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Jul 14, 2008 12:25 PM

Offal/Extreme Cuisine in DFW Area?

I have a fascination with food exploration.

I want to find good places to try anything weird, interesting, or off the beaten path. Nose-to-tail eating, organ meats, meats from animals other than cows, pigs, and chickens, other strange things like durian. I realize that places that do this food well are few and far between so even though I live near Legacy and 75 in Plano, I'm willing to drive pretty far for an excellent bite.

The most interesting things I've found so far on my own is tripe in several forms (menudo, pho), beef tongue at Cuquita's, and cabrito (goat) at El Ranchito. I still haven't had uni (sea urchin) in a sushi bar despite its appearance on quite a few menus, because of the price, not the idea of eating sea urchin. If someone convinces me it's worth the money, maybe I'll try it.

I'm a cook by trade and although I *could* probably figure out how to cook some of these things on my own, I'd much rather try it the real way, made by someone with years of practice who knows what they're doing, before I attempt it on my own. Organ meats can be tricky to work with sometimes. If you know of a good butcher / market though, I'm all ears anyways.

Anything around? And what do they offer?

The only thing I could scrounge up on the boards was Watel's Allen Street Cottage in Uptown. Looks like from their website that they offer calf brains, sweetbreads, veal kidneys, and calf liver. All things I've wanted to try, especially sweetbreads and kidneys.

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  1. Cm83,

    BBQ Tonite - Pakastani version of lamb brain masala

    I would recommend uni or even better monkfish liver (ankimo) at Masami in Richardson. I just like that there isn't a whole lot of people there and the prices are all very reasonable. Rio should be able to fix you something up to your liking. Call beforehand and ask what different items he might have and when his shipments come in to get it fairly fresh (it won't be right of the water b/c we are in Dallas).

    El Ranchito also has sweetbreads - mollejas

    Mirak (Changed names just this past week) in Koreatown in NW Dallas (W. of Royal & 35) - Small Intestine Soup

    Pho Bang in Garland for Pho - - a guide to all the meats typically offered at all pho noodle houses. Bun Bo Hue is a spicier version of pho a bit thicker noodles and all the meat plus a bloodcake or two

    Nam Hua in Garland - for wild boar and frog - No menu yet

    South Dallas Cafe in Dallas very close to Fair Park- Pork Chitterlings and Oxtails (I personally loved the oxtails
    ) - Offered M,W,F,Sa,Su Oxtails only offered M,W,F

    Taste of the Islands in Plano owners from Guyana - Oxtail Stew or Black Pudding

    If you know some one travelling to Mexico (particularly Oaxaca) ask them to bring back chaupalines and if they came find them escamoles (ant larvae). I liked the chaupalines and brought some back in June from my trip to Oaxaca but finished them.

    This should give you a start!

    3 Replies
    1. re: LewisvilleHounder

      Perfect! Great start. I loved El Ranchito and any excuse to go back is a good one. I usually get everything in my pho in the places I've been and it's one of my favorite dishes of all time, I'll have to check out Pho Bang.

      I should have known that some would be vietnamese. :) There's an Asia World Market right by me on Legacy and 75 that I've been in a few times (bought 1000-year old eggs, shark fin soup, and some mochi ice-cream) but I haven't spent a huge amount of time in there. Maybe I should re-visit.

      What are chaupalines?

      Edit to add on: In one of your other posts, LewisvilleHounder, you said you liked Taquerias El Fuego and that they have huitlacoche. They still around?

      1. re: cm83

        Chaupalines are fried crickets that are tossed with salt and chili powder. Very earthy in flavor but not a bad taste at all.

        Yes Taqueria El Fuego is still around. I enjoyed the huitlacoche better in Oaxaca as it has a more developed flavor than here, due to the USDA erradication program. In fact I would just recommend going to Oaxaca. Very affordable (Flight about $500 - $600), hotels $50 a night (can find less), and food at most was $30 -$40 for two people (comparable to a gourmet meal here). Street food was $0.50 to $3 depending on what you get. Not to get off subject but it was a stark difference to the Tex-Mex and even Mex-Mex cuisine we have here.

        Speaking of Asia World there is always a table of bbqed meats (tounge, chicken feet, etc) right by the entrance over by the produce section along with the buns. I would suggest going for your fresh Chinese BBQed meats at either First Chinese BBQ in Plano (Parker and Coit) or Joy Luck BBQ in the May Hua Market (Park and Coit)

        Mr Shabu Shabu (next to May Hua Market) might have some dishes that feature offal meats and would be good this fall since we never really have winter here. I enjoyed the simpleness of the place and the waitstaff was patient enough!

        Of course as a child I used to eat cow heart and biscuits with the braising liquid over the biscuits for breakfast. Sounds wierd but it was always great! It has been increasingly hard to find heart these days.

      2. re: LewisvilleHounder

        good recs. LH. A couple of points:

        1) the brain masala at BBQ Tonite was really good, the one time I went there. Possibly my favorite dish of the 7 or so that we tried.

        2) Fresh uni is worth paying a premium for. The quality rapidly declines once the sea urchins are killed, and the change is noticeable - more than with most sashimi. So, if you want to try it go for the best place you can find. Masami is probably a decent place to start. It should be slightly sweet, slightly briny and rich (kind of like egg yolk). Ideally, the texture will have a noticeable firmness - although usually it's just mashy (a sign of the inevitable degradation).

      3. cm83, I was going to suggest Taste of the Islands over on Alma and Spring Creek in Plano. I tried the curried goat, and it's quite delicious.

        Be sure to wash it down with a cold Red Stripe, though...

        1. ahh that's up by my neck of the woods. In addition to everything Lewisville Hounder lists (which reads like a list of the past 10 restaurants I've been to) I'd add that Sheikh's on K in downtown Plano has lamb tongue sandwich (not to mention raw kibbe) and Aparicio's on 18th nearby has lengua and tripe etc etc.

          I have to say I thought the bun bo hue at Pho Bang was not quite as rich and exciting as La Me's although the pho was pretty outstanding and the bun cha hanoi was delicious also (hadn't tried that before)

          1. You can have duck tongue and intestine at Umeko, right where you live. These are listed under Taiwanese Special on the menu. I didn't like the duck tongue, but some people in our group liked it.

            We also liked the brain masala at BBQ Tonite.

            If you go to any Korean restaurant, you can have raw beef. We like Mirak's version much better than Seoul Garden's, but some people like SG's better.

            1. I used my day off today to go to First Chinese BBQ (Parker/Coit) and the Asia World Market (Legacy/75). I might go for a few bites of sushi later at Masami when my belly gets a little more room.

              At First Chinese I got their "#210 Marinated Combination Special" and their "Duck Feet in Chef's Special Sauce". The Marinated Combo is a wonderful heaping of all of their extra bits. Beef tendon and stomach along with pig stomach, ear, and tongue, all with a nice simple salty sauce that didn't overpower them and let you enjoy them for what they were. The duck feet were good but I felt as if I would have rather had a different sauce on them, maybe more of what they used for the combo platter.

              I stopped at Asia World Market to pick up a few packs of the ubiquitous Pocky and lo and behold, they had fresh durian. I picked one up. I think it was underripe, the stem was softer and the flesh hadn't really started splitting yet. The smell was really understated, I had to stick a piece of the fruit under my nose to get what people have talked about with the aroma. The fruit itself wasn't totally like a custard like I hoped. It was a bit more fibrous. Overall the fruit was enjoyable (nice and fruity, with a little bit of the almond flavor, and a slight green onion aftertaste that lingers for a long time) but I still haven't finished it because a) It's super rich, especially after all that chinese food and b) It's HUGE. Again, I think the ones at the store were just a little underripe, I can bet they get way stinkier and way creamier. Do they ripen once picked?

              5 Replies
              1. re: cm83


                You might start another thread on durian on another board.

                As for the sauce for the duck feet I believe they can give you an alternate sauce at 1st Chinese, but you have to ask them for it. They also have a ginger/green onion sauce that is a bit salty but filled with fresh flavors nonetheless. I will have to ask my Chinese friends what the sauces are called so you can sample them.

                1. re: cm83

                  I will try any food once. I have tried to like durian, but it really makes me want to vomit. I love this quote from Anthony Burgess, ""like eating sweet raspberry blancmange in the lavatory." I cannot stand it. Which is too bad because the texture is rather splendid, but the smell... The durian I've had was custardy, but there are a number of varieties. I think the one from Malaysia is highly desireable I've seen durian harvested. They place nets under the tree to catch the overripe, falling fruit. The riper it gets, the stinkier. Did I mention I hate durian? A more economical way of buying uni is to buy it at a Japanese grocery store. That's what I did in SoCal. I've only seen it this way at Super H Mart. However, after my past couple of visits, I cannot recommend anything from the Super H Mart seafood section. Fresh, live uni is spectacular, but you will pay for it. Also, a Chinese noodle shop or pho place should offer a ton of offal...roasted turkey butts, chicken feet, pig intestine, liver, cow tongues. That's all I can think of, but I'm sure there's more.

                  1. re: jindomommy

                    I saw uni at Super H this weekend, frozen. iwas a bit dissapointed with the choices at Super H the past few times. I am not sure what your beef is jindomommy, but the selection seemed thinner than normal. I blamed it on the time of the week I went. I so desperatley was seeking fresh mussels, and the only place i found them was at Cental Market. and they were half dead and expensive as hell.

                    The durian at Super H seemed tame to me. They have it in a sealed cooler case on the southwest end of the produce section near the food court and close by the kim chi section. I peered in for a wiff, and got nothing.

                    1. re: DallasDude

                      The last couple times that I've been to Super H, the fish section smelled just awful. The whole red snapper was decomposing so bad, the flesh started to sink in and the eyeballs were beyond murky (sign of old fish). With durian, if it's picked ripe, it's stinky. As it ripens, it stinks even more. However, the smell once you bite into the durian is unforgettable. I hated it so much, I spit it into my napkin. I had it prepared in Malaysia with carmel sauce over shaved ice. If I didn't like it that way, I doubt I'll ever like it. However, my mother and several friends love durian.

                  2. re: cm83

                    The hot pot at First Chinese is a melange as well, that includes tripe ...

                    I had the tongue at Cuquita's & was not impressed. Mom's was 1000x better ...