I’ve been eating Chef Cho’s Kimchi Smoke BBQ for several years at the NYCWFF and various other food events around the city, but I finally made it out to his brick and mortar location in Westwood, New Jersey.
Here’s what I had:
Korean Corn Dog: This was tasty. Cheese interspersed with hot dog, deep fried on a stick and served with a remoulade and a gochujang style ketchup.
The Legendary Chonut: The newest iteration of his famous BBQ sandwich on a donut called “Version 2.1” comes with brisket, cheese, and a bit of kimchi. I really liked this, despite not loving the first version of this about four years back. This is well balanced between heat, sweet, fat and acid.
The Old Dirty Bird: This fried chicken and spicy Korean style slaw sandwich was perfect! I could eat this every day.
General Cho’s Chicken: These fried chicken fingers are coated with his rib sauce, which has a spicy gochujang kick to it.
For the real deal pit BBQ, we had a heap of brisket, pork shoulder, XXX bacon (smoked and deep fried), and two kinds of ribs (the gochujang sauced ribs, and a Texas style dry rub). All of it was delicious. We did some Korean slaw and smoked kimchi on the side to cut the fat.
Here’s a closer look at all of that meat.
I think the XXX bacon was my favorite of the meats:
Then we finished with banana pudding, which had Nilla wafers and chunks of banana in it. AWESOME!
I highly recommend this place. Everything was incredible, and that chicken sandwich is easily in my top dishes of 2019. Possibly the bacon as well.
Zeppelin Hall is a massive biergarten in Jersey City. They’re currently (through 2/4/18) celebrating BACONFEST, a glorious time when they roll out a special menu that features various preparations of bacon with influences from all over the world.
As you can see, there are a lot of bacon dishes. Here are the ones we tried:
Bacon Wrapped Tomahawk Steak
I mean let’s get right to it. This thing is fucking insane. It’s a three-pound of beef lollipop, wrapped in delicious maple bacon.
The bacon adds a nice sweetness to the dry-aged meat and compliments is in an unexpectedly nice way.
This is a must-try for any meat lover.
This braised pork belly dish still managed to have a really crispy skin on it. Excellent.
Can’t go wrong with bacon tacos. These were perfect.
Bacon Empanadas. These were fantastic, filled with bacon and cheese.
Bacon wrapped shrimp – always a crowd pleaser.
A country known only for it’s poutine, and no other significant contributions of society besides Jim Carrey, must be represented with strength and resolve. Excellent fries.
A 100% bacon patty burger? Yes please. Just add sauce, as the patty can get dry when the bacon must be cooked completely through.
And of course, bacon mac and cheese. Our pride and joy.
Bacon and kraut. A nice combo.
Bacon wrapped pork skewers. Yes.
Other honorable mentions: Italy’s bacon bolognese sauce, and Venezuela’s bacon arepas. Both excellent.
That about does it. Get over here before February 4th and indulge.
88 Liberty View Dr.
Jersey City, NJ 07302
Antique Bar & Bakery is a new joint in Hoboken. I know what you’re thinking: Fuck Jersey! But for real, everything at this place is absolutely amazing. And I can’t in good conscience fuck with Jerz: I’m from Long Island, and everyone knows that LI, NJ and Staten Island are all retarded cousins from the same demented family.
Anyway, when you walk in, you feel like you’ve entered someone’s home. It has an old school feel to it. There are a few nice nooks for seating, and a great bar with really nicely fashioned cocktails.
In the back room, you’re basically IN the kitchen, which is really fun to experience. The skylight overhead illuminates the room with a nice, pleasing natural light.
The back wall boasts an insane coal oven that cranks up to over 1000 degrees, and then to the left of that, there’s a cooler area (about 500 degrees).
On the side wall is all your normal kitchen gadgetry like a gas oven, burners, sinks, expediting station, etc.
Okay but enough about that – let me get to the food. Chef Paul Gerard is doing amazing things here. Everything has a sense of familiarity, but also a sense of “newness.” He’s accumulated aspects of Soul Food, Cajun/Creole, Italian, American and French cuisines and balled them up into a delicious, enveloping and immersive experience: especially when you sit in the back near the kitchen (a must-do if you’re anything like me).
We started with a snack of blistered shishito peppers and pickled watermelon. The peppers go into the hot coal oven and finish up really quickly – like within a minute. It’s pretty neat because you can feel the capsaicin in the air once they get cranking. If you sit close like we did, you may sneeze or cough a bit. That’s how IN the kitchen you are. So cool. It makes you feel like you’re part of the staff.
Raw Fennel Salad with Burnt Orange Marmalade: All the burnt items are done right in their crazy oven. They add a great natural bitterness to the food (and cocktails), which cuts the fat and sweetness of any complimentary ingredients. This salad was awesome: crisp, fresh and satisfying.
Hot Oil Shrimp: Incredible dish. Really nice heat from the peppers, and the shrimp retain a lot of shell flavor from being blasted in the oven. Perfectly cooked.
Rice Balls: I mean, these guys even managed to make rice balls interesting, new and fun. The outside is really crisp and the inside is soft and gooey from the provolone fondue. You need to try them.
Fresh Mozzarella: This shit is made to order, right there at the prep counter. You can watch the guy stretch and pull until its ready. It’s topped with some cracked pepper and a few cherry tomatoes. Eat this quickly while it’s still warm, otherwise it can firm up a bit and lose its softness.
Burger: The only slight I will make about this entire meal is that the burger was a bit overcooked for our liking. But the flavor was off the hinges, even though our burger was medium-well. It gets some dry aged fat (carved right off the steaks), some chuck and some flank in the grind – made in house, obviously.
It’s topped with shredded cheese, spicy fries and pickled chili peppers. Despite the shape of the burger being spherical, it really was formed well: Loosely packed and not overworked; hollowed out top bun so it isn’t too tall and unwieldy. This burger has real potential to be one of the best around. I need to come back and try it again, and make sure the temp is pink through the center. Don’t shy away from ordering it just because mine was a bit over.
Whole Octopus: This is a special menu item, which you can order as a half or whole portion. The octopus is treated in a similar way as the shrimp, but it is tossed in an olive puttanesca sauce that really blew me away. It was cooked very nicely too: snappy to the tooth, but not chewy. Great char flavor from the oven.
Whole Fish: This was black bass, and it was really damn delicious. When you cook seafood hot and fast, you retain all that great juiciness in the flesh, so that nothing ever dries out. That’s what happens with the fish here. You can’t go wrong.
Whole Chicken: Absurdly delicious, and I’m not even really a chicken man. This is plenty big to feed the table.
Dirty Rib Eye: I was amazed. I watched as Chef Paul went through the entire process, and I even got some good video.
First, he broke down a 28-day dry aged rack of ribs that the restaurant got from DeBragga Meats. Antique Bar & Bakery has its own shelf in the DeBragga dry-aging room.
The steaks are allowed to come up to room temperature so that they cook better.
Once they’re ready, they’re coated with coarse salt, slapped on a cast iron skillet, and then popped into that ripping-hot coal oven for about five minutes. This hell-fire licks every square inch of surface area on the meat, giving it a great outer crust.
The steak is then pulled out of the crazy oven, placed onto a bed of herbs, hit with some drawn butter, and then finished in the other oven until the center comes up to the proper temperature.
Finally, it rests for a while before being sliced and plated – sometimes up to 20 minutes. While resting, it gets brushed with more herbs, so you really get that great herb flavor with each bite.
Alright here’s the video. I made you suffer through reading all of that first before linking it, because I’m a dick.
The herbs really make it. In fact, they have herbs drying and hanging all over the back room. It was pretty cool, and reminded me of my dad’s garage, which always seems to be decorated with dangling peppers and herbs from his garden.
Needless to say, this steak is an easy 10/10 for flavor. It’s really unbelievable. I suggest you get out there immediately to try it.
Hard Herb Hanger: Perfectly cooked, great crisp on the outside, and wonderful flavors from the herb roasting process in the ovens. This is a great option for those who aren’t willing to go big with the rib eye but still want to eat beef. Just $23? Awesome. 8/10. We actually had this come out alongside our desserts and we still devoured it instantly. Haha!
All entrees can be consumed with a variety of available sauces. We tried them all, but I really liked the herb puree and puttanesca the best. As for the steaks? No sauce needed. There’s so much flavor on those babies already.
Okay let me address some of the fantastic sides we tried.
Charred Kale with Pickled Chilis: Really nice acidic punch. This is similar to something like collared greens in Soul Food cuisine, only with a new twist.
Blackened Beets with Goat Cheese and Walnuts: Awesome. This is my new favorite beet dish. And if you’re one of those weird bastards that doesn’t eat meat, then this is the way to go for you. Very satisfying, satiating and fulfilling.
Fava Beans: Holy shit! Traditional French styling here with butter and shallots, and finished with mint, but so great. I kept going back for more of these green delights. Probably because they’re served with Spring Brook Farm Reading Raclette, a raw cow’s milk cheese.
Fingerling Potatoes: As I said above, Chef Paul is making things in a new way here. These babies are roasted with dried, aged, shaved Bottarga fish flakes (similar to what you might see being used to make dashi broth, but more specific). It might not sound that appetizing, but it adds such an amazing earthy flavor to the potatoes. Trust me. And with a topping of cheese and that awesome crisp from the hot oven, this side is not to be skipped.
Now on to the desserts. We tried a few, and all of them were excellent, just like every-fucking-thing else in this meal.
Lady Ashton’s Dirty Chocolate Cake: Served family style in a large cast iron skillet, this is one of the best chocolate cakes I’ve ever eaten. I’m not huge on chocolate either, but I loved this.
Frozen Cannoli: This is essentially a cannoli in sundae form. Incredibly tasty, and equally beautiful.
Dandy’s Decadent Cookie (with sweet milk ice cream): This baby is baked to order, and it is a massive, soft, delicious cookie with ice cream on top. This is my kind of dessert.
Burnt Lemon & Marshmallow Pie: I have a weakness for this type of stuff. It was a great twist on lemon meringue pie.
TCB Sundae: This is based on the Elvis sandwich. Burnt banana bread, caramelized banana, peanut butter ice cream, candied slab bacon, milk chocolate covered potato chips, and all of it draped in gold! Just like Elvis would want it baby! Chef Paul rocks harder than Elvis, if you ask me.
Holy shit. Is that everything? I’m dying to go back here. Get your ass out to Hoboken ASAP. You will thank me.
This place just keeps getting better. Not only was the Dry Rib Eye even more heart-stoping than last time, but this time there was a new burger being offered. Check it out:
That’s right – he takes a whole 40oz rib eye and grinds it up right there for you. This makes four burgers and is off off menu, so make sure you call and ask for it ahead of time with a group.
That’s a dry-aged rib eye with aged cheddar cheese sauce, fresh herbs, garlic puree, chilies, pickles and a house made bread. The fries are cooked in beef tallow. Awesome. This is my new favorite steakhouse style burger. Nothing comes close.
We also tried some pasta dishes:
Excellent hot oil shrimp:
Pork cheek parm! Beef cheek is also available sometimes as a special, and with an egg on top for the brunch special.
And these ribs, called “Buried Bones” – there bad boys are wrapped in banana leaves with spices and buried under hot embers from that monster oven. Slow cooked for 8hrs they are insanely tender. The best ribs I’ve ever had.
And just for shits and gigs, lets look at that steak progression again:
ANTIQUE BAR & BAKERY
122 Willow Ave
Hoboken, NJ 07030
This is officially one of my new favorite places. Pilsener Haus & Biergarten is a German beer hall situated in an old factory in North Hoboken, New Jersey.
The interior is expansive and roomy, with really awesome decor.
They serve up some classic Oktoberfest style foods and other German classics – especially tubed meats!
I managed to snap a photo of these delicious mussels during a party that my wife and I attended for a short time.
I know North Hoboken isn’t the most convenient place to go, but this place is well worth the trip. I’m looking forward to another visit with a crew of buddies who also love German beer halls as much as me.
PILSENER HAUS & BIERGARTEN
1422 Grand St
Hoboken, NJ 07030
My wife and I dropped into this joint on our way to Philly, so this isn’t a NYC joint. We were shocked to see an Asian market and two Vietnamese restaurants right in the same strip mall. We had to try the basics.
The soup was great, better than most NYC places for damn sure. Its unfortunate how bad NYC is with Viet food.
The sandwich was kickass too. The bread was correct, and they used a good ratio of the various meats inside.
And my favorite dessert of all time: the avocado shake. Delicious.
My buddy and I flew down like CEOs on a 30 minute flight from Long Island to check out a classic car auction that was going on at the convention center. I won’t bore you foodies with pics of the awesome cars. Instead I’ll get right to the good shit.
Had I known there was an Asian culinary battle going on down there, I would have registered to view/taste. Too bad I didn’t know until it was too late. This was right at the bottom of our elevator bank:
I haven’t been to a Morton’s in a long time but I remember them being really great. My memory served me well. We went to Morton’s on Friday after we checked in. The rib eye was nearly perfect, aside from some bits of inedible gristle. Evenly cooked, juicy, with that signature aged flavor. 9/10.
My buddy tried the peppercorn strip steak. It was great too – really nice flavor, though I would go without the sauce. 9/10.
As a beef eater, I got my typical gin martini, made with Beefeater:
On the side we had some bacon and onion mac & cheese, which was really good. Creamy, good smoke flavor.
We also did a wedge salad – pretty standard:
But the highlight of the meal was the “bacon steak” appetizer. It was soft and tender – don’t let the grill marks and charred looks deceive you in this image. It was thick, smokey, and delicious. We went back for more on Sunday, but they didn’t open until 5pm and we had a flight to catch.
The service here was excellent. Our waitress, Nicole, knew her steak well and made great suggestions to us, and the management was good enough to come over and check in on us to make sure everything was to our liking. The price was right too: at only about $100 each we thought we got a great deal for all that food.
White House Sub Shop
This place is awesome. We went on Sunday morning at about 11am. I went with a cheesesteak loaded with the works: hot peppers, grilled onions, lettuce, and tomato. PACKED with flavor, not too salty or greasy, good quality bread. Just right. And for $8.66 you really can’t beat it. Check out all the pics:
Worst part of the trip: Noodle Bar at Caesar’s. We were excited to go the first time, especially since I saw pho on the menu. Too bad it sucked. It was bland, and the meat quality was low to poor at best. Also WAY too many noodles and not enough meat. Overpriced too, at $16 for a shitty bowl that is much better and costs only $6 in NYC.
On Saturday night we were starving since we skipped dinner and had $2 beers at Mountain Bar instead.
The only place open nearby at 1am, that we knew about anyway, was the fucking Noodle Bar. So we went back in. This time I ordered salt & pepper pork chops. They were pretty good, but I didn’t expect them to be deep fried and DRENCHED in table salt. WAY too salty. I only ate about half after doing my best to dust all the salt off.
Lucky for us, we were able to salvage the night before with a good Bloody Mary at Phillips the next morning.
And some gelato at the hotel lobby:
And when I got home, my wife had this waiting for me – a new custom cell phone case with one of my logos on it. Best wife ever.
YES – I even review the “lesser” steak joints. There is a running joke that I am going to make a drunken, late night pit-stop at Tad’s before getting on the LIRR, and then write up a stellar review of it the next morning. That will surely throw off the non-locals! Tourists beware. Keep your eyes out for it – I WILL do it one day. Anyway – I hesitate to call Arthur’s a steak joint, and I don’t mean disrespect when I use the word “lesser;” Arthur’s tavern is just that – a tavern. But it has become well known to many NYC and NJ folks for its massive cuts of beef and man-sized 32oz beers. That said, it certainly deserves our attention.
I’ve been to Arthur’s about four times. For about six months I lived in Hoboken, so it became a nice comfortable place for huge beers and huge steaks at small prices. The flavor is okay. The steaks are fatty/gristled and only at choice quality without any enhancements, but they still taste pretty good. Hey – it gets the job done, right?
Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 4
More of a pub in selection and atmosphere, Arthur’s really only has ribeyes and a sirloin. “Our Steak” is 24oz, for the light appetite (lol)… and the double is 49oz (be a man and get it). Those are some huge hunks of beef!
Portion Size & Plating: 10
Okay: MASSIVE. There – I said it again. If portion size is your thing, you will clearly not be disappointed. Again the ribeye is 24oz, the double is 49oz. Stomachs will fill. ‘Nuff said.
At about a dollar an ounce, or even less if you go for the double, Arthur’s is a steal. You would be hard pressed to find steak in the supermarket for that price these days. Eyes on the prize people: Arthur’s give’s you a lot of meat for your money.
Arthur’s is a great bar; they are championed for their huge 32oz beers. When I lived in the area they were something ridiculously cheap like $4 (probably more now). Grab a 32oz Guinness and a 49oz Double Steak with a wedge of iceburg, and you are guaranteed to grow hair on your chest. Fuck it – you will grow hair on your damn fingernails; THAT is how manly you become.
Specials and Other Meats: 5
It is a tavern, people. What you see is what you get. They do have ribs, pastrami and corned beef though; I have never tried.
Apps, Sides & Desserts: 6
To be honest, all I have ever gotten here were the steaks because they are so huge, with the exception of some sauteed onions and mushrooms, and also the iceburg wedge.
Seafood Selection: 4
I had to check the menu online, because I honestly didn’t think they had anything other than maybe some fried shrimp. As it turns out, Arthur’s has scrod, and shrimp scampi. Nothing fancy. But who the fuck is coming here to order shrimp scampi for dinner anyway? I’ll tell you who: pussies, losers, and quiff-bags. Get a steak, assholes. Some oysters or clams would be a good additon to the menu as appetizers, however.
The good people working at Arthur’s are friendly and fun. No complaints here, especially for the kind of place it is. The tables have these awesome metal bowls of pickled items: half sour pickles, cherry peppers, and slaw. I could eat this stuff all day, and the generous people over at Arthur’s are more than happy to keep them coming, bowl after glorious bowl.
I love Arthur’s because there is no bullshit. The tables are covered with plastic red and white checkered picnic-style tablecloths. Everything is wood and has character. The music is fun, loud but not annoying, and the crowd can’t help but have a good time. My kind of place.
237 Washington St.
Hoboken, NJ 07030