Harbor Springs in Northern Michigan is a long way from Japan, but that doesn’t stop a place called Vernales from sporting a Wagyu Brisket Burger. You see, Vernales is kind of a sports bar masquerading as an upscale restaurant, so it only makes sense that if they are going to serve a burger, it’s going to include some fancy beef. And after a long time looking over the menu, I knew that burger was what I had to have.
Petoskey is a lovely little town and the main drag of it is even lovelier. Situated in the middle of it is a coffee shop and sandwich place appropriately named Roast & Toast. It, too, is lovely. And while I’m no fan of coffee or ampersands, I do appreciate a good toasted sandwich. Seeing as it was lunch time, it seemed a wise choice.
Harbor Springs is a lovely little town up in Northern Michigan, and yet between it and Petoskey (another lovely, somewhat bigger town), there isn’t much beyond trees, condos, lakes and a couple of ski mountains. Oh, and there’s also Teddy Griffin’s Roadhouse, which has been situated there as long as I can remember. They serve up a combination of bar food, fancier European-style food, Great Lakes food and some of the most delicious bread in the world.
One of the greatest regrets of my life is failing to capture a better picture at lunch at Little Daddy’s. You see, Little Daddy’s is a Greek-style diner in Southfield, Michigan, with locations in Taylor and Bloomfield Hills as well. It’s kind of like a Coney Island, but more Greek, which means they serve up saganaki. Saganaki is not a misspelling of the Japanese city of Nagasaki. No, it is a flaming cheese.
The food cart scene in Portland is huge, and weirdly enough it took me until my fourth visit to the city to truly experience this uniquely Portland thing. You see, until food trucks or the carts you might see in other cities, the carts in Portland are actually semi-permanent structures and clusters of them take up whole city blocks. At the Alder Street “Pod” I found Steak Your Claim among the carts and knew it was made for me.
One thing that the Shilin Night Market is especially known for is giant flattened fried chicken. And there is not just one place that offers such chicken, but many. Having already had the chicken from Hot Star in Pasadena, I decided to try something else. One spot had an insane line that I simply could not handle, so I headed to Monga, a place that my friend had recommended.
As you may have already realized based on a lot of the Street Food Spotlights I’ve been posting about, the Shilin Night Market in Taipei is one of the coolest places in the world to eat food. And yet, like some sort of off-balance iceberg, there’s a little more to share below the surface. There, you can find tanks of seafood and additional food options, plus get out of the heat for a little while. Down there is a place called Zhong Cheng Hao, which is all about the seafood.
Sometimes you find yourself walking around the streets of Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) late at night trying to find a restaurant that tourists wouldn’t go to. What we found was Le La Quan, a place so local that the people who worked in the restaurant barely spoke a word of English and the menu was only available in Vietnamese.
Sometimes the world feels dominated by American chain restaurants. It seems that anywhere you go you can find McDonald’s, Burger King, Subway and KFC. Yet, we are not the only ones pushing our fast food abroad, as evidenced by MOS Burger. MOS Burger is a Japanese fast food burger spot that I was a pretty big fan of when I was living in Japan, and I was so happy to find that it is also available in Taiwan (as well as a number of other Asian countries, and even Australia) that I had to have some.
One of the coolest things about older cities is that they aren’t perfectly planned. Roads aren’t necessarily straight lines and newer buildings stand next to buildings that have stood for more than 100 years. These features add character to a place. Yet, when it’s 90 degrees with 90 percent humidity and you’re looking for breakfast first thing in the morning, it can be a bit frustrating when you find yourself walking down a residential street to find breakfast at a place with a name that is only written in Chinese. Yet, that only made finding 丰盛号 in that alley over on the left all the better.