Sunday, October 23, 2016

Choice City Butcher and Deli

104 W. Olive St., Fort Collins, CO

Most of my meals in Fort Collins were taken with relatives and I ate very well but I had done some research in case I had time to grab a meal or two on my own.  Not surprisingly I found Chinese, Vietnamese and Thai but also an Afghan kabob place, Ethiopian and Nepalese.  Not bad for a college town the size of Fort Collins known mostly for it's craft brewing scene.

As interesting as those sounded at the top of my list of places to try was Choice City Butcher and Deli, right downtown.  And at the top of the menu for me.....

the Colorado Corned Buffalo Reuben, one of five Reuben variations they offer, dressed with sauerkraut, homemade Thousand Island dressing, and Swiss cheese, grilled on rye bread.  This is the half order and was a perfect size for me; a whole order has more meat on it.

I had arrived almost an hour early for lunch, the result of my never having adjusted the clock on the dashboard, but the wait was worth it (well, when I realized the delay was my fault and not just very slow service).  The Reuben is one of the greatest culinary inventions of all time and this was a very good version and one of the best treatments of buffalo I can ever remember having.  The bright and fresh homemade Thousand Island dressing upended a couple of decades of disdain on my part for that style of dressing. A kosher dill pickle spear, a classic accompaniment, added to the enjoyment; the Lemon Dill Cole Slaw was just okay.

Choice City Butcher and Deli

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Tocabe - An American Indian Eatery

8181 E. Arapahoe, Greenwood Village, CO

As I was researching places to eat when I briefly passed through Denver, Tocabe was the second place I found and it marked the end of my search.  I only expected to have at most two meals in Denver and probably only one.  I never got to go to Biker Jim's Gourmet Dogs, the first place I found, so  I never got to taste the Alaskan Reindeer Dog or the Jack-A-Lope dog, said to be mythically delicious.

As alluring as those dogs sounded, the Bison Ribs and Fry Bread at Tocabe were calling my name more insistently.  I chose a hotel right there in Greenwood Village for my overnight stay, just so I'd be close by.

When I was a kid my family traveled across the southwest several times on the way to visit relatives up and down the west coast.  We stopped at Navaho Curio shops but never experienced even Fry Bread (actually, mostly we cooked our own food on a Coleman camp stove as we camped out often.  Finding reliable roadside eats was a lot harder when I was a kid than it is now).  So eating American Indian food at Tocabe was a first for me.

I expected hulking ribs but they were not large; there was a lot of meat on them.  (There's a better picture on the website).  They are apparently braised and then finished on a grill.  Bison is a very lean meat, of course, and the ribs were very well done but not to the falling-off-the-bone stage.  The seasonal berry (blueberry) barbecue sauce that accompanied the ribs helped, but I missed the juicy fat of pork or beef ribs.  I had no trouble finishing all three ribs I was served and the barbecue sauce was also good for dipping the Fry Bread.

As for fried bread - but of course.  Fry Bread makes every thing better.

For a side I went with their rice.  It's not listed on the online menu and I can't remember if it was called Indian Wild Rice or just Wild Rice on the menu board.  It's a black rice with kernel corn, diced red onion and a berry or grape for sweetness.  It wasn't tart enough for cranberry but I couldn't decide if it was a kind of cherry or red grape.  But it was delicious.  According to this article they use Red Lakes Nation rice from Minnesota.  That article and this one reveal more of their ingredient sources, too.

The eatery has been compared to Chipotle.  Never having been inside a Chipotle I'm not positive what the comparison is but I think it has mostly to do with the service line, where you pick all the toppings you want on your Indian Tacos.  They have 2 locations and a mobile unit now.  If there is to be another Denver chain make it to Houston, I hope it's this one.


Monday, October 17, 2016

Dr. Field Goods Kitchen

2860 Cerrillos Rd., Santa Fe, NM

This was another recommendation by a poster on Hungry Onion.  I really wanted to try some Green Chile Stew during my brief pass through New Mexico but I just couldn't pass up the signature sandwich at this farm-to-table restaurant.  It's called the New Mexican on the menu, green chile rubbed and smoked pulled pork served on a bun baked by  Dr. Field Goods Bakery, Butcher Shop and Deli, about 50 paces away in the same shopping center, topped with sharp cheddar, green chile and apple jicama slaw, served with Field Good potatoes.  After just one bite I began to regret I wasn't going to be staying around to sample a lot more of this menu.  This was an excellent sandwich.

I also had the house made ginger ale - muddled ginger, fresh squeezed lemon juice, simple syrup and soda water.  It was a bit on the sweet side for me.

I'm sure if I lived in Santa Fe, or visited often, I'd spend a lot of time here and at the companion shop just down the way.

Santa Fe bills itself as a very friendly city and I certainly experienced that here and at Plaza Cafe.

Dr. Field Goods

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Plaza Cafe Southside

3466 Zafarano Dr., Santa Fe, NM

I was a tourist in Santa Fe and I wanted to do what tourists do - eat typical New Mexican fare, like a Green Chile Cheeseburger.  There are lots of contenders but a poster on Hungry Onion had recommended Plaza Cafe Southside and since it was near my hotel, I opted for it.

The original Plaza Cafe still operates in Old Town Santa Fe but this new location is said to be more popular with locals, for obvious reasons.  New Mexico grass-fed beef with sharp cheddar cheese and Hatch chiles - excellent.  I opted for the small (6 oz) burger.  It arrived a little over-cooked (I had requested medium rare) but was good nonetheless.

For a side I opted for the Charro Bean Soup.  A little more complex than the charro beans you'd get at a taco truck in Houston and very good.

Too bad I didn't have enough time in Santa Fe to try a few of the other contenders.

Plaza Cafe Southside

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Peru Cafe Express

3885 Southwest Freeway

Peru Cafe Express has moved (correct address above) and Empanada Factory has commenced operations in the space at 3833 Southwest Freeway.

The owners of this place and Argentina Cafe on Sage have recently opened a new Peruvian-Argentinian place, Che Inka, on Memorial, in a former Los Cucos.  My friend Lambowner checked it out and reported on it on Hungry Onion.  When we checked out the website we learned this place is slated to become an Empanada Factory.  I stopped by today to check it out.  It's still Peru Cafe Express and I saw no mention of an Empanada Factory but there were signs in the window announcing this place is moving a few doors down to a larger space soon so I guess the Empanada Factory is on hold until then.

I was very impressed with Argentina Cafe but had never checked this place out because it's mostly take-out and it's a little far from my home for that.  Today I picked up a 'sauteed beef sandwich' - i.e., Pan Con Lomo Saltado, and a Peruvian pork tamal with salsa criolla.

I'd never tried a Peruvian tamal, not even sure I remember seeing them on any menus, but this was the real winner here for me.  It had already been stripped of whatever it was steamed in (corn husks and banana leaves are mentioned in online recipes) when it was stuffed in the clam-shell but it stayed moist enough on the trip home.  The color comes from a Peruvian red chile, aji panca I think, and it was delicious with a generous filling of chunks of pork.  The salsa criolla, a ubiquitous condiment in Peruvian cuisine so I understand, is red onions sliced a la pluma (like a feather), dressed with fresh lime juice, a little salt, maybe a hint of chile.  There was also a container of a salsa verde in the bag.

The sandwich didn't fare so well; closed up in a clam-shell the bread lost any crustiness it had and the handful of potato chips included wilted as well.

I'll be looking forward to the new location for this place, where presumably there will be better accommodations for sit-down dining, and to the new Empanadas Factory.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Hoodadak Korean Fried Chicken

1645 Winding Hollow Drive @ S. Mason Road, Katy

So we've all heard Bonchon Korean Fried Chicken is coming to Katy this spring (and later, hopefully, to more of the Metro area).  But there already is a Korean Fried Chicken place in Katy - Hoodadak.

We found out about it on Hungry Onion and my friend Lambowner went out to get her first taste.  She came back with a very positive review so I had to make the trek, too.

I got the same order she did but I didn't get the complimentary pickled radish and I found the special lunch combo with just 4 wings not quite enough.

The chicken is extra crispy, the fries are excellent.  A special dipping sauce is offered for the fries and there's Heinz Sriracha Ketchup on the tables.  Extra napkins were forthcoming upon request immediately (very necessary).  There are five flavors for the fried chicken to choose from in all; I'll refrain from picking a favorite since I've tried only one.

Hoodadak is a small sitdown restaurant with table service.  The room seats only about 45 or 50 at 2 tops and 4 tops plus 3 mostly enclosed cubicle-like booths and a bar.  Missing from Lambowner's picture of the interior in her report are the bottles of wine and sake lined up at the right side of the bar, next to the register monitor; they got their license and will sell bottled and tap beers plus wine, sake and soju.  Just remember the chicken is twice-fried and not until you order it, so it does take some time

I thought Katy was Katyzuela but let the Korean fried chicken wars in Katy begin!

Hoodadak Facebook, with a link to the menu

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Mediterranean and Arabic Kitchen

5930 Bellaire @ Mullins

I had noticed this new truck several times, right across from Honduras Maya Grill, and today was the day to stop and try it out.  I thought I would go blind standing next to the gleaming white and silver truck, trying to read the menu card in the brilliant afternoon sun, but I squinted my way through and made the choice of a Saj Sharwarma.

A saj is a domed grill, like a large overturned wok, used to bake thin flatbreads like markook and a bread itself called saj, which is thicker than markook and thinner than a pita.  That is presumably why this is called a Saj Sharwarma and I don't know that it differs in any other way from the Chicken Shawarma on the menu.  I got it with a spicy sauce added and it was a very wonderfully aromatic sandwich.  Some pieces of the chicken sliced off the spit were well done to the point of having charred tips but most were not overdone and the addition of the thin sauce made for a very drippy and tasty sandwich.   There was also lettuce, tomato and mild Middle Eastern pickles as condiments and the sandwich was griddled very briefly in a press and heated through before being wrapped and sliced for presentation.

The menu includes dishes labeled as Saudi, Jordanian and Iraqi plus there is Kushari, which is Egyptian.  Not all dishes are available every day - they couldn't serve the Arabic Mixed Salad this day - and I was advised it's necessary to call in advance for some dishes.  It would truly be amazing if the kitchen on this truck could turn out all of these dishes everyday.

As much as I loathe having to get up and go out for breakfast, I'm very tempted to make my next visit on a weekend, to try some of the special breakfasts offered.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Uyghur Bistro

9888 Bellaire in Sterling Plaza

A very good new addition to Chinatown.  I've posted first impressions on Hungry Onion after one visit.  I'll post a more complete review after a couple more visits.


Yelp listing, with pictures of the menu