Doan went to Kansas City over Labor Day weekend.

So this past weekend I went to celebrate a grandmother’s 100th birthday in Kansas City.  I should also note that I was born in Kansas City, moved away when I was 5, but went back almost every year to visit the many relatives I have there. I hadn’t been there in a good 5 or so years and when my parents said they were going, I said, “sure why not?”

Here are the highlights (please pardon my lack of photos).

Right off the plane I explained that I was hungry and I went with my cousin Khoi and his kids to Zarda BBQ for a quick barbecue fix. Kansas City is considered one of, if not the bbq capitals of the world, and bbq spots are to Kansas City what Kennedy Fried Chicken is to New York: ubiquitous. Zarda, I think because of its close proximity to my cousin’s house and good fare seems to be a go to when even I’m in town and I’m not complaining. I had a burnt ends sandwich and some cheesy potatoes, and both were solid stick to your ribs eats.  The burnt ends were meaty and smokey, the sauce tangy and spicey like I like it.

A few hours later, still full from my barbecue lunch, I accompanied Khoi and the whole clan to a fried chicken dinner at The Stonewall Inn, which is known for its pan-fried chicken and supposed ghosts. I had entered “I’m not hungry but I can force myself to eat” territory at this point so I wasn’t daring enough to go for the all-you-can-eat fried chickenn for $11 special, but I did get the two piece dinner which included mashed potatoes and pepper gravy (its been a while) and green beans. I chose leg and thigh for my pieces and once again, shit was solid. I kinda wish there was a little more spice to the chicken, but that’s just me being picky. Mashed potatoes were good, green beans I don’t like, and if I ever go back I’m getting the chicken livers with gravy. I’ve never been to Stroud’s, which some claim has the best fried chicken in Kansas City, but I was told that Stonewall rivals if not betters it. Stonewall also had an adjacent pizza place which looked packed, and long story short, I am definitely making this place the next time I’m in town.

The next day I went to a Thai buffet with my parents and some relatives. It was pretty good but I can’t remember what it was called. The highlight of that meal was the Thai curry pork fried rice (I’m a sucker for crunchy fried rice) and a slightly chilled spicy beef dish.

That night we all went to my aunt’s house to celebrate grandma’s 100th, and while it’s nothing new, the spread made me smile as it was a testament to some Vietnamese immigrants living in Kansas City. There were noodles, egg rolls (!), Vietnamese meatballs, and rice balls, and right next to that was some sliced brisket from Oklahoma Joe’s, ham and cheese croissants, and those Chinese pastry wrapped hotdogs. I had a nice mish mash of all of it and once again, ate myself silly.

The next day we stopped back at my aunt’s place where I had a great bowl of Bún bò, which literally translates to “cow noodles”. Later on for dinner I indulged myself on some smoked pork butt that my cousin Khoi had been smoking for the past day and I have to say that it was some of the best barbecue I’d had in a long time, and I’m not just saying that because he’s my cousin. I think he used a combination of hickory and apple and smoked that thing for about 14 hours and the meat was moist and smokey like a mofo. Topped off with some Gates’ barbecue sauce and I was somewhere in pork nirvana (come as you are).

Also in the mix for the weekend were aunts, uncles, cousins, the first house I ever lived in, the second house I ever lived in, where my dad used to work, and cases of Miller light, which were available in 16oz 12 packs(!). I didn’t make it to Winstead’s(though I’ve been there before) or get any Mexican, but there’s always next time right? I should also note that while much of the country suffers, KC has a Sonic for what seems like every 5 miles.

And then this morning I woke up at 5am to catch a flight. It was sort of a rude awakening to a short but jolly little weekend in cow town.

Here is the sign you pass when you leave Kansas to go into Missouri. I think it’s pretty funny.

that's what she said.

Making Bananas look like Bacon

Have you ever tried to turn your bananas in to something that resembled bacon and failed? I stumbled on the secret for success by accident tonight.

In Kaua’i, bananas are different. Most people here seem to grow all kinds of crazy fruit in their backyard, and these apple bananas are no different. They are stubby little bananas, that have a nice tang and floral flavor. I’ve taken a picture here with a standard sized bic lighter as a scale reference:

There was quite a plethora of apple bananas at the house that I’m staying, so I thought making BANANA JERKY would be a nice way to preserve them.

  • First I sliced them length-wise in fourths.
  • Then I placed them on a baking tray.
  • I put them in the oven that I had set at 275 F.
  • Every half hour or so, I cracked the oven open to vent out the moisture.
  • About 2-3 hours later, you have banana jerky.

The bananas are not crispy here. They are CHEWY!! It’s also cool how they turn a little bit red when they are cooked. I cook-dried them out in the oven until the shrank. They STICK to the pan though!! To bake them on, I wished I had a SIL-PAT handy, or some parchment or wax paper!! I pried them up with a pointy off-set metal spatula.

They don’t really look like bacon here on this plate, but if you hold a piece underneath some direct light, it’s quite an illusion how much it looks like bacon!

jo-jo’s shave ice

What a winty little place this is. Kandi Everett (who I had just met 2 days ago, and who is amazing) and I went to Jo-jo’s Shave Ice after an afternoon of staring out at the Kalalau valley at Koke State Park and taking in the views at Waimea Canyon.

What is really fun about Jo-jo’s is that there is an option to put ice cream UNDERNEATH your shaved ice! You know how the problem with shaved ice is how it might get boring to eat after a while? Putting ice cream underneath solves this problem. And you know how sometimes ice cream might be too rich to eat a lot of, watering it down with some shaved ice really helps. This was a perfect little dessert.

I got the “Picknick special” which was watermelon and lemonade shaved ice over macadamia nut ice cream.

Kandi’s was way better. Hers had coconut syrup and coconut cream shaved ice over macademia nut ice cream, with shredded coconut on top. You would think that this might be too overwhelming with coconut flavors, but I learned in this scenario, that there can never really be too much coconut. This shave ice cup was rich, refreshing, and awesome.

Here is Kandi and me! After an afternoon of looking at some EPIC landscapes, this was the perfect way to cap it off.

Kaua’i Conveniences

Two reasons why I love Kaua’i convenient stores.

Reason #1. Little wing-filled trays of food. They have exactly what I want to eat, in the exact amount, and was on sale for only $1.79. Three chicken wings with 2 pieces of sushi, which had mahi tuna, cucumbers and salted plums.

This second tray is a little more trashed out, with 4 chicken wings, 1 tater log and 3 waffle fries. This one was $4.

Reason #2. Tall boys of coca cola. Seriously, this was a dream come true for me. Nothing like drinking that much coke out of a tall metal can. Here I am enjoying a tall one beside the Waimea canyon.

“Dang! Thats Good” Butterscotch Root Beer

On a recent trip to Wisconsin, Shawn and I stopped at The Mars Cheese Castle.

Get it?  It is everything you think it is, a castle shaped building with an outlandish assortment of cheese and varying degrees of snackage for you to smell, taste, and then eventually purchase. I am still on a fish only kick these days, so the sausage was off the table so to speak. And when I bit into the wildest freshest ( possibly haunted) cheese curd i have ever eaten, and it squeaked against my teeth, I decided on buying some fun sodas instead. And here’s what I bought…

Meet “Dang! That’s Good”  Butterscotch Root Beer.

Dang! is a part of a line of sodas from Imperial Flavors of Wisconsin, including energy drink and diet versions of Rootbeer and this simple but tasty looking little twist, Butterscotch. The marketing is simple, it’s dang good. Just like the name says.

But to be honest, I spent the whole weekend eating all type of vacation-y shit, but never drank that soda. There is nothing wrong with it. I just never got around to opening it. until now.

I have recorded my first sip for you to enjoy.

See.