Saturday, December 25, 2010
Merry Christmas Random Mealers! Today our Christmas treat brings us the Marshmallow Man. This treat is three large marshmallows covered in white chocolate. Dark chocolate forms his hair and some M&M's completes his features. It is a fun holiday treat.
The funny thing about this photo was the first thing I was asked was "is the background photoshoped?" The answer is no. I ran my normal resizing and my 15 seconds worth of corrections. Yes, I limit my computer time and strive to do everything right the first time from the camera as a photographer. My Nikon D700 has is very convenient dial for the metering exposure area. It is so convenient that I never use it. The funny thing about this is that the majority of the time, I set the camera to matrix metering and call it a day. Today I was trying to shoot a very white object against a dark dining room. With the meter set to matrix, I ended up with a not ideal picture with the background still showing up. I was shooting with a 105mm macro lens to try some isolation and it was still not quite giving me the shot that I wanted. So I switched the dial to spot metering and the background blew away to black. Bingo! The shot is done.
Found at Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory in Valencia, CA.
(Nikon D700, 105mm, f4.0, 1/125, iso 3600)
Sunday, December 19, 2010
Our random meal of the day brings us an order of the Peanut Bubba Crunchy French Toast. This was one of those days where I just wanted to be comfortable and just enjoy a random meal so we decided to eat inside at a dark comfortable booth. There was a table outside but it was off a busy street and it was a chilly overcast Southern California day. I took a couple of test shots to see what the lighting was going to be like and it was pretty much a no photo moment. My goal is to only shoot with available ambient lighting so the use of a flash is not an option. Only one random meal was ever shot with a flash and that was at a wedding reception. There was not going to be a second chance there so the Nikon SB900 was actually used then. If I do use a flash, then it would really make my life exponentially easier but that is not the look that random meal of the day is striving to achieve.
Today my test shots before the food came was between 1/20 and 1/30 for the shutter speed at iso 6400. I only had my Nikon 60mm macro with me so I really needed at least another stop of light. The test shots were wide open at f3.2. With the macro lens, when you shoot wide open, the plane of focus is so narrow that you only get a sliver of the food in focus when you shoot close to the food. I normally need to stop down to at least f4.0 before I actually would like the shot. I would have been better off with my 50mm but that lens was sitting at home. Oh well, may next time I thought. Then the front door opened when the waiter was checking on the customers sitting outside. The brief moment that the door open seem to brighten up the table just a bit. Our food arrive just a bit after that. So I patiently waited until the next time the door opened and bingo, I got my shot. I didn't even get a chance to perform a manual white balance but a shot is a shot. It would not matter if i shoot in RAW but I am a proud JPEG shooter. The shutter speed was still a bit low but I was in the zone and didn't shake.
Now back to the random meal of the day. The Peanut Bubba Crunchy French Toast was intense. The flavors overpower you in a good way. It felt like Peanut nirvana. Maple syrup was not need as it made the french toast overly sweet. This is definitely more of a dessert treat than a breakfast. I was sadly only able to finish one of the two gigantic slices of french toast.
Found at The Griddle Cafe in Hollywood, CA.
(Nikon D700, 60mm, f4.0, 1/50, iso 6400)
Sunday, December 12, 2010
Our random meal of the day treat brings us an order of Sesame Rolls. This is a childhood treat of mine. The sesame roll gives you a slightly crispy crust that transitions into a silky smooth sticky dough. The inside filling is a bit random. From what I remember as a child, there were two types of filling, you get the sweet golden yellow paste or a sweet dark purple paste. My favorite was always the sweet golden yellow paste but I could never be sure what I would get. Today I discovered a third filling. I believe that inside today's random meal of the day treat, they mixed both the yellow and purple paste together to bring a hybrid of the two. I was actually a pleasing blend of the two flavors. Now the Sesame Rolls become even more random.
Found at CBS Seafood Restaurant in Los Angeles, CA
(Nikon D700, 70mm, f11, 1/80, iso 1250)
Saturday, December 11, 2010
Our random meal of the day brings us a wonderfully delicious Ham Sandwich. This is not any ordinary ham. This is a HoneyBaked Ham. This carefully crafted sandwich is loaded with thick slices of ham. If you didn't realize it, HoneyBaked Ham actually sells sandwiches and not just whole hams. The only sad part of this meal is that I was only able to get the second half of the sandwich. This was originally not my random meal but I spotted the other half of the sandwich and claimed it!
Found at HoneyBaked Ham in Valencia, CA.
(Nikon D700, 70mm, f5.6, 1/80, iso 900)
Friday, December 10, 2010
Our random meal of the day brings us some lunchtime BBQ. We have here "The Hound Dog". The Hound Dog lunch special platter comes with a 1/3 Rack of Memphis Ribs with Beef Brisket. We also have one fixin consisting of Mac N' Cheese and a piece of cornbread with chunks of whole corn to round out our random meal. In my opinion, this is just too much food for a lunchtime random meal. ;)
This is also the first random meal with my new Nikon 105mm Micro-Nikkor VR, the Nikon naming of a macro lens. I think this lens is a winner but a bit impractical for live restaurant location shots. With the longer reach it requires me to push the plate all the way across the table where the other person would be sitting. So it is either get a table for 4 so that I can push my plate to the other side or eat solo. I would also run into situations where if I am seated at the counter, then I would look like a knucklehead when I step back away from my seat to take the shot. I do not run into these issues when I shot with my 50mm or 60mm macro. The 50mm seems to be the perfect focal length for a full plate shot. The 50mm falls short when I have to shot something smaller such as a hamburger and I run into the one and half foot (18 inches) minimum focusing distance. What I am hoping for this lens is that with the VR, I can shoot at a lower shutter speed than what I require with the 60mm macro. The 105mm focal length should also help enhance the bokeh of my random meals.
Found at Baby Blues BBQ in Venice, CA.
(Nikon D700, 105mm, f5.6, 1/125, iso 4000)
Thursday, December 9, 2010
Our random meal of the day brings us some Crab Fried Rice. I always find it a bonus when you get the claws of the crab on your fried rice. For some reason, it just makes me feel that the crab is actually fresh.
Found at Bamboo Thai Bistro in Redondo Beach, CA.
(Sony A55, 30mm, f5.6, 1/50, iso 250)
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Our random meal today brings us an order of Egg Noodle Soup with Wonton Shrimp. The soup comes with "shrimp, wonton, squid, pork, chicken, fish ball and imitation crab." You can have everything in the soup or have it separated.
Found at Thai Lai Restaurant in Hawthorne, CA.
(Sony A55, 30mm, f5.6, 1/50, iso 1000)
Monday, December 6, 2010
Our random meal of the day brings us some wonderful Japanese Fried Chicken. If I had to choose my favorite restaurant, I would have to say that it is FuRaiBo. I think the fried chicken is just magical. I think it is one of those places where you either like it or you don't. The chicken is so deep fried that the skin actually bonds to the chicken meat. The two are magically infused to become one. Some would say that it is too dry for them. In my opinion, this dryness is what makes the chicken spectacular. You get this crispy piece of chicken that you cannot get somewhere else. The sweet, savory, and spicy all blends together to give the chicken a distinctive taste. You do not need any additional sauce. The chicken just stands on its own. When you get it extra spicy, you get more seasoning and not the hot spicy in the typical sense. Extra spicy translates to extra flavors and not burn your taste buds until you taste nothing...
This is also the fifth time I have featured FuRaiBo. Funny thing is I am always on the hunt for another random spot to eat but when FuRaiBo is close, I can't seem to resist. Well this time it was more than just a random meal but a camera test at the same time. At this point the food talk is done so feel free to tune out until the next random meal. I am a self confessed camera nut with a bit of a shopaholic tendency. I can't seem to resist buying a camera every few months. My square day job pays for my hobby. I saw a funny quote the dpreview forums and it was something like this: "Money does not bring happiness until it is turned into Photography gear." I was about to go mad during the Black Friday weekend and buy yet another camera but I resisted. The reason, I saw in front of me four SLR, one micro 4/3, and two point and shoots. Normally I don't have all my cameras with me but our office closed for a week for the Thanksgiving holiday and I brought everything home. Normally I would leave a couple of cameras a work for the lunchtime blog photo ops. I randomly take the train to work so lugging an SLR camera around is just not ideal on certain days.
Well, back to the camera test. On previous random meals at the Gardena FuRaiBo location, I hit the limits of my Nikon D700 while shooting with my 50mm 1.4D lens. My favorite view is at 50mm. At 50mm the rule of thumb when shooting with a film or full frame digital camera handheld is 1/x where x=the focal length of the lens. So in this case 1/50 should be your minimum shutter speed to avoid a blurry shot. For me I am a bit shaky or so I normally bump up the shutter speed 2/3rds of a stop to 1/80. Since most of the time I am quickly shooting my random meal so I can eat it. The little bit of shutter speed helps avoid the blurry shots. With the 50mm lens, I normally shoot two shots at starting at 2.8 and forward two more full stops until 5.6. Each random meal with get at least six shots. My D700 noise levels are acceptable in my opinion up the 6400 iso. You may be able to push another stop if you shoot in RAW but I am a JPEG shooter. I prefer to get the shot right the first time rather then fix during post as my goal is to become a better photographer. The last photo opp was then 50mm @f2.8, 1/80, iso 6400 with the Nikon D700. This is the max that I would push with this setup. With the older Nikon 50mm 1.4D lens, it gets soft with any aperture larger than 2.8 so I really try to avoid it. From what I read, the 50mm 1.4G should be good at f2.0 so maybe one day I will upgrade. So based on where I was sitting in the restaurant the last time, the ambient lighting in the restaurant pushed my equipment to the max.
Now for this visit I actually sat in the same seat. We have for this time, the Sony A55 with the 30mm 2.8 macro for this photo opp. Since the Sony has a "Translucent Mirror" it becomes a very interesting food blogger camera. The first thing is that I use it like a point a shot. Forget looking though the EVF, I use the gigantic 3 inch LCD screen on the back of the camera to compose and shoot. Because of the new translucent mirror technology, focusing is incredibly fast in live view. There is no comprise when using the live view for shot to shot as long as you turn off image preview. This also allows you some very nice angles that would make you look like a knucklehead it you had to look though the viewfinder at a restaurant. For this camera since it is a DX cropped body, the lens crop factor is 1.5x. So the 30mm becomes effectively a 45mm. If we go back with the previous rule of 1/x then your minimum shutter speed should be 1/45 or 1/50 rounded up. This is where the Sony can shine over all my other DSLRs; inbody image stabilization. For me this means I can effectually gain one stop. This equates to a non blurry shot at 1/25. In my opinion, I can push this camera up to iso 3200 for acceptable noise levels. With the extra stop image stabilization advantage, then at the same light level I can take the same shot with both cameras! Not bad for a $750 camera (body only). The $200 30mm 2.8 macro lens is nice and light and makes a great setup for the food blogger in everyone.
Granted my favorite camera is still the Nikon D700 but the Sony A55 at a fraction of the cost is a nice alternative.
(Sony A55, 30mm, f4.0, 1/40, iso 3200, +0.70ev)
Sunday, December 5, 2010
Our random meal of the day treat brings us Strawberry Sweet Crepes. These crepes have Nutella drizzled on them. The powder sugar didn't quite make the trip home but the side of whipped cream made up for it.
Found at Crepe Studio in Pasadena, CA.
(Nikon D700, 60mm, f5.6, 1/80, iso 2800)
(Nikon D700, 60mm, f5.6, 1/80, iso 2800)
Saturday, December 4, 2010
Our random meal of the day brings us a Fried Crawfish Entree. This is my friend's random meal. I was debating between this and the fried shrimp. This post concludes our week long RMOTD Photographer editions of Random Meal of the Day.
Found at Ragin Cajun Cafe in Hermosa Beach, CA.
(Nikon D700, 35mm, f4.0, 1/80, iso 560)
Friday, December 3, 2010
We have the Chicken Fideo for our RMOTD Photographer random meal. My friend had this dish and he described as soupy noodles. I believe this is the Friday special.
Found at Cafe Rio in Manhattan Beach, CA.
(Olympus E-PL1, 20mm, f4.0, 1/60, iso 640, +0.30ev)
Thursday, December 2, 2010
We continue today with another edition of RMOTD Photographer. The idea behind RMOTD Photographer is to highlight some of the meals that my friends have with me but that I never did get a chance to try. It doubles to photo ops for the random meal. We have here the Salado de Pollo lunch. I always wanted to try this but the beef versions seems to call my name.
Found at Ell Pollo Inka in Lawndale, CA.
(Nikon D700, 50mm, f4.0, 1/80, iso 4000)
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
This RMOTD Photographer Greek Salad was not my random meal. My coworker that it was a good meatless salad.
Found at Chicken Maison in Redondo Beach, CA.
(Olympus E-PL1, 20mm, f2.8, 1/80, iso 200)
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Our RMOTD Photographer random meal brings us Seared Ahi. My friend really got excited when he saw the seared ahi tuna on the menu.
Found at Back Home in Lahaina in Manhattan Beach, CA.
(Nikon D700, 50mm, f4.0, 1/80, iso 3200)
Monday, November 29, 2010
Today we have another edition of RMOTD Photographer. Our random meal brings us a Cornmeal battered Catfish. According to my friend it was a delicious random meal for him. He said that cornmeal is the proper way to batter and fry a catfish.
Found at El Segundo Fish Company in El Segundo, CA.
(Sony A55, 30mm, f4.0, 1/50, iso 500)
Sunday, November 28, 2010
Our random meal treat brings us a Tiramisu Premium Spanish Fritter. This is a wonderfully delicious treat that is just spectacular. You get the awesome cover crust with a special filling inside. It feels like a double random treat.
Found at XOORO in Glendale, CA.
(Nikon D700, 60mm, f11.0, 1", iso 200, +0.67ev)
This is the wonderful filling.
Saturday, November 27, 2010
Our random meal brings us Beef Steak French Style. I really enjoy the pepper infusion into the chunks of steak. This is one of the classic dishes that I enjoy when we go out to each Chinese food.
Found at Golden City Seafood in Los Angeles, CA.
(Olympus E-PL1, 20mm, f2.8, 1/50, iso 1600)
Friday, November 26, 2010
Happy Black Friday. Today's early edition of random meal of the day brings us the Kogi Pacman Burger. This burger is a Kogi special and is consider "the EVERYTHING BURGER MASH-UP". It has "Both salsas! ALL three meats! Sesame mayo! Salad! Chicharrones! Jack and cheddar cheeses!" It is perfect for the holiday shopping madness. Oh what to buy? Do I see a Nikon 105mm Macro in my future???
Found at Kogi in Los Angeles, CA.
(Nikon D700, 60mm, f5.6, 1/80, iso 2800, +0.33ev)
Thursday, November 25, 2010
Happy Thanksgiving from Random Meal of the Day. For our prelude to our Turkey Day dinner, we have a half Cornish hen with tomato rice for lunch. Funny thing when I was younger and in Junior High, this was my idea of a fancy restaurant. Looking back now, it is still as delicious as it was back then. I think the tomato flavored rice really enhances the meal.
Found at Victory French Restaurant in Monterey Park, CA.
(Nikon D700, 60mm, f3.0, 1/80, iso 280)
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Our random meal brings us a Tendercrispy Chicken Sandwich. You can save massive amounts of calories by holding the mayo. We are talking about 210 calories worth of savings here. I forgot to ask to hold the mayo...
Found at Burger King in Pasadena, CA.
(Nikon D700, 60mm, f5.6, 1/80, iso 900, +0.67ev)
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Our random meal of the day brings us an order of the Pepper Garlic Chicken Lunch Special. The pepper garlic chicken is just fabulous. The lunch special brings us some noodles that you can mix together with the garlic sauce for the extra kick. A large order of fried rice is ready to soak up the leftover garlic sauce. This is an awesome lunch special.
Found at Thai Taste Restaurant in Los Angeles, CA.
(Nikon D700, 50mm, f4.0, 1/125, iso 200)
Monday, November 22, 2010
Today's random meal is Pho Tai as a takeout. The normally mild weather in Sunny Southern California has not been so sunny as of late. So, when it is colder I want to eat something soupy and warm. Being as it is cold, I don't really feel like making the meal an extended adventure so takeout is the perfect solution. It also gives me an opportunity to somewhat style my plate or a bowl in this instance.
Found at Pho 87 in Los Angeles, CA.
(Sony A55, 30mm, f5.6, 1/50, iso 1000, +0.30ev)
Sunday, November 21, 2010
Our random meal treat brings us some sponge cake. This is from a centralized bakery that distributes to many small shops. It is a light and fluffy treat.
Found randomly around Los Angeles, CA.
(Nikon D700, 60mm, f8.0, 1/80, iso 500)
Saturday, November 20, 2010
Today we have 10 pieces of some freshly prepared Mild Wings for our random meal. Yes the wings were mild. Normally I would choose to get the wings hot but I wanted to be random and wanted to see if there was a real difference if you choose mild instead of hot. I still prefer the wings hot. If you have to wait 20 minutes for your wings, it is a good thing because the wings are freshly cooked to order and not pre-fried. It gives the wings the extra magical kick.
Found at Wingstop in Monrovia, CA.
(Nikon D700, 60mm, f5.6, 1/60, iso 6400)
We also have the wonderful fries.
Friday, November 19, 2010
Today we have another round at Five Guys. We also bring along 2 rookies to the fray. My coworker, Mr More Leaf and Less Beef was bugging to go to Five Guys. Huh, strange how sometimes how you just want to try a good burger. Mr More Leaf and Less Beef is one stamp away from a free salad at Salad Creations. So off we go on our adventure.
Funny thing is the workers just look at you and know that you are a rookie at Five Guys. There must be a sign painted on you because they ask the magical question of "One Patty or Two". Mr More Leaf and Less Beef made the rookie mistake and ended ordering the "Little" Burger. I had to point that mistake out to him. He was in shock and awe of the mistake. He actually tried to correct it but it was they hinted that "he wouldn't able to handle it". Well, actually they didn't but they did explain to him that the single patty choice makes the burger little and the double patty makes it a normal burger. Everyone one else at the table got the regular size. Yes, it really does seem like the staff has magical powers of deduction.
We have for today the Bacon Burger for our random meal. This is two large succulent beef patties with bacon and grilled onions. The lettuce and tomatoes were promptly discarded after the photo op. I think next time I will stick with the "Little" burger as it is sized just right for me. This was a hearty random meal. The final question of the day is did we get 2 new converts to Five Guys? It is a very definitive YES!
Found at Carson, CA.
(Sony A55, 30mm, f5.6, 1/50, iso 250)
Thursday, November 18, 2010
We have Carne Asada and a Cheese Enchilada with side of rice and beans for our random meal today. With a restaurant name translating into "Beans," what is there not to like unless you are not a fan of beans.
Found at Frijoles Mexican Restaurant in Inglewood, CA.
(Sony A55, 30mm, f4.0, 1/50, iso 250)
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
The Navy, a Cruise ship and Spam. That is the headline of the day. Funny thing about this is that the more the news talks about spam, the more I craved it. So for our random meal of the day we have not one but two pieces of Spam Musbi. This starts with an irresistible piece of spam that is perfectly fried. You then lightly add some soy sauce on top of a sushi rice and use the spam as a crown. You then roll the a seaweed wrap around the whole concoction and a Spam Musubi is born. Yummy!
Found at L&L Hawaiian Barbecue in Pasadena, CA.
(Nikon D700, 60mm, f5.6, 1/80, iso 4000, +0.33ev)
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
One year ago, our office moved from Los Angeles to El Segundo. We overhead the executives in our office raving about Paul Martin's. Since we just moved into the building, we decided to splurge a bit and eat where your have a "Chief" in your title for lunch. One year later I decided to have the exact same meal as I did one year ago. It is amazing how quickly time flies.
So for or not so random, random meal of the day, we have the Marinated Skirt Steak. It was actually named the Bistro Skirt Steak a year ago but this does not change the fact that today it is just as delicious as it was one year ago. The skirt steak comes with a wonderful side of some roasted maple-bourbon sweet potatoes. The sweet potatoes perfectly compliments the meal. The savory steak and the sweetness of the potatoes gives the random meal a one two punch. I am also happy to say that I "think" I weigh the same as I did last year even with all these random meals.
Found at Paul Martin's American Bistro in El Segundo, CA.
(Sony A55, 30mm, f4.0, 1/50, iso 3200, +0.70ev)
Monday, November 15, 2010
Today, Random Meal of the Day brings National Bundt Cake Day coverage. Yes there is a whole holiday for the Bundt Cake. I actually discovered National Bundt Cake Day from a blog I read last year. You should check it out, The Food Librarian has some pretty extensive Bundt Cake coverage. http://foodlibrarian.blogspot.com/ Naturally when you talk about Bundt cake, there’s aways someone that mistakes it for “Butt Cake”, but I digress.
We had a whole celebration planned with a bunch of us off to Nothing Bundt Cakes to eat a bunch of bundt cakes. I know, an entire store dedicated to selling nothing but bundt cakes! But for some weird reason, it only ended up being a small group. Well, their loss and our gain. We decided to split 3 different bundtlet. These are large single size servings of bundt cakes. The winner by a unanimous vote was the Pecan Praline Bundtlet. There were no real losers in this delicious battle.
Found at Nothing Bundt Cakes in Manhattan Beach, CA.
(Sony A55, 30mm, f5.6, 1/50, iso 800)
This is the Red Velvet Bundtlet.
This is the classic, melts in your mouth Lemon Bundtlet.
Our random meal brings us a Chicken Club Sandwich. It is really all about the joy of bacon. This also brings up a culinary question. Have you ever tried to fry bacon in butter?
Found at Johnny Rockets in Manhattan Beach, CA.
(Olympus E-PL1, 20mm, f4.0, 1/80, iso 1600, +0.30ev)
Sunday, November 14, 2010
We have Scooby Snacks for our random meal treat. Yes Scooby Snacks! These are fruit flavored snacks that is similar to a gummy bear but way softer and smoother. These snacks are in the shape of the cartoon characters and are a fun treat. Funny thing about watching Scooby-Doo when I was younger was that I always wanted a to try a Scooby Snack. I really wasn't even sure what a Scooby Snack was but I sure wanted to try it. Well, today I finally was able to enjoy some Scooby Snacks.
Found randomly around Los Angeles vending machines.
(Nikon D700, 60mm, f4.0, 1/80, iso 1100, -0.33ev)
Saturday, November 13, 2010
We have a salad for our random meal of the day. Yes, a salad. We have the Kaanapali Kobb Salad. Yes this is a different variation of the Cobb salad, but it does include bacon so it passes the good taste test. Is it even fair to have bacon in a salad? Doesn't that kind of defeat the purpose of a more leaf less beef meal. One day, I will order an untossed Cobb salad and hold the lettuce. Muhaaa.. Seriously, I am going to do that for a future random meal.
Found at Islands in Northridge, CA.
(Nikon D700, 50mm, f4.0, 1/80, iso 640)
Friday, November 12, 2010
Pizza Pizza. If you carefully think about it, what other random meal do you get freshly baked bread? Maybe this is the reason why I enjoy pizza so much. I've been known on more than one occasion to eat an entire French Baguette in one sitting. We are talking about a football yard here. Ok, I went on a tangent, back to our random meal of the day.
We have here the BBQ Chicken Pizza with Applewood Smoked Bacon. The distinctiveness of this pizza and most of the pizza at California Pizza Kitchen (also known as CPK) is the lack of tomato sauce. This one change actually enhances the taste of the pizza. You get to pinpoint each distinctive flavor of each and every topping. We have the following toppings on today's pizza: "BBQ chicken, applewood smoked bacon, smoked Gouda and Mozzarella cheeses, barbecue sauce, sliced red onions and cilantro." You really can't go wrong with Bacon. Yummy.
Found at California Pizza Kitchen in Manhattan Beach, CA.
(Sony A55, 30mm, f4.0, 1/50, iso 500)
Thursday, November 11, 2010
Our random meal brings us some Hakata Ramen. Each bowl of Hakata Ramen is actually prepared according to the individuals personal taste. I was actually so prepared for this round of Hakata Ramen, but they changed the test on me... When you order here, you actually fill out a sheet stating what you want. The last time I was here, it was a solo adventure. This time, it was a group adventure. With the group, the test sheet is actually different than the easier to fill out solo diner sheet.
The day began by having one of my coworkers asking me if I wanted to eat some Ramen as he just experienced Santouka and wanted to eat there again. It was actually the first time he had ever had ramen. Well, I told him, we could go there OR we could go to another one of the other top 3 ramen joints in Southern California. So off to Hakata we go. I warned him that our merry band of 4 today may have to wait a bit this random meal. So off we go for an adventure.
We arrive at the restaurant parking lot and there was not a single person waiting outside of Hakata! Score, I thought... Then as we approached the door of the restaurant, a group of 4 exited. Yes! A free open large table. But they didn't leave. A quick peek at the sign in sheet shows a party of 4 ahead of us. I quickly scribed down my name and then checked inside. Yup, a full restaurant of people happily eating. Well, just as I stepped out to wait our turn, there's now 17 people waiting. I guess we just made it. I knew it was unusual for Hakata to not have a crowd waiting.
Finally we were seated at a large table big enough for about eight people. It was the traditional Japanese style low table with a cushion for the seat. Ahh, crossed leg style, muhaaa... This is going to be a bit of a different adventure for our merry band of 4. Well, we face the single group test sheet and I gave by best suggestions. The only thing I knew for sure this time around was to get the noodles hard. It was the stress of the test, I forgot what else I had originally planed. Good thing that you can't actually failed this particular test as no matter what you choose, it will be good.
As we patiently wait for our meal, POW! I got nailed with a foot. I knew it, one of our merry band of 4 has a leg cramp and was no longer sitting crossed legged. Then I noticed another member of our merry band of 4 had just almost fell over trying to readjust his position. I knew this was going to be an interesting random meal. Well, our food arrived and magically, all the unrest stopped and everyone forgot about their sitting position. Well, we all enjoyed the meal, and hilarity ensued when our merry band of 4 tried to leave the table. It was so much easier for them to sit down, then it was to get up. I just laughed and we did all concur that this was a delicious random meal. Till the next adventure...
Found at Hakata Ramen in Gardena, CA.
(Nikon D700, 70mm, f4.0, 1/80, iso 1000)
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Pho is one of my comfort foods. It is funny how your childhood really defines who you are as an adult and the types of comfort foods that you cherish. Granted, as we grow older and hopefully wiser, we do tend to branch out a some point and try different types of food. This fact does not change the fond memories of what we ate as a kid. Sometimes the memories are all we have left. I think this is one of the reasons why I started to photography my meals. It is my effort to capture and save the random point in time.
Today our random meal brings us Pho Tai with Beef Balls. The beef balls is actually an add on to the meal. We have on the menu either Pho Tai (sliced beef) or Pho Beef Balls. There is not actually a combo containing both types of meat. I always tend to scan the menu to see if they actually have this particular combo but alas it seems to only be my random combo.
Found at Pho Super Bowl in Alhambra, CA.
(Nikon D700, 50mm, f5.6, 1/80, iso 2000)
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
Our random meal of the day is the Baconator! This is actually only the Baconator Single. I didn't even realize that they made this in a single form. The original form of the Baconator actually has 6 slices of bacon! Yes that's right 6 slices. The original Baconator is now called the Baconator Double. It weights it at about 1000 calories. My actual burger weights in at 560 calories without the mayo and ketchup. The only real downsize it that I only received 3 slices of bacon...
Found at Wendys in Lawndale, CA.
(Sony A55, 30mm, f8.0, 1/50, iso 1000)
Monday, November 8, 2010
Our random meal brings us Beef Rice Noodle Rolls. Dim Sum is very much a communal meal. It is a meal that family and friends can come together for. The larger the group the better actually as you will be able to sample more items. Each plate that comes out is meant to be shared with the group. Each person should take a piece as most items comes individualized in a common plate. You normally get about 3 to 4 pieces in each plate. The Beef Rice Noodle Rolls is actually semi pre-cut but takes a bit more of an effort to share. Since it is actually a larger serving than most dishes, it can actually server more than 4 people. This dish is a staple every time we have dim sum. Sometimes we twist it up and have it with shrimp instead of beef. Sometimes we actually have both versions depending on how large of a group.
Found at Empress Harbor Restaurant in Monterey Park, CA.
(Nikon D700, 60mm, f4.0, 1/80, iso 1000)
Sunday, November 7, 2010
This single Eclair that is filled with custard has to be the most expensive random meal yet because of a single sign that was posted prior to arriving to the supermarket parking lot. The Eclair actually only costs $2.49. Let's just say I got ticketed for a moving violation while currently driving at zero miles an hour... Yes, that is quite random. It is kind of ironic as I drive like a snail. But that should not defer away from the delicious Eclair.
Found at Vons in South Pasadena, CA.
(Sony A55, 30mm, f4.0, 1/40, iso 1600, +0.30ev)
Saturday, November 6, 2010
It is the start of the weekend and a great kickoff to start the weekend right is an order of Bananas Foster French Toast. I am always on the hunt for good french toast. This french toast is massively tall and measuring in at about an inch thick. We then have Bourbon syrup mingling with freshly sliced bananas. A dollop of freshly prepared whipped cream completes the random meal.
Found at Elements Cafe in Pasadena, CA.
(Nikon D700, 50mm, f5.6, 1/80, iso 2500)
Friday, November 5, 2010
Sometime your master plan of eating an item just doesn't pan out. I yelled out "Pork Chops N Rice & Gravy." I got an excited "OK!" from one coworker and another coworker, just couldn't stop laughing. Hey at least I waited until just about lunchtime to start talking about food. As you can see from the picture above, that is not a pork chop. A few minutes after I ordered my random meal, the waitress came back to apologized and told me the truck left with all the chops... I didn't quite understand what that meant at the time but on to plan B. After a bit of research, it looks like Ragin Cajun Cafe actually had a food truck featured on the Food Network's “The Great Food Truck Race”. I actually have the whole series tivoed but I'm still working my way though many hours of "The Best Thing I Ever Ate". Ahh, all the wonderful research that I must do for Random Meal of the Day.
This is actually my second time here so I wanted to try something different. So for our plan B we have the Fried Shrimp Entree. The first bite into a giant succulent fried shrimp erased away any disappointment of not having the pork chops. The crispy yet tender shrimp was spectacular. The Jalapeno Hush Puppies gave the happy random meal the extra unexpected wake up kick and had me smiling.
Found at Ragin Cajun Cafe in Hermosa Beach, CA.
(Nikon D700, 35mm, f8.0, 1/80, iso 720)
Thursday, November 4, 2010
We have a Philly Cheez Whiz Steak Sandwich for our random meal today. The first time I ever had a Philly Cheez Whiz Steak sandwich was actually in Philadelphia. The debate of the day was between Pat's and Geno's. Which landmark restaurant will I go to? We actually decided to split the group up and get one Philly Cheese Steak at Pat's and one at Geno's. Well, it didn't really pan out that way because we saw on the menu, Cheez Whiz. I remember seeing that before on the food network about Cheez Whiz instead of Provolone cheese. So it would be really hard to compare the 2 sandwiches if the cheeses are different. So we stuck with Pat's.
Fast forward to today and this is my second ever Philly Cheez Whiz Steak. The change of the cheese dramatically changes the taste of the sandwich. The sandwich tastes sharper and a bit saltier. I think I'll leave the Cheez Whiz to the east coasters. I prefer the more traditional Provolone cheese. This is still a good sandwich and a good random twist.
Found at Big Mike's Philly Steaks & Sub in El Segundo, CA.
(Sony A55, 30mm, f5.6, 1/50, iso 250)
We also have an excellent order of onion rings.
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
Ahh the Two Original Chili Dogs is our random meal of the day. The chili on these hot dogs seems to just complement each other perfectly. It is a very smooth tasting random meal. I still remember the first time that I have ever ate a Chili Dog. It was way back in Jr High. I was walking home and one of my friends was munching down on some chili cheese fries and a chili dog. Since I never had one, I ordered one and tried it. I was hooked from that moment on. It is really funny how your childhood defines what comfort foods that you enjoy as an adult. Shoot before I started Random Meal of the Day, I would eat the same thing week in and week out. Now it is all about the adventure of the random meal. So strange for me considering that I am a square....
Found at Wienerschnitzel in Hawthorne, CA.
(Sony A55, 30mm, f5.6, 1/200, iso 100)
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
OMG the Legendary McRib has arrived at McDonald's all over the country. I believe this is the first time in years that all McDonald's have the McRib at the same time. The anticipation and the excitement of having a Day 1 McRib! I believe that it is the adventure that makes the food fun. The McRib was discontinued ages ago from McDonald and this very event started a cult following. McDonald's would randomly bring back the McRib for a very short amount of time and the cult will flock to eat this limited edition random treat. There is even a McRib locator. A website dedicated to random McRib sightings. My coworker laughed when I was browsing the site yesterday hoping to get a Day 0 McRib.
Well today's bonus random meal is the McRib. It is a warm and sunny Southern California day. It is a windless 82 degrees in El Segundo. The closest McDonald's is a tad shy of one mile in a whole other city. My excitement of the McRib could not be contained but my coworkers did not see the Legendary McRib in the same light. The anticipation of this random meal was slowly building. The thought of just driving to McDonald's was just anticlimactic so, off I go on a one mile trek crossing the border of El Segundo into the city of Hawthorne. I left the office and stared down at the bright glaring sun. It is just me and my "Man Bag" as the one mile walk began. The "Man Bag" is a sacrifice that I adorn to protect the camera that will be taking the magical picture of the McRib. My iPhone 3GS predicts that my walk with take 17 minutes in the glaring sun. 15 minutes into the trek I see from a distance, a McRib ad on the window of the McDonald's. Yes, it has in fact arrived.
Precisely 17 minutes have passed as I cross the entryway into McDonald's. I guess today I am not the only one on the hunt for a McRib. This is the most crowded that I have ever seen this McDonald's. I happily place my order for the McRib combo and kindly declined the up sell of cookies. The minutes tick away as one person after another receive their meal. Tick tock tick tock, where's my meal? Panic starts to strike at the 5 minute mark when not a single McRib has been seen. "Number 203." My Legendary McRib has finally arrived. I battled the hoards of people and find an empty seat. I set the Legendary McRib atop its mantle and proceed with the photo. I finally take my first bite and smile as my quest for the McRib has been satisfied. Then I stare at the long walk back and daydream about next year when the adventure begins again...
Found at McDonald's in Hawthorne, CA.
(Sony SLT-A55, 30mm, f8.0, 1/50, iso 1000)
Today our random meal brings us my second favorite Spicy Chicken Sandwich. For years this was the winner but has been recently dethrone by the Chick-Fil-A version. It is still a good classic meal.
Found at Wendy's in Lawndale, CA.
(Sony SLT-A55, 30mm, f5.6, 1/50, iso 160)