Category Archives: Food

$5 Chicken and Waffles = The Best Thing About Thursday Night

photo by Yelp! user Vivian F.

photo by Yelp! user Vivian Y.

Thursday is the eternal bridesmaid of the modern work week. Sure, she’s nice to hang out with after that Wednesday bitch breaks your heart, but you can’t change the fact that Thursday knows you’re just waiting around for a chance to hook up with Friday. It’s been a tough row to hoe, but I think Thursday’s ship has finally come in.

For those along the Wasatch Front that genuinely love breakfast, Pig & A Jelly Jar has probably come up on your radar. It’s been cranking out Southern comfort food and Pabst Blue Ribbon in the Liberty Park area for enough time to make it into a staple of our humble food scene. As I don’t often get the opportunity to eat there during breakfast/brunch hours, I was thrilled to learn that the Pig offers five-dollar chicken and waffles on Thursday nights. From 3 pm to 9 pm, diners can swing by for a decent helping of the restaurant’s signature chicken and waffles for a great price.

The Pig’s chicken waffles are straight up, unassuming goodness. They do a great job of preparing their chicken so it’s not dry when it comes to you, and the waffles are the right balance of crispy and chewy. There is a wide variety of hot sauce available for those who like a little spicy with their sweet and salty, and it truly is a beast of a portion for just five bucks.

While chicken and waffles isn’t the only dish that is being served–their regular menu items are up for grabs as well–there’s something special about taking Thursday by the hand and saying, “Don’t worry about Friday, pretty lady. You’re chicken and waffles night, and can’t nobody take that away from you. Now let’s go home and watch Scandal.”

Pig & a Jelly Jar on Urbanspoon

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Ten Great Superhero Food Scenes

While I’ve never saved a city (or most of a city, even), I can totally relate to the idea of snagging a post-credits shawarma after fending off an intergalactic invasion. Observe:

There’s something satisfying about the way the Avengers solemnly dine on their Middle-Eastern comfort food as they reflect upon their major victory. The scene illustrates an important truth about eating (a truth that even superheroes recognize): Food tastes better after accomplishing something mighty. Since The Avengers: Age of Ultron is now upon us, I thought we could celebrate by taking a look at some of the best food-related scenes from superhero movie history.

Dinner With Vicki Vale; Batman (1989): Traditionally, wealthy bachelors who can split a tree in half with a roundhouse kick don’t have too much trouble with the ladies–which is why this scene is so great. It’s one of the few moments that we get to see Bruce Wayne have the same awkward first date that we’ve all experienced. This was also a good opportunity for Tim Burton to own his rendition of Mr. Wayne. In this scene, we can see how Wayne isn’t really comfortable with the opulent surroundings of his dining room because he’s more concerned with punching drug dealers in the face.

Never Pay Full Price For Late Pizza; Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990): Since pizza is an integral part of the TMNT mythos, it makes sense that one of the more existential conversations of the film takes place while Michelangelo and Donatello are waiting for their pizza to arrive. We get a good glimpse of both characters’ personalities here–Donatello is looking to have a serious conversation with Mikey, who in turn can’t stop thinking about the money he’ll save since the pizza guy is late. I’m actually with Michelangelo on this one. Don’t talk to me about the uncertainty of the future when there’s pizza on the way. Also, why don’t pizza places offer this deal anymore? Figure that one out, Nietzsche.

Eggs in a Basket; V For Vendetta (2005): Pretty much all we know about V at this point is that he likes to put knives into people and blow up political administration buildings. So, it’s a nice contrast to see him grilling up a delicious-looking breakfast for Evey after a night of vigilantism. Seeing the burns on V’s hands during this scene is also the first glimpse we get at his violent backstory. It’s nice to see a well-rounded superhero; one that cooks as well as he trashes the minions of an oppressive government.

That Quicksilver Scene, X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014): The only thing I want to write here is that the X-Men Quicksilver is way cooler than the Avengers Quicksilver. No offense.

Randy’s Donuts, Iron Man 2 (2010): After achieving superhero status, everything is a spectacle. No longer do you eat your donuts over the dirty dishes in your sink like the rest of us (or maybe that’s just me). You now eat your donuts while sitting inside a donut. The scene is a cool nod to Randy’s Donuts, which is an iconic piece of L.A.’s culinary landscape, but it also provides a serious turning point for the film. Up until this point Tony Stark has been mopey and self-destructive, but it’s here at Randy’s that Nick Fury and Black Widow give him the kick in the ass that he needs to discover a new element and all that crap.

Another!; Thor (2011): It doesn’t matter who you are, you’ve always wanted to do this after drinking your morning cup of coffee.

Vegan Police; Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (2010): It turns out that all one really needs in order to defeat a powerful vegan bassist is some well placed half and half. It’s a tough call, but I think Todd Ingram was my favorite evil ex. Also, great cameoes by Tom Jane and Clifton Collins, Jr.

She’s About to Eat a Cat!, Hellboy 2: The Golden Army (2008): One thing I’ve always respected about Hellboy is that he has a soft spot for kitties. Here he doesn’t hesitate to blow his team’s cover so he can stop a pudgy demon in a baglady disguise from eating a cat.

Gut Bomb, The Dark Knight (2008): Okay, this doesn’t technically have to do with food because the Joker obviously stuck a bomb in this dude’s gut and sewed him back up again. But I can’t help but feel a little sympathy for this poor bastard. I don’t know how many times I’ve eaten way too many street tacos and then ended up on the floor, counting down the minutes until the inevitable explosion.

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That One Time That I Interviewed Katie Weinner From “Top Chef”

SLUG-Magazine-new-typewriterMy tenure as a staff writer for SLUG Magazine has given me all kinds of great opportunities to meet fascinating people.  Last week, I had the chance to interview Katie Weinner of SLC Pop about her time on Bravo’s Top Chef.

Despite having to wrap up a fly fishing trip early, she offered a pleasant conversation about the high-pressure environment that Top Chef creates for its contestants.

Check the link for the interview!

If you’re a local and don’t want to bother with preparing and cleaning up after a huge Thanksgiving feast, you can also check out my article about local restaurants who are open for this year’s celebratory gorge-fest.

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Local Eats: Mai Bun Mee

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Curry Noodle Bowl w/ Chili Lemongrass Pork

Mai Bun Mee
850 S. State St.
Salt Lake City, UT 84111
P: (801) 575-8888

I’m a staunch advocate of Oh Mai, Salt Lake’s finest purveyor of Vietnamese comfort food. My wife and I eat there at least once a week–though now that the weather is getting colder, I may need to gradually increase my pho consumption. When I heard that the success of Oh Mai’s two stellar locations had generated enough momentum to open a sister restaurant called Mai Bun Mee, it was a moral imperative to check the place out.

Those familiar with Oh Mai’s menu will recognize a similar culinary theme at Mai Bun Mee–the restaurant boasts a wide variety of bahn mi, traditional Vietnamese sandwiches on a French baguette, along with some rice and noodle bowls. Much like the trendier atmosphere of the restaurant, the menu appears to have been crafted with some more accessible options to diners who are unfamiliar to the world of Vietnamese sandwich-crafting. One thing that today’s conscious eater will appreciate is the wall adjacent to their menu which provides an exhaustive detailing of what menu items are gluten-free, vegan, and vegetarian–it’s nice to see an eating establishment offer a proactive approach to dietary needs instead of rolling their eyes when asked to be accommodating.

Mai Bun Mee’s sandwich menu is vast, and surprisingly varied. Sandwiches can be ordered with fish, chicken meatballs, beef, or with veggies. It’s the kind of menu that begs you to try everything on it at least once. For our inaugural journey, my wife ordered a sandwich called the Fisherman ($6.98), which is a seared tilapia sandwich topped with mango slaw, cucumber, and garlic aioli. The tilapia was juicy and fresh, but I found that the other elements of the sandwich didn’t really pop as much as I was hoping. Tilapia and mango slaw is a match made in heaven, but the flavor combo wasn’t quite there. I also preferred the baguette at Oh Mai, which is a bit crustier on the outside, whereas the baguette here lacked the crunchy bite that I have come to expect from a bahn mi.

I ordered the Curry Noodle Bowl with Chili Lemongrass Pork ($7.48), and got that sucker slathered in their Hot Red curry sauce. There was a slight mix-up with my order–these things happen at new restaurants, and it was cheerfully rectified by a manager, who brought my order herself. The Curry Noodle Bowl is a comfy mix of rice noodles, taro, julienned carrots, and bean sprouts and they do not skimp on the sauce. The inclusion of taro instead of potato was interesting–the texture was more smooth and yielding than the traditional root veggie. As it should be, the sauce was the shining moment of this dish. It was indeed hot, but not too hot so as to burn away that earthy, coconut-laced flavor of a good curry. Delicious as it was, the curry flavor overpowered any remnants of the pork’s chili lemongrass seasoning, but the meat was tender and plentiful–plus pork always goes well with curry.

Overall, Mai Bun Mee feels like a well-thought out concept. It has the trendy design and easy service that is present at chain restaurants like Zupa’s or Rumbi, but it offers a menu that most diners will find intriguing without feeling alienated–not to mention the fact that it’s locally owned and operated. It’s definitely worth a visit.

Mai Bun Mee on Urbanspoon

Mai Bun Mee Sandwich Shop

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PSN Roundup & Junk Food Review: SteamWorld Dig & The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth

It’s a new month, and with that new month comes two free games via PlayStation Plus. Since no video game is complete without some tasty snackfoods, here is all you need to know about November’s free games for PS4 along with a tasting menu of seasonal junk food.

SteamWorld

Watch out for them Shiners, Rusty.

 

SteamWorld Dig
Image&Form

Once the initial charm of SteamWorld Dig arrests your attention with it’s cleverly-animated robots and the dusty town of Tumbleton, it’s easy to be sucked in by hours of solid gameplay. Combining a dash of Metroid-vania level progression and a whole mess of valuables to dig up, this game hits all the right bases for a platformer. In addition to being disarmingly addictive, the game comes backed with a surprisingly eerie storyline that may or may not involve the human race’s inevitable self-destruction.

The game does a great job of adapting to the upgrades that you purchase. For example, when you get to the point that you’ve outfitted Rusty with hydraulic drills and jumping boots, the conservation of water becomes a new factor in how you play. In addition to the fact that you have to dig strategically in order to make the most of each tunnel run, the game presents some challenging moments as it progresses.

Though the trips back to town can be a bit frustrating as you tunnel your way into the deeper levels, there’s something satisfying about seeing your dollars add up, which can then be spent on nifty upgrades like a bigger backpack and teleportation devices.  Many games have offered this cyclical approach–you play the game to earn money, money upgrades your character so you can keep playing the game–but few of them have made it such an enjoyable adventure.

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Not a bad way to appreciate the finer things.

Junk Food Tasting Menu: Pumpkin Joe-Joe’s & Pumpkin Spice Milanos

As SteamWorld Dig is an impressive work of balance among several excellent gameplay elements, having a bag or box of the two best types of pumpkin sandwich cookies nearby is the best way to appreciate what the game represents.

The Trader Joe’s equivalent of Oreo’s, Joe-Joe’s are superior in nearly every way. Their filling is creamier, their cookie is more flavorful, and they’re slightly less-processed. Having tried both the Pumpkin Spice Oreo’s and Pumpkin Joe-Joe’s, I can safely assure you that these lovely little sandwich cookies are perfect companions to take with you while you figure out the mystery below Tumbleton. 

For those that need to remember the finer things in life while exploring what very well could be the last remnants of humanity, the Pepperidge Farm Pumpkin Milano is a more high-end sandwich cookie. They have everything a traditional Milano has–milk chocolate and an airy, crunchy cookie–but these come with an added layer of pumpkin icing, which is a great complement to the chocolate.  Munch on a few of these as you ruminate on what those emaciated creatures beneath Tumbleton sacrificed in their misguided quest for power.

Isaac

Why yes, that IS everything you were ever scared of.

The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth
Nicalis, Inc.

The original Binding of Isaac was my first foray into the now-trendy rogue-like genre–games that allow only one playthrough per life–and it’s the standard by which I measure all subsequent games in that genre. Stylistically, Isaac is a throwback to the original Legend of Zelda game on NES. The player navigates through different rooms filled with monsters, while finding treasure and powerups along the way. What makes Isaac fresh and inventive is it’s completely nutballs story. The titular character is a small boy who has escaped his religiously fanatical mother (who believes she has been commanded by God to kill her son) by hiding in the basement. Little does Isaac know that the basement is filled with horrifying mannikins and disfigured bosses with names like The Blighted Ovum and The Duke of Flies. Everything about this game is designed to prey upon our earliest childhood fears as we guide Isaac (did I mention that his primary weapon is his own tears?) through his nightmares and to an inevitable confrontation with his mother.

One of the things that sets Isaac apart from other rogue-likes is that your character does get tougher as you play, giving you a serious shot at beating it in a single playthrough. The powerups end up stacking to add up to a character that can tangle with the increased difficulty as the game progresses.

The Rebirth edition offers some new bells and whistles like a new soundtrack, a wider variety of powerups, more unlockable characters, and gigantic rooms that take twice as long to clear. Graphically, I was hoping for a smoother transition from the original PC version to the PS4, but something about the deliberately pixelated animation does manage to capture a part of my video game nostalgia–and pervert it with the game’s ineherent weirdness.

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Abba-Zaba, you’re my only friend.

Junk Food Tasting Menu: Snack-Sized Abba-Zaba & Candy Corn Gummies

The Binding of Isaac is an unholy union of childhood gaming and childhood night-terrors. As such, it only makes sense to snack on this pair of candies that I found as part of a post-Halloween sale at the grocery store (only a buck fifty for both bags!).  Abba-Zaba takes peanut butter and swirls it with the mysteriously textured white taffy that one might find in a Big Hunk.  Despite sounding gross on paper, the result is actually pretty damn tasty.  Going snack-sized is preferable to the full-sized Abba-Zaba, since the amount of chewing it takes to finish one of those puppies off usually keeps one busy for a good six hours.

Candy corn is one of the most polarizing Halloween treats around.  I’ve only talked to people who love it whole-heartedly or completely despise it.  Don’t even talk to them about candy pumpkins–I nearly lost an eye last time I made that mistake.  It’s also one of those candies that can’t be remade into something else.  Whatever the hell candy corn is, it will always be candy corn.

Or so I thought.

While Candy Corn Gummies–created by the ominously-named Foreign Candy Company–look like swollen versions of the traditional waxy candy, their flavor isn’t quite that of the original.  There’s a weird fruitiness present, and I can tell that they were trying to capture the candy corn flavor, but it just didn’t work out.  Regardless, this is something you eat because it’s weird as hell–which is the same reason you play a game like The Binding of Isaac.

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Katy Perry is a Hot Cheeto

I’ve never had strong feelings about Katy Perry one way or another.  She’s gorgeous, she’s got a few catchy tunes, and one time my brother-in-law rolled a gutterball because her video for “California Gurls” was being broadcast directly in front of us (he threw the ball at the exact moment that the video cut to Perry shooting whipped cream out of her boobs, which was a bit distracting).

Based on her Halloween costume this year, however, I think I might have to kick my respect for her up a few notches.  According to Time.com, Perry attended Kate Hudson’s annual Halloween party dressed as a flamin’ hot Cheeto.  Observe:

Chinchilla/Bauer-Griffin—GC Images / Getty Images

Chinchilla/Bauer-Griffin—GC Images / Getty Images

As you can plainly see, this costume is amazing.  Upon further research, I also stumbled upon this picture of Perry in a pizza onesie, and I think it’s safe to say that I have a new-found respect for the pop songstress:

via Splash News

via Splash News

And with that, may you all have a happy Halloween.

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Local Eats: Sushi Burrito on 8th

Behold the Typhoon!

Behold the Typhoon!

Sushi Burrito on 8th
180 E 800 S, Salt Lake City, UT 84111
P: 801-995-0909
Web:http://sushiburritoutah.com/

At first, throwing the words “sushi” and “burrito” together in the same sentence might seem like an exercise in absurdity. What would such a high-class culinary staple like sushi be doing in the same back alley as a gooey, overstuffed burrito? This was my perspective when I first heard of this little joint that has re-purposed the shack that used to be Guzzi’s Burgers. Just because I couldn’t mentally comprehend this juxtaposition, however, didn’t mean I wasn’t intrigued.

When I arrived with my posse, the place was packed. Diners who were eagerly awaiting their orders spilled out into the streets, and it soon became clear that I wasn’t the only one who wanted to see the marriage between Japanese fine dining and Latin-American street food.

Despite the high volume of customers, it didn’t take long to elbow-check our way to the cashier and place our orders. I went with the Typhoon ($9.99), which was stuffed with Albacore tuna, crab salad, cucumber, and avocado, and my wife ordered the Citrus ($8.99) which came with salmon, crab salad, and a slice of lemon.

After we pounced on a recently vacated table, I tried to mentally note when the people ahead of us in line got their orders. Based on the number of people ahead of us and the fact that this place is fairly new, I anticipated us getting our food sometime next week. Regardless of my pessimism, our food came quite promptly–the service was definitely working it.

Unwrapping my brand new sushi burrito was not unlike unwrapping a mystery gift at Christmas. I expected something vaguely burrito-shaped, but would that be the extent of its burrito heritage? Removing the wax paper, I discovered something genius about Sushi Burrito’s culinary concept. What stood before me, daring me to take my first bite, was a thickly-stuffed sushi roll that had simply not been cut into its characteristic discs. Rather than utilizing a tortilla to keep its innards nicely tucked inside, Sushi Burrito stuck to a sheet of nori–which, upon further contemplation, works exactly the same way.

My first bite hit me with everything that I love about sushi–fluffy sticky-rice, fresh, raw tuna, with that mayo-y goodness of the crab salad. The veggies were fresh and crisp, and the slice of avocado drove it home. As with other sushi restaurants, the burrito comes with slices of pickled ginger and wasabi. The ginger was easy to pick up and add to each bite, but the lack of utensils made wasabi application a dangerous process. I found that my wife made the better choice with the Citrus–that thin spiral of lemon really made the flavors of the salmon come to life.

There were some parts of the meal that I wish were a bit more burrito and less sushi, but they mainly had to do with the burrito’s construction. Where a traditional burrito uses the tortilla to completely envelop its gushy innards, the giant sushi roll leaves both ends open–which made the sushi burrito come apart fairly messily once I got to the end. The risk of filling eruption is occasionally increased by the chewiness of the nori–it takes a bit of strategic biting to make sure the fish, rice, and veggies don’t spill out of the opposite end.

All things considered, the world needs a place like Sushi Burrito. For too long, sushi has been associated with an air of douchebaggery; conjuring images of slick, young capitalists who use the odious term “let’s do sushi” when setting up their business lunches. What Sushi Burrito has done is taken the flavors and experience of eating sushi and given it a creative overhaul for those of us who just like how it tastes.

Sushi Burrito on Urbanspoon

Sushi Burrito

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Indie Jones: “Battle Chef Brigade” by Trinket Studios

BCB 1Though many epic culinary battles have taken place within the cutthroat arena of Kitchen Stadium, one can’t help but wonder how much more exciting Iron Chef America would be if dragons were somehow involved.  This is the concept behind Trinket Studios‘ upcoming release Battle Chef Brigade–all the pageantry and competitive spirit of Iron Chef, but with more fireballs and ogres.

The game puts players in control of a Battle Chef, one of five fearsome warriors who use magical powers and enchanted blades to slay fantastical creatures and use their raw materials to prepare dishes for a panel of judges.  Unlike other cooking-centric games, Battle Chef Brigade lets the player decide what he/she will make to best suit the judges’ palates.

BCB 2

Trinket Studios has more than doubled their Kickstarter goal, which means we can look for this title sometime in the next year or so.  To celebrate, here’s a supercut of Mark Dacascos doing what he does best:

 

 

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