Friday, September 23, 2022

Santo Cantina + Cocina

Atlanta is full of Mexican't dumps that targets the gringos' pedestrian and fragile palate... The roundeyes love them some LatinX white queso, pulverized guacamole, quesadilluhs, ground beef, fajitas, hard shell and flour tortilla tacos... Basically, nothing authentic or spicy. I'm not saying that shit is bad... It's like slutty Chino grub, we all know that garbage ain't real Chinese food but when you're drunk, hungover or high as a motherfucker, a General Tso's cheekan with thick cloying HFCS brown sauce with crappy fried rice and a fried cheekan wing on the side tastes like heaven. That's the same with Mexican't grub, it's slutty moistback comidas... And it has it place in society. Finding a decent semi-authentic Mexican joint intown is an adventure. 
I was riding around Avondale and missed my turn on North Clarendon Ave and I went past the Stratford Pub... I mean nobody ever goes east past the Stratford unless you made a mistake.. Lord knows I have made many wrong turns in my measly life, all of them mistakes and the big guy never throws me a bone. But this turned out to be a good mistake because I noticed a new-ish Mexi joint just a block down called Santo Cantina. I'm like sheeeeeit, what is this place? I need to investigate... It's a cute little place and y'all know that the smaller the dump, the better the food... Well, usually... Let's go take a first look... OK, first off, I must admit that the gringo at the table really really wanted the white queso so we got it and I shoulda took a picture of it but I didn't want to make fun of him because that would be mean... Because the Pouch is such a sweetheart... (cue vomit noise).

Birria Tacos (Jalisco), crispy tacos with spiced beef stew, served with Jalisco au jus. Ah fuck... When I saw this on the menu, it was a no-brainer. C'mon, man, how can you not get the most trendy taco in this one horse town... The birria "wet" taco has become legendary status the last couple years in da ATL. It comes with the standard accoutrements... Let's take a closer look at this Mexi moist meat flap...

Why do all tacos remind me of my ex's... That's because I had low standards... Did I say that out loud? Eh, fuck it, no one reads this garbage blog anyways, it's like talking to my wall nightly, no one will hear a word. But look at this specimen, it's actually quite lovely. Look at that cheese oozing out but yet firm and holding together. Dipped it in the "au jus" and took a bite... Not too shabby. The au jus wasn't all that flavorful but it did it's job. The birria taco was pretty good, the savory stewed shredded beef with the cheese and the solid corn tortilla held together well and took each bite like a champ without falling all apart. I don't know what's going on with that salsa verde thingy but I poured a little bit on it and it really didn't do anything to enhance the taste. This version is better than most found intown... I tried the one at Antiguo Lobo in Chamblee but it wasn't worthy of a solo review, meh.

Rice and Refried Beans. These two ubiquitous sides that come with every gringo combo meal are usually bland and flavorless, their sole purpose is to fill and expand in your pouch and give you a Mexi muffin top... Hmm, now I know why so many LatinaX's have a FUPA like this fat chode. Let's get back on track here, Pouch... I tell y'all what, these two side were really good, the rice was seasoned very well and the refried beans didn't taste like it came out of a lead lined can, even if it did. WTF is wrong with you, Pouch? You're gushing about fucking rice and beans... So? I have empathy for low rent filler.. 

Mole Ojo Rojo with chicken (breast or leg and thigh), sesame, onion, sour cream, grated fresh panela cheese, Mexican rice, refried beans. Holy mole, this was a pretty nice presentation. It's a nice change to see a Mexi joint that puts thought and care on plating their dishes in a visually appetizing way. Most places just slop it on the well worn plate, throw it in the oven for 5 minzies and send it out piping hot to kill any residual bacteria from last week's leftovers mixed in with the new batch. I know it's Mexi grub but it looks clean, fresh and vibrant. The gringo got this with.. What else? Breasts instead of the leg and thigh which we all know is way more flavorful... But I digress, roundeyes fucking love cheekan breasts. I had to have a taste of this... Even with the breasts, it was quite tender and the thick mole did a great job on enhancing the bland white meat. I'm going to order this next time with leg and thigh and I already know it will be 10 times better. 

Baja Fish Tacos, lettuce, tomato, habanero cream. Fish tacos are always hit or miss. Grilled fish tacos always comes out broken apart and pain to eat with everything falling out... So, fried has been my default ever since. I think they said it was Mahi-Mahi and they offer them in corn or flour tortilla, I asked for one of each because fatties like variety. They give you a decent amount of fish in each taco. But somehow the habanero cream only made it on one taco and the other was totally naked with a little monkey dish of some salsa-esque to put on it. I think the cook plating this was snorting lines on the line... I may need a bump, ese. I like the double ply of corn tortilla but their corn tortillas are pretty sturdy already. The single ply flour tortilla is standard issue. The fried fish was seasoned pretty well and it was crispy, the breading was not too thick which is always preferred. It's a very decent fish taco but I would try their other dishes before reordering these, again.

I like this place, it's a local mom & pop shop that seems like it's getting good support from the community. It's pricey than most Mexi joints but the quality is a lot better. If you want a cheap speedy Gonzalez combo, go to La Parilla, El Azteca, El Ponce, On the Border or the handful of other Mexican't joints littered across the Atlanta landscape. With the record high inflation, you may not be going every week but once a month is totally doable.

Pump pump... Ole!

31N S Avondale Plaza
Avondale Estates, GA 30002
https://santoatl.com/


**BONUS Footnote Review-

Antiguo Lobo- Birria Tacos. I wasn't in love with this place but the sloppy birria tacos were acceptable if you needed a quick gringo taco fix (the service sucks ass)... I came here after I drank myself silly at DOMA (Distillery of Modern Art) around the block. DOMA fucking ROCKS. Lobo fucking lazy.



Friday, September 16, 2022

Baby Al's Chicago Dog

I binged the entire season of The Bear in one night and I was jonesing for an Chi-talian beef and Chi-dog... There is just no good Chicago grub in this one horse town. I looked around online but there was nothing... Then I remembered there was a hole-in-the-wall dump in the woods of Lilburn called Baby Al's and they had Chi-town grub... It's a big gamble to drive to Lilburn for some Chicago street food but I couldn't just drink a whole bottle of Malort alone on an empty pouch and then cry myself to sleep afterwards... I may not wake up. Fuck it, let's burn some expensive fossil fuels and get some overpriced fraudy Chi-slop. I need to satisfy my curiosity and fill the abyss AKA the Pouch...

I love the simplicity of their menu... Less items usually means better quality. They can focus more on each item with care and do it right.

Why is there a Nashville Hot Chicken sando on the menu at a Chicago beef and dog joint? And why am I tempted to get it?

Italian Beef Sandwich, on Turano bread either wet or dry in the au jus with giardiniera peppers or sweet peppers. Did they say Turano bread? I just squirted a little in my underpants. Oh, fuck yes... Come to find out that Turano bakery has a location in Villa Rica, GA. Now, I had to have one, not that I wasn't gonna get a Ginzo beef sando anyways. So, I ordered a light dip so it wouldn't be all soggy and breaking apart. What da fuck is that creasture? It looked like elbow skin from a 80 year old hag with maggots festering between the flaps. Why is that roll so fleshy looking? Did they put SPF 100 on it? I don't think they finished baking that French Roll. Jesus, why do I always get fucked... Maybe because I'm obeast and people always look down on me... Fuck me, even Brendan Fraser laughs at me and he's the fucking Whale! 
Ok, back this specimen, it just doesn't look very appetizing does it? I asked for both giardiniera and sweet peppers and of course there was a upcharge. I also asked for a light dip but I think they dropped it in the jus bucket and try to fish it out with a dirty hippie sandal. I guess I'll have to treat it like when I hook up with a fat chick from Steak 'n Shake... Beauty is a light switch away... Have y'all even seen two cows bumping uglies in the light? It's just udderly revolting. Click. And I ate this in the dark and pretended that I was back at Al's #1 Italian Beef... But I could not get the image of that sloppy mons pubis out of my pea brain and my brain kept zooming in on that image with every sloppy bite. I had to stop eating it halfway through and the Pouch never quits halfway eating anything. But this did me in. I couldn't eat this anymore... I shoulda just stuck with the Nashville Hot Chicken sando instead at this Chicago joint...

Chicago dog, Vienna beef frank with mustard, relish, chopped onions, tomatoes, pickle spear, celery salt and sport peppers on a poppy seed bun. Just when I thought they couldn't fuck up any more than that disgusting Eyetalian beef sando, they go ahead and redeem themselves with this perfectly made Chi-dog ran through the garden... The snap of the casing on that Vienna frank hit the spot and everything else went down well. All the fillers were bright and vibrant and the poppy seed bun was spot-on unlike that nasty beef roll.

Yeah, I don't think I'm gonna come back to this joint, ever again... It's just too far to drive to be disappointed again. Now, I need to go back to Skip's in Avondale for another try, I haven't been back in many many moons but it's a shorter drive to be disappointed.

529 Indian Trail Lilburn Rd NW
Lilburn, GA 30047
http://www.babyalschicagodog.net/

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

La Mei Zi - Long Overdue Revisit

I still remember the days of yore when this location was called Chicken World... It was a deplorable LatinX-Wing joint in this one Bantha town. You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. I walked into that cantina once many many moons ago hoping for some dericious spicy Latin wings but the immediate stench made me throw up in my mouth that tasted like bad menudo... That was a first for the Iron Pouch. It was dark, musty, moldy and damp... I felt my midi-chlorians draining from my immense force and girth. Where the fuck is Yoda to lift me out of that swamp? I used what little force I had left and turned around and went out the door and swore never to come back... Until years later when that Mexican't dumpster fire finally closed up shop and the new tenants did a total transformation of the shithole into a bright and modern space serving Taiwanese vittles. All the dishes sampled were more than acceptable with some exceptional like the Chinese okra with crabmeat and roe... Then the VID hit for a couple of years and I haven't been back since until recently. So, did anything change for the worse or better or stayed the same? Well, let's go and see if the Pouch will throw up and shit its underpants or will it become an even fatter fuck from eating everything... One thing's for sure, the prices have all creeped up as with any resto across the lands but not as extreme as some dumps taking advantage of the pandemic and making bank on suckaz emotions playing the victim... I'm fat and unsightly but y'all don't see me crying woe is me...

Taiwanese Salt & Pepper Chicken with Basil. Still pretty damn good... The portion is still abundant and the fried basil are vibrant.

Braised Beef & Scallion with Hoisin Sauce in Roll. These beef rolls have always been a crowd pleaser... The roundeyes fucking love these things. Put in two orders if there's gwailos around.

Stewed Minced Pork with Dry Noodles. The Dan Dan Noodles have always been a smart move but recently they have been a let down... So, stick with the minced prok noodz... They are still good as ever. 

Eggplant in Garlic Sauce with Pork. Eggplant in garlic sauce always pairs up well with pork but chicken and beef works as well. The secret to this dish is the garlic sauce- savory and sweet at the same time.. Don't forget to put some chili oil in it for that extra kick in the nads.

Stewed Chinese Okra with Crabmeat & Roe. The availability of this amazing dish is always a crapshoot, sometimes its available and sometimes its not... But this corpulent slug was in the favor of the obeast gods today and this dish was available... This is easily one of the best dishes on Bufo Hwy but I have observed that the gringos don't fully understand what treasure they have in front of their snouts... Good! More fucking oriental okra and crabmeat and roe for this chunky Chino! Stick with your potstickers you porkers, the other white meat... 

Spicy Mapo Tofu with Pork. Every time I see this on the menu, I gotta order it... It's just in my DNA (donuts always) to respect my ancient paw-paws. Every thing about this classic dish is homey comfort food.. This will always be my go to fat girl's dish. It's savory, spicy and soft... Mix all that shit in a bowl of rice and I'll be falling asleep like a pig in shit... Sometimes literally.

Braised Fried Tofu with Broccoli. OK, no self-respecting lard ass slant would order something so low rent as this with broccoli. The crackers at the table didn't want something so ethnic... At a Chinese resto on Bufo Hwy... Imagine that. There's a Panda Expwess at the Atlanta Hartsfield Latoya Jackson Intergalactic Spaceport and Nail Emporium, grab some orange cheekan and fly your pale ass back to Ohio... But I digress. I was open minded and let them roundeyes order it anyways... But I did suggest the fried tofu vs the soft. It turns out the fried tofu in the savory brown sauce was better than expected and of course the whities gobbled up the broccoli.

Three Cups Chicken. Y'all knew this fat cheekan lipz had to get fwied cheekan... The classic 3 cup chicken... But the portion didn't seem like they used 3 cups. No matter, the chicken pieces were dericious and the gringos didn't eat as much of this dish so the puffy Pouch over indulged and was fully satisfied. So damn guud.

Yes, this joint is back and running at full speed. Git yo lardasses back to this place before the Pouch eats the entire inventory of Chino okra with crabmeat and roe... Fuck me, that dish makes me squirt every time I think about it.

Pump Pump...

SPLASH.

Monday, July 11, 2022

Cheekan Sando Wars Part Trois

Pouch, why are you still reporting on cheekan sandos? The war is over, bro... It's never over! Didn't you get the message on June 19, 2021? Sorry, I was hiding in the swamps of Texas until Colonel Sanders delivered the news to me... Along with a bucket of original. I don't care, this blog is called Fried Chicken Lips and I can post all the chicken sandos I want... Not that anyone is reading this ludicrous blog. If a tree falls in the forest, does it make a sound? That same concept works here as well... If the Pouch drops a deuce in the toilet, does it make a splash?  Oh, wait, I meant to say- If no one reads this blog, does the Pouch get skinnier? The answer to both is NO obviously, duh. Shit, if I fall in the forest, I ain't getting up... And my Life Alert doesn't have the range to access my Rascal scooter by remote. I'm not as powerful as Professor X to Jedi mind trick my wheels over sticks and stumps. But anyways... We are here to talk about fwied cheekan sandos today, as with any other day. Did I ever mentioned that I like fried chicken?

OK, I promise this will be my last chicken sando war blog post... This year. I can't promise anything for next year. C'mon, Pouch, let's get this shit over with, already...

HOW CRISPY EXPRESS.
The fried chicken experiment from the minds of the Ticonderoga Club crew. They do everything pretty well, so, I expect no less than perfection with their new cheekan joint...

Classic, Nuggies, Yucca Fries. We'll get to the Classic sando in a little bit... First, the Nuggies, they were dark meat and brined. The ultra light dusting of "breading" was nice because you can see the actual size of the chicken and not a pillow of breading like most other joints with a tiny morsel of meat inside. The Nuggies were a bit salty and chewy, may have been brined a little too long. The honey mustard nuggie sauce helped sweeten them a bit going down the pouch. They were decent and not really that crave-worthy but the use of dark meat still gets my respect. The Yucca fries were thick logs with a light crispy crust as well. They were pretty good but still a filler at the end of the day.  

Classic, fried thigh, herby spread, B&B pickles, crispy lettuce, good bun. Looks like a very respectable cheekan sando... Let's take a look at the innards.

Not too shabby... The bun looks great, the chicken thigh looks pretty hefty with a nice crust, priced right at $8 for the classic. Mostly everything on the menu is affordably priced. The crust was thin and crispy but like with the nuggies, the thigh meat was a bit salty and but not as chewy since it was a whole thigh. It's a tasty cheekan sando but not all that crave-worthy. If I was in the area, I would get it again but another one of their flavors like the LPW which sounds interesting in sando form.


JAVA SAGA.
This hidden Taiwanese coffee, tea and chicken joint was quite a surprise. This area off of 85N has a plethora of hidden eats but the locals seem to know all about it since they were all packed. Where there's fried chicken, the Pouch will be there. Taiwanese fried chicken has been all the rave the last few years but has the fad weaned?

Chick Bits, gluten free dark meat chicken nuggets. Everything in this box looked correct except the Smucker's breakfast syrup... I was like WTF, was this put in there by mistake? Then they said, make sure you dip the bits in the syrup for the ultimate umami experience... Who am I to say no to HFCS? It's the weirdest combo but it worked. The ultra sugary syrup made the bits pretty tasty but I was OK with it as is. The nuggets had the signature potato starch crust used in all Taiwanese popcorn chicken. These were very tasty and almost crave-worthy enough for a repeat visit. The fried basil was spot-on.

Basic Chick, sweet pickles & boomin' mango habanero sauce. Not a bad looking specimen at all.. Cheekan flaps flapping out of the sides. Good sign. Let's take a look under the hood...

The mango habanero sauce was a bit scant, but the crust looked pretty well seasoned. 

The crust had the signature potato starch as well... Why mess with a proven recipe? From this angle, this cheekan sando looked formidable. Let's take a look at the innards...

Very very respectable and girthy. This is a good looking sando. Took a bite... Damn. That is a really good cheekan sando. Thin crispy crunch on the first bite and the white meat was tender and juicy and full of flavor. You can only taste a hint of mango habanero sauce but it's so crave-worthy enough that it doesn't even matter. I would be back for this cheekan sando. Oh, and BTW- get the Tiger's Blood Milk Tea to waush it all down.


THREE BUDDIES. 
Even Indian bros on Buford Hwy are getting in on the cheekan sando wars... They might not know which war though... This joint serves pretty much an all American menu like burgers and wings and is located next to Food Terminal but if you blink you will miss it. Every time I drive by it there's barely any customers. I don't know how long they're gonna last but I better get in there and try their cheekan sando before they shut it all down. 

Southern Style Chicken Sando. The glossy bun looked great and I was a bit surprised by how well it was presented on a real plate. Let's take a look under the hood...

Wow, it's full of goodies underneath it like a real southern style chicken sandwich. I'm still impressed.

The innards looked even better. How can this be from an Indian joint? Took a bite... The creamy slaw with the crunch of the crust was a nice pairing. The slaw was a bit bland but the chicken juices made up for it. It was a tender chicken sando. It was a respectable attempt of the fried chicken sando. It was tasty but I don't know if I would come back for it again with so many other tempting cuisines within a stone's throw from this old Waffle House spot. 


SCOVILLE HOT CHICKEN.
This local chain from the Okiboru Tsukemen and Ramen crew have been reproducing faster than a rabbit in heat. They got 7 locations all over Atlanta and 1 in NYC with 3 more coming to Chamblee, Norcross and Peachtree City. Rapid expansions with resto groups in Atlanta have had a history of high failure rate. I've been to a couple of them and now, I'm trying the newer one in Decatur. I did not like the bait and switch scam at the original Sandy Springs one where they have a combo deal for $10 painted on the wall but when you went to order it on the screen, it was $12. I ain't falling for that scam, again, bro... I'm coming here strictly for this review to see if they have gotten better or worse with their rapid expansion.
 
Nashville Hot Chicken sandwich topped with coleslaw, Comeback sauce, and pickles. Hot Level. I have tried the Extra Hot which was a bit wet from the sauce and the Reaper which was a bit powdery from the Reaper rub, both were not as hot as I thought. Sometimes the regular hot level has more heat than the advertised spicier levels. This is not a bad looking chicken sando full of creamy goodies leaking out the sides. Mmm, Pouch, you sure have a way with words that makes a person salivate with anticipation.

This even surprised me... Look how thick that breastses is. It looks good and it checks off all the boxes for a classic cheekan sando but I wasn't feeling it after the 3rd date with this chick. It wasn't hot at all but it was totally edible. I was just kinda going through the motions bite after bite like I was in a trance, but it was merely to satisfy my hungry at the time. I don't think I will be going back for another at $10 a pop. I can get 2 1/2 Popeyes cheekan sandos for that amount and it doesn't make me cry myself to sleep afterwards.

Nashville Hot Chicken sandwich. Chill Level. Looks exactly the fucking same as the hot but with no seasoning whatsoever.

It's visually appealing but that's about it. It's pretty much a standard run of the mill chicken sando nowadays. I'm getting tired of looking at it and eating it as well. This schtick has gotten tiresome. Nothing crave-worthy about this anymore.


HOOTS RIGHTEOUS WINGS.
There must be a lot of sad and lonely mooks out there all cooped up in their single wide who had Hooters on their regular rotation since this whole COVID thing started... But have no fear, mossbacks, Hooters just launched their mini spinoff called Hoots Righteous Wings in da ATL for all of y'all's greasy feed needs. Who am I kidding? Let's face it, these lonely and obeast losers weren't going to Hooters for their award winning cuisine... This was their go-to joint where they could pretend to be on a date with a halfway decent looking broad in a skimpy outfit... And yet here I am. No wonder why I cry myself to sleep every night. 
I must say, Hooters, haven't exactly been attracting the highest caliber of talent these days... It's like half the skanks have KIDs and the other half have STDs... But both will tell you they are studying to be a nurse because they love helping people... To me, they're both extra baggage that I don't need in my life right now or ever... Because I see my excess baggage in the mirror every morning. And I wonder why I'm so fucking fat with eating food like this...     

Sweet Heat Chicken Sandwich, breaded chicken thigh topped with superfoods slaw, pickles, and heat-infused honey. Jesus, this looks like a vegan regurgitated their lunch and dinner at the same time... Let's clean this up and close the hood...

Ahh, that looks a lot better... Gotta admit the crust looks pretty damn crispy and tasty. It's a pretty hefty cheekan sando. The crust was a bit thicker but still had a nice crunch. There were no sweet nor heat detected but they are using thigh meat, so, respect. I wouldn't go out of my way for another but if I was near one by chance I may stop in for another... And get extra hot sauce to drown it in.

I also got some sides to go with my cheekan sando... Don't judge.

Original Breaded Wings 10 pcs. Reaper sauce, Hot Honey sauce.

Fried Pickles.

Kids Boneless Wings Meal, Meyer lemon seasoning, sweet potato waffle fries, everything bagel seasoning

3 Piece Tenders.


CUCKOO'S CAFE.
There are no shortage of Taiwanese tea and snack shops all around Atlanta. Seems like they are popping up a new one on a daily basis. Is this concept even sustainable with all the competition? Who knows, who cares... If this one bites the dust, there's another 50 around the corner. 
 
Cuckoo's Chicken Sandwich. This looked sad as fuck. This almost made Micky D's chicken sando look respectable... Almost. It was missing the pickled slaw... Consistency in most restos these days are so fucking bad that I don't even make a fuss anymore because they just don't give a fuck. The crust was nice and crispy but the chicken thigh was so under seasoned that the spicy orange jizzy sauce made no difference to it. That smashed up sesame bun looked like it came out of a thong while some heifer was twerking. What a fucking waste of time and money.

Taiwanese Chicken Nuggets. OK, these looked pretty good... Will these nugs redeem that sad sack of shit sando? I sure fucking hope so... Took a bite and not too shabby. It was crispy and juicy and seasoned decently... It coulda been a bit more spicier but it'll do. These nugs were 100 times better than the chix sando but not crave-worthy enough to go back for them... Ever. 

I also had a couple bubble teas and they were pretty average. Quickly still has the best Taiwanese nuggets but goto Tea Leaf for the bubble teas.


BLUE RIBBON GRILL.
I didn't even know this old local standby in Tucker had chicken skin in the game. Everybody and their gmilfs are getting into the fowl sando action. I like to come to this yokel joint when I feel depressed to people watch and to imbibe on their giant martini's. After watching the local slobs shovel the gruel into their toothless faceholes, I threw up a little bit in my mouth and then my cheekan sando came out. I had to wait a few minzies and downed 2 Manhattan martinis to regain my appetite... Ok, I lied, I never lost my appetite, I'm just an alchie. I can eat no matter what, I once ate a dirty water dog in front of a homeless creasture taking a muddy shit on St. Mark's Place, in front of the Dallas BBQ... I guess he found some bad brisket in the dumpster. Ok, enough talk about the NYC Brunswick stew... Let's take a look at the BRG chicken soldier in this fowl war...

Southern Chicken Sandwich. It's a plump looking chicken sando... Prolly because of the thick bun. The crust looked crispy and the breast flap looked pretty moist. I don't know if this could be considered a "Southern" chix sando because it looked like any old chicken sandwich from anywhere, USA... But it was quite tasty. A little squirt of hot sauce gave it the necessary kick it desperately required. But not a bad overall cheekan sando. Would I get another one? Probably not. Their chicken pot pie is just too good to pass up. 


Since, this posting, I have eaten another 3 cheekan sandos but I don't have the energy to add it to this post. I have gotten so fat after eating all these fwied yardbird sandos and my buxom fingers are too bloated and glistening like those dericious Japanese sausages you get at an Izakaya... If I type anymore my digits may explode like a juicy aribiki prok sausage. I'm starting to get kinda hungry staring at my plump piggies... It's just a vicious cycle with the bottomless chasm that is known as the Pouch.

Squirt.

Thursday, June 30, 2022

Peter Chang Richmond VA

What a shithole city Richmond is... Is everyone on drugs in this town? The streets are filthy and the sun seems to never shine at 37.5407° N, 77.4360° W which is basically the coordinates to a dumpster or an Airbnb for the homeless. I was passing through VA and remembered that the Houdini of chefs, Peter Chang, had a location here... And I had to stop in for a bite no matter how depressing this hellhole was. I hope this place is still in business... Maybe I'll even see the infamous Sichuan specialist himself... Yeah, right, keep dreaming, Pouch. I saw him once back in the old Tasty China many many moons ago. They don't call him the magic man for nothing... He's like Cal Naughton, Jr., now you see me, now you don't. He's more elusive than Michael Jackson. Oh, wait, he's dead.. Or is he? For all we know, Peter Chang may be partying with Elvis and Hitler in Brazil laughing about the good ol'days over an order of his prized dry-fried eggplant. The current rumor is that he is about to open up another resto called Chang Chang, his first in DC.
Since, I'm already here in the armpit of the Mason-Dixon line I might as well take my chances and see if I can score some dry-fried eggplant... Please please be open...

Don't make me break down these doors a la Popeyes...

Somebody loves themselves a little bit too much...

Dry Fried Eggplant, lightly battered egg plant sticks, deep fried and stir-fried with Szechuan peppercorn and chili, scallions and cilantro. Why is this served in a giant fucking clamshell from the 1970's? I didn't know eggplant came from the sea. What's really sad is that my parents had a shell like this in the bathroom and it had all sorts of soaps and mini bottles of shampoo collected from motels when we were on the lam back in the mid 1900's... Wait, maybe those were our poor people vacations, same difference. The dry fried eggplant here were different than the incredible ones I remembered at Tasty China. These didn't have the Sichuan seasoning on the eggplant fries. They just kinda toss the chili peppers, Sichuan peppercorns and cilantro, etc together with the deep fried eggplant sticks... Didn't seemed like they were wok tossed after the fry stage. But they were still pretty tasty. Not their best version but still very acceptable.

Szechuan Dan Dan Noodles with Beef. Once, again, not like the version I had at TC in the days of yore. But the presentation was acceptable. Mixed everything up and the flavors developed pretty quickly. I was hungry as fuck so this was probably better than it really was. But I'll take it.

Crispy Pork Belly, slightly battered pork belly, deep-fried and stir-fried with scallion, cilantro, dried chili pepper and Szechuan peppercorn. I don't remember this dish at TC but it's basically floured fat fried in fat... And it was fucking dericious. Ok, don't tell anyone but it was just fucking slices of bacon, battered and deep fried. Who doesn't love deep fried bacon... And to give it that spicy Sichuan spin to it makes it all the better. This was a really crave-worthy dish but I don't know if I would go back to this shithole town for it. 

This joint may have the Peter Chang's name on it but it doesn't fully have the Peter Chang magic unless the man himself is there behind the wok... It's like all smoke and mirror and each dish was just an image of the original... It may look like his food but tasted the opposite... Except the crispy pork belly, they were pretty amazing. 

2816 W Broad St A
Richmond, VA 23230
http://peterchangrestaurant.com/

Monday, June 27, 2022

Quick Bites- Fishmonger, JINYA Ramen Bar and Seaside Grille of Lilburn.

I know, I know... The Pouch has been radio silent for awhile and my one fan has been speculating that the new variant IBS-D-VID may have taken the Lord of the Obeast six feet under the toilet. They say fat people are not trustworthy but trust me, when I say this portly bastardo has been hard at work coming up with new beat-off material for all your food porn needs. I have been eating non-stop for the last few weeks coming up with an ultimate review that will be revealed later, once, the Great Pit of Pouchkoon has digested all the carbs... But in the meantime, here's a few bites around town to give y'all a quick reach around and pre-mature squirts...
 
Poncey Highland has been on a tear to get new tenants and unique concepts to bring more foot traffic around this walkable area. The biggest hype is probably 8Arm(RIP)/Octopus Bar's newest fish shack where everybody and their MILF's are creaming their underpants about their "to-die-for" blackened grouper sando... Is a fucking fish sandwich really the newest fad in this one horse landlocked town? I don't know but let's see what all the fuss is about... 

FISHMONGER.
I love the concept and the cozy space but c'mon, bro, this ain't no fish market... Almost everything on the limited seafood display is for their menu. No one is coming here to buy seafood to cook at home. I like the push cart outside but it's only function seems to be a counter to eat food on. How cool would it be if they had someone out there shucking oysters to order... Fatsos can dream can't they? 
 
Blackened Grouper Sandwich, Florida sauce, pickled peppers, herb salad, tomato, butter-toasted Martin's seeded bun, $19. For this price point, you better execute every goddamn fish sando perfectly... And of course, the big-boned people always get shafted... I wish I was shafted with a pickle but they never included one with my hotel priced fish sando. I knew what I was getting into but knowing and experiencing this spectacle were two totally different things. Is it a good grouper sando? Yes in a polite way. Did it make all my dreams come true? Hell No. Was it crave-worthy enough to get butt slammed, again? Fuck No. An average sized $20 fish sando that shoulda came with some Old Bay seasoned fries or even a cheap bag of generic chips did not give me the warm and fuzzies that commanded that price point. Go try it for yourself and decide if it's worth the price of admission more than one time.

Gulf Shrimp Roll, seared gulf shrimp, FM mayo, fried shallots, dill, lemon, new bae herbs, masago, butter-toasted Martin's seeded bun, $16. Compared to the grouper sando, this seemed to be a bargain... Especially, with the included pickle. Hmmm, this fat fuck may have spoke too soon. When I think of any roll that consists of seafood, I think of a top split roll that is buttered and toasted on each side and filled with a plethora of sweet seafood filling... Then this came out. I'm all for coming out with a taste of the rainbow but this may want to go back into the closet, the janitor's closet. It was so overdressed with a liquidity mayo which made it an absolute mess to eat without a knife and fork... People are getting killed these days for putting too much mayo in their subs. What's the FM stand for? Fuck Me sauce? Because after every bite you'll be saying fuck me with every new jizz stain on your brand new shirt. That janitor should be coming out of the closet saying "Supplies!", so, you can wipe up after yourself. The ingredient list sounds amazing on paper but the whole package didn't really live up to the price. If this was served inside a buttered toasted top split roll, it would have made all the difference.

This joint will be chalked up as an Once and Done and with my pouch and wallet a lot lighter... Especially, with their hidden "5% packaging fee" even if you eat there and the "8.9% tax" seemed a bit high even for Fulton county. Their POS system seemed to have the 20% tip quick button front and center to capture the easily flustered crowd. I just can't imagine nor accept paying over $50 for one acceptable fish sando and one average shrimp bun. 


JINYA RAMEN BAR.
After the lackluster visit to FM, I was still hangry but luckily, this unpolished turd waddled its way around the corner to the brand spanking new JINYA and it was still Happy Hour (3-5PM)... Thank baby Jesus, there may be a food god after all. The space looks small on the outside but the inside is quite spacious and modern. I just hate them screaming some fake Japanese greeting when you walk in like I'm about to order a fucking burrito.

JINYA Bun, slow braise pork chashu, cucumber, baby mixed greens and JINYA bun sauce and mayo, $3.50 HH. I don't know why I always get suckered into these pork buns at various Pan Asian joints... This was fine and at happy hour prices, I'm OK with it... I always promise myself never again but I usually forget after I walk out the door and then restate my promise after I eat the next pork bun... It's just a vicious cycle of gluttony.

Crispy Chicken, juicy fried chicken thigh, garlic pepper, mixed baby greens and JINYA ponzu sauce, $5 HH. This was an amazing deal for the portion during happy hour. It's basically a buck a piece of thigh. It was light, crispy and juicy... Nothing to complain about here. A sure hit on every visit. Have I ever mentioned that I like fwied cheekan? Burp.

Tonkotsu Black, pork broth, pork chashu, kikurage, green onion, nori dried seaweed, seasoned egg, $14.95. Now, this is a meal and under 15 bucks! The first thing I tasted was the broth, it was full of flavor and depth and it was quite satisfying. While it might not have the full sticky collagen intensity like at some local ramen shops, the tonkotsu broth at this chain was more than acceptable. The thin ramen noodles were toothy and cooked perfectly, I'm kinda impressed. But I also never had a bad experience on past visits at their other locations. The chashu was a bit too thin but still provided the necessary protein required for a proper tonk ramen. The soy egg was spot on with a golden liquid center that oozed like a freshly blended embryo. It's just a good bowl of tonkotsu ramen when you need a quick fix.

I got a full 3 course meal for under $24, almost as much as one lonely average fish sando with no pickle or chips. This joint will be on my regular rotation since they are intown, now.


SEASIDE GRILLE OF LILBURN.
Since, the seafood sandwich seed has now been planted in my pea brain... I had a craving for another grouper sando. I saw this joint on my way to another joint, so, I turned around. The joint's name said it was a seaside grille but I searched all around and couldn't find the sea any where near this place. The closest water source was a raw sewage drainage on the corner. The parking lot was empty and the inside didn't looked open. Things like locked doors doesn't deter the Pouch from getting its fried vittles... Like that time I broke the door off at a Popeyes on Buford Hwy when I was in a cheekan trance... Wait, did I say that out loud? Nevermind, let's see what kinda seafood this place has to offer.

Grouper Sandwich (fried), toasted potato bun, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles and sweet potato fries, $13. Wow, a grouper sando with fries and loose greens for $13? Sounds reasonable to me... But what is that festering foaming orange jizzlobbery? I think I'll stick with the tartar packets on the plate. It's not a bad looking fried fish. The crust looks crispy but not too thick. Let's put this thing together and take a bite... The bun is your generic supermarket hamburger bun, it was tossed on the flat top for a second to give it the thin char ring around the edge of the bun, no butter was detected. The piece of lettuce was from the bottom of the head, thick and hard... That's what she said. I stroked it a bit and it was pretty much inedible, removed it and replaced with that loose spinach. The tomato slice was decent quality. Squirted a little tartar from the packet and away we go... Crunch. Yeah, the first bite had a nice crunch. Chewed and chewed and chewed to find a taste of the grouper. Nada, nothing. It was bland, unseasoned and tasted like nothing. I don't think it was even grouper. It's no secret that low rent fish fry joints subbed certain premium fish that looks great printed on menus with garbage feeders like tilapia and the common sea bass and most people don't even know any better. I used my imagination that I was eating grouper for the rest of the sando and it was still a let down. The sweet potato fries were quite good... Yeah, I have resorted to praising the side more than the main event on the plate.  

Shrimp Po'Boy, toasted hoagie, lettuce, tomato, remoulade sauce, Aunt Rose's mac & cheese, $12. Why do I torture myself like this but I had to do it. Doesn't look half bad, huh? But let's see what kinda bread is under all that slop..

WTF?! A generic hot dog bun? Is anyone even trying in here? I have seen better looking bread in a NYC public school cafeteria. If it ain't from Leidenheimer, it ain't a po'boy. I'm gonna eat the mac first because it's made by Aunt Rose... Dang, that is a pretty good mac & cheese. Aunt Rose is on point with her mac. Maybe she should have made the po'boy. OK, let's not rag on it until the Pouch has tried it. Took a bite, besides the obvious shitty hot dog bun, the fried shrimp was quite tasty, had good crunch and the shrimp had a nice bite and it didn't taste like it had been sitting in the walk-in for months, uncovered. The tomato slices were too thick and it just kept sliding out with each bite. It's not an authentic po'boy by any means but do you think the creastures from the sewers of Lilburn really care? Seriously, what's with that damn bubbling rancid smegma sauce? Avoid at all costs, it's just nasty. 

Fried Oyster Basket (6), coleslaw, hushpuppies, fries, $10. Once, again... The Pouch just can't help itself. OK, I'll admit I wanted to get the oyster po'boy, too, but after seeing that hot dog bun on the shrimp po'boy, it was a hard pass. But that doesn't mean I was gonna pass up some tasty fried oysters. I just wanted a sample so I got the small basket. They are some small oysters but the flaky crust didn't look half bad. It had a nice crunch and the oysters were surprisingly tasty... It's always a shot in the dark when you order shellfish at places like this and since, they were pretty much empty on this weekend you really can't tell how long the raw shellfish has been sitting around. The hushpuppies were dry and hard as a Everlasting Gobstopper and the coleslaw tasted like it was marinated in a HVAC condensation drip pan. Just when you thought it couldn't get anymore comical, they ran out of tartar packets and replaced it with ketchup packets to squirt on the oysters or maybe it was for the old fries... Does it really matter now?

Parmesan Grits. I originally asked for the parmesan grits with the oysters but they gave me some old brown bag fries instead. But the server was nice enough to get me an order anyway... It was creamy and cheesy and addictive. This might have been the best dish on this visit along with Aunt Rose's mac. 

The big question- Would the Pouch make a revisit? One word- Flush.