Unsolved Mystery: The case of the missing fries at Zinburger

It’s beginning to look a lot like…spring. Christmas is many months away, and I rather it come later than sooner. I’ve had my fill of cold weather and winter already. But thanks for the offer.

This past Saturday’s weather can only be described in one word: delightful. And I had no choice but to take advantage of this opportune forecast. My niece’s birthday is this month, and a week ago she had asked me to take her shopping. In addition to the weather, I was feeling as positive as a proton, so I decided to give her exactly what she wants. But prior to me spoiling her, we had to fuel up. And there’s this one place that I stumbled across a month ago that I’ve been wanting to try: Zinburger in Cherry Hill, New Jersey.

So what makes this place special? Well, that’s the point right? To find out. But what piqued my interest initially is it is a burger bar and I love burgers. So it was only fitting that I gave it a shot.

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For the brief moment that I was inside the restaurant before being seated outside, I’d like to mention how it looks inside, in case you were wondering. There’s a full service bar, and the interior reminds me of a big Shake Shack for the most part.

My niece is 10 years old. Fortunately, Zinburger has a kids menu (or unfortunately in this case, as I would love to have my niece destroy a burger half her size). I showed her the full menu but she gracefully declined.

She went with her natural instinct and got the chicken tenders. I went with the Double Burger (I’m very carnivorous) with a fried egg. I also ordered us a side of truffle fries because truffle is my kryptonite. True story.

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I can’t say if my niece’s dish was good, but she finished it.

As I was devouring my burger and suggested my niece to try the truffle fries, three things hit me. First: my niece hates the truffle fries. Secondly, while eating the fries, I realized my burger didn’t come with a side of fries. And lastly, my waitress never asked me how I wanted my burger cooked. That’s right. The burger did not come with fries and, as of my experience, I never got asked how I wanted my burger cooked. Big gasp! Breathe in, breathe out.

Now don’t quote me, but I believe even Red Robin allows for you to have your burger cooked a certain temperature. This was my first time at Zinburger so I’m not sure if they just don’t allow you to, or my waitress forgot. However, that and the invisible fries stood out to me as odd. And then look at the pickles they provide. Shaking my head.

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Moving on, I did enjoy the burger quite thoroughly. The burger was juicy and tender and greasy. The truffle fries were good as well as the truffle aioli condiment.

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I can’t say I was sent to burger heaven with the offerings I had. I wasn’t disappointed either, but then again maybe the weather and seeing my niece gave me some kind of happiness armor that not even a bad burger could pierce. Whatever the case may be, I didn’t really feel a strong connection with Zinburger the first time around, but I also know a great relationship doesn’t happen overnight so I’m more than willing to give it a second chance. Terrible analogy, ok I’m done.

Pho for you sir? No thank you, I’ll have the vermicelli.

I don’t eat Vietnamese food often. As a matter of fact, I don’t eat out at fine restaurants as often as I used to. But I have not had pho in a long while so a few days ago I had the grand opportunity to end that haitus with a visit to a vietnamese pho restaurant that I’ve never been to: Pho Cali (very original name).

But before heading to dinner that night, I had a change of heart. I no longer wanted to get pho (gasp!) but get vermicelli instead. Why, you may ask? That’s simple, my online reading friend. First, this unusually long winter has finally ended so the weather was no longer cold enough for something hot and soupy. And second, there’s only a select few places that I can trust with pho because I love pho. I don’t want to go to a new restaurant and have one of my favorite foods tarnished forever, thus lowering its culinary value in my short list of favorite foods.

Let’s get to it. We started with an appetizer, spring rolls. This did not look visually appealing to me. It looked pretty boring and super ordinary (can those two words even be used in the same sentence?). However, upon eating one, I was delightfully surprised. I was expecting this to be about a 3/10 highest but I was dead wrong. I’d give it a 3.5/10.

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And here’s the star of the show: deluxe combo vermicelli. I almost always get the deluxe combo that includes the pork, shrimp on sugar cane, and spring roll among other things. I hate having just one type of meat on my vermicelli because it makes me feel like I’m being jipped, so I get the item that has everything in it. Why the hell not.

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I was quite surprised when the waiter placed this thing in front of me. This is far from the worse vermicelli I’ve ever had - that honor would belong to a vietnamese restaurant in Rockville, Maryland. But that’s a whole different story which I won’t elaborate on because it’ll just piss me off and we are not about that life. I was expecting a boring vermicelli provided on a wide plate with zero considerations to presentation but I was wrong again. This bowl was not decorative in any way, however it certainly looked a lot better than what I had in mind, and I did not have something very pretty in mind to say the least.

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So how was the vermicelli? You tell me. Look at the picture and imagine what it tastes like, and that’s exactly what it tastes like. Nothing special, but it did not make me want to gag either so that is always a good thing. I expected a 4/10 vermicelli, and I got a 5/10 vermicelli.

As you may be able to tell, they have exceeded my expectations.

Would I come back if I had a choice? No. Because there is nothing worth going back for. I mean, look at the glass of water they gave me. It wasn’t even filled all the way. They lost major points for that one.

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McDonald’s: The best part of waking up is not Folgers in your cup

If we are all completely honest with ourselves and each other, I know that it is a cold hard fact that every human being and living creature would agree that McDonald’s owns the breakfast game. The only reason why people won’t eat it is because McDonald’s gets a bad rap of being unhealthy and uses suspect ingredients. Who cares. Their breakfast tastes fantastic.

In this episode of McDonald’s (yes there will be more McDonald’s and other fast food), I just so happen to have a wonderful coupon for a buy one get one free breakfast sandwich. I decided to eat in instead of the drive through, and noticed their new steak, egg and cheese sandwich. I checked the coupon and it did not seem to be excluded so it was a go.

Like their sausage, egg and cheese sandwich, it’s available on a biscuit or McMuffin. I chose one of each, and of course I had to add two hash browns because McDonald’s hash browns are fried crack awesomeness.

I’ll get straight to the verdict with these fairly new sandwiches: the steak surely does taste like steak, but that’s about as far as it goes. The texture is not very mouth-friendly, and actually feels gross. I mean, look at the steak patty, it’s perfectly round. Even if it didn’t taste wholly like steak, I think I’d rather have a steak patty that actually looks like steak and feels like it when I’m chewing that shit up, rather than this round creation. Matter of fact, I don’t even think it’s made of beef and I don’t think I want to know. Squirm.

The saving grace of all of this? Everything else. Because we (you, I, and everything else that lives on oxygen) all know that these McDonald’s breakfast sandwiches are on a whole other level of greatness. Think about it. How do you know McDonald’s breakfast is the real deal Holyfield? When so many people purposely wake up in time just to get some. I’m lovin’ it.

When’s the last time you did something for the first time?

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For me, that was this past Saturday.

I was on my way walking towards the car shop when I saw a sign that said “Greek” sticking out one of the store fronts. I didn’t see anything else enticing around, and I’ve never really had Greek food so it was on like Donkey Kong.

Nearly three decades after I’ve emerged from my mama’s womb, I can finally say I had a gyro. And I still have no idea what’s the correct pronunciation for it. But that didn’t matter because I was lucky enough to have a menu and let my finger do the talking by pointing it to the Gyro Platter on the menu.

Unfortunately, due to my great sense of reading (or lack thereof), the waitress said the Gyro Platter was only a weekday lunch item. She even mentioned that it’s written on the menu I was looking at that I didn’t even notice. Blonde moment for sure. So I asked the waitress for her suggestion, and she said, “No one makes a gyro like a Greek,” and called for the Gyro Sandwich and I said, “Yes, I’ll take it.”

After a few moments, I received my box. I was so hungry I wanted to eat it while I was walking towards the car shop, but decided to hold off and eat it in my car. I arrived at my little engine that could, and sat inside, and opened the box. Behold, what I saw was a thing of beauty. This thing was begging to be eaten and digested like it was looking for a new stomach to call home. So I said mi casa su casa, and went to town on this thing. My thoughts? Muy bien!! That’s “very good” for my non-espanol readers. You don’t just learn about food here, I educate you on many facets but anyway.

It also came with legit potato chips. They sure looked like the usual crunchy chips we’re all used to having, but to my surprise these were not fried! I think these potato cuts must have been baked or grilled because they were flappy and mushy. Regardless, they sucked. Not my thing. At least they were not nearly as great as the mighty gyro that I was spending some quality time with.

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This place is called Yanni’s Gyro in Lansdale, PA. It has only been opened for a month as of this writing. I would definitely go back and try something else. I’ve never had Greek food before, and if this gyro was any indication on what my life has been missing out on then it looks like Greek food and my taste buds will be BFFs in no time.

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The Sad Bagel

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I’m usually not very hungry in the mornings. I do, however, have the occasional morning that my stomach is just clamoring for anything and everything. Today was one of those occasions.

There’s a small cafeteria at the office I work at. It’s not even as good as say a high school cafeteria - it’s very basic. The food service is ran by a nice lady and her helper. I had a ferocious stomach growl that would not go away unless I gave it what it wanted - food. So I went into the cafeteria and saw one last wrapped hot item. I didn’t know it was a bagel so I asked what it was and what it contained.

$3.45 later, here it is at my desk.

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I was kinda excited to have a sausage, egg, and cheese bagel. I haven’t had one in a while. However, the excitement did not seem to be mutual.

As I unwrapped the bagel and looked at how wrinkly it was, I knew something wasn’t right. The bagel was soft and somewhat mushy. I wouldn’t say soggy because it really wasn’t. It just didn’t have that strong bagel armor that you’re used to eating. I mean, come on, look at this shit and tell me it isn’t the saddest bagel you’ve ever seen in your life. Can this even be called a bagel anymore?

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But, once I split it in half and saw the melted cheese and two eggs and sausage, I was past the bagel’s lack of perkiness. 

The filling wasn’t hot or warm, but it wasn’t cold either. I got it around 10:15 so the cafeteria was already preparing for lunch service.

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This was not the best sausage, egg, and cheese bagel I’ve ever had. But due to my unforgiving hunger this morning, it tasted pretty delicious.

It definitely is not going into my food Hall of Shame, because it deserves another chance. I’ll give it a second go around at an earlier hour next time to really get it while it’s hot and ready.

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Complaints about bagel characteristics aside, it did its job which was to satisfy the sudden goliath hunger that showed up out of no where, and this sausage, egg, and cheese bagel was its David. Yeah that was a bad joke but who cares.

White on White

Feels good to be back and writing about food and my culinary adventures so let’s get right to it!

Living in Philadelphia is not easy this winter. I was born and raised here and I’ve had my fair share of winters and this season has been less than ideal.

While it’s blisteringly cold out and covered in the white fluffy stuff we have come to known as snow, I’ve had the opportunity to stay in and enjoy some congee.

"What the hell is congee?" you may ask. Well, my friend, I’m here to answer all your curious inquiries. Congee is basically porridge. Rice porridge really. If you’ve made rice before, then it’s essentially what you get when you have way too much water to the amount of rice grains you cook so it becomes pretty soupy.

I know chicken noodle soup works wonder for you according to ABC and the New York Times, but congee is all I got. I haven’t gotten sick yet but it’ll do.

Pics show Congee with pork rib tips. By the way, if you want some, I have plenty left…but without the pork because I’m a carnivore.

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AMIS. Because it’s one of the best places for pasta in the nation.

If you’ve finally come to the realization that it’s finally time to move on from Spaghetti-Os, then you should read this. Let me introduce you and yourself to the great spot that is known as Amis. It’s one of the best places for pasta in the nation, according to a writer from Bon Appetit - so I trust it. Not only that, but it’s from local Philly big name chef Marc Vetri.

I been feinding to come here for a while now. Matter fact, I been wanting to come here since it opened in the beginning of the year. Then I came across that article which became the straw that broke my back (in a good way , and I’m not a camel).

One of the best places in the nation for pasta eh? Let’s elaborate.

DAMN. If Lady Gaga likes bacon, it probably means I do too

There’s nothing else I can say - ehh, ehh.

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