Top Restaurant Prices The authority of restaurant prices online 2019-04-10T21:18:19Z https://www.toprestaurantprices.com/feed/atom/ WordPress Restaurant Staff <![CDATA[Best Examples of Japanese Rice-Based Dishes and Desserts]]> http://www.toprestaurantprices.com/?p=9193 2019-04-10T21:18:19Z 2019-04-10T21:18:13Z Among the Japanese, rice is at the heart of every meal. Such is its importance that every meal is referred to as asa gohan (morning rice), hiru gohan (lunch rice), and ban gohan (dinner rice)! Such emphasis on rice is also clearly evident in Japanese fusion restaurants like Benihana where the menu consists of several […]

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Among the Japanese, rice is at the heart of every meal. Such is its importance that every meal is referred to as asa gohan (morning rice), hiru gohan (lunch rice), and ban gohan (dinner rice)! Such emphasis on rice is also clearly evident in Japanese fusion restaurants like Benihana where the menu consists of several rice-based dishes.

But don’t worry about being bored from rice, rice and more rice at a Japanese restaurant. Rice is a blank canvas and lends itself well to countless toppings and fillings, as well as a wide range of preparation. Here are a few of the best Japanese rice-based dishes and desserts that we think you should try at least once – or as many times as you can considering that these are so delicious, nearly addictive.

Inari Sushi

Most of us have heard of sushi but inari sushi isn’t as well-known among sushi restaurant regulars. Don’t blame yourself for it because it’s more of a snack food than a meal unto itself but it’s similar in many ways to sushi.

Basically, it’s sushi rice wrapped around a seasoned deep-fried tofu skin (aburaage pouch). You can stuff it with your choice in seaweed or vegetables, thanks to its rather sweet flavor.  You will like the contrast between sweet and savory with each bite.

Onigiri

Known as Japanese rice balls, onigiri is a versatile dish since it can be a side dish, an appetizer, and a full meal. These are savory treats that come in various shapes aside from being round balls – triangle wedges, cylinders, and flattened discs are also available.

Onigiri also comes in a wide range of flavors, not to mention prepared in numerous ways, so there are several ways to enjoy them. It come be sprinkled with sesame seeds, red shiso powder, or bonito flakes; mixed with wakame seaweed; or filled with tuna, shrimp, fried chicken, or fermented foods. It can also be grilled, served cold, or wrapped in nori.

Dango

Dumplings are popular in Japan because these are great to-go foods, and dango is one such dumpling. Dango is a sweet and chewy rice dumpling made from mochiko; it’s a cousin of the hugely popular mocha. Like the onigiri, there are several varieties of dango with each one having distinctive taste.

When served on a skewer, usually three to five dango balls each skewer, it can be grilled and served with a sweet topping. It can also be toasted over an open fire, as if these are marshmallow, which subtly changes the balls’ texture and flavor.

The varieties of dango are named after the seasonings paired with the dumplings. Examples include:

  • Anko dango with sweetened red bean paste
  • Botchan dango with red beans, eggs, and green tea; each ingredient gives the balls a different color
  • Chandango is a marriage between traditional dango and green tea as flavoring
  • Goma, a sweet and salty dango with sesame seeds
  • Hanami dango is a seasonal dango served during cherry blossom viewing season

Mochi, the cousin of dango, is a Japanese rice cake made of short-grain japonica rice known as mochigome. It’s enjoyed the whole year-round but it’s most popular during the New Year festivities.

Trivia: Dango is made from rice flour while mochi is made from pounded whole grains. The difference in ingredient explains the differences in taste and texture.

Donburi

Perhaps the most popular Japanese dish aside from sushi and ramen, donburi is a bowl of steamed rice with various ingredients as toppings. There are as many donburi variations as your imagination can allow, and the dish can be served hot or cold.  The name of the dish comes from the fact that it’s served in a donburi, an oversized rice bowl.

The sauce served with the rice and the toppings, such as vegetables, fish and rice, varies according to the region where it came from and the ingredients used. The ingredients used can be almost anything, even leftovers, for as long as these can be paired with rice – and almost anything can be paired with it!

Just to name a few of the most popular types of donburi:

  • Gyudon consists of beef and onion, which has been simmered in dashi-flavored sweet sauce, on a bed of fluffy white rice.
  • Butadon is a pork dish with rice and served with a mildly sweet sauce.
  • Tentamadon is tempura simmered with beaten egg with a rice topping.
  • Unadon consists of steamed white rice with toppings of unagi (fillets of eel) and served with a glazing of sweetened soy-based sauce.

When you’re in a Japanese restaurant, you should try to be more adventurous in your choices. You will find that Japanese food isn’t just about the sushi – it’s also about dango, mochi, and onigiri, among others. Your adventurous nature where food is concerned will be rewarded with the best flavors that Japanese cuisine has to offer – and you don’t even have to travel to Japan for as long as there’s a Benihana in your city.

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Restaurant Staff <![CDATA[Popular Japanese Ingredients in America Now]]> http://www.toprestaurantprices.com/?p=9190 2019-03-29T19:59:30Z 2019-03-29T19:58:32Z In the late 1990s, sushi restaurants in the United States were a novelty, of sorts, with their clientele usually immigrants from the Land of the Rising Sun and foodies. By the late 2000s, these restaurants enjoyed sales exceeding $3 billion a year, a significant feat further reinforced by the 3% growth rate the segment has […]

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In the late 1990s, sushi restaurants in the United States were a novelty, of sorts, with their clientele usually immigrants from the Land of the Rising Sun and foodies. By the late 2000s, these restaurants enjoyed sales exceeding $3 billion a year, a significant feat further reinforced by the 3% growth rate the segment has consistently enjoyed.  Indeed, Japanese restaurants like Benihana are among the most popular of their kind due to the sustained interest in Japanese cuisine among Americans.

But it isn’t just in sushi restaurants that the ingredients used in Japanese cuisine are gaining widespread acceptance. Many American homes are using these ingredients, too, sometimes in traditional ways, sometimes in surprising ways.

Wasabi

Sushi is undoubtedly the most popular Japanese food in the United States now and its popularity has driven the wasabi, its best condiment, into the mainstream. Well-known chefs have used it in innovative ways, too, and highlighted its versatility as an ingredient.

Wolfgang Puck used it as a flavoring for mashed potatoes, a dish served in his restaurant, Chinois on Main, an Asian fusion cuisine restaurant. Even The Cheesecake Factory offers wasabi-spiked potatoes, seared ahi tuna with wasabi butter sauce, and a seared tuna tataki salad with wasabi vinaigrette.

But what exactly is wasabi? Extracted from Wasabi japonica, a plant belonging to the same family as mustard and horseradish, wasabi paste has a sharp and spicy taste that complements many dishes. While its burn on the mouth is short and sweet – and it’s a good thing, too, since it doesn’t overpower the desired taste of the food when it’s applied in small quantities – it has an intense aroma.

The spicy taste travels from your mouth to your sinuses, a slow but sure awakening of your senses. Be careful about inhaling too much of its aroma as it may just turn you off from enjoying its intense flavor. But you will soon get used to the aroma and crave for the flavor.

Upscale Japanese sushi restaurants grate the wasabi root to order and then make a paste out of it. The to-order grating is a must since wasabi loses its scent and most of its flavor minutes after being grated.

But wasabi roots are expensive – more than $100 a pound – so many sushi restaurants use a substitute, usually a combination of horseradish, mustard and food coloring. The use of mustard and horseradish as substitutes for wasabi is understandable considering that these plants have a similar – not the same, mind you – spiciness. The light green hue mimics the exact coloring of grated wasabi root.

Wasabi connoisseurs know that there’s a significant difference between the two. Where genuine wasabi has a smooth spiciness to it, substitute wasabi has a slightly sharper bite. If you have the money for genuine wasabi, buy it and enjoy the difference in your dishes.

Tip: Don’t even think about gorging on wasabi – you will become sick, not to mention that it can be physically painful.

Togarashi

If you’re a sushi addict or a red pepper flakes aficionado, then carrying a togarashi in your bag isn’t as weird as it seems. Technically, togarashi is a small hot red Japanese chili but when sold as a ready-to-use product, it’s a spice mix – think of it as the Japanese equivalent of the Chinese five spice or the Indian curry but unlike them, togarashi is usually used as a finishing spice.

The spices, seeds and other ingredients used in togarashi varies. The most common ingredients, however, include seaweed, sesame seeds, orange zest, chile powder, and ginger.

Togarashi is used in innovative ways in the United States. It’s used to enhance the flavor of togarashi edamame with garlic and sea salt; sprinkled over seared albacore and stir-fried vegetables; and mixed with ranch dressing and served with tempura zucchini fries.

What does it actually taste like? It’s a multi-dimensional spice mix with a toasty sweet and spicy flavor, underlined by subtle umami notes from the seaweed, floral notes from the orange zest, and zing from the ginger.

If you think that your food tastes bland or boring, you may want to sprinkle togarashi on it. Name the food and it will likely be a suitable pairing with togarashi – pizzas, popcorn, salads, seared fish, soft-cooked eggs, roast vegetables, chicken, and pasta are just a few possibilities.

Miso

Fermented foods aren’t exactly the most popular foods in mainstream American cuisine with its emphasis on freshness on one hand and processed foods – read: fast-food – on the other hand. But miso appears to be the exception and it’s a great thing, too, considering that it has a savory umami flavor that can’t be beat.

Miso is actually made from fermented soybeans. Such is its versatility that it can be used in traditional miso soups, vinaigrettes, and even butterscotch cookies.  Of the three ingredients in this list, we have to say that miso is the most well-known among non-Japanese diners.

When you’re at a favorite restaurant, you may want to take a second look at the menu. you may be surprised that the chefs have incorporated one of these three quintessential Japanese ingredients to tweak their dishes.

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Restaurant Staff <![CDATA[Peter Luger vs. Morton’s Steakhouse]]> http://www.toprestaurantprices.com/?p=9075 2018-12-07T15:36:28Z 2019-02-03T15:34:29Z Peter Luger fans will likely have a fit if somebody says that while the restaurant has been considered as a steak lover’s paradise for more than a century, it isn’t among the best steakhouses in the country, not even in Brooklyn anymore. But we have to say that Morton’s Steakhouse is now becoming the go-to […]

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Peter Luger fans will likely have a fit if somebody says that while the restaurant has been considered as a steak lover’s paradise for more than a century, it isn’t among the best steakhouses in the country, not even in Brooklyn anymore. But we have to say that Morton’s Steakhouse is now becoming the go-to place for a great steak dinner, especially if you want more variety to your meal.

But before anybody else takes to the streets, keep in mind that as with most things in life, food is a matter of personal preference – what may be delicious for you may not be as much to others but everybody’s entitled to their own opinions. The best thing to do, if you haven’t done it yet, is to compare your dining experiences at Peter Luger and Morton’s Steakhouse, if you live in or near Brooklyn.

The Peter Luger Experience

Peter Luger remains a favorite in the Zagat book and for a reason – its steak still tastes good even after a century after it was first introduced. Such is the restaurant’s obsession for its steak that it’s nearly the only food on its barebones menu with choices like the porterhouse steak and the prime rib. The steaks here have been dry-aged according to the Peter Luger tradition and served medium rare, ostensibly to allow the meat to shine.

Once it’s served on a plate, you will likely observe that the stake has a blackened outer layer, a char encrusting the meat that can either turn you off a bit – hello, carcinogens – or turn you on because there’s something so flavorful about it. The taste is heavenly, nonetheless – the meat’s texture was lusciously buttery, its flavor concentrated with complex flavors enjoyed with every bite, and its feel supple yet creamy, rich yet subtle. You will also agree that the beef has a silky yet chewy feel in the mouth combined with a juicy, nearly slippery, finish.

You may even notice a slight nuttiness with the strong beef flavor, a combination that makes the dry-aged beef taste nearly like Kobe beef, among the best in the world but it’s so expensive.  The bottom line: The Peter Luger steak lives up to the hype and what a hype it is!

But there’s a slight hiccup in the way Peter Luger serves its steak. Instead of being served as a single large chunk, it’s served in pre-cut pieces – think large fish stick-sized slices that can be eaten in a single bite. If you’re looking forward to slicing the meat yourself and enjoying the experience, then Peter Luger may not be the steakhouse for you.

The complimentary basket of bread consists of lip-smackingly delicious onion rye bread and seasoned crackers, the perfect appetizer to a great steak. Even the sauce, a combination of crushed tomatoes, grated horseradish, and molasses, is delicious and the right accompaniment to the steak.

But if you’re looking for more things other than a great steak from Peter Luger, you may be just a tad disappointed, if not a whole lot disappointed depending on your expectations that, in turn, were likely based on the hype. For one thing, the barebones menu doesn’t give diners much of an option while the overall ambiance is nearly as barebones.

But if you’re looking for great steak, then Peter Luger is a great choice.

The Morton’s Experience

Morton’s Steakhouse isn’t what you can call a fine dining restaurant, far from it, with its nearly generic décor. But look beyond it and you will find that it’s a great steakhouse to be in, thanks to its smooth service, the quality of its food and its generous portions, and the breadth of the menu. Even the steak with their beefier quality is arguably better than that of Peter Luger!

People who want a more diverse menu flock to Morton’s, a full-service restaurant that offers appetizers, entrées, and main dishes as well as a few desserts. Here, you and your group can enjoy a full meal aside from the classic steak dinner.

The appetizer menu consists of close to a dozen items, such as oysters Rockefeller consisting of delightful oysters served with creamy, buttery spinach; Colossal Shrimp Alexander, juicy, tender and delicious shrimp; and chunky crab cakes. We loved the bacon-wrapped scallops, a perfectly balanced dish that we can eat on most days.

The steaks are near-perfect, if not perfect depending on your preference – beefy, chewy, lip-smackingly delicious with every bite. You will love that the steaks are served in large, single chunks so the joy of cutting through the beef is yours. You can choose from several cuts, too, such as the porterhouse and the bone-in, rib-eye cut served Chicago-style; the latter is larger, thicker and richer than the former so it’s a great choice if you’re caveman-hungry.

Aside from the breadth of the menu, the friendliness and attentiveness of the staff make each Morton’s visit an enjoyable experience. Diners, after all, eat out not just for the food but for the service, too.

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Restaurant Staff <![CDATA[IHOP vs. Waffle House]]> http://www.toprestaurantprices.com/?p=9072 2018-12-07T15:34:19Z 2019-01-27T15:32:33Z Both IHOP and Waffle House came into the American scene in the 1950s and comparisons between the two have been going on since then. Both chains, of course, offer breakfast items that Americans have come to love, especially pancakes and waffles drizzled in maple syrup and topped with whipped cream, fresh fruit slices, and candied […]

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Both IHOP and Waffle House came into the American scene in the 1950s and comparisons between the two have been going on since then. Both chains, of course, offer breakfast items that Americans have come to love, especially pancakes and waffles drizzled in maple syrup and topped with whipped cream, fresh fruit slices, and candied bacon.

Their menus have also changed through the years as a response to the public’s increasing concern for food safety and healthy ingredients. But if you’re looking for a low-calorie meal or snack, then we suggest going elsewhere. IHOP and Waffle House food aren’t exactly favorites among health and fitness nuts – these restaurants are more suitable for indulging in classic American fare.

The IHOP Culture

When you first walk into an IHOP, your first impression will likely be that it has the quintessential New York-style diner vibe. The contemporary décor, which tends to be minimalist, is characterized by air interiors and bright lighting, as well as plush tables and chairs. There’s a family-friendly vibe here with groups of families and friends enjoying their breakfast, lunch, or dinner so be prepared for quite a crowd at any time of the day.

Fortunately, the staff members are fast on their feet so your orders are delivered to your table within 15-30 minutes depending on the crowd. Everybody seems so friendly and efficient – refilling your glass, asking about your food, and thanking you for your patronage are always done with a sincere smile.

Even the music played from the loudspeakers reflect the modern atmosphere with its diverse playlist from classic rock to pop, R&B, and contemporary songs.

Pancakes and waffles are IHOP’s specialties and, no offense to grandmothers everywhere, are the best in the country. Made from premium ingredients, these round and square goodness are fluffy, airy and creamy on their own. But pancakes and waffles aren’t, well, pancakes and waffles without the toppings and IHOP definitely has a smorgasbord of toppings to choose from – butter and maple syrup, sliced fruits like strawberries and blueberries, whipped cream, and fruit jams.

The menu includes pancakes with innovative names like New York Cheesecake Pancakes, Rooty Tooty Fresh ‘N Fruity Pancakes, Chocolate Chocolate Chip Pancakes, Red Velvet Pancakes, and New Fluffy The Snowman Pancakes. Be sure to leave your dietary inhibitions at the door since you’re likely to eat everything on your plate.

For people looking for healthier fare, IHOP can also be a good place to go. There are healthy food on the Simple and Fit menu with breakfast combos like Two-Egg Breakfast, which has whole wheat toast, scrambled eggs made with an egg substitute, and turkey bacon. Think of the meals as getting your indulgent breakfast and eating it, too, sans the guilt.

The Waffle House Way

The Waffle House is a different animal, so to speak, than IHOP. Here, the minimalist décor has been taken in a more literal manner with little decoration on the walls although the friendly atmosphere and bright lighting offsets it. Where IHOP has a citified feel, Waffle House has a more countrified feel – think of small town America and that’s what you will get.

But the countrified feel has its advantages, too. The staff members, for one thing, are more attentive without being obnoxious, usually asking diners about their food, even asking the regulars about their families. Waffle House has a motto – Good Food Fast – and it rings true in its restaurants with the good food served promptly.

In many Waffle House locations, the music comes from a jukebox, which customers can operate. The result is a more spontaneous playlist with most of the songs being country music with a spattering of college fight songs. There’s a sense of community that develops from the music so Waffle House locations seem like a community hub for outsiders.

The menu is divided into two categories – breakfast and lunch/dinner. The choices include salads, chili, melts, and burgers, as well as wraps and sandwiches. The burgers can be customized according to your preference.

We recommend the steaks, such as the sirloin, T-bone steak, and rib-eye steak, which are surprisingly good despite Waffle House not being a steakhouse. You may also want to try the Texas Angus Patty Melt and the Texas Melts because these are so good.

The pancakes and waffles are delicious, too, with creamy and rich quality, just as you likely prefer them. The toppings are just as varied so there’s always the chance that your pancakes and waffles will remind you of home and childhood.

Between IHOP and Waffle House, which one is better overall? We have to say that it’s IHOP because of its more varied menu, more citified atmosphere, and more delicious food. But it’s only our opinion so we expect our valued readers to have their opinions, too, both agreeing and disagreeing with ours.

Without question, nonetheless, the fans of IHOP and Waffle House love their breakfast so it’s all a matter of personal preference. Let’s just enjoy the food!

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Restaurant Staff <![CDATA[How Chefs Make Your Food Beautiful on The Plate]]> http://www.toprestaurantprices.com/?p=9068 2018-12-07T15:32:15Z 2019-01-21T10:29:33Z The French Laundry, a fine dining restaurant, presents its dishes and desserts so beautifully that customers are justified in just admiring its beauty instead of eating such fine works of edible art. For chefs, after all, food presentation is just as important as the flavors and feel of the food in the mouth. But how […]

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The French Laundry, a fine dining restaurant, presents its dishes and desserts so beautifully that customers are justified in just admiring its beauty instead of eating such fine works of edible art. For chefs, after all, food presentation is just as important as the flavors and feel of the food in the mouth.

But how do chefs make their food so beautifully presented? How can you, a person with little to no training in the culinary arts, make such works of art on a plate? Here are tips that can make your food look more appetizing, as well as reinforce your appreciation for the culinary arts.

Choose the Right Plate

This is key to food presentation because the plate can make or break your arrangement. Think of food plating in this way – you are the artist, the food is your medium, and the plate is your blank canvas. You should then carefully choose the plate according to its size, color and size in the same way that artists choose these canvas.

Start by choosing the right size – it should neither be too big that it seems to swallow the food nor too small that the food seems to spill over it. The food should stand out, so to speak, when placed on the plate.

White plates are typically used in fine dining restaurants because these provide a neutral background, a must to highlight the colors of the food, and create high contrast for the food to stand out. The color also speaks of pristine cleanliness, a quality that diners want in the people who prepare their food and the place where said food is prepared.

But many chefs also use plates in vibrant colors and/or with prints. Be careful when choosing these types of plates, however, as the food can easily become lost in, say, a black plate.  Studies have also shown that dark-colored plates, such as blue and brown, tend to reduce the appetite so lighter-colored plates are usually recommended.

Place the Food in the Right Way

Well, of course, there’s no wrong or right way to plate your dish or dessert because beauty, like art, is in the eye of the artist and the beholder. But chefs follow general guidelines when placing the food on the plate, a few of which are discussed below.

  • Balance contrast and variety, especially the textures. For example, crunchy onion straws can be contrasted by a smooth vegetable puree or a steak can be topped with crumbled blue cheese.
  • Use a clock as a guide when plating. From the diner’s perspective, the protein should be between 3 and 9, the carbohydrates between 9 and 12, and the vegetables between 12 and 3. The placement will then be symmetrical while also making it easier for the diner to get at each part of his meal.
  • Use moist or runny ingredients as the base for aesthetic and practical reasons. Moist and runny ingredients will likely move during delivery from the kitchen to the table when these aren’t anchored in place by solid ingredients. For example, mashed vegetables can serve as the bed for sliced meat and vegetables so the former doesn’t spread all over the place.
  • Arrange food so that there are flavor bites. These are forkfuls of food combining all the ingredients on the plate into a single bite. The diner will then be able to savor the flavors of the food with each bite and, thus, enjoy how each ingredient complements or highlights the others. Plus, flavor bites on a plate are visually appealing and increases the sense of anticipation of what’s to come when the diner starts eating.
  • Avoid overcrowding the plate. Find a focal point, usually the protein (i.e., meat), and build your other ingredients around it. The accompanying ingredients are usually in smaller quantities than the focal point because these play a complementary role only.
  • Place odd amounts of the ingredients, especially the small ones. Examples include bite-sized appetizers, scallops and shrimps. An odd number of ingredients on a plate creates more visual appeal, such as placing 7 scallops instead of 6. An added benefit is that diners think they’re being served more food and, thus, become more satisfied
  • Use accent ingredients for their color and flavor. Garnishes like mint, for example, serve both functions.
  • Create height to increase the food’s visual appeal and to make the illusion of more food. But avoid compactly stacking the food because then it just looks lazy
  • Highlight the height of certain ingredients by offsetting them with long, flat ingredients. For example, steak on a bed of polenta can be accented by lean asparagus spears set against it at a 45-degree angle.

Plating is an art so you have to apply your personal sense of artistry while also taking into account the standards of beauty. Practice is also key so plating food at home as frequently as possible is recommended. Observe the plating in fine dining restaurants, too.

And don’t forget to serve food in the temperature that these should be served. You have to balance between making the food look beautiful and serving it promptly.

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Restaurant Staff <![CDATA[Food is for The Eyes, Too! (Or Why Food Presentation is Important)]]> http://www.toprestaurantprices.com/?p=9065 2018-12-07T15:28:14Z 2019-01-14T15:26:24Z Food presentation is as important as the freshness and flavor of the food! Just ask the diners and chefs at fine dining restaurants like Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse and you will find that everybody’s in agreement on this matter for good reasons. As creatures with a higher sense of consciousness, we eat with our eyes as […]

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Food presentation is as important as the freshness and flavor of the food! Just ask the diners and chefs at fine dining restaurants like Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse and you will find that everybody’s in agreement on this matter for good reasons. As creatures with a higher sense of consciousness, we eat with our eyes as much as we eat with our mouths.

Setting Expectations on a Plate

When a dish or dessert is placed before you, your first step will likely be to look at it for a few seconds, perhaps even turn the plate a little so you can admire it from a better angle. You will admire the bold and bright colors of the vegetables, the perfect char on the grilled meat, and the rich quality of the sauce, if you ordered the steak dinner. You may also admire the creamy smoothness of a panna cotta with a topping of luscious sliced strawberries.

Even before you take your first bite, you have eaten the food with your eyes! You are setting expectations that the steak dinner will be delicious with its juicy, flavorful and tender meat combined with the creaminess of the mashed potatoes and crispiness of the baby carrots. Your panna cotta will be heavenly with its rich, creamy, melt-in-your-mouth quality.

And it’s exactly what chefs do when they place your food on a plate – set expectations. The visual display increases your sense of anticipation for the scrumptious feast ahead and sets in motion your physical responses. Your mouth water and your stomach sends the signal of being hungry, while your body increases the flow of pancreatic and gastric juices in readiness for digestion.

Chefs then take great pains in preparing food that will be as visually appealing as it is delicious in the mouth. Every element from the ingredients to the plate will be carefully considered so that customers are getting edible art on a plate – or glass and bowl, for that matter.

Science Has Proof

This isn’t just a matter of art, however, as scientific studies have shown that people will pay more for their food and enjoy their food more when it’s presented beautifully. Even the taste will be affected – dishes presented well in beautiful plates are often perceived as tasting better than those served in plain plates, even when identical ingredients have been used.

Ferran Adrià even showed that the color of the crockery used affected the perception of flavor! In an experiment, the same type of dessert was served on a white plate and a black plate. The dessert served on a white plate was considered to be 10% sweeter, 15% more intense, and 10% more likable than the identical dessert served on a black plate. The flavors are, of course, the same but the brain was tricked into believing that the dessert on a white plate was better in nearly every way.

But it isn’t just the black-and-white extremes that matter in food presentation and perception. Brown and blue plates aren’t commonly used in restaurants because these colors can suppress the appetite, as well as have a negative effect on the perception of taste and flavor. Many restaurants prefer vibrant colors, such as red, instead for this reason.

And then there’s also the fact that dirty plates – or even just the perception that the plates are dirty – will have an adverse effect on the eyes and, subsequently, on the appetite. The best restaurants take pains to ensure that their plates, glasses and other dining utensils are as clean, even pristine, as can be.

Senses Are Involved

For chefs, food presentation is an art form itself and, thus, it involves all the senses, not just the sense of sight and taste. The food should ideally tell a story, encourage an emotion, and even bring on a good memory from the first time it’s presented on a plate until it’s swallowed. This may be a tall order but the best chefs, such as Gordon Ramsay, are known for such an admirable talent.

Every ingredient on a dish or dessert was likely chosen for its form, texture and color, as well as in the way that it will blend or highlight the other ingredients. The culinary arts isn’t just about the study of cooking and it shows in the plating of the food.

Of course, the process and preparation involved in cooking the food are just as important since these aspects will determine the flavors, textures and colors of the food. The plating is the cherry on the sundae, if you will, as well as the way in which the chef expressed his or her personality.

So the next time you’re in a restaurant, take the time to admire the plating on the food – the chefs spent time and energy on making your food as beautiful on your eyes as it is delicious in your mouth and healthy for your body.

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Restaurant Staff <![CDATA[The Journey of Hamburger from Mongolia to The U.S.]]> http://www.toprestaurantprices.com/?p=9062 2018-12-07T15:25:59Z 2019-01-07T10:23:23Z In American cuisine, there’s arguably nothing more American than hamburgers – that and apple pie, of course. Every American – and then some worldwide – has eaten a hamburger so no wonder that it’s considered a staple on fast-food, casual dining, and even fine dining restaurants. Name an American brand restaurant and it will likely […]

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In American cuisine, there’s arguably nothing more American than hamburgers – that and apple pie, of course. Every American – and then some worldwide – has eaten a hamburger so no wonder that it’s considered a staple on fast-food, casual dining, and even fine dining restaurants. Name an American brand restaurant and it will likely have it on the menu, from McDonald’s to Applebee’s.

Nowadays, there are plenty of choices in hamburgers, too, from the classic beef hamburger to the meatless, gluten-free and organic hamburgers. The ancient Mongolians, if they can see the modern burger, will be surprised that their utilitarian idea has turned into a multi-billion dollar industry worldwide.

Created by the Mongolians

Historians credit the Mongolian soldiers under Genghis Khan, the leader of the Mongolian Empire in the 13th century, as the first people to invent the first version of patties. Under his tutelage, the Mongols established one of history’s largest empires stretching from the eastern coast of China to the border of Eastern Europe. Such was the strength of the Mongols that it is said his cavalry rode for days on end without stopping, not even to take their meals.

And this is where the patty was said to have been born. The Mongolian soldiers would make scraps of meat formed into small, round patties and place them under their saddles; the preferred meat was either mutton or lamb, which were tough to eat when raw. The meat became tenderized from the pressure created by the soldiers riding on the saddle and, thus, it was ready to eat after a few days.

The concept spread to the nations that the Mongols conquered and beyond. For example, the Russians added onions and eggs to the raw meat patty while the Germans, particularly in Hamburg, cooked seasoned meat patties. The latter was known as Hamburg steak, a creation that German immigrants brought to the United States starting in the 18th century.

Refined by the Americans

The modern-day hamburger was created in the United States but as iconic foods go, it has controversy surrounding who, when and where it was created. In fact, several people and places claim to be the inventor and birthplace of the American burger – a meat patty between two slices of bread or bun.

For example, there’s Akron, Ohio that stakes its claim as the hamburger’s birthplace. Here, the owners of Menches Bros. Restaurant claim that their ancestors, Frank and Charles Menches, served the first hamburgers in the early 1880s. The duo apparently ran out of sausages to sell during a county fair and came up with the idea.

Many people in Tulsa, Oklahoma will beg to differ. For them, the original hamburger was created in their city in 1891.

Setting aside these competing claims, we have to admit that the fast-food hamburger we know today can be partly attributed to Walter Anderson and Edgar Waldo Ingram, the co-founders of White Castle Hamburger. Founded in 1921, the White Castle chain is considered as the oldest burger chain still in operation in the United States today – and millions of people love their sliders, too.

Let’s not forget, too, that McDonald’s has played and continues to play a significant role in the development of the modern-day hamburger. Considered as the world’s largest fast-food chain, the Golden Arches sells millions of hamburgers a year, a boon or a bane depending on which side of the food debate you’re on.

But look beyond the Golden Arches and you will find plenty of other restaurants offering their own versions of the classic hamburger.  Many of these restaurants responded to the call for healthier food in light of the increasing public concern over obesity, food safety, and healthy lifestyles. Many of them even offer their customers with the option to build their own burgers from scratch and, thus, give them the opportunity to choose healthier combinations of ingredients.

Beyond these fast-casual and fast-food chains, furthermore, are the sit-down eateries with family-friendly services with menus created largely around hamburgers. For example, Red Robin offers a wide variety of upscale burgers like the Southern Charm Burger, a delicious burger made of Angus beef patty topped with honey BBQ sauce, caramelized onions, candied bacon, and cheddar cheese. This isn’t your McDonald’s hamburger so it’s also more expensive although it’s worth the price.

Burgers are here to stay despite the ever-changing tastes of consumers! The basic ingredients are so simple – a meat or vegetarian patty, a few vegetables, a sauce, and two bun slices – yet in its simplicity lies the opportunity for creativity.

Chefs consider burgers as the perfect blank canvas that allows them to highlight their skills and to provide enjoyment beyond the fast-food burger. Nearly every part of the burger can be tweaked, from substituting the beef patty with a gluten-free vegetarian patty to adding exotic toppings like pickles, frizzled onions, and candied bacon. Even the meat can be any other type aside from beef, such as venison, goat, lamb, chicken and turkey.

The burger’s journey isn’t over yet so we suggest keeping an eye out for new creations that may just blow away your mind!

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Restaurant Staff <![CDATA[2019: The Year of Old and New in Restaurants]]> http://www.toprestaurantprices.com/?p=9058 2018-12-07T15:23:02Z 2019-01-01T00:01:43Z The restaurant industry has its ebbs and flows, fads and trends, and ups and downs that the public will be privy to, at least most of the time. There are trends in previous years that have withstood the test of time, such as food safety and food deals, while there are trends that are passing […]

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The restaurant industry has its ebbs and flows, fads and trends, and ups and downs that the public will be privy to, at least most of the time. There are trends in previous years that have withstood the test of time, such as food safety and food deals, while there are trends that are passing fads – waiters in roller skates isn’t as popular today as it was in the 1950s, for example.

For 2019, industry observers are predicting a combination of the old and the new in restaurant operations, from their marketing to their menus. Here are a few of these trends, many of which may be familiar to you because these have been around for a while.

Deals and Discounts Are Still In

Unless you’re dining in a fine dining restaurant like French Laundry, deals and discounts are things that you can look forward to in your favorite restaurants. Most of us common men and women love bargains and it applies to our food and drinks in restaurants. So you can be sure that this trend is here to stay for years and years!

When looking for deals, you should also look into coupons issued by restaurants. These coupons can include discounts off the regular price of dishes, freebies like dessert, and discounted prices for children, to name a few. Even fine dining restaurants offer a bargain, sort of, through their prix fixe menus; be aware, however, that the prices on prix fixe menus will likely still be much higher than those in casual dining restaurants.

Social Media Presence Is Becoming a Must

Nearly every foodie, gourmand, and culinary expert checks social media for reviews, reservations and news about the restaurant industry. Indeed, if your favorite restaurant doesn’t have a strong social media presence, you will likely wonder why this is so. When you think about it, more and more people are using the Internet to gather and spread information about where to eat, why eat here, and how to eat certain food, among others.

The fact, too, that you’re on this site means that you used the Internet to find more information about your favorite restaurants, whether it’s IHOP or French Laundry, two significantly different establishments.

Tea Is Becoming a Party

Americans love their coffee more than they like their tea while the Britons love their tea more. Worldwide, three cups of tea are consumed for every cup of coffee, a piece of information that will have any non-tea drinker wondering what’s in the beverage. Perhaps, this is also part of the reason for the increasing popularity of tea in the United States – curiosity can be a powerful force in humans.

More likely, tea is becoming more popular because of its wide range of benefits, from its lower amount of caffeine to its relaxing quality, as well as its variety of applications in food and drinks.

What does this mean for the average consumer? We may have a tea bar in the neighborhood soon, an establishment that offers tea-based beverages like nitro tea on tap, tea cocktails and craft tea blends.  Kombucha (fermented tea) is also becoming more of a trend than a fad in restaurants that offer fermented food, such as in Korean restaurants.

Meat Becomes More Varied

Steaks are here to stay and we have the likes of Peter Luger as proof of their enduring popularity in the American food culture. But restaurants are also looking for innovative protein sources that, hopefully, will be accepted by Americans in the mainstream; ethnic communities, however, who have been eating these alternative protein sources will rejoice at the news.

There’s heme (i.e., “blood” in the Greek language) that chefs say is a great protein alternative and more environmentally sustainable meat source. It’s used in potato and wheat protein burgers to bring a meaty quality to the classic American food; the heme itself is cooked rare to enhance its “bloodiness”.

And if you’re more adventurous, some restaurants are offering meat dishes made of insects like crickets.  While it may sound gross, keep in mind that many cultures especially in Asia have enjoyed insects as food for centuries. Insects as food also makes sense because of their low fat and high protein content; insects contain 3-4 times as much protein as beef.

But if you’re not into these alternative protein sources, don’t worry as you can still be in on the 2019 trends. You will find some restaurants offering new cuts of meat, such as the bavette from the flap meat (i.e., the sirloin’s bottom part), the Vegas Strip from the shoulder part, and the merlot cut from the heel area.

As a consumer, you should try to be aware of the trends in the restaurant industry because it will work to your benefit. You can enjoy new dishes and desserts, for example, which will expand your culinary repertoire. You will also be able to save money yet enjoy delicious food if you know the best places to go in your city.

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Restaurant Staff <![CDATA[Go Organic, Do Good for Yourself and Others]]> http://www.toprestaurantprices.com/?p=9055 2018-12-07T15:18:21Z 2018-12-26T15:16:41Z Organic food isn’t just a trend created by organic food producers, vegetarians, and health nuts! Indeed, it’s here to stay and consumers will do well to consider switching to organic food and incorporating it into their daily diet. It’s so easy, too, considering that many restaurants offer organic ingredients in their food, such as the […]

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Organic food isn’t just a trend created by organic food producers, vegetarians, and health nuts! Indeed, it’s here to stay and consumers will do well to consider switching to organic food and incorporating it into their daily diet. It’s so easy, too, considering that many restaurants offer organic ingredients in their food, such as the fruit and vegetable salads at Chopt.

And when you decide to go organic, you will be doing good things for yourself and for others including your community.  Keep this thought in mind whenever going organic seems more difficult than anticipated, especially when you have a fondness for junk food.

Enjoy Good Things for Yourself

The common complaint about organic food is that it’s more expensive than non-organic food, which turns off many people from buying organic food produce. But think about it: In exchange for the slightly higher price, you will be getting food with higher nutritional value and lower amounts of possibly harmful substances.

Unlike organic food, non-organic food produce are treated with artificial fertilizers, pesticides and growth hormones that can find their way to your body. There are also additives, preservatives and antibiotics in non-organic food and we bet your bottom dollar that these aren’t the things you want to consume.

There’s also the matter of organic food being available when these are in season and, thus, at the peak of their freshness and flavor. Since only organic methods of cultivation are used, the fruits and vegetables can only be harvested when these are in season, not out of it.

The bottom line: Organic food is, indeed, more appetizing than non-organic food because it contains little to none of the ick things and more of the good ones.

The wide variety of organic food available in markets and restaurants is yet another reason to buy them more. Before organic food burst into the scene, it was difficult to buy even a simple organic salad from restaurants. With the likes of Chopt on the scene, you can choose from a huge selection of certified organic fruits, vegetables and herbs. You can also buy organic products like baking goods, chocolate, cheese, and honey, even wines and spirits, as well as poultry, lamb, beef, and pork.

Due to the wider availability as well as higher quality and quantity of organic produce, restaurant chefs are also becoming more creative with their culinary creations. You, along with your fellow diners, will then enjoy better dishes and desserts whenever you’re eating out.

But there’s a downside, a minor one, where organic food in restaurants is concerned. Since organic produce can only be harvested according to season, it will obviously not be available year-round locally. The menu in your favorite Chopt location will then likely vary from one month to the next to accommodate the seasons.

Then again, it’s a good thing, too! The more varied the menu, the more food enjoyment you can get and the better your diet can be. You will find that there’s a certain sense of satisfaction from looking at a colorful plate filled with nutritious and delicious food.

Do Good Things for Others

Going organic isn’t just about you and your health. It’s also about doing good things for your local farmers, your community, and your environment.

Organic farming methods has several benefits for the earth, the only planet we can live in so far. These benefits include but aren’t limited to:

  • Building healthy, strong soils essential for aiding in solving erosion issues and in maintaining the nutrients in soil
  • Helping in the protection and conservation of water supply including groundwater
  • Decreasing requirements for fossil fuel that, in turn, aids in fighting the adverse effects of climate change
  • Encouraging better biodiversity
  • Reducing air, soil and water pollution in farms

These benefits are the result of the use of less non-organic pesticides, fertilizers and hormones in the production process, as well as in the eco-friendly use of water and soil resources.

Going for organic food can also mean you’re making more contributions to your local economy. You are supporting your local farmers and producers that, in turn, means stronger local economies. You will be surprised at the economic advancement that organic farmers and producers enjoy when more consumers appreciate the fruits of their labors.

You’re also contributing to a cleaner and greener community by buying more organic produce and products. While the change may not be apparent immediately, you will appreciate that small changes will eventually add up, and that’s exactly what you want for your community.

Of course, these benefits for yourself and for others will not be apparent in the near future. But little by little, you will see changes in your body and mind, as well as your mindset, and in your community. Your small contributions today can become big ones tomorrow so just keep at it.

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Restaurant Staff <![CDATA[What Makes for a Fine Dining Experience?]]> http://www.toprestaurantprices.com/?p=9051 2018-12-07T15:15:41Z 2018-12-20T11:13:03Z Fine dining restaurants have different characteristics. The French Laundry, for example, offers contemporary French cuisine with an American touch, as well as two tasting menus consisting of nine dishes each and special holiday dishes.  No matter your choice in a fine dining restaurant, nonetheless, you will find similar aspects that it shares with its competitors. […]

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Fine dining restaurants have different characteristics. The French Laundry, for example, offers contemporary French cuisine with an American touch, as well as two tasting menus consisting of nine dishes each and special holiday dishes.  No matter your choice in a fine dining restaurant, nonetheless, you will find similar aspects that it shares with its competitors.

Here are the aspects of operations that makes fine dining restaurants what they are – expensive, yes, but worth the price.

Reservations System in Place

While not all fine dining restaurants require reservations before the staff allow entry into the main dining room, most of them have a reservation system in place for good reason. With the number of people that will be coming for a particular day and time known to the staff, especially the kitchen staff, it’s easier for them to deliver exceptional service.

Even the best chefs and their assistants can be overwhelmed by the sheer number of diners, which can result in more mistakes made and less quality delivered. Besides, in fine dining, the dinner rush can actually be the entire length of the service so the less overwhelmed the kitchen staff are, the better your food will be.

But there are also restaurants without a reservation system, such as with cutting-edge yet easy-to-execute menu. Still, you may want to ask about the reservation option, especially if you’re coming with a large group.

Tablecloths Are Typical

White tablecloths are the most common choice in fine dining restaurants because of their clean appearance, as well as the fact that white can easily set off the beauty of the cutlery, the dishes and the décor. The quality of the tablecloths may even surpass your tablecloth at home because everything that affects your dining experience will be considered.

But there’s been a sea change in the way fine dining restaurants view white tablecloths in recent years, too, with many of them skipping the added table covering. The reasons: These require significant time, energy and money for their upkeep, as well as cover the beauty of the tables underneath. Many restaurants want to highlight the aesthetics of their tables and to use these tables as part of their branding.

Prix Fixe Menus Are Popular

Known as a set menu in the English language, a prix fixe menu can actually be changed on a daily or weekly basis; the term stuck, however. The menu can consist of a few or several courses depending on the chef’s preferences, the availability of ingredients, and the price, among other factors.

For example, the French Laundry has nine courses in its tasting menu, which usually changes from day to day and which doesn’t contain an ingredient used on two different dishes. Other restaurants can have set menus with as little as four courses while others offer a 10-course set prix fixe.

In keeping with the times, many restaurants offer two types of set menus – a meat-lover option and a vegetarian option. Most, if not all, of the dishes are also made of seasonal ingredients to ensure the best quality; the on-season fruits and vegetables are at the peak of their freshness and, thus, have better tastes than off-season ones.

And we have to say that the food at fine dining restaurants are more delicious than those found in your fast-food joints! The delicious food, which will be presented so beautifully you may not want to eat it, is the main reason why you’re splurging on it.

Expensive Wine, Spirits and Cocktails

If you’re not up for paying for a bottle of wine with a restaurant price tag double, perhaps even triple, the price of the same bottle in a supermarket, then a fine dining experience may not be up your alley. Many fine dining restaurants can make up to 300% profit on their alcohol sales, thus, the exorbitant prices.

But if you want the services of a sommelier as well as the excellent food-wine pairing that the wine professional can offer, then go ahead and splurge on a fine dining experience at least once a week! Besides, it may be your only chance to enjoy a glass of the best burgundy without tipping your credit card into breaking point.

Exceptional Service

The servers are the best in the business, too, so diners can expect exceptional service – courteous, fast, and efficient. Here, you will find that the servers are well-trained in the art and science of fine dining, from the china, cutlery and stoneware to the subtleties of the dishes and desserts. You can also ask them to explain the entire menu – and they won’t look at notes, to boot – so that you will know what to expect once the food is delivered to your table.

Indeed, the guest experience is the most important thing for the management and staff of fine dining restaurants. This entails attention to the smallest details, attentive service, and attractive food that’s as delicious in the mouth as it’s appealing to the eyes.

Now, aren’t these reasons enough to treat yourself to a fine dining experience as many times as possible?

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