Friday, February 24, 2012

I Can't Believe You Ate The Whole Thing: We Can Serve You Adventure, Even In The 'Burbs

Grilled fish head at Sushi Sono
Ten posts isn't enough to tell you all the great things to eat in Howard County.  I have been blogging since 2008, and I'm still finding new fun.

I tried mostly to give broad-based advice.  But I don't want to cede an inch in today's world where the trendy chefs cook nose to tail.  I'm closer to a vegetarian than a guy who eats "everything but the oink," but you niche eaters can get your mouth around whatever niche you want.  Like most of this series, this is an assurance that you aren't stuck with dishes created by corporate chefs.

This is part of HowChow's 2012 guide to Howard County -- "Welcome Home."  Ten posts to prove there are dozens of places worth your time, that you can find great food all across the county.  It's written for someone new to Howard County (maybe a link you send a friend thinking about moving here), but hopefully it's useful to anyone.

Start at the old-line butchers -- Laurel Meat Market in Laurel on Main Street, Boarman's in Highland on Rte 216, and J.W. Treuth in Oella.  These are professionals great for roasts and steaks, but they will cut what you want and special order if they don't have it every day.

Pork Trifecta - tongue, liver & heart at Family Market
Move on to the new group of halal butchers, who can serve you chicken, lamb and goat in all kinds of ways.  You can get a leg.  You can ground lamb.  Check them at Nazar's in Columbia, Columbia Halal Meat in Elkridge, Caspian Market in Ellicott City or the new Turkish Family Market in Ellicott City too.

Then go big time with the Wagon Wheel Ranch, which will sell you a cow.  They'll start you off with a box of meat, but the real professionals get an extra freezer and half a cow.  Take advantage of your new home near the country and try some country

Okay, that's probably too much.   You should start slow, but you should be confident that you're not trapped in a world of chain restaurants.  Howard County will fill you up on dishes that won't ever make the menu at T.G.I Friday's.  In fact, you can find just about anything here:
Chicken hearts at Nazar
  • Fish head at Sushi Sono in Columbia.  The cheeks and other meat around the head make this a delicacy.
  • Intestines at An Loi Pho in Columbia.  I order my Vietnamese soup with brisket, but the pros stretch to tripe.
  • Scrapple at Boarman's in Highland.  At least the other folks have the courtesy of identifying the parts.  Scrapple is country for "things that didn't go in sausage."
  • Blood -- along with intestines and others -- in some authentic Chinese dishes at Noodles Corner in Columbia.
  • Beef heart at Chick 'N Pollo in Columbia (if it reopens).  Antichuchos are a grilled adventure in any language.
  • Tongue at R&R Taqueria in Elkridge.  The lengua tacos are just one option among the great Mexican food on U.S. 1.
  • Beef tendon balls (and so much more) at Hunan Taste in Catonsville.  They serve a hot pot special.  You can get vegetables, meats, seafood, including tendon, cuttlefish.  You can also get other authentic Chinese.
  • Pork skin at Dave's BBQ in Savage.  He barbecues and sells from the side of the road.  On days that he serves the pulled pork, ask for some crisped skin.
  • Chicken hearts at Nazar Market in Columbia.  I don't even know how you'd cook these.
  • Pork trifecta -- tongue, liver and heart at the Family Market in Columbia.  Again, I don't what I'm do with these.
  • Chicken feet at Asian Court in Ellicott City.  Another delicacy that I haven't tried.  They're a dim sum item.
  • A whole pig from Kloby's Smokehouse on Johns Hopkins Road.  They'll smoke it if they've got it.
And to wrap it up, you can try the famous "Triple T" at Grace Garden in Odenton.  We go for all kinds of exquisite Chinese food that uses all the regular cuts that you'd expect.  But aficionados sing about the "Triple T" -- tripe, tendon and tongue -- that the kitchen turns into something delicious.  Good luck to you!

What I Don't Know:  What's the other adventurous foods that you can find in Howard County?  What other advice for new people?


Unknown said...

I guess chicken hearts don't seem that exotic to me. When I was growing up, we ate a lot of whole chickens. They'd come packaged with the giblets, and my mom would roast them in the pan with the rest of the chicken. No special preparation, but we always liked them. (And I was a very picky eater.) I think there was usually some method for determining who got the heart and who got the gizzard. They both tasted about the same, but the gizzard was bigger.

Work in progress said...

They've got intestines at Honey Pig. Try those in either a sesame oil or "chogochujang". Sushi sono serves fried shrimp heads and also fried Aji bones. Red Pearl has a great fried duck tongue dish. Lengua tacos as mentioned in the post are great. There's a dish called goni maeuntang at the food court at lotte, and it's got some sort of offal fish parts, but I don't know what they are. At pho places you can usually find frog legs or quail as appetizers. Bun bo hue is a good spicy dish that is made from a beef broth but usually adds pork knuckles. Oddly enough, I can't find a place in HoCo that serves my favorite offal, Chicken gizzards! Have to drive out to Baltimore city or county for that it seems. I've been meaning to try some menudo (tripe soup) for the first time at one of the various mexican restaurants in the area if anyone has any recommendations on that. The flea market in Jessup is a feast of unique foods on the weekend too. AH. I need to stop. I have work to do today.

Anonymous said...

I really dig the "bizarre foods: HoCo edition" post

From past experience, I can confirm that chicken hearts are very tasty when skewered and grilled.

Matt B said...

Durian Smoothie at Pho Dat Phan. I have never tasted anything so foul as Durian the bizzare foods guy couldn't evne get it down

Morty Abzug said...

Buy beef tongue, whole, either pickled or fresh, about 3 pounds. Put in a pot, top with pickling spice, allspice, and peppercorns, add in water, onion, and carrot, and boil for two hours. Remove from water and allow to cool for an hour or so. Peel the skin. Slice thin. Serve.

HowChow said...

@Morty -- You had me until peel. ;-)