Broward Dining: How Do You Roll?

July 14, 2013

How Do You Roll @ Sawgrass Landing
13775 W. Sunrise Blvd.
Sunrise, Florida 33323

Web Site:

Twitter: @how_do_you_roll

Quick Serve Restaurants, or QSR’s, are all the rage right now in casual dining. The trend of serving “faster, but higher quality” food items than what is served fast food establishments can largely be attributed to Chipotle, which is now a huge success story in the food and restaurant industry.

Since Chipotle made it big, others are trying to figure out what the next big QSR concept is. A lot of stuff since has been various re-spins on the burger concept. Asian cuisine, particularly sushi, is not something QSR as a whole has attempted to tackle yet, due to much higher sanitary standards as well as issues of keeping fish fresh.

How Do You Roll, a QSR chain that originated in Texas (and was profiled on the TV showShark Tank)  is attempting to recreate Chipotle’s “Roll your own” model and success but with sushi and other Asian items. There are currently two locations in Florida, one in Sunrise and the other in Gainesville.

Rachel and I had the opportunity to visit the Sunrise HDYR location on a torrentially rainy saturday night with a group of sushi fans from when business was slow, so we got a chance to observe the franchise under optimal conditions for photography but not necessarily to see how service would perform under busy conditions.

As I mentioned, HDYR is a “Roll your own”, QSR restaurant where you pick from a list of ingredients and the sushi chefs put together your custom sushi roll, rice bowl or ramen soup.

HDYR is most definitely a “beginners” sushi place because there are only 3 raw fish types you can choose from, Tuna (Maguro), Salmon, Escolar (a bland white fish, sometimes referred to as “White Tuna”), and “Spicy” variants of the same. Additional proteins that can be rolled are cooked Beef, Chicken, Crawfish Tails, Surimi (“Krab Sticks”), Shrimp, Eel and Tofu.

There is also a nice variety of fruits, vegetables and a number of different sauces and toppings/condiments which allows for a good combination of things for the diner to create. Pre-designed roll combinations range from $3 to $7, so you’re looking at about half of what a mid-range sushi restaurant charges for similar items.

Like at a Chipotle, or a sub shop chain, you order at the counter and they give you a number and you sit down. When your number is called you either go up to get your order, or depending how busy the place is, they bring it to you. The place was so completely dead that evening due to the weather that we got first class table service.

Is How Do You Roll a fresh or a dead fish? Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below for more.

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NJ Dining: Huong Viet

February 15, 2010

Huong Viet
358 Passaic Avenue, Nutley NJ

When your favorite restaurants close, there is always a mourning period. Sometimes, you know that they are going to be gone forever, but in other cases, you get a glimmer of hope, hearing rumors that they may open again somewhere else.

One such restaurant was Little Saigon in Montclair, a Vietnamese favorite with a loyal clientele. Little Saigon had closed before, due to a fire in its original Nutley location on Franklin Avenue in 2003. The restaurant  re-opened in 2005 in a much larger Montclair space on Elm Street. In October of 2009, Little Saigon closed suddenly and without any warning.

But late last year we heard rumors that the owners were going to re-open, and re-open it did, in the original town where it all started, in Nutley. However, “Little Saigon” is no longer — it has returned to business, with the same owners, as Huong Viet on Passaic Avenue, in a much more manageable space than its previous location.

Huong Viet is the new Pho King of Nutley. Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below for more.

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Hilton Head, South Carolina Dining: Barnacle Bill’s

September 20, 2009

Barnacle Bill’s Seafood Market
614 William Hilton Pkwy
Hilton Head Isle, SC 29928-3550
(843) 785-9007

Web Site:

As I mentioned in my previous post about Hudson’s Seafood, South Carolina is famous for its Carolina White Shrimp, a species that is indigenous to the region and is consumed almost entirely in the local area. The species thrives along the entire eastern seaboard, and you might get a small percentage of them caught in local catches further north and south, but the highest concentrations of them are in the Carolinas.  It has a characteristically sweet flavor and its texture isn’t as firm as shrimp from colder waters.

While many local restaurants in Hilton Head, Savannah and Charleston serve the Carolina shrimp, it is also possible to buy it from local seafood retailers and bring it back to your timeshare unit to cook yourself. One of the ones we were recommended to on Hilton Head Island itself was Barnacle Bill’s.

Barnacle Bill's Seafood, Hilton Head Island SC by you.

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Whoa! Gambas a la SIGMA 50mm.

July 11, 2008

Since getting the new Canon XSi, I’ve taken quite a few nice shots. However, I knew that I couldn’t really take advantage of the camera until I got a professional quality primary, fixed focal length lens. The 18-55 telephoto that came with my camera kit was serviceable, but as those of us who do a lot of food photography know, the flash is not your friend. Really nice food photos are taken in ambient or natural light, and when you are in a restaurant environment, you REALLY don’t want to use a flash. And we also know that ambient light in environments where food is served can be challenging for food photography.

The downside of a telephoto lens is that the glass isn’t as big — the 18-55 kit lens for the XSi is 58mm wide, for example, so you don’t get as much light captured as say a 77mm wide lens. Having telephoto also reduces how wide you can open your aperture — the almighty F stop — which is key to natural light photography. A fixed focal length primary lens also allows you to shoot at a lower ISO rating in less light than a telephoto lens. So to summarize, Bigger glass, wider F stop, better food photos.

Having done some research on primary lenses, I finally settled on the newly released 50mm SIGMA F1.4 EX DG HSM. This comes in a Canon or a Nikon mount, and it streets for about $480.00. has a short write up of it here. Hey, I didn’t say the thing was cheap. Compared to the Canon L Series 50mm F 1.2 though at around $1400.00 which I originally wanted but Rachel would kick my ass if I went out and bought, I thought it was a bargain given this is state of the art lens technology. Canon also makes a 50mm 1.4 which sells for around $350.00, but it’s an older design, and I had a hard time getting one from online resellers without it being a special order item.

Here’s a photo of some grilled jumbo shrimp we made tonight, shot at f/2.5 ISO 500, using just the light in my kitchen. I’m barely scratching the surface of what this lens can do. Like driving a Ferrari, its a high performance product with quirks that the driver needs to adapt to. I’m finding that I have to bracket my exposures in aperture priority mode to finally get the image I want. With practice I should be able to tweak my depth of field just the way I want it. Hey, I’m a total gimp at real photography. Cut me some slack.

Ready for some primary lenses, octopus, and jumbo shrimp? Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below for more.

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New Orleans Dining: Domilise’s

September 29, 2007

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5240 Annunciation St.
New Orleans, LA
(504) 899-9126

I think if you want to see the real New Orleans, you have to go and eat the the blue collar type places. And there’s nothing more New Orleans and blue collar than a Po’Boy shop.

Food writer Sara Roahen in her upcoming February 2008 book Gumbo Tales talks about a specific Po’Boy that has gone extinct, the Pepper Weiner at Domilise’s. Apparently it was some type of special sausage or hot dog that was dressed in a special way, and it was beloved by many. In any case, the Schott’s Meat company in New Orleans that manufactured the Pepper Weiner has since gone out of business, and thus it now Rests in Peace.

Domilise’s, located in the Uptown section of the city near the Prytania/Upperline area off of Tchoupitoulas street, however, is still going strong, and it has been for many decades. Regarded as one of the best sandwich shops in the city, It is a true Po’Boy shop in every respect, and makes them in a very traditional fashion, using real New Orleans French bread.

Domilise’s as you can see is very much a locals hangout.

The Carte de Po’Boys.

There’s nothing more honest and satisfying than a New Orleans Po Boy. Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below for more.

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New Orleans Dining: Drago’s (Hilton)

September 16, 2007

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Drago’s at Hilton New Orleans Riverside
2 Poydras Street, New Orleans LA

Every time I visit New Orleans, Drago’s restaurant in nearby Metairie is always on the top of my to-go list. Their charbroiled oysters are my absolute favorite and you can make a meal of them just by themselves. We had tried to eat there on our first night back, but had discovered the restaurant was closed on Sunday.

Later on in the week we discovered that Drago’s owner Tommy Cvitanovich had opened a brand new location in the downtown Hilton hotel, near the Riverwalk shopping center. As we were across the street at Grand Isle checking out their happy hour, I absolutely had to try the new place and see if it lived up to the original.

The new Drago’s location at the downtown Hilton Riverside.

If it looks like Drago’s, if it smells like Drago’s, It is Drago’s. Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below for more.

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