Category Archives: Local Eats

$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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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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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

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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