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Islands

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    Score: 4.87. Votes: 15

    This 30-store Hawaiian-themed chain of restaurants is known for its hand-made burger buns, specialty sandwiches and taco platters with names like Shorebird, Pelican, Sandpiper, Baja, and Northshore. Some people, though, go to the Islands just for the China Coast salad. Its a huge bowl filled with sliced chicken breast, lettuce, red cabbage, julienned carrots, fried noodles, sesame seeds, mandarin orange wedges and chives, and then tossed with this top secret dressing. Many diners think the dressings so good they ask for extra and discreetly smuggle it home. No more smuggling required. Now, with this simple formula, you can make your own clone at home and use it on any of your favorite bowls of green.

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    Score: 4.67. Votes: 3

    Menu Description: "Our famous fries are fresh cut daily from whole potatoes with the skins left on."

    Not only can I show you the best way to make french fries at home in this clone of Islands top-selling version, but I'm also supplying you with a super simple way to make the same type of salt blend that Islands uses to make those fries so dang addicting. As with any good french fry recipe, you'll need to slice your potatoes into strips that are all equal thickness. That means you need a mandoline, or similar slicing device, that makes 1/4-inch slices. Once you've got your potatoes cut, you must rinse and soak them in water to expel the excess starch. The frying comes in two stages: A quick blanching stage, and the final frying to put a crispy coating on the suckers. Islands uses a combination of peanut and vegetable oils in their fryers, so you simply combine the two in your home fryer. The whole process is not that tough once you get going, and certainly worth the effort if hungry mouths are waiting for the perfect homemade french fries. However, if you want to simplify the process because your hungry mouths aren't of the patient sort, you could certainly buy frozen french fries, cook 'em up following the instructions on the bag, and then sprinkle on this garlic/onion salt blend for a quick-and-easy kitchen clone.

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    Score: 4.80. Votes: 15

    The entire process for making this soup which Islands serves in "bottomless bowls" takes as long as 3 hours, but don't let that discourage you. Most of that time is spent waiting for the chicken to roast (up to 90 minutes -- although you can save time by using a precooked chicken, see Tidbits) and letting the soup simmer (1 hour). The actual work involved is minimal -- most of your time is spent chopping the vegetable ingredients. This recipe produces soup with an awesome flavor and texture since you'll be making fresh chicken stock from the carcass of the roasted chicken. As for the fried tortilla strip garnish that tops the soup, you can go the hard way or the easy way on that step. The hard way makes the very best clone and it's really not that hard: Simply slice corn tortillas into strips, fry the strips real quick, then toss the fried strips with a custom seasoning blend. The easy way is to grab a bag of the new habanero-flavored Doritos, which happen to be similar in spiciness to the strips used at the restaurant. Simply crumble a few of these chips over the top of your bowl of soup, and dive in.

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    Score: 5.00. Votes: 4

    Menu Description: "Three flour tortillas stuffed w/marinated chicken, teriyaki sauce, Jack cheese, pineapple, lettuce, tomatoes & scallions."

    If you love the sweet taste of teriyaki marinated chicken, you'll dig the Yaki Soft tacos at this Hawaiian-themed burger chain. Sure, Islands is famous for its burgers, but many also go for the several choices of soft tacos -- and the one I've cloned here is the top-seller. After testing all popular brands of teriyaki sauce on the market, I found that none have the heavy ginger notes of the chain's version, so you'll want to make the sauce from scratch. Which is really no big deal, since it's an easy process and you'll end up with a teriyaki sauce/marinade that's better than any store version, and you can use it in all sorts of recipes. When you buy the canned pineapple, go for the 20-ounce can or get two 8-ounces cans. You'll need that much since you'll use the pineapple chunks in both the sauce and on the tacos (and you'll even use some of the juice from the can in your teriyaki sauce). When chopping the chunks, take the time to slice each chunk into quarters (lengthwise, with the grain) so you get thin pineapple pieces that are the exact size of the stuff they use in the restaurant. Or you can find smaller Del Monte PINEAPPLE TIDBITS in 100% Pineapple Juice 20oz (2 Pack)onclick="window.open(this.href, '', 'resizable=yes,status=no,location=no,toolbar=no,menubar=no,fullscreen=no,scrollbars=yes,dependent=no,width=700,height=700'); return false;"> pineapple chunks in some stores (see Tidbits).

    Source: "Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2" by Todd Wilbur.