Central Market (Austin)

I remember reading an article once that suggested college students could save money on food by eating lunch at Costco. Not by buying food at the food court, however. But by going inside the store and eating from all the samples!

Now, we didn’t go to Central Market in Austin with that in mind. We just wanted to check out Whole Foods’ competitor and see what it was all about. But of course we wouldn’t turn away from all the various plates of samples left out, like at the cheese counter where we couldn’t stop sampling a fantastic vodka currant cheese from Sweden.

Or the beef fajita wrap served hot at another station sampling various meat rubs and seasonings:


East Lake Seafood Restaurant (San Jose)

One of the first restaurants I ate at when I first arrived in San Jose was East Lake Seafood Restaurant in east San Jose. It had (and continues to have) a reputation for good Chinese food at great prices. Most nights, if you go at dinnertime, their tables will be full.

Same thing happens on the weekends for lunch. If you don’t show up early enough, there will be a line out the door and the hostess will be telling you the wait is half an hour to 45 minutes. So why all the fuss?

Williams Smokehouse (Houston)

I am a barbecue afficionado. When I told some friends in Houston that I was going down there, and could they suggest somewhere to eat, the name Williams’ Smokehouse came up. They said it was the best place in town. One of my friends, who happens to be on a championship competition barbecue team as well as a judge, says he’d like Williams’ ribs to be his last meal.

We had originally planned on meeting up at Williams’ Smokehouse for dinner, but plans were changed and we ended up actually at our friend’s house. He picked up the barbecue for us earlier in the day. This turned out to be even better, because we could eat in comfort without worrying about the kids or being kicked out at closing time (7 pm).

This also gave our friend a chance to showcase his own barbecue, in this case some chopped pork butt that he had smoked on his Weber Smoky Mountain. He also provided the cole slaw and buns.

So here on the plate are brisket and ribs from Williams’ and chopped pork and cole slaw from my friend Pete.

These ribs were the best ribs I have ever had. Seriously. They were cooked tender but not dry, flavorful but not overly spicy or smoky. The brisket and pork were also delicious. But oh, the ribs!

I’m so sad we ran out. We should have picked up another rack.

More pics from our Texas trip on my Ball of Dirt journal: http://www.ballofdirt.com/journeys/17578.html

Aloha, Nate

Edit: So sad to note that Williams’ Smokehouse burned down, and the proprieter had no plans to reopen. Where now can we get perfect ribs?

Rudy’s BBQ (San Antonio)

I am a barbecue aficionado. Before my “awakening”, I used to think that Tony Roma’s was the best place for ribs. But then I found out that true barbecue does not involve boiling or steaming meat to tenderize it before slathering it with sauce and throwing it on the grill. True barbecue comes by slowly cooking meat in the heat and smoke of a wood fire. Sauce, if it is to be served, should be on the side so as not to hide any imperfections but complement the meat’s smokiness.

I like to think that I can turn out some pretty good ribs, which rival or beat any restaurant ribs, including specialty barbecue joints. That could be easy to do here in the south SF Bay Area, but Texas is a different story. Texas is one of the hotbeds of barbecue.

One joint that was recommended to us by a friend is Rudy’s. My uncle, himself an experienced barbecuer, claims they make the best brisket. So while we were in San Antonio we decided to visit Rudy’s for a late lunch / early dinner. We chose to go to the location near SeaWorld.


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My Photo Annie is mistress of the kitchen while Nate is the master of the grill and smoker. We cook the homestyle Asian and Hawaiian foods of our younger days while also exploring the wider worlds of Western foods.

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