Tip me so I can feed my children.


Tio Wally Eats America: Saya Restaurant

I’m happy to have Tio Wally (long-time Me So Hungry reader) aboard to send in his eating adventures from across America. Here he is in Kent, Washington.

Tio%20Wally%20Eats%20America%20truck2 Tio Wally Eats America: Saya Restaurant

Greetings from Kent, Washington
N 47° 24.7214’ W 122° 13.636’ Elev. 30 ft.

I came here often years ago. Kent is notorious for being a heavy shipping area with virtually no parking for anything larger than a Checker Special, and even it can’t be parked on a street. As a result, it’s nearly impossible to get anything to eat.

Long ago I had a favorite teriyaki place here. It was a favorite because there was street parking and the food was pretty good. Then Kent nixed the street parking … just as a new “For Lease” warehouse was completed directly across the street. But alas, that parking became verboten once occupants moved in. And so it goes with life aboard a land yacht.

On this trip, however, I really scored. I delivered to a place that not only had parking but is located in a complex with multiple warehouses. That means I could park there without getting run off because nobody knows what business I’m going to. Oh, the ecstasy!

After checking in, the lady in the receiving office said I would have time to go eat if I wanted. So off I hoofed … and found Saya, an amazing Japanese/Thai restaurant about a half-block away.

Saya has a very diverse menu. Although it’s mainly Japanese and Thai, it also features a sampling of other Asian cuisines, from Phở to Mongolian Beef. It’s as if the owner left Thailand, made his way up the east coast of Asia and hopped over to Japan before heading to Seattle, picking up recipes all along the way.

The first time I went into Saya I asked the guy at the counter what was more fun, the Spicy Katsu (“Katsu pork or chicken cooked in Supreme sauce, onions, mushroom”; $9.95) or the Pad See Ewe (“Stir-fried fresh wide noodles with choice of meat, broccoli, carrots, sprouts, cabbage and sweet soy sauce”)?

“It depends on what you’re in the mood for,” he said. Umm, okay then …. l’ll have the Pad See Ewe with pork ($7.95).

08 Saya Pad sSee Ewe Tio Wally Eats America: Saya Restaurant

This dish is fantastic! Thin, tender slices of pork and rice noodles about the size of lasagna noodles, along with the aforementioned vegetables. The sauce has a flavor similar to the taste of Pad Thai. I ordered it Two Stars (on a 1-5 scale). At first I didn’t it was spicy at all … then my nose started running; always a good sign. And it was a lot of food.

After delivering I went to the next port o’ call to learn they hadn’t yet unpacked the shipping containers (those big metal trailer-size boxes that are occasionally lost off the decks of ships, often washing ashore vast riches of consumer goods to delight John Frum cargo cults the world over) that were fresh off a boat from China. Because of the delay, and I could drop my box (trailer), I decided to hit Saya again.

This time I went in and told the young lady at the counter that I wanted Swimming Rama (“Spinach or steam broccoli with choice of meat or tofu. Top with peanut sauce”; $8.95). My thinking was that it would be similar to the Param Chicken from Thai Classic in San Luis Obispo that I love so much.

Before she could put my order in I heard a woman say “Hello. So nice to see you again.” I wasn’t sure where the voice was coming from at first, but I could tell it was directed at me. I looked around to see an Asian woman of indeterminate nationality smiling at me from the kitchen. She turned out to be the owner’s wife, Denise, who is also the cook. She remembered me from my earlier visit, telling me that she had cooked my Pad See Ewe.

I told her how much I loved it, and that I wanted something with peanut sauce this time, the Swimming Rama. “Okay,” she said, “but I don’t have any spinach. I don’t carry it in the summer because it just doesn’t keep well. It gets soggy, wilt-y, you know?”

As we discussed what other peanut-sauce dish I might have she put this great looking bowl of food up in the window. What’s that? I asked. “That’s Katsu Don.” Ooh, I said, I want that!

Sayeth the menu: “Katsu Don (pork) Oyaku Don (chicken) served on rice. Deep fried pork or chicken cutlet cooked in sauce with egg, and white onions.” ($7.50 lunch; $8.25 dinner.).

Denise explained it was a Japanese dish. I ordered the Katsu Don so she took a deep-fried pork cutlet and chopped it into strips. She then sautéed the cutlet with white onion, adding some sort of sauce to it. After the onions were wilted she added beaten egg, covering it with a lid. “Like an omelet,” she said.

After the egg was cooked she slid the contents of the pan over a bed of rice she had previously dressed with a bit of sauce and pepper flakes, adding a generous garnish of chopped green onion atop.

The Katsu Don was quite good. The pork cutlet was tender yet retained the integrity of the crust. I’m not sure how this was accomplished; all logic says the crust should fall off during the sautée. I also couldn’t really determine what the overall flavor was. I guess it was probably too subtle for my slum kid palette. I do know that it didn’t set the boat a-rockin’ like the Pad See Ewe.

As I was leaving with my second bag of booty, Denise said something that really bummed me out. I’d told her about the food blogging — she didn’t know what a food blog was so the young lady at the counter ‘splained it — and how I’d found a new secret parking spot nearby, and she said:

“Oh. Well the next time you come you have to have the …”. I can’t remember what she called it. I do know it involved marinated chicken, curry and coconut milk, though. “It’s been our signature dish for 22 years!” she crowed. “You’ll love it!”

So now she tells me.

Denise is very engaging, very much (as the young lady at the counter described her) “a people person.” She even had the young lady throw in a side of peanut sauce; “Don’t charge him,” she instructed. I guess I warranted it.

Denise was such a delight that I again forgot to ask a question I’d meant to ask the first time I was in: What the hell is Bubble Tea?

I’ve since Googled the Bubble Tea and, as long as it doesn’t taste remotely like Thai iced tea, which I find abominably gross, it doesn’t sound too bad. The Bubble Tea sign and poster looked great anyway.

Honestly, I find anything flavored with hazelnut, like Thai iced tea, so sickening that I truly believe that flavor would gag a maggot! Indeed, I suspect even a desperate, starving congress of vultures would turn up their fetid-flesh-shredding beaks at any carrion that had consumed hazelnuts; even buzzards have standards, you know.

That said, I can’t wait to try Saya’s signature dish and, perhaps, some Bubble Tea. Next time.

And so we roll.

Saya Restaurant, 8455 S. 212th St., Kent, Washington

Tio Wally pilots the 75-foot, 40-ton(max) land yacht SS Me So Hungry. He reports on road food from around the country whenever parking and InterTube connections permit.


Dutch Boy Burger

After Tim’s party, we ended up at Dutch Boy Burger in Crown Heights. The place is so deceiving. It looks small from looking at the front. But then you go through a back door into a big bar and then a huge outdoor patio. It’s crazy big.

I got the signature Dutch Boy Burger (cheddar, sauteed mushrooms and onions $9.50. The burgers are big and look great, but could use some salt. The Mac and Cheese was great though.

Dutch Boy Burger – 766 Franklin Ave (btw St Johns Pl & Sterling Pl) Brooklyn, NY 11238

It was really nice that when I came back from the restroom, the bill was already paid for. It happened the week before with my sister too. I think it was The Secret.

Top Ten Pastry Chefs in America 2014


Georges Berger, MOF, Owner, Chocolate Fashion, Miami, FL
Pistachio Brittle & White Peach Mousse with Griotte Macarpone Sorbet

Ebow Dadzie, Pastry Chef, NY Marriott Marquis, New York, NY and Pastry Instructor, Monroe College, New Rochelle, NY
Coconut Lime Dacquoise with Mango Olive Jelly, Coconut Mousse, Mango Pineapple Compote, and Banana Lime Sorbet

Della Gossett, Executive Pastry Chef, Spago, Los Angeles, CA
White Chocolate “Crottin” with Surinam Cherry Preserve

Katzie Guy-Hamilton, F&B Director and Corporate Pastry Chef, Max Brenner Worldwide
“Suntory” – Chocolate Torte with Toasted Matcha, Pistachio Gelato, Coconut and Cherries

Cher Harris, Executive Pastry Chef, The Hotel Hershey, Hershey, PA
Mandarin ‘n Chocolate Hazelnut Sponge, Ginger Caramel Macaroon, Smoked Hazelnut Crumble, and Mandarin Foam

Joshua Johnson, Executive Pastry Chef, Vanille Patisserie, Chicago, IL
Sur del Lago Chocolate Mousse, Chocolate Cremeux, Cherry Compote and Chocolate Pound Cake

Ghaya Oliveira, Executive Pastry Chef, Restaurant Daniel, New York, NY
“The Cherry Tart” – Rosemary Sour Cherry Compote, Chocolate Financier, and Tainori Bavaroise

Derek Poirier, Ecole du Grand Chocolate Pastry Chef Western USA, Valrhona USA
“To The Five Boroughs” – Hazelnuts, Pralines, Opalys, Bahibe and Coffee

Rudi Weider, Master Pastry Chef, Hilton San Diego Bayfront, San Diego, CA
Chocolate Espresso Crème Brûlée with Bourbon Vanilla Gelato and Salted Coffee Caramel Sauce

Jennifer Yee, Executive Pastry Chef, Lafayette, New York, NY
Assorted Mini Eclairs

Tio Wally Eats America: Virgin River Casino

I’m happy to have Tio Wally (long-time Me So Hungry reader) aboard to send in his eating adventures from across America. Here he is in Mesquite, Nevada.

Tio%20Wally%20Eats%20America%20truck2 Tio Wally Eats America: Virgin River Casino

Greetings from Mesquite, Nevada
N 36° 48.8928’ W 114° 4.0164’ Elev. 1663 ft.

This is a pretty sleepy place. Located on I-15 just south of the Arizona-Nevada state line, Mesquite seems to exist only as home for a few casinos, a few golf courses, and a host of condos inhabited mostly by “Snowbird” retirees.

As you drive along I-15 the Virgin River Casino has billboards advertising two specials: a 16-oz Ham and Eggs breakfast for $4.99 (served 24 hours), and a Prime Rib dinner for $6.99 (served between 4-10 p.m.).

Being as I was “in the window” time-wise, I went for the Prime Rib dinner at the River Cafe. I’ve had it before and, I must say, it is one of the best deals I’ve ever come across in all of Nevada. The dinner consists of a 16-oz cut of prime rib, your choice of potato (baked, mashed or fries), a steamed vegetable medley, and two rolls.

06 Mesquite plate Tio Wally Eats America: Virgin River Casino

As always, the prime rib was perfectly cooked (I ordered medium rare). Both the au jus and creamed horseradish that accompany it are likewise outstanding; the au jus isn’t salty and the horseradish has just enough bite to be satisfying without being overpowering.

The baked potato has a wonderful Kosher salt rub that’s really great. I usually get a side of ranch dressing for my baked spud but forgot to ask for it. I was kind of surprised — I’d forgotten how great sour cream is on a baker.

The vegetable medley, however, was kind of disappointing. It consisted of a couple of pieces of cauliflower, some carrots and green beans, and slices of red and yellow bell pepper. It’s not that it was bad, just that the cauliflower was really undercooked. I love properly cooked-to-tender cauliflower.

In all of the photo representations of the dinner it is shown served with broccoli, another favorite of mine. I’ve had the dinner served with that and it, too, was undercooked. If I had my druthers I would go for overcooked rather than undercooked.

Although total cost of this unsurpassable Prime Rib dinner was only $7.56, I’ve now decided it has become overpriced. Here’s why: Across the street from the Virgin River (which has no land yacht berthing) is a 24/7 gas station (which does). It used to be free to park there but now they charge. They threaten those who don’t pay with being towed away.

I understand property costs money, and paving it to withstand a bunch of putzes dragging 40 tons of crap over it day after day costs even more. But geez, do they have to charge 50¢ per hour (three hour minimum)? This raises the cost of a phenomenally prime 16-oz Prime Rib dinner to a whopping $9.06!! Sometimes I think people believe street sailors are made of money.

And so we roll.

Virgin River Casino, 100 Pioneer Blvd., Mesquite, Nevada

Tio Wally pilots the 75-foot, 40-ton(max) land yacht SS Me So Hungry. He reports on road food from around the country whenever parking and InterTube connections permit.

Oh! Taisho’s Deep Fried Baby Horse Mackerels

I went to see Andrew WK’s book reading/interview at the Strand for the new 33 1/3 book about his hit album, I Get Wet. Half way through, I realized I knew the author! …back from college and some early years of NYC. I felt so stupid that I didn’t recognize him. Well, glad to see he’s doing well.

03 Andrew WK I Get Wet Book Phillip Crandall Oh! Taishos Deep Fried Baby Horse Mackerels

Then afterward, I went to Oh! Taisho. I got a few skewered things, like liver, scallions, garlic and quail eggs. Then I decided I needed one more thing on the menu. I got the Deep Fried Baby Horse Mackerel with Curry Seasoning. They were great. You can eat the heads and the skeletons —all of it!

01 Deep Fried Baby Horse Mackerel Oh Taisho Oh! Taishos Deep Fried Baby Horse Mackerels

Oh! Taisho – 9 St. Marks Pl (btw Cooper Sq & Astor Pl in East Village) New York, NY 10003

Pedro’s Mexican Restaurant – Dumbo Brooklyn

I remember going to Dumbo, Brooklyn off the York stop many years ago …and really the only thing there right off the stop was Pedro’s Mexican Restaurant. I felt like back then, they had some stewed meats in steam trays. But I could be wrong. This time, it was renovated –no steam trays. All off the menu. Bright colored lights outside to fit along with all the new buildup of businesses in the area.

I remember when I came here with my old girlfriend and her friends years ago –they were showing Shakira on the TV and my girlfriend was talking shit about her. It pissed me off for some reason. Not sure why. But I almost broke up with her because of that. That seems pretty stupid. But I guess talking shit about someone just because they’re pop is too.

Anyway, I came back to visit. It was a grand party. Hipster hangout. My type of people. I felt like people were doing tequila shots all around.

04 Crispy Burrito Bowl Pedros Mexican Restaurant  Pedros Mexican Restaurant   Dumbo Brooklyn

I got the Pedro’s Crispy Burrito Bowl. I didn’t realize it would come in a crispy tortilla bowl, but I guess that makes more sense than what I thought it was going to be. It was huge. Was pretty good. Maybe a little salty.

Anyway, I feel like just because I have bad memories of a place, doesn’t mean that it’s the place’s fault. All I wanted was a burrito bowl …and they gave it to me.

Pedro’s – 73 Jay St (btw Water St & Front St in DUMBO) Brooklyn, NY 11201

Tio Wally Eats America: BEETS!

I’m happy to have Tio Wally (long-time Me So Hungry reader) aboard to send in his eating adventures from across America. Here he is in Grinnell, Iowa.

Tio%20Wally%20Eats%20America%20truck2 Tio Wally Eats America: BEETS!

Greetings from Grinnell, Iowa
N 41° 43.6672’ W 092° 43.6374 Elev. 1007 ft.

Nothing beats a beet, especially if it’s pickled … with some white onion.

I was in the Hy-Vee in Grinnell, Iowa recently to get one of those unbeatable Hy-Vee deli meal deals. I remember it like it was yesterday … I got really awesome white beans with big chunks of ham, a “spring salad” (pasta shells, with carrots and celery, in a sweet dressing), and … BEETS! ($5.99)

I’ve written about Hy-Vee before, even when it’s garbage. I stop there quite often because it’s such a great deal.

It was in the Grinnell store awhile back when I first noticed they had pickled beets in the deli case for $3.99/lbs. I asked the guy behind the counter, Ron, how they were. “I don’t know,” he said, “I don’t eat beets.” Bummer for him, I thought.

I asked to taste them and they were the absolutely awesome: Sweet and sour, tangy, well-spiced, with that earthy, musty flavor beets are well known for. Everything a pickled beet should be. And with a generous amount of white onion mixed in to boot.

06 beet Tio Wally Eats America: BEETS!

I told Ron how great they were and offered him a half-slice of beet on my fork. Evidently Ron has a deep-seated aversion to beets. He backed away, making an “Ewwww” face of disgust so contorted you’d think I’d just offered him a heaping helping of steaming dog turd-on-a-stick. Poor Ron. I bought a pound container of the delicious gems and proceeded to have Fun with Beets.

In fact, I even wrote a Haiku about them:
Beet. Beat. I (heart) Beets.
The root of life needs pickling.
But Ron says, “No thanks.”

I like to use pickled beets the same way smart people use leftover cranberry sauce/relish from Thanksgiving, by putting it on sandwiches. They’re great on turkey, chicken and tuna sandwiches.

Lately I’d been putting them on Arby’s Junior Chicken Sandwiches (99¢-$1.29, depending on location). The sandwich consists of a deep-fried chicken patty and a bit of lettuce, and comes dressed with a little mayonnaise. I get an extra package of Mayo from the Arby-ettes to ensure I’m “cookin’ with gas.” Mayo and beets are a great combination. The sandwiches are really good, akin to those super-comforting leftover Thanksgiving turkey sandwiches, albeit with a decidedly low-budget, industrially processed pullet bent.

I thought I was unique by putting beets on sandwiches. A little research revealed that Australians regularly put them on hamburgers. ”A burgie wid’out beet idn’t a burgie, mate.”

I’ve always had a feeling beets were inherently healthful. And great googly-moogly! It turns out beets may well be destined to become the next miracle food/cure/fix-all. As beet farmers’ luck would have it, beets:

• Lower blood pressure;
• Lower cholesterol;
• Are high in antioxidants;
• Prevents some cancers;
• Treats anemia and fatigue;
• Helps your mental health (not mine);
• Supports healthy liver function;
• Aids tissue growth;
• Stabilizes blood sugar;
• Reduces risk of osteoperosis;
• and Increases sex drive.

They also taste great. And to think the scientific name for this largely ignored yet noble root vegetable is Beta vulgaris. Tain’t nothin’ vulgar ‘bout ‘em, I sez.

I’ve been to a couple of restaurants in Pennsylvania where they serve “Harvard” beets. They were pickled beets about the size of ping-pong balls at one place, cubed beets at another. What made them such a treat was that they were not only heavily spiced in a super thick sweet and sour-type sauce, but they were served warm.

I’ve must have led a very sheltered, deprived and/or depraved life because in all these years — 29! — I’d never run across beets served warm. What a treat they are.

Beet greens are also edible, supposedly with a flavor similar to kale. Sadly, I’ve never had them … yet. But the next time I hit Nona Mia’s I’m going to take in a bunch of fresh beets, hand them over to Chef/Owner Peter Affatato, and say: “Surprise me!” I figure it’ll be impossible to go wrong. After all, they’re beets.

And what other miracles are the humble beet responsible for? Well, first of all, if you’ve ever seen a USDA Inspector’s stamp on a side of beef, the “ink” was beet juice. But here’s an even better one: the flavorless and largely inedible Sugar beet’s juice is better than salt for melting ice on roadways. Go figure.

Beets can be grown the world over it seems. And they can always be found in the grocery store, either fresh or pickled. I ask you: Could life possibly get any … beet-er?

And so we roll.

Hy-Vee, locations thoughout the upper Midwest

Tio Wally pilots the 75-foot, 40-ton(max) land yacht SS Me So Hungry. He reports on road food from around the country whenever parking and InterTube connections permit.

Rye Brooklyn Brunch

I had to pickup a package at the post office. So I stopped by Rye for brunch. Lots of girls there.

03 Rye Benedict Rye Brooklyn Restaurant Rye Brooklyn Brunch

I ordered the Rye Benedict (grilled pork belly benedict over buttermilk biscuit $12). Delicious! I like it a lot.

They have $5 burgers during happy hour that look good. I gotta try that sometime if I ever get out of work early.

Rye – 247 S 1st St (btw Roebling & Havemeyer St in Williamsburg) Brooklyn, NY 11211

And this is what I picked up from the post office –a Triple LED Guitar Strap! I saw a few review videos on YouTube, but they were all so long. Some over 36 minutes. I don’t have the time to watch reviews that long. So I just went ahead and bought the strap …and then made a video myself. Mine is only 17 minutes long.