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eGfoodblog: Kent Wang


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Hi Kent -

Thanks so much for blogging. My family is all from Houston, so I go there a few times a year. It seems like we always go to the same tried and true places so it's good to see your haunts!

I can't wait for bbq. I can sometimes convince the fam that it's necessary to make the trek to Luling, but usually we stick to Goods. My grandparents were Ottos fans but my dad refuses to go there.

Cheers!

Nina

The Kitchn

Nina Callaway

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Lunch in Galveston at Charles' house. Galveston Island is 30 miles southeast of Houston. It is an old seaport and one of the oldest cities in Texas. Had it not been devastated by the 1900 Storm, Galveston would probably be the largest city in the South today and Houston would have never developed to be a major city. Well, this is the typical wistful speculation every Galvestonian will tell you if given the opportunity.

Charles' family lives in an old historical home.

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Dining room.

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Some take-out from Benno's, a mediocre cajun restaurant. Fried catfish, fried shrimp, fried oysters, crab balls, hush puppies.

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An impromptu salad.

Kent, this is a lovely blog. We have white pelicans here in Oklahoma. Here on Grand Lake and over in the Panhandle. Indeed, we have Pelican Festival here each year and there is a Pelican on the City Seal.

Your white bird is a crane, I believe. All of our herons are blue.

All of you folks who think Oklahoma and Texas are the pits stay right where you are.

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Good thing I didn't buy any shrimp from the boats! My mother's friend's neighbor is a shrimp fisherman (a shrimper?). So we bought ten pounds of fresh, never-been-processed shrimp directly from him.

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Kent, is the Old Place Cafe back there at the end of this mall?  That's kind of what it looks like, and that's one of my favorite Chinese cafes in Houston.  Have you tried it?

No, I haven't heard of the place. What regional cuisine is it?

Kent great blog!..Your pictures are wonderful.  What type of camera are you using, and in the restaurants, what settings, since you seem to have a good light source, and I can't imagine you would be using the flash.  Thanks.

Just an old point and shoot, the Panasonic DMC-FX01. The only trick is to take photos when the sun is still out, so that's why I often dine early.

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Kent, is the Old Place Cafe back there at the end of this mall?  That's kind of what it looks like, and that's one of my favorite Chinese cafes in Houston.  Have you tried it?

No, I haven't heard of the place. What regional cuisine is it?

Unfortunately, I'm not sure. But the noodles and dumplings are wonderful. It's on Highway 6. And everytime I've been in there, it's packed with Chinese, so I don't think it's Westernized. You might give it a try next time you're in Houston.

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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hi, kent. :biggrin: enjoying the blog tremendously.

now i'm really missing the asian/se asian markets and restaurants in austin and on the gulf coast. miss the fresh seafood on the coast. one thing about living where i do on lake michigan, our asian population is so small that people have to trek 70 miles south to chicago or 40 miles north to milwaukee to find an asian market. i'm working on them at the local grocery store and they are getting better about at least stocking some basics. although i'm much happier with the weather and enjoying exploring regional food here that is different than what was readily available around austin/houston/corpus... i desperately miss asian food markets and restaurants.

nice pics. i'll have to check out your website too. looking forward to some vicarious bbq soon. :wub:

Judith Love

North of the 30th parallel

One woman very courteously approached me in a grocery store, saying, "Excuse me, but I must ask why you've brought your dog into the store." I told her that Grace is a service dog.... "Excuse me, but you told me that your dog is allowed in the store because she's a service dog. Is she Army or Navy?" Terry Thistlewaite

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Saturday lunch. On the way back from Houston to Austin, I took a detour to the city of Luling, a major producer of watermelon and home to City Market, one of the best barbecue restaurants in the world.

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Watermelon water tower.

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I bought two yellow-flesh watermelons for $5.

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Watermelon trash can. Note all the trucks.

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I have been to all of the top ten (by expert consensus) Central Texas-style barbecue restaurants, and City Market is in my personal top five.

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Not everyone in Texas wears cowboy hats, but they are more common in rural areas such as this.

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All good Central Texas barbecue restaurants have you order by the pound. The three staples are always beef brisket, pork ribs and sausage. Sometimes beef ribs, mutton and ribeye are offered but not here.

The sign also states: "No fork. Use fingers."

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The meats are cooked in huge pits. This is why there aren't traveling barbecue competitions in Central Texas like there are for the Kansas City and Carolina styles; the pits can't be hitched to a truck and hauled to a competition site.

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Meats are sliced to order and served on butcher paper, no plates. I bought several pounds to take home for dinner with friends, and a bit to eat right way.

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Sausage, brisket, pork ribs.

A bit about the Central Texas style of barbecue: Unlike other styles, we do not use sauce. All the flavor comes from wood smoke (usually oak) and the dry rub used on the meats. It is because of this minimalism that I believe that the Central Texas style is the best, most pure and true style of barbecue. After all, steaks are cooked in the same way, not drowned with sauce. Therefore the best Central Texas barbecue is the best barbecue in the world -- nay, the universe!

Brisket is the most important of the meats. When ordering, one can specify moist or dry (fatty or lean). This is like an insiders' secret. If you don't ask for "brisket moist", you'll probably be stuck with an inferior cut. But if you utter those magic words, the meat cutter will know that you are serious about barbecue and give you the best cut.

Every place uses a different rub. City Market's is very minimalist, even compared to the other top Central Texas joints, with just sugar, salt and a bit of pepper.

The sausage is also minimally seasoned. You can buy their sausage raw and attempt to cook it yourself but it will taste very bland. The flavor comes not from spices or seasoning but from the wood smoke and the juicy fat. The casing is of course natural and not synthetic and has a unique snap to it. While biting down on this sausage I sprayed a rivulet of fat five feet across the table. Fortunately, no one was hit.

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The usual sides at Central Texas barbecue restaurant are potato salad and coleslaw. City Market only has potato salad -- and a mediocre one at that.

So if we don't use barbecue sauce on the meats, what do we use it for? On the potato salad!

More about City Market and Central Texas barbecue.

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Sunday dim sum at Shanghai restaurant, a new place that opened up recently.

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Beef tendon, phoenix claw (chicken feet with black bean sauce), bean curd roll.

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Shao mai, turnip cake, har gaw (shrimp dumpling).

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Deep-fried bean curd roll. I've had a lot of dim sum in my life but I've never had this dish before. Not terribly novel as it's just a simple permutation of the classic bean curd roll, but it's a nice change of pace.

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Dumplings.

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Jellyfish with daikon slices.

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Steamed barbecue pork buns.

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Steamed pork spare ribs with fermented black beans.

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Roasted pork belly.

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Sesame balls with red bean paste filling.

We already have some very good dim sum in Austin with Pao's Mandarin House and T&S Seafood, but Shanghai has become my favorite. They serve all the Cantonese classics and everything is well executed. Unfortunately, despite being called Shanghai they do not have the quintessential Shanghai dish: xiaolongbao aka Shanghai soup dumpling. It is surprising that one cannot find xiaolongbao at all in Texas except in Dallas.

Maybe one last meal tonight and then I will have to bid everyone farewell.

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A bit about the Central Texas style of barbecue: Unlike other styles, we do not use sauce. All the flavor comes from wood smoke (usually oak) and the dry rub used on the meats. It is because of this minimalism that I believe that the Central Texas style is the best, most pure and true style of barbecue. After all, steaks are cooked in the same way, not drowned with sauce. Therefore the best Central Texas barbecue is the best barbecue in the world -- nay, the universe!

I'll give you the minimalist preparation, but having been brought up on Kansas City 'cue, I'd probably have to be restrained lest I put sauce on the meat. And there are certainly as many variations on sauces as there are rubs! One of these days, I'd like to visit one of those places in Alabama where the barbecue sauce is white -- based on mayonnaise.

But: "...steaks are cooked in the same way..." They don't slow-smoke steaks, do they? That would be unique indeed, for I've always understood steak as requiring high heat to sear and direct heat to grill.

I will allow that Texas 'cue is damn fine eatin'. Any distance beyond that, I'm not willing to go.

Speaking of minimalist, though: You managed to pack a lot of content into one of the shortest blogs in post count I've yet read. I guess a picture really is worth a thousand words. The photos were gorgeous, and it was fascinating to learn that Chinese and African-American culinary traditions are closely related. Thanks for a most educational and efficient blog!

Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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But: "...steaks are cooked in the same way..."  They don't slow-smoke steaks, do they?  That would be unique indeed, for I've always understood steak as requiring high heat to sear and direct heat to grill.

I mean that steaks are just seasoned with salt and pepper and it would be blasphemous to smear some steak sauce on to it.

Anyway, I know the barbecue issue is a contentious one. I do believe that Central Texas is the One True Barbecue, but I don't expect to convert you.

-----

No more dinner, I'm stuffed!

Thank you everyone for tuning in and for the kind words.

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Kent, is the Old Place Cafe back there at the end of this mall?  That's kind of what it looks like, and that's one of my favorite Chinese cafes in Houston.  Have you tried it?

No, I haven't heard of the place. What regional cuisine is it?

Unfortunately, I'm not sure. But the noodles and dumplings are wonderful. It's on Highway 6. And everytime I've been in there, it's packed with Chinese, so I don't think it's Westernized. You might give it a try next time you're in Houston.

Yes it's in the back of that mall on the right. The cuisine is the same, northern chinese. I personally like Lucky Pot better same cuisine, same shopping center, few doors down.

Ask your parents to take you to Sinh Sinh next time. Of the entire menu, I believe they have less quality stuff, but their seafood is live like the spot shrimp, live fish, live softshells in the summer. etc etc.

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Sunday dim sum at Shanghai restaurant, a new place that opened up recently.

gallery_28661_4880_66268.jpg

Shao mai, turnip cake, har gaw (shrimp dumpling).

gallery_28661_4880_98071.jpg

Steamed pork spare ribs with fermented black beans.

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Roasted pork belly.

OMG! I checked your blog last night before I went to bed and I wound up so hungry from these pictures I almost couldn't sleep! Those are many of my favorites, especially the turnip cakes and the spare ribs. Josh and I used to have dim sum all the time, but we never get to any more since we don't have any days off. I miss it so much!

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I was way busy with "real life" stuff :laugh: all week so I'm only catching up now with your blog, Kent--excellent stuff.

Kent, your commentary is fascinating and the images stellar! I'm nominating you to do another eG foodblog from Shanghai when you get settled there.

I'd like to enthusiastically second this motion!

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