Mouthful of Sunshine

Satisfaction in every bite

College Staple – Yue Kee Mobile Kitchen

December 14, 2012
Yue Kee Mobile Kitchen, Philadelphia PA
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General Tso’s Chicken
Shrimp Egg Foo Young
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ImageIt was time for another go at Yue Kee Mobile Kitchen. I get it every few days because I so often crave a decent Chinese meal.

This time, I went with the General Tso’s Chicken. It was not as the vegetarian chicken one I had a few month’s ago. The chicken came in large, well-fried pieces that were slathered with the General Tso’s sauce. It was slightly salty, though, and not sweet enough. They also ran out of fried rice and the sauce was not enough to go with the entire portion of white rice. It came with broccoli only and was not very spicy. However, I did like that they made the broccoli with the chicken and sauce in the wok so all of it was piping hot. It was still a good dish, just not as good as the one from Kim’s.Image

The Shrimp Egg Foo Young was decent. The egg omelet had onions and lots of tender shrimp mixed into it. It was slightly burnt on the edges but the smoky taste was not unwelcoming. The brown gravy sauce was ladled over the egg so it was hot but not made together with the sauce. It would have been better had the egg omelet been fluffier and the sauce a little less generic. At least the shrimp were great.

I am running out of options at Yue Kee so it is time to move on to some of the more generic dishes. However, if those are good, then I am still set for another semester.

Yue Kee Mobile Kitchen on Urbanspoon

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On the Need for Paninis: Part XII – Saladworks

ImageDecember 12, 2012
Saladworks, Philadelphia PA
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Mandarin Chicken Salad
Caprese Panini
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After a whirlwind of my first final exam, I needed something refreshing yet tasty to refuel. Thinking it was Wednesday, I went to Saladworks for the first time for their $6.99 paninis and salads.

The Mandarin Chicken Salad was delicious. The server loaded my bowl with fresh ingredients: tender chicken strips, sweet cranberries and mandarin oranges, crunchy chow mein strips, finely shredded carrots, refreshing cucumbers, and lots of crisp lettuce spring mix for the base. I got the Oriental Sesame dressing on the side. It was very sweet, fragrant, and tasty so for once, I used quite a lot of dressing on my salad. The ingredients were good individually but even better together!Image

The Caprese Panini was absolutely scrumptious, satisfying my continued craving for mozzarella sandwiches and paninis. It took quite a while to come out but the toasted and panini pressed seasoned sourdough bread had a lovely crisp. The mozzarella cheese was not fresh but still light and quite tasty. The tomato slices were juicy and nice, but the best part was the balsamic vinaigrette. The lady put so much on the sandwich it was dripping oil. However, too much of a good balsamic vinaigrette is never bad, and the olive oil and fresh basil leaves were so fragrant together. The bread soaked up the dressing, making it an oily but extremely tasty sandwich.

I was very pleased with the quality of the ingredients. The restaurant had very little people so I can see why they have discounts on Wednesdays. However, it was great and quiet, making for a lovely after-exam dinner.

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On the Need for Paninis: Part XI – Green Line Cafe

ImageDecember 11, 2012
Green Line Cafe, Philadelphia PA
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Chocolate Croissant
Mozzarella Caprese
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A little coffee date with a good girl friend brought me to Green Line Café. This time, we actually went in and I had a quick meal while she indulged in a cup of rich and apparently very good hot chocolate.Image

We shared a Chocolate Croissant that was flaky and buttery. It would have been so nice had it been toasted beforehand as well. The chocolate was lacking, though. Cold and a little hard, there was not much of it to begin with and it was not very rich and sweet either.Image

I had a Mozzarella Caprese that was very tasty after being pressed in the panini press. The baguette was crispy on the outside and warm and airy on the inside, making for a lovely sandwich. The mozzarella was fresh, light, and chewy while the tomatoes were refreshing. The basil leaves were slightly strong. However, the basil pesto provided great flavour and the sandwich was very satisfying.

The café was such a quaint little place for a chat. We needed to catch up with one another and a full but still quiet café was the perfect location for it. They ran out of cupcakes so I am sure I will be back for one of those, and a cup of soup and a burrito sooner rather than later.

Green Line Cafe on Urbanspoon

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Greeks are Sweet – Greek Lady

ImageDecember 9, 2012
Greek Lady, Philadelphia PA
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Salted Caramel Cake
Lamb Gyro
Spanikopita
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After grocery shopping and seeing I still had a coupon left for a free dessert from Greek Lady, I decided to drop by before a review session. It was not super crowded and for once, I did not wait forever for my food.

The Salted Caramel Cake was a new item and a very delicious one. With layers of white cake, caramel pudding, and some other caramel layers, it was a tasty dessert. I ate a bite of this first while waiting for my other food to arrive. The vanilla cream on the outside was a bit too oily and not sweet enough for me, but the caramel sauce drizzled on the side and the dollop of caramel frosting on top made up for it. It was sweet but light.Image

The Lamb Gyro was delicious. There was perhaps too much tzatziki sauce that almost drowned the shredded lettuce. However, the pita was warm, soft, and chewy. The lamb was tender and very tasty. There was so much of it. The French fries inside were a little soggy and did not add much flavour-wise. However, the portion was huge and very filling, definitely one of the best gyros I have had so far.Image

The Spanikopita was fitting for National Pastry Day. It was very good with the phyllo dough warm, in super thin layers, and flaky. It was buttery and very good for a flaky pastry dough. The spinach and feta cheese inside was incredible. The spinach was soft and mushy with the feta cheese mixed reasonably well inside. Slightly savoury and cheesy, it was also a little sweet, which was a nice touch.Image

Food from Greek Lady has yet to disappoint. I seriously need to try one of their gigantic salads next time though. They look so appetizing yet refreshing.

Greek Lady on Urbanspoon

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Round n’ Round – Dunkin’ Donuts

ImageDecember 9, 2012
Dunkin’ Donuts, Philadelphia PA
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Kreme Delight Donut
Glazed Chocolate Cake Donut
Coffee Cake Muffin
Veggie Egg White Flat
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I had the sudden urge to grab brunch from Dunkin’ Donuts after my workout at the gym, so I did. This is one of the pros of living alone – you do whatever you feel like, whenever you feel like. The only person to consult is you.Image

A holiday special, the Kreme Delight Donut was indeed delightful. The chocolate frosting was sweet and rich, with the star sprinkles adding a nice crunch. The doughnut itself was soft and airy and the vanilla cream frosting inside was super sweet and lovely. A huge sugar overdose is sometimes very pleasant.Image

The Glazed Chocolate Cake Donut was also chocolate-y and good. Dense yet moist, the cake was itself very good but even better when paired with the sugary glaze. This is one of my favourite all-time classics.Image

The Coffee Cake Muffin was mediocre. It was not as sweet as a coffee cake or a muffin but rather buttery. The cinnamon was not strong enough and it was more or less just a cross between a cake and muffin, nothing too special.Image

The Veggie Egg White Flat served as my main brunch item. It was savoury and delicious. The flatbread was very chewy and the egg white omelet had diced peppers and onions throughout, making it quite tasty and light. The cheese added a nice savoury touch despite not being the best cheese. It was good enough for Dunkin’ though.

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On the Need for Paninis: Part X – Saxby’s Coffee

December 8, 2012
Saxby’s Coffee, Philadelphia PA
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Tomato, Arugula, Mozzarella Sandwich
Candy Cane Biscotti
Brownie
Peach Crumb Muffin
Milky Way Latte
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12-12-08 - Tomato, Arugula, Mozzarella Sandwich(1) - Saxby's Coffee

Saxby’s Coffee is slightly out of the way but I often wander by it. Seemingly a little run down, it is a little dark inside but very spacious. They have a wide array of breakfast and lunch sandwiches and salads that are made-to-order. The staff there do not seem very capable of taking simple orders. The guy who rang in my bill was clearly new and inexperienced. The lady in charge also took forever to make my sandwich. At least the food was great despite the service being sub-par.

12-12-08 - Tomato, Arugula, Mozzarella Sandwich(2) - Saxby's Coffee

The Tomato, Arugula, Mozzarella Sandwich that I got on whole wheat bread was fresh and lovely. The toasted bread soaked up the balsamic vinaigrette that was sweet and tangy. The tomato slices and arugula were light and refreshing while the fresh mozzarella added the slighted richness to the sandwich. A mild cheese, the texture of the mozzarella was great. The side salad was very generic but the ingredients were fresh and the whole thing was only $5.75. On university campuses, this is a rarity.12-12-08 - Candy Cane Biscotti - Saxby's Coffee

The Candy Cane Biscotti was decent. The chocolate biscotti was crumbly but not too hard. It was chocolatey yet not overly sweet. I got the one dipped in white chocolate as I love the sweetness of it. The peppermint candy cane added a nice holiday flavour.

12-12-09 - Brownie - Saxby's CoffeeIt was National Chocolate Brownie Day so of course, I had to get a Brownie. I chose the one with cheese on top. It was a mild cheese but I could still taste the difference between it and the chocolate. It was a little greasy and perhaps a touch too moist for a brownie, not that I mind. The cheese was the chewy type but still nice with the chocolate.12-12-08 - Peach Crumb Muffin - Saxby's Coffee

The Peach Crumb Muffin was fresh but a little bland. There could have been more peach slices inside and the crumb and muffin in general could have been a lot sweeter. It was just a tad too buttery and not sugary enough for me. However, it was moist yet dense and a good muffin all the same.

12-12-08 - Milky Way Latte - Saxby's CoffeeFinally, one of their specialty drinks was in order. I got a sugar-free Milky Way Latte, which was made with caramel, vanilla, and chocolate sugar-free syrups. It was a lovely latte, one of the best ever. I loved the three flavours mixed together. It was very sweet but not harsh on the throat at all. The milk made it rich and lovely, and very smooth as well. The chocolate and caramel worked especially well together.

I would not mind waiting just a few extra minutes for a good meal here. The cafe is huge and students frequent it with their laptops to get some work done. Maybe I shall try that sometime!

Saxby's Coffee on Urbanspoon

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Two Bucks and Cookies – Subway

December 7, 2012
Subway, Philadelphia PA
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Meatball Marinara
Raspberry Cheesecake Cookie
Peanut Butter Cookie
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Subway is having Customer Appreciation Month and offers two choices for 6” subs at $2 each. I love it when chains do such promotions. It gives you an excuse to go and get good food for such a low price.

12-12-07 - Meatball Marinara - Subway

The Meatball Marinara was just the way it always tasted. The pork meatballs were clearly overloaded with starch and flour but it was so tender and juicy, just soaking up the marinara sauce. The sauce was rich with a strong tangy tomato flavour. It was nicely seasoned as well. I asked for provolone cheese, which was not that apparent in the sandwich. Vegetables wise, I added lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, and green peppers, my usual combination. Salt and pepper helped with the flavouring but not by much. This had always been my go-to, reliable Subway sandwich.

12-12-07 - Raspberry Cheesecake Cookie - Subway

The Raspberry Cheesecake Cookie was rather delicious. Quite soft and chewy, it was very sweet with an artificial raspberry flavour. The cheesecake flavour was apparent, too, and the white chocolate chips were a nice addition.

12-12-07 - Peanut Butter Cookie - Subway

The Peanut Butter Cookie was less chewy and soft, and more on the crunchy side. The peanut flavour was strong but tasted a little too oily. Perhaps it would have been nice to have peanut butter chips in the cookie as well as peanuts and the peanut butter cookie dough.

Subway on Urbanspoon

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Extremely Orient – Kim’s Oriental Food

December 5, 2012
Kim’s Oriental Food, Philadelphia PA
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General Tso’s Chicken
Oriental Beef
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ImageKim’s Oriental Food never disappoints in the chicken and sauce department. Their General Tso’s Chicken was bang on. The sauce was light, sweet, tangy, and had a little spice. The chicken was nicely battered and fried, with the crispy exterior soaking up the yummy goodness of the sauce. The vegetables were also coated in this sweet, sour, and spicy mixture that I love.

ImageThe Oriental Beef did not disappoint either. The beef belly had a nice mix of fatty and lean meat. The fatty parts included some tendon, which were very chewy and lovely. The lean parts were a little hard to chew through. It had clearly been braised in stew with carrots for a long time. The carrot chunks were soft and flavourful as well. The fresh vegetables of carrots, cabbage, and Napa cabbage added a nice contrast to the very rich beef, which after a while got too rich and overwhelming. It was perhaps a tad too sweet. However, the portion was extremely generous and well worth the $5.25.

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It’s a Cookie Kinda Day – Quiznos

December 3, 2012
Quiznos, Philadelphia PA
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Chicken Carbonara Sub Sandwich
Meatball Sub Sandwich
Basil Pesto Chicken Grilled Flatbread
Oatmeal Raisin Cookie
Cinnamon Sugar Cookie
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I have wanted to compare Quiznos’ sandwiches to those from Subway for quite some time. They are a bit more expensive, with a small size (or a 6” or so sub) costing almost $5. They do have more creative varieties, especially with their chicken sandwiches. However, it would appear to me that they are seriously overpriced.

The Chicken Carbonara Sub Sandwich tasted decent. The chicken was tender and went well with the mozzarella cheese and parmesan alfredo sauce. The smoked bacon was crispy. I ordered this on a garlic focaccia roll. The garlic flavour was very light and not very obvious but aromatic all the same. The flavours blended well together but overall was quite mild.Image

The Meatball Sub Sandwich had much more of a punch when it comes to flavour, although that of marinara sauce is quite generic. The tangy tomato goodness went well with the mozzarella and three-cheese blend. I chose the rosemary parmesan roll for this sandwich, and as I predicted the herb and cheese flavours went well with the sandwich. The server did not ask me if I wanted any vegetables in my subs so they came without any other ingredients. For the Meatball, this ended up being really plain. Thankfully, I got some vegetables on the side.

ImageThe Basil Pesto Chicken Grilled Flatbread was actually quite good. This is something that Subway does not carry so I would go to Quiznos for it. The flatbread was chewy and had the nice, plain dough flavour. The chicken was tender and the lettuce crisp and refreshing. There was a lot of pesto sauce and the flavour was quite nice and strong. However, there was perhaps a tad too much olive oil in the pesto, making it drippy and getting oil all over my hand. It also made the flatbread very slick and sticky.

ImageIt was National Cookie Day but unfortunately, the Quiznos on campus did not offer the free cookie promotion most regular stores did. I still tried two though. The Oatmeal Raisin Cookie was extremely soft and chewy. The oats added a nice, rough texture and the raisins gave it the tart and sweetness. The cookie dough was also very sweet, just the way I like it.

ImageThe Cinnamon Sugar Cookie was even sweeter and thus even better. The cinnamon chips had a good, cinnamon spice taste. The cinnamon sugar added to the already very sweet cookie dough. It had a slight under-baked taste to it, ensuring it is soft and chewy throughout. Now only if it was warm.

For similar items, Subway is definitely the way to go. However, for unique items, you have no choice but to go to Quiznos and dish out a few extra bucks. At least the ingredients are all just as fresh. Just don’t forget to ask for your toppings!

Quiznos on Urbanspoon

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Fast ‘n Friendly – Ollie’s Noodle Shop & Grille

December 2, 2012
Ollie’s Noodle Shop & Grille, New York NY
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Roast Duck (火鸭)
Shrimp Lo Mein (虾捞面)
Pepper Steak (青椒牛肉)
Broccoli, Zucchini, Eggplant in Garlic Sauce (紫兰三素)
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Image

Before getting the whole team to pile into a Megabus and head back to Philly, most of us crowded into a local westernized Chinese restaurant often populated by Columbia students – Ollie’s Noodle Shop & Grille. Apparently, our team came here last year too. It is much like Sang Kee and other casual Chinese establishments. The atmosphere was light and cheery, with large windows and casual yet simple tables and chairs.

Our first dish was the Roast Duck (火鸭). The duck was mediocre. The skin was crispy enough but not the crispiest I have had. The meat was not tough but not particularly fatty and juicy either. It definitely was not melt-in-your-mouth duck meat. I did like the cabbage and spinach under the meat, though, soaking up a little flavour. The rice that had soaked up some of the duck broth also had a light, savoury taste that made it decent.Image

The Shrimp Lo Mein (虾捞面) was too salty. The noodles were okay; they were not overcooked but could have been more al dente with more of a chew. The shrimp were also a little overcooked. I would have liked more vegetables in this dish. Also, it was quite greasy and just tasted of soy sauce and salt.Image

The Pepper Steak (青椒牛肉) was actually the best of the four dishes. The beef was succulent and the bell peppers and onions still had some crispiness to them while coated in the same sweet and spicy sauce. This went really well with the steamed rice.Image

Finally, the Broccoli, Zucchini, Eggplant in Garlic Sauce (紫兰三素) was way too greasy. There was about a layer of oil over the entire dish, hiding the flavourful sauce underneath. The sauce was spicy but not sweet and aromatic enough. Also, because there was so much oil, the sauce did not coat and get into the eggplant, broccoli, and zucchini. While all three vegetables are my favourites, I do not like them bland and drenched in grease.

Ollie’s definitely need to cut back on the oil and salt. The prices are reasonable and the service was extremely fast and quite friendly. The atmosphere was light and uplifting. However, overly greasy food seemed to wipe all the pros away.

Ollie's Noodle Shop & Grille on Urbanspoon

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