Saturday, March 30, 2013

Rib Tip Fried Rice - KC's Southern Style Rice

I've been wanting to try KC's Southern Style Rice ever since I read about it in the Commercial Appeal a couple years ago. KC's offers Southern variations of fried rice like rib tip fired rice, hamburger fried rice and bologna fried rice alongside standard Southern fare like burgers, catfish, rib tips and chicken tenders. Unfortunately,  due to the way my work route is laid out I'm normally only on the section of S. Third Street where the take-out restaurant in a trailer is located on Mondays, when it is closed. 

The trailer is in the Triple S Flea Market on Third in between Raines and Shelby Drive. It is open 1-9 on Wednesdays and Thursdays and 1-10 on Fridays and Saturdays.

Apparently the full name of the business is KC's Southern Style Rice, Auto Detailing and Parking Lot Cleaning. Entrepreneurs in the Whitehaven/South Memphis area frequently combine comically unrelated businesses.

On the Way to KC's I also passed a place where it appeared you could pick up some soul food and get your bluejeans starched,  but they were closed so I didn't get to check it out. It may seem funny to most suburbanites, but those suburbanites don't think twice about getting photographs printed at a drug store or visiting a Super Wal-Mart where tires, tube socks, shotguns and groceries are all offered for sale. Shrewd business owners look for extra revenue wherever they see potential for it.

On Thursday I finally ended up driving past the KC's trailer on a day it was open. I was torn between ordering the rib tip fried rice and the bologna fried rice. I ultimately went with the rib tips since it let me sample the barbecue and the fried rice at the same time. The guy who took my order told me there would be a 15 minute wait for my food and that wait actually ended up being over 20 minutes. But it was a beautiful spring day, I had a copy of the day's Commercial Appeal with me and a booth next to the KC's trailer had reggae music playing; so waiting in my work vehicle with the window down while reading the paper and listening to the background music was a pleasant experience. If you don't want to wait on your food you can text your order to 901-859-3400 and have it ready when you show up. Be sure to wait for a confirmation that your order was received.

When my order finally came out it was gigantic.  The rice and vegetables were infused with a delicious smoke flavor. It came with a container of barbecue sauce and packets of soy sauce and duck sauce, but it was already good enough that I just ate it as-served other than dipping some of my rib tip bites in the flavorful barbecue sauce.

I know this blog spends a lot of time discussing how harmful high blood sugar levels caused by consuming excess sugar and starches are to the body. But a big pile of greasy carbs was exactly what I was craving during my stop at KC's. The guys behind the highly-recommended Manic American blog had been in Memphis enjoying our food and culture for a week and I had been out late the night before guiding them around our late-night dive bar scene. They seemed to be having a blast during their stay here. I had the pleasure of hanging out with them a couple different nights in grimy local treasures like the Wild Bill Blues Club, the P&H Cafe and the Lamplighter bar. I can't wait to see the full coverage of their visit posted on their website.

Back on the subject of the amazing fried rice, the rib tips were large portions with a nice bark on their outer edges. I enjoyed eating them but I frequently had to pick them up and eat them separate from the rice, especially the sections that had cartilage in them that needed to be separated from the meat. The next time I stop by KC's I may try the bologna fried rice instead.

I think the bologna version sounds promising but later that day my wife disagreed. My wife had seen the picture of the fried rice I'd posted on Instagram and sent me a text telling me to save some for her. She didn't need to ask. My serving of fried rice was so big I only managed to eat half of it despite being extremely hungry. And the leftover half-serving I brought home still looked like a full order of food.

My wife came home from work immediately asking, "Where is that leftover rice?" Once she pounced on it she quickly declared, "This is one of the best things I've ever eaten." She ate half the leftovers, then put the other half in the fridge, declaring it hers and threatening me with bodily harm if I tried to touch it.

KC's is located just south of the Crystal Palace skating rink on Third. If you are a Memphian you should recognize it from the movie Hustle & Flow since if you are a Memphian you should have seen that movie at least 50 times.

Here is the menu for anyone who wants to text in an order. The whole and half-slab ribs are no longer available.

KC's Southern Style Rice on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

A Welcome West Memphis Addition - Razorback

When I first walked up to the Razorback Bar-B-Q building in West Memphis last week I was concerned about the lack of smokey barbecue aroma coming from the business. But when I go inside an employee was feeding wood into a large old-fashioned pit built into a brick wall and getting ready to light it, so my concerns ended up being baseless. I'd just arrived in between cooking sessions.

Razorback recently opened in a space that had been a country cooking restaurant called Madea's. I never got a chance to try Madea's before it closed and I don't know if the owners of that establishment have anything to do with the recently-opened Madea's soul food restaurant in Frayser.

After glancing over the menu I asked the two employees present which they thought was better between the ribs and the pulled pork. "I just took the ribs off this morning and they turned out great today," was the answer I got so I ordered a half-slab plate.

The hefty portion of ribs was incredibly tender and served in my preferred dry-with-sauce-on-the-side manner. They didn't have a ton of smoke flavor but I liked the dry rub on them. The beans and slaw were both pretty standard with the slaw being creamy but not obnoxiously so.

There were three types of sauce available on the counter -- "Sweet Hoggy Style," "Woo Pig" and "Spicy Sooie"' -- so naturally I opted to try all three. I'm not a fan of overly sweet sauces so the ketchupy "Sweet Hoggy Style" was unsurprisingly my least favorite. I am normally a fan of spicy sauces but at Razorback the "Spicy Sooie" didn't pack very much heat and I didn't think it had as good of an overall flavor balance as the "Woo Pig," which ended up being my favorite. I used all of the sauces sparingly to avoid over-saucing ribs that were good enough to be enjoyed as-served. And by the time I was done eating the pit was going well enough to be pumping out the smokey aroma I love; the restaurant is just new enough that the smell hasn't permanently permeated the building yet.

Razorback is doing good things, especially for a place that has only been open a couple months. And since it sits on the section of Missouri Street in between I-55/240 and the main drag of Broadway I'm pretty much guaranteed to drive past it every time work takes me to West Memphis, making it a convenient addition to my go-to list of places to stop for lunch.

 Razorback Bar-B-Q on Urbanspoon

Monday, March 25, 2013

Not Actually a Restaurant - Momma B's

I recently stopped in at "Momma B's Soul Food, Bar-B-Que & Breakfast" on Elvis Presley Boulevard just north of Clementine (AKA "Cripintine"). The extremely uninviting building is actually just a convenience store with a case of misleading signage similar to what I encountered at "King's Home Cooking" on Lamar.

Given the cleanliness of the building and the crime statistics for the surrounding neighborhood I can't pretend that I was too disappointed when Momma B's ended up being somewhere I could cross off the list for my quest with a brief Grandpa Simpson-style visit.

Pork-Focused Follow-Up - More Brad's

The last time I stopped and had barbecue at the Brad's in Oakland, TN, was right after I'd gotten back the results from having my cholesterol numbers checked and my post about the visit ended up digressing into a lengthy discussion of how a barbecue and soul food-based diet had increased my heart health with little talk of the actual food at the restaurant.

A month ago* I stopped back for an attempt at a more on-topic post about the restaurant. The ribs I'd had on my first visit had been pretty good so the second time around I decided to try a pulled pork dinner. While I've enjoyed the pulled pork from the Bartlett location, I've heard rumors that it is the only location with a real barbecue pit.

I don't know if that is true, but I can confirm that there was no evidence of smoke in the pulled pork I had at the Oakland location. The meat still had a good texture, and Brad's has really good barbecue sauce that helps out the flavor tremendously. The beans and slaw were good in an average sort of way. It is worth eating there if you are already stuck in Oakland, especially given how underwhelming the handful of other dining choices out there are. For anyone in the barbecue Mecca of Memphis, I certainly wouldn't make a special trip to the little speed-trap town to try it.

*Yes I've fallen a month behind in my blogging. While rebuilding my '55 Ford project car I'd reached a point where I needed to have it hauled to Memphis Collision to have part of the frame straightened on the frame machine there due to some damage it suffered it the wreck that instigated the project. While it was gone I took advantage of the extra space by finishing out my garage. So for a month almost all my spare time was spent hanging drywall; then mudding, sanding and painting.

Brad's Bar-B-Q on Urbanspoon

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Molcajete - Bucanas

When my wife and I travelled to Sayulita, Mexico, last December with several friends for a wedding one of our friends ordered a dish called molcajete at a restaurant in the village during our visit. He later lovingly referred to the overflowing lava rock bowl of deliciousness as the "meat bowl thing."

If turns out that molcajete is actually the name of the lava rock bowl itself, although many restaurants in the U.S. serve imitations of the dish my friend had in plastic bowls. Most of the renditions we've seen here since our return have been unimpressive enough for us to refer to them as sadness bowls.

About a month ago I saw a review in the Commercial Appeal for the recently-opened Bucanas Mexican Restaurant on Summer near Perkins. The part of the review that immediately grabbed my eye was where writer Jennifer Biggs mentioned that, "the star of the menu is the molcajete, a dish named for the big bowl in which it's served. While you've almost certainly seen the plastic version of the three-footed bowl holding salsa at other Mexican restaurants, this is a real molcajete, a bowl made of volcanic rock and traditionally used as a mortar and pestle in the preparation of Mexican cuisine."

Since Bucanas shares a parking lot with imported tool emporium Harbor Freight (AKA Hazard Fraught) I knew I'd have to make a stop there the next time I was out that way shopping for ultra-cheap, ultra-unreliable and shoddy tools. That opportunity came two Mondays ago, since the low Harbor Freight prices continually draw gearheads in even though we generally know better. 

The molcajete lives up to all the expectations you'd have for a dish described on the menu as "chicken, steak and shrimp cooked with cactus, chorizo, cheese and onions in a very spicy sauce." At $14.99 it isn't cheap, but it comes with tortillas, rice beans and guacamole salad. I ate until I was full and ended up taking home enough food for a second meal.

The Wikipedia entry on molcajete mentions that "the molcajete stays hot for a very long time, and it is not unusual for a dish to still be bubbling a half hour after serving." I took this video after I'd already been looking at my bowl of food waiting for it to cool down enough to eat for about 10 minutes.

The dining area at Bucanas has a large dance floor and a stage loaded with instruments making it obvious that it turns into more of a dance club in the evening but during the day it is a quiet place to grab lunch. And there isn't much more I can say in a review since if reading the ingredients in the molcajete bowl and seeing a video of one bubbling away didn't make you crave one then I have already failed with this post.   

Bucanas on Urbanspoon