Ryan Welton

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Tag Archives: Mexican food

Korean, Mexican flavors come together at northwest OKC’s ‘Chigama’

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So, I ain’t gonna lie. I’m beat. Kristi, too. I’m lying in bed as this blog is being crafted.

We’re both super busy at work. We’re both still managing multiple trips per week to the chiropractor after a car wreck in November.

We’re both getting married in April. To each other. There’s a substantial to-do list that goes with that. We’ve got two houses we’re trying to sell, including one that belonged to Mom, and a car settlement in the works and all sorts of side projects and various kiddo-centric to-dos.

A nice dinner out isn’t a luxury. It’s therapy.

We had wanted to try Chigama, a Korean-Mexican restaurant, in northwest Oklahoma City, for quite awhile. A colleague’s recommendation this week, however, sealed the deal — and we visited tonight.

It’s at Memorial and May, just off the Kilpatrick Turnpike. It’s in a strip with other restaurants, including Wagyu and Metro Diner. The first thing you notice upon entering is the interior design.

It’s colorful, modern and brilliant. The blue and orange-themed insides matched the color scheme of the hometown Oklahoma City Thunder on the television.

Because Kristi and I were already pooped from a January that, this year, lasted 74 days, we took forever to order anything. Our waitress, Sarah, stopped by 6-7 times before we could get it together.

We weren’t lallygagging. Kristi was plotting different foods for us to try (our thing is to split food so we can try more dishes), and I was researching on my phone every cocktail in their alcoholic arsenal.

I settled on the poma jalapeño margarita. It was sweet, and it had a serious kick. I think the glass might have been lined with salt and chili powder.

The lady had sake. Cold, sweet pineapple sake. She likes it; I hate the stuff.

My cocktail was a 10 out of a 10. Terrific beginning to the evening out.

Next course was bao. I thought Kristi was saying, “bowel,” and the funny part was that I didn’t flinch. I was like, “Well, I guess this is happening.”

But it was a steamed bun with goodies inside, namely soft-shell crab and pork belly.

Then came the scallion pancakes.

The sour cream sauce paired perfectly with the side dish. Loved this.

Kristi tells me this is “elote.” I responded, “you mean corn?” She squeezed the lime over it, giving the sweet corn a tangy flavor.

The theme of the night at Chigama was “flavor combos.” At no place we’ve been in Oklahoma City has had as interesting a mix of flavors as Chigama.

Our main course was a couple tacos — a beef steak taco on the left and a sweet-and-spicy shrimp taco on the right. My favorite taco was the shrimp. Kristi’s, too.

We were supposed to dip the tacos in this chili sauce but we forgot.

Oh, well. Not that the tacos needed it.

Last but not least, we ordered some churros. By then, the Thunder were up by 25 over the Heat, and the last big table had paid up for the night.

We had the place to ourselves.

I don’t rave about a restaurant unless I mean it, but Chigama was both a culinary delight and an experiential one. And it cements my love of Korean food or at least Korean-influenced foods, especially given that the late, great Chae had been my favorite Oklahoma City restaurant.

Anyway, give this place a try. High marks. Totally affordable, too. $$ on prices and I’d say 9 out of 10 on food + experience.

Paco’s Tacos might have the best tortillas in America

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It’s Labor Day weekend 2018, and for the second straight year, Kristi and I are taking a little vacation.

Last year, it was Albuquerque.

This year, it’s Southern California.

And it’s my first time in Los Angeles. My first impression is that it’s a city deeply rooted in the 1950s and 60s. A lot of the architecture hasn’t been updated at all since then – and that’s not necessarily a bad thing!

This was also my first time to land at LAX. Kristi and I rented a car through Budget, which is an awful company (all rent-a-car companies are poor, and I can’t wait until there’s an Uber-of-that-world).

But we survived.

And then we asked the Budget attendant about places nearby to eat.

She had a list. On that list was a Mexican joint I had never heard of: Paco’s Tacos. It could turn out that this place is a total chain, but on their website, I’m only seeing two locations, both in California.

Including one location right near the airport.

The first thing I noticed when we walked into the place was that it didn’t smell very good. The door is situated near the bathrooms, and they had some kind of plumbing issue.

Don’t let your nose fool you though. Have patience.

The host led us to a back room that was virtually empty. We got there well before lunch rush.

And then a waiter brought us homemade chips and a salsa that would rip paint off of metal. It was glorious and hot. For a mainstream type of restaurant, this was the hottest salsa I’d ever eaten.

They also had a station where two women were making homemade flour tortillas from scratch. Kristi and I devoured a stack of them with the help of some sweet cream butter.

And now I’ll stop.

The rest of the experience was good but ordinary. Tamales were good. Enchiladas were a-ok.

But for the chips and salsa and tortillas alone, I’d rate Paco’s Tacos as pretty much the best Mexican place I’ve been to in a long while.

You just have to get past the bathroom smell.

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