Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Quest For the Perfect Barbeque

Fiorella's Jack Stack Barbecue

I've eaten lots of good barbecue over the years and some of it close to perfect, but I've never found what I have deemed the perfect barbeque. I've found the perfect sauce and the perfect rack of ribs cooked to perfection but never combined. So in that lull of days between Christmas and New Years when most people work and Mrs. Abbey and I have off, we decided to go on some sort of mini-vacation to kill some time and get away from the home. We kicked around a lot of ideas before finally agreeing to head to Kansas City in search of the perfect barbecue.

We set off one morning and pulled into the plaza area of Kansas City where the number one barbeque place was said to be according to numerous critiques; Fiorella's Jack Stack Barbeque. We opted to go there for lunch since it was a pretty upscale place and we wanted to save money in these tough times. Splitting our orders to maximize our culinary experience, my wife order the BBQ pork ribs and BBQ chicken while I got the BBQ Burnt Ends plate which consisted of chunks of pork and beef.

The sauce was excellent though it still placed second to my all time favorite sauce Cookies Original BBQ sauce. The meat in all forms, was good but a little tougher than I would have expected for a top BBQ place. I suspect it was because we were eating there for lunch and were receiving the lesser grade stuff with the highest grade stuff getting served for supper. Even though it wasn't what I would classify as the perfect BBQ and probably ranks toward the middle of my top ten list, it was still far superior to anything I could get back in SE Iowa where I live and thus well worth the visit.
Mrs Abbey's Chosun Korean Barbeque

Many hours later after spending an afternoon visiting the Kansas City Zoo, checking into our motel in Overland Park across the state line, keeping an eye out for a Toyota truck but never spotting any despite driving by its suburban stable, and visiting a Bass Pro Shop to see the stuffed fauna, we finally felt hungry enough to try round two of our search for the perfect BBQ.

This time we widened our search to asian BBQ and ate at Chosun Korean BBQ in Overland Park, Kansas. Mrs. Abbey deviated to other foods but I kept true and ordered some Spicy Pork BBQ with onions and peppers. It soon arrived with a half dozen other dishes served family style and I dug in with my chopsticks. It was exquisite and perfectly spiced in every way. I alternated between chopstick fulls of the spiced pork, steamed rice, pickled tofu, picked cucumbers and radishes with some onions, pickled fish cake flakes, pickled kimchi and radishes in some sort of red sauce. As with perfectly spiced, spicy food, I couldn't stop eating until it was all gone. When we had finished, they brought out a drink that looked like weak tea but turned out to be a sweet rice water that was extremely refreshing after so much spicy food. Little Abbey gulped hers down almost before I got mine to my lips.
My Chosun Korean Barbeque

Although it isn't the classical barbeque that I was in search for and thus not the perfect BBQ, I would highly recommend this restaurant to all and will definitely stop back the next time I am in the area. The next day, we visited several more places but due to a cranky Little Abbey, we didn't find a third BBQ place to eat at and instead found an Olive Garden where we had a $50 gift certificate to use up and ate there before working our way north.

I didn't find the perfect BBQ but I did find two places that are definitely worthy of stopping by if you are in the area. I'm glad I didn't succeed in my quest because that allows me to continue it and will hopefully take me to lots more BBQ places in the future.
Sweet Rice Water

15 comments:

sage said...

Okay, I knew we were in trouble when you start out talking about your quest for the perfect barbecue place, then you head to KC! You'll have to head to NC!

You're right about the spicy Korean pork (which I make at home) not really being barbecue as it's cooked rather rapidly--I get a lean pork loin, cut it into thin strips, mike up a sauce of hot pepper paste, ginger, sugar, onions and lemon juice (I may be leaving something out), marinate the meat then cook it over coals. It's good and will clear one's sinuses. True barbecue is cooked very slowly--best if done 8-12 hours. I think I'd enjoy that Korean establishment.

For Christmas I received a copy of The Big Book of North Carolina Barbecue--and will review it after I finish, I'm savoring it slowly, just as the meat is to be cooked slowly.

Ed Abbey said...

Sage - Everyone claims to have the world's best barbeque including the place down the road from here. But here in the midwest, KC is generally accepted as the place to go. The best BBQ that I've ever eaten was as a little run down shack on the outskirts of Talladega, Alabama the last time I was visiting my brother. The next time I get to NC, I'll be sure to consult you first on where to go for BBQ.

The Real Mother Hen said...

Hhmmm, I don't like burnt meat, so I don't enjoy BBQ as much. Plus I'm cheap, I don't even have a BBQ grill. But I can sure eat the Korean version. Oh that looks so delicious!

The Real Mother Hen said...

Gosh I can't stop looking at the photos. It's only morning here and I'm already hungry! And the worst part is, there isn't any Korean food in town for a quick fix. Ugh!

Ed Abbey said...

Mother Hen - But BBQ doesn't even taste burnt? When I bought a new computer when my old one shot craps a few months ago, my scanner of course wouldn't work with Vista and Cannon of course didn't plan on ever offering a driver to let it work. So I got a third party driver and software that was better than my original software and thus I can make the pictures look a lot better and closer to how they looked in real life.

The Real Mother Hen said...

BBQ doesn't taste burnt? Well I may need to learn more about BBQ then. But I doubt I will ever get a BBQ grill. You're on Vista? Hhmmm, that means you may need to pray harder from now on dude :)
But yes your pictures are a lot more vivid than before.

josh said...

HMM, Jack Stack huh. I live in KC and would have skipped Jack stacks. Have you tried Gates or Arthur Bryants? There are also a plethora of hole in the wall places, I like BB's. Next time you head down let me know and I will point you in the right direction.

As for NC vs. KC, had them both and while a pulled pork sandwich with cole slaw was interesting, not my cup of tea. KC BBQ rocks;)

Murf said...

Doesn't Memphis supposedly have the best BBQ? Don't forget Texas too. You have a few more vacation BBQ spots to try, Ed.

Ed Abbey said...

Josh - I haven't tried either but I'm sure I will have a chance to in the future. I will try to flag you down in the future for suggestions but I'm open for suggestions on how to do so since you don't have a public profile. Perhaps a batman like spotlight with a rib in it?

Murf - I know, I know. Its a real burden but one that I will gladly bear.

Woody said...

I lived in KC in early 90's my favorite then was BB's Lawnside. I'm happy to see from Josh's comment that they are still going strong. Thursday night used to be rib night there...full slab/half price.

peace

Ed Abbey said...

Woody - The Lawnside name rings a bell. It must have been listed in some of my frantic research I did before leaving for Kansas City on the spur of the moment.

geri said...

Your looking in the wrong country for the best barbeque. IMO it's in Larsian, Cebu, Philippines. But of course I'm biased. And I wouldn't recommend them for tourists either. That Korean BBQ looks good, been meaning to try one but never got around to it. I like their Bulgogi though, tastes like sweet bistek. First time I've heard of sweet rice water too although we do have toasted rice tea in the Philippines.

Beau said...

Oh that all looks so good! My goodness... thanks for the review, and hopefully we'll get a chance to visit too.

Pablo said...

Arthur Bryant's supposed to be the "best" BBQ in KC (all the visiting Presidents eat there), but I find the sauce too vinegary. I grew up in St. Louis, so I never got the BBQ bug. Italian is probably the main food there.

PhilippinesPhil said...

I miss eating in American restaurants... sigh...