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Narrows, MD October 1, 2013

Posted by hslu in Restaurants, Travel.
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On the way to Ocean City for our anniversary we stopped by this restaurant for a quick lunch. We have tried a few restaurants in this area and have been pleased with the qualities of the food offered by them.

The prices of dishes on Narrows’ menu is a little on the high side. We arrived after lunch rush hour and had a great time there. Food was good. Sliders are quiet special. Service was pleasant. Casual ambiance with a great view of the Bay.





The view of the Bay through screen on the window.

The view of the Bay through screen on the window.


Lunch sliders for $17:  grilled Angus, seared Ahi tuna and mini crab cake on potato rolls, with fried  onions.

Lunch sliders for $17: grilled Angus, seared Ahi tuna and mini crab cake on potato rolls, with fried onions.

Green curry seafood stew; $14.

Green curry seafood stew; $14. I wished I had some bread to sock up all the juices. Some fettuccine would be even better. Could use a little more curry though.

You can open the bathroom door without getting your hands dirty.
You can open the bathroom door without getting your hands dirty.

Parking lot across the street from the restaurant. Needs a little work.
Parking lot across the street from the restaurant. Needs a little work.

Restaurant next door. Looks like a good place to have some fresh seafood and a couple of beers.

Restaurant next door. Looks like a good place to have some fresh seafood and a couple of beers.



Lunch buffet – The Grill Room at Worldgate Marriott Herndon January 18, 2012

Posted by hslu in Food, Restaurants.
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We had intended to try the Japanese restaurant at Herndon Worldgate Center on a Thursday in October 2011 when we saw the “all you can eat buffet” sign at Marriott’s The Grill Room.

Hmm, when did Worldgate Marriott started lunch buffet here? Was it the competition from the Indian buffet or the Chinese buffet in the same shopping center? Or was it from the deep competition from the 15 or 16 restaurants here: TGI Friday, American café, Subway and Qdabo Mexican Grill among others? To attract potential customers into it door, the sign even showed the price: $9.95.

It was a good price for sure, but what about the quality? We had to give it a try. The dining room was very well appointed: clean and quiet, hard wood panel, huge ceiling to floor window for a mice view, dark-colored tables and chairs, clean silverware and nice set up for the salad table and warm food station. There was even a table full of desserts.

Not bad. Not bad at all. The staff was very helpful and when we asked for a dessert that had ran out, the waiter gladly took out some more from the cooler in the kitchen.

We had a great time and we certainly enjoyed the food too. The price was wonderful for the quantity and quality of the food.

Our experience convinced us to give it another try in a future date.

You should too.

Look how much wine I got for $8.

Such a great vale.







蘇州觀前街 February 17, 2011

Posted by hslu in China, Food, Gold, Restaurants, Travel.
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We spent our evening in 蘇州 “su1 zhou1” at 觀前街 “guan1 qian2 jie1,” a tourist hot spot in downtown 蘇州.

觀前街, according to our driver was much more fascinating in the evening. He was right: lanterns, push carts, boat loads of people, restaurant waiters telling us how good his restaurant was, young girls selling wulong teas and festival ambiance in the air wherever we went.

The name of the street, 觀前街, originated from the fact that the street is located in front of a 道教 “dao4 jiao4” (Taoism) temple called 玄妙觀 “xuan2 miao4 guan1.” A Taoism temple is called 道. means in front of and means street. When we were there, the Taoism temple, 玄妙觀, was closed and we didn’t get a chance to see what the inside was like.

We went to this famous restaurant for dinner. It served authentic Shanghai dishes. Their sweet and sour fish was tender and fresh. The restaurant was first in business since the late 1700's. The restaurant was fancy and spacious on the inside, The food was well prepared: artful culinary knife skills, fresh ingredients, reasonable prices and friendly services.


We grew up with this store called 亨達利 "heng2 da2 li4." It started as an eyeglasses store in Taiwan and now has many stores in China, many of them in very desirable spots in busy shopping centers. I didn't know that it was also in gold and jewel business like this one does.

Gold is big in China. With Chinese citizens getting richer by the day, their Renminbi has gone to stocks, real estate, cars and gold. This one is unique because it illustrates the heroes of "Three Kingdoms". in great details. Its cost was well over $5,000.

觀前街 night market was very busy and we had a good time there.

Health Inspection June 8, 2009

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Health Inspection

He was late. We have been waiting for him for 2 and half months. He was due back in the third week of March but didn’t show up until last Wednesday, June 3, 2009.

I was working in my small office when I heard my counter staff saying something about “衛生局 wei sheng ju.” I knew the health inspector was here. It was about 12:45 in the afternoon.

Normally, our County sends out health inspectors to all restaurants, food stands, public swim pools, convenient stores, day cares and school cafeterias on a semi-annual basis. They have been checking our restaurant roughly every six months in the past. And he was late this time. Not that I am complaining but he may catch us unprepared. All health inspectors are not created equal: some were very difficult to deal with and quite stubborn in picking out your minor mistakes in order to show you who was the real boss. But some others were quite professional; they took their work seriously and politely. If it wasn’t a big, serious offense and if you corrected it on the spot, he would let you pass without writing you up. I didn’t know what we’d get this time but I would soon find out.

I came out of office to greet him and told my kitchen staff that ”衛生局來了 wei sheng ju lai le” so that they could properly prepare for the inspection. The inspector was a white guy in his early 40’s and I haven’t met him before. I asked him if he wanted to use my office to keep his stuff. he said that was okay. I also asked him if he wanted to have something to drink. He declined politely. He asked me for my food manager license. I took it out slowly, gave him that and said that I was preparing to take the test to renew my food service manager’s license which expires in 2 weeks. he seemed pleased that I was actually studying for the test because I had the book open on the desk and I was taking notes as I went through the 200-page textbook.

Our county requires a full-time manager at the restaurant all the time. If a manager wasn’t present when they come to inspect, they have the authority to close the restaurant down until a manager shows up. But usually they do not carry out this harsh treatment unless a manager doesn’t show up for a long time. At my restaurant, we have 3 qualified managers (1 full-time, 1 part-time plus me) so that we usually are in very good shape.

The inspector started with temperature measurements. According to food service guidelines, everything has to be below 41 oF or above 140 oF. Since all of our dishes are prepared hot from the wok, we usually don’t have problem with the high temperature limit.The soups were running at 160 oF and higher. The dishes came out from the wok were at 180oF for some fried rices and even higher for dishes like General Tsao’s Chicken.

It is the low temperature threshold which could give us problem from time to time, especially in the summer time. Our walking coolers were badly designed. The compressor and the condenser of the cooling unit of both coolers were inside the kitchen. This design was forced upon us because our contractor didn’t want to move them on the roof which would add considerable cost to his operation. As a result, all the heat generated from the compressor and condenser stayed inside the kitchen and had no way to get out. Our ceiling was very low which makes the matter even worse. In the summer time, it usually gets very hot in the kitchen when temperature may reach into the low 90’s. I had purchased several big fans to keep my kitchen staff cool but the efficiency of the coolers and ice machine suffered every summer. the bad decision gave us numerous headache and big maintenance bills.

We have two walking coolers, two under-counter coolers and a freezer. He checked everyone of them and found that our meat walking cooler had a temperature that was 3 to 5 degrees above the 41oF limit. I told him that we had to come in and out of the cooler very often to get supplies such as egg rolls and lo meins for the lunch crowd. He then checked the temperature of air coming out of the fan. Sure enough, it wasn’t cold enough. Theoretically, he could order us to dump all the meat in the cooler but he didn’t. He asked me to call my electrician immediately and get this problem corrected. By now, I knew he was a reasonable guy to deal with. I called my regular guy and told him that health inspector was here. I asked him to come immediately. I then told the inspector that he was still on a job and would come once he finished his work there. He asked me to keep the meat cooler door closed for now so that he could check the temperature later.

The next stop was our three-sink station where we washed our pots and pans. The first sink has to have detergent to clean the pots and pans. The middle sink is for rinsing and has to have warm water at 95oF or so. The third sink is for sanitizing which requires a chlorine concentration of 50 ppm. I checked the chlorine concentration and passed inspector’s verbal quiz with high flying color. He was very pleased probably because I took his advice seriously and kept careful notes of his tips on manager’s test as we went through the inspection. He then checked our hood for cleanness, storage room, and the back of the restaurant. He seemed to be satisfied with what he found so far. I knew my kitchen was cleaner the most chinese restaurants and I am sure he has noticed that too.

He then checked the front counter and found that we were in compliance with the guideline. He stayed there for a little while and went back to the problem cooler again. Sure enough, the temperature got stuck at 46 oF and won’t come down. He asked me if I would get an invoice from my electrician. I said yes. He asked me to fax him the invoice once the job is done. I, of course, comply.

He did notice a few violations: kitchen staff drinks from uncovered glasses, kitchen staff didn’t follow strict hand washing guideline, a kitchen helper didn’t wear glove to handle rice, some knifes were pretty dirty and the grinder wasn’t clean enough.

He then told me that he had finished the inspection and would now prepare a written document. I gave him a bottled water, a glass of ice and left him alone to do his work. He came back in about 40 minutes and showed me what he had done. It was a simple 3-page document; much better than a six-page document we got about 3 years ago. He quickly went through the points he mentioned to me during the inspection, have me signed every page, asked me to fax him the invoice and wish me good luck on my manager’s test. He also said that I should study hard and see if I could beat his score. I asked him what his score was; he said 95. Wow! The first time when I took the test, I studied for about 10 days and got 85. I thought I was good but this guy was amazing! Well, this time around, I am aiming at 75 since this is the passing score.

My technician came later, fixed the problem and came again the next day to make sure the temperature was okay. I faxed the inspector the invoice and thank him for his attention and help.

We are good for another 6 months.

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