Thursday, January 23, 2014
Bet you thought I was dead huh? No, truth is, I'm just a shitty blogger whose writing can't keep up with his stomach. After 5 years of writing - okay, that's cheating, I really only wrote for half of last year - it kind of gets tedious and repetitive. What started out as a cheap ploy to get people to pay for my food and invite me to press events turned into a chore. Don't get me wrong, 2013 was filled with all sorts of 'sensual encounters with the edible kind.' I discovered some of my favorite restaurants in 2013, but every time I'd sit down and try to edit photos or write a post, I'd look at how large my backlog was and start rocking myself back and forth, crying, shoving cold Domino's pizza in my mouth. You might think that's hyperbole, but it's really not. I truly enjoy cold and shitty generic pizza. Anyway, as some sort of small semblance of apology to the three people who read my blog still (Hi Mom!), let me recap 10... uh, no that's too ambitious... 6 things that made me wet my pants with excitement. Food things.
1) Hot pot. Or maybe you call it shabu shabu, I don't really care. Hot pot was a big theme for me in 2013... it was my fallback comfort meal. Didn't know where to eat on the weekend? Hot pot. Had a cold and needed to clear my sinuses? Hot pot. Wanted to drown my sorrows in a pot of boiling broth and cabbage? Yeahhh, hot pot. It's not like I was unaware that hot pot existed... I am Chinese and I've definitely huddled with my family around a small butane burner before, but something changed last year. Hot pot was no longer that frumpy girl in the corner I tried to avoid eye contact with, no - hot pot came back from Summer vacation as a total hottie. I had a sexual awakening of sorts, but with food. That said, there's one place that I've found is just better than the others. A place that offers individual pots so you don't have to share spit with a bunch of people who might or might not have oral herpes. A place that offers nine different soup bases (including soy milk). This magical place is called Shell Cove, and it's in Elmhurst. Don't you dare ruin it for me.
2) Cronuts. People said they were overrated, that they weren't worth the two hour wait (when they first came out), that this was more a gimmick than anything else. To be honest, that assessment is fuckin' spot on. In terms of cost efficiency, something that I can kill in four bites shouldn't cost $6, but you know what? They're good. Like, really good. When you hear the intricate process that Dominique Ansel takes to make each one - brushing each layer with chilled grape seed oil and layering it over the course of several hours - you get overwhelmed by a huge vibe of 'straight up douche.' Then you have one and you realize that what you're eating is actually an incredible combination of texture, flavor, and sheer gluttony... that it actually is a fantastic doughnut made in the style of a croissant, flaky and rich all at once. When I started trying the imitation versions - like Crumb's - it became even more obvious that Dominique Ansel is a goddamn genius. Yeah it's a ripoff, but he pulls it off.
3) Donairs in Nova Scotia - when you hear the term gyro, you normally think of a giant meat spinning on a spit that's spiced beyond belief and should be consumed while incredibly drunk. In Nova Scotia, it's... pretty much the same. Except the meat is generally beef and instead of being fucked in the face with cumin and friends, it's sweet, almost like a slice of Italian sausage, but with the same smooth consistency that you'd expect. Combined with a pillowy pita, that same classic tzatziki, and some other filler crap (I honestly can't recall what other stuff got in the way of me and that sweet, sweet meat), and you have something that Sidney Crosby likely deep-throated many-a-times as a youth in Maritime Canada, a wrap worthy of soaking up the finest of alcohols on the most questionable of nights.
4) Peanut Butter Burgers in Nova Scotia. Yeah, it's another entry from Canada - the hat of America, why? Because they're chock full of hidden gems, having produced such luminaries such Ryan Gosling, and such inventions as 'the egg carton' and 'instant replay.' In another clutch move, some visionary (undoubtedly freezing his ass off in the winter) decided to slather a thick layer of peanut butter on a bun before sandwiching in bacon, cheese, and beef, masterfully constructing what has become a Nova Scotian favorite, the peanut butter bacon cheeseburger.
5) Pho Hoa in Boston. Have you ever ordered so much food from a takeout place that they put multiple sets of utensils in the bag? Yeah, the feels when: your meal for one gets interpreted as a family feast for four. Well, there's this restaurant in Boston called Pho Hoa. They do a Vietnamese 7 course beef meal. I'm not sure if it's for a family or not, but when they pushed together two tables to accommodate all the accoutrements of the meal, I had one of those 'what the fuck did I just do moments.' As they brought out plate after plate of various preparations of beef - yes there were indeed 7 - I went from feeling like 'this is an incredible deal' to 'uhm, should I be ashamed of myself' to 'yeah, so this was one of the greatest things ever.' Like I said, you'll feel a swelling feeling of shame, but if you hold on for the entirety of the roller coaster experience, that will gradually fade into a crescendo of euphoria. Or food coma, I can't really think after I've shoved half a cow into my mouth. Choice wording.
6) Korean barbecue in LA - more specifically this place called 'Oo Kook.' That means cow country, that's how you know that shit is tight *drops mic*.
7) North Dumpling in Chinatown. Once upon a time, I loved this other place called Prosperity Dumpling. Then they started getting noticed, people would start adding them too food crawls, their popularity skyrocketed. Along with their new found popularity came an unexpected price increase (and sassiness from the main guy at the counter). Without going into too much detail, the fact that they were now 5 for $1.25 meant that I would get to eat 200 less dumplings per year prorated at my normal rate of consumption. Along with the assclown hipster clientele / deterioration in service came random batches of dumplings that weren't made do order (no doubt pre-made to cope with the increase in volume). In comes North Dumpling, a place I had forgotten about as they lie in the Far East... uh, side of Chinatown. While they have a $2 for 10 minimum, and the trek is ever so slightly longer, you'll be rewarded with a superior dumpling experience - freshly fried dough pockets of meat, with a pork filling just a hint sweeter than you normally encounter. Also, no hipsters for the time being.
Anyway, I'll write... uh, more... this year. I guess that's an easy promise to keep, since I didn't really write at all last year. Setting low goals since 1988, go me.