Posts Tagged chicken

The Dish: Black Pepper Chicken at China Garden

IMG_5195

Monthly Feature, By Jarred Kibbey

Each month, Jarred highlights one of his favorite dishes from around Little Rock.

The second floor of the UALR Bowen School of Law Library likely still smells like Chinese food. Black Pepper Chicken to be more specific. Dinner meal D17 from China Garden to be exact.

I remember the first time I tried China Garden. It was during finals on my 2L year. We had been studying all day and we were stressed, tired, and hungry. A friend suggested we go get takeout from this Chinese place right down the road. I had driven by this restaurant a hundred times and nothing about its bright orange and unkempt exterior made me want to try it, so my response was, “no thanks, I would rather not get food poisoning.” They returned 15 minutes later and raving about the black pepper chicken, so I had to try a bite. I was hooked and demanded that we get takeout from there the very next day.

The chicken bits are perfectly fried and then tossed in a sweet and spicy sauce. And like any good fried guilty pleasure, it is plenty salty. If you look closely at each piece, you can see small crystals of what I can only assume are salt or sugar. (note: I have other ideas of what these small crystals could be, but The Mighty Rib asked me to refrain from posting my thoughts). I recently went back there before writing this piece to see if it was like I remembered and it did not disappoint.

To say I ate this dish often in law school would be an understatement. I was a regular there. I frequented it so many times that once after winter break was over the owner asked where I had been. I wasn’t sure what he was getting at, so I asked. He simply responded, “I haven’t seen you, but I know school has started back, because I asked a professor if school wasn’t back in session of if you had graduated.”

Like many dishes that I truly love, I shared this with many classmates, who then shared it with others. During my last year of law school, you could find someone enjoying this dish somewhere in the library almost round the clock, if you didn’t see it being eaten, you could most certainly smell it. That is what I am confident that the smell of black pepper chicken still lingers in the Bowen Law Library.

, ,

No Comments

She Said, He Said: Lulu’s Latin Rotisserie & Grill

Lulu_3 (1)

Monthly Feature, By Becca Bona and Kevin Shalin
Becca and Kevin will check out a local restaurant, each at different times, and then write separate reviews. This month, it’s Lulu’s Latin Rotisserie & Grill.

Becca’s Take

I can’t exactly pinpoint the boom in our food scene, but I’ve been excited to see different influences and styles surface – like Lulu’s.

Lulu’s Latin Rotisserie opened in 2015, and almost immediately found a niche. Think Bolivian and Peruvian-style rotisserie chicken, empanadas, plantains, and more. Surprisingly, this is my first trek to Lulu’s – probably because it’s west of Mississippi. I went on a sleepy Friday for lunch with a friend, prepped and ready to see what they had to offer.

The space is nice enough, with a no-frills atmosphere, and comfortably decorated with Latin American-inspired art and music to match. The menu isn’t complicated, offering various sizes of Pollo A La Brasa (South American Rotisserie Style Chicken) with sides and apps dotting the front page as well as various platters and sandwiches represented on the back.

Lulus_2 (1)

We started with an order of four empanadas – Beef, Chicken, Spinach, and Cheese. I was probably most excited by the crust. Our friendly waitress informed us that they prepare them by hand and make them fresh-to-order, which you can tell from that first, hot and flaky bite. The beef filling was by far my favorite – I literally could have eaten four of those as my entire meal. We tried all of the sauces –Aji Amarillo, Chimichurri, and Lulu’s Green Sauce – and while they were good, I ended up eating the Beef Empanada without much addition.

We then ordered a half Rotisserie Chicken – which comes with dark and white meat. Now, as a foodie who is not the biggest fan of chicken, I enjoyed my meal, as the bird was juicy as all get out. I am usually a fan of dark meat but the white meat shined here. I could see myself ordering a whole Rotisserie Chicken (white meat) and taking it home with me to meal prep for the week. Our chicken came with two sides – we chose the beans and rice and decided to sub in plantains. The beans and rice weren’t out of this world, but the plantains were delicious – in fact, we argued over the last one.

Lulus_4

Finally, we checked out the dessert empanadas – which came with powdered sugar on top and a fruit filling. While the crust was amazing (like our appetizers) the filling – apple and caramel – didn’t do it for me.

When it comes down to it, I’m glad Lulu’s calls Little Rock home. This is the type of place I’d take a friend to if we wanted to catch up over a decent meal while hanging out in West Little Rock.

 

Kevin’s Take

While I typically go to Lulu’s for dinner, I decided this time around to meet a friend for lunch. This was my buddy’s first visit to the restaurant and I was excited for him to try the food. My last experience a few months back was an absolute hit and I was hoping this meal would be the same.

Unfortunately, it was not.

Let’s start out with the good … my daughter’s bowl of black beans and rice and our table’s shared fried yucca appetizers were both spot-on. I love the tender and flavorful beans and rice combo, and at $6 for a large bowl, it’s really a filling dish at a great price. The yucca is always fried just right and a perfect way to start any meal at Lulu’s.

IMG_5185

The rest of the meal was a mixed bag. I’m not quite sure why my friend opted for the Grilled Chicken Platter, which comes with two well-seasoned, fairly tasty, boneless chicken breasts, over Lulu’s signature rotisserie chicken. He’s young and foolish at times. Folks, I can’t stress this enough … pass on this dish in favor of the rotisserie chicken. You can make chicken breast like this at home on a Tuesday night. Again, was it bad? No, but it was boring and certainly didn’t stand out in an overly positive way. He was complimentary of the side salad and I’ve already mentioned the rice and beans which also came with his platter.

IMG_5183

My Grilled Steak Sandwich was the low point of the meal. A thinly cut piece of fatty beef resided on the bun with some accompanying grilled mushrooms, onions, Provolone cheese, and mayo. I enjoyed the other elements of the sandwich, but the chewiness of the beef was just too unappealing to make me want to eat more than half of it. The meat was a true disappointment because Lulu’s knows it’s way around steak. Keep in mind, I love Lulu’s Parillada for 2, which comes with medium rare strip steak that’s as beautiful as it is delicious.

IMG_5188

Our service was fast, attentive, and quite friendly, but here’s my main issue with Lulu’s … consistency in food. I’ve had both average and stellar meals at this restaurant. Heck, I could say that about almost every restaurant in Little Rock, but there’s so much potential here with Lulu’s, that I really want every meal to be great and for them to build a following as that top-notch neighborhood hole-in-the-wall. The talent and creativity is definitely there to do it.

I’ll come back soon to Lulu’s, probably for dinner and definitely for the Parillada and a cocktail.

Lulu’s Latin Rotisserie & Grill
315 N Bowman Rd #2
Wednesday-Saturday 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Sunday 11 a.m.-3 p.m.; Closed Monday & Tuesday

, , ,

1 Comment

Lulu’s Latin Rotisserie & Grill is the Real Deal

IMG_4383

Grilled Steak Platter

 

Lulu’s Latin Rotisserie & Grill has been open for a few months now, and truth be told, I drive past the WLR restaurant no less than four times a day. That stretch of Bowman is on my way to just about everything important in life. But here’s the deal … fair or not, with previous occupants like Bill’s Country Kitchen and Anatolia, I’ve been quite hesitant to dine in the space.

I know, it’s a shitty rationale.

But over the past several weeks, I’ve kept my eye on social media and heard good reports from friends about WLR’s newest restaurant, and as my family debated on where to eat last Friday night, Lulu’s popped into the ol’ noggin.

The first thing that surprised me upon entry was the number of people inside the restaurant … the place was practically full. Granted, Friday nights are busy for restaurants, but it was a pleasant surprise to see Lulu’s already being embraced by the community.

It’s easy to see why.

Although the cozy interior and festive Latin music playing softly in the background makes you want to be in the space, the real draw is the food.

We started off with an order of chicken empanadas (3, $6). Perfectly fried, buttery and flaky, these empanadas are a perfect way to begin a meal at Lulu’s, due in large part to the insanely addictive accompanying Aji amarillo and Lulu’s green sauce.

For entrees, our table of four split a half chicken with two sides ($11.50) and the grilled steak platter ($15.95). I rarely order steak at restaurants, and, in fact, had planned to go all-in with the chicken, but the table next to us got the steak. One look at their platter made me re-think things. I’m glad I did. The flat-iron cut was cooked to a perfect, and I mean perfect, medium rare and drizzled with a fresh, vibrant chimichurri sauce. It came with a nice side salad and some pedestrian fries, but my goodness, that steak! Like everything else on the table, you end up dipping it in all of the sauces.

And guess what? The flavorful and tender rotisserie chicken was just as good, as were the sides, highlighted by a delicious rice and beans combo. Our other side of fried yucca, with just a hint of natural sweetness, was also a hit, and again, spot-on when dipped in the Aji amarillo sauce.

Here’s another added bonus about Lulu’s … the place serves cocktails. Judging by the Caipirinha my wife and I split, the folks at Lulu’s have a good handle on alcoholic beverages. Fear not, you can even get a pisco sour, although I can’t vouch for that one … yet.

In the end, my family of four got out of Lulu’s for $36 (+ tip), which I considered an excellent value for the amount and quality of food. It’s only been one visit, but I’m a huge fan of this restaurant, and only hope the rest of Little Rock continues to embrace it.

Did You Know?
Lulu’s now offers a Sunday brunch from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Here’s the menu … regular menu options are also available.

Lulu’s Latin Rotisserie & Grill
315 N. Bowman Road, Suite 2
501.228.5564 (menu)
Hours of operation: Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday 11 a.m.-3 p.m.; Thursday, Friday, Saturday 11 a.m.-9 p.m. (lunch and dinner); closed Monday
Take-out available; family pack rotisserie chicken meals available

Caipirinha

Caipirinha

Rotisserie Chicken

Rotisserie Chicken

Chicken Empanadas

Chicken Empanadas

, ,

2 Comments

Mighty Good Recipe: Chicken in a Pot

IMG_3834

When I return home from an extended vacation, one of the first things I like to do is head to the grocery store, stock up, and prepare several home cooked meals over the course of the next few days. I’m sick of eating out and so is my waistline.

I found this Chicken in a Pot recipe because I was searching for something simple and healthy … and I had chicken in the freezer that needed to be used. Sound familiar?

This one is very easy. I took my big Le Creuset pot and added some olive oil. I then coated three large chicken breasts in some panko bread crumbs (that’s what I had on hand) and fried them on medium heat for three minutes per side. This is just enough time to get each side golden brown. Next, add the broth/tomato paste liquid mixture and sliced mushrooms, cover, and cook on low for 20 minutes.

While this was going on, I peeled and diced 4 large potatoes and boiled them with a heavy hand of salt for 10 minutes. Drain the potatoes, add 2 tablespoons of butter, a pinch of salt, and about 1 cup of 2% milk. Mix potatoes with a hand mixer until thoroughly whipped.

Back to the chicken.

After 20 minutes, remove chicken from the pot and crank the stove up to high. Boil for 4 minutes (uncovered), add the chicken back to the pot, coat, and turn off heat. Let sit for about 5 minutes.

Add the mashed potatoes to a plate and top with the chicken and mushroom sauce.

Will this recipe rock the foundation of your house with its awesomeness? Not likely. But it is a simple, no fuss, no dirty kitchen, weekday recipe that even makes a decent amount of leftovers, depending on how many potatoes and chicken breasts you use.

You can even add something like diced zucchini to the pot to make it even healthier. As a frame of reference, if you’ve ever enjoyed chicken cacciatore, this recipe is going to be very similar to that dish.

, , ,

No Comments