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Restaurants What's New

Hawaiian BBQ And Burgers Collide In This Mouthwatering Mashup

If you’re in Orange County, chances are you’ve heard of or been to Stacks Pancake House. Known for creative entrees that draw inspirations from Hawaii, Japan, Korea, and beyond, the breakfast and lunch spot has opened up a few locations throughout the area.

They’ve become a go-to spot of mine since I moved down to Orange County a few years back, so when Foodbeast had the chance to team up with restaurants for OC Burger Week, I knew that I wanted to do something cool with Stacks.

The idea we came up with takes a classic burger and amps it up with inspirations from Hawaiian BBQ. Known as the BBQ Kalua Pork Burger, the photo above is ample evidence to show just how mouthwatering the combo can be.

Owner Nixon Tanuwidjaja uses as much house-made Kalua Pork as there is ground beef in the patty for his burger. That’s met with an equally massive mound of Cheddar Jack cheese, brought together with Hawaiian bbq sauce and coleslaw inside of a Portuguese bun. A scoop of mac salad on the side completes the feast of a Hawaiian burger experience, although there’s tots, fries, or salad you can have alongside it, too.

This collab between Stacks Pancake House and myself is going to be available at all of their locations during Burger Week, put on by the OC Restaurant Association. For those not in the know, Stacks has four locations in Orange County: Newport Beach, Irvine, Dana Point, and Mission Viejo.

You can get it for pick-up or to-go from July 12th through the 18th. Recommend grabbing a few extra napkins on the way out, too.

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Cravings

Come Get This Unbelievably Tender Wagyu Brisket At Upcoming Queen Mary Cook-Off

As a barbecue enthusiast, the quality of the meat you choose is essential to a proper beef brisket. If you’re using any kind of inferior meat, you better be a master of the smoke because you’re pretty much in an uphill battle. Now I’ve had briskets made with amazing cuts of beef before, but I’ve yet to see one that’s smoked with Wagyu meat.

For the unfamiliar, Wagyu beef is widely regarded as ultra-premium quality beef that’s of the utmost level of tender. And Wagyu beef brisket is exactly what The Q Joint BBQ is bringing to the world of barbecue.

Slicing up USDA Prime Wagyu Brisket, The Q Joint is an Irvine, California-based barbecue company that offers a plethora of smoked and grilled meats. This includes smoked, deboned chicken thighs, St. Louis-style ribs, and their 12-hour hickory-smoked brisket.

All their items come together in what they call The Judge’s Box which boasts: 1 chicken, 2 ribs, pulled pork, 2 slices of brisket, and 2 burnt ends.

This incredible platter of smoked delights can be found at The Queen Mary’s Waterfront Cook-Off. The annual event will be held on May 11 from 12PM to 5PM. There will be two competitions held during that day, one that pits BBQ masters together in a smokey cook-off. The other brings together some of the country’s best chili cooks to see who can craft the most delicious bowl of chili.

Sounds like heaven on earth.

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#foodbeast Cravings Features

Foodbeast Guide To 2018’s OC Fair Food

While I shed a tear for the beach bod I never really got this summer, I take solace in the fact that it’s fair season and I can just try again in the fall.

Yes, that means we’re ready to be buried in fried foods, sweets, and snacks, not unlike that kid from Kazaam.

On Friday, June 13, the Orange County Fair opened its gates to the public and we eagerly high-tailed it into the fairgrounds.

Returning are some all-star vendors like Chicken Charlie’s and Biggy’s — the Deep Fry King and Sultan of Turkey Legs, respectively, and they’ve added a handful of new items that had us wiping drool from our chins.

Check out all the new foods and returning favorites served that this year’s OC Fair. Just be sure to leave some time between snacking, for rides and games.


Deep Fried Filet Mignon (Chicken Charlie’s)

Photo: Peter Pham

This year’s star dish from Chicken Charlie’s booth is the deep fried filet mignon. Hulked out medallions are skewered together, breaded, and deep fried. Imagine eating chicken fried steak on a stick, because that’s essentially what this is. Just wish we had some sausage gravy to dunk those steaks in. Next year, Charlie.

Caramel Crack Fries (Biggy’s)

Photo: Peter Pham

I’ve always been a fan of the marriage between sweet and salty. Give me some kettle corn or a maple bacon donut and I’m a happy dude. Biggy’s new Caramel Crack Fries is a stunning example of sweet and salty that combines salty cinnamon sugar fries, a generous drizzle of caramel, whipped cream, and Fruity Pebbles cereal.

Deep Fried Pineapple (Chicken Charlie’s)

Many feel pineapple doesn’t belong on a pizza, but no one said you can’t deep fry it. Chicken Charlie’s is offering freshly sliced pineapples that are plunged into Charlie’s special pancake batter and dunked in a vat of hot oil — the origins of a delicious fruit-themed superhero.

Lasagna Nachos (Pignotti’s)

Photo: OC Fair

Looks like lasagna nachos are slowly making it into the mainstream and I’m totally on board with it. Pignotti’s version takes deep-fried pieces of lasagna noodles and douses them in a bed of rich marinara sauce before being introduced to a second friend…Mister Cheese Blanket.

Spicy Turkey Leg (Biggy’s)

Photo: Peter Pham

Hardcore carnivores will likely go straight for the massive turkey legs found at Biggy’s. This year, they’re trying something a little spicier with a Cholula hot sauce variation of the classic turkey leg. Don’t worry, you’ll still get the same smokiness and girth as a regular leg, just with a extra helping of heat.

Mermaid Floats (Candy Factory)

Photo: Peter Pham

Between all the salty meats and the scorching summer heat, you’ll probably want to track down something sweet and refreshing to cool off with. Candy Factory has a smorgasbord of floats named after mythical creatures, such as the Unicorn and Mermaid Floats. These multi-colored refreshers feature a sweet soda sprinkled stacked with rainbow toppings and a heap of cotton candy.

Ramen Burritos (Chicken Charlie’s)

Photo: Peter Pham

Another new addition to Chicken Charlie’s lineup are these chicken and shrimp ramen burritos. Ramen noodles and Funyuns are joined with Charlie’s savory grilled chicken or shrimp in a warm tortilla, offering a trio of textures. Charlie tosses the noodles in his famous House Maui sauce and some Sriracha for a gentle hit of flavor.

Spaghetti Donuts (Pignotti’s)

Photo: OC Fair

I never knew spaghetti could be enjoyed without utensils until I saw Pignotti’s spaghetti donuts. The noodles are formed using a donut mold and tossed into the deep fryer with the love of an Italian grandparent. Instead of glaze, they’re topped with traditional pasta sauces — pesto, Alfredo, carbonara, or marinara.

Bacon Wrapped Pork Belly (Biggy’s)

Photo: Oscar Gonzalez

It’s not really a trip to the fair without some bacon. Biggy’s bacon-wrapped pork belly serves guests a skewer full of bacon inception. The crispy cured strips are wrapped around hunks of tender Duroc pork belly and slow roasted. Bacon lovers will definitely want to zero in on this item.


If that’s not enough to whet your whistle, here’s everything else you need to keep an eye out for at this year’s OC Fair:

  • Ice Cream Tacos (Bacon A Fair)
  • Truffle Tots (Tater Twister)
  • Mac and Cheese Tots (Tater Twister)
  • Cheeseburger Tacos (Juicy’s)
  • Gouda Wontons (Pignotti’s)
  • Gouda Nachos (Pignotti’s)
  • Dipped Ice Cream Sandwiches (Totally Baked Cookie Joint)
  • Big Skillet Cookie (Totally Baked Cookie Joint)
  • Bubble Waffle Cone Sundae (Fried Affair 2)
  • PBJ Sriracha Funnel Cake (Dutchman’s Funeral Cake)
  • Deep Fried Cheese Curds (Tasti Burger)
  • Chili Chamoy Candy Capple (Brander Candyland)
  • M&M Donut (Texas Donuts)
  • Unicorn Cotton Candy Donut (Texas Donuts)
  • Holy Coa’s Boba Tea (Pignotti’s)
  • Poke Bowls (Eddie’s)
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#foodbeast Cravings Culture FOODBEAST Restaurants

Meet The Hog Heaven: A 5-Pound Cornbread Bowl Stuffed With Your Favorite BBQ and Mac & Cheese

To say that I love BBQ would be like saying Andre the Giant was kinda tall. An understatement as huge as the man himself. Any chance I get, I talk to pit masters from all over and try to experience as much regional BBQ from across the United States as I can.

One of my first opportunities to try Kansas City BBQ led me to Ember Barbecue where I discovered the Hog Heaven, right in my own backyard of Santa Ana, CA.

Owned by pit master Derick Foster, a former marine who studied at the Culinary Institute of America, Foster grew up in Kansas City where he wanted to bring the city’s famous and  beloved style of BBQ to California. With his wife Kylie, another graduate of the CIA, the two run Ember together inside Downtown Santa Ana’s Native Son Alehouse.

The Hog Heaven is a cornbread bowl that’s filled to the brim with a three-cheese macaroni and cheese, layered with sweet BBQ beans, creamy coleslaw, and slathered with both Ember BBQ sauce and cheese sauce. Pitmaster Foster then stacks on a handful of pulled pork, St. Louis ribs, chicharron fresh from the fryer, beef brisket, and jalapeno cheddar sausage so juicy you’ll need to lay out a “Caution” sign on the floor. Finally, as a signature to his slow-cooked masterpiece, Foster finishes the Hog Heaven with more mac and cheese, cheese sauce, and Ember’s BBQ sauce.

Overall, it weights in at over five pounds and is essential a meaty birthday cake for BBQ lovers.

While the Hog Heaven is intended to be enjoyed with friends and BBQ aficionados, ambitious individuals can try to conquer this sweet and savory beast on their own. In our case, we made it last a week.

Ember Barbecue typically has 2-4 Hog Heavens available each day they’re open, so cue connoisseurs should take note if they’re trying to get their fix.

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Health

3 Things Happening To My Body After 24 Hours Of No Social Media

Day 2.

Yesterday I abruptly quit social media. Yes, the dude who co-owns a food company where social media is seemingly what keeps the lights on. Where social media has given Foodbeast’s roster of audio, written, photo and video content legs to be seen by up to a billion people every year — I quit using all of it cold turkey on February 1st.

Now, here are three things that happened to my body the first day I went dark:

1. My body absurdly tried to use Venmo as social media

I made a reference to social media as a drug yesterday. By no means am I the first to make that comparison, but never have I felt the embodiment of the addiction so absurdly as when I was taking a shit at work yesterday.

I sat on the toilet, conscientious of my posture, straightened my spine out, feet firmly on the floor making perfect perpendicular lines with the throne. I pulled my phone out of my pocket and into the crevice of my hand, the empty home screen had no social media notifications.

My fingers did their muscle memory thing anyways — they scrolled two screens over to where Instagram used to be, my crack of choice, and sure enough I thumb tapped an empty block of pixels on the home page where the purple and yellow icon once was. My mind reminded me of the month-long-journey I was on, and my body accepted the fact that Facebook and Twitter weren’t options during my bathroom time.

“What did I eat last night?” I wondered, mainly because I had the mental capacity to do so now. My emails were checked, I wasn’t in an endless hole of sifting through Tweets, mindlessly scrolling past Facebook status updates of friends — wait. Wait. I’m…

venmo-socialmedia

My fucking finger had found Venmo. Yes, the mobile payment app to quickly transact money between friends. A fucking app that PayPal owns. My body was thirsting for social media so hard I was mindlessly scrolling through monetary transactions my “friends” were making between each other, sometimes sprinkled with cryptic reasonings for said transactions. Sherry had paid Tommy for Lakers tickets. Damn, Sherry went to a Lakers game?! Jennifer paid her boyfriend for “sushi,” damn, they going dutch in that relationship?! Jason paid someone ‘private’ for three tree emojis — is Jason’s landscaper on Venmo now?!

I closed Venmo immediately and deleted it from my phone.

social-media-venmo

Don’t get me wrong, I use Venmo too. It’s an awesome tool that allows you to make use of the one friend who may have cash in a situation, or generally speed up transactions. On the other hand, there’s tons to be said about Venmo eroding a lot of social monetary interactions that end up making already fickle, cheap people more fickle, isolated and cheap.

Ever thought a friend was paying for your milkshake in a drive thru, only to have him send you a payment request once he’s not in your face for $3.79 and a memo “the boys getttin sugar waaaasted.” No Keith, I’m not getting sugar wasted with you any fucking longer. Social constructs say I pay for a meal, you pay for a meal — friends don’t need to go dutch on milkshakes. I have a job. You have a job. If you can’t buy your friend a 4-dollar milkshake because you’re closer to the drive thru window, we shouldn’t be driving around burning fuel any longer. We should go park your gas guzzler back home and comb through your finances.

I rant, but Venmo is a social media tool and my body sniffed it out like a junkie. I hadn’t thought to delete it in my initial sweep, but my body reminded me that I still had a bottle of social media pills in a new hiding place. Bye Venmo, at least until I know how to use you properly.

 

1.5. My body wanted mariscos without taking a picture

I still gotta eat. If you find yourself in Orange County, CA and want the best Mexican food for the price and the decor reminscent of an El Torito and Mimi’s Cafe’s offspring, go to Ostioneria Bahia 2. In fact, I was so enthralled with my meal I didn’t take a single worthy picture. A little bit of THC (not served at the restaurant), a couple metallic margaritas (first sip was awful, second sip was heavenly), an al pastor burrito, and of course, the star of the show: shrimp a la diabla.

Orders these as a plate, or in a quesadilla and I guarantee your mouth hole will thank you later (the other hole will beg for mercy, but it all works out in the end):

Since I have no pictures of my own, here’s a few from Yelp that I probably could have just lied and said I took:

2. I tried to access Facebook 39 times at work in 6 hours

I knew I would do it too, so by the second time I had tried to meaninglessly reward my act of responding to an email with a quick hit of “f-a-c-e-b….” I got up from my chair, grabbed some sticky notes from my social media manager’s desk, and slapped one on my monitor. Every time I stopped working to go to Facebook or Instagram on my phone or computer, I would tally it on the sticky with a pen. By 3pm I had notched 39 attempts at social media.

One particularly interesting moment was when Geoff swung by my desk to discuss an upcoming advertising campaign. Mid conversation, literally while words were coming out of my mouth about budget and view counts, I found myself back at this login screen:

facebook-login

Not sure what privacy law they’re breaking here, but there was my face AND a red dot with 31 notifications that I’m “missing out on.” I wasn’t logged in, yet Facebook was telling whoever was using my computer that Elie had many notifications he was missing on. 31 things, specifically.

My body was actively going through the motions of attempting to reach Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. In the morning, it was every couple minutes. By the end of the day, it was every half hour that muscle memory would drive me to try and access Facebook.

3. I no longer felt physically attached to my charging cable 

social-media-space

We all feel “tethered to our phones,” but I didn’t realize said metaphorical description was actually a literal one.

Tethering something involves connecting one device to another. An astronaut is tethered to their ship in space because they need the connection to deliver a clean stream of oxygen to their mask and ample amounts of power to their suit. Without the tether, they’d float away into the abyss of space. They would eventually die without oxygen.

phone-charger

Ever been out of your house long enough that you start frantically looking for where your next phone charge will come from? Don’t you start feeling like the battery itself? Say you’re at 15% at the beginning of the day and you have a bunch of errands to run — tell me you don’t start feeling anxious that you might be caught out in the world without a phone. It’s almost as if our bodies are at 15% also. What if I get lost? What if someone calls? What do I do at red lights? How do I listen to podcasts?

Ever been in an airport and watch grown adults tethered to a wall, wires intertwined, sitting Indian-style on a dirty floor trying to get their fix–err, charge? I’ve been at plenty of food events, conventions and general bouts of walking around a city like New York where I have an external battery pack in my back pocket and an extra long 3-foot charging cable connected to my phone. I look like a fuckin’ Jetson and I’m not alone.

But today, I didn’t seem to care. I left to work in the morning with 10% charge. Outside of a few texts, calls, and an email check — my phone miraculously was at 5% by the end of the day. When I moved around the office, I no longer felt obligated to bring my phone everywhere. The first couple times I walked to the water cooler I had my phone in my pocket out of sheer habit. But by the 3rd piss of the day, and walking to lunch, I didn’t seem to need my phone, so I left it at my desk like a growing child I knew could one day take care of his or herself.


Thank you so much to all who e-mailed me yesterday!

Again, I can’t read anything y’all are saying on social media, even if these posts get shared on Facebook, Twitter or talked about on Instagram. What I do know is, those of you who emailed elie@foodbeast.com have been incredibly eloquent, personal and really inspiring to read. Even if you’re just saying hello, feel free to drop me a line — and I really appreciate you following along!

P.S., this wasn’t my original intent…but a lot of you have sent such incredible emails, if you want me to publish any of them in future articles, please leave a note at the end that explains that. It can be a simple ending note “I give you permission to answer this email publicly.” I don’t know if I ever would, but it started feeling like a letter-to-the-editor type thing. My email is personal though, and if you don’t mention that I will assume it’s a completely private conversation between the two of us. 

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#foodbeast FOODBEAST Hit-Or-Miss

We’re So Down To Take Milk Shots Out of This Ube Flavored Cookie Shot

The Dirty Cookie has quickly become a favorite in the Southern California dessert world, and they’ll be bringing their edible cookie cups to Foodbeast’s Noods Noods Noods festival.

 

Not only will TDC bring its Matcha Green Tea Cookie Shot, but it will be making an exclusive Ube Cookie Shot, as well.

The Ube Shot will be rimmed with white chocolate, dipped in toasted coconut flakes, and filled with milk for a sweet break from all the savory items at the festival.

The Dirty Cookie made a name for itself for its unique cookie shot glass concept, as the cookies are made in-house, shaped like the adorable “glasses” and formed sturdy enough to hold the milk without spilling.

To try the matcha, and the exclusive ube shot, along with other exclusive food items from Orange County’s finest and most popular restaurants, make plans to attend Foodbeast’s Noods Noods Noods Festival, presented by Cup Noodles.

For tickets and more information, head to noodsfest.com for the V.I.P, all-you-can-eat and drink (21 and over) section ($60), or the pay-as-you-go marketplace ($10).

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Cravings Food Trucks

We’re Down For The Fire That Are Spicy Bulgogi Dumplings

Every time we see dumplings offered on a menu, we have to order it. Dumplings, for us, is that one dish that everyone can share, bringing a table together and setting the tone for a great dining experience. If you’re a fan of savory, pan-seared dumplings, you’re going to want to check this out.

The Mad Dumplings truck created these exclusive pan-fried bulgogi beef dumplings for this year’s FOODBEAST’s AYCE Asian food Festival NOODS NOODS NOODS presented by Original Cup Noodles, taking place on Saturday, Jan. 27 in Santa Ana, CA.

The dumplings are served over a bed of spicy sesame gochujang noodles and are garnished with scallions, kimchi, and topped with sesame seeds.

Noodle lovers and fans of Asian fusion food should definitely check out this year’s NOODS Festival. You can purchase your tickets here. Ticket types include Marketplace (buy as you go), or VIP (all you can consume for three hours).

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Hit-Or-Miss Video

These Hungarian Chimney Cakes Are The Steamy Dessert You’ve Never Tried

Newly opened in Anaheim, Calif., House of Chimney Cakes is bringing a delicious traditional Romanian pastry to Southern California, just in time for winter. So, get ready to push the donuts and churros aside and make room for chimney cakes!

Chimney cakes

Evan Lancaster/Foodbeast

These slightly crispy, flaky cylinder-shaped pillars of dough are referred to as “chimney cakes.” As it cools, these cone-shaped pastries let steam out from the top, creating the smoking chimney effect.

This Romanian dessert is made from Hungarian sweet bread that’s baked in a rotating oven, then coated with a sweet glaze.

Sporting a consistency between a donut and a churro, House Of Chimney Cakes in Anaheim gives guests full-control of toppings, but serves a variety of cakes rolled in cinnamon and sugar, crushed Oreos and even Fruity Pebbles cereal.

Chimney cakes

Chimney cakes can also be filled with Nutella, or soft serve ice cream, and topped with customizable flavors like s’mores. You could also just load it up with fresh fruit, either way, it’s going to be delicious.

So, for all you pastries lovers out there, just follow the smoke signals and head over to House Of Chimney Cakes.