REVIEW: Arby’s King’s Hawaiian Fish Deluxe Sandwich

Arby's King's Hawaiian Fish Deluxe Sandwich

I know few things about Hawaii. I do know the most famous celebrity is that Hawaiian Punch guy with that crazy hat. I also know that Hawaiian luxury resorts will kindly let you sleep for free when you go through a bad breakup (thanks Sarah Marshall). And I know that King’s Hawaiian bread is the best I’ve stuffed in my mouth since challah with its eggy pleasures.

Intrigued by the small four packs sitting harmlessly by the supermarket deli, they sat there engulfed in the smells of fried chicken and briny olives. The first time I picked them up was a lark but when the slightly sweet, rich taste seduced me, I was forever captive. I rarely leave the supermarket without buying a 4-pack of King’s Hawaiian rolls or sandwich buns.

I also have a strong penchant for fried fish sandwiches. While most gravitate towards Quarter Pounders or Big Macs, I go for the Filet-O-Fish. Even though it contains a lifeless fried rectangle with a flaky nondescript soylent green kind of protein, I love the Filet-O-Fish.

So imagine my fervor when I discovered the Arby’s King’s Hawaiian Fish Deluxe sandwich? Too many apostrophes aside, I was so excited that I immediately drove to the nearest Arby’s.

Arby's King's Hawaiian Fish Deluxe Sandwich 2

The sandwich was almost four and a half inches in diameter and the bun was similar to the King’s Hawaiian sandwich rolls. There was no mistaking that the roll made an impact visually because that slight sheen demanded that I pay fucking attention. I sank my partially brushed teeth into the softly toasted bun and into the crispy and flaky “wild caught Alaskan Pollock.” I can hear you scoffing. I am too. Regardless, if the fish was wild, I was impressed because it was not greasy.

Also, the rolls did not disappoint. They were slightly sweet, soft, and rich. They delivered, but that, surprisingly, contributed to the problem.

Arby's King's Hawaiian Fish Deluxe Sandwich 3

The sweet bread combined with the sweeter tartar sauce overwhelmed the sandwich. I couldn’t even taste the pickled chunks in the tartar sauce and it just killed the Alaskan pollock. There was too much tartar sauce on my tomato and lettuce.

The textures were pleasant enough but the slightly sweet bread on top of the sweeter sauce just shoved the fish aside like my Mom does when I try to hug her. Worse, the cheddar cheese was gloppy and lifeless. It wasn’t melted enough and it made no impression on the fish or the prized King’s Hawaiian roll.

Arby's King's Hawaiian Fish Deluxe Sandwich 4

I was a bit sad the Arby’s King’s Hawaiian Fish Deluxe didn’t live up to my expectation. Additionally, the $4.25 price tag is a bit too pricey and makes the term “Deluxe” really seem like an overstatement. The sandwich doesn’t balance as well as McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish. In fact, I’ve had government cafeteria fish sandwiches that tasted better. It’s a tolerable sandwich if you ignore that “deluxe” price, but otherwise I don’t think it’s really worth it.

(Nutrition Facts – 790 calories, 320 calories from fat, 36 grams of fat, 12 grams of saturated fat, 1 gram of trans fat, 125 milligrams of cholesterol, 1140 milligrams of sodium, 89 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, 24 grams of sugar, and 28 grams of protein.)

Item: Arby’s King’s Hawaiian Fish Deluxe Sandwich
Purchased Price: $4.25
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Arby’s
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Wild caught Alaskan Pollock was crispy and flaky. The King’s Hawaiian roll was sweet and rich.
Cons: Too much tartar sauce. The lifeless cheese slice. Deluxe price.

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REVIEW: Pizza Hut Sweet Sriracha Dynamite Pizza

Pizza Hut Sweet Sriracha Dynamite Pizza

I loved sriracha before sriracha reached the consciousness of anyone beyond a noodle house. That iconic squeeze bottle with the green plastic nozzle and the rooster, strutting like those idiots who wear Ed Hardy t-shirts. I first broke my cherry with sriracha when I was an undergrad at the University of Florida scarfing down “fakeasian” food at Maui Teriyaki. I’m sorry, but I love me some good fakeasian as my uncle General Tso knows. Those smoky teriyaki chicken bowls drenched with sweetened soy sauce and careless ribbons of sriracha…oh how I still think of you fondly.

After law school, I rediscovered the sauce when I was shopping at my local Asian market for cans of earthy fried dace and jars of pickled radish. Less like rekindled love and closer to falling off the wagon, my obsession raced to unhealthy standards. I starting dousing everything from cottage cheese to steaming bowls of white rice with the deep reddish condiment.

So, of course, I was excited when rumblings of the Thai counterpart of Tabasco started making its way out of Asian kitchens and into things like mayonnaise or popcorn. However the danger of becoming popular is the inevitable dilution by lame and poorly conceived products like Lay’s sriracha-flavored potato chips that tasted more like cheese puffs. I once went to a “trendy” place where they placed dollops of sriracha into rosemary flecked mashed potatoes. Disgusting!

Yet, I have not given up and while a bit skeptical of Pizza Hut’s new pizza recipes, I’d be lying if I told you I wasn’t interested in the Sweet Sriracha Dynamite Pizza. Most of the new pizzas have names that pretty much describe what the flavor is such as Buffalo State of Mind (buffalo wings) or the one I’m reviewing.

On the other hand, there are terribly named ones like Cock-A-Doodle Bacon or Pretzel Piggy. Neither alerts me to a creamy parmesan sauce and instead, they sound more characters from Japanese anime hentai. No, I don’t care how many tentacles you can stick in that orifice, hentai is weird.

And yeah, I’m sorry. I’m not going to actually pick up the phone and say, “I’d like one Cock-A-Doodle Bacon Pizza.” Never going to happen. I would rather read the list of ingredients and make the other person on the end say, “Oh…you want the Cock-A-Doodle Bacon Pizza?” “Cock-a-yes please.”

Pizza Hut Sweet Sriracha Dynamite Pizza 2

What intrigued me the most was the base sauce, honey sriracha instead of the dependable marinara sauce. The warmth of the pizza box that dropped in my lap felt better than a stripper with a “two hands size” butt. It smelled like an ordinary pizza and while I was entranced by the scent, it had me worried because I was wondering if it would taste like one as well.

Upon opening the warm box with the slightly damp tippy top lid, the smell of roasted jalapeño and melted cheese infiltrated the air. I popped open the box and I had to exclaim this was one of the prettiest pizzas I have ever seen. The deep red hues of the Peruvian cherry peppers just popped out of the pizza.

Pizza Hut Sweet Sriracha Dynamite Pizza 4

The honey sriracha glazed crust had that new tire shine, although it was off-putting to grab a sticky crust. It was also annoying because every time I grabbed a slice, it felt like I was grabbing a cinnamon bun.

On the first bite, I could taste the sweetness of the roasted peppers which complemented the sweeter pineapple chunks. The jalapeños were thankfully not the pickled kind or if they were, I didn’t taste it. The grilled chicken pieces, although large, were spongy in texture but imparted a smokiness. However, the sweet sriracha sauce lifted the pizza to another level.

Nowhere as intense as mango habanero wing sauce from Buffalo Wild Wings but it definitely packs more heat than a stick of Big Red cinnamon gum. The sauce was really nice. It was very much balanced and despite sriracha overload, this was a thoughtfully created pizza. Furthermore, the cheese just brought the entire pizza together like a satisfying science fiction film without the tentacle sex.

Pizza Hut Sweet Sriracha Dynamite Pizza 3

Essentially, the pizza is like a bolder version of the Hawaiian pizza. I would never say sriracha pizza, let alone from The Hut, is the best pizza in this multiverse but this is as close to a standing applause I can give to a chain pizza.

The sriracha has the characteristics of lingering heat with a slight sweet tang. I could make that out but it ain’t no Huy Fong Sriracha. I overlooked this because the pizza was put together so well.

Now some variances, I ordered mine with the pan crust because I felt a thicker crust would carry the honey sriracha glaze better. Also, mine didn’t come with the strange sweet honey sriracha drizzle and it appears you have to ask for it (or my neighborhood Pizza Hut person said). That’s fine, I don’t like soggy ass pizzas and would rather not overload the pizza with sweet syrupy gunk because the pizza was really tight in its flavors.

Another serendipitous moment, the pizza reheats well in the oven, so much so that my taste buds were tricked into thinking “we got ANOTHER pizza?! Hell YEAHHHH!” No dummy. It may be the base sauce, the toppings or the pan pizza crust. Damn, it may be all of the above. The pizza made me curious enough to try the rest of the “new recipe” line.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 slice (large pizza) – 320 calories, 100 calories from fat, 11 games of total fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 40 mg of cholesterol, 940 mg of sodium, 41 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of dietary fiber, 6 grams of sugars and 15 grams of protein.)

Item: Pizza Hut Sweet Sriracha Dynamite Pizza
Purchased Price: $14.99
Size: 14 inches (large)
Purchased at: Pizza Hut
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: weet, spicy and smoky. Good heat from a pizza. If you like Hawaiian pizza, this is a good try. Sexy anime Cosplay.
Cons: Sticky crust. Spongy chicken. Sriracha overexposure. Tentacle sex.

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REVIEW: Pizza Hut Bacon Cheese Stuffed Crust Pizza

Pizza Hut Bacon Cheese Stuffed Crust Pizza

All right, dammit! I admit it, I like Pizza Hut?

As a former Manhattanite who grew up on real pizza, I think my family and friends in the Big Apple just hung their heads collectively in shame and disgust. I would probably garner a better reaction if I yanked my vintage Bugle Boys pants down and angry-sharted on my grandparent’s ugly Thomas Kinkade print (..alas, aren’t they all ugly?).

Since I’m in a mood to confess…I also secretly love dog-shaming pictures. You know the ones where the owners hang a sign around their necks proclaiming they did something bad.

And I not only love Pizza Hut, I also love their stuffed crusts. I see your head shaking, I know. Despite eating at some of the best pizzerias in New York and Chicago, I come to you throwing myself on the sword asking, “What’s so wrong with Pizza Hut’s pizzas?”

Besides, I now live in a major city in Florida where everyone proclaims their pizza is “New York”-style when in actuality, it is about as New York as the set of Jackie Chan’s “Rumble in the Bronx.” How many mountain ranges can you name that’s in the middle of the Bronx?

For pizza chains, in my experience, Pizza Hut is the most consistent overall. The sauce always has a nice subtle earthy and peppery flavor that pairs well with the tangy acidity of the tomato sauce. Furthermore, the pizza satisfies my cravings when the only local pizzeria around also specializes in Mexican food. Those in Ketchikan, Alaska know what I’m talking about.

After diving into several hours of Destiny, what perfect food than pizza can accompany hours of button mashing? I don’t have time to coordinate with a fork when I’m too busy coordinating the controls to grind levels.?
The delivery was quick and upon opening the box, the familiar fresh smell of fourteen delicious inches of hot pizza rose up and jacked my nostrils into heaven.

Pizza Hut Bacon Cheese Stuffed Crust Pizza Slice

Noticeably, the pizza looked a little weird because the crust was almost an inch and a half wide, which contained a mixture of melted cheeses and hardwood smoked bacon. The bulging crust begged to be ripped apart so the cheddar, provolone and mozzarella mixture could ooze out. I tore it apart and although there was no oozing, there was a rush of smoky bacon that filled the air around my face.

The crust was buttery with a pleasant chewy texture and the mixed melted cheese imparted a nice creamy taste, like the inside of a crab rangoon without the fake cream cheese flavor. The small bits of bacon cut through the cheese and it was awesome enough for me to eat just the crusts of several slices alone.

Pizza Hut Bacon Cheese Stuffed Crust Pizza Innards

Initially, I was not happy with the paltry amount of bacon in the stuffed crust but it turned out it was the right ratio. The cheese mixture really carried the bacon well and amplified that salty and fatty porky taste. There was also a slight onion flavor in the mixture that was well received by my mouth as I continued to hand cannon aliens in the hope of grabbing some elite stuff.

The $11.99 special allowed one topping and I opted for the mushrooms, which was stupid. Pizzeria chain mushrooms are either rubbery or so thin that they are dried up like mummified corpses. I had the latter. The pizza was good but the mushrooms detracted from the pizza and I picked them all off. However, I take the blame and should have ordered onions instead.

The pizza itself sans mushrooms was good as the cheese was perfectly stretchy and the sauce lifted the flavors well. The chewiness of the crust extended to the slice and, as a whole, the pizza satiated my craving. Yet, to be honest, I would be satisfied just eating the crusts and leaving the pizza in the box.

If you’ve eaten the stuffed crust before and didn’t like it, no amount of bacon is going to change your mind. If you were on the fence, bacon does actually make it better. If you liked it, then get ready for Valhalla of epic stuffed crust-pizza proportions. While it’s not as gooey as I hoped, like a fried mozzarella stick, the taste was good enough to overlook this.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 slice w/o toppings – 340 calories, 140 calories from fat, 16 grams of fat, 8 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 45 milligrams of cholesterol, 810 milligrams of sodium, 34 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 1 grams of sugar, and 16 grams of protein.)

Item: Pizza Hut Bacon Cheese Stuffed Crust Pizza
Purchased Price: $11.99
Size: Large
Purchased at: Pizza Hut
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: The cheese mixture carried the bacon well. The stuffed crust was buttery and had a nice chewy texture. Bacon and melted cheese, what is there not to like?
Cons: The cheese in the crust wasn’t gooey. The dried mushrooms sucked the life out of a good pizza. Laughing at dog shaming photos, I’m embarrassed to admit I laugh at those.

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REVIEW: Lay’s Kettle Cooked Wasabi Ginger Potato Chips

Lay's Kettle Cooked Wasabi Ginger Potato Chips

Goddamn, I really wanted to like you. I wanted to praise you to Fatboy Slim’s “Praise You” and tell all my friends how good you were. I patiently waited to open up your bag as you already had me at “Kettle Cooked.” You had me at KETTLE COOKED dammit!!! I love the crunch that quickly shatters into delicious crumbles. Being kettle cooked is the only way to make a potato do that.

I also love wasabi flavored snacks, including that hard to find Lindt chocolate bar. Akin to a big, boisterous and caring aunt who keeps telling you to eat more because you’re so skinny (but you’re not) or how much of a grown man you look in your tie (even in a bolo tie?), wasabi is loud and imposing. It makes its presence known as your nasal flares slightly then tempers down to a sweet cooing.

As for ginger, I love all forms of it except the ubiquitous pickled stuff that comes with sushi. I find the shades that range from the opaque hues of a cadaver to the neon rose on a Hypercolor t-shirt are as awful as the sometimes soapy unpleasant taste pickled ginger imparts. However, I was excited because the vinegary-pickled ginger could play off well as an Asian-tinged Salt & Vinegar chip.

So what went wrong? Was it my high expectations? Was it the excitement of another Lay’s Do Us a Flavor competition? Was it the bourbons and binge viewings of Community? Either way, I was let down in a manner that rivaled the time when my father told the family that my younger brother was his favorite son. Shades of Thanos’ family, I will seek my revenge…eventually.

Lay's Kettle Cooked Wasabi Ginger Potato Chips Closeup

The flavor, inspired by Meneko Springer McBeth, makes sense and probably on Earth-616, the flavor profile would be as normal as sour cream and onion. A quick read-through of her bio shows she’s as normal as anyone: a married registered nurse with three daughters (presumably cute and well-mannered). She has an “affinity for spicy flavors” and loves sushi. Her fun fact is that “The Clearance Queen” is her nickname because she always hunts down the best bargains. She sounds like someone I could ask the time and not be scared of being maced or threatened with undeserved violence involving an ice pick.

Letting me down is one thing, but why let down nice and normal Meneko Springer McBeth who just wants to find good bargains? Is being budget conscious enough to damn an innocent soul, Lay’s?

I should have known it when I opened the bag, only to smell the roasty and pleasantly fried scent of kettle chips. Don’t misunderstand me, the chips smelled great. But when you’re saying there’s wasabi and it was bereft of the pungent horseradishy blast…well, that let me down a lot. I can only compare it to smelling a grilled thick cut steak with pieces of garlic embedded and you can’t smell any of the aromatics.

If that wasn’t sad enough, besides being seen with your nose in a bag of chips as if you were sniffing a fine cognac, the chips tasted just mundane. I was also glad I bought the small convenience store version because I would likely feed the rest to the ducks and they would get hyperlipidemia.

The bag promised wasabi and ginger, but the wasabi was so faint and the ginger was non-existent. The only prevalent taste I could discern was a soy sauce flavor and the onion powder.

Lay's Kettle Cooked Wasabi Ginger Potato Chips Closeup 2

I ate a handful Cookie Monster-style to see if the flavors would be stronger. It wasn’t and all I tasted initially was the ghostly vinegar kick that was more like a shuffle. The wasabi was too lazy to even nod a “hey” to me and I believe a thousand Japanese mobsters cut off their index fingers in shame.

The chips did have a well-rounded saltiness to them and the soy sauce gave off a sweetness that channeled the highly sought umami factor. I’m so depressed now that I think I’m just filling up words in this review so it looks like I am actually working instead of being as lazy as the wasabi and ginger in these chips.

I don’t know what Meneko Springer McBeth did to make Lay’s so angry. For God’s sakes, she even reported that she loves spicy foods and all they could eke out was something as spicy as Mr. Rogers eating a banana. I’m torn because I want this flavor to exist, but I don’t want it to win because of the flat flavor Lay’s has given it.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 oz/about 18 chips – 150 calories, 8 grams of total fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 140 milligrams of sodium, 350 milligrams of potassium, 17 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 2 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Item: Lay’s Kettle Cooked Wasabi Ginger Potato Chips
Purchased Price: $1.49
Size: 2 7/8 oz bag
Purchased at: RaceTrac
Rating: 4 out of 10
Pros: The texture is really nice, crisp with that audible crunch. The sweetness of the soy sauce is nice. Nurses, be kind to them cause’ they work hard and aren’t given a lot of credit, yo. The chips are well seasoned, the goldilocks zone of salt. Earth-616.
Cons: The wasabi couldn’t deliver because it was faint. The ginger couldn’t stand up because it was just as faint. The onion powder and soy sauce overwhelmed the chip. Earth-8101.

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REVIEW: Taco Bell Grande Scrambler Burrito (Bacon and Sausage)

Taco Bell Grande Scrambler 001

I’m a big fan of breakfast. Like most things bad for us, it has that magical power of wrapping together comfort food and guilty pleasure into an eternal dance. It’s like the edible yin and yang: bacon and eggs; pancakes and syrup; butter and toast; chicken and waffles; bourbon and Frosted Flakes. You get the point.

And with that great pleasure comes the other end of the spectrum, uncontrollable rage. There was this time when I had thick cut bacon that was overcooked to hell. I’ve seen relics that remained from the ghastly A-bomb drop in Hiroshima that were less scorched. This built up my inner rage to a maximum, ruining my day.

I also once threw a disproportionate fit at a hipster breakfast joint because the promised rye toast finally came when my wife’s southern fry plate was half done. A lot of beards, let alone my patient wife, were unhappy with me that day.

I just ask for one simple thing, please don’t fuck with breakfast.

When Taco Bell first introduced their breakfast line, particularly the breakfast burrito, I was disappointed and pissed off. How can one mess up salty, fatty, porky sausage and eggs with melted cheese wrapped in a tortilla? Taco Bell did.

In fairness, everyone deserves a second chance even if someone rendered so much fat from thick cut bacon, I’ve seen Ethiopians that were chubbier (Zing! The 80’s want their tasteless jokes back). Taco Bell updated and tweaked their brekkie line with new menu items, which is a sign of encouragement to their dedication to the breakfast menu.

The Taco Bell Grande Scrambler Burrito comes with bacon, sausage, or their questionable and dreadful steak. Simply put, this is an upgraded breakfast burrito from the original and comparing the two is like comparing a greasy road map (the ones you have to annoyingly fold back correctly) to a GPS.

Taco Bell Grande Scrambler 004

I ordered both the bacon and sausage to appease my piggy meat breakfast fervor. The first sign I knew the Taco Bell Grande Scrambler Burrito was traveling on a different path from its predecessor was how surprisingly weighty it was. There was a comfortable heft to them that whispered, “I’m the real deal jackass.” The warmth of holding it in my hand was comparable to pulling fresh boxers out of the dryer on a cold morning.

Sinking my teeth into the Grande Scrambler Burrito with bacon, I immediately noticed the eggs were fluffy and looked scrambled. They were rich and buttery, the way my Grandma never made because she made me eat ginseng root soup instead…stupid Grandma!

The warm nacho cheese sauce, which normally makes me gag because I hate that stuff, worked well with the cold sour cream. They melded in supreme fashion together and the slight acidity of the sour cream cut right through the heavy nacho cheese. There to add another layer of flavor was the pico de gallo. It had fresh chunks of tomato, which also coursed successfully through the heavy nacho cheese sauce.

Taco Bell Grande Scrambler 005

The bacon was in “Bacobits” style, but that in no way muted the salty and crispy bite we demand. I do wish the chunks were bigger to make the bacon flavor more prevalent, but it’s there. The melted shredded cheddar cheese was surprisingly not drowned out by the nacho cheese sauce and it competed well with the tanginess from the pico.

However, the true star of these burritos were their “seasoned breakfast potatoes.” They were perfectly seasoned and had a hybrid tater tot/home-fries like consistency. The only way these could be better is if they were actual tater tots. The potatoes add a satisfying texture to the delicious gloppyness of the burrito. To crank the achievements even more, the tortilla was fluffy and warm like a pillow birthed from a smiling cartoon cloud pooping a rainbow.

Taco Bell Grande Scrambler 006

With that said, the sausage one yielded even better results. The sausage’s peppery flavor imparted a nice compliment to the chunky pico de gallo and it swathed right through the nacho cheese sauce. Although the sausage was in that crappy “kibble” form, it still provided that salty and fatty mouthfeel we crave. Again, the melted cheese and potatoes nicely rounded out the burrito. This time, Taco Bell was less heavy-handed with the sour cream which was fine because it could easily wash away the spicy notes from the sausage.

The price is $2.49 for each, which seems reasonable to me considering the generous size of the burritos. I’m not one of those old timey types that cry out, “you get what you pay for.” Despite that, like scotch or dildos, you really get what you pay for in regards to a breakfast burrito.

The quality is not anywhere near you would get from a good breakfast house that seductively charms you with the aroma of bacon and fluffy pancakes. Yet, for fast food, it really puts some of those meager fast food breakfast burritos to shame. Taco Bell set the bar pretty high and I would bet, if it didn’t violate my probation, that some of the other chains may follow suit. If not, they’re stupid idiots like my grandma who fed me ginseng root soup for breakfast.

(Nutrition Facts – With Bacon – 680 calories, 320 calories from fat, 36 grams of fat, 9 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 195 milligrams of cholesterol, 1570 milligrams of sodium, 68 grams of carbohydrates, 5 grams of dietary fiber, 5 grams of sugars, and 22 grams of protein. With Sausage – 670 calories, 330 calories from fat, 36 grams of fat, 9 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 195 milligrams of cholesterol, 1410 milligrams of sodium, 67 grams of carbohydrates, 5 grams of dietary fiber, 5 grams of sugars, and 19 grams of protein)

Item: Taco Bell Grande Scrambler Burrito (Bacon and Sausage)
Purchased Price: $2.49
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Taco Bell
Rating: 8 out of 10 (Bacon)
Rating: 9 out of 10 (Sausage)
Pros: The melted cheddar cheese, the warm nacho cheese sauce, the sour cream and pico de gallo all complement each other. The potatoes are texturally and flavorfully awesome. The $2.49 price tag is more than reasonable. Piggy Meat Breakfast Fervor (best name for a band that never existed). Getting angry and shouting.
Cons: The bacon could be bigger, thus the bacon flavor would be more prevalent. The sausage is in “kibble” form. When servers bring toast late, it’s like the fries come last after you have received your cheeseburger. The spouse dealing with you getting angry and shouting.

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