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Commercial deep fryer needed? What do I buy?

I'm by no means an expert, but I did a bit of research before buying my commercial fryer and I also worked in a restaurant for several years so I'll share what I know and offer some points to consider.
Commercial deep fryers are often rated (or categorized) by how many pounds of fries per hour they can produce. I believe that this rating is determined by both old capacity and ability to heat the oil (BTUs).
Commercial gas fryers don't have built in filters like home models do. They do have a pipe stem at the bottom with a gate valve on it which you can open and drain the oil out through. Typically, you would place a pot on the floor under the fryer, set up a filter basket with filter paper in the pot and pour the oil through that periodically. The filter contraption looks like a huge version of a cone filter setup for single cups of coffee. There are also pump driven filter systems, but I'm not really familiar with them. Some electric systems (many, but I'm not sure if all) have removable tanks. This means no draining through the built in valve systems, but instead, I lift out the oil well.
You mentioned freestanding - I'm guessing that means not a drop-in unit. You have the choice of a floor standing and countertop models. The price is comparable and you can always get a stand for a countertop model if needed. The dimensions for a fryer stand are pretty standardized across the industry, so any universal stand should be okay.
With gas units, you will have to boil out the fryer periodically (typically when you change the oil). This is because you can't just pull out the oil tank and wash it in the sink like you would with a home unit. This involves draining the oil, filling the fryer with water and a special detergent, and then turning it on to boil off oil residues, stains, etc. I ended up going with an electric unit because it had a removable tank and I could avoid the messy boil out procedure.
You will also need adequate ventilation. A commercial grade hood is necessary, otherwise the oil fumes will linger for several hours (even with the windows open). Without a commercial grade hood, everything inside will end up with a sticky oil film from the airborne oil fumes.
Since you mention that you will be cooking all sorts of foods, you may want to consider two separate fryers or a dual tank system so that cooking seafood doesn't make the oil fishy flavored. The alternative to this would be to cook any shrimp or fish just before you change the oil out, otherwise all the foods you cook later will may have a fishy scent.
Getting the smallest tank volume (as mentioned below in a different reply) isn't really relevant or advantageous in any way. Smaller oil volumes heat up faster, but have less thermal mass; meaning that when you drop cold food in into it, the oil temp will drop farther than if you had a larger capacity tank. Cost of oil isn't really an issue because the oil in larger oil capacity fryers will last longer due to the extra volume. You will have to filter and/or change out the oil in smaller fryers more often.

May 05, 2015
fledflew in Cookware

Scottsdale--The Upton - Virtu - The House Brasserie

To address the "reliably good" question, both Virtu and The House have been on point every time. Different experiences, but equally well executed. I think it's going to come down to preference, really. The House is a dimmer, more intimate feeling restaurant located in a restored historic house. It has several different dining areas and a classic brasserie menu. Virtu is a relatively well-lit louder, bustling place with much tighter seating (at least inside), and has more of a Mediterranean/New American menu. It may just be my perception, but I think they do a lot more tourist business due to the great press that they have been receiving. One of the deciding factors might be what sort of restaurants you don't have access to in your own town.
Arizona is notoriously casual - even more so during daytime dining hours. The fact that you have even given thought to your brunch attire means that you will be appropriately dressed.

Mar 05, 2015
fledflew in Phoenix

Scottsdale--The Upton - Virtu - The House Brasserie

I've had dinner at both Virtu and The House several times. Have not had a chance to go to the Upton yet, nor have I had brunch at any of the spots. If you want to try and do two restaurants in one evening, going to The House early for drinks and a bunch of small plates before continuing on to one of the other two restaurants is certainly feasible. Additionally, The House has a community table so if there's only a couple of you, it may be easier to get seated if you don't have reservations. Service there for me has always been efficient and well timed. My meals at Virtu tended to last a long time and the pace of the meal is slower. It may come down to which place you feel has a stronger brunch or dinner menu and fill in the spots based on that.
Good luck and enjoy!

Mar 03, 2015
fledflew in Phoenix

magnetic knife holder. Yay or Nay?

I use an in-drawer knife block now due to cabinet placement in my house. I did use a magnetic bar for several years at my old apartment however and it worked great. I had the cheap Ikea one and I covered the metal surface with contact paper (the stuff that some people use on shelves)to prevent any scratching to the sides of my knife blades. If you have the clearance between your counter and cabinet uppers, it's a great solution.

Feb 23, 2015
fledflew in Cookware

SUPER BOWL WEEKEND!

I anticipate everything in Phoenix will be a crowded mess that weekend - which is why I'm splitting town and will be in San Diego. That being said...
Little miss bbq is outstanding. The wait there is generally several hours long without out of town visitors. The same will be true about Pizzeria Bianco in downtown over the weekend that you're visiting. You might try the Bianco's in the Town and Country shopping center. It's usually a lot easier to get a into that location. I read on another thread here that Virtu will be closed for a private party that weekend, although I doubt for the entire weekend. You might want to give them a call to check. If they have a patio table open, take it. They have plenty of heat lamps and even blankets if it gets chilly. I dined there a couple weeks ago and my entire party was perfectly comfortable. The dining room there inside gets really loud and cramped. As far as Richardson's goes - you may also want to check out Rokerij and/or Dick's Hideaway. They're under the same owner and have a similar feel and menu. To add to your list of options that weekend, I'll throw in Barrio Cafe. Silvana also recently opened Barrio Urbano @ the Yard, They are both excellent.
As far as Sonoran food goes, there are countless options. Within a couple miles of where I live, I can count over a dozen examples (both independent and chain) off the top of my head. Mi Patio, La Pinata, El Norteno, Juan's, Sylvia's, Manuels, Macayo's, Aunt Chilada's, etc, etc.
You might also want to check out the many options for Mexican seafood along 16th street. Mariscos Playa Hermosa is a great choice. There is also El Pacifico and a hand full of others. La Santisima is also a top choice for gourmet tacos (although their service is hit or miss).
Enjoy your visit.

Jan 16, 2015
fledflew in Phoenix

Wanting to eat good without breaking the bank

In addition to the suggestions offered by others, you could do Burger Bar @ Mandalay Bay. The entrees at the Harrah's Oyster Bar are above your budget, but you would be fine there if you were looking for a smaller meal comprised of a an appetizer (fried calamari, crab cakes, etc).

Jan 16, 2015
fledflew in Las Vegas

Signs of a NOT Authentic Chinese Restaurant

As tardigrade mentioned, there are non-Chinese waiters in authentic Chinese restaurants here in Silicon Valley. FOH employees from Central America that can understand and speak a dozen or so phrases in Cantonese as well as Mandarin is not uncommon. I remember the first time I had guy named Andres explain what he had on his dim sum cart and list out the ingredients in the different fillings, I was pretty surprised. It's become more and more common over the past few years here. I figure it's a lot like how I picked up spanish after working for a while in a restaurant.

Sep 16, 2014
fledflew in General Topics

The great noodle soups of the world roundup

In addition to the ramen and pho that you list above, I also love Hong Kong style wonton noodle soup (sometimes with the addition of roast duck), Thai boat noodles (beef noodle soup), and Taiwanese beef noodle soup (with red-cooked beef).

When I think of noodle soups, I tend to go think asian. The standard chicken noodle soup isn't bad, but it doesn't excite me the same way that the asian noodle soups do.

Sep 11, 2014
fledflew in General Topics

Old School Steakhouse on the Strip?

It's not exactly on the Strip, but the coolest old school steakhouse has got to be the Golden Steer on Sahara just a block or so west of Las Vegas Blvd. Waiters clad in tuxedo shirts, a piano player in the lounge, tableside prepared caesars, and loads of history. I haven't eaten there in the past year, but used to frequent the place and the food has always been excellent. Plenty of classic steak and seafood items on the menu and one of the few places you'll find chateaubriand for two.

Uber has not been able to launch in Las Vegas (yet), so you'll have to cab it. From the Delano, just tell the cab to just get on I-15 straight to Sahara.

If you want to stay closer, check out Charlie Palmer's steakhouse right next door at the Four Seasons inside Mandalay Bay. I stop by there a couple times a year and always have a great meal there. It's pretty understated and not necessarily old school, but it's certainly not a new hip trendy place filled with club-goers.

Sep 08, 2014
fledflew in Las Vegas

Bringing My Own Knife to Restaurants from now on. -_-

A sharp knife isn't necessary to eat steak, but it is certainly more pleasurable to use. When I break down meat primals, I constantly hone my knife so that it glides through the muscle. Same goes for raw fish when preparing sushi. The fish is by no means tough, but a dull serrated knife is not the ideal tool to do the job. I like having the knife go through the food with one swipe and minimal effort.

Jul 21, 2014
fledflew in Cookware

Bringing My Own Knife to Restaurants from now on. -_-

I usually carry a pair of chopsticks and a knife with me. The Vietnamese and Japanese restaurant that I frequent have disposable chopsticks that are splintery and warped. They are also handy for certain foods that are usually not eaten with chopsticks (oysters on the half shell, leafy green salads, etc).
I keep a knife around for the same reasons the OP mentioned. I'm unclear on why some steakhouses seem to think that a crude knife with large dull teeth is the best thing to use on a piece of meat. With those, I end up tearing up the meat when sawing through it. A sharp, non-serrated knife glides through the meat. I do need to hone/sharpen it on a regular basis though because porcelain plates tend to dull the edge fairly quickly. I suspect that one of the reasons a lot of restaurants don't have decent smooth bladed knives (whether they know it or not). Mine is not an extravagant knife - I got a 4 pack from the restaurant supply store for about $10.

Jul 21, 2014
fledflew in Cookware

For those who love offals, which are your favorite?

1 - Tripe
2 - Feet (chicken, pig, duck, etc)
3 - Giblets (hearts, gizzards, etc from poultry)

In that order.

Jul 18, 2014
fledflew in General Topics

How often do you drink at lunch during the work week?

By day, I'm a part time freelance IT guy, but rented space as a tenant within an ad agency for several years. If I took lunch with some of the creative guys from the agency, we'd all have a drink or two or three. If I have to be in my office for something (but am not actually working), then I'll often have a drink in the office while watching television or reading. Some of the creative guys at the agency have mini fridges of beer in their office and one guy even has a mini bar in his area. Downstairs, there is a kegerator, all sorts of liquor, and a fridge full of champagne, mixers, wine, etc. Oh yeah, there was a cocktail bar next door that we'd sometimes have impromptu "meetings" at too. That being said, people there work hard and you weren't wandering around drunk. The booze usually didn't get flowing unless it was later in the afternoon and usually towards the end of the week.
If I'm at a client site then no, I generally don't drink because I don't know what their alcohol policies are.

At night, I bar back part-time and the booze definitely flows there.

Brain surgeons, elementary school teachers, limo drivers, and the like - I get the no alcohol thing. But I feel for people who work office jobs and want to enjoy a glass of wine with their lunch but can't due to company policy. More than a few times, I've received the "Man, I wish I was allowed to have a beer right now" comment from the table next to me when I was out to lunch.

Jul 18, 2014
fledflew in Not About Food

Chinese stuffed duck?

I had it a couple years ago with my family at a restaurant in Cupertino. I do not know the restaurant name, but it was on Stevens Creek Road just east of Wolfe next door to a vacuum cleaner shop. Hopefully somebody can help with the name,
I believe it is a special pre-order item. Although it was roasted, it was also braised and the meat didn't seem to have much of the rich duck flavor that I love. We also had the braised pork belly which was the memorable dish of the meal.

Smoking my first Beef Tongue

When I prepare braised beef tongue, I boil it in water for about 25-30 minutes first. This tightens up the muscle to make it easier to handle and allows me to remove the skin more easily. Some pieces of the skin peel off, but I do end up having to trim off quite a bit of the skin as well - I find a sharp boning/filet type knife works well for this. Regarding the pastrami spices, I would maybe coat it the day before to let the spices penetrate the meat. I'd be careful not to oversmoke the meat. Besides that, I can't comment on the rest of your process since I've always used a moist cooking method. Good luck and let us know how it turns out!

Cheap eats for foodies?

Regarding cheap eats - I'm a big fan of Fat Choy at the Eureka Casino on Sahara. The proprietor used to run a food truck in town and is known for his baos (duck and pork belly). The restaurant now serves asian and american food - burgers, wonton soup, short rib grilled cheese, duck rice, etc. It's an awesome spot!

Jun 30, 2014
fledflew in Las Vegas

Best Char Siu

BBQ King on Spring Mountain just west of Lindell. They have a bunch of hanging HK style BBQ items (char siu, roast duck, roast pork, etc). I've had better in other cities, but they turn out pretty consistent and quality stuff for LV.

Jun 26, 2014
fledflew in Las Vegas

Dinner near Arizona Biltmore

Noca and Tarbell's are two other excellent restaurants close by the Biltmore.

Jun 25, 2014
fledflew in Phoenix

What food items have you only had canned but never fresh?

Smoked oysters
Pickled jalapenos (in escabeche)
Baby corn

Jun 18, 2014
fledflew in General Topics

Recs for Lunch and Dinner at Mandalay Bay

I really like RM - I think they do a fantastic job with their seafood. Drinks are also very good in the lounge area.

I would advise you to skip Fleur. The menu isn't really outstanding or notable in any way, but the service can be real hit or miss. I've eaten there 4 times over the past couple years. I've had average service twice and really negligent, lazy, and dismissive service the other two times. They were never especially busy during any of my visits and I couldn't put my finger on what the causes were.

Jun 09, 2014
fledflew in Las Vegas

Mexican or Asian in downtown Las Vegas

Le Thai is an awesome spot for a tasty meal. They have one of my favorite versions of Thai beef noodle soup.

Mar 27, 2014
fledflew in Las Vegas

help pick one fab dinner

For one chance to make it fabulous, go with Joel (not Atelier). An alternative on the same level to Joel Robuchon would be Guy Savoy's place at Caesars.

Mar 19, 2014
fledflew in Las Vegas

The Strip vs Fremont/Downtown

As mentioned above, the food downtown isn't anywhere near as refined, but it is magnitudes cheaper. If you want very good food (not comparable to best on the strip though) without breaking the wallet, there are plenty of places off strip that can meet expectations. If mobility is an issue, the Barrymore near Wynn/Encore is an excellent choice. You can get a decent steak on Paradise for considerably less than on the strip. Also check out Charlie Palmer's Cut of the Week. If the menu works for you, it's a steal. There are a few hidden gems (some on and some near the strip) that will probably serve you well at an acceptable price point. Depending on when you're planning to go has an impact as well. Lots of top notch strip restaurants offer an unpublicized/locals prix fix menu during the off season.

Mar 19, 2014
fledflew in Las Vegas

Visiting Phoenix - Looking for Oaxacan or good Mexican

Take a look at Gallo Blanco. Great spot in central Phoenix.

Mar 04, 2014
fledflew in Phoenix

Cow Tongue

I've seen it at the Ranch 99 market on Spring Mountain in the past. I'm not sure if it's always in stock, but they were whole and unpeeled in the case next to the cow tripe and tendons.

Mar 04, 2014
fledflew in Las Vegas

best craft cocktail bar?

The Downtown Cocktail Room is an excellent spot.

Feb 19, 2014
fledflew in Las Vegas

Anybody on this board seen or done a WHOLE SWORD FISH over fire?

Sweet and spicy glaze sounds great. For the volume that you're dealing with, the quantities of gourmet jelly can get pretty expensive though. Maybe buy a bunch of apricot or raspberry jam from Costco as a base and doctor it up with pureed jalapenos, chipotles, herbs, some champagne, and wine vinegar for the glaze.
I think a very liquidy salsa (I'm thinking pico de gallo with lots of lime juice and salt to draw out the tomato moisture) would do well to moisten any dried parts of the fish.
Would you be opposed to turning any of the cooked fish into a second dish like swordfish enchiladas?

Weekend in Phoenix!

A great burger can be found at Delux. Although "gourmet" burgers can be found almost everywhere in Phoenix these days, they often use commodity ingredients and are simply overpriced. Delux uses Niman Ranch beef, has a great beer selection, and is open late.
Another favorite burger of mine is at St. Francis - their French onion burger. Brioche, gruyere, smoked bacon, and onions.
If you are available on Saturday afternoon (they close at 4pm, I think), hit up Rito's in the Garfield district of downtown Phoenix. It's located in a residential neighborhood and has been around forever. Outstanding green chili burritos. It's amazing soupy green chili inside a tortilla. If you think you might have trouble eating liquid in a burrito without making a complete mess, then get it enchilada style so you can fork and knife it.
A couple blocks away from Rito's is Playa Hermosa. It's a fantastic Mexican seafood restaurant. Ceviches, campenchana, fish and everything else is fantastic here.
Unique hot dogs can be found at Sit and Stay on Roosevelt and 1st Street. It's the brick and mortar incarnation of the short leash food truck. Very creative and inventive hot dog creations.
Other great places are Welcome Diner, Federal Pizza, La Piazza Locale, Bink's Midtown, Gallo Blanco, Vovomeena, Barrio Café, The Vig Fillmore (drink on their patio), Jobot (coffee and a crepe on the patio), and Tuck Shop.

Depending on when the last time you were in town, there are a whole lot of new spots (both bars and restaurants) in the central Phoenix and downtown area.

Feb 12, 2014
fledflew in Phoenix

Anybody on this board seen or done a WHOLE SWORD FISH over fire?

I have never seen a whole swordfish cooked over a fire. That being said, I would think that the cow rack that you're going to utilize might need the gaps between the grates reduced to reduce the possibility of the fish falling apart and through the holes as you turn it during cooking. This would depend on the cow rack itself, of course. You could accomplish this by lining the cow rack with a metal mesh or maybe a bed of woody herbs (something like rosemary??).
As mentioned above. an uneven bed of coals would address the issue of variance in meat thickness.
It may be advantageous to serve the whole fish several different ways after it comes off the fire. Mix some sort of mango or pineapple salsa with the shredded meat that comes from the tail section because it may be more cooked and not as moist. It could be served with chips the same way you'd serve a ceviche. The large chunks of moist meat near the head might do well over a bed of greens with a vinaigrette type dressing. The middle section put into flour tortillas to make tacos.

Central Phoenix - Sunday evening meeting restaurant?

Coco's on 7th Street just north of Mcdowell would match your price point and location requirements

Jan 29, 2014
fledflew in Phoenix