Chow, Baby never believed in ghosts until it got one of its own a few months back. As ghosts go, Les is pretty easy to live with; Chow, Baby has never even seen him, as his main activity seems to be haunting the fridge in the middle of the night and eating all of Chow, Baby’s research. Still, it’s a good thing that the beloved moved in right about the time Les first showed up and was able to explain what was going on; Chow, Baby would certainly be afraid to be alone with a strange creature in the house, even such a quiet, sneaky one.
One ghost-related adjustment is that now when Chow, Baby orders a pound ($9) of meaty, fall-off-the-bone ribs from Mom’s BBQ (1509 Evans St.), it can’t expect to have leftovers for breakfast the next morning. No, Chow, Baby has to make another trip to Mom’s, and while it’s a drag finding an ATM in an East Side neighborhood (Mom’s is cash only), the bigger problem is having to make menu decisions all over again. Chow, Baby hasn’t even tried Mom’s sausage yet, but it’s learned (the fun way) that the brisket is as great as the ribs, smoked in the pit out back until it’s crispy-edged but still juicy. And it’s even better in a chopped plate ($5.50), a small mountain of moist bits of meat spiked with charred flavor-blasts that taste like solid Liquid Smoke. With a dash of thin, sweet, peppery barbecue sauce, it’s Texas heaven.
Then there’s the whole other side of the menu, the soul food half: meat loaf, short ribs, chicken and dumplings, and the like. Sides include so-so mac & cheese, really great pinto beans, and unusually (but deliciously) creamy potato salad. So far Chow, Baby has managed to tear itself away from the barbecue just once, for smothered pork chops (plate $6.50): two huge fall-apart chops drenched in a gravy of cream, pepper, and drippings. Full after just one chop, Chow, Baby stashed the other, planning to stage a contest with the ribs later to see which really would fall off the bone faster. Darn that Les.
One of Chow, Baby’s great joys in life is being wrong. Instead of an “authentic” hole in the wall next to an Asian supermarket, Pho Vietnam (1000 W. Pioneer Pkwy., Arlington) occupies a former Denny’s, with parking all around and a pretty garden in front. It’s neat, clean, and brightly lit. The staff all speak English, most with a North Texas accent. Surely the food would be terrible!
Well, no. The opposite, in fact. Fried potstickers ($4.25 for six) were the best Chow, Baby has had in years. Seriously: years. Shrimp rolls, here called “salad rolls” ($2.95 for two) weren’t outstanding, but their spicy peanut sauce was. Pho ($4.95 small), available with the usual meat suspects, had the richness and heartiness that comes with long, slow simmering. And a dish Chow, Baby adores but doesn’t see much around here: shrimp chow fun ($7.25), with ultra-tasty barbecued shrimp and chewy broad noodles that had been briefly stir-fried in the sauce to soak up all the flavors. Chased with gratis hot tea and a soursop smoothie ($2), this meal was much better than closed-minded Chow, Baby deserved.
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