The Alibi is launching a terrific new food column in this issue. The idea behind Dish Jockey is to illuminate Albuquerque’s culinary underbelly, exploring some of the more unusual cuisines and dishes to be found here. Each micro-review highlights just one specialty of the house—a dish so singular, it deserves to have a whole column to itself. We’re starting things off with two helpings of exotic soups— Talking Drums’ African goat pepper stew and Arirang’s Korean soon tofu. Have a suggestion for a for another Dish Jockey fixation? Post a comment here or email email@example.com.
At a conference in Las Vegas, Nev., a few weeks ago, I snuck off to the city’s fabulous Chinatown at every opportunity. Intrigued by all the “tofu houses” I saw, I assumed there were a lot of vegetarians in town. But no, the presence of tofu does not mean the absence of meat. Soon tofu (also spelled soon dubu) is a spicy Korean soup loaded with curdles of extra-silky tofu and meat—and often a raw egg that quickly cooks in the steaming bowl.
Winter squash—along with turkey, eggnog and perhaps your crazy aunt Bertha—reserves a place at most holiday tables. But unlike the others, there’s a seasonal reason for squash being there. And by seasonal, I don't mean the holiday season.
I usually take pictures when I dine out. Some wind up in this column to illustrate a piece or are posted on FB to share with friends. But I’m missing photos of some amazing meals—meals where I can’t be bothered to take a snapshot before diving in. At that moment, my appetite takes over, and the food writer has to wait.
Ramen was fine in college. Times were tough and I really needed that other 85 cents of my dollar to go toward the important things, like booze and dope. (Or "textbooks," as Mom called them.) But with age comes sophistication. And now that my dinner budget is well past the dollar mark, I've devised several ways to serve up a tasty bowl of noodles.
On a recent trip to Talin Market, the fish guy was gracious enough to point me toward his favorite udon noodles (refrigerated, not dried—a mark of haute cuisine). After trying every flavor (crab, shrimp, pork, chicken, etc.) I decided that "Oriental Flavor" was by far the closest thing to the broth I've slurped with my udon at good Japanese restaurants. I have no answer to the age-old question of what "Oriental Flavor" actually means.
Along with the 85 cent packs of noodles and broth mix, I pick up some char-su pork (aka barbecue pork) from the deli counter, an onion, some bok choy, a roll of fish cake (about $3 in the frozen Japanese foods section), some chili garlic sauce and some soy. That's all that's needed, unless you want to add some Chinese broccolli or shiitake mushrooms.
The instructions couldn't be simpler:
1. Slice pork thin, fish cake thinner, onions paper thin. Break bok choy off its stem, wash.
2. Cook noodles according to package. Add ingredients toward end of boiling based on size and desired firmness of said ingredient. (Chinese broccolli goes in a few minutes before cook time is up.)
3. Stir in 1-2 tsps. of chili garlic sauce and 1-2 tsps. of soy.
4. Serve in your favorite bowl.
5. Realize that you're a grown-up, and a dollar-or-so spent on a tasty meal is worth foregoing Keystone Light and instant Ramen.
Talin’s humble beginnings in a narrow shop on Central and Wyoming bear little resemblance to the ethnic supermarket that now anchors the complex at Louisiana and Central. There you’ll also find Café Trang, Bahn Mi Coda (formerly Lee's Bakery), Bubble Tea & Coffee and a Subway franchise.
There’s one reason to go to El Alex, on Fourth Street just south of I-40. It’s a bowl of soup. And it’s good enough to merit the trip on its own.
Come for the emissions testing, come back for the duck soup. That's the brilliant business model that almost was, but isn't. It turns out 2000 Vietnam Restaurant and Saigon Express Emissions Testing, in an attached garage on Zuni and San Mateo, are separate businesses. But I'm still coming back for the duck soup.
It's Week Two of the Cold That Wouldn't Die. You haven't experienced flavor in just as long, thanks to your suicidal sinuses. You're achy all over. And as your former loved ones will attest, you've maxed out the credit on your Whining Card. It's time to take this thing down for the count. It's time to make Jewish chicken soup—bubbe's way, with the whole chicken and the dill. Even if your schmutz doesn't disappear completely, once you see how easy from-scratch chicken broth is, you'll never go back to canned.