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Dec 19, 2010 11:52 AM

Worst New Awards 2010

It's that time of year where the media releases it's "Best Of" roundups. The Globe had a really nice one, highlighting standout dishes of the freshman class.

So I wanted to do the opposite, even if it's a bit rude. Yesterday I walked past the new Bon Chon in Allston, and looked at the menu, where I saw this:

Sweet Hummus Maki
"Hummus with Sweet Potato, Cucumber and Sweet Unagi Sauce"

To top it off, it was an inside-out roll. AND it was at the top of the list, the headliner! I'm pretty sure you couldn't make it worse even if you threw Tobiko on top and deep-fried it. I got queasy just standing there thinking that is the worst sushi roll ever. I don't think Bon Chon is a bad place and everyone loves the chicken, but wowzers, stick to what you know!

Anyone else with equally bad jive-ass rolls or other horrible new dishes for 2010? Keep in mind, new for this year only.

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  1. My blog's own Devil's Dining Awards comes out tomorrow, and it includes a few raspberries at some truly awful dishes. I won't step on that here, but I'll cite some others that underwhelmed me:

    * Stuffed pig's trotter at Pigalle. Sounded great, turned out to be oversized and dull. A real disappointment at a place that has been underperforming below its former peak for some years now. Orfaly's eye has clearly been diverted to other projects.

    * Grilled beef skewers at Bleacher Bar. I loved my beef on weck and some other dishes like the beef sliders there, but that app tasted off, of beef that was past its last-fresh-sale date by a few days. The flatbread Caprese, a nasty, cracker-like crust with bad toppings, really sucked hard, too.

    * Momos and samosas at Chutney's. I like their odd sandwich concept alright, but these fried apps languished too long on a steam table, with predictable results.

    * Falafel Corner. Great lamb shwarma, bad falafel, chalky and dry, ironically enough.

    * Enchiladas at the new El Pelon. More like a slapdash assemblage of ingredients than a baked casserole. Still like the tacos and tortas quite a bit.

    * Poached eggs at @Union Breakfast in Allston, broken and cooked through, yech. I drove by recently, wondered if it was still in business.

    * Pork chop at Sam's, dreadfully overcooked. Sadly, not the worst dish I had there.

    * Poe Burger at Poe's at the Rattlesnake. Clearly a winking nod to ultra-luxury burgers -- it has truffled American Wagyu beef, foie gras, lobster, avocado, house-cured bacon, and porter-infused cheese -- but I'd have to rate it an ambitious failure.

    * Agedashi tofu cube app at Noche. Bland, utterly forgettable.

    * Jonah crab cake app at South End Buttery. Ice-cold in the center, like it was frozen and microwave-reheated, something that happened to me on several occasions when this chef (since moved on from the Buttery) was in charge of Olives Charlestown some years ago.

    These mostly feel kind of nitpicky, most errors of execution than conception. I feel like it was a pretty great year overall, one in which I was exposed to comparatively few disasters, and even the places that made some big mistakes were on balance pretty good. I even really liked a couple of dishes at Strega Waterfront, about which no one was more surprised than me.

    El Pelon
    2197 Commonwealth Ave., Brighton, MA 02135

    South End Buttery
    314 Shawmut Avenue, Boston, MA 02118

    75 Charles St, Boston, MA 02114

    6 Replies
    1. re: MC Slim JB

      Did you make up that Poe Burger? Foie gras AND lobster AND truffled Wagyu...what, no caviar?

      1. re: Eatin in Woostah

        That's for real: I mentioned it in my Poe's review in Stuff. $18. Sounded great in a cheeky, wretched-excess kind of way, looked kind of fugly, did not hold together in terms of flavors at all.

      2. re: MC Slim JB

        "Agedashi tofu cube app at Noche. Bland, utterly forgettable."

        Actually, my favorite app at Noche, which they took off their menu 2 months ago. You might want to update your list.

        1. re: wickedated

          The list is for all of 2010, not necessarily current. It's okay if someone doesn't like something you love. That's the beauty of chowhound.

          1. re: wickedated

            Welcome to Chowhound, wickedated.

            My list goes back to the beginning of 2010. Several of those dishes are no longer available or were specials, like the burger, the flatbread and the trotter. Maybe I wasn't the only one who was underwhelmed by them.

            As for Noche, glad you found something you loved on that menu. I really like the space, but the food in general has been a disappointment to me. I'm relieved they ditched the peanut butter cocktail, at least.


          2. re: MC Slim JB

            I really love the masala roti rolls at Chutney's (except for the time that it was cold, ew), but you're right, both the momos and samosas are pretty awful. I'm not sure they'd be good even if fresh and hot.

          3. Gotta tell you. The wife and I tried that sushi roll when we were at Bon Chon, as we don't eat a ton of rolls, and the wife wanted something vegetarian. I was extremely skeptical, but the sushi flavors actually meshed really nicely, and the sweet potato was cooked, and soft in the center, yet still crunchy on the outside, and there was a second crunchy element as well. Was it traditional? Nope. Was it tasty (really the only important thing), yep.

            5 Replies
            1. re: kimfair1

              You make a good point: tatsu hasn't actually eaten this thing.

              1. re: Luther

                This is true, but I can imagine putting soy sauce and sugar in hummus and then dipping cucumbers and sweet potatoes in it as just something awful. With sushi rice to boot? This is really not a good topic to start my morning, but I asked for it, ha ha. I can't believe it was crunchy!! Did they add tempura flakes or tobiko or something?

                I'm a vegetarian and I'd rather eat a piece of wagyu beek nigiri, something that I've seen in NY that I looked at cross-eyed as well. (Seen at Sushi Azabu and other places.)

                1. re: Luther

                  Thinking a bit more critically I suppose the hummus might of been a "creative" substitution for natto, a fermented soybean. But they are vastly different in flavor and texture. I think the sweet element of the roll put me off as much as the grainy texture of hummus in any sort of sushi roll.

                  1. re: tatsu

                    It really wasn't sweet at all (even though sugar is listed as an ingredient). The hummus was sparse, and was spicier than a plain hummus. I think the sweet potato may have had tempura flakes on it, as the edges were crispy. I was as skeptical as you, but I have to say that both my wife and I found it yummy. It's sort of like the "trailer trash" sushi we make at Christmas, Boiled ham, a thin layer of cream cheese, thin sliced pickle, roll and slice to make pinwheels. Three things that shouldn't really taste good together, that somehow do.

                    1. re: kimfair1

                      We tried this hummus sushi roll last night, and I thought it was pretty bad. Unlike kimfair1's experience, I felt the hummus completely overpowered the other flavors. I couldn't taste the sweet potato at all. Also, the hummus tasted just like the roasted garlic hummus from Trader Joe's (wouldn't be surprised if this is what it was).

                      Tatsu, I give you credit for giving them the benefit of the doubt in suggesting they were "creatively" substituting for hummus for natto. But I think your initial reaction was more on point - this is one of the worst dishes I've eaten at a restaurant in a long time.

                      Trader Joe's
                      1427 Massachusetts Ave, Arlington, MA 02476

              2. I would have nominate the fig, prosciutto and gorgonzola pizza at Barlow's in Fort Point. It sounded like a no brainer...tough to mess up...right?...wrong. An excess of fig jam was cloying and cold on top of a chewy, underbaked crust. There was so much gorgonzola that the aforementioned prosciutto was lost in a sea of sweet, sticky, moldy mush. OR
                The completely overrated and OVERPRICED lobster roll at B&G (not 2010, but worth mentioning).

                1 Reply
                1. re: hungrygale

                  I'm not sure I would call the B&G Oyster lobster roll overrated; the fact that it is a tiny thing for $27 makes it hard for most folks to get carried away. Pretty much everyone, myself included, says the same thing: "Good, but $27?!" Still, they sell a lot of them.


                2. I vote for the poutine at The Gallows. With so many different versions of the dish you'd think that they would make a better cheese and gravy. The two times I've been there, I've found both their farmers cheese curds & gravy to be way too bland.

                  Sort of sad since they do have plenty of very good (and very flavorful) items on their menu. Don't know why the poutine turned out this way.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: eatanddestroy

                    second the poutine.

                    no. seasoning. anywhere.


                    at all.

                  2. I love the term "jive-ass roll". And out of morbid curiosity I had to go to Bon Chon tonight to try it. It was not totally wretched, but tasted just like hummus (particularly like Trader Joe's hummus) and rice. The hummus completely drowned out any other flavors. I asked at the sushi bar how they came up with that one, and one of the sushi chefs and two of the managers immediately pointed to the other sushi chef, who then seemed to have a sheepish look. I don't think he was thinking of a creative substitution for natto. =)

                    6 Replies
                      1. re: lipoff

                        Wow, that's a lot more hummus than was on ours. Ours had two of the sweet potato sticks as well. Maybe because it was the first weekend they were open. With about half the hummus and twice the sweet potato the hummus didn't overpower the other flavors. I could see how it would in that roll, though. I'm sure my wife will want to order it again next time we go, so I'll see then how much hummus is in them.

                        1. re: lipoff

                          Ha, I didn't see lipoff's post until now. I just posted a similar review just above this (I was there with lipoff)

                          Dave MP

                          1. re: Dave MP

                            The hummus was not a flavored hummus the night I tried it, and you could really tatse the other components. Sounds like they've tweaked it since the opening, and not for the better. As I said, my wife really liked it, and she'll want to order it again next time we're there, so I'll report back, but things certainly are looking bleak!

                          2. re: lipoff

                            Ha ha ha! It was that guy!!! Thanks for taking one for team, lipoff and Dave. I really don't think I could down it myself, phew!

                            1. re: tatsu

                              You should try it too, tatsu, in the name of science! I just hope the sudden interest in this dish doesn't convince the sushi chef that this is a good idea. =)