Monthly Archives: July 2010

Teeny, tiny, tasty

manawokdiningroomWhy do I love teeny tiny restaurants that serve good food? Is it because they’re cute and tiny, like puppies? Or because the teeny tininess of them makes me feel like I’ve discovered a true hole-in-the-wall treasure?

Earlier this year, a friend introduced me to Manna Wok, a delicious little (emphasis on the little) Korean place at 4865 E. Harry. This place is tiny — so tiny it has room for only eight tables and only two people standing up at the same time. (I’m exaggerating on that last part, but it is a weeeee little place.)

The food, however, is big on flavor, especially the Korean dishes such as beef bul go kee, shown here. mannawokbeef

Manna Wok has been in business for 18 years, and the dining room is plastered with pictures of people enjoying meals there. It’s open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and offers lunch specials.

Today I met Cat Poland, the marketing and communications manager for Girl Scouts KS, for lunch at Manna Wok. I had the beef bul go kee, which is incredible. She had what looked like an equally incredible shrimp with ginger sauce. manawokphotos

(Cat and I, by the way, were meeting to talk about a very cool restaurant event she helps to organize called Cocktails & Cookies. It’s a fundraiser for the Girl Scouts, and I’m going to emcee the event at the Marriott on March 3).

Other teeny tiny restaurants I love: El Patio at 424 E. Central and Thai Five at 1523 S. Seneca.

Wine winners

FOOD WBS-UNCORKED TBTwo local restaurants have gotten word this week of some vino victories, and they want local wine enthusiasts to know about them.

One is Chester’s Chophouse, the fine dining restaurant at 1550 N. Webb Road, which has been granted Wine Spectator magazine’s Award of Excellence for the fifth consecutive year. Chester’s is the only restaurant in Wichita and one of only seven in Kansas to earn the distinction, which will be noted in the Aug. 31 issue of the magazine.

The other is Yia Yia’s Eurobistro, 8115 E. 21st St. N., which now has four certified sommeliers on staff. Yannic Dozier, Alicia Elleman and Brian McIntosh, all in their 20s, trained with Yia Yia’s resident sommelier John Michael, took an intensive two-day course then passed a rigorous exam earlier this month.

Bottoms up!

Just opened: La Bamba Cafe

A reader-submitted photo of...

A reader-submitted photo of fajitas and horchata from La Bamba Cafe in the Petroleum Building.

The things you learn during a live restaurant chat

Today I learned, thanks to some attentive and adventuresome readers, that there’s a new Mexican place open in the lobby of the Petroleum Building at 221 S. Broadway.

It’s called La Bamba Cafe, and it’s open every day, serving breakfast, American specialties such as meatloaf, chicken strips and sandwiches, and a whole lot of Mexican food, including tortas, fajitas, chimichangas and more.

La Bamba Cafe is owned by David Espinosa, who opened Pollo Express at Pawnee and Meridian. For now, it’s openĀ  from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily but will expand its hours to 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays starting next week.

It serves breakfast all day, including Mexican breakfast such as chorizo burritos, and more traditional fare like pancakes, omelets and eggs.

For more information, call the restaurant at 316-771-7172.

Chat live with Denise Neil at 1:30 p.m. today

Hot diggity dog day

linkhausdogDo you realize that at this very moment you have LESS THAN 24 HOURS to prepare for National Hot Dog Day?

Don’t panic. There’s still time to map out a strategy for tomorrow. I have a few suggestions for how you might choose to celebrate the frankest of holidays

You could go to Linkhaus, the new hot dog restaurant and bar at 7817 E. 37th St. N. They’ll have hot dogs on special all day — $1 for regular dogs and $2 for quarter-pounders.

You also could visit Dog House Carryout, a little to-go hot dog place at 707 N. Mount Carmel, that’s getting a lot of buzz from local wiener aficionados who seem to especially like its Cincinnati dog.

There’s also Let’s Be Frank Get Franked And The Wiener Is, a restaurant that’s undergone more name and location changes than can be counted in the time we have here. It’s now open at 2322 E. Douglas, selling all the dogs that made it famous.

Or you could participate in one of my favorite hot dog traditions — driving into the nearest Sonic and demanding a chili cheese dog with all the fixins.

Any other dog suggestions out there?

Sneak peek: Mike’s Wine Dive review

mikesI loved it. So sue me.

I went to Mike’s Wine Dive not expecting to love it, but I did. It wasn’t a perfect experience, but the food I had was deeeeeeeeeeeeeelicious.

The review will be printed in the paper on Friday, but because you’re cool enough to read this blog, you can see it now.

Anyone else have a similar (or vastly different) Mike’s experience you’d care to share? Do so in the comments below.

Wasabi is open — really

Wasabi head chef Eum Young, left, and his staff of sushi assemblers

Wasabi head chef Eun Young, left, and his staff of sushi assemblers, which includes his wife, second from left.

After months and months and months (and months) of anticipation, Wasabi, a new downtown sushi restaurant at 912 E. Douglas, is finally open. (And because it’s right across the street from our offices, the sushi fans I sit near are at this very moment performing an exotic sushi happy dance.)

Chef Eun Young quietly opened the surprisingly large and attractive restaurant on Monday. The giant, leather-bound menu features appetizers, soups, sushi rolls, sashimi, bento boxes and even a kids’ menu. It also has a special half-price sushi section, and Wasabi serves wine, beer and sake.

Wasabi will be open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 to 10 p.m. Sundays through Wednesdays and from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 to 11 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays. For more information, call 316-927-3524.

Protip: Get the menu edited

menumistakesIf it wouldn’t be such a blatant conflict of interest, I would hire myself out as a menu copy editor. It would save a whole bunch of restaurants in this town a whole lot of embarrassment. On the other hand, it would make dining out half as fun.

Now, just for the record, I make mistakes all the time. But mine can easily be corrected and forgotten about. When the mistake is on a menu that’s been printed, paid for and delivered, it lingers like so many Christ breast pieces.

I shot the above picture at a local Mexican restaurant a few years ago, and it’s always been one of my favorites. I’m pretty sure they meant “chicken” or “crisp,” but what they printed was much more entertaining — and descriptive.biryani

Perusing the brand-new menu of a brand-new restaurant today, I found this typo. At least, I’m pretty sure it’s a typo. It could be that “species” is just a stylish new way to refer to “your choice of beef, chicken or pork.”

What’s the worst menu typo you’ve ever seen?

Restaurant profile: Riverside Cafe

Chicken fried steak with gravy and fries at Riverside Cafe.

Chicken fried steak with gravy and fries at Riverside Cafe.

One of my favorite neighborhood cafes in Wichita is Riverside Cafe, a charming and eclectic little diner tucked in the Riverside neighborhood at 739 W. 13th St.

Owned by Paul Cohlmia, the restaurant serves fabulous chicken fried steaks, burgers and fresh-cut fries with the skin still on.

It’s also a great place to go for breakfast, especially on the weekends, when neighborhood residents leisurely sip coffee while grazing on Riverside Cafe’s breakfast specialties, including my favorite, a breakfast burrito stuffed with melted cheese, slices of link sausage, eggs and salsa.

Riverside Cafe's funky decore includes lots of historical pictures of Wichita and a chalk menu board.

Riverside Cafe's funky decor includes lots of historical pictures of Wichita and a chalk menu board.

The service is great, and I love Riverside Cafe because they’ll give me a tiny pitcher of half-n-half for my coffee rather than those bothersome disposable containers. (I need about three six of those to get my coffee the right color, so opening up all those packages is just too much work.)

Cohlmia also recently opened Riverside Too in the former Livingston’s space at 924 S. Woodlawn. It has the same menu as the original.

Both Riverside Cafes are open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sundays.

Restaurant review teaser: Take 2


Can you see me in the vino?

I’m in the middle of writing Friday’s restaurant review, and it was fun last time seeing if I could get you to guess the subject matter based on a picture taken while I was visiting. Let’s try this again.

A couple of hints about the restaurant in question:

1. One of its menus is more than 40 pages long.

2. It serves the fanciest mac-n-cheese in town.

Come on. This one’s easy. Anyone have a guess?