Airport Exploration

We have a layover in Dallas, and my BBQ experiences here have been horrid, so let’s get the furthest we can with “Banh Shop“, a Vietnamese offering where they don’t even list their sandwiches as “banh mi”.

Vietnamese-ish bland sugary pork meatballs on a baguette with cilantro, pickled carrots, cucumber and daikon is topped with a supposed aeoli that tastes like mayo and nothing else.

The same ingredients, but on lettuce with some bean sprouts and noodles makes up their “Bun” salad. Equally bland. But hit anything with enough Siracha and it becomes palatable.

Only redeeming thing is that they have Vietnamese iced coffee, though the menu doesn’t call it out as it’s buried in fine print under “sofas, coffee, iced coffee”.

I can honestly say every meal I’ve had in Dallas Fort Worth has been disappointing. I’m really disliking this airport.

High-altitude air fare

How jaded are we that the incredibly avanced technology that lets us hop around the globe in less than a day leaves us complaining about the quality of the food en-route.

Remember when airlines used to feed you? Well they still do on international flights. Here’s Cathay Pacific’s LAX to Hong Kong economy plus lunch lineup. A roll, some microwaved veggies, half a grilled potato and a small piece of steak. The beef had decent flavor (if a bit dry and overdone) and the veggies aren’t worth writing about. The shrimp and quinoa salad was different and reminiscent of tabouleh.

The Mrs. had a lactose free special meal which was mango chicken over rice with grilled veggies and a side of pineapple. Her salad was a basic one but with more grilled chicken and a vinaigrette. I guess they assembled her meal from others? I think she got the better meal.

The best part was real silverware, including this cute little demitasse spoon for our coffee. Oh, I almost forgot. Ice cream! And since the wife is avoiding lactose, I get two individual servings of Haagen-Daz vanilla!

7 hours later we picked up with dinner. I had a spicy pork and tofu dish with rice. A side of fruit and a red bean mousse finished it off. Not the most visually appealing dish, but it was tasty.

What I didn’t understand was my wife’s meal. Agains it was specially prepared and was items not on the regular menu. An excellently prepared fish dish with a spicy salsa served on mixed rice. What’s weird is that she easily could have had my meal – no dairy except for the desert. Either way it was quite delicious and worthy of being a regular item.


Deep in the heart of Dallas-Fort Worth

After my last experience with airport dining, I’m not expecting much. But the smell of BBQ as I left the plane overwhelmed my trepidations. Enter Cousin’s BBQ, a counter establishment in Dallas Fort Worth Terminal D. Again I’m surprised at the reasonable pricing. $11 gets you a dinner plate with two sides and Texas toast.


The pulled pork has a perfect tender texture, but is lacking in bark. There’s great smokey flavor and color all the way through the meat. It’s slathered with a generous amount of a rather bland sauce. Skip the mac and cheese; way overcooked noodles and blue-box cheese is worthless. The potatoes are also a miss. They taste like the boxed stuff with a little bit of fresh spuds mixed in for color and texture. Lastly, the Texas toast: nothing worth saying, but then again, what do you expect for double-thick Wonderbread.

Long story short, if you’re going to hit up Texas, at least have the decency to exit the airport before seeking out BBQ.

Historic ribs in Old Town

Twin Anchors Tavern is a small dive on Chicago’s north side and a huge part if Chicago history. A favorite of Frank Sinatra, this tiny bar has a great beer list and is famous for their ribs. We started our tavern tour here, and grabbed lunch while we waited on a coldly snowy Chicago morning.


The pork is tender, juicy, with some great smokey flavor. The barbecue sauce is tangy, sweet, almost picklish and light on the molasses. Great way to warm up!

The ribs are worthy of the reputation. Great bark with lots of flavor and char. Tender fall of the bone, I can see why Frank enjoyed them so much. The spicy sauce with ghost peppers adds a lot of sweet heat that sneaks up on you, but doesn’t mask the great flavor of the ribs.

Both dishes were great, but the ribs really stand out and are worth coming back for.

Noodling along through Chicago

Ok, I know it’s not real Chicago Italian-American food, but it’s a regional chain I’ve heard about. Noodles & Company makes all things noodlish, from Asian to Italian styles, and represents something you just don’t find in LA, hot hearty convenient food for a cold day.

I’m a sucker for good Mac and cheese, and very picky about it. So I knew it was a gamble to try their Wisconsin Mac & Cheese with meatballs. If you like the blue box, you’ll probably like this. The noodles are very hot and al dente, but the cheese sauce tastes powdered. The pile of factory shredded cheese on top didn’t melt and didn’t add much to the dish. The meatballs had great texture and a lot of rich flavor with a nice oven toasted crust, but were very salty. But within a few minutes the whole dish had congealed into a lumpy gross mess.

Pearl fared much better with the Bankok Curry. Pulled pork on rice noodles tossed with fresh herbs and vegetables in a nice light spicy gingery sauce. Certainly not Thai, and not a curry either, but quite delicious. Add a delicious dash of Siracha and you’re all set!