So this past weekend I went to celebrate a grandmother’s 100th birthday in Kansas City. I should also note that I was born in Kansas City, moved away when I was 5, but went back almost every year to visit the many relatives I have there. I hadn’t been there in a good 5 or so years and when my parents said they were going, I said, “sure why not?”
Here are the highlights (please pardon my lack of photos).
Right off the plane I explained that I was hungry and I went with my cousin Khoi and his kids to Zarda BBQ for a quick barbecue fix. Kansas City is considered one of, if not the bbq capitals of the world, and bbq spots are to Kansas City what Kennedy Fried Chicken is to New York: ubiquitous. Zarda, I think because of its close proximity to my cousin’s house and good fare seems to be a go to when even I’m in town and I’m not complaining. I had a burnt ends sandwich and some cheesy potatoes, and both were solid stick to your ribs eats. The burnt ends were meaty and smokey, the sauce tangy and spicey like I like it.
A few hours later, still full from my barbecue lunch, I accompanied Khoi and the whole clan to a fried chicken dinner at The Stonewall Inn, which is known for its pan-fried chicken and supposed ghosts. I had entered “I’m not hungry but I can force myself to eat” territory at this point so I wasn’t daring enough to go for the all-you-can-eat fried chickenn for $11 special, but I did get the two piece dinner which included mashed potatoes and pepper gravy (its been a while) and green beans. I chose leg and thigh for my pieces and once again, shit was solid. I kinda wish there was a little more spice to the chicken, but that’s just me being picky. Mashed potatoes were good, green beans I don’t like, and if I ever go back I’m getting the chicken livers with gravy. I’ve never been to Stroud’s, which some claim has the best fried chicken in Kansas City, but I was told that Stonewall rivals if not betters it. Stonewall also had an adjacent pizza place which looked packed, and long story short, I am definitely making this place the next time I’m in town.
The next day I went to a Thai buffet with my parents and some relatives. It was pretty good but I can’t remember what it was called. The highlight of that meal was the Thai curry pork fried rice (I’m a sucker for crunchy fried rice) and a slightly chilled spicy beef dish.
That night we all went to my aunt’s house to celebrate grandma’s 100th, and while it’s nothing new, the spread made me smile as it was a testament to some Vietnamese immigrants living in Kansas City. There were noodles, egg rolls (!), Vietnamese meatballs, and rice balls, and right next to that was some sliced brisket from Oklahoma Joe’s, ham and cheese croissants, and those Chinese pastry wrapped hotdogs. I had a nice mish mash of all of it and once again, ate myself silly.
The next day we stopped back at my aunt’s place where I had a great bowl of Bún bò, which literally translates to “cow noodles”. Later on for dinner I indulged myself on some smoked pork butt that my cousin Khoi had been smoking for the past day and I have to say that it was some of the best barbecue I’d had in a long time, and I’m not just saying that because he’s my cousin. I think he used a combination of hickory and apple and smoked that thing for about 14 hours and the meat was moist and smokey like a mofo. Topped off with some Gates’ barbecue sauce and I was somewhere in pork nirvana (come as you are).
Also in the mix for the weekend were aunts, uncles, cousins, the first house I ever lived in, the second house I ever lived in, where my dad used to work, and cases of Miller light, which were available in 16oz 12 packs(!). I didn’t make it to Winstead’s(though I’ve been there before) or get any Mexican, but there’s always next time right? I should also note that while much of the country suffers, KC has a Sonic for what seems like every 5 miles.
And then this morning I woke up at 5am to catch a flight. It was sort of a rude awakening to a short but jolly little weekend in cow town.
Here is the sign you pass when you leave Kansas to go into Missouri. I think it’s pretty funny.