The Trenchermen

We eat other people’s food.

Posts Tagged ‘Barbecue

NYMag Sandwich List #38: Pork ‘Burger,’ Xi’an Famous Foods

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I’ve abandoned my plan to systematically eat and describe all of the sandwiches on the NYMag 101 sandwiches list, but I continue to use the list as a wellspring of culinary discovery.  (Someone was kind enough to create a Google Map of the 101 sandwich locations.)  With that in mind, eager to break from my PBJ lunch routine, my office-mate and I wandered into the heart of Manhattan’s Chinatown — East Broadway, under the Manhattan Bridge — for a taste of Shanxi cuisine at Xi’an Famous Foods.  To connect the dots for our readers, it’s a chain of small restaurants that started in Flushing, in the Golden Mall (yes, we’ve eaten there before and blogged and vlogged about it), and has now expanded to Chinatown and the East Village.  The highlight of the restaurant’s offering is the “Liang Pi” Cold Noodles.  The sandwich featured in the NYTimes is the Lamb “Burger,” which I found to be loaded with far too much cumin.  But NYMag loves the Pork “Burger,” so I gave it a shot.

NYMag says this sandwich, which is made of pulled pork stuffed into a bing-like bun, could “rival any Carolina barbecue.”  I disagree.  Although the smoky, vinegar sauce is nice and less sweet than most Chinese barbecue sauces I’ve tasted and the bun is warm with a nice crunch, the sandwich is altogether unremarkable and familiar.  It is incredibly greasy and the pork is stewed into a textureless mush.  At least the cumin-loaded Lamb “Burger” offers an unfamiliar and exciting flavor combination.

As for the Carolina comparison: forget it.  The best barbecue I ever encountered was in Holly Hill, South Carolina, at a place called Sweatman’s, and it is an act of exceptional generosity even to mention Xi’an Famous Food’s Pork “Burger” in the same paragraph.  To say this “Burger” is a “rival” of a place like Sweatman’s is a cruel joke.

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Written by trencherman

October 20, 2010 at 12:00 pm

Posted in Restaurants

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Arthur Bryant’s BBQ (Kansas City, MO)

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We recently traveled to the great tornado-whipped state of Missouri for a wedding, a house-cleaning, and some strenuous and significant family time.  But all of that was in Springfield, a city that I would imagine to be in a different state from Kansas City if the maps didn’t tell me otherwise.  (Actually, that’s kind of a trick, but I digress.)  We flew into Kansas City International Airport, which meant that before driving three-and-a-half long flat hours to Springfield, we were able to stop for some world-class barbeque.  It was tough to choose our spot, but it came down to Oklahoma Joe’s, which Anthony Bourdain called “one of the 13 places to eat before you die,” Jack’s Stack, a chain that Zagat Survey named the “#1 Barbecue House in the Country,” and Arthur Bryant’s, which is, according to Calvin Trillin in 1974, “…possibly the single best restaurant in the world.”  We went with Arthur Bryant’s, because it was most convenient and because I’m a huge Calvin Trillin fan.  (Ed. note:  Trillin spends his summers less than 5 miles from my parents, in Nova Scota.)

As for the food: delicious, but definitely not the best restaurant in the world.  The highlight of the meal was the Beef Sandwich, which was a mountainous stack of fatty smoked brisket piled on pieces of white bread that were clearly overmatched by the meat’s juices.  There were several choices of sauce, all varieties of the classic molasses- and tomato-based sauce Kansas City is known for. The rib tips were fairly charred, but the tender pieces of meat hidden beneath the blackened crusts were smoky and sweet.  We also had a pork sandwich that was decent, but not memorable.

The restaurant itself was charmingly simple.  A big, brick building in a dodgy neighborhood.  The interior walls are unevenly covered in a smattering of local sports images, collages of prominent African-American public figures, and autographed photographs of celebrities and politicians.  Among the most prominent of the latter category were photographs of Jimmy Carter eating with Arthur Bryant himself, as well as a series of images of John McCain and Sarah Palin enjoying a meal with-the-people while campaigning in 2008.  I’d say that speaks to the universal appeal of the place, but who knows.

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Written by trencherman

September 21, 2010 at 3:37 pm

Posted in Restaurants

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