Craving Candy? Check Out Campus Candy

Candy as far as the eye can see...

Returning after a rather warm winter, the first thing I noticed on the Drag was the bright-colored sign advertising “Campus Candy.” What in the world could that place be? A candy store on the Drag, very convenient for hungry night owls? This place is going to do just fine.

Campus Candy is the new kid on the block, replacing the previous clothing store Wish. It is a candy store that has opened up on the Drag that is covering some of the latest fads on campus. It sells frozen yogurt, pastries from Cheesecake Factory, and also popular drinks and snacks to pick up in between classes.

You cannot miss this store on the Drag, blasting loud music like it’s a club and showing off its brightly-colored sign. Stepping in, it feels a bit like stepping into Wonka’s factory as the bright colors of the walls, seating, and candy overwhelm the visitor.

The flavors are often changing. My favorite is admittedly the tiramisu

To the right is the frozen yogurt, supervised by an employee ready to explain the system and provide sample cups. A way to monitor the tasting of flavors, I suppose. The frozen yogurt is very flavorful and a wide variety. Flavors range from tiramisu to chocolate chip mint to raspberry. The price, however, is quite high. It is nearly 70 cents/oz. For a half full cup, it cost me about $3.30, a price that could get a lot more at the other frozen yogurt places near UT. However, the flavors match Red Mango in intensity and the tiramisu and crème brulee flavors seem to be very popular.

A variety of toppings are available at Campus Candy, just like you would find at any other frozen yogurt store. There are tons of sauces as you can see in the front of the picture and lots of fruits and chewy toppings like flavored mochis. I think I’ve also found a new favorite topping for frozen yogurt that tasted kind of like chocolate-covered rice krispy treats.

Tons of toppings and sauces, even some I have never seen at other yogurt places.

Another fun addition to Campus Candy is the fact that you can put any candy in the store on top. It’s a great way to try out some new candies you want to check out, but don’t want to pay the $2.89/quarter of a pound for. For the yogurt I bought, I added some of the sour gummy bears on top to try them out. FYI, probably not a good idea to put gummies on top of cold products as it does reduce the chew of the candy.

Some novelty candies sit around the store such as a 27 lb. gummy bear and the gummy skull next to it. When Valentine’s day was coming up, chocolate roses became available. A lot of old school candies are also available on the wall across from the register like Pot o’ Honey and Neccos.

Ooh, Cheesecake Factory right next to UT!

Finally, there are baked goods being sold at Campus Candy and finishes off the college student’s sweet tooth. Most of the baked goods are from the Cheesecake Factory. These pastries include popular cheesecake flavors from Cheesecake Factory like Raspberry Swirl and Godiva Chocolate cheesecake. The cheesecake slices are not as big as the ones you get at the Cheesecake Factory, but they taste about as good as the ones you can get frozen at Sam’s. If you’re dying for a baked good, here is a decent place to go. They also have Cheesecake Factory’s cupcakes that I am interested in trying, but have yet to do so. Flavors seem to be rather standard such as red velvet, chocolate, and vanilla.

Overall, Campus Candy seems like an establishment that will be very popular on the Drag and already it is attracting loads of customers each night. I am excited that more than frozen yogurt is being sold here and I love the variety and customization available for toppings. Also, there is finally a place on the Drag for easy access to baked goods other than cupcakes and cookies.

Rating: :P :P :P :P ½ for covering every sweet tooth, high prices, and good location.

What’s Up, Drag? 11/03/11

Don't tell me you're not drooling for a Reuben now

Döner kebap, Über yum

Happy November everyone!

Well, it’s been quite a while writing on this blog and it’s going to take me some time to get back into the pattern of writing I did before, but there is food news along the Drag I can’t help but want to share. I’m sorry I don’t have pictures as I didn’t have a real camera on my walk today, but here are some places to check out this coming month:

1)      Co-op Market – The Co-op Outlet site has gone through many changes. Almost as many changes as where Arpeggio Grill stands today. It used to be a sort of outlet store for inventory from the University Co-op, but was slowly transitioned into a store with themed goodies to bring home to family, friends, and strangers. Now, it has been renovated once again, but this is a change I like. It is now a sort of grocery store for all your student needs. Forgot to buy sliced mushrooms for a dish you’re making? Come here. Feel like a glass of wine or a beer for tailgate? Come here. Need some milk or a craving for Bluebell ice cream bars on the Drag? Come here. Admittedly, there are places on campus to buy these kinds of things as well as Wheatsville Co-op or CVS. The prices also are similar in being much higher (about $0.60-1.00) than what you would get away from campus. However, it’s in a nice location right in the middle and just has an extra range of items you may not find at the other stores, especially if you’re off-campus. Whether this place still stays next year remains to be seen, but definitely a place to check out if you’re a little low on some groceries.

2)      Fricano’s Deli – Yay! Finally! The sandwich place I like that was in North campus has now moved near Juicytart. I may never leave that area. I have yet to post a review on Fricano’s, but it is a sandwich place I like to go to now that Katz’s Delicatessen no longer hangs out in Austin. Fricano’s has a similar style with a staggering amount of meats, cheeses, and toppings for sandwiches that are combined together into a delicious sandwich. I am especially a fan of the hot sandwiches they have like their prize-winning Paul’s Reuben. So good, a good size, with some real sauerkraut and crunchy bread. If you don’t feel like making your own sandwich or trying your luck with the Ainsworth (put your sandwich into their hands), there are also hot dogs, pasta salads, and soups to fill you up. Definitely try this place out, especially now that it’s close to campus. It is open now from 11-7 on M-F and 12-5 on Saturday.

3)      Verts – Filling the sad gap left behind by Hot Slice is a new restaurant called Verts. It is an interesting place that is trying to popularize Germany’s Döner kebap to UT students. I’m not exactly sure how to explain it, but I will try my best. It is kind of like sliced meat at Arpeggio’s put into a pita pocket with lots of vegetables and their delicious house sauce. It was a huge serving just to receive half a pita pocket, but it was yummy and I’m glad to have tried it. Definitely, if I was hungry for something different near campus, Verts is a fun place to go. The people are friendly and they do their best with the narrow space, creating lots of sitting room with the benches on the walls.

4)      Qdoba  Though I have a review to write up on this restaurant too, I wanted to make sure you all know that Qdoba has now opened up where Intellectual Properties bookstore used to be. The building has seen quite a few changes too, but the most recent one has divided up the large, two-story building into multiple food venues that include Qdoba, Noodles & Company (a real pasta restaurant the Drag was needing), and the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf. All these places are ones I will be writing reviews on, but want to make sure you all know about the multiple new places to eat near campus. Qdoba, specifically, is like another Chipotle with the choose-your-stuff burrito line. However, Qdoba tries to mix it up by emphasizing their other options like nachos, quesadillas, and taco salads. The most interesting aspect of Qdoba, though, is the option of two small portions of the dishes they provide. A popular choice in our group was half a quesadilla and a smaller portion of 3-cheese nachos. Their 3-cheese queso was, by the way, delicious, but definitely salty.

5)      Coffee Bean & Tea LeafA new coffee shop trying to compete for attention with places like Starbucks and Caffe Medici. It definitely tries to appeal to tea lovers as well, giving more tea options than I’ve seen at the other coffee shops near campus. However, if you’re a non-coffee, non-tea drinker like me, I feel like the options they provide are more simple. It may not taste as great as the other branches around Austin, but it is definitely a nice place to stop for a drink right in the middle of the Drag with lots of windows to look out and stare at strangers as they do the same (kind of like Chipotle).

6)     Noodles & Company Finally, the last new place I want to talk about near the Drag is Noodles & Company. Though it has not opened yet, I am eager to try it as I have always felt like restaurants were missing a prime niche on the Drag: pasta. This place looks interesting as it tries to cover all the types of noodles at once. It has Asian style, Italian style, and just plain ol’ American style meaning any other pasta that doesn’t fit those other two categories. Noodles & Company has been opening up around Austin and now it is time to find out if this pasta company can make it or break it here on the ever-revolving restaurant merry-go-round of the Drag. Come try it out with me on November 15!

Well, there you go. There have been a lot of changes in terms of food on the Drag and it’ll be exciting to tell you all about it in the coming year. Hope you had a good Halloween and looking forward to a Happy Thanksgiving!

The Coffee Grind: Cherrywood Coffeehouse

As you can see, coffee isn't the only drink sold at Cherrywood.

It seems appropriate that the first review after a final should be about a coffeehouse. Admittedly, coffeehouses are not my first choice for studying, but this was a good place to chill and study in a place that wasn’t always full of college students. Not only coffee is sold here, but a menu full of real food and strong drinks to marathon your way through another study session.

At least there's lots of room to sip your coffee.

Cherrywood Coffeehouse is located close to I-35 on the East side of Austin. Near to some food trailers, Cherrywood is quite reflective of the Austin spirit. A large patio outside includes an outdoor stage for live music or poetry performances. The place is comfy and cozy with lots of light sources to allow you the pick of your study spots. However, that does not mean the place is the most ideal for a study spot. The music is pretty loud and not soothing and if there were more people, the calling of orders from the counter could be distracting.

Look past the computer to a doorway to peace and quiet...maybe.

For these cases, there is also a side room if you need a bit more quiet or privacy and a computer for free internet access. Wi-fi is generously provided free. Happy hour goes from 3-7pm and the place is open ’til midnight, perfect for a late night study group.

:P

My roommate and her boyfriend were kind enough to bring me along to the coffeehouse. Entering the place, there were tons of tables and it was not too busy at 10pm on a Saturday night. Their favorite choices there include the breakfast tacos. They are a good size, ranging in about half the size of a Chipotle burrito. What makes them unique is the potatoes  are not cubed, but more like crispy shoestring potatoes. For less than $5, you can customize a breakfast taco that is both delicious and satisfying. A perfect snack to enjoy with your coffee or strong drink.

Mmm, just the right size.

It was pretty late so I ordered a hot chocolate to keep my brain awake as I prepared the next post for the blog. It was good, but a little more on the sweet size. Fair 8 oz. size and in a nice cup. More sugary than creamy. Chocolate taste was not muddied and quite delicious. It was also nice that they asked for the choice of milk in my hot chocolate. I chose whole milk, but it can range to soy milk and even almond milk.

So many pie slices were lined up!

If you’re feeling like a sweet dessert, there is more than enough to satisfy sweet tooths. I was too full to try anything, but there are pies and croissants and a number of other pastries.

Overall, Cherrywood Coffeehouse is a welcoming place to sit down and hang out for a good long time or enjoy the music scene on the patio. The prices are fair and the food is fair. If Bennu is too busy, why not try another coffeehouse like Cherrywood?

Rating: :P :P :P :P for lots of study spots, pretty good food for pretty good prices, and also lots of distractions.

Yes, I Will Marry You Ken’s Doughnuts, Love B.

The run-down looking doughnut shops always seem to be the yummiest ones.

I have long heard of and seen Ken’s Doughnuts as I’ve been going north on the Drag. It is a walkable distance from campus, though you best be careful of the many cars whizzing by and very wide road crossings. It looks a little run down, but you know it’s going to taste good when the place does not rely on looks alone. What makes Ken’s Doughnuts even more unique than other doughnut places is that it is a nice, family-run store with Indian pastries along with the doughnuts. Now presenting…Ken’s Doughnuts!

Cannot miss that pink elephant.

Now that it’s finals time and my last post until after finals are done (see you in a couple of weeks!), it’s the perfect time to let you know about a late-night eating spot in case you get midnight munchies while studying. What makes Ken’s Doughnuts so awesome is that it is open 24 hours! Or close enough with 6am to 5:30am hours, 7 days a week. I went with my friend around 11pm and doughnuts were still coming out along with fresh samosas. Also, 4am is apparently a good time for fresh doughnuts, but don’t ask me how I know. And if you don’t want to move from your room, consider Longhorn Delivery to fill your fried dough needs.

Oops, sorry. Cut off the top. :o

So not only is the place open late, but the prices are great too! $1 samosas that are a good snack size and doughnuts for less than a $1. My doughnut holes were only $1.50 for a dozen and that is equal to like two doughnuts with extra glazing. Low low prices and doughnuts that taste GOOD! Heck yes! :D

*crunch crunch* Yum!

Onto the food! First, the samosa was big, yummy, and warm. It was spicy, but in a good tasty way. The dough was just chewy enough with a lot of potatoes and warm spices inside. If you like samosas, you’ll probably like this one.

The amazing insides of a palak paneer and pretty big too.

My friend got the palak paneer. It had a similar dough to the samosa, but was a little less spicy and full of spinach and a special type of cheese called ‘paneer.’ It cost a little more than the samosa, but it was very yummy and definitely something we’d both get if we went again.

Ohh, delicious doughnuts, you make me hungry just looking at you. :P

Finally, the doughnuts. I am a Shipley’s Doughnuts fan and those are the type of doughnuts I like. No Krispy Kreme for me, sorry guys. If you like Shipley’s though, you’ll like Ken’s Doughnuts. These doughnuts have an airier texture and less cakey, though those are available as well. Bunch of varieties like bear’s claw and cinnamon twists are also there. I am a fan of the doughnut hole, however, and they were absolutely delicious. A little less chewy and more cakey than the usual doughnut holes I eat, but that made it much more substantial and still delicious. Next time, I am definitely trying some more varieties including the fritter. :P

Trying to imitate the art at the bottom of the Tower.

Late-night doughnut craving? Need something to eat after studying until 3 in the morning? Go to Ken’s Doughnuts and have delicious fresh breakfast pastry at any time of the day. Or ice cream. There is also a little ATM machine inside if you don’t have any cash and just want to make it easier on you. Prices are great and so are the food so you’ll enjoy lots on a college student budget.

Rating: :P :P :P :P :P for airy doughnut texture, a little run-down, and great prices.

Keep Asea With The Seafood Watch App

Do you know how sustainable your sushi is?

It’s been quite an eventful weekend and now it’s Star Wars day. Maybe in keeping with the Star Wars theme, I am now presenting a foodie technology article for your reading pleasure.

Well, here’s another food app that’s coming at you. I’d like to tell you about the Seafood Watch App from the Monterrey Aquarium. It’s a free app for your smartphone or a website you can access on your internet browser so you can eat seafood without hurting the environment.

Seafood has always been something to watch for mercury content, sustainability, and overall health as the bigger fishies can easily concentrate heavy metals and other toxins due to their appetites. With the Seafood Watch App, you can figure out what fish are best to eat that are sustainable and are not farmed/fished in a terribly harmful way. Something else to note is that there is a sushi app, perfect if you like to go out and eat that raw fish.

The app is easy to use, but a little low in resolution. There are also other resources that come with the application including links to recipes for the sustainable fish and a way for you to upload your own information. However, these links are limited in not being very well updated or maintained so be warned about that.

To keep the information in the app true, it is reviewed by experts and then you can know best where to get your sustainable and healthy fish. I definitely recommend this app if you are worried about what fish are most sustainable to eat or if you are just a bad decision maker at the grocery store.

Rating: :P :P :P :P for expert advice, easy to navigate, and limited updates. Just to make sure you understand, this app is good for sustainability but not really mercury content. If you want information on things like that, I would suggest you go someplace like the FDA.

Coo-Coo for CoCo’s Café!

Even the sign is bright and happy!

The “Asian” part of the Drag is the area near MLK Jr. Blvd. with phở, bubble tea, bánh mì sandwiches, and Asian stir fries. One of the popular favorites to visit over there is CoCo’s Café and it’s one of the two main places on the Drag to get bubble tea. Between the two, CoCo’s Café bubble teas tend to be sweeter so be aware of this.

I see the pictures, but what do they match up with? Check out the next pic.

CoCo’s Café is the more modern, Asian chain restaurant between it and Tap House with lots of seating, a brighter atmosphere, and cute Asian items in the back for looking at. The menu is quite inviting, especially since its update from my freshman year to a huge picture menu next to the regular menu. Popular favorites include the peppercorn chicken. I personally recommend the green onion pie and the vegetable vermicelli.

Here's the menu! Prices have gone up since I took this picture.

Looking around the place, it is a rather bright and colorful store. The front of the store is windows and there are track lights above the counter to order that also help highlight the menu. You can order bubble tea, Asian food, or even shaved ice that is a little-known secret of the place. You can get all non-food related needs at the back of the store along with their parking. Utensils are available in the back along with free soup and water. They have also installed a curio case full of Asian products like phone chains and cute animal figures that entice you to buy while you wait hungrily for your food.

Don't I make you hungry? :P

Now, onto the food! The vegetable vermicelli I first saw when my friend got it. It is kind of like sly-foon if you’ve ever had that. It is basically clear vermicelli noodles stir fried with veggies and egg and quite delicious. It is a little on the salty side, but it’s not because it tastes salty. It is more a need to drink water after eating it. It’s quite a big portion size and it’s lasted for two meals for small appetites and just enough for a big appetite. I especially like to order this when I feel like noodles and veggies since there are a lot in this dish such as bok choy and gai lon.

I’m sorry I don’t have a picture of the green onion pie, but you can kind of see it in the visual menu at the top left corner. It is quite delicious and if you get the full size, it is like two onion pies on top of each other. Basically, it is an Asian pancake where a rice or flour-based dough is mixed with green onions and fried into slices of crispy deliciousness. The green onions give extra flavor that does not overwhelm to the fried dough and tastes great with the dipping sauce of soy sauce, vinegar, and green onions. It’s a bit oily, but definitely recommended. Actually, all the appetizers are recommended as they are a fair price that go well with the bubble teas.

For some reason, I like to put the straws through the picture's mouths.

Which brings me to bubble tea. The bubble tea is pretty good, quite large in variety and a nice size. It costs a little extra for bubbles/tapioca pearls FYI. I always seem to order almond milk teas at the bubble tea places so in terms of the almond tea at CoCo’s Café, it is quite delicious. There is certainly enough milk in the tea and not a very fake-tasting almond extract flavor. However, I do find CoCo’s Café bubble tea to be on the sweet side and it even gives me a headache sometimes due to its sweetness.

Overall, CoCo’s Café is a great place on the Drag to get some pretty good Asian food and bubble tea at a reasonable price. It is open on Sundays and holidays and actually has parking, which is good if you have friends from off-campus visiting.

Rating: :P :P :P :P for fair prices, sweet bubble tea, and a bright happy atmosphere.

Update: New Oriental Market

Can you guess the dish? It's leftover samgyetang broth with kimchi, gochujang sauce, and rice. The things we do with leftovers...

I recently visited New Oriental Market and they’ve updated themselves quite a bit. If you haven’t seen my review of the place from last time, please check it out here. It’s a Korean place I would definitely recommend that is very affordable and deliciously fair for the price. It’s a pretty long bus ride from campus, but a reasonable 10-15 minute drive by car. It is near Austin Karaoke, but be careful not to miss it as it is pretty deep inside the strip mall near the railroad tracks.

Slick and printed, but also higher prices

As for the update, it is still located at New Oriental Market and the grocery store is as nice as before. However, I was first surprised when I entered to see a nicely printed menu on the wall. Yet with the better menu, I felt a loss of their spontaneity of dishes and there were also higher prices. Now the average price of a meal is $5-6 (bibimbap is still $5!) instead of the $5 before, but it’s not that big of a deal to increase the price a little considering inflation and all. The bulgogi, in fact, has gone down in price by about $5 so there is definitely some streamlining of prices. It is also still cash only and $0.25 for a take-out box. Be Asian and bring your own Tupperware?

Over easy egg on delicious bibimbap. If only the meat was marinated...

This time, I tried out the bibimbap I was eyeing last time. It was really good and the vegetables were definitely fresh. However, I was a little disappointed that the meat is not very well seasoned. It tastes like beef, but I was kind of expecting a bulgogi marinade that was not there. Just FYI.

I come with rice to help soothe your burning tastebuds

One friend got the spicy tofu soup (#6, soon du boo bak pan). She enjoyed her meal, but it was definitely on the spicy side. However, as she was my discerning taster from A Love-Cake Relationship, it was important that she deemed it a worthy enough dish to entice her to come try out more dishes at New Oriental Market again.

Can you see the whole chicken in there? You can imagine the bowl took over the tray.

Another friend tried the samgyetang soup, which is basically a whole chicken, stuffed with glutinous rice in our case, in a slightly seasoned ginseng broth. It is supposedly good for you, especially in hot weather. However, I feel like it’s a hearty meal for anyone who’s hungry and apparently both my friends who have had it have been able to eat it all with rice. The soup is pretty good, but also more on the bland side as the ginseng is not a very strong flavor. Actually, the only flavor seems to be the chicken. But that satisfied my friends perfectly well and they enjoyed their meal.

Aren't you looking delicious? The sauce was a soy sauce with green onions that went perfectly with the pancake.

Also, tried the seafood pancake. They also have kimchi pancake available. It is just like the green onion pancake available at Coco’s Cafe (which I will do a review on next) in that it is a sort of flat bread that is fried with ingredients like green onion or squid inside. It is surprisingly delicious, but also on the oily side. It is a good appetizer to split among people and we saw many other parties doing the same thing. At $7, this is a dish you want to share, and the pancake was deemed pretty good. It was warm, tasty, with lots of squid (but no shrimp sadly). However, it was also quite salty and not well-seasoned.

Wait, where are my sides? :(

Finally, for extra info, the soups are still available and great as appetizer or to fill in any spaces in your stomach. I personally feel like you definitely get enough to eat and I usually have room to take stuff home. The sides also seem to be reduced to just kimchi now instead of the multiple sides they had before. And I never realized, but the New Oriental Market uses its resources well and uses ramyun from next door as well as its crockery. Want New Oriental Market dishes at home? You’ve come to the right place!

Rating: :P :P :P :P 1/2. I would still recommend the place for people interested in Korean food at the right college student price, but if you want the full Korean experience, you might want to go someplace else.