Little Buddha

Last week, my friend and I had plans to use up her Groupon at Little Buddha at the Palms and at the last minute we invited another friend along (there’s always room for one more!).  My friend with the Groupon had been before and really enjoyed it so I was looking forward to giving it a shot (plus I do love Groupon!).

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To start, they each got a martini (I stuck to water) – closest to me was the Forbidden Fruit martini which had Absolut Mandarin, Kai Lychee, Crème de Banana, white cranberry juice, and sweet n sour.  Behind that was an Apple Martini.

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Like other recent meals, we decided to share! We went with two appetizers for the table.  First, we ordered the Bamboo Steamed Seafood Dumplings over a red miso lobster bisque.  I particularly enjoyed this dish – the seafood seemed particularly fresh which doesn’t always come through strongly in a dish like this (not to say other dishes like this aren’t fresh – this just really tasted as such).

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Our other appetizer was the Chicken Spring Rolls – also very good.

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Service was a bit slow overall so when the entrees arrived I forgot to take a photo until we’d served ourselves Smile From left to right (back – the right hand dish is my individual plate), we had the Buddha’s House Chow Mein (chicken), the Orange Chicken, and Mongolian Style Beef with crispy rice noodles.

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A close up of my first serving (trying a little bit of each to start).  Of the three, the mongolian beef was the most flavorful.  However, the menu noted it as being spicy – it barely was.  The chow mein was a bit bland and the orange chicken was more fried than I like.

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However, my dining partners thought it was all wonderful.  So, either the alcohol in the martinis changed their taste buds or I’m a bad judge of Chinese.  I’m leaning toward the latter as Chinese is not my favorite cuisine (I like it but don’t love it) so if you’re at the Palms and want Chinese, give it a chance.  If you go with our group, 2 out of 3 recommend it Winking smile I hope to go back at some point though for the sushi.  I do love sushi (and hopefully theirs is good).



Little Buddha (Palms) on Urbanspoon

China A Go Go

For the first time in a long time (or possibly ever? I can’t remember), I’m posting about a restaurant we went to TONIGHT! (Though I imagine none of you are actually reading it this evening)  Anyway… a friend recently recommended a Chinese restaurant around the corner from us – China A Go Go.  The Husband tried it a handful of months ago while I was out of town and didn’t have the best experienced.  However, since it was their opening week and it was getting good reviews, we decided to give it a try tonight.

The restaurant is on the smaller side, meant mostly for take out, but even on a crowded night like tonight, there was enough room for everyone who wanted to dine-in.  There were 5 booths and 3 additional tables.  Upon walking in, you ordered at the counter and then when the food was ready, they would deliver it to the table (dish by dish).

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A large menu was available on the wall to the right and take out menus were located at the register.

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After telling them we would be dining in, they gave us plates, plasticware, fortune cookies, sauces, and small bowls for the soup the Husband ordered. Oh and those cracker things (which we tend not to eat, so I forgot them in the last sentence Smile )

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Out first came the potstickers.  They were larger than most Chinese restaurants we’ve been to and I enjoyed them.  They appeared to be steamed and then pan fried on one side (clearly the side showing in the picture).

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Timing wasn’t going to well with the Husband’s order (I ordered the potstickers) so out next came my Chicken Chow Mein.  I am a big noodle person and was immediately drawn to the noodle menu.  It was a fine dish, but after a few bites, I wished I had ordered something else with some brown rice.  I imagine I’ll enjoy it as leftovers for lunch one day this week, though.

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The Husband decided to order something new to him – Kung Pao Pork.  This is something that my dad loves so I encouraged him to order it when he suggested it.   He enjoyed it but doesn’t think he’ll order it again.  I liked the slight sweetness of it and look forward to having some as leftovers.

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For those of you unfamiliar with Kung Pao dishes, you eat them in pancakes with some plum sauce.

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Up last, the first thing we ordered, was the Won Ton Soup.  For $6, the Husband was hoping it would be good and/or large.  It turned out to be both.  We were thrown off at first about the amount of “stuff” in there, but I found it to really enhance the broth.  In addition to won tons, there was bok choy, pork, shrimp, and snow peas.

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Overall, the food was good but we’re not sure it deserved the rave review our friend gave.  However, they were large portions for cheap and they have some great lunch specials – everything’s about $6 for lunch from 11am to 4pm.  We’re not sure if/when we’ll be back, but with how close it is to the house, it sure is convenient!

On the topic of Chinese, we are in the search for a good dim sum place… anyone have any recommendations?

P.S. This is our 400th post! :-)


China a Go Go on Urbanspoon

China Spice at Green Valley Ranch

A few weeks ago, when the Husband and I arrived from our cross country move, we stayed at the Green Valley Ranch Resort for the few nights before our things arrived.  Part of the package we booked included a $50 dining credit on the resort (at the resort owned restaurants), so one night we decided to check one out.  There were a handful of restaurants that sounded interesting but since neither of us had had Chinese in a while, we decided to check out China Spice.

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When we were first seated, there was some confusion as the bus boy offered to get us drinks.  We didn’t know he was the bus boy and were unimpressed when he didn’t seem knowledgeable about the beers and wine.  Once we figured out what was going on, we asked for water and our waitress came out a bit later :-)

IMG_2326 When she arrived, she was WAY more knowledgeable about the drinks.  The Husband ordered a Sapporo and I had a glass of Chardonnay.

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Looking through the menu, particularly the sushi section, we found the prices to be a bit expensive.  However, it seems that a lot of the restaurants here are more expensive than we’re used to.  Since we had the credit, though, we decided to get some appetizers with plans to take home leftovers.

After ordering, while we waited, we were brought fried crackers with sweet and sour and hot mustard sauces.  The mustard was born-your-nostrils hot.  Whew!  IMG_2331  We ordered an appetizer sampler to start.  It came with the most popular appetizers we normally see on Chinese menus.  There were vegetable egg rolls, ribs, crab rangoon, and fried won tons.  In general, I thought they were all just fine.  The Husband liked the egg rolls, though.IMG_2338 The Husband and I love sushi (which is huge because when we first got together he was not a fan at all).  We asked our waitress for a recommendation and she suggested the Rainbow Roll.  Again, this was just fine – not bad but not spectacular.  The price was definitely not worth it. 

IMG_2339 (As a side note, it seems that all sushi we’ve found in Las Vegas is crazy expensive.  Any idea why? And anyone know where we can get reasonably priced and good sushi in the area?)

For our entrees, the Husband ordered the General Tao’s Chicken.  The dish was quite large! It was generally pretty good.  A lot better than our appetizers.

IMG_2340 The side of rice..

IMG_2341 I decided to go with the Shrimp Pad Thai.  It was SPICY but oh so good :-) I used the Husband’s to cool my mouth off… and then had more of mine.  It was delish as leftovers as well.

IMG_2342 Overall, we were pleased with our entrees, both the flavor and size, for the price.  However, the appetizers and the service were less than stellar.  We rarely saw our waitress even though the restaurant had only two or three other tables.  At one point, we actually saw another table get up to try to find the waitress to get their bill.  I can see us getting take out from China Spice, if that’s an option, but we’ll definitely try other Henderson Chinese restaurants before we come back here.



China Spice on Urbanspoon

Cairns

*Note* A bit of a long post that jumps around.  It won’t hurt my feelings (too much) if you don’t make it to the end.  If you don’t like some potentially scary creatures, you won’t make it that far anyway (but I do provide a warning before those pictures appear!)

When we left Mission Beach, we decided to try to grab breakfast along the way at a cafe.  Unfortunately, we didn’t find one we wanted to stop at and as we got closer to Cairns we definitely needed something to eat since it would be a while before lunch.  We stopped at a petrol (gas) station to pick up something to munch on.  We grabbed some salt & vinegar chips and we had to get the “real??? Tim Tams.  Holy wow.  These cookies are good! So very good! We also enjoyed sodas from Bundaberg which we had bought in our six-pack a few days earlier :-) Not the most nutritious breakfast, but it held us over till we got to Cairns.

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The only thing of note on the drive was the following truck (we mentioned in an earlier post that trucks can be longer here).

IMG_2210 When we arrived in Cairns, we headed straight to our hotel – the Mercure Cairns Harbourside.  It’s located near downtown Cairns but a little bit farther out on the water.  The assistant front office manager Kate checked us in and she was as sweet as can be! She noted that we were celebrating our anniversary during this vacation and gave us a free upgrade to a King Suite :-)

As with all of our other accommodations, this hotel really met our needs.  With the upgrade to the suite, we had a living area, a kitchen, and a separate bedroom.

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We had a mountain view which was quite lovely (especially in between tropical rains!)

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After we went exploring in town, we came back to the room to a sweet surprise from the hotel – champagne and two glasses.  We enjoyed these after dinner at La Pizza later that night.

IMG_5842 On Saturday night, we decided to stay in after our day of exploring a few of the local options.  We ordered room service and were quite impressed with the food!  The Husband hasn’t had much experience with room service but commented that it was the best room service he’s ever had.  We also loved that it was available 24 hours (which would have been appreciated at some of the previous places we’ve stayed on this trip) although we didn’t need it.

Ok, back to Cairns itself :-) After checking in on Friday, we ventured out onto the Promenade, a walking path that started past our hotel and headed toward the downtown area along the water.

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It looked like the tide was out during our walk as there was little to no water near the Promenade/Boardwalk (it turned to boardwalk when we got into the downtown area).  You could see birds like sandpipers as well as crabs and some sea snakes.  Along the boardwalk, there were informational signs telling us what creatures we could attempt to see.

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IMG_5798 Along the walk, there were areas for recreation including a small water park for children, playgrounds, bbq pits, and a skate park.  This sign gave me a bit of a chuckle.  It’s a skate plaza yet the top part of the sign says no skateboarding :-) IMG_5800 Since the Cairns residents can’t swim in the ocean, there is a large public pool called the Lagoon right in the downtown area.  On Saturday, it was packed with people enjoying the beautiful weather.

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IMG_6362 Just past the Lagoon was the boat harbour and the Shangri-La hotel.

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IMG_6380 The downtown area was filled with shops and restaurants of numerous cuisines.   While many shops close at 5 or 6 in Australia, Cairns has an area called the Night Markets which don’t open until 5pm or so and stay open late.  There is a food court there as well as many vendors in a flea market type venue.  We didn’t go into many stores, but enjoyed our stroll both during the day and in the evening both days.

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IMG_6406 On Friday for lunch, the Husband was craving Chinese food.  We found a reasonably priced restaurant on one of the downtown streets and enjoyed lunch.

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On Saturday afternoon, we decided we wanted ice cream! Throughout Awesomestralia ;-) we’ve seen Cold Rock Ice Creamery, reminding of the U.S. versions Cold Stone and Maggie Moo’s.

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There was one in downtown Cairns that we finally got to try out the Australian candy mix ins.IMG_6343

We asked the server what his favorite ice cream flavor was and he recommended Chocolate Hazelnut. The Husband and I were both sold on the suggestion.IMG_6344

We each chose two mix ins for our Chocolate Hazelnut.  I went with a Tim Tam and Freckles (see below).  The Husband chose Maltezers (malt balls) and a Tim Tam as well. IMG_6346

The delicious outcome :-)  I have been missing my Tasty Yo while gone, but these filled the void… IMG_6347

*Warning* If you don’t like pictures of potentially creepy creatures (i.e. bats and ants), read no further!

While we were in Yeppoon, we first noticed bats in Australia.  On Friday night, while wandering around the restaurants and shops in Cairns, we first heard, then saw, the large Fruit Bat population here in town.

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They don’t hurt (or really even come close to) humans so we stood in amazement as they flew from tree to tree.  On Saturday afternoon, we parked along one of the downtown streets and could hear them again.  We looked up and saw lots of them.  With a better lens, the Husband was able to get some great photos!

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They were fascinating :-)

The other creatures we saw a lot of in Cairns were ants.  In other parts of Australia, we mostly saw black ants, but while waiting for the hotel shuttle to downtown, we came upon what appear to be green and red ants.  We couldn’t recall if these sting/bite, so we erred on the side of caution (a good idea in Australia where everything is apparently deadly!) and steered clear from these where we could.

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IMG_2125 Cairns itself is a quaint town, but unfortunately there isn’t much in the town itself (at least from what we experienced).  We were impressed, however, with how much there is to do in the surrounding area.  The Husband will cover what we did on Saturday, but after a fun filled day, we were disappointed actually to not have a few more days to explore the region.  Perhaps on a future trip…