Bill’s Charcoal Grill

26 Mar

In theory the hamburger is simple, a disk of meat, a few condiments, some toppings, and a bread based cover are all that is necessary. Yet I am always surprised how restaurants find ways to screw up this pure Americana dish. The most egregious error is when restaurants opt for frozen pre-made patties and then proceed to cook the hell out of them. A burger patty should be handled with care and not require a pick axe to remove it from a frozen stack. If the aforementioned burger atrocity strikes a chord with you as well, then you will find a safe haven at Bill’s Charcoal Grill.

The Classic Cheeseburger with Sweet Potato Fries

The Classic Cheeseburger with Sweet Potato Fries

Located on the corner of 29th and Arkansas, this simple eatery knows how to make a reasonable hamburger. The new owners of Bill’s spruced up the interior and made a few minor changes, but the original concept has remained the same. Besides the typical burger options, a few pasta, seafood, and steak dishes are offered now. Side dishes include fries, sweet potato fries, O-rings, and baked beans. A condiment/topping bar is located next to the counter, so you can add all the veggies you desire. The food is reasonably priced with the basic burger and side costing around $5.

On our visit Steph tried the basic cheeseburger with sweet potato fries and I went with the exotic California burger and a side of O-rings. I was pleased and somewhat apprehensive when we were asked how we wanted the burgers cooked. Too many times I have been deceived by restaurants promising to cook burgers to order, only to discover that everything comes out well done. I know in this age of ecoli, you must be very careful when dealing with ground meat, but with proper handling and quality meat, cooking a hamburger to medium doneness is safe and acceptable.

The California in All Its Glory

The California in All Its Glory

I was quite impressed with the California burger. With the first bite I noticed that several of the qualifications for an acceptable hamburger were met; a toasted bun, plenty of melted cheese, and a juicy meat disk. Besides cheese the California comes with bacon, avocado, and a split hot link for good measure. While the hotlink was good, it provided almost too much decadence as well as grease. Next time I will order the Cali sans link. Steph’s cheeseburger  was just about all you can hope for in a basic burger. I was impressed that both of our burgers were cooked just as requested. Both the fries and onion rings were just average. The fries could have used some seasoning and the onion rings seemed like they were of the frozen variety.

Bill’s Charcoal Grill should definitely be in the discussion when the topic of best burgers in Wichita comes up. Their fresh, cooked to order patties help set them apart from many other contenders. If you happen to save room for dessert head next door to one of my favorite restaurants in town, Paleteria La Reyna for some delicious homemade ice cream.

Bill's Charcoal Grill on Urbanspoon

Death By Chocolate 2014 Review

10 Mar

This is a special guest review by my friends Andrew and Kate who attended the 2014 incarnation of Death By Chocolate last weekend:

Kate and I had the pleasure of sampling chocolaty confections at the 8th annual Death By Chocolate event at Exploration Place on Saturday night, our fourth time attending the event, and once again we were far from disappointed.  The museum hosted tables representing 15 local bakeries, candy shops, and catering companies offering a variety of treats, mostly sweet but with a few savory options to help periodically reset your palate and stave off the sugar shakes.  The delicious food, the chance to wander around a kid’s museum without those pesky kids in the way, the smooth jazz provided by the Cessna Jazz band, the chance to rub shoulders with the cream of Wichita’s crop dressed to the nine’s, all made for a marvelous Saturday night.

J. Rae's Dessert Monument

J. Rae’s Dessert Monument

Undoubtedly our favorite vendor had to be J. Rae’s Bakery.  There was nothing ground-breaking or exotic about their ingredients or technique, but there was a perfect balance of frosting and cake, the cake itself had a nice, moist consistency, and the different flavors were subtle but delicious.  My favorite was probably the Oreo, but Kate preferred the cookie dough.  They also offered a simple, and scrumptious, chocolate chip cookie that earned Kate’s overall best-in-show award.  It was in very high demand – in fact, it was an extinct species by the halfway point of the night.  Cero’s Candies was a one-trick pony, but what a trick it was, a Fleur de Sel (sea salt) bacon caramel drizzled with chocolate.  The bacon grease made the confection silky smooth with just the right hint of bacon flavor.  Artisan Catering  provided a very good cheesecake and tiramisu, along with an interesting chocolate-dipped, olive-tinged biscuit called a sable.

The vendors had their choice of “exotic” ingredients this year to incorporate into their recipes.  Most went the safe route and chose bacon, but some were more adventurous.  Cake Face Bake Shop piqued my curiosity with a cake whose frosting combined bee pollen with goat cheese, liberally sprinkled with sea salt and sugar crystals.  Those disparate flavors became muddled together and didn’t necessarily add much to each other, and I found the salt crystals overpowering.  Their best-selling hunk of a Frankenstein brownie (appropriately named the Heisenberg) was much more successful, combining peanut butter, sugar, and chocolate cookie dough with brownie batter.  The Sugar Sisters Bakery brought a menagerie of experimental treats, including chocolate cornbread with a rhubarb topping and a potato chip and bacon chocolate-chip cookie.  While the cookie was good, I thought the cornbread didn’t really come together, just a bunch of ingredients coincidentally baked together.  Bob & Luigi’s  offered a chocolate-bacon pizza.  I enjoyed the smoky flavor and lack of sticky, sugary sweetness, but Kate was not impressed, finding it too dry and not flavorful enough.  The students of the Butler Community College Culinary Arts program brought a beef tenderloin on a mini-bun with goat cheese and a chocolate aioli that worked well.  W.O.W. Cakes chose Pop Rocks as their special ingredient, giving their more-than-satisfactory cupcakes a nostalgic thrill.

Strawberry Cheese Cake and Sable Cookie from Artisan Catering

Strawberry Cheese Cake and Sable Cookie from Artisan Catering

Most of the savory options were provided by Empire Catering.  It was pretty standard fare, chips and queso, beef empanadas, and the like, but I especially enjoyed the plantain chips with avocado dip.  The chips had just the right amount of crisp with no harsh fry flavor, and the avocado dip was cool, creamy, and zesty.

Tickets for Death By Chocolate aren’t cheap, but keep in mind that it’s for a good cause:  bringing more fun exhibits to Exploration Place.  And if you do decide to attend the 2015 incarnation, wear your favorite cocktail attire, and bring your appetite.  Those rich treats fill you up quick!

Saigon Pho

1 Mar

One of the few good things about this winter dragging on is that temperatures have remained optimal for Pho consumption. A large, piping hot bowl of Pho with a little bit of chili sauce it one of my favorite ways to warm up on a frigid day. Wichita has a great Pho scene, with restaurants spread all over the city so you are never more than 10 minutes away from Vietnamese soup. Saigon Pho is a newer option that is located on Harry just East of Oliver. It is actually just a couple of buildings away from the iconic and amazing Manna Wok.

Quick Cure for a Cold Day: Beef Pho

Quick Cure for a Cold Day: Beef Pho

Like many of the businesses along this stretch of Harry, Saigon Pho doesn’t look like much from the outside, but like many good things(especially restaurants) looks are deceiving. The dining area is small inside, but there is still room for a larger group to be comfortable.

The menu covers all the basic Pho combinations, including thinly sliced steak, meatball, and tendon, and is available in medium or large bowls. In addition they also have a few appetizers, fried rice dishes, Bahn Mi, speciality soups, and a vermicelli bowl called Bun. Several of these items are offered as lunch specials as well with prices that range from $5-$6.

On our visit I was torn between the Pho and several of the unique speciality soups, which included wonton noodle, spicy beef, and crab tomato. I ultimately went with the steak and meatball Pho, while Steph decided to try the wonton noodle soup. While we waited for our food the server must have thought we needed some entertainment because she turned on one of those terrible daytime TV shows. There’s a first time for everything I guess.

The key to good Pho is all in the broth. The meat and fixings are all about the same no matter where you go. You will never hear someone praising a restaurant’s Pho because of the bean sprouts. No, all judgement lies in the

Wonton Noodle Soup

Wonton Noodle Soup

mysterious and magical beef broth. Saigon Pho’s was very good. It had a rich and complex flavor with a hint of sweetness that I really liked. The lean slices of steak were served rare and finished cooking in the broth for a nice presentation. I would rank this version of Pho right up there with My Tho and Pho Hien, two of my favorites. The wonton soup was also a delicious meal. The broth was similar to that of the Pho, but sweeter and with a strong shrimp flavor. Several tasty wontons, shrimp, and plenty of noodles were also in the soup.

I was impressed with the quality of Saigon Pho’s soup and I hope that the word gets out about what they are doing. They also have a nice website with some entertaining descriptions of the menu items.

http://saigonpho123.com/

El Mexico Cafe

15 Feb

Wichita is lucky to have numerous local options when one is craving Mexican food. Those many restaurant options can roughly be broken into two categories: traditional and Tex-Mex. At the more traditional places you will find simple tacos, tortas, rich chile sauces, chunky homemade salsa, and fresh tortillas. At Tex-Mex places you get your taco covered with cheese and lettuce, lots of ground beef,  enchiladas smothered in sauce, and more cheese. Both of them have their place and offer equally delicious fare.

The Seneca Sampler

The Seneca Sampler

El Mexico Cafe, located on Seneca just south of Pawnee, is a straight up old school Tex-Mex joint. The inside of the restaurant has plenty of seating in two dining areas, but doesn’t really have the feel of your typical Mexican restaurant. Instead of telenovelas on TV you get college basketball(which I’m not complaining about). The music being piped in was unique as well, as it was the first time I have listened to Jim Croce while eating at a Mexican restaurant.

The menu is a greatest hits of the Tex-Mex cuisine with tacos, burritos, enchiladas, fajitas, and monterreys all featured. While we decided what order, chips and two bottles of salsa were quickly brought out to us. The salsa at El Mexico is the smooth and thin variety with oregano being the dominant flavor. It was decent, but nothing all that amazing. They do sell it by the pint if it’s your cup of tea though.

On our visit we ordered the Seneca Sampler which consisted of a cheese enchilada with chile con carne, chile verde, a taco, and rice and beans. We also ordered the Mexican Plate which included two cheese enchiladas, a taco, and rice and beans. Our son got one of his favorites, a bean burrito. Despite being fairly busy, our food came out after only a short wait. The enchiladas certainly lived up

Velveeta Taco

Velveeta Taco

to their billing of being smothered. They were swimming in beefy and cheesy chile con carne. The chile based sauce was typical of what you would find at many places had good chile flavor. The enchilada itself featured plenty of melted cheese rolled into a corn tortilla.  The pork chile verde should have been called chile rojo, because it was red not green like a typical VERDE sauce should be. I’m not sure if there was some mistake or if that if how they serve their verde sauce. Color aside, it was an average dish. The chunks of pork were small and not as tender as other places, while the sauce itself  lacked the complex flavors that a chile verde should have. The fried tacos were good, but there was an inordinate amount of shredded Velveeta cheese sprinkled on top. I found substituting some the cheese for salsa helped balance out the taco. The rice and beans that came with our meal were decent, but nothing spectacular. Our son devoured about half of the bean burrito and the other half ended up on his face or the floor. I always feel bad for whoever has to bus our table at restaurants.

The service at El Mexico was some of the best I have had in quite some time. Our server was very friendly and quick to refill chips and drinks.  If you are a fan of Americanized Mexican food El Mexico can offer you a fix in a friendly and comfortable atmosphere. They also have $4.99 margarita specials and have won several Wichita Eagle Reader’s Choice awards, some of which I would beg to differ with.

Restaurante Antojitos Salvadoreno(The New Pupusa King)

28 Jan
 Pupusa Perfection

Pupusa Perfection

Pupusas, pupusas, pupusas. If you have never tried one of these delicious marvels of Salvadoran cuisine then I implore you to stop reading this nonsense at once and proceed with haste to Restaurante Antojitos Salvadoreno. Trust me it will be worth it. It is conveniently located on Central between  I-135 and Grove. Just look for the dark blue building right next to the drive thru liquor store.

Fried Plantains: A Must Try

Fried Plantains: A Must Try

While the exterior of the building looks rather dubious and the parking lot surface resembles that of the moon, inside you will find a cozy and tastefully decorated dining room. This small eatery specializes in traditional little snacks(antojitos) and beverages from El Salvador. Besides the aforementioned pupusas, Antojitos serves fried plantains, empanadas, Salvadoran style steak, tilapia, rice, beans, and some specials. Although it is a sit down restaurant there are no printed menus, so just take a glance at the posted menu by the kitchen or ask the helpful server for suggestions.

Full Flavor from a Whole Fish

Full Flavor from a Whole Fish

On our visit we of course ordered several varieties of pupusas including cheese, frijoles, chicharrones, and the “Loco”, which is a little bit of everything. An order of fried plantains was needed as well and we probably should have stopped there, but they were offering a chicken soup, so we got a bowl of that and an order of tilapia.

I’m sorry Usuluteco, but I have found a better pupusa. The difference for me was the tenderness and abundant filling of Antojitos’s. For maximum enjoyment spread some of the accompanying salsa and curtido(tangy cabbage relish) on top of the pupusa. The fried plantains were nicely done and popular with our son. They were served with a generous bowl of mayo, which was different from my other experiences with plantains, but perhaps it is customary. When they brought out the vat that was my bowl of soup I knew we had made a strategic ordering mistake. Soon after came another plate with half a chicken and rice to accompany the soup.

Tub o' Soup

Tub o’ Soup

Then Steph’s whole tilapia was presented with salad, rice and several containers of tortillas. We were buried in delicious Salvadoran food. The soup was a basic homemade chicken stock base and was filled with assorted stewed vegetables. The generous amounts of chicken and rice made it a nice balanced

Chicken and Rice for the Soup

Chicken and Rice for the Soup

dish. While Steph was  somewhat put off by the whole tilapia, I found it delicious. You forget how flavorful tilapia can be when it is served whole.  Just slap some fish and rice onto one of the provided tortillas, throw on some avocado and you have a treat. We tried two of their homemade drinks in addition to the copious amounts of food. The horchata was not as sweet as Mexican versions, but every bit as delicious and the tamarind based juice was rather refreshing.

Bottom line here folks is that Restaurante Antojitos Salvadoreno brings it. For a $1.75 a pupusa it may just be the best deal in town. The previous tenants of this building have struggled to make it, but hopefully this place can buck that trend, because it is a gem and every time a small place like this closes it leaves a scar upon my heart or something like that.

Restaurante Antojitos Salvadoreno

2117 E. Central

316-269-4090

Link to the menu: http://www.restaurant.com/restaurante-antojitos-salvadorinos-wichita-pid=200268

Copper Oven Cafe and Bakery(Don’t Leave Without Dessert)

20 Jan

In my opinion some the most unpredictable dining adventures you can have are at cafes and diners. You never know if the place just pulls everything out of the freezer or if they actually take the time to prepare homemade food. It’s the difference between enjoying a tasty comfort food meal or something that leaves you wondering why you didn’t just go get some Pho. Copper Oven Cafe and Bakery, located on 13th just east of Meridian, happens to be an establishment where you won’t go away doubting the state of traditional American cuisine.

A Perfect Reuben with a Mound of Ranch Potatoes

A Perfect Reuben with a Mound of Ranch Potatoes

Copper Oven is located in  an older strip mall, but inside is a spacious and inviting dining area. Besides the restaurant there is a bakery that of course you must go  by to get to your seat. It’s a great idea because after glancing at their wide variety of cakes, cookies, pies, and pastries you will be hard pressed to pass up dessert. The menu has all the items you would expect from an American style cafe, but also some surprises like ceviche, upscale sandwiches, and several signature salads.  Breakfast is also served till 2pm each day and they have many hearty egg dishes to choose from.

On our visit we both decided to try a couple of their sandwiches. I ordered the iconic Reuben and Steph went with a grilled chicken pesto on focaccia.  The first thing I noticed about the Reuben was the thick cut rye bread it was served on. Good rye bread is essential for a proper Reuben and is all too often overlooked. Well not at Copper Oven, these people don’t mess around with their rye bread. Tender corned beef, plenty of melted cheese, sauerkraut, and of course the grilled rye made this one of the best Reubens I have

The Chicken Pesto Sammie

The Chicken Pesto Sammie

had. The chicken pesto was close to being a really good sandwich, but we thought it was held back by the focaccia. It was thick compared to the rest of the ingredients and could have benefited from being toasted. Other than that it was a tasty sandwich.  The pesto was fresh and had a strong basil flavor, and the fresh veggies were a good touch. Both of our sandwiches came with a large pile of Ranch potatoes, which were just basic fried potato cubes. We didn’t hear any complaints from out son who finished off quite a bit of his grilled cheese. The  biggest decision of our visit and probably our week was what to get for dessert. After some deliberation we ordered a slice of chocolate peanut butter cream pie. The coconut cream was a close second and I will be back for some of that action soon. Anyway, the

Decadent Chocolate Peanut Butter Cream Pie

Decadent Chocolate Peanut Butter Cream Pie

chocolate peanut butter pie was money. Good crust, great flavor, and some sinful whipped cream on top is about all you can hope for in a cream pie.

If you are looking for simple American fare done right as well as great desserts, Copper Oven is a place to check out.
http://copperovencafe.com/

Copper Oven Cafe on Urbanspoon

Cow and Sow Deli

11 Jan

It seems like the Wichita dining scene has a lag of several years when it comes to new trends. We are just now getting over the great food truck explosion of 2012/2013, Gastropubs are a relatively new concept, and everything is served on a pretzel bun now. At this pace you can expect Cronuts coming to a bakery near you in 2020. Another one of those trends that is starting to catch on here is the locavore movement/diet/religion/whathaveyou. This admirable trend tries to focus on sourcing as many ingredients as possible from local producers. With all the great meat and produce that Kansas has to offer, I am surprised it took this long for the movement to come into full swing. Cow and Sow Deli is the newest in a growing list of restaurants that offer local produce, breads, and meat.

Mushroom and Kale Soup: It tasted better than it looked

Mushroom and Kale Soup: It tasted better than it looked

Cow and Sow is located downtown on Douglas, inside the Renfro building. It is a small space, especially on a busy day, but there is plenty of seating in a separate dining area next door in the Renfro Studio. Besides serving food Cow and Sow also has a very small market where you can buy various food products from local producers. At the time of our visit it looked a bit bare, but January in Kansas is not known as one of the more bountiful months for fresh food.

The lunch and dinner menu consists of a few sandwiches and one or two soups of the day. There is also a self-described “salad trough” that features unique homemade vegetarian and vegan options.  The sandwiches feature locally baked bread and greens, while the soups are all made in-house daily. They also offer a small assortment of pastries, coffee, and desserts.

During the winter months I am hopelessly addicted to homemade soups of all kinds, so I of course ordered a bowl of the mushroom and kale soup as well as half of the Tangy Beef sandwich. My mom also ordered a bowl of the kale soup. Not long after ordering one of the owners came out to tell us that we had cleaned them out of soup for the day, so to make up for the lack of soup they brought us out another half Tangy Beef and a Mooffaletta.

Tangy Beef with fresh lettuce

Tangy Beef with fresh lettuce

Although we got the bottom of the soup pot, it was still delicious. For being a vegan friendly soup I was surprised at how creamy it was. Unfortunately most the mushrooms and bits of kale were tiny, but I’ll chalk that up to it being the last bowl of the day.  The tangy beef sandwich was impressive as well. It consisted of thinly sliced top round, local hydroponic lettuce, a horseradish chive cheese, horseradish sauce and a fresh pretzel bun. I have to say that the lettuce nearly stole the show from the beef. It tasted very fresh and certainly will spoil you from buying greens out of a bag again. There was just enough horseradish spread to give the sandwich flavor, but it was not overwhelming. All and all this was a light tasting, yet filling sandwich.  The Mooffaletta was certainly a heavier sandwich, but satisfying on this crisp day. It consisted of salami, ham, mortadella, mozzarella and provolone cheeses, and an olive spread. All of this was served on toasted focaccia bread from Crust and Crumb. With this list of ingredients one would really have to work hard to not make it delicious and luckily Cow and Sow didn’t. I thought the prices were reasonable given the quality and quantity of the food.

Apparently we hit Cow and Sow on one of their busiest days, but despite that service was friendly and attentive. I can’t wait to visit Cow and Sow during the summer when local vegetables are in full swing. I’m sure they will be serving up some good stuff, but until then I could go for another bowl or three of their soup.

http://www.cowandsowdeli.com/

Cow and Sow Deli on Urbanspoon

Birds on the Roof Bakery and Cafe

16 Dec

Every once in a while you have a real fun dining experience that makes you appreciate local restaurants even more . On our visit to the recently opened Birds on the Roof Bakery and Cafe we had such an experience. Birds on the Roof has a prime location at Central and Rock and is one of the more unique and eclectic restaurants you will find in these parts.

A Small Glimpse of the Decor

A Small Glimpse of the Decor

The inside of the restaurant has undergone some extensive remodeling since the days when this space was a scuba shop. The design motif is something along the lines of Parisian Cafe meets the Mad Hatter’s tea party. The colors are bold and vibrant, there is a big red tree, a water feature, and a staircase in the middle of the dining room that leads to a second  level of seating. To cap it all off  a projector was beaming Casablanca onto one of the walls during our visit. Much to our son’s delight they were thoroughly decked out for Christmas as well including an electric train.

Birds on the Roof is primarily a breakfast and lunch place, but recently they

Baguette with Buttercream Spreads

Baguette with Buttercream Spreads

hired Chef Nathan Toubia to get a dinner service going. He brought over some of his popular dishes from the now closed Bocconcini including lemon chicken, pork saltimbocca, and beef with mushrooms. The dinner menu also includes a few salads, sandwiches, and pizzas.

On our visit I ordered the Ultimate Burger, Steph went with the Chicken Pesto Piadina, and the chef made our son a grilled cheese. A few minutes later the chef came back to say he was almost out of ground beef, so I substituted a BLT. While awaiting our food, we were served some baguette with mint and strawberry buttercreams. The baguette was nothing amazing, but the fresh buttercreams were a treat.

The pesto piadina is a hot flatbread sandwich with chicken, pesto, tomatoes, and plenty of gooey mozzarella. Although messy it was a delicious sandwich. The chef decided to have some fun with my plate and brought out a very tiny slider burger complete with bacon and cheese. I also got a full sized BLT. It was hard to pass judgement on the burger since it was so tiny, but it had good seasoning despite being well done. The BLT on the other hand was great, but technically it was a BAT, since it was piled high with arugula. The sweet pepper bacon is what

Mini Slider Burger

Mini Slider Burger

made this sandwich. I’m not sure if they make the bacon in house, but it was wonderfully sweet and crunchy. Next time I will probably get a side of the sweet crack bacon with whatever I order. Both our sandwiches came with homestyle fries that were nicely seasoned and crispy. We could not pass up dessert since there was a tray of French macarons in the bakery section. We sampled a pistachio and a blueberry variety. Both were good,

The BAT with Sweet Crack Bacon

The BAT with Sweet Crack Bacon

especially the blueberry, but the delicate shells were too crunchy.

There were only two employees working during our meal, one of them being the chef, Nathan Toubia. It was  fun to have him personally wait on us, although I hope they plan to add more help so he can stay in the kitchen. During busier times I would be concerned about the quality of service with such a small staff. We do plan on going back to try the breakfast and lunch menus especially since they have something called waffle nachos.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Birds-On-The-Roof/1410823972467327

Birds on the Roof Bakery & Cafe on Urbanspoon

Ninza Sushi Bar

5 Dec

For being in a landlocked state, Wichita has a fairly decent sushi scene. Over the last several years the additions of Wasabi and Kanai have really raised the bar for what diners expect in their raw and delicious Japanese fare. Ninza, which opened earlier this year is making a name for itself as another solid sushi option. Tucked away in a strip mall at Tyler and 13th, Ninza is not very visible from the main roads, but  just drive around the parking lot for a while and you’ll find it. Inside the restaurant is an open floor plan with the option of sitting at the sushi bar for your meal. The atmosphere at Ninza is a bit more laid back compared to other sushi joints. The music was not blaring and the noise level was tolerable.

The Snow Coconut Roll

The Snow Coconut Roll

While looking over the menu I noticed that the quantity of  Ninza’s offerings were not quite as daunting as others can be. Nothing is more frustrating than turning through pages of complex maki rolls trying to figure out what in the world to order. Ninza offers a good variety of classic, baked, and tempura maki rolls as well as sashimi.  Some of the maki rolls are rather creative utilizing such ingredients as fried garlic, cream cheese, mozzarella, and peanut butter. Besides sushi, Ninza offers some unique appetizers and salads including a Japanese burrito, deep fried jalapeno with cream cheese, pickled octopus salad, and salmon skin salad. For those that for some reason don’t order sushi at a sushi restaurant there are a couple of options, but not many. On our visit we decided to try three different maki rolls starting with the classic California roll, a baked Snow Coconut roll, and a tempura Honey Stone roll. We also ordered one of their specials that night, ramen style noodles. The California was average and

Real Ramen Noodles: No Microwave Needed

Real Ramen Noodles: No Microwave Needed

was certainly overshadowed by the other two rolls. The Honey Stone was very similar to the Stonehenge that is available at Wasabi. It had fried crab, tempura shrimp, avocado, and cream cheese. Although it was not as good as the Stonehenge it was a nonetheless delightful. The Snow Coconut was my favorite of the night. The roll consisted of shrimp tempura, coconut flakes, peanut butter, avocado, crab, and cilantro. While this combination may sound questionable it was actually very good. It reminded me of deconstructed  Thai peanut sauce with the coconut, peanut butter, and cilantro playing nicely together. The large plate of ramen noodles was a hit with our son, although much of it ended up on the floor when he decided he needed to use chopsticks. The noodles were tossed in a light sauce with a few sautéed veggies. My only complaint was that pickled ginger and wasabi paste did not come with each roll. I enjoy clearing out my sinuses with some wasabi. I wish Ninza were closer to our house because it is another good option for sushi in town. Hopefully we will head back soon to try some of the more exotic appetizers and salads they have to offer as well as the roll  served in a ring of fire. Just check out some of their pictures on Facebook if you need any more convincing to visit. https://www.facebook.com/pages/Ninza-Sushi-Bar/487908747938606 Ninza Sushi Bar on Urbanspoon

Oh Yeah! China Bistro

18 Nov

When most people think of  the Americanized version of Chinese food, visions of buffets and those little white cardboard boxes come to mind. Fortunately there are many restaurants in Wichita where diners can enjoy fresh made American Chinese food that has not been sitting for an extended period of time at the Dillons Chinese Kitchen(although they do have damn good crab rangoon). Oh Yeah! China Bistro, located just north of 29th and Rock, is one such restaurant.

Up Close and Personal With Some Delicious Pork Dumplings

Up Close and Personal With Some Delicious Pork Dumplings

At the risk of sounding blasphemous Oh Yeah! reminded me of the late great Kwan Court, at least from an ambiance prospective. The interior is certainly more upscale than most Chinese restaurants in town and there is plenty of seating. Much to our son’s delight they already had their Christmas tree up and a big laughing buddha statue.

Calling themselves a Chinese Bistro is somewhat misleading because the menu is a greatest hits of Asian cuisine. Besides a comprehensive list of Chinese dishes there are Korean, Thai, and Japanese items. If you want Panang Curry and your dining partner wants Udon noodles you are in luck. The menu is also very accommodating for vegetarians as many of the dishes can be ordered without meat or with a tofu substitute. In addition to the food options, Oh Yeah offers a plethora of fresh juices and teas. Most main dishes range from $8-$15 making Oh Yeah on the pricier side of most Asian places in town.

Honey Shrimp

Honey Shrimp

On our visit we started off with an order of pan fried pork dumplings and for our main dishes I had the Egg Foo Young and Steph went with the Honey Shrimp. The pan fried dumplings were an excellent way to start the meal. The outside was slightly crispy, while the rest of the dumpling was very tender. The filling of pork and mushrooms was good and a soy and ginger dipping sauce added additional flavors to the dish. The honey shrimp dish came with an ample amount of shrimp and just a few broccoli florets. While the honey sauce was tasty, the shrimp were breaded too

Egg Foo Young: Delicious Chinese Omelet

Egg Foo Young: Delicious Chinese Omelet

heavily for our liking. We were hoping that it would be more tempura style, similar to a dish at the old Kwan Court. My order of Egg Foo Young tasted as good as it looked. The base was a large omelet that was piled high with stir fried beef, chicken, shrimp, and veggies. The sauce was on the sweet side, but had a nice touch of spiciness to it as well. It’s not too often that I can’t finish my meal, but this large portion left me asking for a to go box.

While we thought that Oh Yeah! was a bit overpriced, for the most part the food was good. If you want to enjoy Asian food in a more upscale environment with a bottle of wine perhaps Oh Yeah! is worth trying out.
http://www.ohyeahchinabistro.com/index.html

Oh Yeah China Bistro on Urbanspoon

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