Monthly Archives: January 2012

Year of the Dragon starts with free, discounted food

A couple of Asian chains are offering free food and discounts in honor of the Chinese New Year, which is today.

Panda Express is offering a pretty amazing deal, though I predict you’ll stand in a long line to get it. If you go to the restaurant’s website and print off a coupon, you can redeem it today for a free order of Firecracker chicken breast. The coupon is good only today, and no other purchase is required.

And starting today through Feb. 6, patrons who visit P.F. Chang’s at 1401 N. Waterfront Pkwy will get a red envelope that contains either a discount coupon or a coupon for a free appetizer or dessert to be used on a future visit.

Happy New Year!

They’ll dance while you dine

If you click on this picture and blow it up, you will see my friend Nancy's head in the upper right hand corner. Jaime Green shot this last year at Saigon, 1103 N. Broadway.

A couple of local Asian restaurants will soon be offering traditional cultural dancing to entertain their diners.

One is Sit @ Thai Bistro, which has recently begun an every-Friday-night traditional dance show. From 6 to 7 p.m. at the restaurant’s west side location, 7603 W. 21st St., a professional Thai dancer from Bangkok performs.

Monday is the Lunar New Year, also known as the Chinese New Year, which is celebrated by many countries. It’s the Year of the Dragon, and local Vietnamese restaurant Saigon, 1103 N. Broadway, will celebrate as it does every year with traditional Dragon Dancers in the restaurant around noon. Check out the picture above if you doubt how well this spectacle accompanies a #45.

Question of the week: Best egg creation?

I recently had a reader ask me who serves Wichita’s best eggs Benedict. This is one of my very favorite dishes in life, but I”m not sure I’ve had a great eggs Benedict in Wichita — and I think I’ve tried them all.

It got me thinking about egg-based dishes, from omelets to quiches to scrambles.  Which restaurant, in your opinion, makes the best egg dish, Benedict or otherwise?

My two cents: The Anchor, when it did brunch, made a fabulous smoky eggs Benedict using shredded pork for the meat. Otherwise, I’m a slave to The Beacon’s “traditional,” a delightfully low-class version of eggs Benedict featuring  two buttery English muffins topped with bacon, two runny eggs and a big ole pile of almost-melted shredded Cheddar cheese.

What’s your nominee? Answer in the comments section below.

Bella Vita, Chapada both add lunch

Two west-side restaurants have recently added lunch to their list of offerings.

Just yesterday, Bella Vita Bistro at 120 N. West St. began offering a four-day-a-week lunch. On Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, the Italian restaurant will open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., offering a special lunch menu that includes salads, soups, sandwiches, wraps and pasta dishes  for around $7.95 to $9.95. Call 316-941-4500 for more information.

Also, Chapada Chophouse & Churrascaria at 2142 N. Tyler also has started opening for lunch. The restaurant offers its regular menu from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, adding the churrascaria (tableside shaved meats) option at 4 p.m. The meats and the regular menu are both available all day on Sundays. Chapada’s hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and 11 a.m. to midnight Fridays and Saturdays. Call 316-201-4694 for more information.

What Chinese food is most like Albert’s?

This photo from the Wichita-Sedgwick County Historical Society shows Albert's in 1954,

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve had two unrelated people ask me the same question — and I don’t have the answer. I’m wondering if you can help.

Both people were fans of Albert’s, the Chinese restaurant at 6425 E. Kellogg that operated in Wichita for 54 years but closed for good in the summer of 2001. They both wanted to know which local Chinese restaurant served food most comparable to Albert’s.

I didn’t move to Wichita until late 1997, and although I remember seeing Albert’s often, I never made it there. So even though I have a good handle on the Chinese food scene in Wichita, I couldn’t say whose food is most similar. I do know that people who went to Albert’s back in the day are split. Some say it had the best food ever, no doubt influenced by several tablespoons of nostalgia. Others say the food was not exactly great and that those who think it was are influenced by several tablespoons of nostalgia.

Anyone have thoughts on this? And can you help me come up with an answer for these mourning Albert’s fans?

By the way, if you’re interested, keep reading. I’m posting Dan Voorhis’ story that was published when Albert’s closed in 2001.

Read More »

Gindi not for sale: Dawn Thai opening soon

I couldn’t help but notice the big/huge/giant “for sale” sign planted in the lawn of Gindi Thai & Japanese Diner at 7010 W. 21st St. N. when I drove past today.

But owner Roungaroon “Lou” Kumgool said that Gindi is not for sale. The building that Gindi leases, however, is. And although Kumgool has considered moving the business, Gindi still has two years left on its lease, she said.

In other Gindi news, Kumgool is just a few weeks away from opening Dawn Thai Steakhouse & Sushi Bar at 1220 N. Rock Road, in the former Smashburger Space in Derby. The restaurant is 90 percent done, she said, and she plans to open on Feb. 6. Dawn Thai will serve hibachi-grilled steaks, sushi and other “fusion” Asian dishes. The restaurant’s hours will be 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.

My Ethiopian feast at Tanya’s Soup Kitchen

My Tanya's dinner. Clockwise from left is the flatbread, the red lentil stew, the chicken stew with the hard boiled egg and the chickpea stew. The cheese salad is in the center.

I finally got around to having dinner at Tanya’s Soup Kitchen, also known as Wichita’s most crowded lunch destination.

On Friday and Saturday nights, the restaurant stays open late, and Tanya cooks up some sort of not-necessarily-soup special. This past weekend, she prepared an Ethiopian feast.

Despite my regular chorus that I wish we had Ethiopian food in Wichita, I realized that I’ve never had it. But I liked Tanya’s version, which featured Doro Wat, a delicious spicy stew with chicken and a hard boiled egg. The plate also featured Yemisir Wat, which is a red lentil stew; a spicy chickpea stew; a salad featuring ricotta cheese atop a bed of rice; and a rolled-up piece of spongy Ethiopian flatbread. My favorites were the chicken stew and the cheese salad. Please feel free to drool over my photo. (Special thanks to my friend Kim for taking me — and paying!)

Saturday's menu board.

Tanya’s goal with the dinners is to present regional foods that Wichita doesn’t really have. Though she hasn’t decided on a theme for this weekend’s dinner yet, she’s thinking something Greek, Polish or German. She’ll update the restaurant’s Facebook page when she decides.

Dinner hours are 5 to 9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. For more information, call 316-267-7687.

British Banger Company in transition

Fans of British Banger Company at 1713 W. Douglas alerted me recently that the restaurant has been closed for several weeks. But I stopped by today and visited with owner Pete White, who says it will reopen on Jan. 30.

White, who two years ago opened the restaurant that specializes in British foods such as bangers and mash, has had a pretty stressful year, personally. Now, he has to return to England and has taken on a partner to keep the restaurant running. Austin Newby, who has experience in several restaurant kitchens, will take over the operation of the restaurant.

When it reopens, British Banger Company’s hours will be 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays though Fridays and noon to 9 p.m. Saturdays, when Newby will serve a sausage with peppers special.

Keep up with the developments on the restaurant’s Facebook page.

Changes for The Jaded Pearl

A tea-loving reader alerted me earlier this week to the fact that The Jaded Pearl, the new tea shop that opened in late October at 1716 E. Douglas, is closed. So I called owner Michael Carmody to find out what was going on.

Customers were confused by the two-businesses-in-one concept, he said. The Jaded Pearl, which specialized in tea, toast with “schmears,” and cereal, operated right next door to The Donut Whole, 1720 E. Douglas, and is adjoined to it by a door. Even though the two businesses were technically one, The Jaded Pearl had its own counter and cash register. So a customer who wanted tea with his donut, for example, had to order twice.

Carmody decided to rearrange the counter at The Donut Whole, and when he’s done, people will place all orders on that side of the business. The Jaded Pearl room will remain open for extra seating and for private functions, but the counter will be gone. Carmody said he’s axing the cereal from the original Jaded Pearl menu but he’s keeping the tea and toast. In the meantime, The Jaded Pearl will remain closed.

The Donut Whole, meanwhile, will celebrate its third birthday next Friday, Jan. 20, with an all-ages party featuring music from Dustin Arbuckle and Wayne Long. The party starts at 8 p.m. For more information, call 316-262-3700.

It’s chat day

Join me right here at 1:30 p.m. today for a live dining chat, where we’ll discuss restaurants that will open in 2012, restaurants that didn’t quite make into 2012 and more. Bring a friend.