Category: Restaurants

KoKyu BBQ

In my ongoing quest to try all the food trucks currently tooling around the Triangle there was one truck that kept slipping through my fingers and my twitter feed:  KoKyu BBQ.   KoKyu, which is a Korean BBQ and fusion style food truck, tends to hang out at Motorco for Sunday Bloody Brunch, but I just hadn’t made it out to Durham on a Sunday recently.  Luckily Ko Kyu has started venturing out more, and I was finally able to catch them at Motorco, along with Pie Pushers, The Parlour, The Grilled Cheese Bus and the nearby Sausage Wagon, on a food truck filled Friday night.

Jon and I meandered through the crowds and the food truck mass and headed straight to the spray-painted truck with the old-school Nintendo in the window.

Look at that!  So fun!

The menu is well selected, with lots of different options including a few vegan/vegetarian choices.  We decided to order a short-rib quesadilla, an “unreal” buffalo chicken slider, a sweet potato “tako” and some duck fat tots.  We waited about ten minutes for our order and then took our food to a nearby patch of sidewalk.  All the picnic tables outside of Motorco were taken, but it was a beautiful night out and we didn’t mind flooring it.

Looks awesome, right?

I’ll start with the duck fat tots.  So, basically, these are tater tots, but extra crispy tater tots because they were fried in duck fat, which is the perfect frying vehicle duh. They were dusted liberally with fresh, fragrant rosemary and came with a rooster (as in Sriracha) and mayo dipping sauce.  These were really great.  Tater tots are already a great thing, so just, times that by lots.

The “unreal” buffalo chicken slider and the sweet potato “tako” were both the size of a snack-wich and packed tons of flavor.  The sweet potato “tako” consisted of sweet potato and sweet potato fries, bean sprouts, avocado and tons of cilantro along with some Sriracha sauce, all in a soft taco shell.  Tasty and fresh.  The “unreal” buffalo chicken slider was also fantastic, tastier and more satisfying than the tako because, really, you can’t beat a buffalo chicken slider from a truck.  However, the “chicken” is a soy patty–which I didn’t realize until scanning the menu later.  It even tricked the tofu-hating Jon.  The slider also had a lot of great flavors going: the tangy/sweet/spicy buffalo sauce, gorganzola cheese, some chopped celery for crunch, all on a soft bun.

Last, and best, was the short rib quesadilla, which was such an awesome umami experience I can’t even describe it.  Two giant, perfectly pan-crisped quesadilla pouches, filled with some kind of soft and tangy cheese, caramelized onions, and tons of tender, awesome short rib meat.  This was great.  This was so great that it inspired us to make quesadillas the following night, but that’s another post.

Cilantro!  Sriracha sauce!  Leftover burning spicy sensation on the lips and tongue ( I know that sounds like an STD but it isn’t guys get over it).  Ko Kyo is a Durham food truck treasure and I wish I hadn’t taken so long to try it!  I can’t wait to get back to get me some BBQ/tako-y/Koreany fusion soon.

You can follow KoKyu on their Facebook and Twitter feeds.  They don’t update their locations as much as some of the other trucks, but it is absolutely worth tracking these guys down and snagging some takos, tots, sliders and quesadillas.   Also, they have this old-school Nintendo that you can play while waiting for your food!  In my opinion this the best food truck in town not counting The Parlour, which is a bus, not a truck, and which serves ice cream and so it has its own category of fun.  And yes, of course I had some Parlour ice cream as a palate cleanser.  Who do you think I am?

Acme

A few weeks ago LivingSocial or Groupon or one of those sites ran a deal for Acme, a restaurant in Carrboro.  Acme is a consistently solid establishment: I have never had a mind-blowing meal here but I have also never been disappointed.  On this particular summer Friday Acme once again did not fail: we had a solid meal with solid service and we left satisfied.

We started with a great, summery appetizer of heirloom tomatoes and house made mozzarella.  This was a perfect dish y’all, I could have eaten it for the main course.  The tomatoes were perfect and juicy and the mozzarella was mild and creamy.  The dish was garnished with deviled eggs and a tasty basil pesto which we sopped up with the bread.  Summer is awesome.  Apologies for the dark photos–didn’t want to use the flash.

For the main course Jon got a steak with garlic mashed potatoes, all well done.  I had crab cakes with a succotash of kale, butternut squash, corn and tomatoes.  Really tasty all around.

We–or rather I since Jon isn’t a dessert person, sigh–ended with a brownie sundae.  Impossible to mess up, really.

Acme is a great place to go for a reliable good, fairly upscale meal.  A Carrboro institution one might say.  Y’all should check it out if you haven’t!

Vimala’s Curryblossom Cafe

Chapel Hill has a new-ish restaurant (okay, not that new, I’m a bit behind) in the Courtyard where Sandwhich used to be.  Vimala’s Curryblossom Cafe is absolutely a product of the locavore, sustainable, community-friendly, healthy-but-good eats food movement.  Vimala Rajendran, who owns and runs the restaurant with her children and is the executive chef, has opened a restaurant that I am more than happy to visit repeatedly!  I’ve gone twice for lunch and both meals were excellent and affordable.  I’m excited to try their dinner menu and some desserts as well.

I have tried the chole bhatura plate (Slow simmered chick pea curry served with bhatura. Our bhatura is made with Lindley Mills organic flour and Mapleview yogurt, puffed into a balloon. Punjabi dhaaba classic. $7), the tandoori chicken (Local organic chicken, marinated in Vimala’s tandoori masala and Mapleview yogurt, grilled. Served over salad. Gluten free. $8), and the masala dosa (Rice and urad dal fermented into batter and poured into a thin crêpe. With sambaar, coconut chutney and a potato bhaji on the side. Kerala and Tamil Nadu favorite. Gluten free & vegan. $7).  All three were excellent but the chole bhatura was by far my favorite.  A toothsome, flavorful chickpea curry with a fantastic yogurt-based pita like bread on the side.  Who knew chickpeas could have so much flavor?!  I couldn’t even tell you half the spices that were happening in the mixture.

Chole bhatura plate

The tandoori chicken was good as well, light, tasty, not at all dry, served with rice and a salad.  A good, healthy option if you are looking to go low carb, high protein.

Tandoori chicken

I also wanted to try the dosa platter, as I love me some dosa.  Not my favorite dosa ever but it was solid and served with a nice array of dipping sauces and sides, ones of which was incredibly spicy but it was opposite a nice, cooling yogurty sauce.

Dosa

I have tried their lavender lemonade, which is refreshing but not all that lavendar-y (or sugary either, this is a real lemonade) and this intense, spicy ginger ale beverage from their refrigerator.  I am really excited to try their desserts, especially the mango kulfi.  Love me some mango kulfi.

The great thing about this food, especially if you love Indian food, is that it isn’t heavy.  In fact Vimala’s is one of the few places I have eaten Indian food that hasn’t left me stuffed and sleepy afterwards.  The food is light; it tastes healthy and nutritious.  There are plenty of vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options if you are into that sort of thing.  Also, did I mention that this place was all community-based?  The second time I was eating there a student group came by on a tour to learn about local and sustainable food systems–they’d just come from the Carrboro Farmer’s Market (well, we’d been there too) so, yeah, there you go.

One note:  I have hear that at times the wait for food can be inexcusable.  I have not yet had this problem as I have only gone during “off” hours–as in, right after they open for lunch.  Evidently even take out orders can take a long time during busy hours.  Hopefully they’ll get these organizational issues worked out, as the food is fantastic and I’d hate for people to be turned away by the wait.  I know I’ll be heading back (during not-peak hours) to enjoy more of Vimala’s food soon!

On Funemployment (201st Post Y’all!)

Since I’ve been funemployed for over a month I figured I owed y’all an update.

So what have I been doing?  Watching the season finales of all my favorite shows, watching a lot of Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations on the travel channel, and reading, namely the Malazan: Book of the Fallen series but I am also plowing through The Hunger Games because with all the pop coverage of the film and its casting I didn’t want to get spoiled.  I’ve also been going to the gym regularly and attempting to cut my carbs, because I could really use less carbs.

Oh, I’ve also been applying for lots of museum jobs and even going on an interview or two!  But y’all don’t really want to hear about that.

I have done some traveling.  I went to sunny Sarasota for a few days, and then I went to Charlotte for a few days, and then I went to Colorado for awhile and that was really beautiful.  I saw my sister and my cousin in 42nd Street at the Midtown Arts Center in Fort Collins, Colorado.  A lovely production, and I love seeing my sister perform (and was happy to finally see my cousin perform!) but I’ve seen 42nd Street far too many times y’all.  I also spent a little bit of time in Denver (lovely art museum) and Boulder (lovely place) and then I saw some snow covered mountains in Rocky Mountain National Park.

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11 Madison Park

So I went to New York City this past weekend with my family, and one of the experiences I really wanted to have was a meal at 11 Madison Park, an Danny Meyer restaurant whose head chef, Daniel Humm, just won a James Beard award.  Frank Bruni gave the restaurant four stars in his final review as restaurant critic for the NYTimes.  Serious Eats overlord Ed Levine gave it a rave review.  Basically everyone says that this restaurant is perfect.

And I’m inclined to agree.

So this is a large, beautiful, old Deco space.  The room used to be the lobby of a Met Life insurance building, and all the fixings and wood inlays and ceilings are original.  The room is light and airy and beautiful.  And I don’t really have a good picture of it, sorry.

Each of us ordered the three course price fix lunch, with is $48.  And an excellent bargain, because you get lots of yummy freebies.

We were immediately served an amuse-bouche of carrot marshmallows and what were essentially high-end wheat thins topped with a sliver of foie gras and some strawberry gelee.  Delicious, and beautiful.  My mother also got a special little mango amuse because she is allergic to strawberries (she ate the strawberry amuse anyways), but I didn’t try it.  Anyhow, the strawberry marshmallow was sort of savory and sweet, as was the foie gras wheat thin.  I don’t know, I’d totally eat more.

Also, we got gorges, which are little cheesy bread poofs of deliciousness.  Total winners.

So!  First course!  Jessica got peach gazpacho with chunks of peach and chunks of prawn, which was smooth and creamy.  My father had a composition of young vegetables that looked beautiful and springy.  My mother and I both had tuna tartare with some croutons and greens and olives and a poached quail egg and a lemony sauce and it was really delicious.  I wish I had a better description but I am sad to say I do not.

Peach Gazpacho

Composition of Young Vegetables
Tuna tartare

Second course!  We all got the same thing: taglioni with Alaskan King Crab, lemon, black pepper, and like a stick of butter.  Probably the most delicious and satisfying dish of the day.  The pasta was so fresh, the crab was so succulent, the butter was so fantastic.  I could have eaten a pound of this.

Taglioni with Alaskan King Crab

Third course!  My father and sister split the roast organic chicken for two (a $15 supplement).  They brought the chicken to the table before they took it into the kitchen to carve it:

Look at that beautiful mahogany chicken.  Beautiful.

They brought back the chicken breast on a plate, with a side salad of faro and corn, and then a side plate of the dark meat chicken with morels, corn, and some other deliciousness.  Oh there was also a stuffing of brioche, foie gras, and truffles between the meat and the skin.  Amazing?  Yes.

My mother and I both got the lobster lasagna ($15 supplement).  Nova Scotian lobster tale and claw chunks, wrapped in a lasagna sheek, in sort of a tomato-y seafood-y broth, with some vegetables, and some zucchini blossoms.  All gorgeously, perfectly cooked, gorgeously presented, just special and wonderful, really.

After the meal they brought out a plate of macaroons.  Many different flavors: strawberry basil, peanut butter and jelly, pink peppercorn and caramel, vanilla and cherry, chocolate…yeah, that was fun.

And since we were in the area, after our meal we went to Shake Shack and got some custard.  A concrete, to be exact.  Hey, Danny Meyer owns Shake Shack too, so we were keeping it in the family.

Anyhow, 11 Madison Park was fantastic.  If you ever have the opportunity to eat there, please do.  The food was great, the service was fantastic (they even brought me a little special magazine detailing where the restaurant sources its chickens and including some recipes), and a gorgeous interior.  A truly special experience in all aspects.