November 2012

I’ve cooked roasting meats to 16, 24, and 48 hour sous vide, and after a number of these experiments, tend to the following rules of thumb:

  1. 12 hour range for softer steak-like roasts (round roasts).
  2. 24 hours or so for cuts with more connective tissue, such as chuck roast.
  3. Tri tip roast, lacking connective tissue of any kind, optimal around 2 hours

This one was an experiment in overnight cooking, and times were more or less set by when I started one evening (I had an afternoon appointment) and when I normally would get up in the morning. The span of cooking was 11 hours, the technique more or less identical to this link. The meat used was a supermarket eye of round. All the spicing was dry spicing this time, though I added a touch of ground cumin to this one.

Eye of round, dry spiced and later placed in a vacuum seal bag.

After I woke up, I fished out the meat and cut. The meat was, by this point, notably tender.

A lot of the color of these roasts bleeds into the bag juices, thus they tend to be pinker than steaks cooked by the same method.

I taste tested with my daughter. She thought it a little too soft, I thought it was fine. 8 hours wouldn’t hurt this meat, and the 8-10 range, I would guess, seems about right.

There is food, and there is food as show. Some people want a quiet plate of tonkatsu. Others want the flash of teppanyaki style cooking. Honey Pig is really in the latter camp in terms of Korean BBQ, very much making the food a show. The inside is attractive, stuffed with pigs of various kinds, a pig with wings suspended from the roof, lots of wood and wait staff all dressed in black.

There is a large grill that centers every table. It has an rounded shape, and a nice handle, to make it easier to pick up after the metal cools down. A hole on one side lets out the grease as the meat grills. There is a temperature control on one side, and by the control, a hemispherical button, which you press to alert staff if you’re not getting enough attention (we didn’t need the button).

The surface on which the meats are cooked. In the upper right is a complimentary carafe of water.

The roof is industrial and there was as much overhead ducting as I’ve seen since my days at Mirak Korean.

We chose three meats, their brisket, their honey pig, and their marinated bulgogi. We didn’t want the fried rice they normally finish with. Our staff started by adding useful collections of sauces and sides, then dropped plenty bean sprouts and kimchi onto the grill.

Dipping sauces. Note the button. In a Korean restaurant, you use that button to call over waiters.

On the left are rice cake sheets (to put veggies and meats in), the middle a very salty dipping sauce, on the right cold kimchi soup, which we sipped to cleanse our palate of stronger meat flavors.

Scallion salad, they call this.

We had a waiter, who cooked the kinchi and the meats, and made sure everyone had what they wanted. Of the meats, we liked the beef the best.

Excellent beef.

Metal chopsticks and a spoon (for rice).

The honey pig wasn’t bad either, a bit less fatty than common pork belly.

Honey pig.

The bulgogi was a little disappointing. We’d probably go with two servings of the beef next time.

The impression I got was a restaurant exceptionally friendly to Korean beginners. There is a lot of show on the table. The well dressed staff were personable and spoke excellent English. It doesn’t have the camp appeal of Iron Age, but neither does it feel like you need to come straight from a karaoke bar with a crowd of same sex friends to get the best out of it either. It’s a better family spot, despite the thump, disco-like, of the Kpop background music. It’s not the meat and seafood bargain that Cho Wan is, but it has a menu with fewer fails, and is easier to navigate.

So go there. If you’ve never done Korean and it scares you a little, especially go there.

Honey Pig
(770) 476-9292
3473 Old Norcross Rd NW
Duluth, GA 30096

Honey Pig on Urbanspoon

Atlanta Things To Do on raveable

Moon’s Family is a Chloe “find“, full of rich soups, ladies that speak only Korean, and crisp green banchan that would please anyone who hates the recycled stuff. I went recently, because I wanted to try something different. The soon dubu, IMO, is as good as Chloe Morris said it would be; to be considered among the best in town.

Almost no English in their signage.

Crisp, fresh banchan.

Babimbap. At Moon’s, you toss your bowl of steamed rice over the top and mix.

Seafood soon dubu. Thicker than most, more seafood variety than most, and IMO, a richer flavor than many silky tofu soups in town.

I’m not the Korean hound that Chloe is, but I’ve eaten in a few of these places. For those eaters who need people to speak English clearly, you would be better served by Honey Pig, which is in the same mall. I was served off and on by three women, each with different levels of English skills, and one who asked if I wanted a check by making the shape of a check with her hands (my Japanese mother-in-law will trace the outline of a check in the air to indicate that she needs one. Ironically, some rather authentic Japanese restaurants in town don’t get it). Yes, very much a point and choose place.

If you’re a foodie and don’t have good coping skills, go with a friend that does. Soon dubu joints are not hard to navigate and this one has a larger menu than many. You might want to try their grilled mackerel, or their jigaes as well.

Moon’s Family Restaurant
3473 Old Norcross Rd
Duluth, GA 30096
(770) 622-7780

Moon Family  on Urbanspoon

Our waitress said, “The chef told me, a Dreamlands rib done right should taste like a pork chop.” Well, they are tender, but not fall off the bone tender. Some meat does stick to the bone. The ribs are juicy, and you can smear juices ear to ear and feel like a 3 year old again. The ribs are huge and the serving enormous.

White bread and sauce; comes with the ribs.

Cooked to evoke the taste of a pork chop. Dreamland’s rib servings are enormous; their ribs are flavorful and juicy.

What they are not is appreciably indirectly smoked. Sauce and rich meat carries the flavor. The meat itself is cooked for 45 minutes to an hour over hickory flames.

This place is hard to find, even though we’ve been to Tuscaloosa plenty and stopped in hotels mere blocks from this place. When I set the closest location to the original Dreamlands in our GPS, I took a small wandering road through a bunch of hotels back to a more residential district. At a three way intersection, I turned right and there it was.

It is a plain, simple eatery, with very little on the menu. Sausage, ribs, and rib sandwiches pretty much are the choices. Order your food, it comes out. Servings are, as previously stated, enormous. The food is what it is. It will not be the favorite of a smoke head, but the juicy ribs are delicious nonetheless.

Other Dreamlands reviews of note:

3rd Degree Berns
Cynical Cook
Marie Let’s Eat

5535 15th Ave E
Tuscaloosa, AL 35405
(205) 758-8135

Dreamland Bar-B-Que on Urbanspoon

The next best thing in this store are their chicken fingers, full and richly flavored. Their four pack is worth a lot of trouble. The *best* thing are the people coming in to buy this food, young men who would be equally at home in a Marine Corps recruiting poster or draped in T shirt and shorts on the pages of GQ magazine, or the young willowy cheerleaders with their drill sergeant dads.

The sandwich was drenched in sauce.

Best bang for buck is the four finger combo.

The worst thing about this place are the staff, sullen and indifferent, with a ‘eff you’ attitude and no real ability to respond to requests. My wife asked that no sauce be put on her fingers; her fingers were drenched with sauce. Nothing she asked for she received, and staff seemed annoyed that she bothered to ask.

Enjoy the fingers. Enjoy the eye candy customers. The staff here, be warned, are wretched.

Raising Cane’s
659 N. Service Rd. East
Ruston, LA, 71270
(318) 254-0354

Raising Cane's Chicken Fingers on Urbanspoon

In Richardson, a suburb of Dallas, Texas, they have a seafood spot called Big Shucks.

This isn’t a place to eat and watch football, unless your game is fútbol. But it does offer some Latin influenced dishes. This shrimp cocktail, rich in cilantro and tasting more like a juiced up salsa, is one of them.

Big Shucks
103 S Coit Rd
Richardson, TX 75080
(972) 231-8202

Big Shucks on Urbanspoon

Going to this place was like stepping into my past. I recall a time when I was in grad school in Houston, in the 1980s, where, if someone really wanted to treat you, they would take you to this chain. The one we knew of was in the River Oaks district, near a Chili’s and not that far from the River Oaks theater. It was fantastic. And when we moved later to Orlando FL, the local Black Eyed Pea was one of the hardest restaurants to get into.

Move forward some years and in Atlanta, Black Eyed Peas weren’t all that good. Service was terrible. Food might be good, but who could tolerate the lousy waiters of the time? It wasn’t too long before all of these in the ATL were converted to Folks restaurants.

Evidently there was a bankruptcy in the chain at one point, and staff at this Black Eyed Pea said that there had been some staff loss to Denny’s, that the improvements in the Denny’s you guys have seen came at the expense of BEP. Hey, I can’t confirm it, but merely can report it.

decent fried pickles.

Chicken fried chicken was excellent. Good green beans. Fried okra weren’t crisp at all.

So, was it as good as we rememberd? Well, entrees, yes. Sides ranged from very good to a very ordinary serving of fried okra. Service was excellent, and the chicken fried chicken my wife got was transporting.

Maybe this chain will grow again. We’ll see.

Black Eyed Pea
7979 Belt Line Rd
Dallas, TX 75254
(972) 490-1932

Black Eyed Pea on Urbanspoon

It’s part of the Assi Supermarket food court, but not the part facing the chairs and seating. Rather, Sky is in that section that looks out into the market itself. So, to get there, weave your way through all the boxes, pass China House (the noodle shop), and go round the corner.

Sky BBQ, for my daughter and I, is about the duck. Chloe and Bliss got us hooked on Chinese duck, mostly by talking about how wonderful Canton Cooks is. The first ‘wor sue duck’ I had there was excellent, and it demonstrated the three virtues of a good duck: crispy skin, creamy liquid fats, and tender, chewy dark meat. This triple whammy is what I’m looking for when I cruise for duck. And yes, Sky BBQ delivers.

Duck. Crispy, fatty, chewy, oh so good.

There are no frills here. I got duck to go and my daughter and I ate when we got home. It’s good for a booth-style eatery in a supermarket. Yes, Ming’s BBQ is nearby and more full featured, but don’t forget the little duck spot in Assi if you have a hankering for the duck triple whammy. You can get plenty triple whammy at Sky BBQ.

Gwinnett Place/Duluth
1630 Pleasant Hill Rd
Duluth, GA 30096
(770) 807-7289

Sky BBQ on Urbanspoon

What the picture says!

Competition this Saturday, Nov the 17th.

If you’re not a home brewer, show up and pony up 10.00. You’ll get a 2 oz glass and you can try as many brews as you like.

Seven Hens is a new fast food concept, located at the strip mall on the northeast corner of North Decatur Road and Clairmont. It features schnitzel sandwiches, though it can serve its meats grilled or tossed in a salad. Actually I should use the singular, as Seven Hens serves either chicken or tofu. You choose the style of your meal, a country (this defines the seasonings), and any sides you might prefer.

Seven Hens

Indian with french fries. I found the fries to be good ones.

Mexican with side salad.

My daughter and I both had grilled sandwiches. She chose Indian spicing, and I chose Mexican. Now both spice blends, to be fair, were okay, but both potent and tasted a little off. I wish, after the fact, that I’d tried the American or the French.

Now my wife is really the chicken eater in the family and she tends to well done meats and milder flavors. The flavors in these two sandwiches are hardly mild, and may be off putting to people just getting used to the concept. Marie Let’s Eat noted the French is the most popular; perhaps the flavor blends there won’t seem as jarring as the Indian or the Mexican did. I’m going to recommend the restaurant because it’s a nifty concept and if they get their flavors down pat they’ll have a winner. Right now this eatery is more “proof of concept”. In my opinion, Seven Hens is an attractive, appealing try.

Seven Hens
2140 North Decatur Plaza
Decatur, GA 30033
(404) 633-3000

Seven Hens on Urbanspoon

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