Sunday, May 31, 2015

Jamaican Coffee & Sunday Brunch At The Turning Point

Restaurant Reviewed by: Jane Ong

Jamaican Coffee Brick New Jersey Toms River NJ

I'm not a coffee snob but I can taste the difference between a cup of good coffee and the cup of coffee that I usually make from my Mr. Coffee at home. Today, I went back to The Turning Point in Brick NJ for brunch because I loved it so much last time when I was there.  I ordered the same egg benedict that I had last time and I also ordered a French Press of the 100% Jamaica Blue Mountain Certified Coffee ($9.75 per French Press Jar).  It's pricey coffee but the French Press is large enough to brew 2 cups.  I shared the coffee with my friend.  We love the hard sugar stirring stick so much!  This coffee was really aromatic, and rich in flavor.  It's amazing how the quality of coffee beans can make such a big difference to the brew.  After I return to Los Angeles, I will have to upgrade my coffee beans at home. Life is too short to have el cheapo ground coffee every morning.

Restaurant: The Turning Point
Address:505 Route 70, Brick, NJ 08723 

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Disturbing Arts But Comforting Fish Tacos

Restaurant Reviewed by: Jane Ong

Fish Tacos Toms River New Jersey

Fish Taco is another of my favorite foods back in Los Angeles.  I haven't had any tacos since I had arrived at Toms River New Jersey.  So I'm very delighted to have a couple fish tacos today, and surprisingly, they are quite good.  After a month being in Toms River and  Manchester Township here in  New Jersey, I had lowered my expectation for food in this area. So this taco ($7.00 for 2) find is a delicious surprise to me.  The salsa on the side however has lots of room for improvement (and they can refer to the salsas at La Salsa as a role model for salsa).

The quality of the Fish Tacos however doesn't apply to the Steak Bites ($7.00) we order.  This is like a beef kebab, but a yucky beef kebab. Even the overly sweet soy sauce can't cover the gamy taste of the beef (or steak?).  Steak and beef shouldn't taste gamy at all.  This just tells me that the freshness and quality of the meat had been compromised. This is another one-bite dish for us that we can't finish.  We will just stick with the Fish Tacos from now on.

We are happy to find this restaurant which not only offers Fish Tacos comparable to home, it also has a spacious, nicely and comfortably decorated dining environment by the water.  The water view is so scenic. Being used to the beach and marina views back in Los Angeles, it's nice to see that there is a different kind of coast line that is lined with beautiful trees. I had never seen a coast line so green and lush.  It's really pretty.  We however chose to sit indoors because the temperature is quite hot out there, and this is the only con compared to the always comfortable and air-conditioned feel of the California coasts....But we love the interior decor of this restaurant.  It's really comfortable here.

Arts Downtown Toms River New Jersey

This restaurant is located within walking distance in downtown Toms River.  Yes, finally, there is a place where I can walk around!  And by walking, I almost ran into this disturbing woman outside the restaurant.  I was really startled by her. She reminds me of a character that I saw long time ago in a horror movie...

This is one disturbing sculpture of a very scary looking Asian chick.  The placement of this statue is so weird, because it seems it is placed here just so randomly.  I had never seen anything like this in my life.  Bumping into this disturbing lady really makes my day because it really gives my associates and I a very good laugh.  I guess Toms River isn't as boring as I think and it may be full of surprises.

Restaurant:Baker's Water Street Bar & Grille 
Address:4 Robbins Pkwy, Toms River, NJ 08753 
Phone:(732) 240-4800 

Thursday, May 28, 2015

We Finally Found Decent Tasting Chinese Food Amid Bomb Threat

Restaurant Reviewed by: Jane Ong

Best Chinese Food in Toms River New Jersey

A real estate assignment brought my associates and I to the Ocean County Mall in Toms River yesterday.  After the lengthy and intense meeting that kept us away from our lunch break, we decided to grab an early supper at the food court in the mall.  I was very surprised to see that there were only three food vendors at the food court of a mall this size. This has to be the smallest food court I had ever seen in a mall.  May be the demographics of the mall's visitors had no interest in dining and that's why the mall has a small food court like this?

Although I have been generally disappointed by the lack of decent Chinese food in this area of New Jersey, my crave for Chinese food was so strong that I was willing to keep trying.  I'm glad I did, because the Chinese food at this food court was decent tasting to me even though it was a little oily.  It wasn't great Chinese food, but it was okay enough for my taste.  I had the two items combo plate at $6.79, with half fried rice and half lo mien.  The fried rice and lo mien were decent and not too oily.  Most importantly, they didn't have that artificial food color that I tasted in other Chinese restaurants in this area.  The fried rice and noodles here were well seasoned with soy sauce, and not yellowish food coloring.  (I just hate Chinese fried rice and noodles that look too yellow).  

The spicy chickens were well seasoned also with decent quality chicken.  The sauce tasted somewhat of cajun and jerk seasoning, which I like because I love spicy food.  The green beans were also well seasoned.  If only they can go light on the oil, I will like the food  even more.  I'm glad I found this Chinese place just in time before the bomb threat evacuated us out of the mall after 5pm..

Restaurant: Master Wok
Address:1201 Hooper Ave, Toms River, NJ 08753

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Why Is There No Fresh Sushi Fish By The Jersey Shore???

Restaurant Reviewed by: Jane Ong

Angry Dragon Roll and Philadelphia Roll Sushi

As of now, I am getting extremely homesick and I want to go back to Los Angeles so very much.  I used to always buy into the propaganda against Los Angeles and I used to resent all the negative qualities that people list of Los Angeles.  One of the negative qualities I used to loathe about Los Angeles was the congested traffic and the need to have to drive everywhere. Now that I'm working in Manchester NJ,  I realize my usual commute to my work in downtown Los Angeles wasn't bad at all.  I am spending more time driving here in Manchester to get to places now than I did in Los Angeles. The drivers in this area and the nearby townships are much worse than the drivers in Los Angeles.  I used to think drivers in Los Angeles were rude and aggressive because I was told so.  Now  I feel that the drivers in Los Angeles are so much more civilized compared to the many crazy or drunk drivers I've been encountering here.  I am not sure if they are drunk, but the way their cars are speeding left and right and cutting others off dangerously, I'm just guessing the drivers must be under the influence.

It took me more than 30 minutes' drive to get to this sushi place that I found on the internet.  Back in Los Angeles, it only took me 10 to 15 minutes drive to get to a lot of great sushi places.  After a few incidents where I almost got run off by crazy drivers, the Angry Dragon Roll and the Philadelphia Roll that I ordered at this restaurant came out to be very fishy.  I had never had sushi that had fishy fish.  I don't think the tuna and salmon in the sushis are supposed to be fishy.  I don't think the fish that was used in those sushis was fresh.  Fishy taste and smell usually indicate a problem in the freshness of sushi fish. These sushis had prices that are comparable to the sushi restaurants in Los Angeles, but the quality of these sushis were nowhere near even the sushis that I bought in a supermarket in Los Angeles.

The salad that I ordered was also a little wilted, and not like the crisp and fresh salad I was used to in the Japanese restaurants back in LA.  The dressing in this salad was awful and when I asked for the refreshing Japanese ginger dressing that is so widely used in Japanese restaurants back in LA, the waiters in this restaurant didn't even know what it was.  

The miso soup here in this restaurant was also awful, and very watered down.  I tasted more chlorine in the soup than miso.  So this was how I spent my memorial day holiday this year, a miserable scary 30++ minutes drive to a sushi place which I couldn't do more than a few bites even though I was starving.  The decor of the restaurant reminded me of the chic and contemporary restaurants in Los Angeles, but somehow the restaurant was like an amplifier that made it extremely loud and noisy even when the restaurant wasn't that full.  We couldn't engage in any conversation there because the noise level just made it impossible. Yet the restaurant was not even half full.  All the good internet reviews on this restaurant were so misleading to me.  This kind of restaurant will not have a chance of surviving in Los Angeles, let alone receiving all the rave reviews. Somebody from Los Angeles needs to come here to open a decent sushi restaurant.

Restaurant: Xina Restaurant
Address: 3430 NJ-37, Toms River, NJ 08753
Phone: (732) 279-6327

Friday, May 22, 2015

Winner Announcement : College Diet Cookbook Giveaway

free cookbook giveaway

We had only one participant for the above free book giveaway. The winner for the above free cookbooks giveaway is: Renee from Washington.  We will contact the winner for shipping address so we will mail the book out ASAP.  Please continue to follow us for our upcoming free books giveaway.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Captain's Twin Lobster Tails

Restaurant Reviewed By: Jane Ong

Best Seafood Restaurant in Manchester Township Toms River NJ

I'm still working here around the Manchester Township area.  The landscape here is gorgeous.  Everywhere is surrounded by beautiful trees.  It will be more lovely here if only the weather is less humid so I won't sweat so much.  I feel sticky and greasy here, which I never felt when I was in Los Angeles.  May be I'm sweating so much because I'm trying too hard to find a decent place to eat. As you can tell from my photo, I'm back to Gregory's Seafood Market again at Manchester Township NJ because I just can't find another better place to eat.  This time I'm having the lobster tails, which comes with the delicious baked potatoes, coleslaw, and the extremely delicious dinner roll that I really really love.  This lunch isn't cheap, and it is a little more expensive than the similar lobsters I can get at the various piers in Los Angeles.  But Gregory's is the only decent restaurant here in Manchester Township in NJ that has decent food, so I am willing to pay the premium.  I just hope El Pollo Loco and Panda Express can open a franchise here in the strip mall next to Shop Rite and Applebee's.  I can go to El Pollo Loco and Panda Express everyday, and it will save my employer a lot of meal expenses.

Restaurant: Gregory's Seafood Market
Address: 2064 NJ-37, Manchester Township, NJ 08759
Tel: (732) 323-9105

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Decent Frozen Mango Lemonade But Lousy BBQ Ribs At Applebee's

Restaurant Reviewed by: Jane Ong

Today I went to Applebee's for lunch for the first time in my life. I drove by  them once in a while in Southern California but I never tried it because there are just too many dining options in California besides Applebee's.  But in Manchester NJ where I am working on closing a real estate deal on behalf of my client, Applebee's seems to be the only visible restaurant that catches my eyes during my lunch hour hunger attack.  I however left the restaurant still hungry because I didn't eat much of my meal. I shared a 2 for $20 deal with my associate in which I ordered the salad and the BBQ ribs.  The salad was okay but the BBQ ribs were the most horrible BBQ ribs I ever tried in a restaurant.  The Frozen Mango Lemonade which I paid extra for was decent though (not included in the 2 for $20 deal).

I have no idea how the ribs were mass processed in the corporate plants so they could be efficiently distributed to the kitchens in all Applebee's restaurants nationwide.  But whatever the process there is, it changed the texture of the ribs. It's worse than the BBQ ribs in the frozen store bought TV-dinners. I felt like I was chewing on stock cards smoldered with BBQ sauce. I just couldn't eat that horrid mess no matter how hungry I was. I wasn't impressed with the fries either.  

Restaurant Address: 1055 Route 70, Manchester Township, NJ 08759
Tel: (732) 657-7676

Sunday, May 10, 2015

A Surprisingly Good Seafood Restaurant In Manchester Township New Jersey

Restaurant Review Contributed by: Jane Ong

Best Restaurant in Manchester Township New Jersey

Toms River NJ is so far one of the most boring towns I had visited in New Jersey.  But if there is a more boring town here in New Jersey than Toms River, it has to be Manchester Township where there seems to be only one supermarket (Shop Rite), which is the busiest and the most crowded and cluttered supermarket I had been to.  Looking around Manchester Township, I see tremendous business opportunities for restaurants and supermarkets.  Trader Joe's and Sprouts will kick butts here!!

But surprisingly, as dreary as Manchester Township is in New Jersey, I found this great seafood restaurant in the middle of a freeway (or do they call it highway here?)  I drove on this freeway many times but I never paid attention to this trailer-like building that looks more like a junk car dealer or auto repair shop than a restaurant.  Today, I finally noticed the "Seafood Restaurant" sign and I pulled in out of hunger.  The interior is very aged and ugly, but this place sells a great selection of fresh seafood.  This place operates as both a seafood market and also a restaurant.  I ordered the Captain Combo#1 that has pan grilled sea scallops, shrimps and flounder.  This combo plate also came with the incredibly delicious and fresh dinner rolls which are so far the best dinner rolls I have had since I've been in Toms River.   The shrimp cocktail sauce that came with the plate was also very very good.  The cooking technique was simple with minimal seasoning.  But fresh seafood doesn't really need complicated cooking technique or much seasoning.  Complex seasoning will just overpower the fresh and natural taste of any fresh seafood.  I however did sprinkle salt and pepper on my plate to season the food to my taste.  I enjoyed my seafood plate tremendously, and the Freedom Fries on the side were so very delicious and were some of my most favorite fries in the world.  I highly recommend this restaurant for seafood lovers.  As for myself, I'm happy that I found another good restaurant besides the usual one I like at Ramada Inn Toms River.

Restaurant: Gregory's Seafood Market
Address: 2064 NJ-37, Manchester Township, NJ 08759
Tel: (732) 323-9105

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Seafood Fra Diavolo Pasta Toms River New Jersey

Restaurant reviewed by: Jane Ong

good restaurant in Toms River New Jersey

Toms River New Jersey is pretty this time of the year. The trees and the landscape are so lush and gorgeous. But aside from the beautiful garden backdrop, there isn't much going on in this town.  I'm here to work so I have to say I haven't tried hard to find the fun elements in Toms River. Compared to where I live in Los Angeles county, this town is so far pretty dull.  Finding decent restaurants continues to be my challenge.  Luckily the Ramada Inn where I am currently staying has a decent restaurant in-house.  Whenever I feel too tired to venture out to find a restaurant, I just order room service.  The hotel restaurant in Ramada Inn Toms River is one of the few good restaurants in town. I just ordered a Seafood Diavolo Pasta (sauteed seafood, cherry tomatoes, garlic, onions, peppers, over linguini tossed in marinara sauce and topped with Parmesan)  for lunch.  It's very well seasoned and it's delicious.  I really like it.  It's not as good a pasta as those I had in Los Angeles, but it's pretty good, and I bet it can be the best pasta here in Toms River, after the horrible Italian food I experienced the other night.

Restaurant: Angles Cafe Grill & Lounge
Address: 2373 Hwy 9, Toms River, NJ 08755
Tel: (732) 367-6400

Friday, May 8, 2015

The Worst Chicken Cacciatore I Had In My Life So Far

Restaurant Review Contributed by: Jane Ong

Since I've been in Toms River NJ, I have thus had the worst Japanese food, and the worst Chinese buffet.  I had written off my hope of ever finding a decent Chinese or Japanese restaurant in this town.  I decided that I should just have Italian food instead because this is the Jersey Shore, and this is the state of New Jersey, which is supposed to have lots of Italian Americans, no?  Besides, I love Italian food, I love Chicken Cacciatore.  When I found on Yelp about this Italian Restaurant that is highly rated, I was so excited about getting my Chicken Cacciatore there.  It turned out to be the worst Italian food I ever had.  The first bad sign was the bread the waiter brought to my table at the beginning.  That loaf of bread was stale and it had that old stinky smell when I tore it apart and sniffed it.  It was a warm loaf of bread however because I think it was just pulled out of the freezer and warmed up in the oven.  Then the skinless chicken breasts in the cacciatore were very tough and they tasted somewhat gamy.  They tasted like they were the discounted old frozen chicken breasts from Costco and they were just dumped into a pot of boiling water right out of the freezer, with some bland tomato sauce poured right on top of them after they were boiled.  Nothing in this dish told me that much time was put into making it.  The pasta on the side was also horrible.  It tasted like under cooked penne with supermarket tomato sauce poured right out of the can.  This was the most disgusting Italian dish I had ever tasted. This is an insult to Italian cuisine.  

I will not go back to this restaurant ever.  

Restaurant: Il Giardinello Ristorante
Address:1232 NJ-166, Toms River, NJ 08753
Tel:(732) 286-9111

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Vietnamese Curry Chicken Noodle Soup In Toms River NJ

Content contributed by: Jane Ong

Vietnamese Pho in Toms River New Jersey

As a California girl who is spoiled by the easy access of Vietnamese food, I'm surprised to find a place here in Toms River, NJ  where I can have the Phở Cà Ri Gà ($9.45), which is Vermicelli Rice Noodle soup with a mix of curry spices, lemongrass, onion, garlic, coconut milk and boiled white chicken meat. This dish is so far the best Asian dish I had tried in Toms River, after all the Chinese restaurants that let me down in this town.  I was so going to conclude that there was just no edible Asian food in here.  Thank god I found this place.  I'm a little sick of eating western food right now and I really appreciate this variation in my dining option.

Vietnamese Fried Calimari Toms River New Jersey

I also tried the Vietnamese Fried Calamari, Mực Chiên Giòn   ($10.95), which is battered and fried calamari sauteed with garlic, onions, and jalapeno served with a sweet and sour sauce.  They are very different from the fried calamari I'm used to in California which is much better seasoned, which I prefer a lot more.  I just don't care much for the crispy batter.  I prefer calamari that is rolled in well seasoned breadcrumb and fried.  These battered calamari however tasted okay to me, I can eat them, but I think I will stick with the curry chicken noodle soup next time when I come back. I also will have diet coke instead of the iced Vietnamese coffee because the iced coffee here just didn't taste good.

Vietnamese Iced Coffee

Restaurant: Vietnamese Cuisine
Address: 1222 Rte. 166, Toms River, NJ 08753
Tel: 732-349-7777

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Lobster Benedict at The Turning Point

Content contributed by: Jane Ong

best restaurants near Toms Rriver New Jersey

I have been searching for a decent restaurant here in Toms River, NJ.  It's not easy for me to come out here for my business trips because of the lack of good restaurants in Toms River.  May be I am just not familiar with the town  so I don't know where to eat.  But lucky for me, I found a very good restaurant this morning for breakfast in a nearby town called Brick.  The decor of this restaurant is pretty and quaint, bright and welcoming. This restaurant can easily fit in San Francisco and Los Angeles.  I ordered the Lobster Benedict and it didn't disappoint.  This delicious Benedict was built with succulent lobster meat, crispy smoked bacon, avocado, tomato slices and poached eggs on a toasted English muffin glazed with a hollandaise sauce. It was usually served with fried potatoes, but I substituted the potatoes with fresh fruits. I think this is the best breakfast I've had for all the time I have been staying in Toms River for business, and it's only a short drive away even it's in another town.

The Turning Point
505 Route 70
Brick, NJ 08723
Tel: 732-903-6073