The Shil-Shul Diaries

The story begins in a cramped booth at the "faux" New York deli 'Noshville' in Nashville TN on a blustry day after thanksgiving November Friday day in 2008. In between my wife, Rachel, and my brother, Michael, I sat across from my "cooler than me" cousins Mark and Sarah, and Sarah's just as cool husband, Danny. Mark, who lives the awesome life being a lawyer living in San Francisco working for Facebook, with his only downfall being his SEVERE lactardation..which has never been medically or scientifically proven to exist in Mark.. Sarah and Danny are foodies from NYC who have tried every dive "chicken finger" hut and "curry on a stick" in the big city. Danny and Sarah had discussed that they were trying to go to as many places from Bobby Flay's 'Throwdown' show as they could, and that there was one in Nashville we had to try.....a place that I had never heard of in my 13 years of living there..I will get to that adventure later.

I got an idea from my cool cousins idea. An idea became a hobby. And the hobby became an obsession. And thus produced the list.....a world-famous spreadsheet...of every restaurant that has ever been featured on Food Network and Travel Channel....every restaurant from the famous shows like "Throwdown", "Man V. Food", "Man v. Food Nation", "Food Feuds", "Food Wars", "Best Thing I Ever Ate", and "Diners Drive-Ins and Dives" to the obscure "Best Food Ever", "Meat and Potatoes", and "101 Best Places to Chowdown", plus my additions of the restaurants of famous chefs and local places of legend. Names, cities, food they are famous for, and addresses. It was and still is an obsession. As of 9:24am on January 7th, 2015, THE LIST HAS 3,116 RESTAURANTS ON IT...WITH A FEW OVERLAPS HERE AND THERE. And then over Pastrami Eggs Benedict at Nate N' Al's Deli in Beverly Hills, Hannah and Andrew, our good friends, gave me the idea of the blog. Document every place I went. And thus, "The Shil-Shul Diaries" was born. I will log the places, the shows they are from, and what I had. So far, every place I have been has been amazing, except two, one being mediocre, and another being down right awful.

If there is a city you have been to, or are going to, or are from and want to know what from my list is in the city, send me a email at shilshuldiaries@gmail.com

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

THE BOILING CRAB






From Best Thing I Ever Ate

3377 Wilshire Blvd #115, Los Angeles, CA 90010

http://theboilingcrab.com/

Plain and simple, this is my kind of restaurant.  When I die, this place is what heaven will look like if they also served glass bottle coke, bbq, and cheese burgers.  Its simple, straight forward no nonsense deliciousness.  Its a cajun seafood boil.  You walk up, check the board for what they have in season and what they don't.  You get seated, put on a bib, they put down the table cloth which is a plastic sheet.  You order you shellfish. Fried or Boiled?  How many pounds?  What sauce?  What spice? Do you want to add corn, potatoes, and sausage?  They bring it out to you, in its entirety, in a big plastic bag.  You dig in.  No utensils.  Just your hands.  You do all the work. The Dexter style covered table is your work bench, make as much of a mess as you like.  Ketchup on the table. Yup!  Shells on the table. Yup!  Napkins all over! Yup! It is perfection in my mind.  The perfect meal.  The perfect shellfish.  The perfect sauce. The perfect spice.  Perfection.  

I only hate that it took me this long to find heaven.


LUKSHON








FROM BEST THING I EVER ATE AND BEST WINGS IN AMERICA


3239 helms ave. culver city, california 90232

This place is great and inventive and a culinary experience and a delight.  The head chef, Sang Yoon, is the same guy who brought you Father's Office gastropub, which is next door to this place.  You know, the place with the insane burger that was voted one of the best burgers in the world by Esquire magazine.  You know, the place with the insane burger that has a very strict non-modification policy, which prohibits substitutions or additions such as ketchup. There also is no-hostess or kids allowed.  This is that Chef Yoon's Asian concept.  It was wonderful.  The concept is to share a bunch of different items among a group of people (they recommend three items per person to share), but Albert doesn't share (well), so I went alone, and got the three items I wanted.  The lobster bahn mi roll, the blue crab fried rice, and the reason for coming, the spicy chicken pops.  

I was able to sit at the diner style table overlooking the open kitchen.  I watched as my bahn mi was prepared no more than a few inches from me.  I watched as my fried rice was prepared in a wok just a few feet beyond that while my spicy chicken pops fried to perfection behind that.  A wonderful atmosphere and environment.

The lobster bahn mi roll was exactly like the traditional lobster roll from the northeast crab and lobster shacks.  Lobster meat, tossed in mayo, on a butter roll.  However, the wonderful twist with this dish is that the pig ear terrine ( French forcemeat loaf similar to a pâté) added to the sandwich and the slaw added was of a spicy green papaya.  Delightful and refreshing…and demolished in one bite.

The blue crab fried rice was your classic fried rice in a bowl with a hearty and healthy portion of shredded blue crab added in. It was exactly what I had imagined it would be and it was exactly what I wanted to it to be, and many times that is reassuring, reaffirming, and comforting.  It is what I wanted and it was what I wanted.

The spicy chicken pops.  The reason for my culinary adventure to this diner table.   The title of the dish is perfection as is the dish itself.  These are not wings in any sort. They are actual pops, like a lolipop.  You hold the bone like a stick and eat the "pop" of chicken meat off the top, taking minutes for each one to ensure you get every piece of delicious meat.  It begins with marinating wings in a mixture of ginger, garlic, scallions, onions, Chinese light soy sauce and kecap manis, an intense, dark, sweet Indonesian sauce. The marinated wings are dusted with flour, deep-fried twice in peanut oil and tossed in a sauce made with kecap manis and soy sauce, black vinegar, ginger, garlic, scallions and onions. The fantastically sticky wings are then finished with Yoon’s own spicy Sichuan salt. It is a wonderful "labor-intensive reinterpretation of the buffalo wing glazed with sweet Indonesian soy sauce and Sichuan peppercorns." (Jonathan Gold).

Lukshon is great.  I highly recommend not being an anti-social freak and going alone out of fear of not being able to get in or get a good seat or get the dish you want out of a unwarranted fear they may run out, and go with friends.  Everything on the menu is delicious, so do as they suggest an try a bunch of different things, but makes sure the spicy 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Ben's Chili Bowl










Man vs. Food, 28th Best Place to Chowdown in America


1213 U St. NW, Washington, DC 20009


The nations capital.  Home of back door politics, scandals, espionage, back stabbing, and the most famous chili stand in America, Ben's Chili Bowl.  This place is a legend, a landmark an institution, a capital.  Standing the test of time, through riots, fires, revolution, and renaissance, Ben's has been a staple, a cornerstone, a rock of consistency and constant-cy.  No matter what has gone on in the town, no matter who is in charge, Ben's has been there.  Ben's is what is great about America, at the end of the day, after all the yelling, screaming, and aggressiveness, passive or not, everyone at the end oft he day, no matter their race, background, orientation, religion, loves a great chili cheese burger/hot dog/fries and a soda. 

Ben's is a chili landmark.  Walk up, order, sit at the bar, fill yourself, and get out.  And the food warms the soul, the heart, and the belly.  Burgers, hot dogs, fries. It is simple at its core in a town more complex as the days go by.  The half-smoke dog is the staple and the dish for which they are known, and it does not disappoint.  Sober or intoxicated.  Day or night.  Summer or winter.  Democrat or republican.  No natter what is going on or down outside the windows of Ben's, there is always a constant and consistent feeling of welcome and calm within the doors of this culinary landmark. No stress, just chili and cheese covered meats and potatoes.