Chow, Baby got back from Mardi Gras in New Orleans – yes, things are getting back to normal, thanks for asking.

Several of Chow, Baby’s old favorite restaurants have reopened (Parasol’s, Domilise’s, Mother’s, Igor’s), and the family even has a new favorite: Crabby Jack’s on Jefferson Highway (everything’s great, but the real orgasm-inducers are the stewed-duck po-boy, $8.95, and the shrimp-stuffed mirliton in chili cream sauce, $9). Where were we? Right. Chow, Baby got back from New Orleans to find its e-mailbox crammed with messages, most of them from TCU Joe, who takes his responsibilities as Chow, Baby’s Asian-eateries correspondent very seriously. Joe et al were heralding the opening of Samwon Garden (5201 McCart Av.), Tarrant County’s only Korean restaurant. This is a very big deal; since the closing of Korea Garden on Pioneer, kimchi lovers have had to trek to Irving or Dallas. Now we don’t even have to go south of I-20!

Every meal at Samwon begins with complimentary panchan, small side dishes of pickled or vinegared this and that: seaweed, cucumber, daikon radish, bean sprouts, sautéed spinach, a couple of mystery items (tripe, maybe?), and the traditional kimchi, which is a spicy fermented cabbage that, to be honest, tastes no better than it sounds. But it wakens the taste buds nicely. Chow, Baby wasn’t too impressed with the one appetizer it tried, flaccid steamed dumplings ($6) that got all their flavor from the tangy sauce. Next time, depending on how brave Chow, Baby feels, it’ll go for either the fried shrimp or the steak tartare. No complaints on the lunch specials, though, which are a real bargain: $6-$7 buys a large helping of grilled fish or barbecued meat served with sticky rice.

Chow, Baby enjoyed the classic bulgogi (lunch $7, dinner $15), sliced sirloin marinated in a sweetish, delicate barbecue sauce, and the spicy beef intestines ($27) – no, that’s a lie. Chow, Baby did not in fact try the intestines. Nor, for other reasons, did it try any of the hot pots, the spicy braised seafood (get your eel and octopus here), the pork ribs, the sushi, or the leek-and-shrimp potato pancake ($10) that TCU Joe recommended. Unfortunately, Chow, Baby still needs to clear half a dozen duck po-boys and three shrimp mirlitons from the to-go compartment of its fridge before it can over-order at a restaurant again. Give it a day or two.

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The Soul of Shack

Boy, Chow, Baby thought it knew all the joys of devouring a cilantro-dosed taco or three while sitting on a picnic bench outside a yummy-smelling shack or truck. That was until it stopped at Taqueria Melis (4304 W. Vickery Blvd.). This constantly busy shack has all the standards: flour or corn tacos ($1.40), burritos ($2.25), and tortas ($4.25) stuffed with the usual meats and fixings. But they’ve also got fresh-made orange juice ($2.50), delightful on a fake-summer day. Chow, Baby sat on the porch with its spicy carnitas (shredded pork) and tender, juicy al pastor (beef) tacos, watched the traffic pass on Vickery, and enjoyed, enjoyed, (slurp) enjoyed.

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