Clink’s Best: Jiro Dreams of Sushi

Watched “Jiro Dreams of Sushi” on me AppleTV last night and it’s amazing. I have a soft spot in my heart for the romance of old masters mastering their craft masterfully. It’s beautifully paced, beautifully shot, and beautifully simple.

To get you in even more of a sushi mood, watch this great stop motion-esque video of “The Story of Sushi”. It’s beautiful.

The Story of Sushi from Bamboo Sushi on Vimeo.

Clink Room’s Best: Detroit Coneys

Know what a Coney is? It’s a chile dog from the Detroit area. And like all great American colloquial foods it has a great history and a great rivalry to go with it. If you don’t know about this great Northern delicacy, learn more about it here at the Coney Island Wiki. Now, I haven’t been to the original in Jackson, MI. But Jason and I did have a chance to go to the two, most well known, next-door-neighboring joints right in the heart of Detroit, American Coney Island and Lafayette Coney Island. Just like Pat’s and Geno’s of the Philly cheesesteak world, ruthless rival neighbors. The Hattfield and Macoy’s of the Downtown Detroit Coney world. Hitting-up American or Lafayette before of after a game has been a longstanding tradition with Tigers fans for nearly 90 years. Jason and I are such big fans of rituals like this and these two places are the stuff meat dreams are made of.

What does a Coney taste like? To the uninitiated, it’s a chile dog. And to be frank, ahem, they don’t stray, ahem, to far from the script. Chile, mustard, onions, a dog with a snap, and a soft white bread bun. This is old-timey food. Simple not great for you, American fare. What I like best about this style, old-timey food? As soon as you fancy it up, a crusty roll perhaps, or a big grilled dog, or homemade grass-feed beef chile. It stops being a coney. New York pizza can be fancied up a bit and still pass as New York pizza. A carne asada burrito can be gussied-up and still be a carne asada burrito. Know what I mean? The Coney is defined by it’s simplicity.

So do I have a favorite? Yes, We stopped at American first. Great service, a semi-classic vibe but most of that history seems to have been covered up in the 70’s or 80’s. The only thing that seemed totally original, was a “Pay Here” sign hanging over the check out. Everything else had been covered over by the same interior decorators that do all the diners in New York and New Jersey. Lafayette is a different story. Everything had the patina of being scrubbed for the last 90 years. A simple, functional space. Point for Lafayette.

The Coney. We sat down at American and each ordered one dog. It was great. Fresh bun, snappy dog, working man’s chile, a slop of mustard applied with a wooden spoon, and chopped white onions. Great no-nonsense service. We loved it. As we walked out of American and opened the door to their neighbor Lafayette’s, one of the Coney cooks pocked his head out of the door and yelled something at us. I’m not sure what it was but it probably was something like “,Enjoy you salmonella!” After the diner vibe of American, I was happy with the Lafayette vibe. It reminded me of my favorite classic Brooklyn joints. We repeated our order, one dog each. Right off the bat, you can tell a difference. Small as it might be. Lafayette’s chile is spicier and there dog is snappier.

So who’s the winner, you can probably tell where this is headed. Lets just say we order another round at Lafayette before we headed back to airport. Go check out both joints and choose for yourself. Here’s the info for American Coney Island and Laffayette Coney Island.

Kick this weekend’s ass everyone!

Clink Room’s Best: El Azteca

I thought we’d start a best-of series for The Clink Room and of course that means it’s a best-of in Jason and my opinion. To start things off, I’m going to go with a softball pitch of a category: Taco Shops. Now, this is 100% subjective and I’ve even had better carne asada burritos than this recently. But if I want a nostalgic taste of home this means El Azteca Taco Shop in La Mesa, our home turf.

Jason and I have had more Plan B. Branding conversations over El Azteca, AKA “Teca”, carne asada burritos than any other place on the planet. Teca’s burritos are our baseline for taco shops. It hits all the right notes. Hole-in-the-wall, friendly, great hot sauce, big burritos. Our buddy McQ gets double wrapped, I like mine with a sour cream add. Now, NYC has the best food options on the planet. But they can’t seem to get Mexican right. Even Judah Friedlander, comedian and star of “30 Rock” knows what’s up. He said this recently “,San Diego has the best burritos in the country. Any $2 burrito shack in San Diego will blow away any place in New York City. We gotta step it up.”(NYMag link here.) I agree no rice no beans, big, I mean huge, thin tortilla.

As Tina Fey would say “I want to go to there.” And you should too. Here’s El Azteca’s Google places page.