About Me

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I'm a guy who likes to cook, eat, and drink, but not necessarily in that order. This blog is nothing fancy; just my random thoughts about anything that can be baked, roasted, or fried. Enjoy!

Monday, February 15, 2016

Restaurant Review: Bamboo on 2nd

You enter Bamboo on 2nd through a large, glossy orange metal door and into a long space that has a cool, urban, relaxed vibe which is framed by exposed brick walls and a polished cement floor. To your left is a long wooden bar with stark white enameled metal stools where you can sit and sip a pre-dinner cocktail while watching old Jackie Chan and Godzilla movies on the TVs that hang over the bar.
At first, you might think that the service would exude some kind of Zoolander-esque "too cool for school" attitude, but you would be wrong. The service is friendly yet efficient. 

And the food doesn't disappoint. Self-taugh chef Abhi Sainju arrived from Nepal twenty years ago from Nepal. His love of Nepalese cuisine and his adopted home is certainly reflected in his moms: steamed Nepalese dumplings with ground turkey, vegetables, and spices, all bathed in an Alabama tomato vinaigrette. Another small plate worth trying is the "KFC," which is short for "Kathmandu Fried Chicken" lollipop with the house sweet sauce.

And the sushi is very good as well. My favorites are the "Wham Bam Birmingham" (shrimp tempura, avocado, cucumber topped with seared salmon, wasabi aioli, and eel sauce) and the "Sexy Lady" (seasoned tuna, avocado, and cucumber with aioli).

If sushi is not your thing, then try the skewers. I like lemongrass chicken with honey sriracha. And finally, there are several banh mi sandwiches to choose from. I recommend you go with seared Marinated pork belly.

If you visit Bamboo, be prepared for a wait unless you arrive early. But they will take your phone number and call you when your table is ready. Bamboo is also one of the few restaurants downtown open on Mondays. 

So, if you are looking for some casual pan-Asian food and good sushi in a hip environment, you can't go wrong with Bamboo.

Address: Bamboo on 2nd, 2212 2nd Ave. N., Birmingham, AL 35203; 205.703.055; www.bambooon2nd.com

Atmosphere: Modern and sleek with a mixture of metal, brink, and wood. 

Sound:  Moderate to loud.

Recommended Dishes: Momos, KFC, Wham Bam Birmingham, and Ramen Bowl

Price: $$ (moderate)

Open: Monday through Saturday for dinner.

Reservations: Not Accepted

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

A Journey of a Thousand Miles

Every four years the circus comes to town in America. It’s called the presidential election. And unless you’ve been passed-out drunk under a bridge, one big issue this year seems to be immigration. These days, nothing gets Americans more fired up than immigration.

But this is not going to be a post about immigration, or at least not directly. I am going to talk about the immigration—or more accurately, the migration—of food and what happens when it moves from one culture to another; how it changes and mutates.

Look at Italian food. Is there any other cuisine more closely associated with the tomato than Italian food? But the tomato is not indigenous to Italy, and for centuries Italian cuisine got along just fine without it. Tomatoes originally came from Central and South America. They didn't arrive in Italy until the mid-1500s. And, like many immigrants, they weren't exactly welcomed at first.  They were considered poisonous. One story, perhaps apocryphal, tells of Thomas Jefferson eating a tomato in front of the local townspeople to prove they were safe to eat. 

And then there’s the humble peanut, which is closely associated with African cuisine, but it tragically came to that continent because of the slave trade.

And many foods change when they migrate. The pizza and spaghetti we know so well here in America is nothing like that which can be found in its homeland. But perhaps my favorite food-migrant transformation is chicken tikka masala, which doesn’t even exist in India. How ironic that the former colonial masters of India consider chicken tikka masala the “National Dish of England.” For the record, chicken chow mein and chop suey are not real Chinese dishes either but the creations of Chinese immigrants in San Francisco.

And so back to America. That nation of immigrants we’ve all heard about since first grade. I’ve mentioned pizza already, but look at all the other foods that we’ve adopted that have become “American” simply through acclamation. Hot dogs, hamburgers, tacos, and burritos. We continue to bring in food immigrants every day. Asian food is the most recent member of our gastronomic firmament—Sriracha as perhaps the best example. Its founder is an immigrant from South Vietnam after the war. A small irony of history.

And so during this political season let’s not forget about the food when we talk about immigration. Most importantly—no one argues about food when it immigrates.