Authors Posts by Ricky Ly of

Ricky Ly of

Florida native Ricky Ly founded in 2008 as a local Orlando food blog dedicated to finding the tastiest bits and pieces of Orlando as well as around the world. His first book, Food Lovers' Guide to Orlando: The Best Restaurants, Markets & Local Culinary Offerings (Food Lovers' Series) is available now on and Photography is taken using a Canon EOS 6D and a Sony Nex-3. E-mail him at tastychomps(at) Google

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Local Orlando foodie news!

Chef Eddie’s Restaurant Moving to Church Street

One of my personal favorite places for soul food in Orlando, Chef Eddie‘s restaurant is moving from their west Orlando location to the more centralized Church Street location in downtown Orlando. They are moving into the former location of Johnson’s Diner, which also briefly housed Fish n Loaves, and McKnight’s most recently. We spoke to the representatives at Chef Eddie’s who confirmed they would be moving to the location in just two weeks.

All the best of luck to them as they have always had great food – from red velvet waffles and fried chicken to the smothered pork chops and oxtails as well as great hospitality. Karaoke was a bit loud some nights but entertaining…

Visit them:

Current Location:

3214 Orange Center Blvd, Orlando, FL 32805
Phone:(407) 826-1731

New Location:

595 West Church Street Suite E Orlando, FL 32805
(just a block west of the Amway on Church St)


Hawker’s 3rd Location is coming to St Petersburg Florida

“Hawkers” Brings the Streets of Asia to St. Pete’s EDGE District

Orlando, Fla., (February 13, 2015) – It’s of=icial – Hawkers is expanding coast-to-coast… of Florida that is. The owners of Hawkers, a name derived from the term for street food vendors in Asia, have just announced their plans to join the EDGE district of St. Petersburg. Currently operating stores in Orlando and Jacksonville, Hawkers management anticipates a “mid-summer” opening for their St. Petersburg restaurant that will be located at 1235 West Central Avenue.

Guests will enjoy a menu full of small plates that includes the most popular street foods from regions across Asia: Hong Kong, Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore, and Korea, to name a few. Each menu item is served with sharing plates, encouraging guests to experience new dishes together, as is the custom with traditional hawker centers. The difference? These street foods are served in a hip, trendy environment accompanied by dozens of local craft beer selections.

“We are rede=ining what “eating Asian food” means to mainstream Americans,” says co-founder Allen Lo, who contributes Malaysian in=luence to Hawkers’ menu. “Our goal is for guests to experience authentic flavors, unique to their palettes, in an environment that is as comfortable as it is exciting.”

Traditional noodle soups, wok stir-fried noodles and small plates =ill the menu with dishes ranging from $4-$9. A few of the most popular items include: Char Kway Teo, a Malaysian stir-fried noodle; Siu Yuk, a Chinese roasted, crispy pork belly; and their signature dish, Roti Canai, a Southeast Asian flatbread served. To accompany Hawkers’ extensive food menu, the St. Petersburg location will offer a craft beer selection with over 50 microbrews (many of which will hail from Bay Area breweries) as well as Asian-inspired.

“We all agreed from the onset that =lavors of this depth deserve only the best paired wines, beers, and cocktails,” says Kaleb Harrell, who procures an evolving drink menu for Hawkers’ guests.

To stay updated with the latest progress on Hawkers’ St. Petersburg location or to view a full menu of their current locations, visit Hawkers’ Facebook fan page at

Founded in 2011, Hawkers offers authentic Asian street food in a sharing-encouraged, full-service casual restaurant. With a menu that includes the most popular street food recipes from regions across Asia, Hawkers creates an environment that allows guests to experience unique cuisines at affordable prices with service that educates guests. For more information visit

ArcherRoad Sketch

Sonny’s BBQ Readies for new Strategy for the next 50 Years

Sonny’s BBQ will reveal the grand opening of a brand new location on Archer Road in Gainesville, Fla. on March 16, where guests will find a newly designed, updated version of their favorite local BBQ joint.

The Archer Road opening represents the brand’s ongoing effort to providing guests with a local BBQ experience

The new brand direction will also remind guests of Sonny’s dedication to giving back to the communities it serves. The new restaurant plans to be an integral part of Gainesville through community outreach and recognizing hometown heroes through Sonny’s ‘Random Acts of BBQ’ program, which recognizes those who selflessly give their time and spark the spirit of BBQ in their communities.

This is just the beginning of Sonny’s BBQ efforts to update the brand. Over the next several years, the barbecue chain plans to update as many locations as possible.

Sonny’s BBQ
3635 SW Archer Road
Gainesville, FL 32608

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I tend to break down Chinese restaurants into three categories:

Chinese take outs (you’ll see the neon signs saying New York Style Chinese Takeout at these places – New York meaning “Americanized – often a miss in terms of quality and a menu full of general tso’s chicken and pork fried rice with chicken wings combos ),

Traditional Cantonese sit down restaurants (you’ll find some form of beef chow fun, salt and pepper squid, and possibly dim sum at these establishments),

and the increasingly less rare,

“Other Chinese cuisine” restaurant (Sichuan, Shanghainese, Taiwanese, etc).

I’d file Chan’s under traditional Cantonese sit down restaurant —
1. Dim sum on the weekends? Check.
2. Lazy susans on the tables for family style banquets? Check.
3. Seemingly callous waitresses? Double check.

The decor is rather minimal, like walking into someone’s house for a dinner party and there’s not really enough space for everyone.

The food here is solid Cantonese fare – you’ve got your pan fried noodles to dim sum via cart on the weekends. For dinner, it gets a bit fancier with dishes like Cantonese style pan fried steak, salt baked chicken, sweet and sour pork chops, and even abalone, the exceptionally pungent mollusk that the Cantonese go crazy for.

I was at Chan’s recently for a banquet with some friends – the brothers of Pi Delta Psi Fraternity at the University of Central Florida to be exact – who held an end of the semester banquet at the restaurant with quite a list of about 7 banquet dishes for just $25. Call ahead to find out if you can organize something like this there because it’s got great value if you have a group of 10 or so per table.







Seafood Pan Fried Noodles
Seafood Pan Fried Noodles
Sweet and Sour Peking Pork Chops
Sweet and Sour Peking Pork Chops
Fried Crispy Chicken
Fried Crispy Chicken



Chan's Chinese Cuisine on Urbanspoon

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There’s a new place in Orlando that will have your personalized pizza ready in just five minutes.

Pie Five Pizza Co. is the place – opening up just outside of UCF on University Blvd.


You might be familiar with the concept – made popular by Chipotle and Subway.

Order at the counter and the folks prepare it assembly line style as you go down the line. They use a super hot oven to heat the pizza and have it ready for you by the time you finish paying at the cash register.


At Pie Five, guests can create personal pizzas and a variety of specialty pie choices, all for one price. Typically a pizza, any way, is $6.99. Meaning a specialty pizza or a pizza with anything you want on it – all $6.99. Same goes with the salad. If you want to add an extra side salad and drink, it’s $2.99 more.

They offer 4 crusts (including pan, thin crust, gluten-free & whole grain) and have hand-made salads made from a pizza crust.


Everything is prepared right on the spot and the entire meal will be ready in less than five minutes. I checked – it was under 5 minutes.

Pizza was good for $6.99, ingredients were fresh, and I really liked the customization. One thing that I thought could use improvement – the crust – a little bit too pedestrian, ho-hum, and if they can update that and make it tastier, it would be a really good pizza. For the price, it can’t be beat.

Blaze Pizza, another “chipotle” style pizza joint will be opening soon near by in the UCF area at the Plaza, so it should be interesting to see how business goes. It’s definitely a food trend to watch- custom pizza joints.

Let us know what you think – have you been to Pie Five? Is it something you’d try? Comment below!








Pie Five Pizza Co. on Urbanspoon

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I was first introduced to Sushi Kichi by a Japanese friend.

She told me, “you have to go check this new place out – it’s authentic!”

Lots of sushi restaurants dot the Central Florida landscape, but not all are equal. Some are certainly better than others, particularly with their care for sourcing and execution of technique. Sushi Kichi falls into the group that does sushi well.

The chefs at Sushi Kichi, I found out, actually once worked at the popular Shin Japanese sushi restaurant in downtown Orlando. On this night, the chef was manning the sushi bar with his son.

I ordered a sashimi and nigiri plate which I found to be quite fresh and delicious. The fried squid that we ordered was a bit too rubbery and bland for my tastes. Definitely needs work. The gyudon (beef rice bowl) was a bit too sweet, but was good overall. The sushi rolls that my fellow dining partners ordered were all very good as well. Overall, a positive experience, particularly for sushi rolls.

Visit them at:

Sushi Kichi
5386 Central Florida Pkwy, Orlando, FL 32821, USA


Chef Owner of Sushi Kichi with his son



Interior of Sushi Kichi – sleek, modern, though feels a bit empty


Side salad with ginger dressing


Fried squid – a bit too tough to chew, least favorite of the dishes. Seasoning was off as well. Basically tasted like rubber.


Gyu-don – a popular beef bowl – made with mirin, sugar, soy sauce, and some dashi broth


Shrimp udon noodle soup


Fresh sushi rolls




Green tea sponge cake

Sushi Kichi on Urbanspoon

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The Downtown Food & Wine Fest at Lake Eola – Orlando is going all weekend long from Saturday, February 21, 2015 (noon to 9 p.m.) to Sunday, February 22, 2015 (noon to 7 p.m.).

The festival features “mouth-watering dishes from 30 of Orlando’s premier restaurants, domestic and international wines, and live entertainment.”


It’s like a mini Epcot Food and Wine Festival with a local Orlando flair – there’s an admission price as well as food tickets to purchase.

And the food was wonderful – from veal meatballs and cannoli gelato cones from Primo at JW Marriott to the cajun bratwurst from Hollerbach’s Willow tree – the quality that I encountered today was just excellent.

It’s all in all a great idea for family and friends to check out and get a taste of local Orlando flavor.

Visit for more details.

Exclusive Restaurant News

Some interesting restaurant news, while talking to a few of the owners, chefs, and managers at the festival this weekend:

Hawkers Asian Street Fare is poised to open their newest restaurant soon in the St. Pete / Tampa area
- Jeremiah’s Italian Ice is looking to expand not only in Orlando but also possibly the St. Pete area as well in the coming months
The Smiling Bison’s stolen food cart had been “found” at a “junkyard”. The owner of the junkyard turned it in as well as a few other stolen items after the police came by. No charges filed due to lack of evidence.
– Chef Alexia Gawlak has left her position at Siro at Orlando World Center Marriott to team up with her husband Chef Rhys Gawlak of Cask and Larder to head the new Swine and Sons Provisions project from the Ravenous Pig team, soon to open, overseeing “Swine & Sons Provisions’ delectable pastry and dessert items.”


The Fest is presented and produced by CBS RADIO, led by Orlando favorites MIX 105.1, 1059 SUNNY FM, and 1019 AMP Radio in partnership with the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association.

General Admission – Online tickets are $15 per person per day presale only. Food & Beverage tickets sold separately inside the event. Tickets at the door are $20 per person per day. Food & Beverage tickets sold separately inside the event. Wine Tasters Club Lanyard + General Admission: $30 for (5) 2 oz fine wine samples. Children 12 and under are FREE.


Restaurants featured include:

The Smiling Bison
Hollerbach’s Willow Tree
Siro at World Center Marriott
Primo at JW Marriott
Marlow’s Tavern
Old Hickory Steakhouse at Gaylord Palms
The Knife
Sushi House
Kobe Steakhouse
The Pub at Pointe Orlando
Shari Sushi
Morton’s Steakhouse
Jeremiah’s Italian Ice
Christner’s Prime Steak and Lobster
and more

Check out our video from day 1:

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by Mike Cho of

On Saturday, March 7, at the Orlando World Center Marriott, top local chefs from acclaimed restaurants and resorts will showcase their creativity to help raise funds at Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Florida’s Appetite for the Arches benefit.

This is a culinary event with a twist — one that has a little something to do with the Golden Arches.

Chefs will use fresh McDonald’s ingredients to create one-of-a-kind signature dishes.

Guests will have the opportunity to interact with participating chefs while sampling the gourmet creations at this free-flowing event.

Julie Petrakis, who owns The Ravenous Pig and Cask & Larder with her husband James, sits on the planning committee for the event and was in charge of organizing chef participation. “Appetite for the Arches unites Central Florida’s best chefs and the community on a night of culinary surprises and delight for a special cause. All proceeds from the gala help Ronald McDonald House keep families together when they need it most —during the treatment of a critically ill child.”

Hosted by Chefs James and Julie Petrakis, Appetite for the Arches media preview was a preview showcase of culinary creativity.

Two signature cocktails


Vodka Lemonade
Strawberries, lemons, balsamic vinaigrette and sugar from McDonald’s


Old Fashioned
Hazelnut Syrup and Cherries from McDonald’s


The first entrée, created by Chef James Petrakis was a Chicken Terrine with bacon jam and picked apple. It used chicken, bacon, onions; apples, apple juice, balsamic vinaigrette and brioche roll from McDonald’s.


The second entrée, created by Chef Kevin Fonzo from K Restaurant was a Cola BBQ meatball. The smoked meatball was made using McDonald’s steak hamburger, bacon, pork sausage and white onions. The Cola sauce was made with McDonald’s tomatoes, ketchup, coke and mustard.


John Rivers, Chef and Founder of 4 Rivers contributed a Southern Chicken ‘N Biscuits. Using McDonald’s chicken breast and maple syrup created these tasty chicken biscuits combined with 4Rivers Buttermilk Biscuit.


For dessert, Chef Julie Petrakis from Cask & Larder contributed a delicious and decadent Creamsicle Parfait. The parfait was composed of a vanilla bean Panna Cotta, mandarin compote and granola. McDonald’s supplied the oranges, yogurt, granola and vanilla syrup.

media2 media1 Appetite

It was a great experience seeing these Local chef’s transform McDonald’s ingredients into gourmet creations. You can have the opportunity to experience these and more on March 7th at the 2015 Appetite for the Arches Gala.

Participating restaurants include:
4 Rivers
Blue Bird Bake Shop
Cask & Larder
Chef’s Table at the Edgewater
Cuisiniers Catering
Emeril’s Tchoup Chop
Hamilton’s Kitchen
K Resturant
Kabooki Sushi
LUMA on Park
Orlando World Center Marriott
Paxia Modern Mexican and Tequila Lounge
Pig Floyd’s
SeaWorld Park & Resorts Orlando
The Ravenous Pig
The Rusty Spoon
The Smiling Bison
Txokos Basque Kitchen

Proceeds from Appetite for the Arches will contribute to Ronald McDonald’s House of Charities of Central Florida, which keeps families close to their critically ill children receiving treatment in local hospitals.

To find out more information about Appetite for the Arches including ticket information, please visit

Join the conversaion on Twitter @RMHCCF #AppetiteOrlando

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Mardi Gras is Tuesday February 17 this year, and if you can’t make it down to Universal Orlando Resort’s Mardi Gras celebration – there’s quite a few places to get your bayou bites on here in Orlando.


Mardi Gras, French for “Fat Tuesday”, refers to “events of the Carnival celebrations, beginning on or after the Epiphany or King’s Day and culminating on the day before Ash Wednesday, reflecting the practice of the last night of eating richer, fatty foods before the ritual fasting of the Lent season.”


King Cake

One of the most popular foods of the season is the “king cake” -a sweet, sugary and iced Danish type cake that is braided with cinnamon inside and a plastic baby doll underneath (said to represent Jesus). The finder of the baby Jesus is said to be made King or Queen for the day and is also responsible for buying the King Cake for the next year. The three colors of the sugar are Purple (representing Justice), Green (representing Faith) and Gold (representing Power).

For King Cake in Orlando, contact:

 Olde Hearth Bread Company
at East End Market
3201 Corrine Dr
Orlando, FL 32803
(407) 834-8881
$12 each starting Friday!!! Call ahead to order

Here’s what they look like:

Charlie’s Gourmet Pastries
3213 Curry Ford Road, Orlando, FL 32806
(407) 898-9561

Cajun vs. Creole

Louisiana Creole cuisine is a style of cooking originating in Louisiana, United States which blends French, West African, Amerindian, Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian influences, as well as general Southern cuisine. Cajun cuisine is named for the French-speaking Acadian people deported by the British from Acadia in Canada to the Acadiana region of Louisiana, USA. Creole is more known as “city” food while cajun is more “rural” – and a big difference often is that Creole cuisine has tomatoes in it. Popular dishes in both cuisines include gumbo, jambalaya, boudin sausage, and crawfish boils.

Key Terms

Gumbo – typically consists primarily of a strongly flavored stock, okra, meat or shellfish, a thickener, and seasoning vegetables, which can include celery, bell peppers and onions. Gumbo is often categorized by the type of thickener used: the African vegetable okra, the Choctaw spice filé powder (dried and ground sassafras leaves), or roux, the French base made of flour and fat. The dish likely derived its name from either the Bantu word for okra (ki ngombo) or the Choctaw word for filé (kombo). Several different varieties exist. In New Orleans, what is known as Creole gumbo generally ranges from house to house though still retaining its African and Native origins. The Creoles of Cane River make a gumbo focused much more on filé. After the base is prepared, vegetables are cooked down, and then meat is added. The dish simmers, with shellfish and some spices added near the end. Gumbo is traditionally served over rice. The dish combines ingredients and culinary practices of several cultures, including West African, French, Spanish, German, and Choctaw. The dish is the official cuisine of the state of Louisiana.

Jambalaya – a Louisiana Creole dish of Spanish and French influence. Jambalaya may have been created in Louisiana and may have its origins in Spanish paella, even if there is a dish also called jambalaia in Provence, southern France, that is also a mash-up of rice, chicken and saffron. Jambalaya is traditionally made in three parts, with meat and vegetables, and is completed by adding stock and rice. Creole jambalaya originates from the French Quarter of New Orleans, in the original European sector. It was an attempt by the Spanish to make paella in the New World, where saffron was not readily available due to import costs. Tomatoes became the substitute for saffron. As time went on, French influence became strong in New Orleans, and spices from the Caribbean changed this New World paella into a unique dish.

Roux – a substance created by cooking wheat flour and fat (traditionally butter) as the thickening agent. A roux is used in three of the mother sauces of classical French cooking: béchamel sauce, velouté sauce, and espagnole sauce. Clarified butter, vegetable oils, bacon drippings or lard are commonly used fats. It is used as a thickener for gravy, other sauces, soups and stews. In Cajun cuisine, roux is made with bacon fat or oil instead of butter and dark brown in color, which lends much richness of flavor, albeit less thickening power.

Crawfish – Crayfish, also known as crawfish, crawdads, freshwater lobsters, or mudbugs, are freshwater crustaceans resembling small lobsters
Po-boy – A po’ boy (also po-boy, po boy, or poor boy) is a traditional submarine sandwich from Louisiana. It almost always consists of meat, usually roast beef, or fried seafood. The meat is served on baguette-like New Orleans French bread, known for its crisp crust and fluffy center.

Beignet – synonymous with the English “fritter”, is the French term for a pastry made from deep-fried choux pastry. Beignets are commonly known in New Orleans as a breakfast served with powdered sugar on top. They are traditionally prepared right before consumption to be eaten fresh and hot. The most famous place to get these are at Cafe Du Monde in New Orleans.

Upcoming Events

Celt Irish Pub Louisiana Fat Tuesday Party
February 17, 2015 @ Harp and Celt Irish Pub and Restaurant
11a – 7pm
Crawfish Poorboys
Crawfish Ettouffee
Chicken Jambalaya
Red Beans and Rice

25 South Magnolia Avenue
Orlando FL 32801

 Tibby’s New Orleans Kitchen

Two Locations:

2203 Aloma Ave
Winter Park, FL 32792

494 West SR 436
Altamonte Springs, FL 32714

Favorite dishes: Fried oyster remoulade, seafood gumbo – shrimp, oysters, andouille sausage simmered with fresh vegetables, okra topped with rice, and the 12-napkin Fried Roast Beef Po-boy. Great beignets as well.

Belle Isle Bayou
5180 South Conway Road, Orlando, FL 32812
(407) 250-6763

The Big Easy
15502 Stoneybrook West Parkway, Winter Garden, FL 34787
(407) 654-3279

Voodoo Kitchen Food Truck

For Crawfish, Shrimp, Crab, Seafood boils -


King Cajun Crawfish
914 North Mills Avenue
Orlando, FL 32803
(407) 704-8863
Great po-boys as well

New Orleans Cajun Seafood
5503 West Colonial Drive, Orlando, FL 32808
(407) 293-2719
7325 Aloma Avenue, Winter Park, FL 32792
(407) 678-5700

Hot N’ Juice Crawfish
7572 West Sand Lake Road, Orlando, FL 32819
(407) 370-4655

LA Boiling Seafood Crabs and Crawfish
1242 East Colonial Drive, Orlando, FL 32803
(407) 898-7770

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Barnie’s CoffeeKitchen 
– Includes complimentary Framboise Champagne cocktail to celebrate with dinner on Valentine’s Day.
– Includes dessert – Venezuelan Chocolate soufflé  with a Mexican Vanilla Bean Creme Anglaise and a Sweetheart Latte, made with special sweetheart blend coffee – a mix of Chocolate and Cherry flavors
– $95 per couple


Marlow’s Tavern Winter Park and Marlow’s Tavern at Pointe Orlando
– Valentine’s Day 4-Course Specialty Dinner
– $35/person

Mynt Fine Indian Cuisine at Winter Park’s Hannibal Square
– 4 course meal with a glass wine
– $100/couple


American Gymkhana 
– Modern Indian experience to Valentine’s Day.
– Six-course tasting menu for $65 per person; wine pairings available for an additional $35 per person

Soco in Thornton Park
– Southern Aphrodisiac menu, featuring items like Potato Chip Crusted Chocolate Cake, with peanut butter brittle and salted caramel.
– Wash it down with a Valentine’s Day-exclusive Frisky Whiskey cocktail filled with Four Roses Whiskey, chocolate bitters and a cherry heart.
– About $60 per person

Txokos Basque Kitchen

Barefoot Farmer Farms has some beautiful veggies coming off the farm this weekend. Our guests should look for Golden and Candy Cane Beets (local goat cheese and EEM dill), Romanesco and Vita Verde Cauliflower (wood roasted with Marcona almond gravy)

Grilled White Asparagus, poached Lake Meadow egg, Salbitxada and tint

Caramelized Onion Soup (blue crab & truffle)

Mary Ann (pastry chef AKA Dragon Lady) and I are making a Trio of Chocolate for two (chai macaron & ancho ganache, chocolate cherry cake and chocolate caramel mousse & feuilletine

Four Seasons Resort at Disney World

Capa – Spanish-influenced steakhouse
– Five-course prix-fixe menu for USD 85.00 per adult.
– Fresh oysters, Wagyu beef, and a choice of veal, arctic char or an expertly cut filet.
– Top off the night with a glass of Champagne and toast to love while watching the Wishes nighttime spectacular at Magic Kingdom Park from the terrace of Capa.


Norman’s at Ritz Carlton
– Four-course menu is $150 + tax and gratuity, wine pairing is $75 + tax and gratuity.
– Requires a $50 per person deposit.
– Fried oysters, pan seared scallops, strawberry creme fraiche sorbet.

Puff n Stuff Catering at your Home 
– 3 hour dining experience,  Order by Wed. Feb 11
– Salad, Jumbo Scallops, Lamb Chop, Dark cherry and chocolate tarte
– $280 per couple
– Add One Dozen Roses for $85
– Call 407-629-7833

Champagne 3

Kappo at East End Market is one of Orlando’s best sushi restaurants, yet also one of the most hidden.

Founded by college friends Mark, Lo, and Jen – all graduates of UF – they all traveled the world from New York to London to Tokyo to learn from the masters and now, they are back here in Orlando, having opened up this small 7 seat sushi bar inside the wonderful East End Market in Audubon Park.

The 7 seat bar is intimate – you can watch each of the chefs work attentively on their dishes, giving great care and respect to each piece of nigiri sushi.

Dinner is reservations only, while lunch is available for walk-ins.

The dinner experience is unique – omakase style, which means chef’s choice, with the best fish of the day prepared piece by piece like a scene out of Jiro Dreams of Sushi. Sushi as art – and it is as delicious to eat as it is beautiful.

For lunch, we recommend their transcendent chirashi bowl, or a plate of nigiri sushi, ending with a savory cup of miso soup or some house made Japanese inspired ice cream.

I made a short film of a recent visit here:





This past weekend, the Vietnamese Catholic Church of Orlando, St Philip Phan van minh hosted their annual Vietnamese New Year Festival at the Central Florida Fairgrounds for 2015 – the year of the goat/sheep. The actual Lunar New Year is not till Thursday February 19th this year so there are still lots of great events to come. (See Guide to Celebrating Chinese/Vietnamese New Year Festivals in Orlando Post for the lowdown).

Here are 39 photos showing why the Vietnamese New Year Festival rocks:

Entrance to the Festival
Entrance to the Festival – here, a recreation of the famous Cho Ben Thanh market in Saigon, Vietnam
The festival is fun for the entire family - here in the background, a recreation of Cho Ben Thanh Market in Saigon, Vietnam
The festival is fun for the entire family – here in the background, a recreation of Cho Ben Thanh Market in Saigon, Vietnam


Shout out to the Orlando Foodie Forum on facebook for coming out to the event!

Church Festival Volunteers snap a quick photo
Church Festival Volunteers snap a quick photo
Inside the festival building
Inside the festival building – some families stay all day watching the shows, eating their way around the building halls
Inside the festival building
Inside the festival building
Serving chao long, rice porridge with offal
Serving chao long, rice porridge with offal
Chao long, rice porridge with offal
Chao long, rice porridge with offal
Goi cuon, summer rolls
Goi cuon, summer rolls
Bun rieu, a seafood crab and pork noodle soup
Bun rieu, a seafood crab and pork noodle soup
Curry goat and sauteed boar
Curry goat and sauteed boar
Bun Bo Hue Spicy Beef Noodle soup
Bun Bo Hue Spicy Beef Noodle soup
A Vietnamese Catholic boy scout buys some banh tieu
A Vietnamese Catholic boy scout buys some banh tieu
Banh tieu, Vietnamese hollowed donut fry bread topped with sesame seeds
Banh tieu, Vietnamese hollowed donut fry bread topped with sesame seeds
Grinding sugarcane to make sugarcane juice
Grinding sugarcane to make fresh sugarcane juice
Hu Tieu Mi, a pork and chicken noodle soup
Hu Tieu Mi, a pork and chicken noodle soup topped with hard boiled quail eggs
Steaming  pots of bun rieu pork and crab noodle soup
Steaming pots of bun rieu pork and crab noodle soup
Rolls of banh tet, kind of like Christmas yuletide logs, but with sticky rice and beans to celebrate the new year
Rolls of banh tet, kind of like Christmas yuletide logs, but with sticky rice and beans to celebrate the new year
Lion dancers scare away evil spirits and welcome in the new year
Lion dancers scare away evil spirits and welcome in the new year
Scenes from the street food
Scenes from the street food


Hot Vit Lon - the fearsome Duck fetus eggs
Hot Vit Lon – the fearsome Duck fetus eggs
Sauteed goat
Sauteed goat
Scenes from the street food
Scenes from the street food
Scenes from the street food
Scenes from the street food
Fried Eggrolls and pork sausage meatballs on a stick
Fried Eggrolls and pork sausage meatballs on a stick
Scenes from the street food
Scenes from the street food
Banh Cuon rice crepes
Banh Cuon rice crepes
Scenes from the street food
Scenes from the street food
Bun thit nuong
Bun thit nuong
Banh Xeo Vietnamese pan cakes
Banh Xeo Vietnamese pan cakes
Carnival games and things for kids area
Carnival games and things for kids area
Pew pew - Carnival games and things for kids area
Pew pew – Carnival games and things for kids area
Bounce area
Bounce area


Orchids for sale
Orchids for sale
These Vietnamese ladies are getting ready for a cultural performance on stage
These Vietnamese ladies are getting ready for a cultural performance on stage
Pearl White Events, a local wedding planning business, markets their services
Pearl White Events, a local wedding planning business, markets their services
State Farm Insurance
State Farm Insurance is a sponsor, too
Mai tree, the symbol of spring for the Vietnamese
Mai tree, the symbol of spring for the Vietnamese

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Restaurant Openings

Red Mountain BBQ
3020 Lamberton Boulevard #110 (off of Curry Ford and Dean)
Orlando, FL 32825, United States
(407) 270-4621

Wlad Bladi Moroccan
2934 Vineland Rd
Kissimmee, FL 34746
Phone number (407) 507-2696

Courtesy of Disney
Courtesy of Disney

Trattoria al Forno at Disney’s Boardwalk
(taking over Cat Cora’s Kouzzina location)

East End Market on Cooking Channel – Emeril’s Florida

Upcoming Events


Check out our segment on WESH 2 News Sunrise on CW 18 with Chef John Rivers of 4 Rivers Smokehouse and the Coop and all their Superbowl Eats

Four Seasons Superbowl party and US News ranking

U.S.News & World Report today announced its Best Hotels rankings and Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort was ranked the No. 1 hotel in Orlando. FourSeasons Orlando is also listed on the Best Hotels in Florida and the Best Hotels in the USA lists.


Super Bowl party at Orlando’s Teak Neighborhood Grill

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Winter Park Sip, Shop & Stroll -Thursday, February 5, 2015
The Winter Park Chamber of Commerce and Park Avenue Merchants Association invite you to sip, shop and stroll with your sweetheart! Experience the charm and romance of Park Avenue on this uniquely Winter Park wine walk. Spend the evening visiting your favorite Park Avenue area shops and restaurants. Discover new merchants, check out the latest fashions, gift ideas and seasonal menu items and enjoy wine and hors d’oeuvres along the way.

When & Where
Thursday, February 5, 2015
5 – 8 p.m.
Park Avenue area in downtown Winter Park
Cost: $25 each

Cattle Baron’s Ball Orlando 2015

The Cattle Barons’ Ball is a unique Western-themed evening of live entertainment, a dine-around, dancing, live and silent auctions and
more. And as we come together to party for a cause, the American Cancer Society will continue to save lives and create more birthdays by helping people to stay well and get well, find cures, and fight back against a disease that has taken too many lives.

This one of a kind event allows cowboys and cowgirls to dust off their denim to kick cancer out to pasture once and for all!

Saturday, February 7, 2015
6:00 pm – midnight
Rosen Shingle Creek, 9939 Universal Blvd., Orlando, FL 32819

The event features a dine-around with culinary creations from local restaurants. Entertainment includes Western-themed activities, silent and live auctions and a live performance by great western entertainers.
Valentine’s Day at Barnie’s CoffeeKitchen
Barnie’s CoffeeKitchen on Park
Valentine’s Weekend Couple’s Prix-Fixe Dining Experience
February 13 & 14, starting at 6pm each night
$90 per couple
Call (407) 629-0042 To Reserve (reservation only, limited availability)

Framboise Champagne Cocktail
Appetizer: carpaccio of grass fed beef, with radicchio, pickled beets, and crunchy red quinoa, dressed in a sherry-paprika vinaigrette.
Entree: Stew of Florida shellfish and fish with a saffron, star anise, and tomato broth.
Dessert: Venezuelan chocolate soufflé with blackberries and a Mexican vanilla creme anglaise.
Sweetheart Latte

Wine and beer list available. Not included in the Prix-Fixe menu price.

Restaurant News

Urban Tide

The former Napa restaurant at Hyatt Regency Orlando (formerly Peabody Orlando) has transitioned into Urban Tide which offers diners a modern twist on local Florida seafood favorites.

Highlights from the new menu include a selection of “Starters” like Ceviche with citrus marinated Florida sea bass and serrano spiked rock shrimp and Grouper Cheeks with shishito peppers, cilantro, and creamed Zellwood Farm corn. Seafood selections include Gulf Grouper, Sea Bass and Whole Red Snapper, which can be prepared blackened, grilled, or sautéed. All seafood dishes are served with a trio of house made sauces.

Other “Favorites” include Grilled Domestic Lamb Rack with tomato farro risotto and baby zucchini, and a classic Cioppino.

Further food and beverage developments include a new kosher kitchen which will be completed for events and meetings use by Passover this April.

“As Hyatt Hotels’ largest meetings property, we’re constantly evaluating how we can best accommodate our many diverse groups during their stay,” said Nate Hardesty, Director of Sales and Marketing. “Orlando continues to raise its profile as an ideal destination for meetings and leisure travel, and we want to ensure our offerings are evolving in order to provide the best possible guest experience.”

For further information, or to book a stay at Hyatt Regency Orlando, please visit

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Spice Burgr recently took over for the space at the downtown Orlando Plaza that once belonged to grilled cheese sandwich shop Meltz. If the name “Spice” rings a bell, it’s because the owners of Spice Burgr are the same as the owners of nearby Spice Modern Steakhouse at Lake Eola.

It’s a counter service restaurant – order at the counter and the order is delivered to you when ready. I guess it’s the next evolution of the fast food restaurant with better ingredients. The decor is anonymous – minimal and white – and rather forgetful. The staff was friendly enough, but at times they appeared a bit lost and unsure about who ordered what when the orders became ready.

I ordered the Traditional – always a good base to start off with, I supposed. It was all right, juicy and slightly flavorful but nothing to denote any memorable “spice” moment. The fries came out hot, but needed a little salt. It was $5.95. I’d have to go back to try their other burger varieties and choices like the California Spice burger – topped with lettuce, tomatoes, sliced avocado, pico, cheese, “Burgr sauce” on a buttered bun and a side of fries. There is also a Burger of the Month, or BOM, that changes monthly.

Overall, Spice Burgr just did not leave much of an impression – spicy or otherwise – on me.

Spice Burgr - One of Many, Many new burger joints in Orlando
Spice Burgr – One of Many, Many new burger joints in Orlando
The decor - modern, sleek, boring
The decor – modern, sleek, boring
The Traditional Burgr
The Traditional Burgr



Spice Burgr on Urbanspoon

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On a recent trip overseas, my wife and I stayed over at the SkyCity Marriott at the Hong Kong International Airport. It was a bit rainy that evening so we decided to forgo the excursion over to the main part of the city and just settled in at the hotel before heading out to our next destination, which was Bali at the time.


Dining options are limited at the Marriott, but there is one nice restaurant there called Man Ho. Mostly empty that evening, but it had some sleek modern decor. We came for one thing – Hong Kong style roast goose. These succulent roast poultry is similar to the roast duck we might find at Tasty Wok hanging in display cases around town at the Asian supermarkets – but the roast goose is on another level – juicy, bursting with flavor. I don’t know why it hasn’t crossed overseas yet, but here’s to hoping it will one day.

Man Ho - inside the SkyCity Marriott at Hong Kong Intl Airport
Man Ho – inside the SkyCity Marriott at Hong Kong Intl Airport


Roast Goose at Man Ho
Roast Goose at Man Ho
Black Bean squid
Black Bean squid

The next morning, we awoke early to catch our flight out. The airport itself has a flurry of dining amenities, from fast casual ramen to the classic Hong Kong dim sum. Some popular Hong Kong eateries and coffee shops (known as cha chaan teng) like Tsui Wah and Cafe de Coral also have outposts here – selling sort of “Western” influenced Asian dishes like macaroni noodle and beef soup and stuffed rice in lotus leaf. Couldn’t find the legendary French toast this time around though.

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We were flying – through a combination of points and finagling – first class on Cathay Pacific (one of the BEST airlines I’ve ever flown on in terms of service and comfortability) and after a quick breakfast stumbled upon their first class lounge, The Bridge.

Should’ve stumbled upon it earlier – we should have realized that Hong Kong is their main hub and headquarters. Food and amenities for days.

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Cathay Delight - the signature drink of Cathay Pacific -  made with coconut milk and kiwi juice
Cathay Delight – the signature drink of Cathay Pacific – made with coconut milk and kiwi juice

The Winter Park Farmers’ Market is one of my favorite weekly farmer’s markets here in Orlando.

Located just a block away from bustling Park Avenue, it’s the perfect Saturday morning outing for both friends and families to stroll around and grab little bites to eat or take home, before or after a meal on the Avenue.

It’s held at the old train depot, now the Winter Park Historical Musuem located at 200 West New England Avenue every Saturday morning from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. and is usually packed with folks walking their dogs and is a great opportunity for people watching.

Some of my favorite things to get here are the freshly popped kettlecorn – the best found in the city – from Mountain Kettle Corn, lovely croissants from Chez Vincent, fresh fruit jams from Ginger Jams and Jellies, artisan breads from Olde Hearth Bread Co, and a delicious breakfast bagel inside the Winter Park Farmer’s Market building.

Winter Park Farmers’ Market
200 West New England Avenue
Winter Park, Florida






























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You wouldn’t know it by driving by this little Mexican grocery store – but inside these red and yellow bodega bricked walls there is a little kitchen that serves up some very authentic Mexican street food from tamales, tortas and tacos to shrimp cocktails, menudos and tostadas.

Jalisco is a region on the west coast of Mexico known for being the “heart” of Mexican culture. A classic dish for the area includes the pozole, a kind of spicy, meaty corn-based stew, as well as menudo, a traditional Mexican beef tripe soup.

Here at Tienda Mexicana Jalisco on Goldenrod Road, in addition to the typical list of tacos, there are “caldos” or “soups” and “guisados” or “stews”. My favorites are the tostadas, fried tortillas topped with beans, cheese, salsa, lettuce, and your choice of meat – which range from the familiar carne steak and al pastor pork, to the more exotic like lengua (beef tongue) and cabeza (roasted beef head) – though they are known to be “out” of the more rare meats.

You order at the counter – Spanish helps, for sure, but there is also an English menu. As is typical at these roadside grocery eateries, you pay not at the kitchen counter, but instead, take the pay stub to the main grocery cashier to pay and then get a receipt there for the meal. It can be a little confusing for first timers.

After you’re done paying, take a seat, and when the carne or carnitas are done sizzling on the griddle and the tacos and tostadas and soups are all prepared, they bring the plates out, fresh and ready to be enjoyed.

Simple and satisfying. Watch the heat from the hot sauce, though.




Fried snapper


Daily lunch specials


The grocery market part of the grocery store


Seating area – a lot of the working crowd during lunch time


Mexican pastries – a lot of bread – for sale


Pay for your meal, or buy a phone card, at the register


Tacos – carne, lengua, al pastor – watch out for the red sauce – it’s spicy


Simple onion, cilantro, and a dash of lime for my street tacos

Tienda Jalisco on Urbanspoon

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Christner’s Prime Steak & Lobster Restaurant on Lee Road is Orlando’s quintessential steakhouse. Formerly Del Frisco’s, the restaurant is darkly lit with wood overtones and a decidedly clubby, intimate old school feel. Probably not many interior upgrades since the 1990s, but here it’s all about the classics: steaks.

The menu is emphasizes steak and lobster tail, with a salmon and a few shrimp and pasta dishes, plentiful sides like lobster mac and cheese and creamy spinach, soups, and salads. Lobster tail, luscious and fresh, carved tableside, is a luxurious add-on option to your steak. From prime ribeye to filet mignon and porterhouse cooked in butter, Christner’s has your carnal cravings covered.

On a recent visit, for a friend’s birthday, I ordered the Beef Wellington and was very impressed. Beef Wellington is a preparation of filet steak coated with pâté, a pate of butter, mushrooms and black pepper here at Christner’s, which is then wrapped in puff pastry and baked – flaky and delicious.

If you are lucky, you might find master magician Kostya Kimlat and his merry friends roaming the halls and entertaining guests with their craft.





House baked bread



A porterhouse – 20 oz. – with cold tail lobster tail




Carved table side.


A happy camper

SONY DSC New York Strip Steak


Beef Wellington – perfectly cooked


Mr. Kostya Kimlat delighting the table guests

Christner’s Prime Steak & Lobster
729 Lee Road, Orlando, FL 32810, United States
(407) 645-4443

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Yuki Hana Japanese Fusion, in Oviedo, just off of Aloma at Tuskawilla, serves Japanese modern cuisine with a fresh twist on classic dishes and a vast selection of delectable sushi, fresh sashimi, and signature rolls created by chef and owner Eddison Chen.

Yuki Hana Fusion’s menu represents chef Eddison’s nearly 15 years of experience including many years working with some of the best Japanese master sushi chefs in New York – where followers there have said Eddie “is devoted to maintaining the purity of his vision—-that is not to be simply good but transcendent.”

We were recently invited to visit the modern and sleek Yuki Hana to sample some of their dishes and were quite surprised and delighted by what they had to offer, a step above the typical sushi places in the area for sure. I would say it ranks among the best in Orlando in terms of its quality and taste.

We started with a glass of the Bunraku Kinmai “Dancing Gold Flakes” sake, while the gold flakes are believed to “enhance good fortune”, the sake itself had a smooth, rich flavor, slightly sweet and one of the best sake I have had the pleasure to taste.

Geoduck is in season and chef Chen made great use of the ingredient in two dishes sampled this evening. Also known as giant clam, the geoduck is a very large, edible, saltwater clam native to western United States. Distinctively shaped similar to the male genital, the geoduck can go for $150/lb in Asia where it is a delicacy.

We started with a geoduck miso soup made with both geoduck and little clams, as well as enoki and shitake mushroom. The soup was rich and flavorful, and had the mushroom and clam textures went well together.

Next, the geoduck served two ways – tempura and sashimi style with an orange lemon confit, crispy and soft – very good.

Uni was also in season – sea urchin is creamy and custardy and is often an acquired taste, but can be very wonderful if served fresh as it is here at Yuki Hana with a topping of quail egg.

Some Asian – Latin fusion is also present here at Yuki Hana, executed well with dishes like the Oxtail tempura avocado taco with a Korean spicy gochujang pickle sauce.

They’ve recently updated the menu, adding dishes like the Kanpachi Crudo with Hawaii yellowtail, black garlic, basil oil, tobiko, cucumber, lava salt, lemon confit, and togarashi and the Madai, Japanese sea bream with mango, avocado, cilantro, mustard seed vinaigrette, shallot chips, and furikake

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Geoduck miso soup made with both geoduck and little clams, as well as enoki and shitake mushroom.

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Geoduck Two ways

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Oxtail tacos – braised oxtail, house Asian slaw, tempura avocado, gochujang pepper sauce, cilantro, lime wedge

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Fresh, live uni sea urchin – available now in winter season – served here with raw quail egg.

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Nigiri sampling – fresh sushi topped with lovely accoutrements

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Dessert is handled here by Chef Eddison’s gracious wife Ping, who has picked up quite the skillset of pastry and dessert making from her travels around the world. The banana bread pudding I sampled was crispy, crunchy and delicately soft and sweet at the same time – definitely one of the best desserts I’ve had in Orlando.  Photo Dec 11, 7 35 30 PM

Do visit Yuki Hana in Oviedo soon, for the lovely ambiance, fresh and innovative sushi and kitchen dishes, as well as wonderful desserts – I know I will be returning very soon!

Yuki Hana Japanese Fusion on Urbanspoon

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Discussing the latest in Orlando food and drink this week

Barnie's CoffeeKitchen CEO Jonathon Smiga with Executive Chef Camilo Velasco
Barnie’s CoffeeKitchen CEO Jonathon Smiga with Executive Chef Camilo Velasco

Camilo in the Kitchen series debuts via Barnie’s CoffeeKitchen

Chef Camilo Velasco is one of my favorite chefs around town, and also, I believe, one of the most underrated. A protege of Chef Norman Van Aken, Colombian born Chef Velasco delights and surprises the diners at Barnie’s CoffeeKitchen each week with his chef’s menu.

In this first episode of this new series, Chef Velasco talks about his three favorite dishes on the Barnie’s CoffeeKitchen menu. The next episode will be focused on wine and wine pairings.

“This new web series positions Camilo as a thought leader in Culinary Arts and share his passion for cuisine from coffee growing regions worldwide. Other interests such as wine, rare & hard-to-find coffees and farming techniques will be topics he covers. Expect to see two-three new episodes each month. He will also provide insights on family-inspired dishes from his hometown Cali, Columbia. Expect guest stars from time-to-time from the world of coffee & cuisine.”

Restaurant Openings

Izziban BBQ and Sushi has opened on East Colonial just west of SR 436/Semoran in the location formerly of Mr. Sisters, right across from Hot Dog Heaven on the lake. They are known for their all you can eat yakiniku grilled meat barbecue which includes a salad bar and unlimited selection of apps and sushi, ranging from $19.99 at lunch time and late night happy hour to $29.99 at dinner time. 5310 E Colonial Dr
Orlando, FL 32807 Phone number (407) 270-8811

Quickly Boba and Snow has opened featuring not only traditional boba milk tea and snow desserts in “chubby cups”, but also Hong Kong style egg waffle puffs and Taiwanese popcorn chicken – not to mention their awesome mural wall created by local artist Boy Kong. 3214 E Colonial Dr, Orlando, FL 32803 Phone number (407) 270-4570

The Meatball Shoppe has opened at 7325 Lake Underhill Rd, Orlando, FL 32822, Phone number (407) 270-6505 Hours: Monday – Saturday, for lunch or dinner, 11 AM – 8 PM.

1st Spring Oriental Supermarket – the eastern sister to the wicked supermarket of the west – 1st Oriental Supermarket, 1st Spring Supermarket is set to make many folks who hate the trek out to Pine Hills very happy. They will be opening a bakery, kitchen, and live seafood section soon, they say before Chinese New Year is here. 10681 E Colonial Dr, Orlando, FL 32817 Phone number (407) 292-3668

Restaurant Closings

  • Maria Bonita Mexican restaurant on East Colonial has closed.
  • Burger and Beer Joint by UCF has closed via Scott Joseph’s Orlando Restaurant Guide
    – the price point was too high for the college crowd and the burgers were just way too slow coming out of the kitchen. This place was originally a Perkins for many years, then Ichiban, a short lived Chinese/Japanese buffet, and Culpepper’s most recently.
  • California Burrito on East Colonial has also closed, also via Scott Joseph’s Orlando Restaurant Guide

Coming Soon

  • The Osprey Tavern in Baldwin Park
  • Swine and Sons Provisions in Winter Park
  • Valentine’s Day – Saturday February 14 – Book your reservations ASAP
  • Berghoff’s Beer Hall at Artegon Marketplace on International Drive
  • Black Rooster Taqueria in Mills 50, former location of Tony’s Deli via Bungalower

Upcoming Events

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Clearwater Beach Uncorked is delighted to announce its 4th annual  food beachfront spectacular to be held on February 7th and 8th, 2015, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., beneath the Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach Resort and Spa.

Clearwater Beach Uncorked, described as the finest beachfront culinary event on Florida’s west coast, is brought together by sponsors: Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach Resort & Spa and Publix. Clearwater Beach Uncorked will bid the ultimate pre-Valentine’s Day beach getaway complete with delicious tastings from the area’s most renowned restaurants. Guests of the event will have the privilege of mingling at this exquisite paparazzi filled event sure to satisfy anyone’s cravings. For more information, visit

Clearwater Beach Uncorked will donate a portion of the proceeds from ticket sales to the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee College of Hospitality and Technology Leadership. This year’s sponsors include: Publix, Duncan Hines, Florida Department of Citrus, Hefty, Philadelphia Cream Cheese, Planters, and Reynolds.

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February 21 and 22, 2015

The Seventh Annual Downtown Food & Wine Fest is set for Saturday, February 21 and Sunday, February 22, 2015 for more than 30,000 foodies and wine lovers to experience unique local cuisine paired with wines from around the globe.

Date / Time: Saturday, February 21 (noon to 9 p.m.) and Sunday, February 22, 2015 (noon to 7 p.m.)

Location: Located in the heart of downtown Orlando at Lake Eola along Robinson Street

Tickets: Admission is $15 per person, per day with advance online purchase. Admission at the door is $20 per person, per day. Admission for children under age 12 is free. For all-weekend Fest fans, a two-day ticket is available for $20 per person with advance online purchase. Food and beverage tickets are available at the Fest for $2 each; food and beverage offerings range from one to four tickets.

“The Downtown Food & Wine Fest is one of our Downtown’s signature cultural events, showcasing the best of Orlando’s culinary scene. Events like this continue to expand Downtown’s offerings and bring more and more people to our urban core to celebrate the beauty, diversity, and vibrancy of our community,” said Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer.

For more information on the Downtown Food & Wine Fest:

For more upcoming events, check out our newly created Orlando Foodie Calendar! shoot us an email if you want to add anything at tastychomps (at)


In case you missed it, here is the link to our segment on WESH 2 Sunrise News on CW 18 this week, talking about the Chinese/Vietnamese Lunar New Year:

and the link to the Guide to Lunar New Year in Orlando 2015 

See you next time on Wesh Sunrise News on CW 18 !
See you next time on Wesh Sunrise News on CW 18 !

A lot of comparisons have been made with the newly opened Mamak to another local Asian street food restaurant in town – namely, Hawkers Asian Street Fare just up the road on Mills Avenue.

The menu of small plates and craft beers look awfully familiar, and there is some history among the owners of which we do not know the full details. But, there are plenty of cases of restaurants having similar menus – examples range from the many local Vietnamese pho shops to Italian and Indian restaurants.

The main crux and differentiation of each lies in their execution of the dishes.

For that reason, I am happy to have Mamak in town because of the very distinct and robust flavors in their dishes, particularly in their curry dishes.

Their decor is modern and chic, with dark woods and a long communal table perfect for a night out with friends – more like a scene out of New York City than Orlando, but if it were to be in any place in Orlando, it would be in Mills 50.


Here’s what we recommend to get at Mamak:

Top 5 Dishes to Try at Mamak

1. Mamak Roti Canai – Start off with this Malaysian roti toasted till golden brown, crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside and served with an addictive spicy curry sauce.
2. Wonton with hot sauce – plump little wonton dumplings bursting with flavor in a nutty, spicy wet sauce.
3. Maggi Goreng – Stringy, bouncy Maggi noodles, stir-fried with shrimp, chicken, eggs, and veggie, in a spiced brown sauce. This dish reminded me the most of the nasi goreng noodle dishes I had while in Indonesia recently.
4. Malaysian Coconut Kari – Malaysia’s most popular dish, your choice of chicken, beef, or tofu and veggies, tossed in a fragrant curry cooked with freshly ground spices and chunky potatoes, served with jasmine rice and sliced cucumber.
5. Seafood Haw Fun – This rift on the popular beef chow fun is topped with piping hot seafood and veggies instead of beef and scallions. The thick rice noodles and the seafood make for a wonderful combination and tastes so authentic and real, you’d think you were on the streets of Southeast Asia after trying.

BONUS  – Here are some other dishes at Mamak, though good, not as essential to our list of top 5:

Nasi Goreng Indonesia - hot Spicy sambai fried rice with shrimp, chicken and onions, topped with a fried egg. I think the nasi goreng kari fried rice may be a better option - that kari sauce is so good on everything.
Nasi Goreng Indonesia – hot Spicy sambai fried rice with shrimp, chicken and onions, topped with a fried egg. I think the nasi goreng kari fried rice may be a better option – that kari sauce is so good on everything.
BBQ Roast Pork - better else where in Mills 50, these tasted a little off on our visit.
BBQ Roast Pork – better else where in Mills 50, these tasted a little off on our visit.
Malaysian Asam Kari - Your choice of protein, tamarind infused coconut curry cooked with freshly ground spices, tomatoes, bell peppers, carrots and onions, served with jasmine rice and sliced cucumbers. This dish was a bit mild compared to the coconut kari version, so it's a good choice if you like mild flavors
Malaysian Asam Kari -
Your choice of protein, tamarind infused coconut curry cooked with freshly ground spices, tomatoes, bell peppers, carrots and onions, served with jasmine rice and sliced cucumbers. This dish was a bit mild compared to the coconut kari version, so it’s a good choice if you like mild flavors
Char Kway Teow -Malaysia's most popular street dish, wok-fried rice noodles, with shrimp, chicken, eggs, bean sprouts, and chives.
Char Kway Teow -Malaysia’s most popular street dish, wok-fried rice noodles, with shrimp, chicken, eggs, bean sprouts, and chives.

Mamak Asian Street Food on Urbanspoon

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We just finished celebrating New Year’s here in the states, but in a few weeks the local Asian American community here in Orlando will also be celebrating the Lunar New Year.

It’s one of my favorite times of the year, not just for the festivities but also for the great food that goes along with the holiday celebrations.

I remember gathering around at home growing up with my uncles, aunts, cousins, and grandma around the family dinner table having a huge feast, praying to our ancestors and the gods for a lucky and healthy new year. My favorite dishes were the fried egg rolls and roasted duck, Hakka style, filled with Chinese spices, herbs and wild mushrooms.

This year the Chinese/Vietnamese Lunar New Year’s Official Date is Thursday February 19th, 2015 – but the celebrations begin much earlier and last almost all month.

This is the year of the Sheep/Goat and those people born in the year of the Sheep / Goat are said to be “tender, polite, filial, clever, and kind-hearted. They have special sensitivity to art and beauty, wise, gentle and compassionate and can cope with business cautiously and circumspectly.”

Luckily for us here in the Central Florida community, we are home to the largest ethnic enclaves of Asian Americans in the entire state, particularly around the Mills 50 district with shops, restaurants, and markets all getting ready to celebrate the Lunar New Year.


Lunar New Year Traditions
  • Eating dinner together as a family – people journey from wherever they are, to come home and have dinner. Every year this time marks the largest mass migration of people when workers in the cities travel home to their home villages to visit their families again.
  • Giving/Recieving Red Envelopes - filled with lucky money from elders to the young. Asian culture is big on karma so want to start off the year doing good things for others and hope for good things to happen to you in return later in the year. Universal balance.
  • Clean the house before the new year start the year new, and pay off all your debts
  • Big parades with lots of firecrackers. The loud noise “scares” away any evil spirits so you can start off the new year fresh.
  • On that Thursday, February 19th if you have lunch in the Mills 50 area, you will see the Wah Lum Kung Fu Lion Dance team “blessing” each business with their lion dance and fire works.


What to Order – Traditional Chinese Dishes for New Years


  • Noodles – The longer, the better – the noodles represent longevity and long life
  • Dumplings - They are shaped like little gold nuggets, symbols for good fortune and wealth
  • Fish – The word “yu” sounds like “abundance” in Chinese, so your new year will be abundant with good luck – eat whole fish so that your whole year is full of good luck
  • Fried Spring Rolls – The name also sounds like “good fortune” in Chinese, eat it for a lucky new year
  • Oranges are also plentiful during new years because the name and look of the orange is similar to gold. So giving oranges as a gift is also quite common, as it the giver is seen as wishing prosperity on the receivers.
  • Vietnamese Banh Tet – Bánh tét is a Vietnamese savoury but sometimes sweetened cake made primarily from glutinous rice, which is rolled in a banana leaf into a thick, log-like cylindrical shape, with mung bean or mung bean and pork fillings, then boiled. It is a must have traditional food in Vietnamese Lunar New Year. It demonstrates the importance of rice in the Vietnamese culture as well as historical value. During Vietnamese Tét, family members would gather together and enjoy feasting on bánh tét, the central food of this festive Vietnamese holiday to celebrate the coming of spring.


  • Wash it all down with a glass of Baijiu
  • Baijiu – traditional clear grain spirit made from sorghum and wheat
    • The number one drink in the world at about 40-60% alcohol
    • Like Vodka to the Russians, Rum to Puerto Rico, Baijiu is to the Chinese
    • It’s drank at almost all meal gatherings in China.

Chinese baijiu - Credit-PassportsandCocktails-com

Say Happy New Year!
  • Vietnamese – Chuc Mung Nam Moi
  • Cantonese – Sun Lien Fai Lok
    or Gung Hay Fat Choi (Literally : Congratulations on your Prosperity – have a prosperous new year)
  • Mandarin – Xin Nian Kuai Le
Places to Celebrate:
Local Orlando Restaurants:
    • Ming Bistro – Chinese Dim Sum – Great for Families/Friends/Groups
      1212 Woodward Street #6, Orlando, FL (407) 898-9672
    • Chuan Lu Garden – Authentic Sichuan cuisine – for spicy food lovers
      1101 East Colonial Drive, Orlando, FL – (407) 896-8966
    • Tasty Wok – Chinese street food / barbecue and noodles
      1246 East Colonial Drive, Orlando, FL  (407) 896-8988
    • Chan’s Chinese Cuisine – Dim sum and traditional Chinese cuisine 
      1901 East Colonial Drive, Orlando, FL (407) 896-0093
    • Golden Lotus Chinese – Dim sum and traditional Chinese cuisine
      8365 South John Young Parkway, Orlando, FL (407) 352-3832


Local Markets – Pick up New Year goodies
  • Saigon Market
    1232 East Colonial Drive, Orlando, FL 32803, United States
    (407) 898-6899
  • Tien Hung Market
    1112 East Colonial Drive, Orlando, FL 32803, United States
    (407) 849-0205
  • 1st Oriental SuperMarket
    5132 West Colonial Drive, Orlando, FL 32808, United States
    (407) 292-3668


Street Food Festivals/Events


Vietnamese New Year Festival by the Vietnamese Catholic Church
Saturday January 31 and Sunday February 1 at the Central Florida Fairgrounds
Orlando Foodie Forum facebook group meet up on that Sunday Feb 1 at 10:30AM
– Try the pork meatballs, sugarcane juice, Vietnamese banh mi, other street foods


Vietnamese New Year Festival by the Vietnamese Community of Central Florida
Saturday February 7th – Sunday February 8th at the Central Florida Fairgrounds
– Street food and also Miss Vietnam of Florida Pageant on Sunday



Vietnamese Vegetarian Food Festival at Bao An Temple

Sunday February 15th, 2015 8am – 2pm (local cultural acts, lots of vegetarian Vietnamese food for sale)
and the new years eve celebration is the night of February 18th (they have singers, performers, food for sale)
Bao An Buddhist Temple – 5788 North Apopka Vineland Road, Orlando, FL 32818, United States



Dragon Parade and Lunar New Year Festival
at the Orlando Fashion Square Mall – Sunday February 22

See you next time on Wesh Sunrise News on CW 18 !

See you next time on Wesh Sunrise News on CW 18 !

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Discussing the latest in food and drink in Orlando this week

New Food Trend? The Fast Casual Pizza Movement arriving in Orlando soon

This week on the Orlando Foodie Forum we discussed a new food trend ready to hit Orlando: The Fast Casual Pizza Movement, a la Chipotle.

In a recent article on BusinessInsider, Pizza Studio, a franchise that launched in 2012 and currently has 30 locations around the country had a year-on-year revenue growth of $2.5 million in 2013… and $11.5 million in 2014. According to Forbes, they’re “adapting the quick and made-to-order model, championed by Chipotle and Subway, to pizza.”

“For a fast-casual restaurant, Pizza Studio is competitively priced—$7.99 for an 11-inch personal pie—but its product is way more personalized than at most pizza joints. Customers choose their crust, sauce, cheese, and unlimited toppings which includes meats, vegetables, and seasoning. What’s more, the options are good. You can build your ideal pizza on a rosemary herb or whole grain and flaxseed base, sprinkle it with feta or goats cheese, throw on three different types of peppers and nitrate-free pepperoni, and then finish it with Old Bay Seasoning or truffle salt. Those are the kinds of ingredients you’d expect at a higher-end pizzeria, and yet Pizza Studio doesn’t sacrifice affordability or speed: high-tech convection ovens mean each pie only takes two minutes to cook.”

Recently, newcomers Pie Five Pizza Company and Blaze Pizza have started to put their finishing touches to their fast casual pizza shops near UCF. Topp N Pie Pizza is also expected to open near Waterford Lakes soon.

The Dallas based Pie Five, which takes over the space once occupied by Greens and Grille on University, promises to have pizzas ready within 5 minutes and is looking to aggressively expand to over 25 locations in Florida within the year.

Pie Five Pizza
Pie Five Pizza
via Gannett Newspapers
via Gannett Newspapers
Image via Yelp
Image via Yelp

Blaze Pizza which promises “Fast-Fire’d Custom Built Artisanal Pizzas” is set to open at the new Plaza on Alafaya and University near Bar Louie’s, priced at a very competitive $6.85 for a 12 inch personalized pizza, all oven cooked in under 180 seconds (3 minutes).


There have been other “personalized” pizza places open in Orlando, most notably Pie-Fection in the Universal area and Chomp Chomp Pizza (no affiliation) in Winter Park. Chomp Chomp closed last year and is now a Marco’s Pizza. Lisa Wilk of tells us, “Pizza was good, crust was meh. Like manufactured, refrigerated dough. Great oven, though.” To hear and participate in all the latest in Orlando food – join the Orlando Foodie Forum on Facebook today :)

Image via Zagat
Image via Zagat

In Other News

Orlando was also recently mentioned in Wine Enthusiast magazine and New York Times as one of the top places to go in 2015, particularly for our developing food scene!

Top 10 Best Wine Destinations in 2015 by Wine Enthusiast Magazine

“Expect the unexpected in Orlando. Shrugging off its just-for-kids image, it sports brag-inducing eats and world-class wine experiences, particularly in new neighborhoods like the Mills 50 District and Winter Park. Ricky Ly, author of The Food Lovers’ Guide to Orlando, points to nominations of several local chefs for James Beard Foundation awards to illustrate the city’s culinary chops. “From hidden speakeasies like The Pharmacy, to the Basque-style restaurant, Txokos Basque Kitchen, serving cola-and-wine-braised kalimotxos pork belly, there is something to be found for every wine and food lover just outside the theme park gates.” ”

New York Times Travel lists Orlando as one of the Top 52 Places to Go in 2015
Untrammeled oases beckon, once-avoided destinations become must-sees and familiar cities offer new reasons to visit.

A pork porterhouse at the Ravenous Pig restaurant.  Credit Jon Whittle
A pork porterhouse at the Ravenous Pig restaurant. Credit Jon Whittle

“Beyond Mickey Mouse: a Disney destination matures.

Disney World will no doubt remain the biggest draw to Orlando, but the city is growing up thanks to a string of civic developments, including the $429 million Dr. Phillips Performing Arts Center, the 62-mile-long SunRail commuter train, both opened last year, and a coming 19,500-seat soccer stadium set to open this year. But the most surprising development is the food scene. East End Market, and its stalls selling locavore fare and artisanal baked goods, opened in 2013. Last year saw the opening of Txokos Basque Kitchen, whose chef was nominated for a James Beard Award. Not to be outdone, two fellow Beard nominees, James and Julie Petrakis (The Ravenous Pig, Cask & Larder), announced the February opening of Swine & Sons Provisions, their market/restaurant hybrid. Theme parks are expanding adult options as well: the elegant Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World opened in August 2014 and features a golf course, a rooftop lounge and an adults-only pool. Adam H. Graham”

North America Chowzter Awards 2014

Also, this weekend is the North American Chowzter Awards 2014, where local Orlando restaurants 4 Rivers Smokehouse and Chuan Lu Garden were both nominated. 4 Rivers was nominate for Best BBQ for their smoked angus brisket while Chuan Lu Garden was nominated for their Chongqing La Zi Fried Chicken. Chowzter is a global network of the world’s most celebrated food experts and writers, all searching for the tastiest Fast Feasts on the planet. Prepared by passionate and inspired artisans, Fast Feasts are locally sourced, freshly prepared, served hot on the spot and enjoyed immediately. The best of these Fast Feasts reflect the local culture, history and traditions of their cities and countries of origin. The awards are held in New Orleans this year which I will attend as a Chief Chowzter for Orlando.

Now Open / Coming Soon in Orlando

Urban Tide is the new coastal concept opening in the restaurant space formerly known as Napa at the Hyatt Regency Orlando on International Drive. Guest feedback inspired the hotel to create the new seafood-focused restaurant after they learned that their trademark rights to the name “Napa” would expire at the end of 2014.

Chuy’s, the Austin-based restaurant famous for its authentic and crave-able Tex-Mex menu, today announced it will hire an estimated 170 new employees, including full-time and part-time positions, for their third location in the Orlando area. Chuy’s newest restaurant is scheduled to open in February 2015 and will be located at 6688 S. Semoran Boulevard, minutes from the Orlando International Airport.
Chuy’s will be hiring a variety of positions, including front-of-the-house hosts, servers, bussers and bartenders. The restaurant is also hiring kitchen staff to help prepare its made from scratch dishes and signature sauces. Among the positions available at Chuy’s, the tortilla “experts” illustrate the restaurant’s commitment to authentic and fresh Tex-Mex. By making each hand-rolled tortilla to order on a comal located in the main dining room, they offer a peek at the philosophy of freshness that sets Chuy’s apart. Chuy’s staff can expect high volume with lots of fun. Interested applicants should apply at the hiring RV located at the future restaurant site at 6688 S. Semoran Boulevard Monday-Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. To learn more about employment at Chuy’s, please visit


Tin Roof is a live music joint where people can hang out, drink and dine, and enjoy live music almost every night of the week. Located at I-Drive 360, Tin Roof’s outdoor seating offers some of the best views of the giant observation wheel. Music fans will be able to hear some of the top local and regional bands; foodies will find a killer menu filled with unique dishes bursting with flavor. Headquartered in Nashville, this is the company’s 14th location and its first in Florida.

WHERE: Tin Roof is located at 8371 International Drive at I-Drive 360. Parking is available in the garage or by valet for free.


Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill is proud to officially announce its opening at Artegon Marketplace, the newest retail, restaurant and entertainment attraction in Orlando, Fla. The Artegon Marketplace launch marks the final restaurant opening of 2014 for Boomtown Entertainment. As Phoenix-based Boomtown Entertainment continues to expand in further markets, the nationally-recognized hospitality group, is proud to be an anchor store at the 1.1 million-square-foot shopping attraction and artisan marketplace.

Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill’s menu extends from traditional southern cuisine mixed with American classics. Shareable tasty bites include “T.K.’s Smokehouse Nachos” while mainstay entrees consist of fan favorites, from the “American Solider,” a signature fire-grilled burger to “Chicken Fried Steak,” served with sweet corn succotash and mashed potatoes. The iconic 95-foot guitar-shaped bar offers a selection of beers on tap, moonshine, martinis and margarita drinks. An extensive signature cocktail list includes “The American Girl,” “Red Bullfrog” and Toby’s own “Blue Mezacalita” featuring Toby’s premium Wild Shot Mezcal.

Upcoming Events


Christner’s Prime Steak & Lobster (“Christner’s”), a steakhouse staple in Central Florida is refreshing its bar program with a menu featuring new cocktails set to unveil at its inaugural Christner’s Craft Wars. All about the bar, on Saturday, January 17 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., three of Christner’s resident bartenders will go head-to-head in three rounds of craft cocktail making with the winner dueling it out for charity and bragging rights.

For $20, guests will gain access to the event. All cocktails will be judged based on originality, taste and the uniqueness of its name; the three rounds of cocktail creations include the Christner’s Classic; the bourbon cocktail and the “secret ingredient” mixed cocktail.
Christner’s bartender’s Jeannie Rudnick, Kyle Laufenberg and Stacy Word will be partnered with three local charities –Central Florida Food and Outreach, Florida Hospital Diabetes Institute and Runway to Hope – and the bartender with the most tips at the end of the three rounds will select the cocktail of his/her choice to be featured as a limited-time-only drink on Christner’s bar menu. Tickets will be given back to all attendees in the way of “tipping tokens.”

All guests are asked to RVSP via e-mail to

WHERE: Christner’s Prime Steak & Lobster – 729 Lee Road | Orlando, FL
WHEN: Saturday, January 17 at 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.
COST: $20 per person of which, $10 of which is donated to charity

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Ajinomoto Pork and Vegetable Pot Stickers (Gyoza) are one of my favorite things to make when I am in a rush – they’re tasty, easy to make, and only take a few minutes to cook.


The dumpling was first created in Northern China about 1300 years ago, and the Japanese term “Gyoza” comes from the Chinese name “Jiao-zi.”

The dumplings became popular in Japan particularly after World War II when returning Japanese brought back their love of the dish after returning from their rather devastating occupation of China.

In Japan, Gyoza are pan-fried while in China they are more commonly steamed or boiled. They’re popular around Chinese New Year time because the shape is similar to gold ingots or taels, and who (especially among the Chinese) doesn’t love gold?

Ajinomoto, the food company who brought MSG and the flavor of “umami” to the world back in 1909,  produces about 800,000,000 pieces of gyoza each year.

These crescent shaped dumplings are crispy on the bottom, yet also somehow juicy on the inside.

My first encounter with Japanese gyoza was on a recent visit to Tokyo where, in the rather haute Ginza district, I stumbled upon TenRyu ( Address: 2-6-1 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo, Website:, a Japanese/Chinese restaurant – whose name not surprisingly translates to “Sky Dragon”, yes we love our dragons no matter where our restaurants are in the world. This little Beijing style restaurant founded in 1949 was famed for making their jumbo gyoza stuffed with pork, fresh Chinese cabbage, and onion, of which they apparently sell 5000 a day.


TenRyu’s dumplings were literally the size of my hand DSC08473



1. Place gyoza dumplings in a non-stick pan. Add 2 oz water (no oil needed)
2. Cover with lid and cook for approximately 5 minutes.
3. Remove lid and cook until bottom is golden brown.
4. Serve while hot

Apparently, the Ajinomoto folks have created a new gyoza product with “EZ-ice” where you don’t even have to add the water for added convenience. Great for camping, I think.





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Teak Neighborhood Grill looks like your average every day American neighborhood pub or bar with a nice list of beers and cocktails, sticky wooden floors, bright neon liquor signs and flat screen TVs, and probably not much else when it comes to food.

But you’d be overlooking one special thing about Teak if you thought that – their surprisingly good list of special, jaw-droppingly delicious half pound Angus beef burgers.


Burgers featured on the list include the mountainous Drunken Monk ($12), a burger topped with Angry Orchard onion jam, roasted cherry tomatoes, smoked bacon, herb mayo, provolone cheese & Teak chips topped with melted white cheddar cheese served on pretzel bun.


Truly adventurous (read: masochistic) eaters can go for THE CHALLENGE ($40) – 2 full pounds of Angus beef, 9 slices American cheese, 9 slices Swiss cheese, 9 slices provolone cheese, 24 slices smoked bacon, 2 fresh fried mozzarella rounds, 4 beer battered onion rings, tomatoes, lettuce, Danny’s beanless chili, cheddar cheese sauce & sliced jalapenos…enough to possibly make even Man Vs. Food’s Adam Richman wary.

I had the PB&J burger on this particular visit, a burger topped with almond butter, peanut butter, orange marmalade, crispy potato strings, and provolone cheese on toasted pretzel bun. The burger was ooey-gooey and fun to eat, with just the right amount of sweetness from the orange marmalade, though the peanut butter could have been smoother.

One area of improvement recommended – service, which was rather brusque and inattentive, with long periods of waiting for both our food and our drink refills, but this could easily be remedied with some training or oversight.

The food makes it worth visiting, though, and everyone in our party enjoyed their hearty, delicious burgers.

PB&J 11 – almond butter & peanut butter, orange marmalade, crispy potato strings & provolone cheese on toasted pretzel bun

Engine Oil 11 – sautéed peppers & onions, imperial stout glaze, over easy egg, Swiss cheese & crispy potato strings served on pretzel bun

Children of the Corn 11 – smoked Gouda, tomato & smoked bacon mayo topped with creamed corn & crispy potato strings on pretzel bun


Teak Neighborhood Grill on Urbanspoon

Sapporo Ramen is one of my favorite places for Japanese ramen noodle soup here in Orlando. After having visited Tokyo and trying some of the most popular ramen shops there, I can comfortably say that Sapporo Ramen is among the most authentic ramen in town, and rivals some of what I tasted in Japan.

Sapporo is a city on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido, known for their cold weather, the home of the Sapporo Brewery, and the founding place of the miso ramen.

Miso ramen became popular around 1965, featuring a broth that combines copious amounts of miso and is blended with oily chicken or fish broth – and sometimes with tonkotsu or lard – to create a thick, nutty, slightly sweet and very hearty soup.

The Spicy Miso Ramen
The Spicy Miso Ramen

Miso ramen broth tends to have a robust, tangy flavor, so it stands up to a variety of flavorful toppings: spicy bean paste, butter and corn, leeks, onions, bean sprouts, ground pork, cabbage, sesame seeds, white pepper, and chopped garlic are common. The noodles are typically thick, curly, and slightly chewy.

Recently, Sapporo Ramen introduced a new spicy miso ramen along with a curry noodle ramen to their line up of ramen which includes tonkatsu, miso, and shoyu. I found it to be quite flavorful, with just enough spice to be not overwhelming, and great when paired with the sweet corn and salty bamboo shoots.

Another thing I like about Sapporo is their variety of Japanese street food items offered from the takoyaki octopus balls topped with quivering bonito flakes to the imagawayaki desserts, a pancake like bun filled with sweet bean paste.

Creamy Pork Tonkotsu Ramen
Creamy Pork Tonkotsu Ramen
The Kitsune Udon topped with fried tofu skin
The Kitsune Udon topped with fried tofu skin
Imagawayaki dessert
Imagawayaki dessert

Sapporo Ramen
5080 W Colonial Dr
Orlando, Florida
(407) 203-6777
Tue – Sun: 11:30 am – 8:00 pm
Check out their facebook page at Sapporo Ramen

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Artegon Marketplace takes over the space which once held Festival Bay mall. It’s anchored by Bass Pro Shops, Ron Jon Surf Shop, Sheplers Western Wear and Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill, as well as one of the world’s largest comic book stores, Gods & Monsters, but also offers 165 artisanal shops filled with unique, handcrafted goods and foods.

Recently, a man tragically fell to his death on the Artegon Sky Trail Ropes Course, which remains closed while investigations go on update – the zipline and jump are closed, but the Skytrail itself is now open – Thanks Ken Storey!.

On our recent visit to Artegon, we were surprised and excited for what we found, a place for locals and tourists to Orlando to browse and pick up gifts that are unique and artful.

I think with time, it may be a must see destination, particularly for those lovers of art and crafts.

Not a lot of food product vendors yet, but hopefully that will change.

It reminds me of visiting an art festival but indoors, or a real live version of the online store Etsy, but in Orlando.

Seito Sushi in Baldwin Park is easily one of my favorite sushi restaurants in town – with fresh seafood and quality ingredients, as well as gorgeous settings, they have always been on top of their game here in Orlando.

Recently, Jason Chin, the proprietor of Seito Sushi in Baldwin Park, along with new chef Austin Boyd, have crafted a re-working of the lunch menu at Seito to showcase the talent of both the kitchen and sushi offerings and take the restaurant to the next level, emphasizing freshness and seasonality with a menu that changes often.

SONY DSC Mr. Chin and Seito Sushi graciously hosted our small group of foodies from the Orlando Foodie Forum facebook group to try a few of their new lunch menu that just rolled out. Overall, we were impressed by what we found.

Chef Austin Boyd with Seito Sushi owner Jason Chin
Chef Austin Boyd with Seito Sushi owner Jason Chin

From new ramen dishes to braised beef buns, the menu exhibits creativity and experimentation with many things that work. One of the most controversial decisions on the new menu has been, surprisingly, the removal of the bento box options, which would allow the kitchen to focus more on the new dishes, but also has turned off some customers who looked forward to the combination lunch boxes. Change is always hard at first, but they hope that with time the lunch crowd will grow to love the new menu.

Housemade dumplings with chopped apple
Housemade dumplings with chopped apple

The tonkotsu pork ramen, dumplings, and the ceviche roll were standouts from our group.

Three ramen options are available on the menu – the tonkotsu pork ramen which features crispy braised pork belly, soy egg, and house pickled ginger; the shoyu ramen, a soy sauce chicken broth based ramen with chicken thigh; and the gyu ramen, beef pho based broth (yes, some Vietnamese influences there) with cilantro oil, beef brisket, and sprouts.

I really enjoyed the tonkotsu pork ramen’s crispy pork belly which had a nice crunch to it, though the ginger could have been more pickled.

The tonkotsu pork ramen which features crispy braised pork belly, soy egg, and house pickled ginger
The tonkotsu pork ramen which features crispy braised pork belly, soy egg, and house pickled ginger
The shoyu ramen, a soy sauce chicken broth based ramen with chicken thigh
The shoyu ramen, a soy sauce chicken broth based ramen with chicken thigh
The gyu ramen, beef pho based broth with cilantro oil, beef brisket, and sprouts
The gyu ramen, beef pho based broth with cilantro oil, beef brisket, and sprouts

Some mixed reviews on the curry braised beef bao buns, which may work better with crispy pork belly filling instead of the wetter beef.

Curry braised beef bao buns
Curry braised beef bao buns
The salmon ceviche nigiri with citrus cured salmon, a refreshing highlight with wonderful lime and citrus zest flavors
The salmon ceviche nigiri with citrus cured salmon, a refreshing highlight with wonderful lime and citrus zest flavors
The Orlando Foodie Forum - Join us soon!
The Orlando Foodie Forum – Join us on facebook!

The new lunch menu is available now at Seito Sushi in Baldwin Park, and changes often. New rollouts will be coming soon this spring, and we have also received news that the upcoming Osprey Tavern will open in early 2015 as well. Lots of changes, for the better, in little Baldwin Park.

Here’s a look at their lunch menu (changes daily):





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