Category Archives: Orlando

Bubba Gump

Bubba Gump is famous for shrimp, and has built itself around the movie Forrest Gump. It’s a very casual, friendly place for some wonderful shrimp dishes, and is found in many cities across the USA.

 

We ordered a bucket of Cajun shrimp to share. These shrimps come with the shell on, but are so yummy and fresh that we really didn’t bother peeling them very much (but that’s just us, you should probably peel them if you don’t like eating prawn shells). There’s a little heat in the sauce, which adds a ton of excitement to the dish. There’s also the garlic sauce available, and we love that too (a little too salty though).

 

One of the things that caught K’s eye was Gumbo, which is a rich soup served with rice. It’s apparently a southern classic, and K first heard about it when Carla prepared it on Top Chef. It’s not the most amazing soup we’ve had, in fact, it doesn’t even come close, and we’re probably not going to ever have it again.

 

In all we went to Bubba Gump for lunch a couple of times. One of the things A always orders is the Scampi, which is a linguine dish with shrimp, in a butter sauce with tomatoes and capers. The sauce isn’t too rich, but if you do the sensible thing and ask for a lighter sauce (so they use less butter in the cooking) it tastes even better. Yes, you Americans should think about your health a lot more; plus, more butter doesn’t always equate to more taste. It’s a very simple dish, but is done so well. The shrimp are always perfectly cooked and remain moist and juicy, and the pasta is also cooked very well. A isn’t a fan of capers, but they add a little saltiness to the dish, and go so well with the shrimp. A slice of garlic bread is served with the scampi. K loves the garlic bread at Bubba Gump, because not only does it have garlic on the toast, there’s a nice amount of cheese on it as well. (It should come as no surprise that A, on the other hand, hates the garlic bread.)

 

One of the mains that K tried was this dish that’s basically a bucketful of assorted seafood. The lobster claw was quite disappointing – especially so since we just came from Boston, where we had awesomely fresh lobster at Quincy Market, and the most fantastic lobster dish in Atlantic Fish Company, the best restaurant in Boston. There was no way the lobster at Bubba Gump could ever impress us, so it’s really not their fault. The other assorted seafood like fried shrimp was all decent, but not the best way to showcase the seafood, as the batter was quite thick.

 

One thing on their menu that’s worth trying is the Shrimp Po Boy. This is on the sandwich section, and is basically a lot of shrimp loaded into a roll. This comes with some fries (very yummy) and coleslaw (average), and tastes awesome. It doesn’t come with any sauce, but somehow the juiciness of the shrimp ensures that the sandwich doesn’t taste too dry.

Since the concept of Bubba Gump is based around the movie Forrest Gump, sometimes the servers will come around and quiz you on your knowledge of the movie. Some of the questions we got were “Which actor played the role of Forrest?”, “Momma used to say ‘Life is like ___’”, “What was Forrest’s favourite drink?” and “Stupid is _____”. Even though K watched the movie ages ago, amazingly, he could answer most of the questions thrown at him!

Service: 7.5/10
Food: 7/10

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Fish Bones

First up, let’s say that as compared to other restaurants in USA we’ve been to, service is a bit of a mess here. The servers are a little scatterbrained and slow, and maybe it was our location, but they hardly swung by our table at all, and we really struggled to get their attention throughout our meal. Judging by the numerous awards they’ve put up on their walls around the reception area, you’d expect much better service.

 

Portions here are the largest that we’ve ever seen in the whole of USA. Our starter of garlic bread was 5 massive slices of bread, served on an enormous plate. Unfortunately, there was hardly any garlic in their garlic bread. The slices weren’t even buttered well. Our other starter of bbq sauce prawns was puzzling. The prawns were stone cold, and served with bbq sauce on the sides. After struggling to get the attention of one of the servers, we asked if they’d mixed up our order, but they said that they hadn’t – their bbq sauce prawns were just that: cold prawns with bbq sauce. The prawns weren’t that much of a hit – there was a weird seasoning going on, and the bbq sauce was very necessary to distract us from that strange seasoning. This was a very dodgy start to the meal.

Fish Bones prides themselves on their excellent fish, and aged steaks, so that was what we ordered.

 

While we waited for our mains, we were served the accompaniments to our main courses – a portion of salad large enough to be a meal for one, and a whole loaf of bread, large enough for an entire family of 4. The salad was slightly overdressed, and since A hates olives, she barely touched hers. The size of the accompaniments was just shocking, and I doubt anyone would be able to finish an entire meal as it was presented to us.

 

A’s main was the catch of the day, a grilled seabass, served with some rice and vegetables. The fish was cooked quite nicely – it was fresh, moist and tender. Seabass is that kind of oily fish that retains its moisture well, so it would be quite shocking to be served a dry seabass. What was shocking about this seabass though, was that the skin was very poorly cooked. Firstly, there were many scales left on the fish skin, and it was chewy and rubbery. Perhaps Americans don’t eat the skin of their fishes, but we still find it such a shame that such a wonderful part of the fish was neglected.

 

K’s main was a steak, with a baked potato. We realize that it may not look so in the photograph, but that was the single largest portion of baked potato we have ever seen, and the size of that steak was also staggering. It would honestly have been enough for 2 people, that steak. Having said that, the steak was cooked perfectly. It was absolutely, hands down, the best steak K’s had in a very long time. It was moist on the inside, and there was a nice amount of caramalised fat on the edge to give it more flavour and texture. The seasoning was also spot on.

We left Fish Bones, after a very inconsistent meal, incredibly full. We both agreed that the steak was awesome, awesome, awesome, but they were let down by their handling of the fish. Plus, starters weren’t great. Overall, the whole place needs a revamp, and they should stop resting on their laurels. The décor is incredibly dated, the seats are falling apart and uncomfortable, and service needs to be kicked up a few notches. Till then, stick to the steaks when you’re there, and ask to be seated in a brighter area in the restaurant where they might be more likely to spot you frantically waving about at them.

Service: 6/10
Food: 6/10 for the fish, 8/10 for the steak, 7/10 overall

Thai Thani

The Thai government seems very intent on ensuring the quality of Thai food outside Thailand. There’s a website with a list of Thai restaurants in London run by some government agency, and they’ve given star ratings to the restaurants on that list. (Incidently, our favourite Thai restaurant in London, Addie’s Thai Café, got a 5 star rating by that website!) Thai Thani has also been given the same stamp of approval by the Thai government, (actually, we’re not sure if it’s awarded by the Thai government, but whoever it is, it’s definitely something very official sounding) and was something we were looking forward to going to when we were in Orlando.

 

We first went there for a very late lunch, so the restaurant was almost empty. Having eaten practically nothing the entire day, we ordered, surprise surprise, a lot of food. First up were the fried calamari, very tasty, but had too much batter for us to properly taste the calamari. The other starter we ordered was stuffed chicken wings. These were superb. The stuffing was juicy and meaty, and the Thai sweet chili dip was awesome. The Tom Yum soup was also one of the best we’ve had, and overflowing with mushrooms.

 

We loved the Pad Kee Mao at Addie’s Thai Café in London, so this was definitely one main we wanted to have in Thai Thani. The version here is very tasty, but a little underwhelming as compared to the whack-in-your-face strong, bold flavours of the Pad Kee Mao we’ve grown to love in Addie’s. There wasn’t a lot of heat as well, but perhaps we should have emphasized more strongly to the kitchen that we wanted our food ass-kickingly hot.

 

The final dish we ordered was the Weeping Tiger, another dish we order all the time at Addie’s. This version wasn’t served in a sizzling hot plate, but there was a staggeringly huge amount of beef on the plate it was quite a shock to our (by now quite full) system. The beef was very nicely cooked, but we really missed the sizzling plate that we’ve gotten used to having this dish served in.

Overall we were very happy with this meal. Food in Orlando isn’t very interesting, as the city is geared almost entirely for tourists. We’re not sure if any people actually live in Orlando, as it just seems like housing=hotels all around us. We were in Universal Studios a couple of days later, and we actually, believe it or not, walked nearly the entire length of International Drive down south, back to Thai Thani for dinner. It took us probably about 2 and a half hours, and was quite unnecessary, since there’s a direct bus that will cover that same distance in under half an hour, but we wanted some exercise before another feast, so we took the long and tiring way.

This time round, we made sure to ask if our server was Thai, and emphasized that we were familiar with Thai cuisine and flavours, and wanted her to tell the kitchen to prepare our food in the way the Thais have it. Our second meal there turned out to be as memorable, if not more memorable than our first. So make sure, if you find yourself at Thai Thani, to not hold back, and demand for the full, most authentic experience, and sit back and enjoy the meal.

Service: 7.5/10
Food: 7/10

Hanamizuki

We were starving by the time we got to Orlando, and had planned to have dinner at Hanamizuki, which is supposed to be very near our hotel. We hadn’t had Japanese food for the longest time, and were seriously craving some tempura, sashimi and udon soup.

Hanamizuki is supposed to be one of the more authentic restaurants in Orlando. It was pretty quiet when we got there, partly also because its location isn’t very prominent. Even our taxi driver had never heard of it before. We ordered 2 dinner sets and some Matsutake mushroom tempura, as they’re in season now, and we have never tried them before.

 

There was seriously a lot of food. The Matsutake mushrooms are a very meaty kind of mushroom, with a very delicate flavor. We’re not sure if tempura is the best way to showcase the mushroom, as it robs it of its flavor a little. Nevertheless it was very nicely done, and served with a small dish of very fine salt to compliment the tempura.

Our dinner sets were huge. They came with salad, pickled vegetables, sashimi and chawanmushi. All were competent, but not spectacular. K’s main of grilled salmon was decent, and A’s udon soup was piping hot and very satisfying.

Overall it was just an ok dinner, helped along by the fact that we were starving, so pretty much anything would have tasted good.

Service: 7.5/10
Food: 6.5/10