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Brian's Top Reviews:

Johny's (by Malozzi) 5fork
Madison Cafe 5fork
Phoenicians Restaurant


Hilltop Restaurant

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Hilltop Restaurant is located in Watervliet in a little strip mall.  It was recommended to us for their pancakes.  When we wandered in late morning on a Saturday, there was only one customer there.  We were immediately greeted and told we could sit wherever.

Since we were directed to Hilltop because of their pancakes, I ordered those with a side of bacon.  Josie ordered her usual French Toast with a side of hash.  When I ordered the bacon the waitress asked how I would like it (soft, crisp or in the middle), I ordered it in the middle.  Sure enough, the bacon came out and it was just that - in the middle.  Often places will ask how you want it and then just ignore it and make it however they like.  It was a nice touch.  The pancakes were heavy.  Very heavy.  I think I was able to eat just about one of them (maybe not even that).  But they were cooked really well, with a slight crisp on it and a golden brown.  I would order them again, but probably get a short stack.  Josie's food on the other hand was not nearly as good.  Her French toast dish was incredibly small - just two pieces of thin white bread.  The bread was dipped so fast that nothing soaked in, and they even missed major portions of the bread so it was incredibly dry.  The hash was ok, but lacked seasoning.  I think she ate it primarily because her French Toast was so difficult to digest.

 I felt the service was quite good, and the staff was very friiendly, even as we were leaving the Chef was outside having a smoke break, she said, "thanks for coming, have a great day".  The friendliness of the staff and the pancake were the only things keeping Hilltop from getting 1 or 2 forks.  So, 3 forks for them and probably no return trip for us.

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Pancakes with side of bacon French Toast
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Corned Beef hash



El Loco

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A good friend of mine and his wife have a rule called, "no cook Friday".  In honor of this, we often meet up to go out to a new place.  This week it was El Loco in Albany (on Madison near Lark).   El Loco doesn't take reservations for parties less than 6, and was absolutely packed on our Friday outing.  After waiting for about 45 minutes, we were seated and our dining experience began.

We all ordered a few margaritas, and browsed the 5 page menu.  I settled on the Pollo Flauta - corn tortillas filled with turkey rolled into flutes and deep fried until crispy served with guacamole while Josie ordered the Chimichanga and Taco combo.  (our dining companions ordered enchiladas and another combo plate, pictures below, but they are not part of this review)

The Pollo Flauta was cooked well, but very dry, the guacamole helped to offset the dryness, but didn't completely do the job.  The cornbread that came with it was moist and flavorful and the rice and beans were ok, but lacked seasoning.  Josie's Chimichanga and Taco were both good.  The chimichanga was cooked perfect but was missing something, while the taco needed cheese instead of just meat and lettuce.  The taco had shredded beef on it instead of ground, and that was a nice touch.

Service was good based on how busy they were and staff all seemed polite.  Both the service and the good was good, but not amazing, so El Loco gets a 3 fork rating from me.

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Pollo Flauta Chimichanga and Taco



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Hong Kong Bakery and Bistro

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Hong Kong Bakery and Bistro used to reside within a local Chinese market.  When they moved into their own building on Wolf Road in Colonie, we added it to our list of places to go.  This review is for their dim sum which is only served until 5PM.

As we walked in, we were greeted and sat immediately.  I wasn't a fan of the table, but I won't him them on that.  (the booth was too far away from the table, and it had a base on the bottom that gave me absolutely no place to put my feet).  The Dim Sum menu is on a piece of paper where you check off the items you want.  We went for a mix of things to try out, including roast pork pastries, (deep) fried pork buns, shrimp and spinach dumplings, roast duck dumplings, steamed shrimp dumplings, and pan fried pork buns.

The first to come out where the roast pork pastries and the fried pork buns.  The roast pork buns had a bit of sweetness and what I would describe as a bbq pork in them.  They were just slightly warmer than room temperature, which was a big negative for me.  The (deep) fried pork buns were not even room temperature, they were cold.  The filling inside was congealed but per Josie, "had a good flavor".  I couldn't even bring myself to eat the brick of cold pork mix.  Next up were our steamed dumplings, shrimp, shrimp and spinach, and roast duck.  The flavors in all of them were good, with the shrimp being a good size and cooked well, they were nice and tender.  The duck tender and moist.  The issue we had with these dumplings is that they were very sticky on the outside so they stuck to everything and ripped apart, and were completely slimy inside.  While the flavor was good, the texture was off-putting.  Finally we had the pan fried pork bun.  This one was my favorite, it has a nice light crisp on the outside, and a soft chewy inside.  Pork filling was nicely seasoned, it was probably the only one I would definitely order again if we returned.

Service was great, the owner/manager? came by a few times and made some jokes, and the waiter was there when we needed him, but not overbearing.  Josie and I agreed we would come back to try the actual menu, but we would probably go elsewhere for dim sum.  I would have given it a 2 fork rating overall, but Josie is a bit more of an expert in dim sum, so I will yield to her suggested rating of 3 forks.

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Roast Pork and Fried Pork Shrimp and Spinach and Roast Duck
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Pan Fried Pork Bun



Mr. Wasabi

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Friday night rolled along and I was in the mood for sushi.  In comes Mr. Wasabi in Schenectady.  I had been here several years ago and it was time for a revisit and a review.

We ordered the spicy tuna dumplings as an appetizer, it came out as 6 spicy tuna balls surrouned by avacado.  I love avacado with pretty much anything so I was a fan of spicy tuna being surrounded by it.  They were good, but difficult to eat and I would have preferred a little more flavor.  For rolls, we orderd the ginza roll (crab tempura and mango inside, topped with spicy tuna, avacado and a mango sauce), a Fall Season roll (spicy crunch tuna, avacado, and bonito seasoning) and a spicy salmon crunch roll.  Fish in the rolls was fresh and the rolls were actually as described.  I thought the ginza roll had some conflicting flavors in it (mango and spicy don't really go together).  Overall, the rolls were good, and I think we would order any of them again.

As an added bonus, we also ordered a dessert of tempura cheesecake.  Normally this dish is a few small pieces of cheesecake battered and fried.  In this case, it was an entire slice of cheesecake battered and fried.  The thin part was great, but as you got to the thicker area, it was still completely frozen and inedible.

We had no complaints on service, everyone was friendly and polite.  It was a great experience overall and earned a rating of 4 forks.

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Spicy Tuna Dumpling Ginza Roll
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Fall Season Roll (back) and Spicy Salmon with Crunch