Applebee’s @ Fort Collins

I can’t believe it! I left this one in Draft mode and totally forgot about it! Let’s get this done!

I’ve been to quite a few different family restaurant chains when I was in the US, restaurants such as Denny’s, Lone Star Steakhouse, Olive Garden, etc. My favorite family restaurant though, is Applebee’s.

A family restaurant is like, a restaurant that has a huge variety of different dishes in their menu. Families typically come here because you are bound to be able to find something suitable for everyone in the family. I guess the closest equivalent to these restaurants in Malaysia is like… well… Oldtown White Coffee or Papparich, I suppose.


Of course, if you ask a true blue American, he/she will tell you that you can’t get the best American food in a family restaurant. The food is decent, but if you want to have the best, then you will have to hunt down one of those small scale food joints that only the locals know where to find.

But then, I’m not exactly a true blue American, so food in a family restaurant is good enough for me. Just like food in Papparich/Oldtown would be good enough for an American tourist visiting Malaysia. Not the best of the best local Malaysian food, but good enough to share with tourists.

In a way, Applebee’s is similar to Papparich/Oldtown in that, both offer local food that are typically scorned at by the locals when discussing delicious food, yet come meal time, they would all be doing business at full capacity.

I guess Applebee’s to me is more like Papparich. Slightly more expensive than the competitors, but serving better quality food.

There are two Applebee’s outlets near where I was staying, one in Loveland and one in Fort Collins. I used to frequent them both.

I witnessed quite a few amusing moments here, mostly from the antics of my colleagues… so, I think I am going to tell you about my Applebee’s adventures in the form of storytelling.

You know, (I’m not trying to be racist here, just stating facts) the thing with most Malays when it comes to beverages is that, they don’t drink tasteless beverages. You hardly see them drink plain water except for when they fall sick and had to take medicine pills. Other than that, it is always sweet beverages, like syrup and teh tarik and whatnot.

So the first time I came here with a Malay colleague, I ordered an iced tea. The colleague was not comfortable with reading the all English words menu yet, so he followed suit. I should’ve warned him beforehand, but I overlooked it. You see, the problem was, in Malaysia, if you order teh ais (iced tea) in a Malay establishment, what you will get is tea with milk and sugar, all mixed up in a glass. Sweet beverage, remember? Imagine his chagrin when this was served to him.


Bland, tasteless tea, with a touch of lemon. Fine for Cinabeng (Chinese bogans) like me, not so fine for him. To make matters worse, because the tea was cold, you cannot add sugar into it, the sugar would not dissolve properly. It was probably one of the worst beverage for him, ever. He did not even finish half of it when we left.

Then there was another time when I came with another colleague. You know, most Malaysians are what we call 饭桶 (rice bins), because they absolutely need to have rice in their main meals or else they would suffer psychologically. This colleague, he was one of these most Malaysians.

So, this guy, it was his first time coming to the US, and he has been here for two days without having a meal with rice. Needless to say, he was becoming insufferable. So when he placed his order of a sizzling chicken and shrimp dish and saw that there was an option for Mexican rice on the side, he was overjoyed. I did warn him that Mexican rice is NOT like Malaysian rice, but he didn’t care.

And then the food was served. It actually didn’t look too bad, albeit a bit sloppy.


He quickly took a spoonful of the rice and stuffed it into his mouth. And then his eyes widened and he looked at me in frustration.

What did I say? I told you it is going to be different!

Mexican rice (well, at least Applebee’s version) is basically long grain rice, which isn’t horrible on it’s own, although the texture is slightly different to the rice we usually have in Malaysia. But… instead of cooked fully until fluffy, they are cooked al dente, kind of like the Italian risotto, because the Yanks love their rice to retain a certain degree of crunch. I personally am fine with rice cooked this way, but for most Malaysians… I guess not.

So this friend, he had a few more spoonfuls of that rice, and then he couldn’t take it anymore and wanted to throw in the towel. He asked me to swap dishes with him because he thought mine seem more appetizing.

You know, I’m a nice guy. So I told him to toughen up and finish his food. Since he is a Christian, I told him it was God’s punishment to him for refusing to embrace American food and culture, so he had to complete the ordeal, otherwise God will give him worse tests in the future. See, I’m nice, right? I look out for the long term well being of my friends.

Anyway, this was my meal, the one that looked more appetizing than his rice.

This is a 6-ounce rib eye steak with shrimp topping and assorted vegetables. Super delicious, and what’s better was that I ordered this from Applebee’s Under 600-Calorie menu. In fact, every time I came to Applebee’s, I would order this, or some chicken dish from the same menu.

Actually, most American restaurants have their own simple and fit menus, but I can say that Applebee’s is the only family restaurant with attractive low calorie menu that enticed me into ordering them. Applebee’s is the only restaurant in the US that made me eat healthy portions. And that’s another reason why I prefer Applebee’s over the other competitors.



  1. Love Applebees!! Love their onion rings [cut up a fresh onion without cutting the bottom, so it looks like a flower, and then coat it with batter]. I was never worried about calories when I went there.

    Oh, and Applebees was the place where the idea of my book came about.

    • Wow… Must be a special place for you then. Maybe you can throw a celebration party in Applebee’s when your book becomes a big success! 😀

  2. I like Applebee’s! We went to the one in Boston, near Target. I think I had lunch there twice, both times I had ribs 😀 There was also an Olive Garden just next to Applebee’s and we tried it once. I noted they had a low calorie menu (I did not notice the one at Applebee’s) but I did not go for that. I prefer Applebee’s.

    • Olive Garden I only went once. I think they are predominantly pasta and American Italian food. I too, prefer Applebee’s hehe! 😀

  3. I agree about the sweetness of the drinks. Each time I order from Malay or Mamak stalls, I always ask for “kurang manis” but it still comes “very manis”! 🙁 It’s nice to have a menu that comes with a calorie count.

    • You need to tell them “tak mau gula”, that would probably be better, although it would be to the extreme already haha..

  4. Your fan tong friend should go look for panda express to eat rice. My spouse always look for this Chinese chain food place in usa. I heard they are everywhere over there.

    • We did, but sadly (or fortunately), I don’t think I have photos of Panda Express. Darn, it would have been a good blog post too!

      And then of course, that’s why there’s Cafe de Bangkok and Maza Kabob which I wrote earlier.

  5. I only have one question. The shrimps in your last photo – are they crunchy or normal shrimp texture? Meaning have they been soaked in sugar water?

      • Many restaurants here do that. The shrimps would then be very plump and the texture is like crunchy type – like got a bit of springy (tan nga – Cantonese meaning tan teeth – you know)

        • Hmm.. Will it leave a sweet after taste? The shrimps I had in the US are all rather springy, but I thought it is the shrimp’s natural springiness.

          • No, will not leave a sweet after taste. Erh, you go catch some live shrimps at those fishing ponds where you pay money to do fishing and then cook them and see got natural springiness or not? Those fresh ones I have eaten are firm with a natural sweet sea taste and no springiness at all. I really dislike eating those plump ones that are a bit Q Q.

            • Then ah… I think most shrimps in the US are soaked in sugar water. They are all springy. I actually thought this is a trait for fresh shrimp, or maybe American shrimp (American frozen seafood are much more superior compared to Malaysian ones, they always freeze the seafood fresh, so they remain relatively fresh when defrost). I actually prefer these plump and springy shrimps haha!

  6. i am glad that i am not one of the most Malaysians you described.. i can survive without rice through many many meals.. and hmmm, why you did not highlight that 飯桶 paragraph ah?? haha~~

  7. I would have thought the meal portions would be bigger than that in America, but I suppose it depends on which state you are in and where you eat at. It seems like those fast food places are the places that give us all the assumption meals in America are massive.

    I’m no coffee or tea drinker, and generally I mostly drink water. However, I go weak at the knees for a good milkshake, and a cup of milkshake can easily make me full for the next two, three hours 😀

    So you are not one of those Malaysians who must eat rice practically every single day? I’m not one of those people…in fact, when there’s a choice between rice and noodles, I’d go for noodles unless it’s Mexican food 🙄

    • No, that healthy portion meal of mine, it was from a special Under 600-Calorie menu of theirs. They do have regular menus with with food of big portions. The thing is, most restaurants in America now are stipulated by law to provide healthier alternatives (and smaller portions) in their menu. Some incorporate these options into their regular menu, some (like Applebee’s) come up with a separate menu. So when you go to some restaurants in the US, you will be given two menus to choose from.

      You’d go for noodles unless it is Mexican food? Do you mean there’s actually Mexican noodles? I don’t think I’ve seen anything like that before! Interesting…

      • Interesting to hear the State’s push for healthy eating. Here in Australia, for most places and restaurants there are usually a handful of healthier options on menus. Nothing like a complete separate menu, but of course that excludes all the vegan-gluten-clean-eating places around.

        I believe there is something called Mexican noodles but it’s not that common to find, at least in Melbourne. I have nothing against rice but I’d go for a noodle dish over a rice dish any day 🙂

        • Whereas in Malaysia, it is still not a good place for healthy dining if you eat out. I think nowadays most restaurants have a page or two of Vegetarian or Vegan options. But they are still mostly cooked unhealthily, with loads of msg. As a general rule, healthy cooking means less delicious, regardless of what health advocates claim, and if something is less delicious, people stop ordering those dishes or even visiting that restaurant.

  8. Muahahahaha!!! I enjoyed Bogan’s ramblings today esp telling that fellow it was God’s punishment to him for refusing to embrace American food and culture! Oh no, your naughty mouth can match SK Thambee’s who often cursed my daylights out.

    Now I remembered my American neighbours dropped by and we all drank the hot green tea served by the Koreans. My white friend scooped spoons of sugar and stirred! Our eyes went wide.

    • I think all (okay, most) Cantonese speaking people are rather vulgar and stinky mouthed by nature, especially when we are speaking in our mother tongue.

      I am surprised your white friend did this. I thought only Malays do this. White guys should be okay with non-sweet drinks right? After all, they drink beer and Jack Daniels!

  9. Call me jakun.. Applebee’s sik mat yeh geh? (Eat what one?)..Sounds like fast food place that serves strawberry milk shakes and apple pies..The rice looks like Japanese curry rice banjir gravy, hehe..

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