Friday, January 24, 2020

Chef's Special Cocktail Bar

-Grubbing in Chicago  
New to the 'Scene'

One of the years most anticipated restaurant openings arrived this week. Chef's Special is the second project from the team behind Giant on Armitage. Chef's Special's location in an old Cuban restaurant on Western is right on the edge of Bucktown with Logan Square across the street. So even though it's in a weird space for restaurants it's going to attract lots of people from both 'hoods as well as everywhere else. The Giant team had been slowly rolling out Chef's Special menu items on the Giant menu which got lots of people excited. Not to mention the press (e.g Eater) has been all over it.

Newly Opened in Bucktown 

Chef's Special is a vision from a team of about six Giant alums including it's head chef Jason Vincent. They wanted to make a spot dedicated to the Chinese food they ate growing up in Cleveland and elsewhere in the Midwest. You know the old school American-Chinese type restaurants that are becoming more and more rare. The spots with a faintly damp smell from the old furniture and maybe a fish tank sometimes still in use. The places where the previous generation became familiar with Chinese food, or should I say Chinese food cooked for American palates. When you first walk in to Chef's Special it feels more like a hip Caribbean themed bar somewhere in Miami or Montreal. They decided to stay away from what some might see as cultural appropriation. Plus there is no Chinese grandma to sit in the corner and peel peapods while the grand kids play in and out of a dining booth.

a peek inside 

The center of the restaurant is a wrap around bar that they kept intact from the previous tenant. This is a cocktail bar after all and if you're curious about those I only tried the Chef's Special #1 and I liked it a whole lot. I'll return with booze being the main draw sometime soon. They will serve some food until 1am and they also have a nice happy hour where you can pair drinks with snacks. The menu is broken down into about 5 or 6 categories with maybe the same amount of dishes in each one. It's a nice sized menu for a spot like this. Then again there's plenty of repeats in the form of options like Kung Pao chicken, pork, and shrimp. Most of the American-Chinese classics are featured but I was disappointed they don't give a go to any of the many regional American-Chinese favorites. I'm still waiting for a hip spot like this to offer a St. Paul sandwich alongside an Old Fashioned etc.

Egg Rolls at Chef's Special 

I'd had the egg rolls at Giant before as they tested a few of the recipes there. I remember liking them plus I wanted to make sure we tried the Holy Trinity of egg rolls, fried rice, and potstickers on our first visit. I'm not positive but I think they may have missed the chance to mimic Chicago's most regional American-Chinese dish in an egg roll with peanut butter. I'm not sure if they use it in their egg rolls or not but I didn't detect any. What I did catch was nice fully intact shrimps with tons of good flavor paired with pork and cabbage. For those that prefer their egg rolls be on the greasy side these were definitely there. They held about as much liquid as a well made soup dumpling. I was very glad to see they come two per order ($7). Make sure to make use of their homemade condiment jars including a nose clearing hot mustard. We got the shrimp fried rice but they offer all the standards. I liked this dish too. Decent wok hei and lots of the same delicious shrimp they used in the egg rolls. My one complaint would be to lose the peas but that's me personally. They're too white American.

Shrimp Fried Rice 

What I liked about the menu was it's not trying to be anything other than American-Chinese food. It's very traditional in terms of those flavors they tried to mimic. If you're a false believer in MSG being a bad thing stay away bc they use it here and that's a good thing. There's none of that "clean" Chinese crap here. There's also no truffle oil on the potstickers or uni in the egg rolls. These are chef driven interpretations of the flavors pretty much everyone in the country knows. That's obvious in the potstickers which I wasn't expecting to be so traditional. The underside of the fried dumplings was really well browned. I would've preferred the sauce below them on the side but the classic pairing of pork and cabbage with what I read were housemade dumpling skins was on point. Impressive indeed.

Potstickers at Chef's Special Cocktail Bar 

Sticking with the American-Chinese classics I got us an order of sweet and sour pork. Our waiter Anthony was terrific and he sold me on this when he assured me they do it nice and crispy and not too sweet. I really like the actually traditional Cantonese version of this dish but this was made in the American way with equally sized yellow bell peppers, onion, and pineapple. The pork was indeed crispy and not all that sweet but still it's going to lean sweet as that's what the Americans wanted when this dish became popular in the States. I was a little worried because it came out Panda Express fast after we ordered it but it was nice and hot and came with some of the most fragrant white rice I've had in a long time. I love rice but it's usually an after thought as far as it's quality. This was different. Super fluffy and none too clumpy. I also appreciated the fact they refilled the bowl.

Sweet and Sour Pork 

The one part of the menu that will allow the kitchen team to showcase some of their own recipes is titled "Chef's Specials". There were a few dishes that caught my eye such as stir fried pork belly and clams or oxtail and scallop chow fun. There's also some Sichuan favorites scattered throughout the menu including these Dan Dan Noodles from the chefs specials. This dish is basically made a million ways in not just the States but China too. This version skewed more towards the traditional numbing Sichuan flavors than many others around town. It had very good heat due to lots of peppercorns combined with chewy noodles, ground pork, peanuts and chili oil. At $10 it was a pretty good deal too. I would be very happy with all the food if it came from an American-Chinese type spot. That said the bill will be bigger than your average Chinese takeout and the portions wont be quite as large. Still though all this plus two cocktails was $75 without tip. Plus we had leftover noodles. Thumbs up.

Dan Dan Noodles at Chef's Special Cocktail Bar

Chef's Special Cocktail Bar
2165 N Western Ave
Chicago, IL 60647
(773) 666-5143
Website

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Mom & Dad's Deli

-Grubbing in Chicago  
Sub Sandwiches in Clearing

While no restaurant is unknown in the era of the internet, some places remain relatively unknown. One such spot in Chicago is Mom & Dad's Deli out by Midway airport. Ok it's on the Southside so you figure lots of people wouldn't have a clue it existed but if you live or work out near Midway you most likely know Mom and Dad. They're the older Korean couple behind this classic sandwich shop.

Locals Favorite in Clearing 

Chicagoan's old enough to remember the 'Streets and San Mans' guide to food dives in Chicago will appreciate a place like this. That's bc the majority of their clientele seems to be the Streets and San man type. Whether you work for the city or at the airport or you just live down the block this is your spot. It's a time honored deli ran by two engaging owners. Sandwiches are made to order with items like roast beef made in-house. The homemade soups are popular too. Personally I'll judge a sub sandwich shop in Chicago by their Italian. Mom and Dad make a fine version that includes sliced pickles which I'm not opposed to. Judging by the care put into the Italian which was put together perfectly I'm guessing any sandwich they make will hit the spot if that's what you like. I'd say we need more Mom & Dad's Deli's but then it wouldn't be such a gem of a spot. The opposite of a Subway.

Italian Sub at Mom & Dad's Deli 

Mom & Dad's Deli
6345 S Central Ave
Chicago, IL 60638
(773) 767-3354

Monday, January 20, 2020

Menya Goku

-Grubbing in Chicago  
Spicy Ramen in Ravenswood

Chicago's ramen boom took a bit of a break during the first half of 2019. Then it came roaring back toward the back end of the year. There's been a handful of ramen shops to open in the Chicagoland area the last four months or so. As per usual most of them feature tonkotsu though one spot in particular stands out when browsing through them all. Menya Goku opened right at the start of the new year. This after a soft opening at the end of December. It's location is on Montrose across the street from Welles Park two doors down from Taqueria El Asadero. We visited on opening night.

 Newly Opened in the Ravenswood area 

Menya Goku is the latest project from the Wasabi Ramen team. Aside from their original Logan Square location they also run Ramen Takeya in Fulton Market. At Takeya they specialize in chicken paitan ramen instead of the pork broth tonkotsu that dominates the American ramen scene. Goku is offering two different bowls neither of which are Tonkotsu ramen. They're serving a shoyu ramen and also a Tantanmen. More on those in a minute. The menu is small and the space is tight too. There was a small line of people waiting to get in on opening night and I've driven by a couple times since then and seen it full. No to-go orders as far as ramen as the neighborhood is coming to learn. They do however have a small list of izakaya type appetizers including a plate of Nagoya Pirikara wings. Fried wings are big in the Japanese city of Nagoya and these are made in the popular style there.

  Nagoya Pirikara Chicken Wings 

The wings were good but they're not why we showed up opening night. Menya Goku has just two options of ramen on the menu and one of them is a spicy Tantanmen style. I'd heard the shoyu (soy sauce) is really good too but the tantanmen was what really caught my eye. Tan Tan is the Japanese take on Sichuan style Dan Dan noodles. It's tough to pick one but a good bowl of Dan Dan is hard to top as far as my favorite Asian noodle dish goes. I also like ramen and so Tantanmen is appealing to me. I tried the Hiroshima style brothless version of Dan Dan while in Osaka and didn't love them as much as I thought I would. So while a big bowl of broth isn't typical in a bowl dan dan noodles the heat in Tantanmen is. That comes from the Sichuan peppercorns that leave your mouth feeling a bit numb. Manya Goku seems to use quite a few in their pork based broth served with ramen noodles and ground pork with bok choy, green onion, bamboo, sesame paste. Ok so this is a pork broth based ramen but it's not your typical bowl of tonkotsu. In fact it's my new favorite ramen in the city.

Tan Tan Men at Menya Goku 

Menya Goku
2207 W Montrose Ave
Chicago, IL 60618
No Phone Number Listed

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Especialidad de la Casa Pt. 9

-Eating like a Mayan King in the Windy City

It's time for another of 'Specialty of the House'. The ongoing series where house special dishes at Mexican restaurants are featured. Today's five is one of the best handfuls yet. It's a nice mix of old and new as a few of these spots have been around for a little while and a couple of them are very new.
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 Antojitos Pozoleria Martha

Little Village

This spot must've opened in the last year or so. The space used to be a occupied by a birriera specialist. Now it's a spot where you can get red, green, or white pozole with either chicken or pork. You don't have to wait for the weekend either as they serve their house specialty seven days a week. I recently tried the red with pork which were little costillas (ribs) bone-in and all. I liked that touch especially since the meat fell right off the bones. This delicious bowl was exactly what I was hoping for. They have a large menu with plenty of other options. A couple of young locals were eating stacked pancakes. Also worth mentioning is their terrific gratis red molcajete salsa served warm.

Red Pork Pozole at Antojitos Pozole Martha 
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 Kiki D's

New City

You may have mistaken this unassuming spot as a factory building of some sorts. Kiki D's sits on Ashland surrounded by factories on one side and the Swap-O-Rama flea market across the street. Once you realize it's a restaurant it seems as though it may be a BBQ spot as they advertise ribs, wings and even go as far as saying they're a BBQ house. That said it seems like most families are here on the weekend for their carnitas and the wkd special chile rellenos. Both are popular options before or after a day of browsing the flea market for a bargain. Though it's hard to beat the deals at Kiki D's. I liked the light batter on the chile relleno and the whole beans / rice served on the side.

Chile Relleno Plate Special at Kiki D's 
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 Tacos & Salsas

Marquette Park

One of the city’s best taco trucks has gone full brick and mortar. You can now find Tacos & Salsas full time on 63rd street west of Kedzie. Glad to see they set up a DIY spot for their excellent salsa bar. Cochinita Pibil and Suadero tacos surrounded by selections from said salsa bar seen below. 

Tacos and Salsas at Tacos & Salsas 
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Restaurant Y Tamaleria La Bendicion

Cragin

It’s possible the best Mexican tamales in Chicago are made at this Salvadoran owned restaurant on Cicero. But don’t take my word for it. Consider the fact they open at 5a and usually sell out by early afternoon seven days a week. They’re best if you get there early so they’re super fresh. So slick and full of masa flavor. Plus the fillings are always moist and full of pork or chicken. They make the traditional Mexican style as well as Oaxacan tamales. I like their traditional recipe. I eat these a few times a month since first trying them this past summer. The Papusas are also close to perfect.

Papusas and Tamales at La Bendicion
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 Tacos El Tio

West Humboldt Park

Birria de Res is the hottest thing going out in LA. It hasn’t caught on here in the same way but if you’ve been following me on Instagram (@chibbqking) you know I’m a big, big fan of this weekend only version served at Tacos el Tio on Chicago’s westside. Known for their tacos al pastor I first noticed a bunch of people sipping a soup with a deep red hue a few years ago. Eventually I asked and was given some consommé con carne as they call it. I was served a steaming hot bowl of shredded beef in spicy broth and I've been hooked ever since. I come here anywhere from 3-5 times a month. I suggest mixing in some of my favorite salsa in the city along with some lime juice. The salsa is a spicy avocado blend that goes great on anything. They sell it too so I buy some anytime I'm riding by.

Consommé con carne at Tacos el Tio (Available Sat/Sun only)
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Previous Posts from this Series 

Monday, January 13, 2020

Tostini

-Grubbing in Chicago  
Turkish and Polish Rogers Park

One of last years biggest trends in Chicago restaurant openings was Turkish food. One spot that snuck in last minute was Tostini. Located on a rather quiet block in Rogers Park is this new Turkish/Polish hybrid sandwich shop. I stopped in mid-December and was greeted by a friendly lady working the register and the food. She's the Polish part of the restaurant and so are her homemade soups. The Turkish part is her partner and also the classic Turkish breakfast dishes they offer.

Newly Opened in Rogers Park 

Aside from classic polish soups and traditional Turkish breakfast they also offer what they call Tostini sandwiches. These are where the fusion of Polish and Turkish flavors take place. Particularly in the Kofte and Potato Tostini. Kofte are Turkish meatballs made of beef that typically come more flattened than the traditional Italian meatball. They also add cheese before it's all loaded into a sliced Middle Eastern flatbread and pressed. After it's heated through and toasted they add cabbage salad and a sauce similar to ketchup/mayo. It's a unique sandwich and a tasty one at that. I'm not sure if these are traditional anywhere within Turkey or they're just a creation of the couple behind Tostini. The other interesting tidbit I got from their menu is a complete Turkish breakfast they do for around $15 per person with a day's heads up given. Smaller breakfast plates like sujuk and eggs are available all day with no notice needed. They also sell gelato and baked pastries. Thumbs up for the tomato soup.

Kofte and Potato Tostini 

Tostini
1622 W Morse Ave
Chicago, IL 60626
tostini@yahoo.com

Friday, January 10, 2020

The Churro Waffle

-Grubbing in Chicago  
Mexican-American Diner Food in Irving Park

I actually ate the food in today's post a while ago. We checked out the Churro Waffle back in October of 2018. It was relatively new back then and they seemed to be doing well judging by a decent wait time on our visit. Then they had a fire. A really bad one that prevented them from reopening up until just a month or two ago. I wasn't sure they would ever make it back as it took more than a year to clean it all up and open again. So I'm happy to report this family owned Mexican cafe is back at it.

Locals Favorite in Irving Park

The Churro Waffle sits in a strip mall on Irving Park not far from Horner Park. That's where we went while waiting for a table back in the Fall of 2018. This place got popular fast so it kind of set them off track as far as being able to handle the crowd and all that. Though from what I've heard they used that time as a learning experience and things are now running smoothly on the regular. The Churro Waffle boasts a smallish menu by diner standards. But they still have most all the classics as far as American diner food goes. They also have a few Mexican favorites such as chilaquiles, skirt steak and eggs, and a breakfast burrito. The chilaquiles are really well done. They offer them green or red with your choice of meat including carne asada or carnitas. My wife is more of a chilaquiles fan than I am though we both agreed this is one of our favorite versions in town. The chips stayed crisp.

Carnitas Chilaquiles at The Churro Waffle

I couldn't visit the Churro Waffle and not try their namesake churro waffle. I figured if they're going to put it front and center they must be pretty confident in it's deliciousness. Usually I'm more of a savory person when it comes to breakfast preferences but a churro waffle sounded like something I would enjoy. I did. They take churro mix and press it into waffle form. Cinnamon, sugar, caramel sauce, sea salt caramel ice cream round it all out. I'm very happy they're back bc I wanted this dish multiple times after they had to close down. Open for both breakfast and lunch from 7a to 3p daily.

Churro Waffle at The Churro Waffle 

The Churro Waffle
2845 W Irving Park Rd
Chicago, IL 60618
(773) 942-7757
Website

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

CJ's Chicken

-Grubbing in Chicago  
Fried Chicken on Western 

I had plans to try CJ's Chicken I just wasn't in a rush. Then my friend texted me how good it was and told me I have to stop by next time I was near there. Considering I live right off Western and use it over the highway to go south I'm near CJ's regularly. It sits on Western at Jackson in the old Felony Frank's space. The building has hosted a couple other tenants since the closing of Felony Franks but they didn't last long. They were your typical South / West side fast food shacks. But CJ's is different.

Newly Opened in Tri-Taylor area

Fried Chicken might not be unique to the area but you can tell CJ's goes that extra step to stand out. When you see the prices on their menu you may feel guilty you're getting food this good for so cheap. The chicken is fried fresh to order so best to call it in as it's a mostly takeout biz. They season the fries with a delicious rub that makes them that much better. Little things like pickles and a full pickled jalapeno included with your fried chicken stand out. The chicken has that crunch that lots of time Harold's does not. It's a fact that most fried chicken is good but it's also true that some of it is better than others and CJ's is the best in the area by far. My two piece wings with seasoned fries and both hot and mild sauce on the side pictured below was a steal of a meal at under $5. I'll be back.

Two Piece Wing at CJ's Fried Chicken 

CJ's Chicken
229 S Western Ave
Chicago, IL 60612
(773) 219-0606

Monday, January 6, 2020

Lao Peng You

-Grubbing in Chicago
Noodles and Dumplings in Ukrainian Village 

Chicago is finally starting to see the next wave of Asian restaurants that will shape the city. Most of these spots are being opened by the children of immigrants many of whom grew up in their parents and grandparents kitchens both public and private. This is reflective of both NYC and LA some five to ten years ago. The sky is the limit as far as what the city and it's hungry diners will embrace. These openings tend to attract people from all over with a special knack for social media that their parents didn't have access to. So it's not surprising to find a place like Lao Peng You in Ukrainian Village.

Newly Opened in Ukrainian Village

Lao Peng You means "old friend" and you can say that the food being served here is an old friend of the two brothers who run the place. They're making the recipes their grandma made for them. Both noodles and dumplings are the focus of a small but well curated menu. The dough for both noodles and dumplings is made fresh daily. The brothers learned this from their grandma and are combining that knowledge with what they learned from working in different Chicago kitchens this last decade. I visited opening week so there were a few kinks being worked out but none of them need to be mentioned bc they've had plenty of time to get everything straight. The restaurant which sits across the street from Mariano's on Chicago avenue is small. So you may find yourself waiting for a table especially if there's more than two of you. There's only two tables for groups larger than three.

Beef and Green Onion Dumplings in Spicy Sour Soup at Lao Peng You

I'm happy to report the dumplings are very good. I really enjoyed them anyway. Maybe partly bc it's just nice being able to get handmade dumplings this far from the suburbs and or Chinatown. The brothers didn't want to open around Chinatown for fear of stepping on what others are already doing. But the truth is Chicago sorely lacks dumpling specialists and places like NYC prove you can never have enough dumpling options. I'm a big fan of beef dumplings when done right and I think they nailed them here. They had just the right amount of green onion which goes great with beef and the wrappers were really smooth and just right in terms of thickness. The soup itself was a nice compliment to the dumplings and when slurped together they were basically soup dumplings.

Xi'an Bing (lamb cumin bread)

We also tried an order of the cumin lamb bread which they call Xi'an Bing. The menu here leans toward Northern Chinese flavors but this dish has roots in Xi'an. Lao Peng You's lamb and bread baked snack was a little different from the "burgers" served at other Xi'an specialty spots in that the lamb was cooked into the bread. It wasn't a pocket per se. Interesting. I had high hopes for the beef noodle soup and they weren't quite reached. Again I'm not complaining in that where else can you get beef noodle soup made with hand stretched noodles on the Northside? My biggest complaint was there just wasn't much beef. What was there was nice and tender however. The house noodles lost some of their chew over time as they always do. A little deeper beef flavor from the broth was needed. Basically what I'm saying is I liked the dumplings more than the noodles. That said I will be back for both of them at some point. Sometimes you just don't want to schlep 30 mins to Chinatown.

Beef Noodle Soup at Lao Peng You

Lao Peng You
2020 W Chicago Ave
Chicago, IL 60622
(872) 206-8624
Website

Friday, December 27, 2019

The Best of 2019

- Memorable Bites from the past Calendar Year

This year was without a doubt the best of my life as far as food. As far as everything else probably not so much but at least I still had a ton of joy from all the wonderful food. Haha. I cant help but wonder if this is my absolute peak for eating out goes. If I never win the MVP award this is the year I had the best chance. Where else are you going to find a 'Best of 2019' food list as diverse as this? I promise there's no other list across this fair internet that includes Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Filipino, Vietnamese, Australian, Mexican, Portuguese, Brazilian, Sri Lankan, Syrian, Trinidadian, and more. Find me a list with regional dishes from Detroit, Osaka, Nayarit, and Guam. Not going to happen.

 Pescado Zarendeado from El Farallon De Tepic in Guadalajara (Top L) 
Chicken Kelaguen from Chochu Local in Portland (Top R)
Okonomiyaki from Fukutaro in Osaka (Bottom L)
Coney Dog from Lola's Coney Island in Chicago (Bottom R)

I should just retire from this stupid food blogging shit right damn now. I wont bc I already have tons of content for 2020. Lets just hope some of it reaches beyond this site. Now for the details and how this list was comprised. In previous years I would only choose one thing from one trip and that would be especially impossible this year. So last year I started breaking down the categories and this year I added any and everything I thought was awesome to them. However I didn't want to be repetitive so in some cases I didn't name the best bites from the best meals if that makes any sense. For instance although I have a best tacos category and I mostly ate tacos at a memorable lunch at Revolver Taco Lounge in Dallas I listed them in best meals. Same goes for my dinner at Jeong in Chicago. More than one of the dishes they served could've been featured in my Best of Chicagoland list but the meal itself was worthy of a complete shoutout. The 'Best Meals' category means everything we ate at that place was great. If anyone asked me where to eat in (     ) I'd recommend those spots in a heartbeat.

Tacos from Revolver Taco Lounge in Dallas (Top L)
Tteokbokki from Jeong in Chicago (Top R)
Bologna Sandwich from G&R Tavern in Waldo, OH (Bottom L)
Arepa Con Huevo from Sierva Maria in Cartagena (Bottom R)
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Best of Chicagoland

Roujiamo at Shan Shaan Taste 

 Korean Lollipop Wings at Landbirds 

 Hot Dog Skewers at Gao's Kabob

Shrimp & Grits at Luella's Gospel Bird  

Creamed Eggs over Toast at All Together Now
 
Australian Style Meat Pie at Barangaroos

Carnitas Plate at Carnitas Uruapan 


Cabbage Rolls at Andy & Sophie's

Coney Dog at Lola's Coney Island

Manchurian Potatoes at Superkhana International

Smoked Pastrami at Chicago Culinary Kitchen
 
 Mongolian Beef Fried Bao at Mean Bao 

Pozole at Peke's Pozole 

 Christmas Picadita at El Sabor Poblano 

Falafel at Galit


Manchurian Potatoes at Superkhana International  
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Best of Beyond Chicagoland 


Butterbean Soup at Taylor's Mexican Chili Parlor (Carlinville, IL)

Brisket at Cattleack Barbeque (Dallas)

Roasted Goat at Birrieria El Chololo (Guadalajara)

Friday Lake Perch at Wegner's St. Martin's Inn (Franklin, WI)

Dungeness Crab Toast at Jacqueline (Portland, OR)

Kor Muu (Kurobuta Pork Jowl) at Paadee (Portland, OR)

Pindaettok Platter at Cameo Pancake and Steak (Portland, OR) 

Chicken Kelaguen at Chochu Local (Portland, OR) 

Smoked Pork Chop at The Red Onion (Equality, IL) 

Grilled Sardine Nigiri at Taberna Do Mar (Lisbon)

Acarajé at Acarajé da Carol (Lisbon) 

Charcoal Ribs at Ze Dos Cornos (Lisbon)

Turbot at Salta O Muro (Matosinhos)

Sardines and Tomato Rice at O Buraco (Porto)

Kottu Roti at Saffron Spice Kitchen (Toronto) 

Goat Roti at Danforth Roti House (Toronto) 

Fire Grilled Pork Jowl at Pinky's Ca Phe (Toronto) 

Dry Chili Chicken at Yueh Tung (Toronto)

Bánh Hỏi Thịt Nướng at Hương Bình Restaurant (Seattle) 

Char Siu Plate at HK BBQ Master (Vancouver) 

Spicy Stir Fried Clams at The Fish Man (Vancouver)

Arepa Con Huevo at Sierva Maria (Cartagena)

Chorizo Vulcan at Tacos Los Poblanos #1 Estilo Tijuana (Los Angeles)

Pescado Zarandeado at Coni Seafood (Los Angeles)

Okonomiyaki at Fukutaro (Osaka)

Conger Eel Tempura at Momose (Tokyo)

Lengua Omurice at Chamorro (Tokyo)

Oyakodon at Marukatsu (Tokyo)


Dry Chili Chicken at Yueh Tung (Toronto)
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Best Noodles, Pasta, and Dumplings


 Biang Biang Noodles at Morefan (Plano, TX)

Stir Fried Handcut Noodles at Hakka Express (Plano, TX)

Beef Noodle Soup at Stretch the Noodle (Portland, OR)

Agnolotti at Ava Gene's (Portland, OR)

Momo Dumplings at Vajra (Chicago)

 Chiusoni at Tortello (Chicago)

 Manti Dumplings at Cira (Chicago)

Siu Mai at D Cuisine (Chicago)

Sheng Jian Bao at Sang Ji Fried Bao (Toronto)

Beef Momo Dumplings at Loga's Corner (Toronto) 

Tibetan Jhol Momo at Momo Ghar Ohio (Columbus, OH)

Chor Muang at Hom Mali Thai (Chicago)

Torchio Pasta at Torchio Pasta Bar (Chicago)

Duck Soba (and tempura) at Kamonegi (Seattle)

Hu Tieu Bo Kho at Cafe Huong Que (Seattle)

Pork / Shrimp Dim Sum Dumplings at Golden Paramount (Vancouver) 

Sheng Jian Bao at Mama's Dumplings & Coffee (Vancouver)

Spicy Chile Oil Wonton at Chao Shou Wang (Vancouver)

Beef Paomo Soup at Xi'an Dynasty Cuisine (Chicago)

Chicken Noodle Soup with Dumplings at Myung Dong Kyoja (Los Angeles)

Kuy Tiev at Phnom Penh Noodle Shack (Long Beach, CA)

Pork Potstickers at One One Dumpling (San Gabriel, CA)

Spicy Oil Knifecut Noodles at Mandarin Deli (Northridge, CA)

Gyoza at Tenpei (Osaka)

Niku Udon at Chitose Udon (Osaka) 

Special Ramen at Ginza Ramen aka Mugi to Olive (Tokyo)

Yaki Gyoza at Yasubei of Ebisu (Tokyo)

Chikuwa + Karaage Udon at Oniyanma Shimbashi (Tokyo)

 Foie Gras Mazemen at Chuuka Soba Manchiken (Tokyo) 

Wontonmen at Yakumo (Tokyo)

Italian Style Gyoza at Kobe Gyoza (Tokyo)


Sheng Jian Bao from Mama's Dumpling's in Richmond BC
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Best Tacos


 Chorizo with Grilled Cheese + Shishito Peppers at Resident Taqueria (Dallas)

Trompo Tacos at Trompo (Dallas)

Cheeseburger Taco at Arigato Market (Chicago)

Tacos Dorados Bañados at Tacos Charlie (Guadalajara) 

Pork and Beans at Alcalde (Guadalajara)  

Bone Marrow Taco at Taco Mando (Guadalajara) 
 
Tacos de Tripa at Tripitas Don Ramon (Guadalajara)

Steamed Tacos at Tacos Santo Goyote (Guadalajara)

Tacos De Canasta at Tacos de Canasta Don Rossy (Chicago)

Tacos al Pastor at Lucido's Tacos (Chicago)

Tacos al Pastor at Los Guachos (Columbus, OH)

Tacos de Carne Asada at Carniceria Maribel (Chicago)

Tacos Bañados at Del Pueblo Restaurant (Cicero, IL)

Lengua Taco at Barbaro Taqueria (Chicago)

Spider Taco at L.A Birria (Los Angeles) 

Carnitas Mixtas at Carnitas Momo (Los Angeles)

Cochinita Pibil Tacos at Chichen Itza (Los Angeles)

Tacos al Pastor at Tacos Los Guichos (Los Angeles)

Taco Árabe at Los Originales Tacos Árabes de Puebla (Los Angeles) 


Spider Taco from L.A Birria in Los Angeles
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Best Burgers


Patty Melt at Fred's Place (Elmhurst, IL)

Double Cheeseburger at Kewpee Lunch (Lima, OH)

Sliders at Crabill's Hamburgers (Urbana, OH)

Double Cheeseburger at K's Hamburgers (Troy, OH)

 Pina Burger at Charly's (Chicago)

Cheeseburger at The Brick (Jonesville, IN)

Cheeseburger at Ritzy's (Columbus, OH)

Double Cheeseburger at The Stop Along (Chicago)

Cheeseburger at Chuck's Place (Salem, IL)

Cheeseburger at JC's Junction Corner (Davis Junction, IL)

Cheeseburger at Moonshine Grill (Moonshine, IL)

Hickory burger at The Apple Pan (Los Angeles)  

Japanese Hamburg at Tsubame Grill (Tokyo)


Cheeseburger from Moonshine Store in Moonshine, IL
 ________________________________________________________________________


 Best Sandwiches


Torta Ahogada at Tortas Ahogadas Don Beto (Guadalajara)

BBQ Sandwich at Starne's (Paducah, KY)

House Special Banh Mi at TM Banh Mi (Portland, OR)

Yolko Ono Breakfast Sandwich at Fried Egg I'm in Love (Portland, OR)

Cuban Sandwich at Cubano Bros (Elk Grove Village, IL)

BBQ Sandwich at Johnson's Southern Style BBQ (Harrisburg, IL)

Doner Sandwich at Ali Baba Doner (Chicago)

Prego Sandwich at Gambrinus (Lisbon)

Cachorrinho Sandwich at Gazela Snack Bar (Porto) 

Pernil Sandwich with Cheese at Casa Guedes (Porto)

Bifana Sandwich at Conga (Porto)

Francesinha Sandwich at Yuko Tavern (Porto) 

House Prego Sandwich at Lareira (Porto)

Pork Gyro Sandwich at Souv Like (Toronto)

Bologna Sandwich at G&R Tavern (Waldo, OH)

Bánh mì Dặc Biệt at Lan Huê Sandwich and Bakery (Seattle)

"Crunchy" Sandwich at Central Bakery (Chicago)

Carne Louca Sandwich at Mulata Kitchen + Coffee (Oak Park, IL)

The #19 at Langer's Deli (Los Angeles)

French Dip Sandwich at Philippe The Original (Los Angeles)

 Ham Katsu Sando at Choushiya (Tokyo)


Bifana Sandwich from Conga in Porto
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Best Sweets


Syrian Ice Cream at BigDash Ice Cream (Richardson, TX)

 Icy Taro Ball #4 at Meet Fresh (Chicago)

Ube Sundae at Bayan Ko (Chicago)

Mochi Donuts from Dochi (Seattle)

Fruit Paletas at La Paleteria (Cartagena)

Tigers Blood with Dole Whip at Brian's Shave Ice (Los Angeles)

Donuts at Knead Donuts (Long Beach, CA)

Anmitsu at Ginza Wakamatsu (Tokyo)


Kakigori in Tokyo
 ________________________________________________________________________


Best Meals


Italian Dinner at Munno (Chicago)

Taco Lunch at Revolver Taco Lounge (Dallas)

Laotian Noodle Lunch at Khao Noodle Shop (Dallas)

Mariscos Lunch at El Farallon De Tepic (Guadalajara)

Korean Dinner at Jeong (Chicago)

French-Canadian Snacks at The Dreyfus (Toronto)

Filipino Brunch at BB's Diner (Toronto)

Sichuan Dinner at Szechwan JMC (Chicago)

Southern Dinner at JuneBaby (Seattle)

Japanese-Italian Dinner at Kissa Tanto (Vancouver)

Ceviche Lunch at El Boliche Cebicheria (Cartagena)

Drinks and Snacks at Here's Looking at You (Los Angeles) 

Yakitori Dinner at Yakitoriya (Los Angeles)

Mariscos Lunch at Mariscos El Faro (Los Angeles)

Korean Lunch at Baroo Canteen (Los Angeles)

Yakiton Dinner at Kitashinchi Tayutayu (Osaka)

Sushi Breakfast at Endo Sushi (Osaka)

Yakitori Dinner at Toritama Hankan (Tokyo)

Tonkatsu Dinner at Tonkatsu Taiho (Tokyo)

Duck Ramen Set (with Duck Oyakodon) at Kamo to Negi (Tokyo)


Dinner at JuneBaby in Seattle
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Note: Even though some memorable bites were had from places no longer with us I chose not to include them as my readers can no longer have what I had.

See ya next year @chibbqking

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