This blog is devoted to highlighting restaurants of Memphis, Tennessee.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Kooky Canuck

Food That Makes You "Kooky"

After blogging about a burger joint in North Memphis recently and comparing it to Kooky Canuck, I realized that I never actually written anything about the place. As a burger aficionado, I enjoy a nicely cooked ground beef patty on a bun with a lot of fixings, and Kooky Canuck never fails to deliver. All of the burgers on Kooky's menu (including the 7½ lb. Kookamonga, which I can't eat more than a small slice) are delicious and I don't have a favorite. Regardless of which burger you order, you'll get it cooked to order along with fresh garnishes that is sure to satisfy the appetite.
In addition to burgers, Kooky Canuck also has an extensive menu of other food offerings, including steaks, sandwiches and various appetizers, including buffalo wings that are as good as any wing joint in Memphis. I especially like the Strawberry Jalapeño wings, a strange combination that somehow blends nicely into something that tastes wonderful. Also, the hot wings are just that, HOT! Eating a dozen of them usually make my eyes water, but I don't mind because I can usually wash it down with a 34 oz. mug of beer (which at $6 per drink, is a great bargain). Kooky also has a version of wings called "HOLY SMOKE!," but I doubt I'll try these wings given that they're hotter than "hot."

UPDATE: Since posting this, I ate one of the HOLY SMOKE! wings in the unofficial Kookamonga Challenge and it kicked my ass. However, I fared better with the HOLY SMOKE! Burger that wasn't nearly as intense but very good nonetheless. Although there is a glass of water in the picture, the burger pairs well with certain styles of beer like pumpkin ales and Saisons (or other beers with a sweet undertone).
Also, if anyone has ever wondered what poutine (a French Canadian appetizer) would taste on a burger, Kooky Canuck has the hookup. Within the confines of a hamburger, the gravy and cheese curds of the poutine meshes well with the ground beef and bun. With the fries mixed in, it's sort of like eating a crazy Salisbury steak sandwich that surprisingly isn't messy. While it's not my favorite burger at Kooky's (my fave is the Yonge Street Burger), the Poutine Burger is on the short list of go-to burgers at the restaurant.

Other menu items that I recommend are the Steak & Fries, the Deep Fried Cornish Hen and the Catfish Plate. The "steak" of the Steak & Fries is a hand-cut rib-eye (either 14 or 20 oz.) that is char-grilled to order, and it has a nice smoky aroma to it that really enhances the taste. The meat in the Deep Fried Cornish hen is full of buttery flavor that meshes quite well with the batter used to deep-fry it with (in my opinion, the batter tastes better than either KFC or Popeye's). The Catfish Plate tastes great whether it's deep-fried or blackened, but I personally like the blackened version because I can combine it with green beans and a salad topped with a sun-dried tomato vinaigrette which makes for a delicious meal for the health-conscious.
Lastly, Kooky Canuck offers a nice dessert menu that has something I especially enjoy, which is the Cookie a la Mode. The Cookie a la Mode consists of a 6" wide cookie that is an inch thick, served in a skillet with a huge, softball size scoop of ice cream placed on top of it. This "dessert" is more filling than entrées at many restaurants, which after a huge meal can be overwhelming but it is worth it. I particularly like the chocolate chip cookie with vanilla ice cream because I love the gooey chocolate mixing in with the cold stuff.
Because of all of the delicious food offerings of Kooky Canuck, it will rank high among the many restaurants in Memphis. In addition to the great food, owner Shawn Danko and the restaurant's staff provide a great atmosphere that make the dining experience quite enjoyable. My only criticism is the bar area, which I feel is a bit cramped, but considering that it is more of a restaurant than a bar, emphasis has to be placed on its dining priorities. Nevertheless, Kooky Canuck is a great, family-friendly place to dine that I highly recommend.


Kooky Canuck on Urbanspoon

LabelsAppetizers/Bar Food, Beer, Burgers, Dessert, Downtown, Family Friendly, Wings

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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Big Burger

WOW! What a burger!

Today, I decided to head over to Big Burger for lunch, and I had an awesome burger. I decided to go with the burger joint's namesake, the Big Burger, which consists of a 1/3 pound of ground beef, cheese, lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise. From tasting the burger, the meat seemed like it was seasoned with a combination of salt and black pepper and cooked to about "medium well-done." When combined with the other toppings, this is one delicious burger. The French fries were pretty good too, having a taste similar to McDonald's fries. When comparing the burger to other places in town, including my favorites Sweden Kream and Kooky Canuck, Big Burger can hold its own with the best of them.
While waiting for my burger, I glanced over the menu and noticed that Big Burger also sells sandwiches and surprisingly, pizza. The pizzas can be ordered in either 6" or 9" sizes, with a selection of these toppings: sausage, pepperoni, beef, ham, turkey, black olives, mushrooms, tomatoes, onions, jalapeños, green peppers. Whenever I get the chance, I will try one of Big Burger's pizzas.
As for the service, the staff at Big Burger was very courteous and it didn't take long for me to get my order. As a result of my experience, I will definitely return again, although because it is in a not-so-nice part of Memphis, I don't think I'll be making any night visits. Overall, Big Burger definitely lives up to its name, and as far as burgers joints go, it is one of the better ones in Memphis.

For another opinion, check out the Commercial Appeal's Whining and Dining blog. The burger made it into its "best meal of the week" feature.

Mediocre Pizza

After having an outstanding burger from Big Burger, I decided to give one of its pizzas a try. I initially wanted to get a 6" sausage pizza, but was told that the topping wasn't available, so I went with a beef pizza instead. The pizza consists of ground beef (about 1" thick) covered with cheese and jalapeños with hardly any tomato sauce, and it was quite filling. However, unlike the Big Burger, the beef seemed unseasoned and had a bland taste, and the cheese (Mozzarella, I think) didn't help. Speaking of the cheese, it would have been nice if the cheese had melted more into the beef, which could have made it easier (and less messier) to eat. To make it palatable, I added Parmesan cheese and McCormick's "Grill Mates" Hamburger Seasoning, which provided some pizazz.
From eating the beef pizza, I don't think I'll be getting another one from Big Burger. While its burgers are great, if the pie I had was indicative of the quality of its pizza menu, I would advise going elsewhere for a pizza.

LabelsBurgers, North Memphis, Pizza, Sandwiches

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Saturday, December 18, 2010

Shang Hai

Best Egg Rolls I Ever Had!

egg rollThe egg rolls at Shang Hai Oriental Restaurant are the best I ever had, although I'm not an expert on Chinese food. However, I have been to many Asian restaurants in Memphis and other parts of the United States (as well as my first visit to a Chinese restaurant, in Florence Italy), and I have never had egg rolls that tasted as good as Shang Hai's. The egg roll, which is slightly bigger than a Twinkie, consists of the typical ingredients including pork and cabbage, but what I like about it is the spicy seasoning used to cook them, which is distinctive. I wish I could describe exactly how it tasted, but trust me, take one bite out of a Shang Hai egg roll and you'll love it.

SIDE NOTE: An inexpensive way of enjoying Shang Hai's egg rolls is by eating them with Michelina's Chicken Fried Rice that can be bought from the neighboring Kroger on Cleveland and Poplar. At under six dollars, it's a nice inexpensive meal that hits the spot.

As for the other dishes that I had from Shang Hai, they're okay, just not "5-star" good. Upon recommendation from Urbanspoon (and not reading the menu), I tried the Sesame Chicken. I was surprised that this was an appetizer consisting of breaded chicken breast strips coated with sesame seeds. For an appetizer, it was good, especially when dipped in sweet and sour sauce. The texture of the meat was extremely tender, which made chewing easy.
I also tried the Chicken with Cashews, which is my favorite entree at the Mandarin Wok II in Millington, Tennessee. However, Shang Hai's version was a bit underwhelming, and I had to add soy sauce just to liven up the flavor. It might have been better if it had additional ingredients like baby corn and celery. It isn't bad, just decent.

The restaurant's take-out service is pretty convenient, with orders prepared within fifteen minutes after being placed. I recently used it to order Beef Fried Rice, and the order was ready within ten minutes after calling it in. Like most restaurants, Shang Hai uses Styrofoam containers which may not appeal to the environmentally conscious, but I don't mind as long as the food is good. By the way, the Beef Fried Rice is somewhat meaty (much more so than nearby Lucky Star, located across from Alex's Tavern on Jackson Ave.) and spicy due to the onions, but was "dry" (or possibly overcooked; I could be wrong) and lacked flavor. Fortunately, soy sauce and Tabasco Green Pepper Sauce livened the meal well.
In all, Shang Hai is a nice, modestly priced restaurant that serves decent food. Other than the superb egg rolls, the food is decent enough to satisfy the appetite, but it will never be confused with P.F. Chang's. That said, the service is great and I'll definitely visit this place often, especially if I'm craving egg rolls!


Shang Hai on Urbanspoon

LabelsAsian, Cheap Eats, Chinese, Midtown, Thai, Vietnamese

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