Sunday, May 5, 2013

Rants & Reviews -- First Month in New Jersey : Hotel Hopping & The Grub Crawl


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"New Jersey has got a bad reputation." was the first statement I heard, as soon as I landed in east coast of america for the very first time, and it was quoted by none other than a jersey resident himself. a collective of initial experiences together with constantly comparing it to the bay area of san francisco, and I couldnt help but hate this place. While I tried to adjust, winter decided to stay a bit longer than usual and Trees remained barren with no signs of spring. The Dry, dormant yet sizable forests added more misery, and I just overlooked the beautiful country houses and the close proximity to the ocean and anything else that was positive about the Garden State of USA.

Tower of India, Parlin New Jersey

Pass the hurdles, Jersey shore now is getting greener, and I am comfortably settling down and beginning to explore what this state and east coast overall has to offer to a nomad like me. Finding a place to stay in quiet neighborhood was my first priority and now when that is done, I can look forward to seeking some wanderlust in my daily life, i.e. you can expect posts about adventure options here. but before that, Let me jot down few quick reviews of local businesses here in Middlesex and Monmouth Counties of Central New Jersey. All views are my own.

Stay:

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The Palace hotel, Fords

The tragedy of  Jersey, most of the hotels have bad to scary reviews, as the prices go high, the reviews get bit better. The palace hotel is no exception. The grandeur of a palace from Rajasthan, does not add much to the reputation, as the basic services such as wifi, vending machines are poor and reception staff not very friendly ( some of 'em ) rooms are clean and spacious. weird however that they increase the rate every friday and just for the day, hence bringing average expenses up.

The Hotel also has a restaurant, and though you might not see many people there, they do make good food. I wouldn't talk much about the interior. its too dark for my taste.

South Amboy Motel

The second hotel we tried for just the weekend as nothing was available, is one on the route-35, about 1.5 miles from South Amboy train station and the broadway street. Rte-35 in that area is deserted to walk out and find something to eat. rooms and staff are okay. but security, and food could be a problem for a longer stay. We ended up ordering Pizza via Eat24, for both days and it was one of the best we had in jersey.

Best Western Inn Hazlet

Walkable from Hazlet NJ transit station, and also in close proximity to food joint like TGIF, friendly, iHOP and few chinese restaurants, and food market, Best Western is situated well on rte-35. The food delivery options are however limited. Breakfast is complementary, rooms have nice interior, and staff is friendly. It is recommended, not for a very long stay unless you have a car.

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Taxi:
Here comes my favorite part, or the part I hate the most. If you' read my previous post, You know that transportation in New Jersey is a big issue. specially within Woodbridge, Monmouth and Middlesex counties. the Taxis do not have meters. they charge based on if you're traveling within or outside the town no matter the distance. The Buses and trains are limited or should I say the interconnection is very poor specially in some of the areas like old bridge township and Sayreville. I have had mixed experiences with taxi services.

Masood Taxi - Three drivers and three different stories. they usually arrive on time. but make sure you ask them the charges in advance. 

Bollywood Taxi - Yeah you read it right. a friendly saudi arabian, but he'll make you wait for hours. 

South Amboy Taxi -  Recommended 

Kelly Car Services - Not recommended, call only if you have no other choice. 

Hazlet Taxi - Highly recommended. had no issue with them at all. 



Food:

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The Palace hotel Restaurant, fords:

Cuisine - Indian Veg/Nonveg
Food - Good
Ambience - 1 Star.
Expensive - Yes
Delivery- No, You can order by phone and pick up later.

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Rasoi, Iselin


Cuisine - Indian Veg/Nonveg
Food - Good
Ambience - 3 Star.
Expensive - Yes
Delivery- No Idea.


Neelam, Middletown


Cuisine - Indian Veg/Nonveg
Food - Not Good. Its more on to the sweeter side, catering to international crowd I suppose. Daal was like water and Biryani was worst than a Pulao.
Ambience - I dint give much attention to the ambience as I just sat in one corner waiting for food.
Expensive - Yes
Delivery- No Idea.

Tower of India, Parlin

One of my favorite so far. The Ambiance is all right but the food is Great. They have buffet for lunch which is delicious. We have been there multiple times and pretty much tasted all what their menu has to offer, and there is nothing that we dint like so far.




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iHop, Friendly, Scotts Pizza and King Vok Chinese restaurant are few more that I have tried so far. iHop is my all time favorite. Friendly is more non-veg friendly, but they make good tomato soup. Scott's Pizza Matawan was the only other choice except King Vok, their larger than life pizza can fill your apetite twice, however won't satisfy your taste-buds. King Vok makes really good fried rice and soup.

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Shopping in New Jersey, not to mention is another nightmare. I do miss Papaya, Ross and Fry's, if there's few to name. Let just say, apart from the laid-back lifestyle, everything here is about New York, or so I feel.

until I discover more...

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