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Category Archives: Chicken Wings

Man’s Stomach’s Best Friend

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Today’s entry on Mastication Monologues is a short one and the penultimate in my Florida food chronicle.  My final lunch on vacation took place in an eatery called Dune Dog Cafe located at 775 N. Alt A1A  Jupiter, Florida.  I didn’t know what really to expect in terms of food, but my parents were raving about it.

So when we arrived, it was a small, tropical shack of sorts that was all open air dining which once again made me wonder what they did when the winds and rain picked up as they always seemed to do in the afternoon in Florida?IMG_2972IMG_2968IMG_2737  Pondering aside, it looked like the natives were quite restless as a line streamed out the front of the hut as we attempted to find a spot in their meager parking lot.  After about 45 minutes of leaning up against our rental car, baking in the noon sun, and watching crowds of urchins wrestle with each other as their mothers attempted to corral them, our reservation name was called.  We made our way around to the back part of the restaurant.  It was more relaxing since we didn’t have hordes of hungry diners giving us the evil eye for not eating quickly enough.  After looking over the menu that had mainly American food like burgers, salads, hot dogs, and chicken wings, I went for the last option.  Ten wings with half barbecue sauce and half sesame sauce.  The prices were very reasonable (5-12 dollars for a meal.  Apparently, one of the waiter’s mom’s worked with my mom’s friend who we were eating with, so we got a free appetizer called “Yankee nachos”.IMG_2969  Being Yankees ourselves, we found it interesting that they see us as people who only eat potatoes instead of tortilla chips.  Regional differences aside, this was one tasty platter.  It consisted of waffle fries piled high with all the classic nacho toppings like two types of cheddar, olives, guacamole, onions, tomatoes, and jalapenos.  Once we all polished that off, my wings came out, and they looked like a smaller version of Hooter’s wings that I am ever so fond of. IMG_2970 As for the taste, I was greatly satisfied.  Not only was there plenty of meat, but the crisp batter, smoky barbecue sauce, and slightly aromatic sesame sauce really made me think that something this great for the cheap price was fowl.  Actually, the only thing that ruffled my feathers was the bleu cheese dressing that seemed oddly acidic.  Nevertheless, as I wiped the sticky saucy aftermath from my fingers and mouth, I could see that Dune Dog truly did live up to the hype.

So if you want to check out a great family restaurant that has a beach vibe far from any sandy shore, hit up Dune Dog Cafe.

Dune Dog Cafe on Urbanspoon

Kicking Ass and Eating Wings

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Hello everyone, and welcome to another edition of Mastication Monologues!  My latest food adventure took me to, surprise surprise, Itaewon.  My two friends, Youngmi and Bora, heard that I liked my really spicy food challenges.  So, they threw down the gastronomic gauntlet and lead me to J.R. Pub in Itaewon.  It’s easy to get there.  Go to the Itaewon metro stop and go out exit 4.  Make a u-turn to your left and follow the sidewalk.  You’ll see a Taco Bell on the other side of the street on your left.  Continue down the sidewalk until you get to a large alleyway and make a right.  You’ll see on your right hand side a sign for the Wolfhound Pub, and right next to it is J.R. Pub.  Here’s the address: 128-4 Itaewon-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul South Korea.

If you have read my blog before, you know that I am quite the daredevil when it comes to hellishly spicy dishes (see what I did there).  If not, check out some of my posts (Hell Hath, Cuckoo, Devil With Wings ).  Youngmi and Bora were very surprised that I was actually going to try it, and even advised me to bring milk and eat something beforehand.  Nothing like coating the stomach before ingesting hellfire!  Looking over the menu, they had most bar food standards like burgers, various barbecue meals like pulled pork sandwiches, wings, and pizza.  I ordered the spiciest wings the ladies were telling me about, the Kick Ass wings (8,000 W), and they got the pulled pork sandwich and some chicken fingers.  While we were waiting they told me about the last time they ate it, and they rushed to the bar to get milk after just one tiny bite.  Definitely instilled a lot of confidence in me.  Eventually they came out, and I could smell the evil that lurked under the lava-red surface of the chicken.IMG_1201  If you want to see me going to town on these bad boys, check out the link at the end of the post.

So young and innocent

So young and innocent

 When I took my first bite, I was greeted with a jalapeno level of spice with a familiar smoky background that quickly ratcheted up to a mini-inferno in my mouth.  It felt like the Drop-Dead Donkatsu challenge all over again, but I was determined to take them down.  I was extremely focused on withstanding the heat.  With each mouthful I could feel the beads of sweat starting to form on my apparently reddening face, and the hiccoughs were coming on strong.  I’ve found that’s my death rattle when it comes to my spice tolerance.  In the video you can see them starting around the third wing along with my stunning forehead vein making a grand entrance.  By the fourth one, it felt like I replaced my Mentos with blazing charcoal briquettes.  The fresh maker?  More like the pain train coming into dead taste buds station.  The ranch sauce that came with the wings was zesty and managed to take a bit of the edge off the heat.

..and my face is on fire

..and my face is on fire

 I rested for a bit while trying the ladies’ pulled pork sandwich, fries, and chicken fingers.  The sandwich was good from what I could tell using the last bits of my functioning tongue, and the chicken fingers had more of a panko breadcrumb covering that made for a nice change of pace in terms of texture.  Bora even got in on the action and wanted to redeem herself by eating one of the wings.IMG_1205  She performed admirably even though she still ran to the bar for some ice.  Eventually, I made my way to the top of Mount Doom and banished these wings to the pit of my stomach.

Fighting!

Fighting! The guy behind me can’t believe I finished it.

 Bora said that they weren’t as spicy as the first time they tried them, so maybe I’ll have to come back for round two.

Good times

Nice face, Youngmi!

 

Either way, I had a great time at J.R. Pub with even better company.  They have quality food for reasonable prices along with an amiable atmosphere and good service.  Now if you want to see my eternal struggle with the wings, check out this link.

When Irish Stomachs Are Shrugging

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Hello everyone and welcome to another edition of Mastication Monologues!  Today I’m going to be talking about a restaurant that I visited in Incheon after I once again was foiled by Taco Cielo.  The name of the restaurant is O’Malley’s Irish Pub located at 1474-3 Guwol-dong, Top Plaza 4F.  They don’t have a website but can be found on Facebook.

Since my good friend, Ravi, has come over to visit me from London, I’ve been trying to show him the sights and sounds of Korea whenever I’m not working.  However, sometimes it’s nice to take a break from soaking in all of the culture, smog, and kimchi and indulge in some Western food.  So, after having a short walkabout around Incheon’s Songdo International City, I decided I wanted to take him to Taco Cielo, a much vaunted Mexican restaurante in Incheon.  As I mentioned in a previous post, “Not Phonomenal“, I went to this Mexican eatery on a Saturday at 2pm, and it was closed.  It was closed again on a Wednesday night with a simple note on the window saying, “Closed today.  Sorry.”  Hopefully, the third time’s the charm, and I’ll finally be able to blog about it.  Anyway, I instead took my friend to O’Malley’s which is a building over.

When we walked in, it was like any other type of British pub with darts, foosball, and a long bar.  They serve mainly pub food like burgers, sandwiches, salads, and appetizers.  We settled down to our seats, and we ended up ordering nachos (10,000 W) to share. I got a bacon cheeseburger (10,000 W) with a Red Rock beer on the side (4,000 W).  I had this brew before on a night out when I was less than fully sober, and it tasted good.  Now that I was of sound mind and body, this wasn’t the case like most Korean beers.  The color overall was a warm reddish-brown with a slightly hoppy aftertaste with some minor sweet notes in the background.  However, it was an extremely watery lager like all the other Korean beers.  My expectations weren’t that high to begin with, so I wasn’t that disappointed.  As for the nachos, they were another story.  They came out, and it was a large plate of chips coated with meagre amounts of cheese but plenty of jalapenos, onions, and tomatoes along with a small cup of salsa.  I wasn’t very satisfecho with this plato.  Then, there was my burger.

A wee burger for a wee lad

A wee burger for a wee lad

I wasn’t too happy with the size of it, and I felt they cheated me with the amount of fries nestled next to the burger.  Then again, I justified the size of the burger with the fact that we’re in Korea, and everything is smaller.  Yet the Wolfhound in Itaewon didn’t disappoint in this department (See:  “Everything’s Bigger In Itaewon“).  As for the quality of the burger, it was pretty decent.  The bun was soft, pliable, and resilient to my savage mauling since I was quite hungry after a long and frustrating day of work.  The patty was perfectly grilled and juicy but had a strange pork taste to it like many burgers I’ve had in Korea.  As for the bacon, it wasn’t heavily seasoned but adequately crispy.  I really appreciated the basket of condiments (ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, salt, pepper, Tabasco sauce, and vinegarette) they provided us when they came back with Ravi’s meal.  Finally, the fries were quite tasty even though there was an inadequate amount of them.  They were seasoned with a bit of allspice and salt, and their golden, crunchy exteriors led to fluffy white interiors.

Overall, O’Malley’s was a decent restaurant with really friendly staff, a welcoming atmosphere, and a variety of food.  However, if you’re looking for a great burger for a good price, I’d still recommend The Wolfhound in Itaewon over O’Malley’s.

A Dirty South (Korean) Classic

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Hello to everyone out there and welcome to another edition of Mastication Monologues!  Today’s review partially comes from curiosity but also from an urge to get out of my apartment and check out what is actually in the building I live in.  I’m kind of cooped up right now due to a foot injury from soccer, but here’s to hoping it heals fast!  Anyway, everyday I walk into my building and see a chicken and beer restaurant right across from my elevators.  Not only is this combo a great Ludacris album, but these restaurants are all over Incheon and South Korea metropolis’ in general.  However, one of the key elements of this restaurant in terms of decor is the fact that they use the Hooters owl logo but have changed the name to Boors.  Nevertheless, I hobbled downstairs to see whether this place could measure up to the classic Southern staple I know and love back home.boor

The actual restaurant wasn’t too big, but the guy running it was quite friendly.  He didn’t really speak much English, but I was able to tell him that I wanted four pieces.  He fried them up in front of me which was a nice change from the mass-produced fried chicken that is sitting under heat lamps all day.  Eventually I got my four piece box and a mystery item in a pojang pongtu (to-go bag) for the low low price of 5000 won or roughly 4 bucks.

It says, "Health food" on the box.  Good one

It says, “Health food” on the box. Good one

When I opened up the box, I was greeted with two breasts and two wings.  Plus, I found he put a small packet that I didn’t initally see him put in the bag.  When I opened it up, it was salt…as if fried chicken wasn’t more unhealthy for you, they want to just amp up the possibility of you getting atherosclerosis.  Oh Korea.  Health concerns aside, I tucked into the first piece, and I was pleasantly surprised at the breading and quality of the chicken.  There was a certain lightness and absence of grease in the skin that made it taste different from KFC or Popeyes.  The chicken was all white meat, but  like most things in Korea, not hulking in size in comparison to food portions in the USA.  The wings were a bit of a let down since they were mostly bones and cartilage, but then again, when aren’t they a letdown unless they’re the real Hooters wings?  I even added a little gochujang (red pepper sauce) I had in my fridge, and it provided a nice, semi-bbq flavor to the crispy fried skin.  Once I finished the chicken, I opened the mystery container which looked like it contained some sort of white, translucent cubes.

Some pickled veggies with your deep fried meat?

Some pickled veggies with your deep fried meat?

Upon closer inspection, I thought they were rice cakes, but they were floating in a thin, clear liquid which is odd for rice cakes.  Once I ate a cube, I realized it was some sort of pickled radish that had a slightly sour aftertaste and a semi-crunchy texture.  It was an interesting compliment to fried chicken.  Perhaps they think people who eat this food need to get some sort of vegetable into their diets even if they are pickled.

Overall, I would recommend Boors to anyone in Korea who’s craving a little deep-fried, American goodness if you’re getting tired of tonkatsu (even though that’s impossible).  It makes up for the lack of scantily clad waitresses with quality service and a delicious recipe for fried chicken.

Spice That’s Twice As Nice

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Hello everyone to another edition of Mastication Monologues!  Today I will be highlighting an expat haven in Itaewon where one can  find Western quality breakfasts, burgers, and wings when they grow weary of the kimchi and non-existent Korean breakfast food.  I’m talking about Richard Copycat’s All American diner located at 56-13 Itaewon-dong Yongsan-gu Seoul South Korea.

Now, I do enjoy Korean food and trying new things, but it never hurts to go back to food that is familiar to you.  That what I was looking for when I walked into the diner, and I found it and then some.  They have a pretty extensive menu that is filled with familiar breakfast staples like French toast, omelets, and skillets.  Even though they boasted about the quality of their breakfast options in the menu, I was feeling like trying a burger since it was closer to lunch time.  I ended up choosing was the wasabi burger.  It had cheddar and pepper jack cheese, jalapenos, and a wasabi infused mayo.  Yeah, you read that right, Japanese horseradish and mayo together in one potentially overwhelming combination.IMG_1305

When it came out, I was bracing myself for Western portions, but it was Korean sized which kind of wasn’t worth the 14,000 won.  Plus, as most people have already commented before on the internet, the service at this restaurant is very slow.  If you ask them for a refill or for free pickles, they either take twice as long as they should or forget in regard to drink refills.  Qualms aside, it was a pretty funky burger in a good way.  The bun was buttery and held the sandwich together quite well even with the copious amounts of wasabi mayo applied to the bottom bun.  The beef patty was thick and succulent, but the cheddar cheese was pedestrian even though it was so unnaturally orange that it almost looked like I was eating a sunny-side up egg.  However, I greatly enjoyed the spicy elements of this burger.  The jalapenos were pickled like back home, and the wasabi mayo became more and more intense as I proceeded to munch on the burger.  It wasn’t too overpowering like eating a whole mini portion of the Japanese horseradish, but I did have that burning sensation behind my nose that could send any possible congestion packing.  The fries that came with it were average, but I preferred them since they were somewhat underdone and not very salted.  So overall, I would recommend this burger if you’re into trying spicy things and like wasabi.  They do manage to take very potent flavors and pack it into an easy to swallow package.  So if you’re in Itaewon and want a little taste of home while still maintaining a foot in the Far East, try the wasabi burger at the All American Diner.

One Tasty Mofo

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Hello to everyone out there on the interwebz and welcome to another edition of Mastication Monologues!  Since I’m finally recovering from the crazy Super Bowl weekend, this will be a relatively short post.  Actually, it revolves around a restaurant/bar that I tried in downtown Chicago that apparently is one, or perhaps the, sports bar to watch Chicago sports or any event for that matter.  I’m talking about Mother Hubbards located at 5 W Hubbard St  Chicago, IL 60654.

I had actually never been to this place until someone suggested that we should check it out for Superbowl Sunday.  Naturally, I am always down for a new adventure, so we made our way over to the establishment.  As soon as we walked in, I could see what all of the hullabaloo was about.  The walls were figuratively made of televisions, but it was definitely a good sign that I was not going to have to jerk my head about like a goon to catch a good view of the epic match-up between the Ravens and 49ers.  Since I didn’t feel too hungry, I decided to go with something on the lighter side of the menu.  I saw that they have the typical bar food like ribs, burgers, and Chicago hotdogs, but the “make your own grilled cheese” option seemed to be more fitting for my appetite at the time.  There were so many options that I felt almost like a manically giggling Xzibit on Pimp My Sandwich, but I repressed my foodie urges to not scare our waitress.

"Yo dawg, I heard you like grilled cheez sandwiches, so we put grilled cheez sandwiches in your grilled cheez!"

“Yo dawg, I heard you like grilled cheez sandwiches, so we put grilled cheez sandwiches in your grilled cheez!”

I ended up choosing Chihuahua and Pepper Jack topped with Guacamole and fresh jalapenos on grilled rye bread.  Plus, it came with a side of fries and a cup of homemade chicken vegetable soup.IMG_1100

When it finally came out, I was a bit underwhelmed by how small it seemed to be.  It didn’t really seem to have the bombastic presentation of a previous grilled cheese restaurant we visited (See The Big Cheese).  However, I was not planning on judging a sandwich by its crust.  In reality, I found the sandwich to be a great fusion of Latino flavors with an American comfort food staple.  Starting with the bread, it was pan-grilled to golden perfection, and the fleeting caresses of the caraway seeds provided an extra je ne sais quoi.  The cheeses were plentiful but didn’t have very strong flavors.  I know that the two aforementioned types of cheese aren’t blues by any means, but I would have appreciated a little more pop from the Pepper Jack.  As for the guacamole, I’m not sure what separated it from the avocado option on the option, but it just seemed like they mashed up an avocado for my sandwich.  There weren’t any discernible onions, tomatoes, and/or lime flavors that I am accustomed to tasting in any standard guacamole.  It wasn’t a terrible spread but merely average.  The jalapenos, on the other hand, were very fresh rings of seed packed flavor discs.  They were crunchy and  nipping my taste buds like a herd of feral Chihuahuas.  Plus, I found that even though there was a generous helping of the guacamole on top of the jalapenos, not once did I fear for the safety of my sandwich.  Normally these types of sandwiches with slippery spreads fall apart very quickly when you’re on a feeding frenzy, but Mother Hubbards makes a tasty and well-constructed bite to eat.  As for the fries and soup, the fries were pretty tasty since they were golden and crispy and barely greasy.  The soup was naturally the perfect side for the sandwich, and the hearty chunks of chicken and fresh carrots and onions fortified me against the bone-chilling Chicago winter gusts I encountered after the game.  The entire dining experience was enjoyable, and the wait staff was very attentive throughout the game.  Even though my team didn’t win, I felt I scored a mini-victory in choosing a tasty menu option.

So if you’re looking for a solid sports bar to watch your favorite team or a place to hold a boisterous get together with equally loud flavors, then come on down to Mother Hubbards!

Mother Hubbard's Sports Pub on Urbanspoon

Mother Hubbard's on Foodio54

Champpion of Burgers? Not Quite

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Hello to everyone out there in the blogosphere to another edition of Mastication Monologues!  Today I am going to be talking about a restaurant that I had been to before, but I never really tried their take on a classic type of burger.  The restaurant I’m referring to is Champps Americana Restaurant located at 2301 Fountain Square Drive Lombard, IL.

The establishment is a typical American sports bar, but I did see an item on their menu that played to one of my culinary weaknesses:  spicy food.  Now I have proclaimed my spice tolerance in previous blog posts, so I won’t go into much detail about my Man versus Food-esque type adventures.  However, I did see the Firehouse Burger which was calling to me like a spicy south of the border senora.  Vale, vengo ahorita, mi amor!  I got it well-done (I know many meat-lovers will call me a savage for “burning” my meat), and it looked delicious when it was presented to me.  According to the menu, I was face to face with probably a half-pound mound of beef festooned with red and yellow bell peppers, green chiles, poblano peppers, onions, Chipotle Tabasco, Cajun seasoning, pepperjack cheese, and fresh jalapeno peppers.  These various ingredients separated this burger in my mind from other typical spicy burgers I’ve tried in the past.

Disregard the sweet potato fries and put in delicious waffle fries

Disregard the sweet potato fries and insert delicious waffle fries

Plus, it was accompanied with a mini-molehill of waffle fries.  When I started on the burger, I had to slice it in half because I put everything on it, and I can’t unhinge my jaw like a python swallowing a baby hippo.  Upon first bite, I realized that I was in for a messy time because they seemed to have doused the bun with Tabasco which in turn led the bun to become quite soggy.  Naturally, my originally firm grasp of the burger deteriorated into a melange of cheese and peppers.  Thankfully the extra gooey and tasty pepper jack managed to hold it all together like some type of magical dairy rubber cement.  So this detracted from the meal’s greatness, and the mild bell and poblano peppers really didn’t do much for the burger.  Sure, they added vibrant colors to the general beige background of a hamburger, but they were mushed into the background.  However, the jalapenos were game-changers because not only did their vibrant verdant hue brighten up the plate, but their crisp texture and loud flavor allowed the true spice of the burger shine above the general muck of mild peppers.  Once I finally demolished my main entree, I began chipping away at the waffle fries which were not quite golden brown but were still crunchy on the outside and fluffy white on the inside with minimal salt=perfect fries.

No CTA pass necessary for this deliciousness

No CTA pass necessary for this deliciousness

Afterward, I found out that they had a drink special (I don’t know if it’s everyday or not) where I could get a pint of certain beers for only $2.50!  That is quite good for the Chicago suburbs for those of you who are unaware.  I decided to pick a pint of Goose Island’s Green Line.  It’s a pale ale that has a golden hue, and I could smell a slight citrusy aroma wafting toward me during every sip.  There was a clear bitter, hoppy bite to the brew, but it was not overwhelming like other IPAs.  If you’re looking for stronger tasting beers, this would be the equivalent of sticking your toe in the swimming pool to see if you’re ready to do a cannonball into the wonderful world of beer tasting.

So if you’re looking for some interesting burgers or great drink deals, head on down to Champps!  It’s not quite the m.v.p. of sports bars, but I think if they work on the fundamentals they could be in the pantheon of greats.

Champps Americana on Urbanspoon

No Sticky Wickets

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Hello everyone to another edition of Mastication Monologues!  Today I will be doing a brief review of a restaurant where I tried something that I didn’t really expect to find on their menu.  The restaurant in question is Wickets Bar and Grill located at 601 N Martingale Rd (at Woodfield Rd)  Schaumburg, IL 60173.

I was meeting some college friends there just to catch up on things, and I didn’t know really what to expect from this establishment.  Based off the name, I would have thought that we were going to be eating in an imitation English gastropub of some sort due to the cricket reference in the title.  Instead, I walked into a very sleek sports bar that did not have a single Guinness poster anywhere or a cricket bat on the wall.  The menu did have the usual litany of bar food items like nachos and burgers, but I began to see a pattern emerging that was downright confusing.  Wickets offers different types of samosas for appetizers, a chicken tikka sandwich, and tandoori chicken skewers.  Why was Indian  food on a sports bar menu?  My friend and I hypothesized that there was one Indian master chef who was called upon to make these delicious treats from his homeland.  Either that or it was a nod to the popularity of cricket in South Asia and other British colonies.  Menu construction theories aside, I decided to go for the two skewer platter and a Lagunitas Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ Ale to drink.IMG_1080

I had already had this particular brew from Lagunitas before, but I knew that I couldn’t go wrong with this choice.  If you haven’t had it before, it is an amber-colored beer with a clear hoppy taste that covers your palate initially, but at the end it gives you a little smooth sum sumpin’ at the end that makes you always come back for more.  If you enjoy IPAs, I would recommend this beer to you.

Stomach don't fail me now!

Stomach don’t fail me now!

As for my entrée, I went with one skewer of beef with vegetables and the other with chicken tikka tandoori with vegetables.  They were both served on a bed of basmati rice infused with herbs which was surrounded by golden flatbread triangles.  Plus, I decided to get the cucumber chive yogurt sauce that was served on the side.  Taken all together, these skewers were on point in terms of quantity and quality.  If you are not really hungry, then you will take some of this home with you.  The basmati rice with herbs was cooked to perfection, and the herbs provided the starch with whispers of rosemary and parsley.   I used the flatbread wedges as pseudo-pizza slices to put the yogurt sauce on like sauce and then piled on the meat and rice which gave the meal an Indian vibe since I was eating with my hands which I always enjoy.  The Tandoori chicken was actually quite tasty since it tasted exactly like the same dish I tried in some of the Indian restaurants I visited in London.  If you never had Tandoori chicken, it is a type of specially cooked chicken coated with the right blend of cumin, turmeric, chili, and a slightly charred aftertaste.  The beef was equally delectable since it was grilled completely through but still quite succulent.  As for the veggies, it was a mix of mushrooms, green and yellow zucchini, bell peppers, and onions.  All were adequately grilled, but they still maintained their original integrity which I enjoyed since sometimes over-grilling can lead to crumbling in  vegetables with higher water content.  Finally, the yogurt sauce was like mix between tzatziki and the Indian raita; the neutral yogurt element provided a cooling element to the slightly spicy tandoori chicken  and the cucumbers and chives provided a texture change that interacted nicely with the semi-crispy flatbread.

Overall, I was stuffed and a satisfied customer.  So if you’re looking for some delicious Indian influenced food in a very non-Indian environment, come on down to Wickets Bar and Grill!

Wickets Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon

Wickets Bar and Grill on Foodio54

Everytime a Cowbell Rings a Devil Gets His Wings

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WARNING:  If you think jalapenos are spicy or if this (see 0:40 and on)happens to you when eating dry chili flakes or do not have a stomach for spicy food in general, do not try this eating challenge!!

Hello to everyone out there in the blogosphere!  I am writing this post after a very eventful and historic day in my eating adventures.  Now for those who know me/read my (amazing) blog, they can tell you that I am not one to shy away from eating spicy foods.  In fact, I seem to revel in the challenge to see how much fire I can eat in one sitting.  One day a certain Man vs. Food host in conjunction with the Travel Channel highlighted a Chicago hot-spot for getting some of the fieriest chicken wings in the nation which I will be reviewing today.  The place in question is Jake Melnick’s located on 41 East Superior Street  Chicago, IL 60611.

I checked out their website to see what exactly these XXX wings were made of, and I found out that they used both the Ghost Chili and the Red Divina which is an extremely spicy strain of Habanero.  Now, the actual heat level of the peppers can vary depending on where they’re grown due to various factors such as rainfall, elevation, and sun exposure.  However, I did the Scoville unit math according to Wikipedia’s page, and their combined spiciness is equivalent to standard issue law enforcement pepper spray.  Somehow this didn’t stop me, so I went there to test my mettle.

The waitress was wary at my request of the XXX wings, and they even make you sign a legal waver containing fun phrases like, “you’re an adventurous spirit who eats chilis for fun” alongside the more litigious “you won’t sue us in case of bodily harm”.  However, since I ordered the wings, I got a free fireman hat that stated I tried the XXX wing challenge along with a cowbell that I could ring if the heat became unbearable.

My bell and my brew (IPA, fyi)

This action would lead to the staff bringing out a “cool off” tray which consisted of a glass of milk, a cup of sour cream, and some white bread.  Little did they know I had the eye of the tiger to finish off the wings.

Hell in a hand basket

When they were presented to me, I was intrigued by how they looked since they weren’t glowing or smouldering or looking like pure evil.  However, I did notice a particular pungent aroma when I moved my face closer to them lying upon each other like eight little red smouldering coals nestled in a little hibachi.  I also got a side of blue cheese just in case I couldn’t handle the heat, and the celery was complimentary.  So I started off with the first wing, and I was expecting to get punched in the face with a fireball of spice.  Surprisingly, I was greeted instead with a savory and slightly garlicky heatwave that just spread the proverbial gasoline on the inside of my mouth.

The first wing goes down for the count

The next four to six wings decided to have a firework party while playing in the aforementioned gasoline a la Zoolander.  At this point, the back of my throat was quite scratchy and almost numb.  My lips and the surrounding area on my face just felt like it was touched up by a flamethrower, and I had a good sweat going on the whole time.  Plus, I kept in mind a key element to eating any sort of spicy food with your hands:  don’t rub your eyes even if you have an itch anywhere around them. I did try a wing or two in the superbly made blue cheese sauce that had whole blue cheese crumbles in it which was so much better than the blue cheese sauces I’ve sampled at Hooters and Buffalo Wild Wings.  While all of this was going on, my waitress kept coming by expecting the cowbell to be ringing out for mercy, but I just kept on truckin’ (like I’d ever stop truckin’ in the first place).  By the last wing, I downed it with gusto as my nose began to run slightly.  Perspiration aside, I knew that I had done something impressive especially judging by the shocked reaction from our waitress.  So I ended up getting my picture up on the digital Wall of Flame and the knowledge knowing that I had survived one hell of a challenge.  Unfortunately, they did not let me celebrate in true Will Ferrell fashion with adding more cowbell to the victory.

So for all of those thrill seekers/chili-heads out there, definitely try the XXX wing challenge at Jake Melnicks.  If spicy food isn’t for you, they also have a great variety of  delicious burgers (including an eight pound burger challenge), barbecue dishes with in-house smoked meats, hearty soups, savory sandwiches, and satisfying salads you can chow down on.

All done and it feels like I’ve smeared lava on my face

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