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Entries in take-out (3)


The “New” El Toro Tambien?

Posing as a take-out joint, Antonio’s Mex Express on Willow and Herndon tastes suspiciously like the old El Toro on West and Bullard. I’ve eaten here a few times now and only take out. The wet chili Colorado burrito is made in exactly the same style as the now dead El Toro Tambien on West and Bullard, may it forever rest in peace. I’ve had the chile Colorado 3 times now just to see if it was a fluke. It’s not. Whatever the cooks are doing at this particular Antonio’s, it sure isn’t being replicated at the other Antonio’s.


Simply for nostalgic reasons, I hope Antonio’s continues to taste like El Toro.

Antonio's Mexican Express on Urbanspoon


Happy Thanksgiving

The Cured Ham wishes everyone a Happy Thanksgiving and I'll resume posting next week.

In the meantime, I drank this Fentiman's Cola on a recent road trip. Strange, welcome, different, satisfying, and I'm not quite sure how to descibe it. It's also expensive at $2.25 a bottle. Anyway, give Fentiman's a try.


House of Kebab, Fresno

On yet another recommendation for Armenian food, House of Kebab came up again and again. 

When it comes to Armenian food, it’s all about the Pilaf. The pilaf at House of Kebab was just ok.  My father might actually make better pilaf and he’s 100% German.


From the picture it’s obvious we ordered take-out. Yes, it’s true, we ordered take-out, but we waited for the order in the restaurant. We’re talking a 10 minute max ride back to the house plus a couple minutes of prep time. So while not fresh from the kitchen, one would have waited in the restaurant at least a couple minutes to eat. The pilaf clumped up and was overcooked by the time we served it at home. In the humid environment of the Styrofoam tray, clumping shouldn’t happen unless the rice was overcooked to begin with. When compared to Diana’s Persian basic jasmine rice (sort of apples to pineapples comparison) Diane’s makes better rice. When compared to Manchester Steak House (a truer comparison), there was no comparison. Manchester Steak was far and away better, even with the take-out quality discount. Manchester Steak House pilaf would have withstood two-days in Tupperware without sticking when reheated. In summary, I’m disappointed with House of Kebab pilaf.


We ordered several other items off the menu that evening. The cabbage rolls were tasty, with a well seasoned tomato sauce and a good filling. The sarma were also good in the combo, but not off the charts good, I think the tomato sauce made things better for both cabbage and sarma. The kufta was not good at all. It almost looked commercial, perfectly cylindrical and golden. It smelled of the deep fat fryer and the ground meat was dry in the middle. Very disappointing. The garlic sauce that accompanied everything was really tasty along with the heaping bag of fried pita they gave us.


Those fried pita dipped in garlic sauce were the star of the night frankly and they went well with the Sherman IPA from Tioga-Sequoia Brewery. I don’t think fried pita, garlic dip, and IPA classifies as a real meal at my age though. The hummus was good, but we didn't ask for Mexican Salsa on it, we asked for olive oil.

The lulu kebab was a bit dry and under-seasoned. And here’s how I’d compare things, Diana’s koobideh 2 days old was more moist and flavorful that House of Kebab. When I do order take-out food, I always manage expectations downward for freshness obviously. However, if Diana’s rice, chicken, and koobideh were actually good two days later (for breakfast), I can’t excuse dry lamb bits or clumpy rice 20 minutes later from House of Kebab. Again, even with the lowering of expectations for take-out food and understanding the shortcomings of this comparison, House of Kebab is not up to expectations. 

I’m willing to go back and eat there for lunch, just to make my review apples to apples, but based upon what I ate, I have serious doubts it will change the overall outcome. And less face it, we all eat take-out at some point, Chinese, Pizza, Armenian, whatever. Take-out isn’t kitchen fresh, but it should be generally well-prepared.