JJ Chinese Seafood Restaurant in Denver, Colorado

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Soup's On...

2500 W. Alameda Ave.
Denver, Colorado 80219

The first thing one sees, besides the door, when entering this modest restaurant is a wall of live fish. Live EEL, Crab, Shrimp, Lobster, Talapia, and more are on display in the tank. The tank is as clean and pristine as a home aquarium. These fish/crustaceans are also on the menu. The menu(s) that mention “Cantonese” consist of about a half-dozen pages of Chicken, Seafood, Pork, Beef, Hot Pot, Vegetable/To-Fu, [sic] Fried Rice, Porridge, Noodles/Lo Mein, Noodles with Soup, and of course Appetizers, *Beer, *Wine and Desserts. The basic meats /fish/vegetables include variations of Hot & Spicy, Szechuan, Sweet & Sour, Black Bean Sauce, Garlic Sauce, Brown Sauce, and Orange Sauce dishes, just to name a few.

Here are a few items from JJ’s menu: Crab Meat & Bamboo Fungus with Shark’s Fin Soup ($10.95 – for one,) Pig’s Blood & Intestine with Salted Vegetable Hot Pot ($8.95,) Kung Pao Shrimp ($9.95,) Sea Cucumber with Slice Abalone [sic] ($35.95,) Whole Dungeness Crab with Spaghetti in Cheese Sauce (around $16.00.) This whole crab is “drawn and quartered” and served – in shell – over a bed of spaghetti dressed with a melted cheese sauce.

JJ Chinese Seafood Restaurant is not terribly fancy, it’s rather plain. It is, however, very clean and tidy. It’s a family restaurant in an older neighborhood. None of that (except for the clean and tidy) really matters here, it’s all about the fresh, authentic, well-served food.

*The Beer & Wine choices are limited.

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PIZZADILLA™ (Tortilla / Quesadilla Pizza)

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PIZZADILLA™ (Tortilla / Quesadilla Pizza)

When I was living in Cabo San Lucas in the 90s, my friend Juan & his brother, who owned a restaurant in CSL, and I got together one evening. The subject was food. I was going to show them how to prepare an American Pizza. Well, because of the altitude & other factors, the pizza was a bust (it didn’t rise to the occasion.) However I came up with an idea: The PIZZADILLA™ – a fusion of pizza and an open-faced quesadilla.

The reader is either going to hate this one or…A tortilla is substituted for the pizza dough. On the negative side, a pizza purist is not going to accept this as legitimate pizza. A connoisseur would insist on a thicker, yeast- dough. On the positive side, it’s: 1) fast & easy, 2) inexpensive, and 3) less fattening & filling. You get most of the tastes, without the mass of dough.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not anti pizza. Pizza is one of my passions.

Basically the PIZZADILLA™ is: pizza sauce, cheese, and pizza toppings on a tortilla.

(Adjust the following ingredients for tortilla size & personal preferences. These are just suggestions.)
Suggested ingredients for one 8″ PIZZADILLA™
1 8″ Tortilla
1 TBS Olive Oil
2-3 oz. Pizza Sauce or Tomato Paste
3-4 oz. Mozzarella Fresca cheese
1 thinly sliced, peeled, garlic clove
1-2 TBS chopped black olives
2-3 sliced mushrooms
6-8 slices medium tomato, sliced thin
6-8 or more Jalapeno slices
1 TBS Grated Fontinella, Romano or Parmesan cheese
6-8 medium fresh Oregano leaves (or 1 tsp. dried Oregano)
1/4 tsp. Cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp. Garlic powder
*See below for extra ingredients

First of all place the tortilla on an ungreased, flat baking pan or foil. You can place the Pizzadilla™ directly on an oven rack to bake.

Use your imagination to create a Pizzadilla™ from any combination of items.

Here are a few of my suggestions:
A.) I start with a larger (quesadilla, enchilada or burrito size) tortilla (8-12 inches)
B.) Brush Olive Oil or garlic infused Olive Oil on the surface (top only) of a tortilla
C.) Spread your favorite **pizza sauce, or **undiluted tomato paste on the oiled tortilla
D.) Arrange slices or shreds of your favorite pizza cheese (I recommend Mozzarella Fresca)

Top with your favorite pizza toppings (here’s what I might do:)
1.) Slice a glove of garlic (very thin slices) and distribute evenly
2.) Add chopped black olives
3.) Add sliced mushrooms
4.) Add thin tomato slices
5.) Add Jalapeno slices
6.) Sprinkle a bit of ***grated cheese on the pizza: Fontinella, Romano or Parmesan
7.) Spread a few fresh ****Oregano leaves on top

Bake in a toaster oven or standard oven (at about 375 degrees) until the cheese is melted and the underside of the tortilla starts to brown (about ten minutes,) remove, slice and pig out.

Hints, Tips and Suggestions:
**I like to use packaged Boboli Pizza Sauce or Tomato Paste straight from the can
***I prefer grated Fontinella but you can use Romano or Parmasan
****Use dried Oregano if you don’t have fresh Oregano
Add a pinch of Cayenne pepper and garlic powder
*For a rich, creamy pizza: Instead of brushing Olive Oil on the tortilla, spread a thin layer of cream cheese on a naked tortilla, add the sauce and continue from D. above
*If you want more quesadilla than pizza, use Mexican Asadero cheese, salsa, taco toppings and cilantro – but then you would have a Mexican pizza or open faced quesadilla.
*Use a taco size tortilla for a quick snack
These are suggestions only, use your imagination to create your own Pizzadilla™…This is a work in progress, use discretion in assembling and balancing your Pizzadilla™.

Find this recipe and others on the LasVegasBuffetClub’s Recipes page.
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Black Hawk and Central City, Colorado Casino Update With Ameristar Casino, Fortune Valley Casino and Riviera Casino Information…

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Soup's On...
Back to the buffets. Anyway, I had a coupon for the Ameristar Casino’s Centennial Buffet. This is one of
Central City’s/Black Hawk’s newest buffets. It is not at all unlike some of the buffets in Las Vegas. Texas Station’s buffet and the Stardust’s buffet (now just a pile of dust & construction material) come to mind. The room is large, tastefully-colorful and warm. The food choices are abundant, artistically presented, aesthetically pleasing, and generally acceptable. (click the web site link for more buffet information.)

“With its hand-hewn timbers, wrought iron fixtures and dry stacked stone columns, the Centennial Buffet invites you to relax in an atmosphere every bit as charming and rustic as the casino. To add to the decor, we’ve commissioned a series of woodcut-style prints celebrating the rich history of Black Hawk. It’s the perfect place to gather for a delicious meal of anything your appetite fancies. Choose from a wide variety of fresh and flavorful Mexican, Italian, Asian and American dishes. Plus, every night we feature all you can eat snow crab.” [excerpt is from Ameristar’s web site.]

The Snow Crab always seems to be the big hit. Of course the buffet had a long, well-stocked Salad Bar with all the trimmings, including fruit, Ambrosia, cold vegetable-salads and more. Chilled Shrimp is stacked and served from a tall, hollow, rectangular, branded-ice-sculpture, which spills shrimp onto a platter from an opening at the bottom. This was pretty impresive, especially since the shrimp were “cold,” firm and not-too-small. Shrimp Cocktail Sauce, Tarter Sauce and Drawn Butter are on hand. Prime Rib, Jamaican Pork, Ribs, and Chicken – just to name a few of the nicely-displayed meats are behind glass or on steam-tables. Of course, All-American standards “are” in the house. Asian, Mexican and Italian food stations were at-the-ready on Sunday night. The Pasta & Pizza station had “order” cards for guest to fill out, for a custom prepared dish. Choose your ingrediants, write them on the card and the chef prepares the dish for you – on the spot. I had a tasty slice of flat-bread pizza with a killer red sauce at the Pasta & Pizza station. The chef on duty was the author of the flat-bread pizza and a good guy to boot. The Mexican station had the basics, and Green Chile…The Pulled Pork from another station reminded me of the Main Street Station’s [Las Vegas] buffet. I can’t list everything, however, the desert counter is worth mentioning: Petit Fours, Chocolate Dipped Strawberries, Cake, Pie, Cookies, Fruit, Ice Cream and more made a good finish.

Some things were excellent, some less-than excellent and other dishes were average. Overall it was a positive experience. The buffet Sunday night was about $18.00. Basic beverages are included.
Visit Ameristar’s Web Site for buffet prices and more information.

The Riviera gave me some nice comps, including a birthday dinner – but I’ll have to wait a week or so to cash that one in. Thanks Riv! I’ll be writing Riviera information next trip… Last but not least, The FortuneValley Casino also gave me a gift for my birthday. Thanks Fortune Valley
Visit the LasVegasBufetClub’s pages on Colorado gaming…
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Maggie’s Closest Route to Black Hawk/Central City, Colorado …

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“Since this post was first published, it has been revised, slashed, cut and reworked. Please read the revisions carefully before using the information to drive to the casinos.”

I was either lucky enough or unlucky enough to have casino comps from: The Riviera, Black Hawk, The Ameristar Casino and The Fortune Valley Casino, so it was definately worth making a trip up to the mountains.
Having access to a GPS unit, I decided to do a best-route test. Which route to Black Hawk/Central City, Colorado would Maggie (that’s what I call the GPS because the GPS’ voice sounds like a Maggie, also because it’s a Magellan GPS ) take if I asked [her] to plan the shortest route. You can program the GPS to plan a route using the criteria of: the shortest, fastest, most use of freeways and least use of freeways. At the intersection of West 8th Avenue & Speer Blvd. I set the GPS to map the shortest route to Central City. I entered the target address as 100 Main Street – Central City, Colorado.

[Fully expecting the GPS to tell me to take: West 6th Ave. to I-70 West to Central City Parkway, then on to Central City/Black Hawk, since everything I’ve heard told me that the new route is the fastest. [*I was indeed wrong, I guess.] I have to get more input from more sources before I can totally confirm this.]

Here’s what actually happened: Leaving West 8th & Spear the GPS directed me to proceed to West 6th Avenue and continue on West 6th. Approx. 26 mi. later Maggie “told” me to take Colorado 119 and proceed on 119 to Black Hawk. This is the old route – totally bypassing the new Central City Parkway. [*I was indeed surprised, however as I said, I have to do a bit more research.]

*This information is not wrong as the GPS was programed to find the SHORTEST route. 7-23-08

UPDATE JULY 23, 2008 – Here’s the scoop: The West 6th Avenue, to I-70, to Central City Parkway to Central City and Black Hawk is the FASTEST route from downtown Denver, according to a Magellan GPS. It’s about 40 miles (45 minutes.)
The West 6th Avenue, to US 6, to Colorado 119 to Black Hawk and Central City seems to be the SHORTEST route – in DISTANCE: about 35 miles, but a bit longer in TIME, about 60 minutes. (This information, of course, depends on your departure point. Basically the drive (approx. 35-45 miles) takes about 45-60 minutes.)

During inclement weather, I-70 West to Central City Parkway will still be your best bet.

Visit the LasVegasBufetClub’s pages on Colorado gaming…
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Hanson’s Grill & Tavern in Denver, Colorado

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Soup's On...
Hanson’s Grill and Tavern could easily be overlooked in the quiet, older neighborhood where it’s located. Don’t let it’s mild appearance fool you. It’s a good restaurant. Several dinning rooms, a patio, and a bar offer good seating choices. Very comfortable, cozy booths in the room just south of the bar offer a secure escape.
Who am I kidd’n, it’s all about the burgers. Here’s the thing: on Mondays and Tuesdays they promote something called Burger Madness: $4.00 basic burgers w/lettuce, onion, tomato and pickle. The hunk of well-seasoned beef is huge. It must be 1/2 to 3/4 lbs. of meat. I’m just guessing, but it is one of the largest patties I’ve seen, good taste, good quality. The regular (Wednesday through Sunday) price is about $7.00.
On Burger Madness nights you can choose from a number of extras for just a buck or two: cheeses, toppings, sides etc. This is, for sure, one of the best deals in town.
Back to business. The eveyday menu is extensive with everthing from Steak dinners, and Prime Rib to pastas, salads, sandwiches, soups, chile and more…
Long happy hours and an upstairs game room add to the attraction..

Hanson’s Grill & Tavern
1301 S Pearl St
Denver, CO 80210
(303) 744-0210

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