BBQ in the Big Apple

Finding Memphis Food in New York – Some of you are a bunch of Titty Babies!!!!

Yeah I called you a snowflake, snowflake. I mean come on Memphis….You let a silly 5 year old tweet and article get your panties all in a wad because someone threatened your beloved BBQ? I mean lets talk about some serious fucking issues……

I am kidding folks, slow your breathing. Now that the ‘preview’ part on my two social media platforms picked up those three sentences I can come clean. Much like that ill fated tweet I do hope that I can get a bunch of clicks by people who actually think I was serious. Sorry if some of you think that I was serious about that. I have said it before and I will say it again;

“Trying to Find Memphis Barbeque in New York City is much like trying to find a New York Bagel in Memphis.”

That tweet on Sunday was a perfect segway into my point today. We love eating up here in New York. The different cuisines, the different flavors, the 3 Michelin Star restaurants it is something that you can’t explain in 500 words or less. One such cuisine that we have not really found up here is Cajun/NOLA Food. We tried a Bourbon Street joint near restaurant row a couple years ago and it was horrible. On each trip back to Memphis we would immediately head straight to Bayou Bar and Grill or Second Line to get our fix but there had to be a good option here in New York. 2 weeks ago we were Sunday Funday’ng up on Second Avenue and were talking to some fellow patrons and they recommended a joint up the street at Second Avenue and 90th called The Infirmary.

I made a mental note and this past week I was in the area and popped in for a quick bite. The Menu was straight Cajun/NOLA, they had poboys, catfish entrees and even had Abita beers. The bar reminded me of the old “Sleep Out Louie’s” and Original “Bayou Bar and Grill” white marble and it didn’t smell of stale beer and bleach so that was a plus. The food was killer and we will be back!

IMG_2769Bar and yes they have Frose for you fancy people – Old SOL Alums – recall the frozen Margarita Machine?

IMG_2771You have to respect a joint that has not one but two Absinthe vessels.

CajunInfirmaryNYCRoastBeefPoBoy.0I mean have you ever tried to eat a poboy with a raging hard on? It was fierce I tell you!

IMG_2773“Brunch is Bitches Robo” Alex from the Cigar Inn

IMG_2772Catfish, Fried Chicken, Oysters, PoBoys, Shrimp and Grits, its all there folks!

IMG_2770Cloth napkins, Crystal Hot Sauce – Life is good my friends.

IMG_0917 (1)So they lack Sides and don’t believe in proper sandwich buns, some of you guys are just mean I tell you! They do have a good smoked Pastrami up here that is pretty good.

Hope you had a good laugh and got to the bottom of this post before you are blasting me on Social Media.

 

The Boogie Down BBQ on World Famous 236th Street!

You have probably heard me reference my friend RJ who lives in Memphis. RJ was originally from Pennsylvania but moved to Crime-Free Memphis as he wanted to be a shuttle driver at Graceland. RJ found himself a great woman (Let me rephrase that, Mallory, his wife,  is an effin saint) and they lived behind our house in South Bluffs. When we decided to sell Bar 595 he and Mallory bought it after we suckered hard sold JL (not Angry JL the one who can’t ride the majority of the rides at Disneyworld) into buying the house on Madewood to make the Ponzi scheme work. RJ’s best friend is the Asian Fireman and a whole bunch of other players who live near and around our vicinity. The Asian Fireman would come down each year for Memphis in May BBQfest so naturally they got the indirect smoking fever and sure enough some stick burners smokers have been purchased and reside in the Bronx and Glenside Pennsylvania.

A couple of years back the idea of The Boogie Down BBQ was born and a bunch of  Memphians headed up to 236th street and took over the house when the Asian Fireman’s wife was pregnant with C-Man. Can you believe we cooked all the food on just one smoker and a grill for 40 people?  After a trip to Glenside last year we headed back to 236th street and we were expecting a hungry crowd of 100 invited guests. We had 3 smokers and the grill and the menu included; Pork Shoulder, Baby Back Ribs, Spare Ribs, Beef Brisket, Beef Ribs, Chicken, Red Snapper and BBQ Nachos. The crowd came hungry and we delivered. A good time was had by all.

IMG_1718We must have elected a new Pope last weekend. Like a million of them

IMG_1717Prepping the Ribs

IMG_1719Loading the Smoker with Championship Ribs

IMG_1729Good to see Butchie who was in town for the day.

IMG_1732Me – “Um I smell something burning.” Asian Fireman – “Carbunkle, you need to lay off the sauce, there isn’t anything burning.” Me – “You were saying…..”

IMG_1710Pepe bossing us around from the chair

IMG_1708My buddy RJ, can’t wait to hoist a couple Cerveza’s down in Mexico!

IMG_1734The Spread for Dinner Service.

13697082_10154377130171214_6349630965306790063_nThe Backwood’s Smoker ish smoker. I could so use this sucker down on First Avenue.

13707714_10154377130246214_6399415964770970517_nBrisket’s being sliced.

IMG_1733Little Baby Priscilla Presley H is going to be the cutest girl in the Convent till she is 25!

It was a good time and I am glad to be enjoying some dinner that isn’t Hickory Smoked.

 

 

 

 

 

BBQ 101 for The Northeastern Pitmasters

I am going to send this link to some of my work cohorts as I hope to shed some light on a very opinionated subject…Barbequing. You see there is a lot of confusion on this subject and maybe this worthless dribble of a blog can educate my fellow friends who live north of the Mason Dixon line on how to properly smoke meats.  First, as always, let me give you a back story and my credentials as a half ass Pitmaster. Here is what is kind of funny about how I learned how to BBQ in that I am in no way on or have been on a competition barbecue team. With my last employer in Memphis I worked closely with some of the greatest pitmasters in the business while running logistics for my employer. My BBQ mentors include Mike Mills, Amy Mills, Cary “Peg Leg” Bringle, Heath Riles, Myron Mixon, Tuffy Stone, Big Moe Cason, Ernie Mellor, Mike Rude, Joffre DiSabatino, Chunky Rinehart, Colin Gage, and the countless others that I have sat down and visited with over the years. The two common important gems that I took away from all of those listed above is that BBQ isn’t about time and temperature but more of a “touch and feel” and that “BBQ is an opinion so have fun with it!”

Let’s start shall we?

  • Selecting the Brand – Duroc Pig, Smithfield Brand, Wagyu Beef or Farm Raised? Have you guys ever listened to car guys argue about Chevy vs Ford? Same thing. Find something you are ok to purchase and if you screw up you may have to throw in the trash. Personally I would be pissed if I overcooked a Wagyu brisket because that would be an expensive mistake.
  • Cut of Shoulder meat – Whole Bone In Shoulder, New York Bone Out Shoulder or Boston Butt. Shoulders are larger and need more pit time as compared to a Boston Butt which is a portion of the shoulder. I say start small and then work your way up.
  • Cut of ‘Pork’ Rib – St Louis, Spare Rib or Baby Back cut of Ribs? Again play around with this and find something you like and have fun with it.
  • Brisket ‘beef’ – Point Cut, Flat, Whole? I am not much of a brisket guy, but as you can now gather, play around with it and have fun.
  • Chicken – Whole Fryer, Split Breast, Leg Quarter, Drummies, Wings, Boneless Skinless Breast or Tenderloin. I prefer a whole chicken because it normally is cheaper and more forgiving. You also can cook this on a grill if you need to. Hell I cooked some up down in Belize on Soup Cans!
  • Exotic Stuff – Bologna, Spam, Beef Ribs, Lamb, Wild Game, Fish and Vegetables – I have seen it all. Some good and some bad.

IMG_1303Hey Kid, you want to eat ribs today? Then you need to rub some mustard on these shoulders for Uncle CBT.

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Here is when I did some Chicken for a contest down in Belize. Yes those chickens are sitting up on beer and soup cans. The faces were courtesy of Shuffles formally of Changes in Latitudes

To Trim the fat or not? If so, how much?

  • Definitely pull the membrane from the underside of the ribs.
  • For Shoulders I say you should pull that fat cap off but I know guys who don’t do it so it is your call.
  • For Ribs you can do as little or as much as you want to and again it is your call.

Pre-Smoke prep to marinate, inject or leave it alone?

  • Marinades can include juice based liquids, dry seasoning and even salt curing the meat. Depends on what you like and what you are trying to achieve.  If you are going for a tropical themed meal you may marinate it in a sweet citrus juice as compared to a apple juice based marinate. Just a word to the wise, citrus based juice can discolor the raw meat a tad so play around with it.
  • Dry Rub Marinades – the practice where you would sprinkle a spice mixture on the raw meat and allow it to soak into the meat before smoking it. Another word to the wise, be knowledgeable about the spice mixture because if the first 3 ingredients have salt in to you may want to wash the meat off before putting it on the smoker. Nobody likes salty meat. #twss
  • Injecting the meat – again there are schools for and against this practice. I hear that Trump doesn’t inject his meat while Hillary does and poor Bernie Sanders is a vegetarian so pick your poison. I will tell you that Bologna and Spam don’t inject well so be careful.

The Smoker

  • Stick Burner, Charcoal, propane powered, electric powered, stack, water bath, Firebox powered, Kamado Ceramic, Big Green Egg, Backwoods Smoker, 55 Gallon Drum or Bathtub? You can spend as little or as much as you want to. I can spend hours on this subject and there are tons of options. I will say that I know firsthand that if you are trying to smoke meat in a cold climate you better have something that is insulated. More on that later.
  • The name of the game is to practice, practice, practice and then go watch someone smoke on their smoker. Again this is a very debatable subject. I used to have a Big Green Egg and I loved it. I had friends swear by their Backwood Smokers and even had some killer smoked meat on a Weber Kettle so it is very opinionated. There really is no wrong answer here guys and gials.

IMG_1307Classic Stick Burner with a offset Fire Box

IMG_2421_11_1Here is another version of a off set smoker but this one has a rotisserie in it to evenly cook all the meat.

 

Firing up the smoker

  • Whatever your choice of heat charcoal briquettes, lump charcoal, stick of wood, propane or even electric it is paramount you have something creating smoke. You are cooking this meat via heat and smoke so it has to be consistent.
  • Type of wood is also another debate; some swear by Hickory, some prefer Pecan, there are those who love fruit woods and there are even some pitmasters who prefer  mesquite. The name of the game is that you pick one and keep on it. Ernie Mellor preaches “raw meat takes the smoke.” So if you start cooking your ribs in an oven you are defeating the process. Same goes with “par boiling” ribs in water, are you cooking ribs or spaghetti noodles?
  • I have seen some pitmasters who would put garlic bulbs or even onions in the firebox so play around with this.
  • Here is where I debate with a lot of pitmasters in that after the first or second hour of smoking the meat wont take anymore smoke. Keep adding wood to the box and all you are doing is wasting money on the heat source.
  • Editors DISCLAIMER – I was helping my friends in the Atlantic City BBQ contest last fall by being the overnight watch guy. The ambient temperature was in the low 40’s and the two smokers we were using are considered “southern smokers” because they are not insulated and require a lot of heat to keep them going. (Translation – the firebox was roaring but the chamber where the meat was had a big temperature variance) I literally had to burn all the wood in those smokers to keep the temperature hot enough in the smokers. Seriously I considered cutting down the mast off of one of the sailboats that was in the nearby marina for more wood.

IMG_9218NEVER EVER USE LIGHTER FLUID! Say it with me NEVER USE LIGHTER FLUID

Time and Temp

  • Low and Slow? or High and Hard? The biggest thing is that you want internal cooking temperatures that are recognized by health department rules. Pork should be 145 to 160, Beef should be a minimum of 140. Chicken at least 165. How you get there is up to you.
  • I know guys who cook Shoulders for 16 hours, Brisket for 12 hours, and Ribs for 5 hours. Here is where that “touch and feel” comes into play. I recall working with Mike Mills for a vendor sponsored event and the morning of the demo he 86’d the shoulder. “The Shoulder just didn’t get to where I want it to be so we are not serving it” was what he told me. While he was doing the demo I snuck back and stuck an instant read thermometer into the shoulder and the shoulder registered an appropriate internal temp. That is why he is a World Champion folks. The man knows what he is doing.

To Mop, Wrap, Glaze, or Just leave it the F alone

  • Many schools of thought here folks. I know guys who “set it and forget it” and I know guys who spend hours mopping and filling this bottom chambers of their smokers with all kinds of excess dripping. It is your call but again play around with it. The Asian Fireman and I were smoking some shoulders a couple of weeks back and he looked at me like I was crazy when I said I wasn’t going to mop the shoulders we cooked this past weekend. I also am not a fan of injecting the meat but that is why we differ on our choice of president too.
  • Wrapping ribs and shoulders is the practice of wrapping the meat halfway through the cooking process and pouring in some liquid before sealing it up to allow the meat to steam. Lots of different schools of thoughts here so find something you like and go with it.

Gumbo to BBQ Fest 2012 144Good Friend and Pitmaster Ernie Mellor leading a demo at WCBCC

Gumbo to BBQ Fest 2012 152Legendary Grand Champion Mike Mills giving a talk about Sauces

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One of the greatest places to ever smoke some meat. Here I am grilling some pineapple for my friends down in Belize.

Pull, Chop, Slice or Rip

  • I say to always pull the shoulder meat rather than chop and slice the brisket with the grain over rip it by slicing it against the grain rather than ripping it which means slicing against the grain. It’s your barbecue so you do what you want to do. There are no wrong answers here.

IMG_9118Boston Butt after slow smoking for 16 hours

IMG_9119I am a big proponent to long strands of Pulled Pork

Slaw, Beans Sauce and Fixins

  • Some will put slaw on their sandwich, some will put it on the side. There are no wrong answers here.
  • I would say that you need to not put sauce on the meat and let it ‘stand alone’. A common cheating method of food service places is to already sauce the meat because they have over cooked it. Let your guests decide.

IMG_9120Doesn’t that look good?

So when are we firing up the smoker?

Carbunkle Takes his show on the Road –> Atlantic City!

What is the old saying? You can take the girl out of the trailer park but you can’t take the trailer park out of the girl? Here it is; “You can take CBT out of BBQ contest but you can’t take the BBQ contest out of CBT.” *editors note – right now I would be getting a “Harumph” from KC Jayhawk but I know that he is looking down on me shaking his finger at me after he stirred his single malt scotch with the same finger* Anyway, I was invited to join in a little fun this past weekend over on the Jersey Shore. We were to compete under Kansas City Barbeque Society Rules which is different from Memphis in May in that we were being judged for our submission of Chicken, Pork Ribs, Pork, and Beef Brisket. Considering that the 4 of us competing had roughly 6 KCBS contests under our belts we were happy with the turn in boxes and turned in all the proteins on time. I had a good time with the boys and even though I froze my ass off at night keeping the Lang smokers going, it was a good time. Next time we head to Staten Island and I am sure that Mr. 3 first names will be all over that!

IMG_9216Thanks to the “former” neighbor who is now “2 hours away” neighbor for the rooms. We may have to come back to see this fine upstanding Eye-Talian DJ. Come on up Chelsea, I am sure you can get a selfie with him.

IMG_9217Here is Pepe’s Lang Smoker. I am glad he brought it because the previously mentioned ribs in this Post would not have fit.

IMG_9218Where you at Paul ? We are using the same thing that you can’t talk about. But at least we had 3 Firemen from NYFD Rescue 1 there just in case.

IMG_9219I won’t say that the wind was biblical by the water but here is a “before” pic of our tent.

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Asian Fireman’s Wife – “Honey, where is the top to the Tent?” Asian Fireman – “Honey, it got dirty this morning so we sent it out to be dry cleaned. It may come back a different color as it was really dirty too!”

IMG_9221“I don’t know if I should Salute it or call the Homicide Division!”

IMG_9222Rubbed and ready to go into the Smoker. Incidentally they are looking for John Murphy a resident of the Bronx who is now missing.

IMG_9224That kid has been to 2 BBQ Contests already.

IMG_9226Since the Asian Fireman and I had difficulty prepping the last set of ribs we asked Pepe to help us out.  Ok we sucked at it last time.

IMG_9227“Hey CBT, I am going to make the Marinade, can you hand me that bottle of Jamison?”

IMG_9228I am glad those boys work for the NYFD because they would be naked and not have anything to wear.

IMG_9235I could have used some of that NYFD gear as I was a ‘tad’ chilly

IMG_9237And John Murphy the Ribs came out of the smoker. Notice how much they shrunk on the bone.

IMG_9238Me Caveman, Me eat Meat!

IMG_9239Seriously we had many people swing by and ask questions.

IMG_9240I snapped this at 8PM, by the time I left the site at 6AM the temp was 42 degrees. I am starting to think that people lied to me and it actually gets cold up here.

IMG_9241Nice touch as the Jiffy Cab Driver knew what kind of condition I would be in for the ride back to the UES.

Seriously, I had a great time and I will be honored to do it again!

New York City ‘meat’ Memphis BBQ aka “True Barbecuing vs Grilling 101”

The wife informed me that she ‘volunteered’ me to smoke a shoulder for her work peeps. I am quite used to her Pot Lucks because I was convinced that was all she did at her previous job in Memphis.  Thankfully I was already heading to Woodlawn to practice cooking on some ribs for an upcoming cooking contest. I told J.L. that I would pick up the ribs and a shoulder for us to smoke this past Saturday so no worries.

First let me tell you a term that they use up here in the North that is completely the opposite in the south – “I am going to barbecue this weekend”. My former neighbor who was from Jersey used this term and one time asked if I would help with cooking the food. I go over to her house and all I see in her fridge behind the many bottles of white wine are hamburger patties and hotdogs. You see my fellow New Yorkers, the term Barbecuing means to cook something over indirect heat and or via smoke. The term “Grilling” is cooking something directly over or under a heat source and this should be the correct term but New Yorkers don’t even carry rotel cheese in the 3# brick like in the south.

Cutting to the chase because I can hear two of the four readers yawning. JL and I smoked the shoulder old school style; no marinade, no injecting, just dry rub, hickory smoke, low & slow for 9 hours and it turned out pretty good. The ribs….well they were good but we have some more work on them this weekend. Momma got up yesterday and reheated the shoulder, pulled the pork onsite (Pitmaster Ernie Mellor would be so proud) for her coworkers to see how we do it Southern Style. It must have been a hit with the group because the text messages JL & I got – “They had a screaming fit, they are coming from other parts of the building to try some!” Don’t get me wrong, I love getting compliments but the biggest compliment we got was from momma’s bosses spouse who is of the religion that should not enjoy shellfish or pork products but looks the other way “That Memphis Pork Butt was better than Blue Smoke’s pulled pork shoulder!” Looks like J.L. and I still have it!

We are exploring enlarging ‘Blue’ the smoker to see if we can smoke at least 90 pounds a weekend for Memphis/Woodlawn BBQ Company.

IMG_9128This is Blue J.L.’s Lang Smoker that we will take up to AC for the contest next month.

IMG_9090We don’t need a chimney starter, we use Mudda Fecking Flamethrowers up here in Woodlawn!

IMG_9094That boy is cute and he is going to be a handful when he gets older. Here C-Man is helping us with the Rib Paddle

IMG_8791We so should have pulled them 20 minutes earlier and we would have a contender

IMG_9118Yep “that Memphis Butt” (actually a shoulder with the bone removed) was looking good after spending time in the Smoker

FullSizeRenderThankfully the Metro North didn’t have any drug sniffing dogs on the route from Woodlawn to Grand Central

IMG_9119Momma Done Good pulling the Shoulder

IMG_9120It was a hit and we have orders for Thanksgiving already!

I wonder if the Hallal boys have an old street meat vendor cart they want to sell us?

“Robert Junior, I will take a full order, make them dry, beans, slaw, extra bread and I will take another pitcher of Michelob!”

“So you are from Memphis, do you miss the Barbeque living up here?” Yes, I have heard this question more times than I care to think but hey, at least I haven’t responded with “Well Bless your heart, My Friend!” For those of you who knew what I really did back in Memphis (Assembly Line worker in a sex toy factory) before moving up here, I do consider myself a pseudo BBQ Snob. I have been called a ‘dumbass’ many times before so if you think that I am going to play “BBQ Critic” up here and turn this into a food blog you can forget it. Trying to find comparable Memphis BBQ up here reminds me of the time I took a bunch of friends down to San Pedro Belize and one of our friends hooked up with Chico, the town mayor and friend of mine. They informed me, while drinking Micheladas, that they were going to dig a pit and smoke a whole hog on the grounds of Holiday Hotel. My first comment was “Oh sure Chico, you think that lady that owns this joint on the 3rd floor will let that happen much less Ms. Kim?” And my second comment was “Why in the hell would I come to place that has unbelievable Fresh Fish and has a food culture that you can’t get at home and cook the same shit we can get every day in Memphis?”

Now, Unless you have been living in cave one can realize that the BBQ culture is huge right now. There are countless number of TV shows that showcase some type of smoked meat or a component of it. People have long been losing their minds over bacon and just about everyone up here has some type of pork entrée on the menu, well except for the Kosher Joints, why is that R.A.B.? I will admit that we have been lucky to try a couple of different BBQ Joints here in the city and they are good.

I have also gotten a lot of “Why don’t you put in a BBQ joint in Manhattan, Woodlawn, Brooklyn?” It just isn’t that easy you see. You can spend a fortune on exhaust systems, wood, cleaning, training, product, permits and we haven’t even fired up the damn smoker yet. The risk/reward is much harder here and let’s be honest, the failure rate of a restaurant is 60% in the first 3 years and that is nationwide. I wouldn’t even know how to estimate that up here. I am going to spare you the types of BBQ I have found up her as deep down I know that you don’t want to read a bunch of run on sentences so I will leave it at that.

Charles_Vergos_RendezvousMany argue that it was a Greek Immigrant who started the whole “Dry Rib” or “Memphis Rib” when he opened his BBQ joint in an alley in downtown Memphis. It is a Memphis Institution and has been serving ribs since 1948.

703596_3910930291974_1672910668_oNow what is this silly SOB doing here? Are those Kansas City Ribs on a smoker in Belize? I do kid and I really miss this man as he is gone way too soon.

IMG_8711Dean and Deluca got into the designer BBQ Sauce line a couple years ago. I just can’t bring myself to waste my money on this crap and buy a bottle of it. This is like a vegetarian going to Texas de Brazil and ordering water and bread.

IMG_8712I would be remiss to not show that Dean and Deluca also sell the other BBQ sauce. Sadly they don’t carry a Maplewood MN BBQ Sauce.

10422277_10152730550769928_320509140671182859_nHere is my boy Guido’s man crush the butcher at Harlem Shambles on Fredrick Douglas Blvd where they will pretty do everything for you except for put it on the grill/smoker.

IMG_8743CTFD Robinson Family who owns the Cozy Corner in Memphis. This is actually a bodega at the corner of 1st and 60th and they don’t sell any smoked meats. The sign to the right is a fried chicken joint next door.

IMG_8877This joint is on 2nd Avenue near our place. I almost snickered when I saw the sign as I didn’t think that Dallas knew how to do BBQ. Tex-Mex yes, but BBQ?

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I have many questions here.

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JL you moonlighting on me already?

bluesmoke_v1_460x285(1)If you google Blue Smoke BBQ you will find all kinds of great reviews of Danny Meyer’s vision and dream of bringing Southern food to the East Coast. Danny is also the founder of the Big Apple BBQ block party that my friends from Memphis come up for. This place is on the list and we will get there one of these days.

__2012138_origWait, is that the Neely’s as in Pat and Gina from Memphis? I have never heard of them.

1932154_10152392550239928_1659156754_nLike I said, I have no idea who that guy in the middle is between me and EM.

web_Morgans_BBQ-32Tried this joint a couple weeks back with DS and JM as it is close to their joint in Park Slope. It is good but I have to bust balls a tad on the way they portion the meat proteins.

Morgans BBQ in Brooklyn (Food Menu)Here is Morgan’s Menu that I got on line and take a look at the Meat, Poultry & Greens on the left side of the menu. I will wait till you go get your glasses……………….Who in the hell orders Ribs by the weight? You order ribs by the bone! I did ask the server this because at the previously mentioned Rendezvous Restaurant, the old time servers there would shame you if you tried to order a half rack of ribs. This is a good joint and the Greens are “Little Tea Shop” worthy.

BBQ-Tray-MorgansNo this isn’t my plate, I nipped it off the internet from Morgan’s website but they do a good job on the food here. Just wait till I teach someone how to do BBQ Nachos, the shit will get real up here then!

Check back with me next week as I try some of the 2 billion Asian themed cuisine restaurants here. Or as AJ would say “Just stay on the first page, don’t go getting exotic and order stuff on the back pages”