15 Jun 2010 @ 6:28 PM 

Ok the title is a very obscure inside reference to som old game stuff I used to do… Anyway… Zemog’s catered lunch today downstairs. I got an order of their Nachos and I have to say: Yum. So I stood in line and made my order, the gal started prepping it with pride. Something you don’t see much in food service in this town. At that moment, her whole focus was that $6 plate of food. She took great care to make sure that each bite and chip had the right amount of beans cheese and meat. We chit-chatted a bit and came to find out that they make their own beans and Tortillas. She passed off my plate to the next guy who put on the garnishes and I manged to snake one of these home made tortillas. They were pretty darn tasty. Thin, light and had good flavor. So far great experience. So then he motions over to the salsas. “mild” “hot” and “Surface of the Sun”. Hearing the last, I scoffed and got a nice big cup of it. I then took a cup of the regular hot, then headed back up to my desk.

I sat down and started to take apart their sauce… I tasted the “surface of the sun” and had to laugh. It was WARM, but not too hot… (please remember, I have a LOVE for hot food and only Taste of Thailand can make things that are too hot for me) I then tasted the regular hot sauce… Tasted about the same. They were ok, but they had the kiss of death when it comes to salsa… they used canned tomatoes. They needed something else too… I can’t put my finger on what, but the salsa was bland. There weren’t enough layers to it. The funny thing is, I just made my salsa last night. Fresh tomatoes, cilantro, onions, fresh serrano peppers, garlic and salt. Finding the perfect blend is important…. I’m not going to go into my ratios and prep… that will give away my Texas State Fair winning secrets. Yes kiddies, my recipe (that I snagged from a restaurant I used to work at) won the Texas State Fair salsa competition 3 years in a row if I have my facts right… Well… that’s at least what I was told by the head chef and the manager. 😉 He could have made it up.

I will be going back to Zemogs when they come back.

Pros: The enthusiasm of the staff and the food quality
Cons: Canned tomatoes

Overall: I liked it. I loves small locally owned businesses. They are doing their best to make a name and I will recommend them until they tick me off. 😉 As I said… I will be going back.

Posted By: The Omaha Critic
Last Edit: 15 Jun 2010 @ 06:28 PM

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 08 Jun 2010 @ 10:02 PM 

I have been noticing some strange issues with the web site as well as some old out-dated information.  Over the next few weeks I am going to try and clean some of that up.

In the meantime, I would like to invite everyone to make suggestions for improving the site or adding content.  I have a co-worker whose son is looking for a job.  They are a chef working part time and looking for full time work.  After having that conversation, I was kicking around some sort of chef recommendation service.  Let me know if you have any thoughts on if I should add this.

I have another idea bouncing around in my head..

Is anyone interested in a version of “Chopped” for Omaha chefs?

Thanks!

~The Omaha Critic

Posted By: The Omaha Critic
Last Edit: 08 Jun 2010 @ 10:08 PM

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 04 May 2010 @ 7:47 PM 
There are some treasures you stumble across by complete accident.  Today, such a thing happened.
A coworker and I went to lunch and we were headed to Jason’s Deli.  When we pulled up, the line was out the door.  We couldn’t find a parking spot within reasonable walking distance and we both became agitated.  So we drove away and I figured we should try someplace new.  We exited out on to “I” street and I said, “Ever have Korean?”  The answer was no, so I drove up “I” street to 108th and cut across.  I was feeling rather Han Kuk Kwan-ish and so I figured some nice Bulgogi would be in order.    We pulled up in front of what used to be the right place and there was a new sign: “Maru”.  It was now serving Sushi and Korean food.  We walked in and the homey mom and pop restaurant was replaced with a spiffy modern look.  No more karaoke room, no more big screen TV… it was all gone.  What was in its place was a totally remodeled, sleek new dining area and an extended menu.  I ordered my Bulgogi  and two rolls:  Mikki and Salmon Skin.  It was a little strange though because my co-worker and I were the only two in the place for a while.  Our waitress seemed a bit new at it, but she was nice and took pretty good care of us.
The food came out and I was a bit sad, I had ordered off the lunch menu which has a different Bulgogi recipe than the dinner menu, but it was still good.  Then my sushi came out.  It looked real good.  The presentation wasn’t as artistic as I like, but they were big rolls.  Fat with filling and thin with rice.  The rice was good and I am happy to say that the fish was fresh.  As we dined others came in, having the same reaction that we had.  Nobody really knows that it’s there.  So I am taking it on myself to say something nice about them.  Am I putting this place on par with Hiro?  I don’t know.  Is it better than Blue?  I think so.  Better than Sushi-Japan?  YEAH!  (Duh!)
I hope the owner takes my advice and does a promotion with Club Roxbury, which is just up the street.  I think it could bring them new business.  I believe that after a bit of refining, that Maru could be something special.  The southwest side of Omaha needs something good.  We’re lacking awesome, Omaha owned and operated food.
The Good: Great sushi, Fresh fish, Great remodel, Nice staff, great location
The Bad: MORE GINGER!!! MORE WASABI!!!  Ginger is like candy… more more more…  😉  There wasn’t much on the plate when it came out.  Made me feel like you were skimping.
The overall impression:  Good job.  Nice place, prices are on the same level as Hiro and Blue.  I am looking forward to exploring their menu more.  I think that it is going to be a place I start dragging people to.  Will it be “Hiro” to me?  Dunno… doubt it… but it’s damn good for what it is.  I will be back.  (Someone Build them a website!)
~The Omaha Critic. (Well Fed)

There are some treasures you stumble across by complete accident.  Today, such a thing happened.

A coworker and I went to lunch and we were headed to Jason’s Deli.  When we pulled up, the line was out the door.  We couldn’t find a parking spot within reasonable walking distance and we both became agitated.  So we drove away and I figured we should try someplace new.  We exited out on to “I” street and I said, “Ever have Korean?”  The answer was no, so I drove up “I” street to 108th and cut across.  I was feeling rather Han Kuk Kwan-ish and so I figured some nice Bulgogi would be in order.    We pulled up in front of what used to be the right place and there was a new sign: “Maru”.  It was now serving Sushi and Korean food.  We walked in and the homey mom and pop restaurant was replaced with a spiffy modern look.  No more karaoke room, no more big screen TV… it was all gone.  What was in its place was a totally remodeled, sleek new dining area and an extended menu.  I ordered my Bulgogi  and two rolls:  Mikki and Salmon Skin.  It was a little strange though because my co-worker and I were the only two in the place for a while.  Our waitress seemed a bit new at it, but she was nice and took pretty good care of us.

The food came out and I was a bit sad, I had ordered off the lunch menu which has a different Bulgogi recipe than the dinner menu, but it was still good.  Then my sushi came out.  It looked real good.  The presentation wasn’t as artistic as I like, but they were big rolls.  Fat with filling and thin with rice.  The rice was good and I am happy to say that the fish was fresh.  As we dined others came in, having the same reaction that we had.  Nobody really knows that it’s there.  So I am taking it on myself to say something nice about them.  Am I putting this place on par with Hiro?  I don’t know.  Is it better than Blue?  I think so.  Better than Sushi-Japan?  YEAH!  (Duh!)

I hope the owner takes my advice and does a promotion with Club Roxbury, which is just up the street.  I think it could bring them new business.  I believe that after a bit of refining, that Maru could be something special.  The southwest side of Omaha needs something good.  We’re lacking awesome, Omaha owned and operated food.

The Good: Great sushi, Fresh fish, Great remodel, Nice staff, great location

The Bad: MORE GINGER!!! MORE WASABI!!!  Ginger is like candy… more more more…  😉  There wasn’t much on the plate when it came out.  Made me feel like you were skimping.

The overall impression:  Good job.  Nice place, prices are on the same level as Hiro and Blue.  I am looking forward to exploring their menu more.  I think that it is going to be a place I start dragging people to.  Will it be “Hiro” to me?  Dunno… doubt it… but it’s damn good for what it is.  I will be back.  (Someone Build them a website!)

~The Omaha Critic. (Well Fed)

Posted By: The Omaha Critic
Last Edit: 04 May 2010 @ 07:49 PM

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 09 Apr 2010 @ 8:55 PM 

As last time, I stared blankly at the numbers in disbelief.  I checked and rechecked these numbers, but I stand by the tasters… The majority of them have been with us the whole way!

That being said, I am just going to post the numbers raw….

Sortino Yuk Val Yuk

3

1

2

3

4

4

2

2

3

1

2

2

4

1

2

1

2

1

3

1

2

4

4

5

4

3

2

3

3

2.142857

4

2.428571

4

3

4

3

4

3

4

4

3

3

3

3

2

3

3

3

4

4

3

3

4

3

4

3

2

3

2

3

2

3

2

4

2

4

2

2

2

3

3

4

-2.14286

-2.42857

2.82266

2.847291

So the final score is Johnny Sortino’s 2.82266 and Valentino’s 2.84729…. Valentino’s squeeks past Sortino’s to the next round.

Now for my take on it… Sortino’s, I thought was hands down the better quality Pizza.  The Crust of Valentino’s makes me.. Well… It’s like eating a squishy wet sponge.   I had a friend of mine say that Val’s is just Nebraska Tradition and that people associate it with Husker Games…

Come on… The Pizza I had today was just not that good… and somehow… Somehow… it scored higher this time than it did last time.  But… I still stand my tasters… It’s about what THEY prefer, not what I prefer… I thought the Sortino’s crust was much better.  I thought that the cheese was better and the pepperoni had more of a bite like it should.    The sauce was better, everything, IMHO was just better and fresher…

Sorry Johnny Sortino’s… I have loved you and will continue to love you… but you’re now eliminated….

~The Omaha Critic (confused)

Posted By: The Omaha Critic
Last Edit: 09 Apr 2010 @ 08:55 PM

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 08 Apr 2010 @ 10:07 PM 

So here’s the thing.  The Critic and I eat out a lot.  We have a large brood, so therefore, the places we tend to frequent are those that are family-friendly.  We place a very high level of importance on “FAMILY FRIENDLY”.  (Which is not to say we don’t love to sneak away to decidedly grown-up establishments like Le Voltaire every chance we get, but THAT is another post!)

One of the restaurants we have frequented for many, many years is King Kong fast food.  I am not going to link to that restaurant, because as of this moment, I will not give that restaurant another PENNY of our hard-earned money.  While the establishment prides themselves on gigantic burgers and gyros, their claim to be a “Family oriented” restaurant (it says so right on their website!) could not have been further from the truth based on our experience today.

SO I’m not going to talk about their food, or their cute little gorillas outside, or their stuffed animals inside.  Instead I am going to relay to you exactly what happened to us this afternoon, at approximately 4:15 pm, when a friend and I decided to take our daughters to King Kong for burgers and gyros after a day at the zoo.  (If you’re local – you’ll know exactly which King Kong we were at, since it’s RIGHT THERE by the zoo.) 

We ordered our food, and sat down.  My friend and I, both women in our thirties, were there with four of our daughters, who ranged in age from 16 to 1.  Apparently it was “teach each other Spanish cuss words day” behind the counter, as the staff behind the counter kept shouting things such as “puta madre!”, and other curse phrases.  My friend and I kept trying to give them the motherly glare, and my friend even at one point yelled “Shut up!  We can hear you!”

Well, this was not enough to get the potty-mouths behind the counter to stop, and my 16-year-old, who had heard enough, stood up and went to the counter.  She told the guys we could hear them, and that we DO understand what they are saying.  The guy behind the counter said “SO?”  She explained to him that there are CHILDREN present, and they UNDERSTAND what those words mean.  The guy behind the counter (apparently the manager?) says “Ok”, and as my SIXTEEN YEAR OLD DAUGHTER turned away, he called her a bitch. 

SO.

I don’t know about you, but I do not find that terribly family oriented. 

And we WILL NOT spend another penny there.  EVER. 

If you want gyros?  My first pick is Jim & Jennie’s Greek Village.  Greek Islands (who doesn’t have a website), or Feta’s are good too. 

Burgers?  Dude, there’s a million places, but I’m LOVING Smashburger lately.

Just do me a favor…don’t take your kids to King Kong unless you want them to walk away knowing how to say “mother f—er” in Spanish.

Posted By: The Critical Wife
Last Edit: 09 Apr 2010 @ 03:58 PM

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 25 Mar 2010 @ 9:54 PM 

Hey Gang…

This week and next is a bi-week for all our pizza-bowlers.  With our best participation on Fridays (while not in Lent and our second round about to start), we’ve decided that waiting until after Easter may be the safest bet for the best participation.  That being said, here are the results of our brackets!

Winners

Losers

Zio’s

La Casa

Don Carmelo’s

Frank’s

Johnny Sortino’s

Mama’s

Oscar’s

Big Fred’s

Roman Coin

Sam & Louie’s

Valentino’s

The Pizza Gourmet

Now, with this next round, we will have three winners.  This is where it gets interesting.  When we have our three winners, we will conduct a vote.  Everyone that has “fallen” in the Pizza Battle will be voted upon to be resurrected in the Semi-Finals.

In the Semi-Final and Final Round, we will order the two pizzas that your favorite location is known for.  These specialty pies will be elected by our tasters for our consideration.  Our final round, our championship round will actually be held at each of the locations of our contestants.

When we resume the Super Bowl of Pizza on Friday, April 9th, these will be our bracket of contestants:

Contestant 1

Contestant 2

Johnny Sortino’s

Vs

Valentino’s

Oscar’s

Vs

Don Carmelo’s

Roman Coin

Vs

Zio’s

Posted By: The Omaha Critic
Last Edit: 25 Mar 2010 @ 09:55 PM

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 25 Mar 2010 @ 9:50 PM 

So last week, I ran out to get Pizza for my team.  I picked up the Valentino’s first then ran out to the Pizza Gourmet on 120th and Gyles… I race back to the office so that everyone can have pizza that at least resembles hot.  I get into the break room, print out the review forms and set up the pizzas for serving.  Set the plates out and napkins, grabbed a slice of Val’s and TPG’s and sit myself down.  I bit into the Val’s and was pleasantly surprised.  It didn’t suck.  Normally when I eat Val’s it’s coming off of their buffet and leave a lot to be desired.  I bit into The Pizza Gourmet’s pizza and was impressed.  It was good.  I started writing down my score…  Talking to my co-workers, it seemed that The Pizza Gourmet had won….

WRONG… Valentino’s put the smack down on TPG… I sat at my desk tabulating the score with my jaw hanging open.  I was so shocked, I called my boss over to verify it.  The score was very skewed to the Val’s side.  Only 30% of the votes went to TPG and 15% of that was mine.

So… the scores were: Valentino’s – 3.12 (Yuk of 2) and The Pizza Gourmet – 2.613 (Yuk of 1.6).  It was the first time a contender had a lower yuk score and lost.  I mean come on.. I was blown away… but these are committees doing the judging… it’s not just my personal choice.

So now we start the play-offs.

~TOC

Posted By: The Omaha Critic
Last Edit: 25 Mar 2010 @ 09:51 PM

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 25 Mar 2010 @ 5:27 PM 

I am in search of a GOOD Cobb Salad… I’ve been craving one… who’s got the best? 

 

~TOC

Posted By: The Omaha Critic
Last Edit: 25 Mar 2010 @ 05:27 PM

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Categories: American, Suggestions

 23 Mar 2010 @ 6:33 PM 

Ok Omaha…

It’s coming up on Spring and it’s the time of year when we men-folk start craving that grilled/smoked/charred decadence that is Barbecue.   So… that being said, ladies and gentlemen, start casting your votes (Ok, suggestions really) for the best “Q” in the Big “O” so we can get some reviews.  GO MEAT!

~The Omaha Critic

Posted By: The Omaha Critic
Last Edit: 23 Mar 2010 @ 06:33 PM

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 23 Mar 2010 @ 5:59 PM 

Have you ever noticed that the nicer the area, the worse the service? I mean really, I have never had worse service (on a consistent basis) than I do in the Regency/One Pacific Place area. More specifically Ruby Tuesday’s and CPK.  One would think that people in a higher income bracket would expect better service. I have had my best service in the worst neighborhoods.  (Excluding Hiro and Mahogany)

It would be different if this was a one time thing, but it happens every time.  Today we went to CPK (California Pizza Kitchen) for lunch and the service was horrible.  We waited forever to get noticed (Even when we were seated by 11:20) and were one of 3 tables at the time seated.  We didn’t get our drinks until 15 minutes later then took til noon to get our order placed.  I had to suck down an over priced Cobb Salad just to make it back to work on time.  Then when I went to pay, the server was nowhere to be found.  I had to leave my wife, my friends, and my daughter there to pay for it, because I had to get back to work for a meeting.  I am not impressed with CPK’s service and neither my wife (who ordered theire “NEW” cheeseburger pizza) nor I (Cobb Salad) were impressed with the food either.

I give California Pizza Kitchen an “F” for service and a “C” for food quality.

Likes:  There was a lot of Bacon, Avocado and Turkey on my salad, the tea was good, and one of the other servers who came over to our table to help out was nice.

Dislikes: Our server was inattentive, spent too much time gabbing with the people in back (we could see her) and hardly checked on us, then was slow cashing us out.

Overall Feel: I don’t go to CPK very often, and I don’t think that I will be increasing the frequency.  The salad was “Ok” but for the price I would think it would be outstanding.  I think that CPK could do better than mediocrity.

~The Omaha Critic

Posted By: The Omaha Critic
Last Edit: 23 Mar 2010 @ 06:35 PM

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