Sunday, February 20, 2011

Adding A Little Something to the Mix

I've decided that I don't blog enough. Big surprise, seeing as how I'm almost never online. However, I am going to include some restaurant reviews from the area I live in. Now, I go out to a variety of places spanning from Chicago up to Milwaukee.

For my first review I chose to check out a place that I've never tried before, in Mitsuwa Marketplace in Arlington Heights, IL. Its called Gabutto Burger, and is a part of their food court.

I want to take a second to talk about Mitsuwa. Its a Japanese grocery store, with a food court, a Japanese bookstore, a video store, a pottery shop, a bakery, and a liquor and gift store. About the only part I never buy anything from is the video shop. Its a great place to get the curry bricks, the gigantic bags of rice (20 lbs!), and all the odd Japanese ingredients I want for my recipes. I love that place. But, living in Kenosha County, as I do, its quite the hike. I usually make an afternoon of it, eating a lunch in the food court, stopping at the bookstore (love the fashion magazines!), and browsing through the pottery area (I still want a donabe!), doing my shopping, then stopping for an ice cream before leaving.

So, back to the food! After much pondering of the standard menus and their monthly specials I decided on a teriyaki burger. It comes with fries, and a drink, and what I got was $6.95.It was a quite filling meal, they have multiple options for seasonings you can put on your fries. I was there with a couple of people, and one of them tried the cheese curry seasonings and the other one had the traditional seasoning. I just went with good ole salt and ketchup. The burger was an odd texture at first, but its what's in the burger that's interesting. They are made with chopped instead of ground meat, and its a combination of pork and beef, and there are diced onions in the patty. I believe they have a traditional burger option, for those who don't like pork. The teriyaki burger is bun, meat patty with teriyaki sauce all over it, lettuce, tomato, onion slices, and mayo. Its quite a messy burger, but tasty enough - just get some extra napkins, I went through 3. I ate the burger without knowing the composition of the patty, but after finding out, the taste and texture then made sense. Pork makes the burgers much more tender and soft than a traditional beef patty, and the sauce on the outside doesn't give a crisp browning texture to the meat. I did wish for a stronger teriyaki flavor, and the patty was smaller than my bun, but that may just be from sliding around from the teriyaki sauce.

I liked the food, but I felt it was more Japanese "American" food - like so many Chinese restaurants are American "Chinese" food. Personally I think I will stick with the other choices in the food court, but Gabutto Burger does keep busy.

I prefer the other stops in the food court, which serve a bit more traditional food. There is the Ramen Santohka (my favorite meal is the salt ramen with rice, pickles and a thousand-year-egg) and Kayaba - an udon and soba noodle place. There's Jockey Express the Dim-Sum House, which also serve bubble tea, and MaMa House, a Korean stop. Then there's ReLeaf, the tea and ice cream shop. Mmm.

I do occasionally get tea from here, though I usually prefer a relaxing pot of tea when I'm at home, not on the run. I usually get ice cream here. They have several sorbet-like fruit flavors, and the more ice cream texture of the traditional flavors, plus green tea and red bean paste in hand-dipped cones, green tea and vanilla soft serve, and parfaits. I didn't have time for a parfait today, so I went with my favorite, a scoop each of mango and lychee. These are the more sorbet-like in consistancy, and are much softer in texture. The mango has a bit more of a grainy feel to it, and I suspect that is from the use of actual mangoes, and the lychee has little bits of lychee fruit in it. De-lish!

Over all, I love stopping here, I get fresh ingredients, a good lunch, and there's always some tasty display out on the weekends. I think its worth the drive, especially on weeks where I'm going to have time to play with cooking. If you've never been, Mitsuwa Marketplace is just north of I-90 from the Arlington Heights Dr exit, on the corner of Arlington Heights Rd and E Algonquin Rd.
The food court is usually open until 7:30, and the grocery is open until 8, all week long.

Did I mention they have more flavors of pocky and ramune soda than a rainbow?

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