Beer has the starring role in Tallgrass fundraiser

hops and barleyThe Hops, The Malts and The Barley is a fundraiser for the Tallgrass Film Association scheduled for Friday that will feature local bars restaurants competing to make the best “beer cocktail.”

The event will be from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at Abode Venue, 1330 E. Douglas, and among the bars and restaurants competing to make the best mixed drink using craft beers are The AnchorHeroesLarkspurThe MonarchMort’sPublic at the Brickyarand Taste & See. The winning cocktail will be featured at a VIP party during October’s Tallgrass Film Festival.

Tickets are $80 in advance at www.tallgrassfilmfest.com or $90 at the door and include complimentary wine, 12 craft beers on tap and martinis for sale. It’ll also have food by Olive Tree Catering and music by DJ Carbon.

Lotus Leaf Cafe has completed its move

The pretty patio at the new Lotus Leaf.

The pretty patio at the new Lotus Leaf.

Lotus Leaf Cafe is back in business.

It reopened on Saturday in a bright sunny space with a bright sunny patio right next door to Taste & See at at 251 N. Washington in Old Town.

Lotus Leaf, which opened at 613 W. Douglas in Delano in November of 2010, closed in late March to start its move. The restaurant, owned by Jacquelyn Keefer, serves healthy foods made with all-nature, non-GMO ingredients.

The restaurants hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays. Additions in the new spot include a coffee/juice/smoothie bar, organic wine and beer and more menu item
For more information, call 316-295-4133.

Firebirds a nice east side addition

leXi3.SlMa.80I hadn’t heard much about Firebirds Wood Fired Grill, the fancy new “casual upscale” restaurant that opened in the Waterfront last fall, and that left me a little concerned.

But I needn’t be. Apparently, I just need more east side friends because they were packed into that place when I finally made it out. I liked Firebirds, and I loved its  rib eye.

Read my review, which was published in today’s Go! section. (And let me know if you’ve been and what you think.)

BONUS: The Go! section had space for two reviews today, so we also have a look at Merle’s Place, the little bar on Seneca that was one of the first places I ever visited in Wichita. It was written by Wichita Eagle Dining Panel member Ashley Watkins.

Wasabi west owners plan Bel Aire expansion

photo-4Business has been good for Steve and Jasmine Young since they opened their Wasabi Sushi Bar West at 2404 N. Maize Road  in February. It’s been so good that they’re already talking about an expansion into Bel Aire in the next year or two.

The Youngs, who own the New Market Square Wasabi but not the downtown or east side Wasabi, have made firm plans to open another location in the planned Caban Marketplace along North Rock Road in Bel Air. That’s still a year or two away, though, says Wasabi general manager Matt Polk.

In the meantime, the restaurant is extending its half-price sushi offer that it started when it opened. Originally, the plan was to offer sushi for half price only during February, but customers responded so enthusiastically, Polk said, that the special has continued and will remain intact indefinitely.

Polk said he wanted to make clear, though, that Wichita’s various Wasabi restaurants are under different ownership and that the half-price deal is only good at the 2404 N. Maize Road location. The Youngs sold the restaurants at 912 E. Douglas and 32432 N. Rock Road before they opened out west.

Wasabi Sushi Bar West is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays and from 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. For more information, call the restaurant at 316-613-3318.

Pita Pit celebrating anniversary with deal

unnamed (4)The Pita Pit at 3242 N. Rock Road is celebrating its two-year anniversary in Wichita with a deal on Saturday.

Customers who visit between the hours of 10:30 a.m. and 9 p.m. and buy one pita can get one of equal or lesser value for free.

The restaurant offers pitas stuffed with meats such as gyro and buffalo chicken, and it also has vegetarian options.

For more information, call 316-201-4748 or visit the restaurant’s Facebook page.

Jacky Chan Sushi to open on April 18

Jacky Chan Sushi will open on April 18 at 4910 E. Central.

Jacky Chan Sushi will open on April 18 at 4910 E. Central.

Several curious diners have written me lately to ask what’s going in to the former Sit at Thai Express space at 4910 E. Central.

I stopped by this morning and had a very spirited conversation with Binh Tran, the owner of the about-to-open Jacky Chan Sushi. (He insisted we take a selfie together before I left.)

Tran, whose nickname is Jacky Chan, was the longtime sushi chef at Kwan Court, which closed in 2011. He also made sushi for Sakura, the restaurant at 7820 E. Harry  that  closed on New Year’s Eve. It was owned by his brother.

A sampling of Jacky Chan's sushi

A sampling of Jacky Chan’s sushi

Tran’s new restaurant, which will open on April 18, has seating for about 20 and a drive-through. He’s offering a huge, multi-page menu that features daily $6.50 lunch specials. It also has tempanyaki grill specials, pho, udon soup and wonton soup. The sushi menu includes nigiri, sashimi and dozens of rolls, both simple and complex. Rolls range in price from $5.50 to $12.95.

The restaurant’s hours will be 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday.

For more information, call 316-239-6178 or visit the restaurant’s Facebook page, which also offers several photos of Tran’s food.

Learn to cook spring dishes like a pro

The type of spring deliciousness Tanya Tandoc wlil teach you to cook

The type of spring deliciousness Tanya Tandoc wlil teach you to cook

Time to put away the winter comfort food recipes and start cooking like it’s spring. Several local chefs are ready to help with new lineups of spring cooking classes.

Tanya Tandoc at Tanya’s Soup Kitchen, 1725 E. Douglas, is offering a series of Monday-night cooking classes focusing on topics such as springtime brunch, Moroccan cuisine and gluten-free gourmet. The classes are $45 a person and take place at the restaurant at 6:30 Monday nights through May 5. They include dinner, recipes and one glass of wine. For the full list of classes, visit the Tanya’s Soup Kitchen Facebook page. For reservations, call 316-631-5973.

The City of Wichita’s Parks and Recreation Department also is offering several cooking classes this spring, including a “Flavors of the World” series offered by Butler Community College at Boston Recreation Center, 6655 E. Zimmerly St., that includes a Central/South America class on Tuesday, a Mediterranean class on April 22 and a Caribbean class on May 6. The fee for the classes, which last from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. is $25 a person per class. To sign up and to see the other cooking classes being offered, call 316-268-4367 or visit www.wichita.gov/Government/Departments/Park.

Cooking at Bonnie’s Place at 9747 E. 21st St. N. also has a new class schedule out that includes a hands-on cinnamon roll class on April 19 and a focaccia making class on April 22. For a class schedule and prices, visit http://www.cookingatbonnies.com/ or call 316-425-5224.

And Adriene Rathbun, who has a cooking school called Social that she runs out of her home kitchen at 158 N. Roosevelt in College Hill, also has a new list of classes out with topics such as Cinco de Mayo and Party on the Patio . Classes all start at 6:15 p.m. and are $50 a person. To make reservations, call Rathbun at 316-990-4493. Participants are asked to RSVP no later than two days before the class.

Next generation of Wichita food trucks almost ready to roll

1912258_741070625912859_743610629_nTake heart, Wichita food truck fans.

We may have lost Cake Face Bake Shop & Deli and The Rolling Dough, but a new generation of Wichita food trucks is preparing to roll out over the next couple of months.

One is the barbecue truck formerly known as BJs Smokeshack. Owners Jennifer and Brad Vieux have been working on getting the truck up and going for almost a year and decided a few months ago to change the name to Park-n-Pork. They’ve custom ordered a 28-foot-truck from Ohio, which should in Wichita soon. The couple plans to have it up and running by the end of the month and even have committed to serving at The Red Barn Outdoor Market in Benton on April 26.

The truck will serve smoked meat items such as pulled pork, brisket, ham, ribs, chicken, and specialty sandwiches plus homemade sides. They’ll be open for lunch and sometimes dinner and breakfast and also will do special events.

Funky Monkey Munchies, a food truck in the works by Lisa Palacios and her husband, Eddi, should be open in early May. Palacios said her vintage truck is almost ready to go, as are her menus focused on healthy fusion food made mostly from non-GMO, organic and locally sourced ingredients. She plans to have a rotating menu featuring a variety of cuisines from Mexican to French to Asian and will open for lunch and dinner in typical food truck parking spots.

And Rochelle Collins’ Kind Kravings, a vegan food truck focused on healthy fare that tastes good, also is getting closer to a launch date. She plans to be open by the end of May. She’ll be at Earth Fest VI on April 19 at Herman Hill Park, offering samples of the type of food she’ll be serving once the trailer is ready to go.  Menu item will include dishes such as lettuce wraps, bean wraps, rice bowls and vegan manicotti.

I’ll keep you updated on specific opening dates for all three food trucks.

Douglas Avenue Chop Shop’s sample-palooza on Saturday

The Douglas Avenue Chop Shop staff.

The Douglas Avenue Chop Shop staff.

I love steak. I love sausage. I love chicken and pork and butter infused with beef fat. I’m not sure if I love rabbit, but I’ll be finding out soon.

My story for Go! this week is about Douglas Avenue Chop Shop, a new butcher shop that Anchor owner Schane Gross opened right next door to her bar, which is at 1109 E. Douglas.

I went to interview her and her staff earlier this week, and I’ve been hungry ever since.

The marbling speaks for itself.

The marbling speaks for itself.

I bought some of her Dale’s Pale Ale-infused sausage and grilled it up that night. So good.

And you oughta see the rib eyes for sale in the shop. Oh wait. You can see them. I’m going to post a picture right here.

The shop will celebrate its grand opening from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday and will offer lots of samples of its meats and gourmet cheeses along with samples of beers that pair well.

I anticipate I’ll be spending a lot of time and money in this place when grilling season officially arrives.

Rita’s Italian Ice opens Monday with free ice for all

Just in time for the arrival of warmer weather, Wichita is getting a new frozen treat option: Italian ice.

Rita’s Italian Ice will open Monday at 2929 N. Rock Road, right next to Five Guys Burgers and Fries, and it’s inviting Wichita to enjoy a free regular-sized serving of Italian ice on both Monday and Tuesday. The shop will be open from noon to 10 p.m., which are its daily hours.

Mango is the most popular flavor at Rita's Italian Ice.

Mango is the most popular flavor at Rita’s Italian Ice.

Franchisee Jeff Miller, who along with his brother, Jay Miller, has all the Five Guys franchises in town, said that Italian ice is something most Wichitans probably aren’t familiar with.

“Italian ice is a new thing to the Midwest,” he said. “When people hear ice, everyone assumes it’s a Slushee or a Snow cone or shaved ice. But that doesn’t do justice to this product.”

Miller said Italian ice is so smooth, it has the texture of ice cream. The ice is infused with the flavors, and Rita’s has 65 different choices. They’ll have 12 available each day. He said his favorite is a dulce de leche that came out last year. The most popular is mango, and flavors such as banana, cheesecake, cherry and lime also will be available, as will be a few sugar-free options.

Rita’s also serves vanilla and chocolate frozen custard and other ice cream products. Miller said he’s hoping to eventually add Rita’s near all Wichita’s Five Guys.

For more information, call Rita’s at or check out the local Rita’s Facebook page.