Monday, August 18, 2014

Bochi

As I told you in my last post, I have some pretty exciting new discoveries for you guys! There is a new food truck in town and they are slanging Asian street food-inspired boneless chicken wings that they call Bochi.

The Bochi Truck
Xiong (pronounced Shoong) and his family moved to Kansas City with dreams of starting a food truck (solid plan given the growing food truck scene here). Being of Hmong decent, and the Hmong being a displaced people with a cuisine that is not as well known in the US, Xiong decided to bring you his take on this popular Asian street food instead of taking a gamble on selling Hmong food to Americans. I am very thankful for this, not because I dislike Hmong food (I have never had it, but would probably love it), but because he introduced me to the Bochi!

The Bochi
The Bochi is a chicken wing that has been stripped of its bones (Think KFC "I ate the bones!" commercial. For as much as I don't care for KFC, other than when I am watching NASCAR and drinking Busch Light with friends, I LOVE that commercial!) but left the hand part of the wing on for you to hold the Bochi with, stuffed (with fried rice) or unstuffed, and sauced with one of a variety of sauces (I do not have any idea how the stuffing doesn't fall out, it is held together by only itself, no toothpicks or the like). They are amazing! They come with a pretty killer Asian slaw too!

Inside the Bochi (Sounds like a Kung Fu movie or Wu Tank album title)
Although the Bochi is the truck's namesake, it is not its only offering. You will often find other favourites, like: combination fried rice, egg rolls, and the ever so trendy ramen (the real kind, not the stuff you buy for $0.20 a package at HyVee).

Bochi may be new to KC {they have only been doing this for less than 2 months), but it is catching on pretty quickly. If you find out where the Bochi truck is going to be, do not try to show up fashionably late, they sell out quickly! So go see Xiong, go see him early, and tell him I said "What's up?".

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Para Llevar

Or "Takeaway", in Spanish. Yes, I realize that what I am going to post about is delivery, not takeaway, but there is a bigger point I want to make here.

First of all, how is everyone doing? I hope you are all doing well! I ask because I realize that I have been neglecting this blog with the persistence that most of you neglect to floss. Perhaps I can shed some light on my recent flakiness...

I do this blog for fun, not for money. That being said, I obviously have to do something for money. Logically, the thing that I do for money has to take precedence over the blog. However, though it may not be money, I do get some pretty amazing takeaways from this blog that money cannot buy! I have made countless friendships: food truck owners, restaurateurs, chefs, celebrities, writers, bartenders, PR people, twitter followers, and even community managers for social media outlets that I have yet to contribute to (my bad Matt). I have stumbled into a good number of exposures that I am still rather unsure how I happened upon them. And I have had some pretty amazing meals (and some lousy ones too).

All of that being said, it's not fair to blame all of this on the 9-5. As with anything that you do for fun, it is easy to keep up when you are inspired. Similarly, it is a bit harder to keep up when you are uninspired. Admittedly I have a long way to go before I can say that I have even eaten at every restaurant in my own town, much less taken part in all of the foodventures that are out there to be had, but its easy to lose interest when most of the recent restaurant trends are so lazy. I get it, you spent a lot of money to make your restaurant look like a cheap barn. "Edison bulbs! High five!" - they are no longer novel when everyone has them. I get it, you are a Gringo who makes over-priced Mexican food that tastes like crap compared to authentic places on the Boulevard/KCK. I get it, you put bacon on things (like donuts) because you don't know how to make them taste good otherwise. Don't even get me started on "artisan toast" (spits on the ground). But it is not fair for the hipsters, who have now become the mainstream (yeah, choke on that irony, hipsters), to ruin everyone's fun (or my attitude).

Side note: Yes, I do realize the irony of this rant being that the word "awesome" (which I picked years ago to describe the food that I was going to write about) has become played out. Yes, I have considered changing it, but for the sake continuity I have decided to ride it out and wait for it to come back around again (if this blog is still around then).

After a lax few months of pseudo-blogging, I have a few new places for you that have renewed my energy for blogging (spoiler alert: most of them involve chicken). But first, to stick with the theme of this post, I have a few great takeaways (nee deliveries) for you.

First takeaway: You all know my love for Peanut wings! I don't know that I can really say anything more about them then what I said here. But they are now available by mail (peanutwings.com) and I can tell you that this is possibly the best thing that you could send a homesick Kansas Citian or anyone that lives out of town and does not understand your obsession with The Peanut.

The good folks at The Peanut will now ship you wings, wing sauce, and that legendary chunky bleu cheese dressing (frozen, with reheating instructions, of course) for a nominal fee. I would say that the buffalo sauce is just as good as, if not even better after concentrating in the oven. The bleu cheese is great. The oven-heated wings themselves are maybe 80% as good as straight from the fryer, but will still beat anything that you can get in your grocer's freezer section quite handedly!

Before

The reheating instructions that are provided with these guys is also good if you are a pretender and order more wings than you can eat at your local Peanut. If you have to put your tail between your legs and ask for a doggy bag to take wings home, you can reheat them using the instructions shown above.

After

Cream Cheese Brownie
Second takeaway: I have done a post before about mail order brownies, but if the Killer Brownies are a bit too rich for your blood (which there is not shame in, they are not for everyone), then I have a great alternative for you.

There is a budding start-up brownie bakery that is rising up from the concrete in Chicago. That start-up is Rhoyal Decadence. Rhoyaldecadence.com does not have the full line of brownies that are available to order, so your best bet is to contact Rhonda and ask her what she can do for you.

I have had the standard brownie (which is a moist brownie, loaded full of nuts, topped with a cream cheese frosting), the lemon brownie (I am not a huge lemon fan overall, but this one was pretty good), and the pumpkin (which is perfect for the impending fall).

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Chicken and Waffles

I have been a chicken and waffles fiend recently. Any place that I could find chicken and waffles, I have made sure to go there. Anywhere that I have been eating and just happened to see C&W on the menu, I obviously order them. And through all of this, the infatuation is not weakening at all, it is only getting stronger.

To explain the genesis of this obsession, I will have to take you back a couple months. I have been traveling a bit more recently, for my day job (this is the reason that I have regrettably left my 2 readers feeling neglected). I was sitting in a meeting, on site with a client, and they catered in fried chicken. I had not had fried chicken in some time and in a fried chicken coma I mentioned that the only thing that could have made it any better was if it had come with waffles. To my surprise, about half of the people in the room looked at me with a blank stare and had never heard of C&W. I was befuddled. We all then had a good long conversation about the best C&W place that everyone, that had previously had C&W, had been.

My favorite, of course, was the C&W that I had tried from Gram & Dun at Jazzoo a couple of years ago. The symbiotic relationship of maple syrup and hot sauce together was nearly transcendent.

Another person mentioned Lo-Lo's in Phoenix, which has now been added to my bucket list.

A third person brought up the secret menu at McDonald's and that allegedly you can get a chicken patty between two McGriddle patties  when you order "chicken and waffles". Although a quick Google search corroborates this story, I went to an embarrassing number of McDonald's trying to order this (for scientific purposes) and came up empty handed at all of them. I did get one "I need to come eat with you" though, so there was that.

I knew that when I got back to KC, I had to start hunting down C&W like a vigilante to write this post.

My first stop: Niecie's Niecie's on Urbanspoon. Their online menu showed the C&W under the breakfast menu, the online menu also stated that breakfast was only served during breakfast, so I thought that it was probably a good idea to call and make sure that I could get C&W when I showed up for lunch. I knew that I was going to love this place from the moment that I called to ask the above question and received the answer "No, we all day Babay. Mmmmmmhmmmmm.". When I pulled up, what looked to be a re-purposed Pizza Hut looked exactly as I had hoped. This place was simply fantastic!

The C&W at Niecie's comes with one gigantic waffle and 3 fried chicken wings. The waffle is not your average Waffle House waffle (although I do really like Waffle House, not as much as Bubba Watson, but that is another story for another day). The waffle is topped with dollop of butter the size of a scoop of ice cream, then sprinkled with cinnamon and powdered sugar. There is syrup to be added at your own discretion. The fried chicken wings are served on the bone, for your own deconstruction. The chicken was juicy, the waffle had a perfectly firm outer crust yet fluffy inside. And of course, the only drink that could possibly accompany a meal like this was a sweet tea (made the correct Southern way).

The next stop: Beer Kitchen Beer Kitchen on Urbanspoon was much more of a happy accident. Mrs. Eating Awesome and I went to Beer Kitchen for brunch and I saw it on the menu. I had to have it.

It was very different C&W experience than Niecie's, both holding their own merits. The chicken at Beer Kitchen was a chicken breast (with a small bone, so watch out if you are not expecting it) crusted with cornflakes and a maple-mustard marinade. The BK waffle was a cheddar, bacon, and chive waffle. Much more of a psuedo-hipster style of C&W, but still extraordinary. The BK C&W also comes with maple syrup and chicken gravy. I am not a huge gravy guy, so I stuck with the syrup (although I did give the gravy a small dip, because I believe that you should try everything).

We all knew that BK had amazing burgers, fries, salads, and beer list, but now we know that they also have amazing C&W.

I do know that McCoy's, BK's sister (or perhaps cousin) restaurant, also has a C&W dish that is of similar style to the BK C&W, but a bit different. This is on the list to try, for sure!

On a chicken related note: The new Stroud's, in OP, opens next week (7/2). That really makes me wish that they served waffles to go with their chicken! Can you imagine how absurdly decadent that would be?

Let me know if you have been to any outstanding chicken and waffles places that I need to check out.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Good (K)(C)arma

Recently I stopped by Carma for lunch. In all honesty, I had no idea that Carma even existed (probably like many of you didn't) until it was recommended to me by a friend. And what an excellent reco it was! I loved the window directly into the open kitchen, from the bar! I loved the group of regulars that know everyone in the restaurant, and vice versa (it was kind of like an upscale Cheers!). And most importantly, I loved the food!

First, let me start off by saying that Carma is far from the dive joints that I frequent, in almost every way other than that it is slightly hidden (and the good food too). You can find it in Park Place, just down the street from my guy Aaron Sanchez's place Mestizo. Also that I know very little about what is authentic Italian vs. what is Americanized Italian, so I will not be commenting on the authenticity of the food simply because I have no clue whether it is or is not (I would have to refer to my homies from Little Italy for that). Anywho, enough with the disclaimers, you want to hear about the food.

Carma was initially opened as a second Carmen's Cafe location, but after some changes in operating interests and rebranding Carma was born. The new rotating menu at Carma focuses more on fresher and seasonal ingredients than did the old Carmen's Cafe fixed menu. Part of this is a daily special...

The daily special on the day that I stopped in was the prime rib dip sandwich. It was killer! The sandwich was piled high with tender, juicy, and meaty (without big chunks of fat, all of the fat had been rendered) prime rib on top of a bed of rocket (or arugula for those not hip to the Queen's English). The au jus was not too shabby, but quite frankly, you did not need it. The bread was not dry and the meat provided plenty of juice. The Greek salad on the side was a nice touch with the feta, onions, and spring greens.

After spending a couple minutes talking to Chef Leo about how much I loved the sandwich, he agreed to bring me out a few samples of other menu items. When he said "a couple", I thought he meant "a couple", here is what I was in store for:

Chef brought out two flatbreads, a sharp turn from Carmen's menu, Sweet & Spicy Shrimp and Margherita flatbreads. The S&S shrimp was just that, sweet and spicy: sweet chili sauce, feta, more rocket, shrimp (duh), and a lemon vinaigrette. The Margherita is your traditional Margherita, made with fresh mozzarella, roma tomatoes, fresh basil, and a balsamic vinaigrette dressing. Both of which were amazing and I would by lying to you if I told you that I could pick a favorite; and this is just the tip of the flatbread iceberg.

Salads do not stop at side dishes to delicious prime rib sandos! Chef Leo brought me out two salads that were packed with flavour: The quinoa salad (pictured to the right) and the kale salad. The vinegar-y, citrus-y quinoa salad normally comes with a steak or salmon topper, but Chef sent it out with shrimp for me (something he will do for you too). This went great with the pickled onions, feta, spinach, and cucumbers. The kale salad, which is topped with a champagne vinaigrette that also has a vinegar/citrus hint, brings the people what they want: kale! Kale is so in right now, people are making everything out of kale. This kale is complimented with red onions, avocado, and pine nuts. These salads are perfect for the summer!

Once upon a time, I was a huge fat kid and loved fettuccine alfredo (or "mac and cheese for grownups" as Mitch Hedberg called it, and what I thought of as Italian). Once upon a time that was a few years after the previous time, I had grown to know real food and left my previous ways behind. In the second time, I had foolishly sworn off Italian restaurants because I believed that they were all just noodles in random sauces. That was until a good friend of mine showed me the light. He told me to not order pasta at Italian restaurants, but to order the entrees instead. This section is dedicated to this idea that I encourage you all to try as well (however Carma does make their pasta fresh every day).

When Chef brought me out some entrees, I was glad that they subscribed to the above theory! The steak Santana (pictured to the right and named for Chef Leo) comes topped with caramelized onions in a reduced balsamic vinaigrette and accompanied with potatoes au gratin and a seasonal vegetable (which happened to be asparagus the day that I visited). Other entrees that I got to sample were the blackened salmon on a bed of mixed vegetables and Carma's take on chicken spiedinis (made famous by another local spot: Garozzo's). All three were pretty good, but I have to give the championship belt to the chicken spiedinis.

As if all of the things that I mentioned had not left me stuffed enough (and yes I ate, not just sampled, all of them in one sitting), I was not allowed to leave without trying dessert! The New York style cheesecake and Pistachio torte are both made in house and pictured to the right. While the cheese cake was very good, the pistachio torte stole my heart! It was fantastic! I actually took a whole serving of it to-go!

When I was at Carma, they were working on an adjacent space where they were going to do deli-style grab and go New York style pizza (among other things, similar to the prime rib sandwich), for lunch. If you don't have the time to dedicate to a sit down lunch, this is a perfect option for you.

After all of that, there is only one thing left to say: go check them out!

Carma on Urbanspoon

Friday, June 6, 2014

National Donut Day

Happy National Donut Day, all! Lamar's will be giving away one free glazed to each customer to celebrate. However, I will be celebrating the occasion at an awesome local donut shop downtown, Joe's Downtown Donuts.

Joe's is a fairly new addition to Downtown KC. They are located adjacent to Grand Slam Liquors and offer up an entire line of handmade donuts, from old family recipes. You name it, they have it (and probably a super-sized version of it).

At Joe's, you will not find crazy hipster-esque donuts made with beer and other things that nouveaux donuts are made with. You will however find amazingly fresh donuts, at honest working-man prices. Glazed, cake, German chocolate, old-fashion, long johns (filled w various fillings or unfilled), bear claws, cinnamon rolls the size of your face, twists the size of your forearm, are just a few of the items that you will find in the case below. With rotating options that vary with the midwestern weather and even chocolate glazed donuts (Yes, you heard that right, chocolate glazed. Not glazed that has been iced with chocolate, but chocolate glazed.) you will find something to please anyone in your office at Joe's (if you are the kind of person that is nice and takes donuts to coworkers, or favorite food bloggers).



If you cannot make it to Joe's on this lovely National Donut Day, here are some other places around town that offer freshly made donuts: Providence New American Kitchen (see the desert menu), Q39 (see dessert menu), Fluffy Fresh, and Donut King.

Side note: I have yet to have the Tank 7 donuts at Ale House, partially because I have a hard time believing that something like that could be better than the sum of it's parts (my requirement for things made with beer). Let me know if I am missing out though.

This donut is for you!

P.S. Tweet me your donut pictures today for a RT.

Joe’s Downtown Donuts & Coffee on Urbanspoon

Monday, May 19, 2014

Cookbook Giveaway

My guy Wheeler del Torro, famous pop-up restaurant chef, sent over an autographed copy of his new cookbook for me to giveaway to one lucky reader. 

Afro Vegan is my kind of cookbook. Wheeler chronicles the story of how he fell in love with food, essentially hopping a plane to Paris shortly after his high school graduation. He tells of his time perusing the Parisian markets, picking out seasonal ingredients. He gives the ethnic and cultural backgrounds of many of the recipes in the book, such as the Ethiopian coffee ceremony (as I have stated before, underpaid coffee farmers in impoverished nations is a group that I will always go to bat for). He even gives some vegan takes on familiar soul food recipes.

I am not vegan myself, but I believe that it is always good to expand your boundaries and these vegan recipes do not suck! I tried to make the banana fritters and got my oil a bit hot because I did not have an oil thermometer (get an oil thermometer if you try to make these), lets just say that the ones that were not burnt tasted delicious! I will not even embarrass myself by posting pictures of these.

If you are vegan, occasionally cook for someone who is, want to give it a shot, or just want to prove that you are a better cook than myself (there is a reason that I write about eating and not cooking) please comment below. I will send the autographed copy of Afro Vegan to one person that posts a comment before 6/1/2014.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Coming for the Throne

When you listen to as much rap music as I do (or even if you don't), you undoubtedly know about the massively overrated Jay-Z and Kanye West album entitled "Watch the Throne". It has since become a bit of a punchline with some even saying things like "While you are busy watching the throne, I'm sabotaging it" in response to the album. By no means am I saying that the Kansas City BBQ scene is as colossally over-hyped as that album, because it is not, it is the best in the world. However, I am saying that there is someone coming for that throne.

The challenger is Q39 who some people will give about as much of a chance as people gave that skinny, pink haired kid that knocked out Kimbo Slice to accomplish the feat that he accomplished. I myself, after reading what my peers were saying about it, had almost decided that I was going to hate this place (which does not help my denial of hipsterdom in any way, but if I can't be honest here, where can I be honest?). I am a huge KC BBQ homer! I even refused to eat at Dickey's during Tour de BBQ on principle alone. I knew that this new kid on the block was being over-promoted and could not possibly live up to the hype. I was about as wrong about that as I have been about anything!

The crowd inside is very diverse, as with most restaurants on 39th street. You have the shirt and tie business folks taking a client out to dinner. You have the jeans and suspenders crowd that you would expect to see at Arthur Bryant's, sitting with family. The prices are not that much more than you would pay for a comparable meal at a BBQ joint. And I will not bore you with the credentials of the Grand Champion Pitmaster that owns the joint or any of the other factoids that you have probably read elsewhere, I will get straight into what I had and I why you should give them a shot.

For starters: We had the Tall Grass Cheese Fondue and the Best Wings On The Planet. The Tall Grass Cheese Fondue is called "Tall Grass" because they use Tallgrass beer to make this 5 cheese fondue instead of the standard white wine. Accompany that with soft pretzels and a Granny Smith apple to dip in it and you have out of this world good! Melting Pot eat your heart out! The wings are made similarly to Peanut wings (brined-fried-sauced-fried-sauced-fried-sauced), but do not go into this thinking Peanut wings. They are very good, but I will not quite put them up on that high of a pedestal. To start with, these are BBQ wings opposed to the Peanut's Buffalo style, these are also a lot more like what you expect as far as the size goes (not the whole pterodactyl wing like The Peanut's).

Bebidas: To stick with the Tallgrass theme, I decided to go with a beer cocktail to accompany my BBQ. I did not quite feel like a beer, but didn't want something as strong as a cocktail either, so this seemed like the perfect spring compromise to me. My BC of choice was the Q Shandy. Although a prefer the name Radler to Shandy, I perceive it as a more active and manly name for a beer but there is no true difference besides whether you just got off of a bicycle or not, I went with it anyways... The Q Shandy is a deliciously citrusy concoction that is made with creme yvette and Tallgrass Velvet Rooster beer (a Belgian-style Tripel, one of my favorite styles of beer).


From the Smoker: I wanted to try just about every meat that I could, to get a true feeling of what Q39 really stood for, so I ordered the Judge's Plate (but keep in mind you can still get very affordable BBQ sandwiches here too, if that is your thing). The pulled pork is very good, the brisket is tender and juicy, and the sausage is very flavorful as well. Any of these three meats are reason enough for you to come try Q39 and to this point I was thinking that Q39 was the BBQ joint anomaly that does everything so solid that you could not identify the student at the top of their class. That is when I bit into the ribs. Those ribs are so fantastic! They are right up there with McGonigle's ribs, to me. They do not have a shallow pink ring around the outside, no, they are pink throughout! They are fall off the bone tender! I thought I was imagining things for a moment, so I had to go eat the ribs that I am about to compare them to the next day just to make sure, but they are even better than OK Joe's ribs! Aaaaaaaand..... half of my readership just threw their computer across the room because they are so mad at me (in other words: 1 person has to buy a new laptop tomorrow).

The sides are pretty dang good too. The beans are no Jack Stack beans, but then again none are. They are still probably top 5 in my book and are very unique, they have a flavour about them that you might expect from a chili (not so much spicy, but more peppery). The apple slaw however WAS better than Jack Stack slaw, it is probably better than any slaw around! The tart and tangy flavours mixed with the creaminess of the slaw was a match made on eharmony.com. The slaw almost tasted as if you mixed a little bit of vinegar-based Carolina style slaw, some creamy KC slaw, cut up an apple and stirred it all together.

From the wood fired grill: Although most of what you will hear about Q39 initially will be about the BBQ and rightfully so, that is a pretty good litmus test, they also have a pretty stellar wood fired grill menu. Wifey had herself piece of salmon, cooked on the wood fired grill, that was as good of a piece of salmon as you can get in the middle of the map. Cooked perfectly, seasoned well, great tasting piece of fish! 

The co-star of this movie was most definately the broccoli. Steamed and seasoned with fresh herb butter, this stuff was so good that I would even consider ordering it to go with my BBQ plate if I had to do it all over again, that is how good this broccoli was.

Dessert: To spoil the healthy dinner that my wife had just enjoyed I decided that we needed some of the made-to-order donut holes. Donuts are very in right now and I am very into them. I am like Homer Simpson when a donut is around. How much better can it get than a half dozen donut holes, fresh from the fryer, covered in cinnamon sugar and escorted by a chocolate dipping sauce and a fresh raspberry puree dipping sauce? Answer: not very. I am usually partial to chocolate, but I almost preferred the raspberry to the chocolate (probably because it is fresh raspberry puree). I found myself eating the majority of mine plain though, they are that good on their own.

Which does bring one last point to mind that I forgot to mention until this juncture. Q39 is a scratch kitchen. Everything is made fresh daily. The meat that is on your plate came fresh out of the smoker, it had not been sitting under a warming light. The ingredients are ordered in the smallest quantities possible to ensure that you are getting the freshest product every time. They may not have a line out the door at dinner time yet, but I would go ahead an try them out before they do because it is just a matter of time!
Q39 on Urbanspoon