Monday, August 16, 2010

TBG Eats: The NEW Hawaiian Grilled Chicken Salad from Carl's Jr.

Current Weight: 171.4 lbs.

This past weekend was a bit of both the familiar and the unfamiliar.

On Saturday, my family spent a few hours at a grown-up get-together...where kids were invited. Adult food was served, contemporary music oozed from the sound system and a cooler full of
small-batch novelty brews was on ice and available. My six-year-old son Jalen amused himself with the other children, but it might've been the first party he ever attended where I had to (half-heartedly) scold him for running in the house or talking too loudly. Regardless, a great time was had by all.

On Sunday, it was over to the palatial "H" estate for exhibits A, B and C in how to throw a kids' party. Pizza and
peanut-butter banana dogs sat alongside the grown-up grub. The most "contemporary" song was composed 117 years ago. And, I opted for tea-totaling sobriety so that I could better police the children when, inevitably, their parents' attention turned to (chronologically) the Padres/Giants game on TV, the end of some random golf tournament on TV (with a convoluted "controversial" ending) or anything not involving their children.

Here is a small sampling of my underreported heroism over the course of those four hours: I prevented one little boy on a bike from running over a little girl. I reprimanded another little boy (pictured, very top-right of this page) for doing an unintentional
approximation of this on a smaller child within the confines of a steel cage latex "jumpie". Sadly, however, there was one casualty on my watch. Sorry, giant "Dora the Explorer" piƱata.

This was the climax of a four-day stretch that went: post-work happy hour (Thursday), post-work happy hour (Friday), party and party. Predictably, Mrs. Bootleg's pretended to "forget" about my alcoholic shenanigans on Thursday. She inquired about our dinner plans late that afternoon and was still rehearsing her standard "starvation" skit with Jalen when I walked in the front door one hour later than usual. Her response to my (admittedly last-minute) decision to go drinking on Friday night: "You're going out AGAIN?" *

* -- Two years ago, my wife took TWO long weekends – in the same month – out of town with her girlfriend(s). In hindsight, I am 1000% certain she wishes she would've spaced those two trips over two months. Whenever she tries to guilt me about a happy hour, I play the "YOU abandoned US for two weekends in one month" card.

Even at the peak of my business travelling, weekends away to see the A's and general marital/parental neglect – all of which were most pronounced during the first two years after Jalen's birth – I never went away for two weekends in one month.

So, in a peace offering to Mrs. Bootleg, I'm swearing off booze for the rest of this week. I'm also temporarily eschewing fast food and my personal sack o' candy at work. Truth is that the above "current weight" is from late last week. For all I know, I could be inching uncomfortably towards
12.5 stone.

Thankfully, I've been procrastinating on a new fast food review from last week.

Carl's Jr. introduced their
Teriyaki Burger a few years ago and it's become a surprisingly successful menu item. I believe it's even ascended from "limited time" to "full time" status. It works because of the relatively unusual union of enormous pineapple slices and red meat. But, it was only a matter of time before Carl's Jr. appeased traditionalists by replacing the ground beef with chicken.

The Teriyaki Chicken Sandwich debuted at CJ's earlier this year and the natural evolution from there is the Hawaiian Grilled Chicken Salad:

Grilled chicken, grilled pineapple rings, cucumber and red onions on a bed of spring salad mix. Served with crispy wonton strips and Sesame Asian dressing.

I still don't understand why Carl's Jr. can't accommodate to-go orders and keep the piping-hot chicken off the cold salad fixings.** The resultant steam from the meat (under the covered salad container) makes the lettuce 25% more flaccid. Add another 10 minutes to my commute and the contents would become baby food.

** -- Here are a few other "food unions" that I'm NOT a fan of: oatmeal-chocolate chip cookies, chocolate-covered strawberries and peanuts in my Kung Pao.

This salad has a potentially exciting mix of flavors, but in the end, it's undone by its inherent fast food-iness.

The chicken and pineapple rings have that unmistakably warmed-over mouthfeel fresh from the microwave oven. The sesame dressing livened things up a bit, but by my last bite, had only served to muddle the other tastes and textures. A few more red onion slices would've helped, as would a slightly more bitter mix of greens.

I know, I know…it's a fast food salad. But, would you rather the industry focus on just burgers and fries or getting everything right?

Well, then. You've won this round, "everyone else".

Grade: 2 (out of 5) Calories: 260 Fat: 8g (w/o dressing)


Yvonne said...

You're on your own with your hatred for chocolate covered strawberries, Bootleg Guy.

Aaron C. said...

Re: bringing together chocolate and strawberries..."segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation for-EVAH".

Elena said...

Ah, but the real test: how do you feel about chocolate-covered pretzels?

Aaron C. said...

Since I consider "sweet n' salty" to be the unofficial 5th food group, chocolate-covered pretzels are absolutely acceptable and encouraged.

This rule also covers: Crunch-n-Munch, Goobers, peanut brittle and pigs-in-a-blanket.

SHough610 said...

Don't mix fruit in with my dessert, that's not dessert. That goes for chocolate covered raisins as well. I was with you on the latter two of food that you're not a fan of, but oatmeal chocolate chip cookies? What's your beef with those?

Aaron C. said...

The only chip that has any place in an oatmeal cookie is butterscotch. A co-worker made me some for my b-day and...Holy. Lord.

Why can't chocolate be happy with its own cookie in its own neighborhood?!