I dine out frequently, and I snap photos of nearly every new dish just in case it's so incredibly satisfying that I feel compelled to share its glory on this blog. Have you seen a post like that? Nope. Not since April. I've had good, but not unbelievably flavorful, foods, and that's my standard. Then, this weekend, nirvana! Here are two crazy-delicious creations that made my July 4 holiday reason to celebrate. They're from Sushi Pop and Pig Floyd's Urban Barbakoa.
I went to Pig Floyd's first, so let's start there. This ode to smoked meats douses its creations in potent sauces and condiments. Some are Southern, others Indian, Mexican, Vietnamese(ish) ... . When I was at the counter ordering, bemoaning how all the best-sounding sandwiches came with brisket or pork (I'm cutting down), the cashier invited me sub in chicken or tofu instead.
That is how I came to lunch on the "Matahambre aka 'Hunger Killer!'" made with ridiculously flavorful chicken instead of oak-wood smoked brisket. Do you see that photo? How good this sandwich looks? It tasted even better. On a toasted roll (which was decent, but I scooped out the fillings for calorie reasons) was a generous layer of mayonnaise, then the chicken, roasted tomatoes, a killer chimichurri sauce (I could eat it by the spoonful), pickled carrots, and greens. A beautifully cooked fried egg was placed on top. I'm still smiling as I reminisce about this sandwich. I may have to return to Orlando's Mills 50 district this week to have it again.
Last night I returned to Sushi Pop, a creative Japanese restaurant that I adored during my one visit a few years ago. It's 45 minutes from home so I never made it back until last night. I think I'll take out an apartment in Oviedo so I can conveniently visit more often. Everything we had was terrific.
The Sushi Pop standout was the Red Eye roll, pictured above. It has tuna and salmon, like many rolls, and gochugang, which Google tells me is a Korean condiment. All are lovely, but it's the blood orange, paired with blood orange agrodolce (a sweet and sour sauce), that elevated this sushi roll to its own level. I haven't talked to chef-owner Chau Trinh about how he made the agrodolce, yet I know from past interviews that he did, indeed, make it from scratch. He probably started with high-end ingredients, a carefully tested recipe and a whole lot of time. This chef does not take short cuts.
Truthfully, I could have chosen anything else we had last night for One Delicious Dish -- if that Red Eye hadn't been such a standout. I'd easily order everything we shared again: spicy lobster soup, edamame with sauteed shichimi peppers and garlic, cho chee grouper with coconut rice and Thai red curry (really special), the ceviche roll, the mofo roll (crispy fried pork belly and fried plantains), and the spicy tuna roll. Every dish popped in its own way.
Get in the car, foodies. You have new foods to try.