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Sushi Matsuri

Gator, Volcano Roll are lunch time gems

By Melissa Kahan, GLOB Correspondent

sushimatsuriI have made it my mission to find all the restaurants in all the nooks and crannies of Gainesville. During my first year in Gainesville, if the restaurant wasn't in my line of vision around the University of Florida campus, I was unaware of it. Even though now I have expanded my culinary horizons, four years after moving to Gator Land, there are always a few places that fly under the radar. Sushi Matsuri, next to Hungry Howies, off of Archer Rd., has been one such place.

On one of the rare occasions that I am not ravenous, sushi provides a lighter option that also appeals to my experimental side, allowing me to order a variety of sashimi or unusual rolls. Having such a hankering and hearing only positive reviews about Sushi Matsuri, I thought I would try it despite its somewhat tucked away location at 3418 SW Archer Rd. This location probably contributes to it being a regular spot for "the locals," as the majority of tables were full of younger couples with beautiful-looking rolls adorning each plate

As my friend, Thomas, and I were not particularly starving that Saturday, we agreed to narrow our selection to two rolls between the two of us, but selecting just two out of the vast selection of menu items would be a challenge, I love sharing to get the most out of my dining experience at a new location.

 

sushimatRICEPer usual, we each started with miso soup, which was very standard compared with other sushi establishments. The low $1.50 price tag, however, was a new appeal.

 

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The art of strategic selection is not lost on us: It took little convincing and some collaboration for Thomas and I to settle on the Gator Roll, image right, and the Volcano Roll. The Gator Roll consisted of a very filled roll of chopped, spicy tuna and yellowtail complemented by the distinct flavor of scallion and blanketed by a bed of roe (fish eggs) and sesame. I found it noteworthy that for a pretty simple roll, the majority of it was filled with fresh-tasting fish, making me feel that I got the best bang for my buck at $6.95. The Volcano Roll, image bottom right, although more expensive, created an enjoyable contrast to the freshness and no-frills simplicity of the Gator Roll. The Volcano Roll, filled with krab meat, cream cheese, also with scallion and roe, had a rich and hearty consistency, especially coupled with my favorite part of it: the avocado and spicy scallops adorning the top.

The wide selection of variably-priced sushi rolls, as well as the entire separate menu of cooked options, from katsu to tempura, enticed me to want to return for more. The delicious sushi and the prompt service created a cohesively exceptional sushi experience, complete with intimate, dim lighting.

The Pluses and Minuses of Sushi Matsuri:

Sushi Matsuri ( +) indicators: Good sushi, diverse menu selections, many options for non-sushi eaters, quick service and food delivery, open seven days of the week, reasonable prices.

Sushi Matsuri ( - ) indicators: somewhat tucked away location, off this eating Adventurer's lunch path.

Be the first to offer your GLOB comments, lunch photographs and opinions about Sushi Matsuri.  Please identify your opinions with a PLUS SIGN (+) for positive comments, and a MINUS SIGN (-) for your negative comments.  - THANKS!

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Tatu Sushi

T.S. is excellent alternative to hurried lunch

By Lynn Dirk, GLOB Content Editor

TatufrontNestled in the plaza on the NW corner of University Ave and NW 17th St is an elegant lunch stop that serves classy food where you would least expect it to find it, surrounded as it is by fast food and bar food restaurants in this college lunch stop mecca.

Tatu Sushi is a respite from the chaotic, demanding Western world. Step inside and it is dim – though not dark – and sounds are muted compared with most restaurants these days thanks to a low ceiling and wooden floor! There is sophisticated independent singer-song writer music that is playing at just the right volume – you can hear it clearly but at the same time it is easy to hear what your friend across the table is saying at the same time.

TatuwallTatu does not have a typical lunch atmosphere. It is just what the doctor ordered . . . if you have some extra time at lunch.

The GLOB Master and I did not want to drive far and were cruising University Ave looking for some little place not yet featured on the GLOB. We intended to go to the Fritanga Latin Grill in this shopping/restaurant complex but learned it had just closed in the past week. We kept walking in that direction anyway, and there was Tatu.

Asian. Hmm. Normally we would have saved this review for Bubba Scott, our Asian cuisine expert, but we were hungry and it was the best option at the time. Bubba would have been pleased to see that each table was aesthetically (not a Bubba word!) laid out with a small jar of soy sauce that you would not be likely to find at Publix or Winn Dixie and chop sticks on nice large napkins. I think Bubba will be making a visit eventually.

TatusushiNeither the GLOB Master nor I are sushi aficionados, but we knew we would have to try some, so we picked the Veggie with asparagus, avocado, cucumber, and kampyo (a kind of squash). Note the unusual combination of ingredients. I chalk that up to either authenticity, creativity, or both. We also ordered Beef Yaki-Niku ("fire-meat"!), which includes onion and scallion.

For the sushi, we were able to get some additional sauces besides the usual wasabi and pickled ginger. The additional sauces were unremarkable compared with the wasabi and soy. BTW, Tatu has fresh organic wasabi. I LOVE wasabi -- I like just a little sushi with my wasabi. Speaking of little, we got what I thought was a rather small amount of wasabi, but maybe because it was fresh and organic, it seemed to go a lot further than I expected. The rolls themselves seemed a little loose. Does that matter? Probably not, except that I usually like to eat half a roll at a time. You can imagine what that does. So I'm messy! I loved the black sesame seeds TS sprinkled on the sushi rolls.

TatuspreadThe Yaki-Niku came with salad, and the ginger dressing was fantastic. Once again, not the usual that I was familiar with – I asked our server to find out why it was so orange. It also had carrot, apple, and several other ingredients that made it special. There was a very nice mix of red and green baby field lettuces.

The GLOB Master thought the beef was tender. I agree. It was flavorful, not sliced too thin. I would have liked more sauce, Tatuplatebut maybe that's the way it's supposed to be with most of the flavor coming from a marinade. The rice was appropriately sticky.

We cleaned all our plates of this Asian lunch, and we were both very satisfied. Our always smiling server was very accommodating and patient with our questions.

There is quite an extensive variety of Tatu Sushi menu choices, so, as the GLOB Master says, I'm going back. As this is a fusion restaurant, there happens to be, from the kitchen (as opposed to the sushi bar) a Coconut Cream Curry (chicken or shrimp) and a Pad Thai, and I want to try both. So far I haven't had a Pad Thai better than that at Tim's Thai next to Ward's (not open for lunch!) so I'm always on the look out to see if a restaurant can match Tim's in my stand-in throwdown challenge ala the Food Network's Bobby Flay.

The Pluses and Minuses of Tatu Sushi:

The Tatu Sushi + indicators: Great ambience, interesting ingredients, very good food.

The Tatu Sushi - indicators: Service is slow (though worth the wait).

Be the first to offer your GLOB comments, lunch photographs and opinions about Tatu Sushi.  Please identify your opinions with a PLUS SIGN (+) for positive comments, and a MINUS SIGN (-) for your negative comments.  - THANKS!

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Sushi-2-Go

When I was out to lunch last week with Farmer Bubba and we visited the Sushi-2-Go lunch Stop in Midtown on University Ave. Bubba was thinking raw fish, while I was thinking, 'this would be a perfect Meatless Monday lunch stop. There's no red meat in this Food On The Run Asian raw a bar. I was OK with choosing the Sushi-2-Go Master Veggie Roll for lunch. I've said it before the is nothing more stylish than an Asian lunch. The colors, symmetry, style of my lunch was enough to make me smile. Beside the food always looks tasty, and inviting. I was imagining the sushi chef rolling the Avocado, cucumber, asparagus, carrots, scallions, shitake mushrooms and sweet potato inside the white rice and seaweed presenting the GLOB Master with eight bites of very interestingly matched veggie crunch and flavors. I applaud Japan's first Sushi Master that created a plate of spectacular looking rolls for the Japanese Emperor.  When he took his first bite taste test bite he must have immediately declared, in Japanese of course, "Go get the wasabi, we need to punch the flavor index of these rolls up a notch for the Emperor-San."

Asian lunch falls short in taste, authenticity

By Bubba Scott, GLOB Correspondent

Editors Note: Farmer Bubba Scott is a container vegetable farmer, and the GLOB's Gardening expert. To help support the farm, he is a P.H.D., Professional Home Developer, AKA The House Doctor.

SushsigoSFThis week GLOB Master Mike and I decided it was time for a GLOB lunch outing, sushi style. My kind of lunch spot.

I was spoiled living in Hawaii eating fresh sushi and sashimi.

We didn't pick a new Japanaese establishment, but one that has been around for eleven years. SUSHI-2-GO in Midtown on University Ave, which moved from University Ave. next to the Taco Bell a couple years ago.

This place is a made-for-students Food On The Run lunch stop.

 

SushigoDining

When we walked inside SUSHI-2-GO, my first thought was, Wow, this place is very cool. They spent a lot of money on the decor. I mean, the inside really stands out. It's painted red, stylish, and real curvy. A few shiny red tables were available for eating inside. Napkins and soy sauce were available at each table. I find that to be a nice authentic toucn in an Asian restaurant.

What did make me a little nervous was the one of the walls of SUSHI-2-GO was all glass mirrors. It made the dining area seem larger but I was wondering if there were people behind the mirrors watching us eat our lunch.

After the GLOB Master introduced himself to the SUSHI-2-GO staff and let them know we were on a GLOB mission, it was time to check out the menu. Not a large menu I might add, and that's a good thing.

Remember, this is a FOTR eatery. You order your lunch, pick it up at the counter, and off you go. It might have been an off day, but the S2G service was a bit slow.

 

SushigoMASTERsushi

I ordered the Sushi Master Roll, a Bowl of Sushi Rice and Spicy Dipping Sauce, photo right. Mike ordered the Ultimate Veggie Roll. I almost fell over when he did that. Mike likes his fish cooked. There is a complete SUSHI-2-GO menu at the restaurant link below this feature.

Now about my lunch. Its was pretty on my plate.

After tasting the dipping sauce, I told Mike that I was surprised that it tasted like Thousand Island dressing.

Mike replied, "Well Bubba, there are a lot of islands in the Orient." I'll go with that, but this dipping sauce was disappointing.

The SUSHI-2-GO rice, I believe, was just the white rice you use for sushi. I had figured it might be something special even though it was called Sushi Rice, but it semed blander than rice can usually be and needed some help to kick up the flavor.

 

SushigoSERVER

The sushi rolls were also a little bland and none of the ingredients really stood out in the taste category.  My rolls were filled with tuna, imitation crab (krab), avocado, shitake mushroom and spicy sauce. Now you would think one of those items in that combination would jump on the taste buds and wake'm up.

By adding a mixture of soy sauce and spicy sauce, I did find a new taste without drowning out the combination flavor of my lunch. I'm guessing there was just something about those Thousand Islands in the orient the GLOB Master mentioned that created a unique SUSHI-2-GO flavor.

 

SushigoMASTERveggie600a

The GLOB Master is not a big fan of sushi, however he did enjoy his Sushu-2-Go Master Veggie Roll.  Photo at top of this feature.  He remarked how the crispness of the veggies were complimented by the complete opposite pastey texture of the white rice.  Mike did say his rolls cried out for additional soy sauce and a good smack of wasabe (that is an additional charge.) Of course he always makes the same comment about having his Japanese lunch wrapped in marinated electrical tape . . .

I think this sushi shop is truly a place for the students in a hurry, lunching out on the run. I am a big sushi fan and SUSHI-2-GO fell short. It has to be tough for a sushi stand on University Ave. with so many other Asian restaurants close by.

The Pluses and Minuses of Susi 2 Go:

Susi 2 Go (+) indicators: Stylish, smart idea for a quick sushi lunch.

Susi 2 Go (-) Indicator's: Unremarkable sushi rolls.

Offer your GLOB comments, lunch photographs and opinions about Sushi-2-Go.  Please identify your opinions with a PLUS SIGN (+) for positive comments, and a MINUS SIGN (-) for your negative comments.  - THANKS! 

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Fuji Sushi

Five star sushi surprises House Doctor

By Bubba Scott, GLOB Correspondent

Editors Note: Farmer Bubba Scott is a container vegetable farmer. To help support the farm, he is a P.H.D., Professional Home Developer, AKA The House Doctor.

FujiSushiSFI was working on a job in Jonesville, just West of the Town of Tioga, extracting a floor safe.  Remember Al Capone's vault?  Well, I believe the guy who put this safe in the floor had to have built Al's vault.  So far, it's Safe 2, Farmer Bubba 0.  While working on the safe, my friend and home improvement customer Susan, asked me if I had ever eaten at the Fuji Sushi restaurant in Jonesville.

I believe my response was no and yes.  No I haven't, and yes to a good lunch trip.

For a brief time, the safe extraction became a distant memory.  SUSHI was now on my mind.  Fuji Sushi is a Sushi lunch stop I haven't visited.

Susan said it was her favorite lunch in Jonesville.  That's a big plus right there I thought to myself.  After checking in with GLOB Corporate Headquarters, and the GLOB Master specifically, I was given the throttle-up for another sushi review.  I love my job as GLOB Correspondent!

Upon entering Fuji Sushi at close to noon, the place was busy but not crowded.  The piped in music selected by the Fuji Sushi management was light, and the atmosphere was pure, authentic  Asian.  I noticed the restaurant had a calming effect on me.

Heck, with my mind on sushi, a polka band could have been playing "Play that a Funky Music White Boy" and I would have thought it was an Asian version of this 70s favorite.

Susan quickly straightened me out on the music and we were motioned to a booth for our lunch.

 

FujiSushiC

We sat down to a really neat table with Chinese writing on it.  Also on the table were two bottles of soy, napkins and chop sticks.  No forks and spoons.  You can't get any more authentic than that.

Later, Wade, our server told us, "No chop sticks, no eat."  Being a seasoned Asian food guy, the chop sticks mandate was OK with me.

Wade brought us menus and asked if we preferred sushi or sashimi.  Before we could get the answers out of our mouths, he said he knew what we would like.

Wow!  This guy is good.

Before the food arrived, I again noticed how I felt comfortable in this Asian dining room.  I didn't feel rushed.  This was going to be a lunch to enjoy at the baseline level of one bite, one flavor at a time.

Our first selection was a Japanese Green Seaweed Salad, which was served in martini glasses.  The flavor of the seaweed was unreal.  It had a unique fresh, crisp, green vegetable taste.  This was an excellent starter for our lunch.

I have to say this.  The presentation of the lunch was timed perfectly.  The entrees didn't arrive one on top of the other.  I actually had time to enjoy each item before the next was delivered.

 

FujiSushiA

Next was the Dynamite Roll.  The menu describes this as an egg roll deep fried, but believe me, I didn't see any grease on the plate.  This egg roll appetizer had a spectacular crunch, which added greatly to the taste of the ingredients.  The Dynamite Roll included fresh salmon, cream cheese, processed crab meat called krab topped with eel sauce and spicy mayo. The key ingredient in all the rolls was a very good spicy mayo/  Also, each roll had it's own type of fish and it's own disrinct flavor.

The Dynamite Roll was followed by more appetizers: the Crunchy Shrimp Roll, Mount Fuji Roll, and the Kamikaze Salmon Roll.  These are the Chef's Signature Rolls.

Aside from being done in a beautiful way with sauces artistically "painted" on the plates, each roll had a unique taste and the spices were delicately applied, never overwhelming.  For fried appetizers, I would have never known they were fried, had it not been for the crunch.

 

FSedamame

What I've learned about Asian food is, you should be able to taste each ingredient that you're eating.  Asian food isn't supposed to be overcooked or soaked in oil.  In between the rolls, a plate of edamame arrived.  This is lightly salted, broiled soybeans in the pod.  The taste of the bean itself was perfect with just a slight flavor of salt.

Throughout our meal all the elements of our lunch complemented each other, exactly the way Asian food should be presented and enjoyed.

Much kudos and applause is necessary to complement and thank Wade for making our Fuji Sushi visit a memorable lunch stop that will have us returning for seconds.  When I had a question, Wade took the time to answer it fully.  From our arrival to departure, I was made to feel very much at home.

Plus I also learned something about wooden chop sticks.  I never looked at the wooden chop sticks that close. They're all white. All of them. Bamboo isn't white. I found out, they're bleached! Yikes! I've been eating with bleeached bamboo.

Often it's not just about the food, it's the overall experience of a good lunch that moves a restaurant into the five star category.  That's what you will find at Fuji Sushi in Jonesville.

Thanks to Susan for taking me from unearthing her Al Capone-like, great grandmother's safe to some excellent Asian cuisine deep in the heart of Jonesville.

The Pluses and Minuses of Fuji Sushi:

Fuji Sushi (+) indicators: Very authentic sushi lunch!

Fuji Sushi (-) indicators: no negatives noted.

Offer your GLOB comments, lunch photographs and opinions about the Fuji Sushi.  Please identify your opinions with a PLUS SIGN (+) for positive comments, and a MINUS SIGN (-) for your negative comments.  - THANKS!

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Ichiban Sushi

Millhopper sushi bar satisfies cravings

By: Melissa Kahan, GLOB Correspondent

I know I'm not the only person who gets those insatiable cravings for various foods. Some are less discernible than others, but when a sushi kick comes about there are only a few places I dare venture to for a quality experience. In the case of consuming sushi, this is not the time to scrimp on money for lower quality, as there is a sizeable chance you will be, to put it bluntly, quite ill.

012914IchibanSFIchiban sushi downtown was a go-to in my first years coming to Gainesville until they closed their doors some time ago. Although the other location at 4401 NW 25th Pl still existed, I had never been. I have since lost touch with the "family-owned and operated" Asian restaurant's food for the last two years until a window of opportunity came about in the form of a birthday lunch with a sushi-loving birthday girl.

 

012914IchibandiningAt about 2:30 p.m. on a Friday, there were few patrons donning the booths and sushi bar area of Ichiban nestled behind Zaxby's and next to Blue Agave, but it seemed the one server struggled to handle the handful of tables as it was. Ten minutes after being seated, the server brought our drinks and it was clear that unless we ordered right then we risked the server never coming back to the table (OK, a tad exaggerated, but you catch my drift).

Since I had been to Ichiban before, unlike the birthday girl, Carol, I knew of a few must-try rolls. This actually proved more of a hindrance than a help, as I wanted to order one of almost everything while still indulging my adventurous food side and trying something new. Honestly, this is a problem for me at most restaurants. That being said, Carol ordered a bowl of onion soup to start, and we decided to split the house-recommended Aji-San roll and one of the specialty rolls: a take on their Leo's Bacon Roll, both of which were listed as baked rolls. I talked up the Aji-San roll so much to Carol there wasn't a chance she wouldn't try it, but at least the special take on the bacon roll would be new for us both.

 

012914IchibanPLATE2

Although, as mentioned previously, the service was pretty slow due to one server attempting to appease what was about five or so tables at a time, the food was well worth any wait. The variation on the Leo's Bacon Roll only came in the form of replacing the avocado typically atop the roll with an (imitation) krab and sauce mixture, although for the up charge from the original roll this slight change was barely visible. As this was the first roll presented, we took a moment to marvel at this compilation of seafood and pork smothered beneath a rice blanket covered with a cream cheese, sauce and tempura flake mixture spread atop. This was the epitome of balance in a roll: The shrimp and krab melded beautifully against the fatty yet crispy zing that bacon offers to any meal, as well as the opposing softer sensations of the sauce and cream cheese and the crisp contrast that a bite of cucumber and scallion provided. I'm sure the original version of the roll would have been just as enjoyable, though.

 

012914IchibanPLATE1

The Aji-San roll then revealed itself as nothing short of "interesting," in every sense of the word. Physically, a pink outer casing of smoked salmon enveloped the roll while a layer of spicy mayo and tamago rested under a chunk of banana balanced on top. Yes, you read correctly: banana. As each of the six pieces of the roll were big enough to require at least three bites to finish each, the flavorful insides became one with the outside. Aside from the extremely soft yet savory smoked salmon that accompanied each bite, the tuna, krab and, for a more zesty twist, smoked eel provided the meat base, alongside avocado and cream cheese.

Needless to say, each ingredient provided an incomparable richness by its own terms. This might seem a tad off-putting to some, but the hearty layers of this roll, with that unexpected punch of banana, was mouth-watering.

 

012914IchibanDESSERTI then felt the birthday girl needed to try the fried ice cream with a smattering of chocolate sauce and orange wedges to complete the experience. The ball of crispy, yet sweet, warm dough hugging in a cold, runny vanilla ice cream surprise was just enough for two people, and it provided the sweet tooth satisfaction that accompanies my meals typically.

012914IchibanFRIENDIn general, the cooked entrees, for the less adventurous or seafood-opposing consumers, are also very well-crafted and flavorful to a sizeable portion and consistency each time at the restaurant. The teriyaki dishes and beef gyoza are some of my favorites. Again, the consistent quality is what sets Ichiban apart from the many Asian fusion and sushi establishments trickled throughout Gainesville. But I cannot stress the quality and care taken in assembling each roll presented, as well as with every experience I have had at the former downtown-located Ichiban as well. There is no other way to understand how unique and vivid each specialty roll is without going there, immediately.

The Pluses and Minuses of Ichiban Sushi:

Ichiban Sushi + Indicators: Excellent, unique food; consistent quality; sizeable portions.

Ichiban Sushi - Indicators: :A tad too pricey for an everyday occasion

Be the first to offer your GLOB comments, lunch photographs and opinions about the Ichiban Sushi.  Please identify your opinions with a PLUS SIGN (+) for positive comments, and a MINUS SIGN (-) for your negative comments.  - THANKS!

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Saigon Cafe

Be the first to offer your GLOB comments, lunch photographs and opinions about the Saigon Cafe.  Please identify your opinions with a PLUS SIGN (+) for positive comments, and a MINUS SIGN (-) for your negative comments.  - THANKS!

 

 

 

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China 88

The GLOB Master is seeking Asian food and Chinese vegetables more and more for lunch. Talk about a walking, talking anomaly. One of my biggest diabetes heartbreaks has been the elimination of rice and potatoes from my diet. When I say that, images of scalloped potatoes, French fries, chicken and yellow rice, roast beef with rice and gravy, and Chinese food float though my brain like a culinary death March is taking place. Not to sound like one of the television home repair fix-up guys but there are some lunch time work-arounds. Replacing the white rice on the China 88 #9 Pepper Steak with onions is a spectacular lunch if you are a Chinese veggie fan. I substituted additional fresh, crisp, stir-fried Chinese veggies for rice in my $5.80 lunch combo. The water chestnut pieces are special. The onion and bell peppers make me smile with sharp flavor and a crisp texture that rival the water chestnut crunch. Forther the protein lover the pepper steak was sliced very thin, which made for a juicy, tender accompaniment to the veggies. I add additional soy sauce to my lunch to pump up my noon-day flavor volume. One week I think I will go to five Asian kitchens and try the same Chinese entrée to see if there is any difference in their PS&O #9 combos. BTW, I swear I heard John Lennon asking for his lunch time order of NUMBER NINE!

-Mike Sanford, GLOB Editor

Perfectly prepared, 'cheap,' Chinese lunch

By Mike Sanford, GLOB Editor

29 lunch specials all for just $5.25. You might ask about the other 59 dishes, but I was only interested in lunch. Actually, I don't really know if the 88 refers to dishes, ingredients, or just a lucky number, and I was so busy ordering lunch and then eating lunch I forgot to ask.

China88SFIf you are going to China 88 for lunch you might want to get there early. I think parking can get tricky at this Chinese restaurant on the SE corner of Millhopper Road and NW 16th Blvd.

To paraphrase an old fried chicken ad, these folks do Chinese right. Mon. thru Sat. they do lunch for less than $6, and that includes a drink.

I think that must be a pound of lunch they are selling in that aluminum tin. $5.25 a pound seems about right for this extra large lunch portion.

Lunch is an inviting entree organized in a practical aluminum take out container that is completely filled with rice, assorted Chinese veggies, and your choice of protein. My suggestion would be to ask for a second container to use as a plate if you want to mix these tasty ingredients together, otherwise they will be spilling over the edge because there is so much packed into that container.

CHINA88menuI love Chinese food. The unique flavors, perfectly chopped proteins, and the colorful palette of crisp, tasty vegetables served on rice as if it were a white canvass conjur up thoughts of a place on the other side of the world where I have never been.

Since I like spicy and a little heat in my food is a good thing, I ordered the Szechuan Chicken -- lunch special L23. It was not as spicy as I anticipated -- a little Chinese mustard helped the heat quotient -- but the food was otherwise excellently prepared while I waited.

The L23 is one of 10 lunch dishes with a hot and spicy designation.

I felt extraordinarily good about my $5.25 China 88 lunch experience as all of my Asian eating requirements were satisfied:

zzGLOBbullet A good portion of heat to wake up my taste buds

zzGLOBbullet An assortment of fresh veggies expertly cut and stir fried to perfection.

zzGLOBbullet A substantial amount of rice, soy sauce and Chinese mustard.

I am always surprised to eat as much Chinese food as I do. As I gorge myself on excellently prepared Chinese vegetables, I think It must be the perfect preparation.

The Pluses and Minuses of China 88:

The + indicators: A Great lunch prepared perfectly . . . cheap!

The - indicators: Parking

Be the first to offer your GLOB comments, lunch photographs and opinions about China 88.  Please identify your opinions with a PLUS SIGN (+) for positive comments, and a MINUS SIGN (-) for your negative comments.  - THANKS!

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Golden Buddha

Little authenticity, overcooked veggies = average lunch

By Bubba Scott, GLOB Correspondent

Editors Note: Farmer Bubba Scott is a container vegetable farmer. To help support the farm, he is a P.H.D., Professional Home Developer, AKA The House Doctor.

This was check-out-a-restaurant day for GLOB Editor Mike Sanford and myself. Our mission was the Golden Buddha Chinese restaurant close to the corner of NW 16th Ave, and NW 5th St.

Where in China is Golden Buddha, and this cuisine located? You couldn't tell what region of the People's Republic my lunch reflected.

GoldenBuddhaLOGOI've noticed this little yellow building across from my mechanic Phil at Gator Garage while dropping my truck off for repairs. Now it was time to see how the food was.

Upon entering, I noticed the lights were a bit dim for me. On the table was a fork and spoon, no chopsticks, I had to ask for those. Also missing were smiles.

There was a bottle of soy sauce on the table that was, 'made in America'. The problem with American soy in my opinion is it is too salty.

So much for cuisine authenticity.

Golden Buddha was run by an older gentleman helping with cooking, seating customers, taking lunch orders and attending to the cash register. He was assisted by an employee who was the chief cook. That prior statement might explain why smiles were missing until it was time to pay the bill.

The GLOB Master and I chose our entrees from an extensive list of $5 lunch specials.

Mike ordered the Pork and Chinese Vegetables, and I ordered the lo mein (noodles) with chicken, vegetables, brown rice and a spring roll.

For lunch starters, I had a bowl of spicy soup. The soup needed a little more spice. My lo mein tasted like it was all cooked together. The vegetables were overcooked, and the chicken was real little. I could only taste the spice the noodles were cooked in.

One thing I learned about food while living in Hawaii is that you should always taste all the ingredients that comprise the meal. There was no crunch in the vegetables, and trust me, I know vegetables. They don't need to be cooked to be good, and the Golden Buddha vegetables were overcooked.

For lo mein, the noodles should be cooked and the vegetables steamed. THEN you add them together. Mmmmm good!

That's a little something I learned from a cook in Kealakekua, Hawaii. When you cook the noodles, they'll cook the vegetables when they are added together. There's still excellent 'Chinese crunch and you don't lose the taste. And taste is what it's all about.

Maybe I was expecting more than others after living on the 'Big Island', but the food at the Golden Buddha would rate only 2 1/2 stars in my Far East grade book. My lunch was not filling, or satisfying. But for $5, it's a good meal – even if the food is not that good.

The Pluses and Minuses of the Golden Buddha:
Golden Buddha + indicators: Good soup and fried rice, excellent price
Golden Buddha - indicators: Over cooked vegetables, GB is lacking authenticity.

Offer your GLOB comments, lunch photographs and opinions about Golden Buddha.  Please identify your opinions with a PLUS SIGN (+) for positive comments, and a MINUS SIGN (-) for your negative comments.  - THANKS!

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Wok-n-Roll

FOTR excellence: Great food, service & cool name

By Mike Sanford, GLOB Editor

wokrollThe Wok-n-Roll Chinese Restaurant in the shopping center on the corner of SW 34th St. and SW 20th St. has all the qualities that make a perfect Food On The Run choice:

zzGLOBbullet A wide variety of Chinese entrees in a speedy fashion.

zzGLOBbullet Good food:  The vegetables are fresh, chopped, crisp and tasty; the rice is cooked to perfection; and your favorite protein is added in ample portions.

zzGLOBbullet An unforgettable, very cool name.

zzGLOBbullet With just four tables, it's easy to see Food On The Run is the main idea in this tiny restaurant.

Wok-n-Roll has the FOTR formula down to a science. I mean how much easier could it be? You walk in, check the menu out for your lunch choice, and tell the person behind the counter the number of the meal you want.

Recently, I stated that when I am in a Mexican restaurant, I always order a taco with my lunch. When I am having Chinese for lunch, you guessed it:  You will find an egg roll on my plate. The tasty Wok-n-Roll Spring Roll went very nicely with my "L 20".

Do I need to tell you what an "L20" is? The L indicates LUNCH . . . :)

Wok-n-Roll l.  I just like the sound of that name. Wok n Roll is up there with Chinese Takee Outee for 'Best GLOB Chinese Restaurant Name."

WokRollLOGOI'm a Chinese food fan. I like the crispy al dente vegetables, the flavors of all the ingredients are very pronounced in a texture-happy combination of rice, veggies, and proteins.

So, the next time you and your lunch mates are talking over where to eat, my suggestion to you is stand up and declare in a loud way:  "WOK n ROLL!"

The Pluses and Minuses of Wok-n-Roll Chinese Restaurant:

Wok-n-Roll (+) indicators: Fast service, varied menu, excellent name.

Wok-n-Roll (-) indicators: They get busy, but that's not a problem when you call in your order ahead of time.

Be the first to offer your GLOB comments, lunch photographs and opinions about the Wok & Roll Chinese Restaurant.  Please identify your opinions with a PLUS SIGN (+) for positive comments, and a MINUS SIGN (-) for your negative comments.  - THANKS!

The Pluses and Minuses of La Fiesta Mexican Restaurant:

La Fiesta (+) indicators: Excellent Mexican food experience.

La Fiesta (-) indicators:
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Asian Wok and Grill

Asian lunch stop results in excellent lunch

By Bubba Scott, GLOB Correspondent

Editors Note: Farmer Bubba Scott is a container vegetable farmer. To help support the farm, he is a P.H.D., Professional Home Developer, AKA The House Doctor.

AsianWokGrillIt was a long over due lunch out for GLOB Master Mike and me. Mike chose the Asian Wok & Grill (AW&G) for our noon lunch time destination. It was the first visit to this far eastern lunch place for both of us. I like that. I felt like we were modern day food explorers, tracking prize lunch trophies in uncharted GLOB territory.

Upon arriving at the AW&G Archer Rd. location, just down from the Five Guys burger shop, I started having my doubts. Here's this little 'walk-up-counter' restaurant in a crowded strip mall, easily unnoticed, that is supposed to be creating excellent Asian lunches.

Looking inside I noticed the lunch entrees were under glass at the main counter, sort of like a buffet. You know, like an all you can eat lunch experience. I also noticed a sign on the front of the glass that read 'free samples.'

I was thinking the GLOB Master had taken me to just another fast food place, like all other fast food places. You know, the 'greasy and all you can eat' type of location. The kind of lunch spot hungry people seek out when they only have 30 minutes to eat.

When we walked in, we were greeted with smiles from our servers. Now that's always an immediate plus on my score sheet. Mike introduced himself as the GLOB Editor and explained that we were there to have lunch and to report to Gainesville's GLOBers exactly what made the AW&G different from other Asian lunch spots.

AWGmylunchBefore Mike could finish talking, we were handed some food samples on toothpicks to try. Now think about it.  When anyone can stop the GLOB Master in the middle of a asentence, they must have something to offer.

I noticed right away that this little diner was real clean, and there were not a lot of unnecessary items crowding the table tops. You know, things like salt and pepper shakers, Tabasco bottles, or American soy sauce.

AWGbubbasMEALWhen it comes to Asian eateries, I don't think they need any additional condiments to make the food taste better. The bare tables were telling me they put all the emphasis on the cooking being done in the kitchen to prepare our lunch.

I always check the serving spoons on an Asian buffet as an indicator of the quality of the food - I check if they look wet or dry, in which makes the spoons look clean. Asian food is supposed to be served on the dry side. That is, unless it's soup. Remember, Asian food is eaten with chopsticks. If the food has so much juice or sauce you need a spoon, it's probably something which you can still use chopsticks on and you can lift the bowl up to take a drink.

Mike ordered Pepper Steak and I ordered General Tso's Chicken with veggies and fried rice (topp photo).  Like mine, his veggies were fresh, crisp, bright. and green. The GLOB Master quickly mixed all his food together not understanding the value of enjoying each lunch component flavor separately.

I tried a variety of AW&G's fried and wok style chicken and pork (bottom photo). The meat and chicken AW&G  prepare is authentically Asian in texture, flavor and presentation. The noodles and spring roll I ordered were prepared just right and to my complete satisfaction.

This lunch outing added up to a what I would expect from all Asian restaurants I visit. I always expect that each item on my plate should complement the other. The Asian Wok & Grill does this to perfection.

All my angst on arriving at this lunch stop was washed away by one of the better Asian lunches I have had in quite some time.

This is a place I'll put very high on my list of 'return' visits.

Uh oh, I missed one very important excellence indicator at the Asian Wok and Grill. The entire time Mike and I were eating, the front doors opened continuously with new customers ordering, picking up, and taking out their Asian lunch surprises.

This tells me good food is hard to stay away from, and GLOBers know a good lunch stop when they see it.

The Pluses and Minuses of the Asian Wok and Grill

Asian Wok and Grill + Indicators: Perfectly prepared authentic Asian cuisine.

Asian Wok and Grill - Indicators: I need more reasons to be on this side of town at lunch time.

Be the first to offer your GLOB comments, lunch photographs and opinions about Asian Wok & Grill.  Please identify your opinions with a PLUS SIGN (+) for positive comments, and a MINUS SIGN (-) for your negative comments.  - THANKS!

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