Naan N Curry is an Pakistani-Indian restaurant on Breckenridge Road a block or so north of the Breckenridge intersection on Pleasant Hill Road. It offers an inexpensive buffet at lunch, one very easy to get to and get into. Just pick up a plate, choose your foods, and pay once you’re done. The clientele are mixed. There are plenty of South Asians here, and watching whole families show in traditional dress is visually exciting.

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Buffet items. Top and right has cabbage curry.

Buffet items. Top and right has cabbage curry.

The buffet has perhaps 15-20 choices or so at lunch, a salad bar that contains chutneys, among other things, and slices of jalapenos that have pretty reasonable spice to them. The buffet is notably clean, not as confused as the one in Asma’s Cuisine.

There was one notable dish out of the ones served here. The cabbage curry is quite good and worth your time and effort. Other dishes were lacking something, perhaps even disappointing. I’ve never had a single solid piece of beef when I show here. All I see in the beef dishes are plenty of bones. Outside of the cabbage curry, the dishes lack spice.

Asma’s is a spicier, more interesting buffet in my opinion, nor does Naan N Curry rise to the level of the buffet in Moksha Kitchen. Now, you won’t suffer from eating here, but if you’re wanting plenty of flavor, consider alternatives.

Naan N Curry
3083 Breckinridge Blvd
Duluth, GA 30096
(770) 912-9924

Naan 'N Curry on Urbanspoon

My daughter wanted lamb chops, wanted to cook one herself and leave the other for me. I didn’t want to fight for the kitchen when she was using it, and I wanted a piece of meat cooked to the degree I wanted. Sous vide was the way to go, because I could start 2 hours ahead of time and just wait for my meat. I picked up some chops at the Publix on Pleasant Hill, the one near Fung Mei.

To note, Richard Blais has a fine sous vide recipe for lamb chops, up on the Sous Vide Supreme site. I was moving quickly with no time for marinades or fresh spices. So what I did was dry spice the meat before sealing it in the bag. I used dry rosemary and dry thyme, a large pinch of the spice on each side of the meat. I used a pepper blend instead of pure black pepper. The simplest version of the blend is cracked black pepper, crushed red pepper (i.e. the pepper flakes used on pizza), and a small amount of ground red pepper. Salt to taste, a dusting of garlic and onion powder and I sealed it in a bag.

Lamb chop, dry spiced and  ready to go into the pot.

Lamb chop, dry spiced and ready to go into the pot.

The finished meat. I added vegetables and ate it as is.

The finished meat. I added vegetables and ate it as is.

For purely idiosyncratic reasons, the meat stayed in the bag 2.5 hours at 131 F. I wasn’t interested in finishing on the stove, as I’ve found that thin meats in particular can go from medium rare to medium well before getting a decent crust. This chop wasn’t particularly thick. The chop was a fattier cut than most supermarket meats, and you have to get used to trimming sous vide meats before serving, because the fat isn’t rendered the way grilling or pan frying will.

I would say the chop compared well to other steaks I’ve cooked sous vide. I found my steak to have a little chew, and my daughter also found her meat to be chewy when pan fried. I’d consider 3 or 4 hours for meat of this quality.

The outside of Cafe USA is typical of strip mall fare, the inside full of memorabilia, a mature wry waitstaff, and more than decent breakfasts. It’s a place my father frequents when he doesn’t want to cook the first meal of the day himself.

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We had omelettes, grits, biscuits.

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Biscuits were good enough to order extras. Omelettes were good. I had a western omelette and my wife had a vegetarian omelette. At least as good were the staff, unpretentious and funny. Without our waitress our meal would have been a lot less memorable.

Cafe USA
3380 Barksdale Blvd
Bossier City, LA 71112
(318) 742-9600

Cafe USA on Urbanspoon

Bar-B-Q Shop is a spot we tried on the way home from Dallas, a recommendation of Marie Let’s Eat and notably, a favorite of the 3rd Degree Berns blog. It is an example of Memphis style barbecue, one that is less focused on smoke and more on sauce, really. Outside of the basics, like pulled pork and ribs, Memphis style has a dish called ‘bbq spaghetti’. We managed to try that as well in our trip here.

BBQ spaghetti.

BBQ spaghetti.

This style is not without its critics. Full Custom Gospel BBQ’s Daniel Vaughn, the barbecue critic for Texas Monthly these days, had very little good to say about the ‘cue here. Georgia BBQ Hunt tweeted that he’d not found a Memphis style eatery he was very impressed by. Both critics are heavily influenced by smoke-driven ‘cue, as really, am I. But some times other elements of the meal: ambiance, quality of service, commitment to a style, really count. This is one of those places.

On the way to Memphis we passed these untracked Bradley Fighting Vehicles being towed on trucks.

On the way to Memphis we passed these untracked Bradley Fighting Vehicles being towed on trucks.

Dry rub ribs and more

Dry rub ribs and more

Smoked turkey sandwich.

Smoked turkey sandwich.

Service here, we felt, was close to perfect. The people in the store were friendly, the care taken to our meal evident. The meats were pretty much as others have described, very light on smoke, very heavy on sauce. I felt the stock sauce was ordinary, but Bar-B-Q Shop’s spicy sauce was exceptionally good.

And though it doesn’t look like much, the bbq spaghetti was actually pretty good too.

To be fair, this excursion into the Memphis style isn’t going to stop me from looking for the smokiest meats around, but a meal or two at the Bar-B-Q Shop in Memphis isn’t going to hurt the hard core smoke hound. The quality spicy sauce, the tender meats, the care with which this restaurant treats customers goes a long way towards having a pleasant meal.

Bar-B-Q Shop
1782 Madison Ave
Memphis, TN 38104
(901) 272-1277

Bar-B-Q Shop on Urbanspoon

Jang Su Jang is not a place to try during peak hours, because you’ll wait. Koreans know the place cold, are the bulk of the customers here, and keep coming back. I don’t blame them. The building is well and strongly built, with thick wooden frames that evoke an almost medieval sense of solidity. The tools used here, the stone bowls, plates for stone bowls, are again, solidly constructed, and show signs of heavy heavy use. People eat here, and they eat here a lot.

In the  beginning, water and  barley  tea.

In the beginning, water and barley tea.

Banchan? As fresh as their reputation.

Banchan? As fresh as their reputation.

Soon dubu, a rich and thick version of this dish. Bowls used lack the shine of new ones being sold at Super H, and  show signs of heavy use.

Soon dubu, a rich and thick version of this dish. Bowls used lack the shine of new ones being sold at Super H, and show signs of heavy use.

Bibimbap construction kit. Toss this over the rice (in a stone bowl, not shown).

Bibimbap construction kit. Toss this over the rice (in a stone bowl, not shown).

Other reviewers (e.g. Sean, of Take Thou Food and Chloe, of Chow Down Atlanta) have remarked that the mandoo is exceptional here, the soon dubu (silky tofu soup) is quite good, and the other dishes are okay. Sean noted the freshness of the banchan, a real sticking point for him. Bella Viviere, by contrast, felt Jang Su Jang was generally good, but pricey. I had soon dubu this day, as did my wife, and my daughter had the bibimbap. We enjoyed what we had, but we didn’t eat enough to really challenge any critical notions of this place. I will say that if you eat sanely, this place is not expensive. It when you try to delve into various specials for 2 or more that it can become more expensive.

When you arrive you will be served barley tea. It’s an acquired taste, served other places as well. More Americanized spots won’t bother. There is a button on the table, as in many Korean eateries, but this one is a little hard to see and not as obvious as in many places. You can ring the button to tell waitstaff to come to your table. Banchan should come out just before your meal arrives. At lunch, service was actually pretty fast, even though there were enough folks the day we showed that we had a couple minute wait before being seated.

Everything we had was good. I liked the food, but the atmosphere, even more. If you want to feel immersed in the character of a culture, this place can put you into that frame of mind. It doesn’t act like an American eatery, and isn’t trying to be. But it’s accommodating enough to those who grew up around pine trees, cotton, peaches, and red clay, playing backyard football till you have to swim to cut through the sweat, that you’ll enjoy the meal. And for those looking for the “authentic experience”, this certainly can provide.

Jang Su Jang
3645 Satellite Boulevard
Duluth, GA 30096
(678) 475-9170

Jang Su Jang on Urbanspoon

Romie’s surprised us, a fine little lunch spot that would be successful pretty much anywhere. Featuring a meal and 3 at lunch and enormous sandwiches, this spot is a perfect stop on the way to Alabama from Memphis, TN.

That’s what we were doing recently, returning from a trip to Dallas by way of the Shreveport area. Rather than heading south through Meridian and Tuscaloosa, we went a little north, through Memphis and then down to Birmingham. After a stop in Memphis, we reached Tupelo around lunchtime. Asking the folks at the local gas station where to eat for lunch, Romie’s was recommended.

Romie's catfish po-boy, marinated cukes and tomatoes.

Romie’s catfish po-boy, marinated cukes and tomatoes.

Grilled chicken on wheatberry bread with fried green tomatoes.

Grilled chicken on wheatberry bread with fried green tomatoes.

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I’d say the lunch was a hit at our table. Yes, if we travel this route, we’d be happy to stop here again.

Romie’s Grocery
804 W Jackson Street
Tupelo, MS 38804
(662) 842-8986

Romie's Grocery on Urbanspoon

I’m going on vacation soon so this is a teaser. Hopefully I can put up a couple more shorts over the next week or so. I easily have enough information for a few days of posting, just no time recently. Hopefully things will be smoother and less frantic after the trip is over.

Mings BBQ, well known for inexpensive pork and duck dishes, also has a few that will challenge folks. This is one of them.

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I found it to be a good dish. Not as good as the pork intestines at the not-so-famous Tasty China on Peachtree Industrial (the Shaighainese place, not Sichuan), but still worth a try. Crispy outside, and gelatinous and delicate inside. My waitress tried to warn me away from the dish. I personally think it’s worth a try if you have a risk tasking personality.

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