Happy Chickenzz – Albuquerque, New Mexico

“And believe me, a good piece of chicken can make anybody believe in the existence of God.” ~Sherman Alexie, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian Two things came to mind when my friend Nader and I approached Happy Chickenzz. First, I mused, “if happy cows come from California (a 2002 marketing campaign for California cheese), where do happy chickenzz come from.” My second rumination was to wonder if the ‘zz’ at the end of the word chicken is…

Plum Cafe – Albuquerque, New Mexico

“The branches of the aspen plum To and fro they sway How can I not think of her? But home is far away,” – Confucius According to Urban Farm Online, “plums were domesticated in China more than 2,000 years ago and have figured in written documents since 479 B.C. These fruits were the plums Confucius praised in his writings and the ancestors of today’s Asian plums.” In China, plums symbolize good fortune while the blossom of the plum tree is…

Cafe Nom Nom – Albuquerque, New Mexico

“Nom nom.” It sounds innocent enough. Parents–yes, including parents of four-legged fur babies–utter it in baby talk intonations to get our children to eat something, especially when that something is “good for them” but doesn’t actually look or taste good. Nom nom was, of course, the favorite expression of Sesame Street’s Cookie Monster (Hi Darren) as he ravenously devoured a plate or six of cookies, a fusillade of crumbs flying from his chewing mouth.  Grade school teachers use nom nom…

Latitude 33 – Truth or Consequences, New Mexico

“Of all places in the country where you could have opened a restaurant, why Truth or Consequences, New Mexico?” You can bet Joseph Schmitt has been asked that question many times, especially when people find out his previous address was in Palm Springs, California where he was an accomplished travel writer with a special affinity for cooking and dining. Schmitt’s introduction to T or C started off as business but wound up as pleasure. Assigned to write about New Mexico’s…

Poki Poki Cevicheria – Albuquerque, New. Mexico

Having settled comfortably into middle age, my favorite participatory sports of basketball and tennis have been replaced by more sedentary, safe and slothful pursuits. Instead of getting my shot rejected almost as often as the cheerleaders in Peñasco spurned my offers of a burger at Victor’s Drive-in, I now delight in catching every grammatical faux pas, malapropism and inaccuracy uttered by the media–not a difficult challenge since the legendary and near infallible anchor Dick Knipfing retired. Instead of double-faulting on…

Sushiya Asian Fusion Cuisine – Albuquerque, New Mexico

“I don’t eat anything that a dog won’t eat. Like sushi. Ever see a dog eat sushi? He just sniffs it and says, “I don’t think so.” And this is an animal that licks between its legs and sniffs fire hydrants.”.“ – Billiam Coronel Sushi has come a long way in America.  There was a time–and not very long ago–that many Americans would have agreed with comedian Billiam Coronel’s assessment of sushi.  Fellow funny-man George Carlin certainly did: “I never…

Jinja Bar & Bistro – Santa Fe & Albuquerque, New Mexico

Fusion cuisine.  The term often makes the most stodgy of purists cringe.  Even those among us with the most liberal of palates have been known to cower at its mention.  All too often, fusion cuisine is a loosely defined excuse for restaurateurs to unleash any number of unnatural flavor combinations upon the chaste, unsuspecting taste buds of diners seeking a memorable meal.  Like a shotgun culinary marriage, felonious acts have been perpetrated in the name of fusion, with disparate exotic…

China Poblano – Las Vegas Nevada

Mexican history and folklore recount the story of a remarkable woman who would come to be venerated as a holy woman and prophetess.  Born to nobility in India and possessing remarkable beauty, she was kidnapped as a young child and brought to Mexico, an intended gift to the Viceroy of Mexico whose personal harem of gorgeous women was known far and wide.  When she arrived in Acapulco on a Chinese ship, people were in awe of her breathtaking appearance and…

Chino Bandido – Chandler, Arizona

Chino Bandido in Chandler, Arizona Gustavo Arellano has the right idea. The brilliant and hilarious author of Ask A Mexican, a widely syndicated alternative newspaper column, confronts the “bogeymen of racism, xenophobia, and ignorance” with humor. In his weekly column, he defeats stereotypes and those who wield them by using deprecatory wit to exaggerate those stereotypes to the point of the ridiculous. In the Language chapter of his uproarious book, he provides a list of commonly used Mexican terms and…

Chinois – Las Vegas, Nevada (CLOSED)

It’s been well established that world-famous chef and restaurant impresario Wolfgang Puck can talk the talk. Chinois, a critically acclaimed fine-dining fusion restaurant located in Santa Monica, California is, in the estimation of many, proof that he can also “walk the wok.” So successful was his original Asian and French influenced fusion restaurant that he launched a branch within the confines of the people watching Mecca of the Forum shops at Caesar’s. Prior to visiting Chinois, I read several reviews…

Cafe O – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

Within a few weeks after its launch in late 2003, it seems all the restaurant critics for Albuquerque’s periodicals had waxed poetically effusive about Cafe O, a novel counter eatery whose menu purports to offer a “taste of the world.” Considering those food critics are all women, I pictured genteel dainty sized portions of water cress embellished finger foods and flavored teas served on real china. Although tea was an integral part of the menu, it certainly wasn’t served on…

Asia Restaurant – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

Proprietor Nan Nguyen and his wife launched Asia Restaurant in April, 2002 and have experienced steady, if not spectacular customer traffic.  Repeat business from faithful patrons in a small, intimate setting with only 12 tables give the Nguyens the opportunity to get to know their clients. Although both from a small village in South Vietnam, Nan worked for years in a Chinese restaurant, hence a menu offering both Vietnamese and Chinese food.  Our inaugural visit was shortly after the restaurant’s…

California Witches – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

California Witches, “where you can taste California” is the brainchild of two Korean born California transplants who happen to like witches–not the Wiccans who practice ritual observances of seasonal and life cycles or the repulsive old women credited with usually malignant supernatural powers. They assured us they don’t practice the arcane arts, but like “white” magic as practiced by television characters such as Sabrina. Our hope was that they were practitioners of culinary magic. Chef Rachel Park owns three other…