Tag Archives: korean

Kimchi Smoke

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.

KIMCHI SMOKE
301 Center Ave
Westwood, NJ 07675

Black Emperor

Chef Jae Lee recently took over the kitchen at Black Emperor, and MAN is the food good. My wife and I tried everything on the menu, so buckle up and read on.

As you can see, the menu is a cross between American, Korean and Japanese food. The bar even serves up a nice Toki Highball.

The yuzu guac and rice cracker comes with a dollop of delicious home made chili oil. Really nice and refreshing.

The numbing cucumber pickles are a must try. I ripped through these babies, all the while wiping up that sesame yogurt at the bottom of the plate.

The blistered shishitos with black sesame caesar dressing are highly addictive, so if you order a plate, be prepared to want more and more.

The honey butter tater tots could use a bit more crisp on the outside so they stand up to the honey and butter lacquer, but the well balanced sweetness  is a great way to cut some of the robust and highly savory flavors in the entrees to follow.

The ramen spice wings are the best things here. They’re triple fried,  and coated in pulverized ramen noodles to give it an unrivaled crispy, crunchy batter. Totally unique. Ramen seasoning is actually used in the glaze.

The Washugyu double American cheeseburger with kimchi mayo is also a big winner here. Just big and savory enough to not need to eat anything other than this and maybe those tots on the side. A masterful stack.

What is Washugyu, you ask? It’s a name brand of beef that’s produced by breeding full blood wagyu cattle with Angus cattle.

The Pat LaFrieda dry-aged burger is a thick single patty, also with American cheese and kimchi mayo. There are only five of these available per night, so go early if you want to try it. I found that the Washyugyu meat played nicer with the toppings and condiments than the dry aged flavors. That dry aged meat by itself, though, is so delicious.

I really liked the food here, and I’ll be back for sure – definitely for the wings, cucumbers, and double burger. Those were my top three items here.

BLACK EMPEROR
197 2nd Ave
New York, NY 10003

Barn Joo

I recently had a meal here when celebrating a friends birthday party. Here’s a quick rundown of everything I tried:

This chicken with peanuts dish was really tasty. Nicely fried morsels of dark meat.

These fried beef dumplings were better still. I could have eaten a dozen.

While I’m not a huge tofu guy, these fried cubes were pretty tasty. I’d eat them again, but definitely not over the other two apps above.

Next up, beef noodles. These were ultimately pretty middle-of-the-road. Nothing stand-out about them.

The star of the show, however, was this pork belly dish. So much nice quality belly, with some chiccharones and a great spicy bean curd dip to boot. Awesome.

The octopus was perfectly cooked and had a great crunchy texture on the outside, but there was just something about it that bugged me. It had a flavor that reminded me of the smell of dried fish food. Perhaps it was something added on top for seasoning.

Lastly, their pickles and kimchi items are superb here. Some of the best I’ve had.

I would definitely go back here again.

BARN JOO
35 Union Square W
New York, NY 10003

Brasserie Seoul

Brasserie Seoul is a Brooklyn French restaurant where Chef Park is using Korean ingredients to execute his dishes.

I hesitate to call this ppace fusion, since the menu is decidedly French. However I suppose the heavy use of Korean ingredients takes it comfortably into that category.

I came in with two other Instagrammers to shoot some photos of their popular dishes. Here’s what we had:

FIRST ROUND

Foie Gras Amuse: cherry puree and grilled grapes on brioche.

Oysters with Pork Belly: five spice pork belly and chopped kimchi dressing both east and west coast varietals.

Wagyu Beef Tartare: wasabi oil and Korean pear with pinenuts and quail egg.

That was really good. Probably my favorite dish of the night.

SECOND ROUND

Seafood Pancake: bay scallops, shrimp, squid and scallions with a ginger soy aioli.

Truffle Tteok & Cheese: rice cakes with three-cheese bechemel, white truffle oil, panko and gochugaru (a red pepper flake blend).

THIRD ROUND

Cod: jajang puree (black beans), gochugaru carrot reduction, wilted baby kale, and roasted sunchoke.

Kimchi Bouillabaisse: mussels, pollack, shrimp, baby octopus, fried tofu, rice cakes and cabbage kimchi.

FOURTH ROUND

Duck Trio: fried duck confit, breast, crispy skin and foie. More like duck four ways I guess. Blood orange gastrique with cherry puree and candied ginger.

Wagyu NY Strip Steak: black garlic, Korean sea salt, green chili puree and citrus cho ganjang (vinegar soy sauce). 7/10. This was a bit leaner than I expected from wagyu. The flavor was nice, but I’ve had much better prime strips at half the price (this will run you $80).

This steak came with roasted fingerling potatoes:

This place is pretty good. I’m not sure I’d hoof it all the way out to Brooklyn for a second visit, but the tartare, seafood pancake, tteok & cheese and duck dishes were all fantastic.

BRASSERIE SEOUL
300 Schermerhorn St
Brooklyn, NY 11217

The Crimson Sparrow

I first became acquainted with The Crimson Sparrow when I hung out with chef-owner John McCarthy at a mutual friend’s party.

We traded social media info and kept up with each others’ food exploits online. I always thought his dishes looked so beautiful and sounded so delicious, but I wasn’t sure when I’d ever get to try them – John being up in Hudson, NY and me being NYC-based.

Well, it turns out that I was scheduled to go on a farm tour in Ghent, NY the weekend before the 4th of July. Upon checking out the map of where Ghent was, and planning how I was going to get there, I realized I would be passing through Hudson. I decided to make a small weekend trip out of this farm tour, and to bring my wife along.

It was a no-brainer, at that point, that I’d be visiting John at The Crimson Sparrow. We first went in for the tasting menu, late in the evening after we finished up that farm tour in Ghent.

I have to say… Chef John is doing some really amazing things here. He’s clearly inspired by Japanese cuisine; its preparation, its focus, its simplicity, its artistry. And while he does highlight a lot of Japanese ingredients, he’s also drawing inspiration from his local environs in the Hudson valley as well, and even dropping some overt hints of French technique and Korean flavors as well.

John has been all over the globe honing his cuisine. He used to be an attorney, but then ditched that for the culinary arts. He’s French trained, but he spent a significant amount of time in Japan absorbing all he could. He even did a 5-year stint with Wiley DuFresne at WD-50 in NYC before deciding it was time to press out on his own.

The Crimson Sparrow offers an a la carte menu, but the big draw for me was this multi-course tasting menu, priced at just $95.

I was eager to dig in when we arrived, just like how I’m eager to write about the meal now. I hope your mouth doesn’t water too much, because after I finish describing the tasting menu, you’ll have to stay tuned and read on for the incredible restaurant tour and daytime snack bites that I experienced the following day.

Course 1: Maitake Mushroom

This was crispy yet meaty, and had great flavors from the black truffle and lemon. The only thing I was hoping for here was maybe a flake of sea salt as a finishing item – maybe some nori smoke on that salt too.

Course 2: Yukon Potato

This Yukon Gold potato was shredded and fried to a crisp, topped with smoked egg yolk, cheddar and sea salt. This was essentially a creamy, smokey nest of potato chips. Awesome!

Course 3: Cucumber Crab

This dish reminded me of a really fucking delicious version of something like tuna salad, or crab salad, if you will. Really light and refreshing. I found myself wishing this was offered as a lunch sandwich on some nice, lightly toasted white bread with shiso leaf. I could eat that every day.

Course 4: Dashi with Purple Potato

The photo doesn’t do this dish justice. It was gorgeous. Purple potato, dashi broth, bonito flakes, and a nori aoli mix together to form a really refreshing cold soup. There were hints of miso and mustard flavors coming through as well. Nicely executed.

Course 5: Enoki Mushrooms

I love enoki mushrooms. These were treated simply and allowed to shine for what they are; cooked with binchotan (a kind of Japanese charcoal). They were dressed with soy and topped with shredded nori and sesame seeds. Perfect, really juicy, snappy like noodles, but textured and satiating like a meat protein.

Course 6: Soft Shell Crab

I had a bad experience with soft shell crab when I was younger. The crab I had was too far along after molting, and some parts of the shell were no longer soft. They were like shrimp shells, and it grossed me out. But lately I’ve been dabbling more into soft shell crabs, because I know they can be really good. Here at The Crimson Sparrow they are excellent. It’s lightly batter-fried and served with a mizuna corn kimchi sauce. There was a nice citrus and pepper-spice pop to this dish. Extremely soft shell, great fry batter.

Course 7: Abalone with Pine Nuts

This dish isn’t on the regular tasting menu. Chef John brought it out special for us. I’m so grateful that he did, because this fucking thing was one of the best dishes I’ve ever had in my entire life. I don’t say that lightly either.

Chef John first sous vides the abalone with pork belly and dashi. The pine nuts are pressure cooked with liquid from the bacon and abalone sous vide broth. Are you fucking kidding me? Then an abalone liver and squid ink emulsion is put on the bottom of the plate before serving (the black bits in the photo below).

This dish had such a nice buttery, savory, meaty flavor, and the pine nuts were like farro or barley in texture – like an “ancient grain” kind of starch, or beans. Truly amazing.

Course 8: Shrimp Dumplings

The broth/sauce here was killer: lemongrass, ginger and scallop. Really smooth and rich, and the dumplings were perfectly cooked, like excellent seafood ravioli.

Course 9: Hamachi

These slices of Hamachi exhibit simplicity and Chef John’s respect for the protein, while the cabbage, shiso, shiso oil, nori oil and yuzu broth demonstrates complexity of flavor and John’s extremely impressive skills as a chef. This dish represents exactly what he is doing here at The Crimson Sparrow: simplicity and complexity in the right balance.

Course 10: A5 Wagyu Picanha

Picanha is a Brazilian cut of beef, but it’s the same as “top sirloin cap” here in the states, only with the layer of fat left on that we Americans usually trim off.

This dish was not on the regular tasting menu either. The flavor was wild. It’s beef, but it tastes more like foie gras. It’s very rich in flavorful, oily fats. That large layer of fat can still be chewy, even on A5 Wagyu, but at times you can take it down because it gets so soft.

This beef hailed from the Miyazaki prefecture, which is known as one of the best in Japan for producing highly marbled beef. That little pile of magic dust on the side? Kalamata olive salt. So nice.

Course 11: Pork Belly Congee

This was really tasty. Congee is rice porridge. This one was made with porcini mushrooms and chili oil in the mix, aside from the delicious and tender pork belly. This is perfect “pick-me-up” comfort food right here.

Course 12: Aged Strip Loin

Obviously I loved this dish. It was served with ssamjang (Korean black bean sauce), dressed fresh soy beans and endive.

Here’s what the full plate looked like:

Palate Cleanser: Amazake

This amazake is a young sake made with fermented black and white rice and sweetened with ginger. It was creamy, sweet, slightly bubbly, and really delicious.

Dessert: “American Psycho” on a Plate (that’s my name for it)

This beautiful Jackson Pollock / Patrick Bateman mash-up of plating artistry is a sponge cake with blue- rasp- and mul- berries. There were notes of citrus or yuzu, and even avocado cream in the anglaise. Those beautiful red splatters were done with beet sauce.

Okay so that covers the tasting menu. The next day we came back when John was a little less busy to hang out with him a bit. He gave us a cool tour of the restaurant and kitchen.

Here’s the outside:

The bar is outfitted with some cool things that John salvaged from the property when he first purchased it. Part of the property used to be an old Packard auto shop, and another part was a bakery.

The main dining room is gorgeous. It’s outfitted with some antiques that John either found on the property (like the lamps), or items for which he bartered with local antique shop owners to obtain (like the wine cart).

This part of the property was actually a bakery at one point, and this room was the inside of the massive oven. The table was custom made to accommodate the 9 inch floor slope from one end of the room to the other.

A more private room for larger parties is also available to customers.

The kitchen is housed in the space where Packard used to wash and detail their cars. Those windows you see on the right are massive, and there’s a strip of cool bar stool seats where diners can sit and watch all the kitchen action.

John also showed me the Wagyu strip loin that he’s aging in the walk-in. I think this hunk of deliciousness has been going for over 100 days.

John has a rooftop herb garden as well.

That day we also tried some light snacks in the outdoor garden seating area – a gorgeous space.

This is a pork bun. Really nice flavors, and that pork was stewed to perfection.

These soy beans are similar to the beans on the tasting menu that came with the aged beef dish, but served on a giant shrimp chip.

Also, they serve crisp Orion beer for just $5. Great to sip while enjoying a sunny day on the patio.

 

I think that about does it. You guys need to check this place out if you’re ever in the area. I’m dead serious when I tell you that this was the best tasting menu omakase style meal I’ve ever had, and that abalone dish… Holy shit man. Ask for it when you go.

THE CRIMSON SPARROW
746 Warren St
Hudson, NY 12534

Miss Korea

My wife scored a crazy flash deal for KBBQ here at Miss Korea. The regular price was $95 but with additional coupon codes, she paid something like $70 for this BBQ barrage. We went above and beyond, though, when we started with this bowl of makgeolli (slightly bubbly, unfiltered rice wine at about 6% alcohol that drinks as easily as soda). I love this stuff.

dsc05618

First was a simple salad to get the juices flowing.

dsc05623

Then a bowl of rice porridge with dried fruits and nuts. This was refreshing and light.

dsc05632-fixed

Next up was a trio of Modeum Jeon pancakes: corn, kimchi, spinach.

dsc05636-fixed

These were amazing. Usually they’re thin, greasy and too crowded with scallions. Not the case here. These were thick and light.

Holy shit this thing came out next… Tuna tartare. But look at how vibrant the color is on this!

dsc05641-fixed

It had a perfect sear on the outside, nice and peppery. I could eat this all day long.

Next up was this spicy Sinseollo hot pot that had chestnuts, soy beans, veggies, beef and fish mixed in.

dsc05683-fixed  dsc05699-fixed

Very soul-warming, satisfying, and totally unique.

Then came the onslaught of banchan: small dishes and bowls of pickled items (kimchi) and veggies.

dsc05694-fixed

These are used to dress up your lettuce wraps, in which you place the finished BBQ meat after its all grilled up nicely.

dsc05700-fixed

Then you wrap it up and eat it.

But wait.. I skipped the best part. The MEAT! Our meal came with a plate of four meats: thick cut pork belly, spicy pork bulgogi, boneless beef rib and beef short ribs. Look at this fucking short rib…

dsc05676-fixed

That marbling… Holy shit! I was so captivated that I didn’t bother shooting the other meats. Just perfect. My order of preference: short rib, belly, bulgogi, boneless rib.

We also had a braised salmon dish. This was a bit dry and overcooked for my liking. In fact we threw the salmon meat into the hot soup dish for the next course, but I really enjoyed the sauce and radish that came with it. It was topped with a slice of lotus root too.

dsc05707-fixed

Next course: noodles. I couldn’t believe we were each getting a bowl here. We picked Haemul Kalguksu: spicy seafood noodles (hot); and Mul Naengmyeon: green buckwheat noodles (cold). Both were tasty but we seriously had no more room left in our stomachs! We brought these home, but not before my wife lifted the noodles for an Instagram pic.

dsc05737-fixed

That cold soup (green noodles) had some sweetness to it from the shaved winter melon within.

And then there was dessert. Little puffy, sweet and soft logs of fried dough with a cup of cold and sweet rice juice.

dsc05744-fixed

Between tax, tip and drinks I dropped another $50 on this meal, but for an all-in grand total of $120 (including the $70 we paid for the flash deal), this was a steal. I highly recommend this joint.

MISS KOREA
10 W 32nd St
New York, NY 10001

Bann

I picked up a Groupon deal for about $12 that gave me $40 to spend here at Bann. Pretty solid bargain. My wife and I started with a pair of apps; steamed buns and wings.

The buns contained marinated thinly sliced beef rib eye and spicy daikon. There were pretty good, and I liked the sauce, which was based on spicy bean paste, only a little thinner.

dsc09500

I liked the wings a lot, though I wish the honey chili glaze made them a little spicier. In any case they were hot, crispy, tender and tasty. And that’s ultimately all that fucking matters.

dsc09498

For our entrees we went with a noodle dish and a rice dish. First, the rice dish: steak tartare bibimbap with a raw egg yolk.

dsc09523

This was pretty great, served cold, of course, with a side of spicy bean paste. The greens there are spinach, and there are some other shredded veggies and mushrooms in the bowl as well.

dsc09507-again-2

dsc09547

Our noodle dish was very similar to a pork belly lo mein.

dsc09544_1

It was pretty good, but had I known it would be similar to Chinese food, we probably would have selected something else.

dsc09538_1

LIFT!

dsc09535

BANN
350 W 50th St
New York, NY 10019

Atoboy

Atoboy is a new Korean fine dining joint with a new concept; you choose three dishes for a $36 tasting with a bowl of rice. The menu is set out in three sections, which are somewhat similar to an app, salad and entree breakdown. You choose one of each, but can add additional items from each section at an upcharge of $9, $12 or $15, depending on which section you’re choosing from. White rice and some kimchi (both cabbage and tomatillo varieties) comes with your meal, but they also offer a seasonal rice for $2 extra. Currently, the seasonal rice is a white rice that’s been mixed with powderized nori.

The portions are a little small, but they’re all really well executed and delicious. Since I came here with Jay from The Dishelin Guide, we sampled an extra entree item as well as a dessert in addition to our three courses each. Here’s what we had:

Eggplant with snow crab and tomato jelly. While this doesn’t look pretty or even sound particularly appetizing, it was actually pretty tasty. I’m generally not a big fan of eggplant to begin with, but I was pleasantly surprised.

DSC07745

Littleneck clams with avocado cream, rice crackers and gochugaru (red chili flakes). This was pretty good. I’ve never had clams with avocado before. It was pretty interesting. The rice crackers gave the dish a nice dynamic texture.

DSC07742

Next was grilled avocado with horseradish, cotija (hard cow’s milk cheese) and trout roe. I’ve never had grilled avocado before. I just assumed doing anything to a ripe avocado would result in guacamole due to the softness. Perhaps these are grilled while they’re still a little bit hard to avoid structural breakdown? In any case, this was a tasty and healthy dish.

DSC07784

This next dish is highly recommended, and was one of my favorites of the night. Squid rings, stuffed with pork and shrimp, then topped with salsa verde. The squid was perfectly cooked and tender, and the stuffing gave a nice salty and fatty flavor. Plus, it was really pretty.

DSC07760

Now we move on to the big winners from this dining experience; the entree selections. We started with crispy pork jowl on a bed of barley, ssamjang (spicy and sweet sauce/paste) and romaine.

DSC07805

The crispy skin and under-layer of fat were delicious, and as I bit down into the meat beneath, my mouth came alive with salivation. Great dish!

DSC07845

Next up was the brisket with melted foie gras, garlic and ginger. This was really hearty and delicious. The beef was super tender and can rival any top notch BBQ brisket you might find out there at a pit smoker competition (though this one was admittedly not prepared the same way with a smoker – it’s just the same cut of beef).

DSC07821

Our last entree item was the strip steak. This came with a tofu skin and celery salad, and everything was lightly dressed with sesame oil.

DSC07829

The steak was super tender and flavorful. They marinade the steak with kiwi to allow the enzymes to slowly tenderize the meat before it is cooked. That may be the reason why there was a healthy amount of grey banding around the edges of the meat.

DSC07840

The outside could use a slightly better crust, but I imagine they need to be careful not to overcook the steak, as it isn’t very thick. This was a big success though, overall, and it tasted like wagyu. 9/10.

For dessert we tried this black raspberry cake with hazelnut and pistachio, which was garnished with fresh blueberries. This is the only dessert that’s made off-site by another pastry person. The texture was almost like mousse, and the look reminded me of Italian tri-color cookies. Very nice.

DSC07847

Although expensive at $80 each after tax and tip, this was a satisfying, unique and delicious Korean fine dining experience.

ATOBOY
43 E 28th St
New York, NY 10016

Hell’s Chicken

My wife and I were recently invited here for a press meal.

DSC02736

This place is located just above the new Hudson Yards construction area on the west side. It’s a prime spot for the soon-to-be-bustling area. In any case, Hell’s Chicken serves up some tasty Korean style fried chicken!

DSC02781

The batter was nice and crispy, and one of the sauces, the soy ginger, was really delicious. Even the drum sticks were adequately battered and sauced, so that the ratio between meat and batter was in the proper proportion.

DSC02773_1

We also tried the “spicy hell” sauce, which is tomato based and gluten free. It did not deliver the kind of heat that one might expect from such eloquent naming. I thought I’d be shitting molten lava afterward, but that won’t be the case (thankfully). In any event, don’t be afraid! A good, welcoming heat creeps up a few seconds after your taste buds get to work, and the end result is pretty addictive.

DSC02771_1

That’s cashew powder sprinkled on top, by the way: a very interesting touch.

Not only does this place do fried chicken, but they also serve up some traditional Korean dishes as well. We tried three courses. This first bite was a shrimp and veggie roll wrapped in pickled daikon.

DSC02752_1

It was nice and refreshing, with a hit of sweet pickled goodness from the daikon.

Then we sank our teeth into this kimchi pancake, made with eggs, flour and pickled cabbage. It was crispy but had a nice dense, substantive texture to it from the kimchi inside. This might have been my favorite dish of the night.

DSC02769_1

Next up was this platter of bork belly and lightly dressed greens. The belly was sliced thick and grilled with simple spices and sesame seeds. We dipped the pork in spicy bean paste. Awesome. I could eat this every day.

DSC02783

This came out with some spicy pickled kimchi items as well. Shishito peppers, bean sprouts and cabbage. All were pickled in-house.

DSC02787

I should also mention that this joint offers a pretty good happy hour deal from 4pm to 7pm, with $5 beers, wine deals and discounted well drinks.

DSC02788

But check out this trio sampler of infused soju: yuzu, pomegranate and blueberry. All were on the sweet side, as opposed to dry. The pomegranate was the best, and most naturally pleasant tasting of the three. I like the old style presentation too, with the small jars. This will run you $18, for what is essentially about 12-15oz of soju. I thought that was a good deal.

DSC02745

To sum up, this is a great place to satisfy for your Korean fried chicken cravings. The traditional dishes are pretty great too. A guy who sat next to us ordered the bibimbap, and I must say it looked, smelled and even SOUNDED delicious when it came out in the hot clay bowl. That’ll be my next meal here.

HELL’S CHICKEN
641 10th Ave.
New York, NY 10036

NYCWFF 2015 BBQ & Blues

My buddy Jay from The Dishelin Guide hooked me up big time with a free pass to the New York City Wine & Food Festival‘s BBQ & Blues event, thrown by Thrillist and hosted by Adam Richman, of Man vs. Food fame. This shit went down at the Hudson Hotel last night.

DSC08100

DSC08062

DSC08061

Twelve vendors vied for support from hundreds of hungry BBQ fanatics, each wielding a single voting chip to cast their ballot for the night’s favorite food. All the while, old rag time and tin pan alley jug band music played to set the mood.

DSC08115

There was a nice open bar, stocked with vodka lemonades and hard root beer, to name a few items.

DSC08074

DSC08075

But the focus here was the BBQ, so let me get down to business… Here’s a quick list of the pit masters: BarBacon, Mexicue, Mile End, Sweet Chick, Kimchi Smoke, Miss Korea BBQ, Otto’s Taco’s, Tchoup Shop, Vermillion, Korilla, Pig Beach and Union Bar & Kitchen.

The dudes at Korilla really put together a nice spicy plate. I was told that this typically is MORE spicy than what we sampled last night, but take a look at the menu and see for yourself.

DSC08098

DSC08099

I snagged a nice shot of Adam licking a gun in this shot. Impeccable timing.

DSC08102

Right next door was Kimchi Smoke. I was psyched to see them using the Searzall at the table to melt cheese on top of their items.

DSC08088

Here’s a look at what they were serving up:

DSC08090

The brisket was super tender and flavorful. Perfectly done.

DSC08091

However the chonut slider was a bit too out there for me. It was a blast of every flavor known to man in one bite. Kimchi on a glazed donut with bacon and cheese! That’s on a whole other level.

DSC08092

I jumped a little out of order there because I was excited to talk about those items, but the very first thing we tried was one of my favorites of the night.

DSC08066

Tchoup Shop struck an amazing balance between sweet and savory with this crab and pork meatball slider. It had a hint of fish sauce to give it a distinct Thai or Vietnamese influence too. Jay put his chip on this as the best of the night.

DSC08106

My favorite of the night, which I thought just edged out Tchoup Shop by a sliver, was Mexicue.

DSC08077

Maybe it’s the nacho lover in me, but this was such an amazing bite of food. The chicken was deeply smoked to the point where it almost tasted like a pork item rather than chicken. The flavors were more on the savory side than the sweet side, which is what I like from my BBQ (I know that’s not normal). That may have ultimately been why I went with Mexicue over Tchoup Shop.

DSC08078

Another close contender was this classic pulled pork slider from Union Bar & Kitchen.

DSC08109

The pickle was nice and it cut the sweetness of the sauce nicely, but the meat was the star here – perfectly cooked and tender. A pile of that with the pickles, minus the sauce, and I am a happy man.

DSC08111

A nice outside the box item was this bacon and masa wrapped rib from Otto’s Tacos. Very creative and delicious.

DSC08073

DSC08072

My least favorite of the night was this hot dog. It just didn’t have the punch I was hoping for. I love a good hot dog too, so I was a little disappointed.

DSC08079

DSC08080

I had high hopes for Vermillion too, thinking that there might be a nice Indian influence going on. There indeed was, but it fell a little flat for me. The tamarind was a little overpowering, but the mango rice did cut the flavor nicely.

DSC08083

DSC08081

DSC08082

DSC08084

Miniature tacos are always a hit in my book. I might have to head back to this place (BarBacon) and try a few more items.

DSC08086

DSC08087

And there was a third Korean BBQ selection from Miss Korea BBQ. This pork was tender and juicy, with a nice light spice to it.

DSC08107

DSC08108

This joint offered up two items: a chicken chili and brisket.

DSC08068

DSC08070

DSC08071

At Pig Beach I was expecting starch based on the menu, but this baby was almost all meat. Nice!

DSC08103

DSC08104

One yeah – one more semi-celeb sighting from the food biz:

DSC08112

Definitely a fun night, and a very challenging one in terms of lighting and color for the photos. I was on my game though, so we did alright. Big thanks to Jay again for hooking me up with a ticket!