste of rice, where once is enough, next time i’ll just have to order two salads and more tacos!

The guacamole ala americano, served with their thick tortilla chips, was really just halves of an avocado and a citrus salsa, which had grapefruit slices in whole slivers. A little too much onion and fruit for me, but it was still tasty. I’ll definitely order this again.

The sangria was a little cup of heaven. It was perfect. Not too sweet, not too much liquor, not too bitter and laden with diced fruit. Our service was great as well! There was always a server around; asking about the food, with a keen understanding of knowing when not to interupt. That is superb service, they are around and available, but not hoovering. The decor is very fun. We sat in the window at a tall table with a perfect view of the uptown high rise buidlings. Our meal was served up with a beautiful backdrop, spanish music enveloping the room and a delicious twist on the food I grew up with, making it exactly the way I wanted it, I just wish the spanish rice brought me home.

Gallo Blanco Cafe & Bar
401 W Clarendon Ave
Phoenix, AZ 85013
602-327-0880
http://galloblancocafe.com

Kincaid’s Phoenix AZ

WOW! Finally a restaurant in the desert that has me head over heels. Location, service, freshness, menu, view, large but intimate dinning room, I can go on and on! It was Valentines day, our 10th year anniversary-last minute date with this being our 20th choice. They were wide open, no reservations needed. Not only are they located in the Heart and Soul of downtown. It is so close to the new convention center, that several times during the meal I had the urge to reach out and grab the building to pull us closer; as I chose the table closest to the edge on the patio near the convention center and sat right in the center of the table looking out. The view was so breathtaking, I almost forgot we ordered the best appetizer ever!

The Classic Sampler included Roasted garlic prawns over tasty mashed potatoes, teriyaki tenderloin over rice, hot red King crab and artichoke dip served with the tastiest bread sticks. Everything was superb! This could have easily been a meal in itself. We shared a salad at the suggestion of the waiter-expecting a portion that could be shared, but received the smallest-most delicious salad. It was served chopped style (yup this is the real deal when it comes to Chop houses) with a delicious ranch dressing. Next time we will each order our own because I wanted MORE! I didn’t mind as it made more room for the bottle of wine. I ordered the Grilled North Atlantic Maine Lobster Tails which were served with grilled asparagus, melted butter for dipping and fresh lemon. My love ordered the Bone in Rib Eye 20 oz. (which is Creekstone Farms’ premium Black Angus beef, corn fed and aged 28 days for flavor and tenderness). All steaks are grilled and seasoned with a custom rub, then topped with steakhouse butter. A definite plus is that they are all served with crispy buttermilk onion strings and red jacket mashed potatoes. It was so delicious I had to copy and paste the menu as this is one restaurant that is sure to be tried even just once. If your a Phoenician or a lover of Phoenix as I, then you can finally be proud to know that downtown Phoenix is the home to one of the Best Chop houses in all of my 13 country travels!!!!

Kincaid’s
2 S Third St
Phoenix, AZ 85004
602-340-0000
http://www.kincaids.com