March 19th, 2008

cowboy hat

(no subject)

Ah, life. The grand cycle. The highs the lows, the good and bad. I’m talking, of course about the food I’ve eaten in restaurants over the last two weeks. Though I regard all of life as an adventure, and try to enjoy every gustatory experience to its fullest, two restaurants have left me cold recently.

After a solo ski day in Park City, I was headed back toward the freeway to Salt Lake City. As traffic slowed down, my hunger increased, so I decided to stop by The Kimball Junction Red Rock Brewing Company for a beer and some hot wings. (nothing caps a day of skiing alone better than drinking alone) I sat at the bar, and couldn’t help but notice that the chef and sous chef were sitting next to me, watching a basketball game.

The beer was fine though expensive by the pint, but the wings were a real letdown. The first two I picked up were fractured and left me picking shards of bone out of my teeth. The meat separated itself from the bone reluctantly, and the sauce tasted only of heat and salt, with none of the sweetness or full warmth of good wing sauce. The blue cheese dressing was thin as buttermilk, with no appreciable chunks of cheese to chase with a carrot stick. At nine dollars, these wings should seek my approval. They are certainly capable. Instead, they radiated complacency and entitlement. I really need to get back to the Trolley Wing Company, where the service stinks but the wings are your friends forever.

On my lunch break Monday, I drove to Foothill Village shopping center to do an errand, and decided to try a burrito from Costa Vida, an up-and-coming chain restaurant based in Layton. I sort of knew, but I really should have known better. They serve fake Mexican food that is different from the fake Mexican food at Taco Bell in that it’s more expensive and incorporates a lot of sweet, syrupy sauce. Their chili verde was sweeter than the Doctor Pepper I drank with the meal. The steak in the burrito was not marinated and well-done to a tender chewiness, but was rather medium done and a bit gristly. The whole thing was glopped together lunch lady-style, and broiled to shit in a Quizno’s conveyor belt oven. Tiny scoops of guacamole and sour cream cost extra. This was careless, disheartening food, prepared in service of an expansionist business plan. Apparently, the business is doing well using corn syrup to contemptuously divorce a cuisine from the Mexican culture that is all around the Salt Lake Valley.

Disheartened, I lunched on peanut butter and jam from for a couple of days. Then, on a brisk Thursday, I dragged a coworker, my camera, and an appetite to Koko Kitchen for soup. She got chicken curry soup with udon noodles, and I got their homemade ramen with pork, an old favorite I’ve wanted to write about here for some time. Though it shares some ingredients, this soup has a different character than pho. The broth is simple and savory, the fried flour noodles rich. Also in the bowl: Sweet and tender slices of pork, krab meat, hard-boiled egg, bean sprouts, green onions, sesame seeds, and nori seaweed. Sticky rice and kimchi are served on the side. I added a little Sriracha, grabbed some chopsticks, and restored my faith in humanity.