Archive | July, 2011

2011 Reader’s Choice Voting Begins! (For the Love of God Don’t Let Taco Bell Win Again)

29 Jul

Well that magical time of the year is once again upon us. Yes, it is time for the annual Wichita Eagle Reader’s Choice voting to begin. The purpose of this voting is for Wichitans to award their favorite business, museums, shops, and most importantly of all restaurants. Last year after seeing the results of the awards I wrote a now infamous retort decrying some of the egregious winners of the dining categories. When Taco Bell wins the “best taco” category you know things are bad. My hope this year is for more local places to get the love that they deserve. So now comes my plea to the readers of this blog: Support your locally owned escapes from the doldrums of chain restaurants and VOTE LOCAL!

It’s very easy to vote for your favorite places, just click on the link below, sign up and make sure you fill out at least 30 categories. Remember you can vote once a day starting today and ending on August 8th.

http://wichitaeagle.upickem.net/engine/welcome.aspx

Usuluteco (Pupusa King of Wichita)-Wichita KS

25 Jul

Steph and I finally got around to heading to the south side the other day to blog about one of our favorite places in Wichita. Usuluteco is a Salvadoran restaurant located at Hydraulic and Northern, just south of Pawnee. In my opinion, this is one of the best gems of the Wichita dining scene.

Usuluteco is a family run restaurant where the husband works the front, while his wife dominates the kitchen. There is always ample seating at one of the many tables, or if you want to test out your conversational Spanish, there is a counter which the owner is happy to share with customers. As well as having delicious food, Usuluteco also has a nice collection of futbol posters. Every wall is adorned with teams from around the globe. Now I have no idea if there is an English translation of “Usuluteco”, but if I had to guess it would be something along the lines of “we make awesome pupusas”. If you’re wondering what the hell a  pupusa is then I feel sorry because you are missing out on something wonderful . A pupusa is a traditional Salvadoran tortilla made from corn flour that is typically filled with cheese, refried beans, and ground pork. The pupusa is flattened into a disk and then cooked on a griddle. It is similar to a mexican quesadilla, but much better. And if you are thinking to yourself, ‘I bet they aren’t as good as the pupusas at Sabor’, well then you are terribly wrong. Besides serving inferior pupusas at Sabor, they also cost about triple the price.

Usuluteco offers a wide range of Salvadoran dishes including fried plantains, tamales, fried pork chunks, and some of the best refried beans in town. Steph and I both ordered two pupusas and some fried plantains. As I have already mentioned the pupusas were great, especially when dipped in the salsa and curtido (Salvadoran cole slaw basically)  that are provided. Our fried plantains were wonderful as well. They had a sweet fried glaze on the outside while inside they were soft and warm. Served with crema and refried beans it is a great dish. While we did not have the fried yuca and pork meal this time around I certainly recommend it as well. The yuca is fried so perfectly that it actually tastes like you are eating a french fry.

This filling meal while delicious was also affordable, costing us only $15. Usuluteco is a great dining adventure and definitely worth the drive to the south part of town. Don’t let the outside of the building or the area scare you off, inside you will find great food and friendly service.

<a href="http://Usuluteco Restaurant on Urbanspoon“>

Kanai-Wichita KS(A Near O.D. on Sushi)

9 Jul

We were looking for a special restaurant for our anniversary recently and had narrowed it down to two West side places. Unfortunately, our first choice must not have any working clocks in their establishment, because they were closed when we arrived 30 minutes before their listed closing time. Luckily we had Kanai as our back-up, a place we have been wanting to check out for a while. Kanai is a newer Japanese and Sushi restaurant located way out there at 119th and Maple. In its short time in Wichita, Kanai has quickly become one of the best places to get sushi and it is easy to see why.

As we walked into the nearly empty restaurant we were promptly greeted by the hostess as well as the Sushi chefs. The restaurant is nicely decorated on the interior with a small bar as well as a sushi bar on one side. The other side has a mix of tables and booths for your sitting pleasure. The only TV in the place was playing a soothing tropical fish DVD. That really set the mood. Our waitress brought out a sample of their Japanese version of chicken salad with fried tofu and sesame oil flavor. It was a nice start to our meal. Their menu covers a lot of bases as far as Japanese and sushi dishes are concerned. The sushi menu is rather expansive and has many unique maki rolls, including one that features a whole lobster tail. We had a difficult time deciding which maki rolls to go with, but soon narrowed it down to 4. We decided to try the crunchy California roll, a snowcrab and avocado roll(Dragon roll), a tempura shrimp and asparagus roll, and the snowball roll which featured asparagus and a crab mixture on top. We also ordered some tempura calamari because we were both pretty hungry.

While we sipped on $8 dollar cocktails our food was prepared by several sushi chefs. The calamari was brought out first in a large bowl. This was not your typical little rings of squid, there were nice thick strips that had been fried in a delicious tempura batter. A scallion sauce was drizzled over the tempura for added flavor. We both enjoyed the dish, but wished the sauce would have been served on the side because some the calamari got a bit soggy. Our sushi came out soon after we had finished the calamari. Two large platters were placed before us with 4 large rolls of unparalleled beauty begging us to devour them. I started off with the snowball roll and was impressed. The crunchiness of the asparagus complemented the creamy crab mixture which was elegantly placed on top of the roll. The tempura shrimp roll was very good as well with fresh asparagus balancing the fried shrimp nicely. Next was the Dragon roll which was excellent and good-sized. It was topped with a delicious sweet sauce with bits of what our server told us was Unagi. Unagi is freshwater eel, but don’t let that turn you off from this roll. With the sauce there is no real discernible flavor from the eel. Just think of it as a mushroom. The final roll was a colossal California roll that had been dipped in tempura batter to make it warm and crunchy. It came out as six huge pieces that required some fine skill to eat with chopsticks. It was wonderful of course. The most impressive part of our dinner was the sushi rice. Sometimes when attempting to dip the piece of sushi into soy sauce and shove in your mouth the piece has a tendency to fall apart. None of these rolls did that, because the rice was perfect. I have read that the real hardcore sushi chefs of Japan study for years to learn the art of making sticky sushi rice and I think the chef at Kanai has done that. His rice was perfection.

While consuming all this delightful food I became increasingly aware that my stomach was reaching capacity. I tried to wiggle into the corner of the booth in an effort to ease the pressure, but there was no denying the power of sushi. It has a way of sneaking up on you “like a thief in the night” so to speak. Thus, stuffed and satisfied Steph and I managed enough power to roll ourselves out of, in my opinion, the best place for sushi in Wichita.

Kanai on Urbanspoon

Updated Look

2 Jul

We spent part of our Fourth of July weekend updating the look of our blog. We wanted to go with something more sleek and professional looking. So do not worry, this is the one and same blog you have been reading but with a makeover. Hope you enjoy the new look. We would love any feedback that anyone has for us.

We also spent this morning that the Old Town Farm and Art Market. Expect a blog sometime next week about it.

Happy Fourth of July!

Paleteria La Reyna – Wichita KS ( The Perfect One-Two Punch)

1 Jul

What happens when you combine great Mexican food with homemade Mexican ice cream and fruit pops all under one roof? You get Paleteria La Reyna of course. I feel rather embarrassed that I had never heard of this magical place till just a few weeks ago. Somehow it had slipped below my radar, but luckily that has been remedied. La Reyna is located at 29th and Arkansas, just south of the intersection. First off let me break down the translation of Paleteria La Reyna, so we are all on the same page. A paleta is “a Latin American ice pop, usually made from fruit.” So a paleteria is a place where these frozen treats are sold. La reyna translates as “the queen”. Put it all together and you have, Latin American ice pop shop of the queen. Sounds pretty damn fantastic doesn’t it? Now after doing some internet research La Reyna, not surprisingly, is known for their frozen treats. With this knowledge I was curious as to how their savory food would fare.

The Amazing Al Pastor Burrito with Chile Verde

On first glance La Reyna checked out. Traditional Mexican restaurant exterior, vibrant decorations and paintings inside, clean and decently sized dining area, Hispanic soap opera on TV, and festive music blaring from speakers. From what I could tell the soap opera was set during the mid 1800s in Old Mexico and revolved around the love life of General Santa Anna. As we walked up to the counter it was hard to focus on the lunch menu due to the large amount of ice pops and ice cream located in the freezers. I managed to pull myself away to order a pork burrito, while Steph ordered beef enchiladas, and my mother went with the chicken tacos. Their food menu is not expansive, but all the popular Mexican dishes are well represented. All the food is picked up at the counter so make sure you have a good line of sight between your table and the counter.

Our food came with an ample serving of chips and salsa, both homemade. The tortilla chips are a bit thicker than most places, which means you can shovel even more delicious salsa into your mouth. The salsa had just the right amount of kick to it with some cilantro to balance it out. Our food came out quickly and I immediately regretted all the chips I polished off because the portion sizes were huge. My burrito was good sized and came with a side of beans and rice. This pork burrito is one of the best I have had in Wichita. It ranks up there with El Paisa’s burrito. Inside this big boy were tender chunks of pork, avocado, cheese, lettuce, and tomatoes. A lovely chili verde sauce put the finishing touches on the burrito. The beans and rice were fine, but nothing to get excited about. Steph’s enchiladas were finished with chili verde as well and complimented the sweetness of the enchilada sauce nicely. My mom really enjoyed her chicken tacos which came with chunks of white meat chicken, lettuce, avocados, tomatoes, and sour cream. Although it was served in a fried shell it would be a lighter selection for those who find Mexican food too heavy.

Although all three of us were stuffed, there was no way we were leaving without trying their frozen delights. La Reyna makes all of their ice cream and paletas in-house and offers a wide variety of flavors. Each of us decided to go with a scoop of ice cream. I sampled tequila, Steph had pecan, and mom went with vanilla. All I have to say is that I have a new favorite ice cream place. The creaminess and distinct flavors are unrivaled by the likes of Cold Stone, Marble Slab, Spangles, and even Baskin Robbins. Their ice cream is also very affordable as three generous scoops only cost around $5.

Even if La Reyna did not serve ice cream I would still rank it as one of my top Mexican restaurants in Wichita. The fact that they also serve awesome frozen treats makes it very hard to compete with. If you are looking for so

The Visually Stunning Strawberries and Cream

The Visually Stunning Strawberries and Cream

me relief from this unrelenting heat swing by and check out La Reyna’s frozen treats after feasting on a burrito or two (just don’t go on Wednesday, as they are closed).

UPDATE: We continue to frequent Paleteria and love all of their food and desserts. If you are looking for a break from ice cream, try the raspas, a milk and shaved ice concoction that is awesome, or Steph’s favorite the Strawberries and Cream.

<a href=”http://Paleteria LA Reyna on Urbanspoon“>

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