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Return to the Hibachi Bar July 2, 2017

Posted by Kenny Norman in north.
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So I went back to the Hibachi Bar in Broad Ripple for dinner with my dad on June 30. (Don’t worry: despite the name, it’s not an actual bar. I don’t do those.) Broad Ripple being the area that it is, all the storefronts are right up to the street with parking behind. It was difficult to find parking. Eventually we just parked in an old office building closed for the weekend. We got in there around 7:25 and there was a bit of a wait. The odd thing was that there was enough table space to sit everyone waiting, but we weren’t seated for 20 minutes simply because it took the staff that long to clean off the table we wanted. Once that was taken care of, we were seated. It took the chef a while to arrive, but in the interim, the staff was very friendly and attentive. They got us drinks, salad, and soup, and they correctly took our orders. I ordered a chicken and shrimp combo while my dad ordered a scallop and shrimp combo. My dad and I started talking to this nice couple, Pat and Christine, who moved all over the country before settling in the Lawrence area of Indy. And to think, they nearly ate at Cheesecake Factory that night! (Just my opinion, but I prefer the Hibachi Bar.) Those two got Japanese sodas. The sodas looked interesting both in concept and design. Pieces of the cap popped off and fell into the drink! When the chef arrived, he offered us the chance to have zucchini tossed into our mouths. Amazingly, I caught it, and so did two other people at the table! The chef was very fun and engaging, though I have to admit he didn’t put on as showy a show as other hibachi restaurants do. Also, I had to personally request ginger sauce from the chef, whereas it automatically comes at other places. The food was pretty good, though. It was honestly just a little bit below food from Sapporo or Tomo in terms of taste. However, the price difference made it much more worth it! Fried rice was included with the entree. The full price for two would have been $40, as compared to Sapporo and Tomo’s $60. Note that I said FULL price- Pat and Christine told us about a Groupon discount with that app. My dad downloaded it and got us $30 off, so we only paid $10. Total steal! Overall, Hibachi Bar has some pretty good food, though it wasn’t quite as good as other hibachi restaurants and the service was a little slower. But at prices like these, I don’t mind!

Aldi remodel complete! June 1, 2017

Posted by Kenny Norman in north.
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Aldi reopened their 52nd & Keystone store on May 25. I went in there tonight, May 30, and was pleasantly surprised how they put the 20 additional feet to the right to good use! First off, the lighting is a lot calmer inside. Instead of being evenly bright, it shines selectively on certain items and gives the eyes a break elsewhere. Second, there’s signage for EVERYTHING. No matter how small the section, there’s a sign above its location in its aisle to help you find it. Third, there are more aisles now. Fourth, there is a break in every aisle in the same spot so you can cut through the store now. Fifth, there’s more space in the aisles now. Three carts could probably be nearly side by side now without incident. The layout has more freezer space and a few things have been moved. The bread is along the wall instead of by the checkout lines, the produce is in the corner, and the baking supplies are in the middle of the store. The juice is now where the bread once was by the checkout lines. I don’t like how they made a smaller space for apple juice. They used to have a space eight feet wide and six feet tall. Now it’s two feet wide and three feet tall. It’s too easy for me to buy their entire supply now. Sadly, they STILL close at 8:00 p.m. I tried to get out tonight and found that out when I was locked in. I just manually unlocked the door, pushed the doors open, walked out, and pulled the doors closed behind me. I didn’t really notice any NEW merchandise, but the remodel makes the place more pleasant to look at and easier to find things.

SoBro Greek’s now open! May 31, 2017

Posted by Kenny Norman in north.
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Finally! The SoBro Greek’s Pizzeria opened at 49th & College opened on May 20. I’d been waiting a while for this. Also, it seems like whenever a Greek’s Pizzeria opens near my house, it closes soon after. There have been two attempts in Broad Ripple and one attempt downtown, all of which failed. I was excited when one opened at 71st & Binford in March 2016. This one at 49th & College features a taproom up above. The dining area, which is really nice inside, is open until 9:00 p.m. with the taproom usually open until 11:00 p.m. or midnight. The dining area is surprisingly spacious, and it’s nicely lit. I didn’t find it too bright or too dim. It also seemed to be very clean. Our waitress was always kind enough to check back with us for drink refills and plate removal. Of course, it helped that she was in constant view of us.

This Greek’s also had sauce options, which is something I’m completely unfamiliar with. Our waitress wasn’t sure what other options there were for sauces, so I’ll have to check that out on my next visit. Oh well. The basic sauce is good enough. It’s rich and sweet, but it still tastes like pizza sauce. As always, I love the cheese and ham at Greek’s. The cheese is chewy and flavorful, but it doesn’t stretch to infinity. And the ham is juicy and not spicy, unlike most other pizza places where I’ve eaten. It’s nice having a Greek’s close to me with their delicious pizza. I’ll definitely be back for more and I hope this location sticks around for quite some time!

Dinner at Tian Fu May 14, 2017

Posted by Kenny Norman in north.
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Bridget, Ebony, Lauren, and I had dinner at Tian Fu at 86th & Michigan Road on Indianapolis’ northwest side. I had seen the place several times, but I’d never been. We checked it out and thought the food was pretty good. The wait staff seemed to have limited English, but they knew to clear plates, take orders, and get drinks. Everything was done correctly, and the manager even got personally involved on several occasions, not because we complained, but because he actually cared enough to make our experience there enjoyable. I got chicken egg rolls and wonton soup as appetizers. The chicken egg rolls really didn’t taste like chicken and weren’t that special. They didn’t taste bad, per se, but I probably won’t order them again. The wonton soup was MUCH better, and it came in quite the large bowl! I’ve had better wonton soups, but I WOULD order that again. For my entree, I got chicken & shrimp with broccoli. Oddly, it was the same price as chicken & broccoli. Anyway, it tasted wonderful, and it was covered in a sauce that was sweet, but not TOO sweet. It provided a nice accent to the taste, and it went well on my sticky rice too. Finally, when Ebony couldn’t eat her honey banana dessert, I finished it off. They had different criticisms about it; I thought it was just right. It had a crunchy thin layer outside with a gooey thick layer inside. It was mostly banana, but I could taste some honey. All in all, while Tian Fu wasn’t the best Chinese food I’d ever had, I enjoyed my meal there, and I give it a solid B. Also, their menu is quite extensive, so I have plenty of alternative entree options for my next few visits.

Aldi renovation April 20, 2017

Posted by Kenny Norman in news, north.
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The Aldi I shop at on 53rd & Keystone shut down April 15 for an extensive remodel. They wanted to add another 20 feet to the side of the store to fit more freezer facilities. Part of the remodel includes a temporary shutdown. They’ve been open for a while, and while it smelled like wet cardboard, at least I could still get my groceries. I went there one last time before they shut everything down, and the place was ransacked. The freezers were blocked off, and everything that wasn’t frozen food was ransacked! At least I still got my apple juice. The renovation will be complete May 25, which seems like a long way away. I may shift over to the new Broad Ripple Fresh Thyme (with a bit of Wal-Mart to bat cleanup) in the interim, but at least the Aldi staff was nice enough to hand out coupons- $10 off a $40 purchase during the closure, valid at four other Aldi stores: 96th & Hague, 84th & Michigan, 46th & Lafayette, and Washington & Arlington. All those stores are a bit out of the way for me, but it’s nice to know they care enough to help customers with the inconvenience! I eagerly await Memorial Day Weekend when the new store is fully renovated.

Broad Ripple Fresh Thyme has Grand Opening March 31, 2017

Posted by Kenny Norman in news, north.
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I found out a few weeks back that the Broad Ripple Fresh Thyme would be opening March 30. Eve works there, so she kept me in the loop and told me I should go there to check it out. Parking was easier than expected, as the whole first floor of the garage is exclusive to Fresh Thyme customers. The layout was somewhat reversed of every other Fresh Thyme I’d been to, so I got lost at first. Luckily, the staff is very cheerful, friendly, and helpful, so I had them point me in the direction of what I needed. Unlike other Fresh Thyme stores, this one had a smoothie bar, hot bar, and chippery. Naturally, I had to check out all those features! First, I checked out the hot bar. The food was $8 per pound, so I may not do the hot bar a lot. One day I may treat myself to it. It had corn, mashed potatoes, chicken, broccoli, and all sorts of other delicious comfort food! It smelled really good, too. Next was the smoothie bar, which is also part of a coffee station that also serves Hubbard & Cravens coffee. I don’t do coffee, so that particular feature won’t do me good, but I know other people will like it! I got two smoothies while I was there at their new smoothie bar! One was good! The other…not so much! The “Blondie” smoothie had apple juice, banana, and strawberry. It was good. The “Da Blues” smoothie had apple juice, banana, and blueberry. It wasn’t quite as good. Next stop was the chippery. The staff there were so helpful. If I wanted to sample a chip that they didn’t have out, then they’d open a bag for me to taste one! Their sweet potato chips were a bit bland and not very sweet, but their sweet barbecue and their sour cream and onion chips were great, so I got both of those. Also, because it was Grand Opening day, I got a free reusable bag and a whole bunch of samples- bread, cheese, salami, sushi, even a hot dog! I wish the samples were an everyday thing, but I know it was just for the grand opening. The hot dog was especially good. The lady running the booth was very interactive and energetic. I donated $1 to the art center, as she was asking for donations in exchange for hot dogs. I also got $5 rotisserie chickens and a bunch of strawberries! I also checked out the patio, which was open because the Grand Opening day was warm and sunny. The sales may vary from week to week, although not as much on Thursday, which is their “double ad day,” when the previous and the next week’s ads are both valid. The Broad Ripple Fresh Thyme has enough interesting things to warrant a return visit, I’d go back there again just for the smoothies!

Meeting at Metro Diner December 30, 2016

Posted by Kenny Norman in north.
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I tried Metro Diner tonight for the first time, thanks to a suggestion from Jessi. I can’t help but notice it appeared a mile down the street from Perkins a few months after Perkins closed and serving the same kind of food…coincidence? I think not…but anyway, back to my experience tonight. The place was a lot larger than I thought it could be from the outside. Most of the space was used for the dining area. The service was nice and the waitresses, especially ours, checked back quite often. Jessi had a problem with her rice not being cooked long enough, so they happily substituted a squash and zucchini entree for her. I had a hot turkey plate, which came with bread, mashed potatoes, squash, and zucchini. I also added a side of ham. I like how Metro Diner offers sides that are big enough to be considered entrees at other restaurants. Most of the items are between $10-14, and I chose one of the cheaper entrees, mainly because it sounded the most appealing. The portion sizes were large and very filling; I didn’t feel hungry by the time I left and I also felt quite nourished. I did notice the food was a bit blander than I would have cared for, but given the low prices and larger portion sizes, I’m more likely to let that slide. While Metro Diner doesn’t rank on my “must attend” list, I’ll freely admit that I’d go there again.

First time at the Cheesecake Factory December 29, 2016

Posted by Kenny Norman in north.
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So I went with Blake and Mandi to the Cheesecake Factory tonight. I had never been, although several people, including my favorite cousin, have gone on about how good it was. After not seeing Blake and Mandi in a year, they asked me to go to dinner there. I was curious about the place, so I said yes. Oddly enough, they did not take reservations. There was a half hour wait, and the line was out the building and into the mall. I did enjoy the nice selection of cheesecake they had at the front counter. Our waitress was very prompt, attentive, and knowledgeable about the menu. While they did have a few cheap options under $10, most of those were sandwiches and they didn’t look too appetizing. They had a whole menu page of chicken dishes, which I enjoy. I got the chicken and biscuits, which also had mashed potatoes, carrots, peas, and mushrooms. I honestly picked this dish because it looked like the most food for the money. I DID get full, but the entree cost $18. Personally, I think it was about a $13 dish I would have paid $15 to eat…but $18 is a bit much, even for a fancy “date night” place, as Mandi calls it. I also decided to try their cheesecake, as that’s what they are known for. Again, it was wonderfully delicious red velvet cheesecake, but I think it should have been a $5 slice, and not an $8 slice. It was also a bit darker inside than I would have liked to see. It’s a nice place, and the food is good, though I consider it a bit overpriced, and I’d only go back if I had a coupon of some sort or if someone else was paying. It’s charming, and the service and wait staff are nice, but not a good value for the buck.

ThinkGeek’s soft opening November 10, 2016

Posted by Kenny Norman in north.
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I went to the “soft opening” of ThinkGeek at Castleton Square tonight before tomorrow’s grand opening! The place is a nice little area devoted to the kind of things you’d see at Comic-Con or Popcon. Besides the Power Rangers and Marvel heroes sections I’d seek out, they also had Harry Potter, Zelda, Game of Thrones, Star Trek, and Star Wars. I know there’s more, but I wasn’t paying attention beyond the two sections I like. It was a neat place, like Hot Topic without the music section…yet they offered items I never saw at Hot Topic or FYE. Oh, and they are a division of GameStop, so those reward cards work there, too. I recommend the place. They have a neat selection of novelties and collectibles. I got a Green Ranger hat and Blue Ranger socks tonight. I also got a photo with the giant Iron Man statue while holding the Captain America shield!

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Spotting Sakura November 7, 2016

Posted by Kenny Norman in north.
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After Covered Bridges, Ebony and I needed somewhere to eat. With our beloved Perkins, our usual after-Covered Bridges dinner spot, destroyed, we opted for Sakura off 71st & Keystone. I drive by this place literally every week and wonder what it’s like in there. When we got there, we had to park at the closed vet’s office next door due to insufficient parking. We got inside to find out that it wasn’t too crowded and we were seated immediately. I had a teriyaki chicken entree for $12. I really thought it would be a lot more expensive than it was, and I’m glad it wasn’t. Thankfully, they didn’t skimp on the portions. I almost had to resort to a to-go box, which Ebony actually used. The chicken also came with rice and vegetables, all of which were wonderfully tasty. The flavors were interesting. I have a hard time describing just what they added to their teriyaki sauce to make it unique, but it works. I feel like I got a good value for the money. The wait staff wasn’t the friendliest, but they WERE rather prompt and checked back frequently for drink refills and plate removal. I recommend this place and I hope to go back again. As I said, I drive by this place literally every week and therefore, I should be able to go back sometime soon.