Saturday, October 3, 2009
Around the World on Broadway
I am guilty. I don't listen to public radio. It's probably because it reminds me of my parents. They may have grown me in their images to watch documentary and news shows on television, but I revolted on radio in favor of music. Plus the fact that I only listen to internet radio at work. So I did not know that our own local Capital Public Radio had been doing a series on the cultural diversity on Broadway exhibited through restaurants. The series was called Broadway: Around the World in 30 Blocks.
Today there was a food crawl on Broadway based on the series. The Greater Broadway Partnership sponsored it to benefit the YMCA. We had 18 stops and the venues varied from Thai to Mexican, from Ethiopian to Nepalese.
We started the crawl at Broadway's newest restaurant, Iron Steaks. It is owned by the same person who owns Willie's Burger (stop #3). The inside decor is really nice and the staff were proud to point out some of the features such as the beautiful floor and the special tables.
They served skewers of their wagyu beef and lime chicken with a mashed potato cake and their limoncello pie for dessert. Great first stop. The beef was super tender and the lime chicken was a favorite with a few of the crawlers. The limoncello pie was pretty bad though. Maybe it was because they made a scaled down version for the crawl. I hope that's the case, but I still won't ever order it. I was more interested in the strawberry shortcakes on the menu since they are actually done with beignets, which they also make over at Willie's. They served a very tasty sangria punch for those of us not interested in wine. As I mentioned in my last crawl review, it's important for restaurants to put their best foot forward during the crawl in order to attract new patrons. Iron Steaks did this. I want to go for dinner now.
We passed by Javalounge (coffee), had chili burgers at Willie's, and then walked down to Andy Nguyen's. I had heard that they were a vegetarian restaurant and that was explained to us when we entered (also in the radio story). They made us some Vietnamese noodles and we were able to pick our ingredients. I opted to pass on the meat substitutes and enjoyed the refreshing lightness of this stop.
Los Jarritos was next and put out a pretty good spread of chips, pork and chicken tamales (featured in the radio story), taquitos, chili verde, and orchata. Then it was on to New Canton, famous for its dim sum. Unfortunately the dim sum was left out and so it was cold and there was no place to sit. In fact, the Chinese places did not put their best feet forward. Next was Panchos Mexican, a place I've noticed many times, but never gone to. They had chili rellenos and chips with beans. It was poor showing Chinese again next door at Panda House. The food was all deep fried and cold. Oftentimes hole-in-the-wall places like it can be hidden surprises, but this was not demonstrated by what they sampled.
Katmandu Kitchen was a great stop. Shown in the top photo, we were served naan, spinach paneer, samosas, a vindaloo, and a mango drink. They were generous and eager to serve. Next door was Mana Sushi. Mana's problem was they were understaffed to deal with all the crawlers coming through. But they served up some nice sushi rolls.
The most anticipated stop by every crawler we talked to was Queen Sheba because people were interested in trying Ethiopian food. In my case, I had Ethiopian 20 years ago in Portland and hated it. But Queen has an excellent reputation here in Sacramento and so I had been wanting to try it. The problem was, I was absolutely stuffed by this time. We went in and found their buffet table stocked above. I took the smallest amounts just so I could taste it only. I must admit, the tastes I had were full of flavor, so I am interested in going back and actually sitting down to a full meal experience.
We still had three more stops, but we just couldn't do it. The next two stops were two Thai restaurants. I love Thai food and I've eaten at both so I decided to skip them in anticipation of the final stop for Tower Cafe. People had figured Tower would have desserts, but they put out jerk chicken, Thai wings, and samosas. I was really disappointed because I had really wanted dessert, but I took some chicken for later because their food is always good.
By this time it was 3:00 and I was ready for a nap now that I was in a full fledged food coma. And we had totally skipped going to the two ice cream stops and Panagea cafe on purpose due to distance!
The crawl event ended officially with an event at Beatnik Studios celebrating the radio series. The reporter, Elaine Corn was there along with the photographer, editor, and producer. There was a nice discussion about the series - how it came about and how it was produced. Be sure to listen to it by going to the site here.
There really is so much diversity on Broadway. Lucky for me, I live right in the heart of it. Once again I was introduced to some new places thanks to a crawl. Some I'll try again, some I've always liked, and some I'll just pass on.
There are three more crawls this month. This group, crawltix.com, has another one on the 25th called The Big Nosh. We ran into Cline today and he's got two more crawls himself. On the 15th is Bikes and Brews to celebrate Oktoberfest. Then on the 28th is his Halloween costume crawl. Get more info at Grubcrawl USA.