Buffalo Food Otaku

Buffalo Food Otaku Otaku is a Japanese word meaning obsessive (or nerd )...and that’s the best word to describe our r

David O. Selznick, Steven Spielberg, Kathleen Kennedy, Robert Evans…Rick Rubin, Sir George Martin, Tony Visconti, Brian ...

David O. Selznick, Steven Spielberg, Kathleen Kennedy, Robert Evans…

Rick Rubin, Sir George Martin, Tony Visconti, Brian Eno…

As a general rule I select the movies I want to watch by the director—no matter what the plot or cast. With music I tend to follow songs of particular artists, rather than those spoon fed to us by radio stations and mass media. These guides work for me, and usually insure high quality experiences.

With restaurants I usually follow the chef, not the restaurant. When a creative chef leaves, most restaurants suffer, whilst scrambling to find a replacement.

Yet all rules are made to be broken, and these particulars rules have a very small exception: the “producer corollary”. Rarely, there exists such strong producers that the directors, actors, plot, musicians, and chefs become almost irrelevant in comparison with their strong vision, and oblique, yet overwhelming direction.

In the Buffalo restaurant scene this “producer corollary” is best embodied by Billy Club. In 8 years, the kitchen line-up has changed over many times, with quality never faltering, maintaining its position as one of our City’s very finest eateries. While one can easily heap praise on newest chef Kyle Thompsett, which would be clearly well deserved after our recent feast, I truly believe at Billy Club the secret of their continued success is deeper.

Billy Club clearly represents producer derived success embodied in the guise of proprietors Jake Strawser and Dan Hagen. I can only assume that it was Jake and Dan’s strong vision that kept creative output in both the bar and kitchen at peak levels despite turnover.

Perhaps it is their insistence on quality sourcing of produce and meat? Perhaps it is their stubborn belief that quality cocktails not only still matter, but make all the difference? Perhaps it is the curated wine list, with pin point service? Maybe it is just a common vision that they are on Allen and want to class up the street a bit?

I do not know the answers to these questions, but what I do know is that Billy Club is clearly one of Buffalo’s very best, and I truly believe this one success is thanks to the producers.

I will be the first to admit that I am guilty of neglect. I have always assumed that Niagara Falls, Canada was a cesspoo...

I will be the first to admit that I am guilty of neglect. I have always assumed that Niagara Falls, Canada was a cesspool of tourist-inspired, lowest rung fare that deserved neither the descriptor: “culinary” or the correct spelling—as the pun would have been more accurate. While for many years that theory seemed unimpeachable, several poignant examples have disproved my strongly held mental bias.

Clearly on this list is the newly discovered Fried Chicken ROK's, a nearby, Korean fried chicken and beer restaurant.

A long time ago the Koreans figured out what the Colonel was lacking, and that was a cold glass of suds to pair with their crispy fowl—that, and pickled daikon. While WNY finally caught up with the herd by birthing Bb.q Chicken Buffalo (Amherst), a chain, sadly no local entrepreneur has taken the hint and followed suit with a superior product.

Yet, NF, Canada suffers not from that same lack, where open immigration policies have created a stronger culinary, cultural infrastructure—allowing the birth of a non-chain, mini-gem like Fried Chicken ROK which pairs their succulent treats with St. Catharine’s Dragan Brewing fantasy themed beers. The result—a type of restaurant I thought would be found nearest in Toronto, shattering my world-view, and finding me clearly guilty of neglecting what is quickly becoming the far superior side of the border.

Kenmore’s cutest cafe has been calling to us for some time now, tantalizing us with its siren song of fresh, healthy far...

Kenmore’s cutest cafe has been calling to us for some time now, tantalizing us with its siren song of fresh, healthy fare in a cheerful environment. Mojo Market’s siren song finally worked stubbornly yanking us from the City proper warmly greeted by smiling faces in a room pulled from Martha Stewart’s deep subconscious. Downing a chaga latte, and a damn fine veggie burger my aura radiated a healthy chlorophyll green complimenting the ample flora of this unique suburban forum. The market clearly worked its mojo on us. We will be back.

I know Tonawanda’s secret. You could see it in their eyes for some time now. They wanted us out. The non-awandians, that...

I know Tonawanda’s secret.

You could see it in their eyes for some time now. They wanted us out. The
non-awandians, that is. They wanted it all for themselves. Yet, discovery was inevitable. The secret was under their thumb the whole time. Miller's Thumb, that is.

Tonawanda’s secret is out, and now WNY knows where to find some of the finest milled loaves south of Lake Ontario…hidden on some back streets deep in suburbia, with such limited hours of operation it is much more likely you will find the doors locked up tight. Post COVID mentality: work less, choke supply, inflame demand—like they do with their crispy bread crust.

We see you. We know. We all know.

The secret is out.

As we travel around the world “to encounter new original cuisines which could be called true artistic creations” occasio...

As we travel around the world “to encounter new original cuisines which could be called true artistic creations” occasionally we find a restaurant that was born for greatness, most recently for us it was Toronto’s Aburi Hana helmed by chef Ryusuke Nakagawa.

Chef Nakagawa and his team have intentionally created a peaceful, minimalist space where it was clear every detail of service and environment was scrutinized leading to perhaps the most impressive open kitchen dining area we have encountered in Toronto—kudos to the architect. Service was on par with the finest restaurants worldwide, giving the diner the essence of dining near Lake Biwa while in reality being on Lake Ontario.

The restaurant features a Kyoto Kaiseki-ryori, a formalized flow of dishes and style which helps showcase the breadth and depth of a chef’s technique and sourcing, in this case especially utilizing the flavors of Kyoto, the gorgeous, and stubbornly traditional former, imperial capital of Japan. Chef Nakagawa showcased a broad array of techniques throughout the evening which masterfully displayed his skill level.

As chef Hiroyuki Sakai was dubbed the “Delacroix of French Cuisine” due to his artistic plating being on par with masterworks of art, we hereby dub chef Nakagawa the “Hokusai of Japanese Cuisine” for his composed, and powerful dishes.

The name of the restaurant is a combination of “Aburi” which is a cooking technique involving flame searing the outside of a raw protein, and “Hana” meaning flower, from which chef’s artistic creations drew inspiration with several plates resembling a flower. Such dishes included a hot-oil seared tilefish (amadei) whose scalloped prickly scales created the impression of a chrysanthemum, or a carmine rose made of maguro sashimi.

The stunner of the evening was the futamono course entitled Tsukimi (moon viewing) Tofu which draws reference from a Japanese myth involving a rabbit on the moon pounding mochi. As the lid of the wanmono was dramatically lifted, the pungent steam revealed a rabbit carved from daikon profiled on a moon of tofu. The taste was as spectacular as the presentation.

With Japanese cuisine I adore the acute boldness of flavors, which was best represented in chef’s agemono course featuring a crispy portion of ayu (sweetfish) gilded by its deep fried spine. The texture and flavor was powerful and pronounced refusing to bend its will to the generally milder occidental palate.

While his cuisine sourced ingredients from far and wide, it was extremely important to chef to illustrate that he does utilize a local sustainable fish, a flavorful whitefish which may do little though to offset their otherwise massive carbon footprint.

Overall, my friends and I left extremely sated and intoxicated with the experience, with the only shortfall being a lacklustre N/A tasting—the alcohol tasting though was quite dynamic, pairing wonderfully.

“Using all of his senses, skill, creativity,”chef Nakagawa “prepared artistic dishes never tasted before,” impressing our panel of diners and winning the Otaku’s “ovation and fame.” He is truly a shining star in Toronto fine dining scene. Allez Cuisine!

One sunny afternoon in Toronto while sauntering down Bloor near Spadina, I spotted a grandmotherly, Italian woman sittin...

One sunny afternoon in Toronto while sauntering down Bloor near Spadina, I spotted a grandmotherly, Italian woman sitting at an outdoor table who bore a striking resemblance to my deceased Aunt Lolly—forcing a quick mental double-take before I was assured of mistaken identity in lieu of a sun-stroke inspired, mid-afternoon apparition. It was assumed with her solitary bottle of sparkling water, and look of authority that she either owned or was related to the owners of the abutting trattoria as she sat basking, calm and reserved al fresco.

To further paint the picture of this idyllic afternoon she was book-ended by an equally serene, elderly gentlemen in a Kangol-style cap at the remaining outdoor table framing the entrance to this quaint establishment. Perhaps by coincidence his table was also bare with the exception of the lone bottle of l’eau minérale. The beauty of this moment cemented in my mind until the scent of pizza struck me like a bolt. I added Bar Mercurio to my mental Rolodex, as I shuffled past whilst wifey envisioned luxurious, silky wares from Holt Renfrew.

The next day as our friends grew mid-afternoon peckish, I suggested we visit the newly discovered Bar Mercurio for a preprandial morsel, and perhaps a tipple. Consent was quickly garnered.

The interior of Bar Mercurio is dominated by a large bar stocked with fine Italian spirits, including some exceptionally rare Amari, and a gilded, hand-press espresso machine. Beyond the bar were a spattering of tables, and an elevated glass case proudly displaying house-cured salumi. In the corner Nona sat folding napkins.

As an owner introduced herself, I quickly gleaned that they were of Calabrian descent-like my father, comprising the toes of the boot kicking Sicily like a futball through the straits of Gibraltar, and this restaurant celebrated the same. She was proud of their Calabrian Amari of which I delighted in the three rarest: Roger, Jefferson, and Washington—Jefferson winning an award last year as the finest in Italy.

All three Amari boasted strong citrus flavors—perhaps due to Calabria being famous for its Earl Grey-ian bergamot. Roger was the boldest, almost reminiscent of a less sweet, more palatable Fernet. Jefferson was pure elegance, outshining the more famous Nonino with a similar, but less sweet flavor profile, and the Washington could be substituted for any orange (citrus, not color) liqueur, as a far superior product.

To pair we snacked on the house-made salumi served room temperature, sweating lard. The selection was excellent, and expertly cured. We also could not help but sample the Calabrian Pizza with ‘njuda and olives on a well-fermented dough though dinner was nigh approaching.

It has been suggested by spiritualists and novelists alike that when stimuli shock us out of autopilot thrusting consciousness into reverie, that we should investigate these rare phenomena, as it is here we are most likely to find a morsel of our soul. Hence, I present the introduction of Bar Mercurio into my life, which I assume will be a regular, soul-enriching destination for the culinary-weary Otaku.

On a recent trip to Toronto we were accompanied by a group of friends, one of whom was fiending for some soup dumplings....

On a recent trip to Toronto we were accompanied by a group of friends, one of whom was fiending for some soup dumplings. After consulting with the extensive list of Toronto’s finest Chinese restaurants compiled by MIMI Chinese on their website (a treasure trove of Sino-culinary excellence) we found 口口香饺子馆 Yummy Yummy Dumpling House, a mom and pop shop in Chinatown, just off of Dundas. This was also the former home of legendary Mother's Dumplings, which logically meant nothing, but was certainly auspicious.

While the name may be lacking, the same can not be said for the food, especially the Xiao Long Bao, which are some of the finest in Toronto. These house-made treats were pretty much perfection with condom-thin skin, soup that remained soupy, and a flavorful filling seasoned with what I believe to be rare a hint of coriander.

To pair, we sampled a delicious fried pancake stuffed with pork and dill, another herb rarely found in the cuisine of the Orient.

While the fried shrimp/pork dumplings were also quite nice, they were nowhere near as wonderful as the XLB.

My insistence was pork and Zha Jiang noodles (zhajiangmein) which was served cold with house-made noodles; it was quite wonderful. This is a homey dish that is so loved in Asia that multiple cultures have adapted it to their own tastes like Korea (jajangmyeon), and Japan (jajamen). The thick black bean sauce with pork is reminiscent of a Bolognese, and something that should always be ordered if available.

Since we were six we could run the menu, and we did. We shared a tomato egg drop soup, stir-fried celery with yuba, as well as some choi sum with garlic. Everything was top quality, and delicious.

To top it off, this small, subterranean restaurant has shared tables, all of which seemed to be waited on by a friendly, helpful woman—whom I believe to be the owner. If you have fallen in love with our small, local Chinese shops like Home Taste, and Peking Quick One, and have been disheartened by some of Chinatown’s warehouse-sized eateries, then Yummy Yummy Dumpling should be your next, inexpensive, destination-location in Toronto.

For the next several posts we will be heading back to Canada to further explore this culinary rich area too oft neglecte...

For the next several posts we will be heading back to Canada to further explore this culinary rich area too oft neglected by our residents.

We took a weekend trip to Toronto, but started our journey with a brief foray for lunch in Niagara-on-the-Lake. For this we head to the COVID-born, jet black winery, Ferox by Fabian Ries.

Ferox is presently designated a sustainable winery by the province, and it is my understanding they are also attempting to certify organic. We especially enjoyed the peppery Zweigelt, but it would be a lie to say we visited the winery for its alcoholic output.

The reason for our visit is a Sicilian Chef who shares my diminutive stature, Adriano Cappelluzzo. We discovered Chef Cappelluzzo when we sampled his cuisine at his previous Niagara-on-the-Lake post, Spirit in Niagara Distillery. After a few bites it was clear that he was not your typical winery/distillery chef, especially after being recently disappointed with the cuisine at the beautiful Peller Estates. We previously wrote an article about his artistic output at Spirit in Niagara, so look it up if you want to learn more.

Chef informed us that he left his employment for a new opportunity at Ferox, and encouraged us to visit. We were greeted by chef’s lovely wife, Nicole who is taking an active role at Ferox while their restaurant is being built out. She allowed us a peek at the new space, and it is going to be gorgeous. Keep your eyes on social media for when this opens, because it should be spectacular-think Restaurant Pearl Morissette quality.

At present, Chef Cappelluzzo is very limited in his outdoor kitchen to a wood burning grill, and a plancha. Yet, scarcity is the mother of invention, and a creative chef can certainly make magic with very few tools.

Chef explained to us that he wants as much of his menu to be local and as seasonal as possible. He explained that Niagara-on-the-Lake is so rich with farms that he can hit markets on the way to work, and grab what is freshest and best. Though there are only 7 choices on the menu, they change daily based on what he can get his hands on. We even met a local B&B owner/gardener who was dropping off some plants for chef, and could not help but sing his praises as the rare wheat amongst the all too common culinary chaff in that region.

The aspect that impressed me was his ability to glean the essence of a dish, but adapt to local ingredients— a technique I hesitate to call fusion because it is so oft abused. By way of example is his baba ganoush, a perfect dish for a wood burning grill. The charred eggplant needed a binder, but tahini was not locally available, hence he turned to sunflower seeds. It does not sound like a big deal, but it is amazing how many places screw up something simple like this. The result was a beautiful end product.

Perhaps the finest dish was the squash blossoms with a baby courgette attached—this is rarely found at restaurants. The blossoms were stuffed with ricotta, and grilled until the mini zucchini was soft. This was served over a Sicilian corn slaw, and was absolutely delicious.

Another beautiful dish was seared scallops in a reduced pork stock. While this dish may be commonplace, additions like fresh coriander buds, arugula flowers and other mini botanical bits made it wonderful.

We also enjoyed some local cheeses from Upper Canada Cheese Company, a wagyu hotdog with a cherry ketchup, and far too many pieces of grilled focaccia.

If you get a sunny day, head over to Niagara-on-the-Lake and enjoy a nice lunch at Ferox. I guarantee you will not be disappointed.

As we reach the sizzling midway betwixt solstice and equinox, it signals our communal invitation to yet another Torn Spa...

As we reach the sizzling midway betwixt solstice and equinox, it signals our communal invitation to yet another Torn Space Theater ritual, encompassing the highly symbolic, beautiful, and quite visceral society conceived of by Dan Shanahan, Melissa Meola, and talented improvisational troupe.

2023 marks the 10th year of Silo City performances, and attending many of them since the beginning it has been incredible to watch the mythical, world-building evolve. This year’s Generation is a retrospective features aspects of performances from the last ten years, but instead of waltzing with nostalgia they birthed a beautiful, new theme from the sublime ashes of the past.

While the program describes the performance as a requiem for a fallen lead player, Marshall Maxwell—the King of the Feast, a gregarious gent with an infectious laugh, the tone was anything but somber. In fact, this year a new tone emerged, one I would not expect from any of the past performances, optimism.

Commencing the ritual was a parade of paladins (such a beautiful word) to the glorious tones of Beethoven’s 7th, the perfect piece to convey a transformative change from loss to conquest. The ceremony even began with the classic alchemistic invocation: “as above, so below.” “Turn and face the strain...”

After an homage to the fallen communal head, majestically featuring the music of Nugent and Motörhead, it was time to transfer power. The king is dead, long live the king! But instead of an inauguration, a magnificent outward expression of blind growth, the society turned inward trying to invoke its/our forgotten past.

Philosopher Henri Bergson stated in regards to the past:

In reality, the past is preserved by itself, automatically. In its entirety, probably, it follows us at every instant; all that we have felt, thought and willed from our earliest infancy is there, leaning over the present which is about to join it, pressing against the portals of consciousness that would fain leave it outside. The cerebral mechanism is arranged just so as to drive back into the unconscious almost the whole of this past, and to admit beyond the threshold only that which can cast light on the present situation or further the action now being prepared-in short, only that which can give useful work. At the most, a few superfluous recollections may succeed in smuggling themselves through the half-open door.

In essence, we all carry invisible baggage that is holding us back. So how do we go in search of lost time; to unpack that baggage?

I believe the whole Torn Space mythos is created to put us in a state of remembrance, to make visible the invisible ghosts we carry with us. The plays are invocative and interactive, shocking us out of a purely voyeuristic mode. Generation undulates with scents, stimulating the most primal of our senses connecting the outside world directly to our nervous system. There is shock, beauty, nostalgia, grilled meats, incense, and droning trances to cull our subconscious to the forefront of our being. When we sense our ghosts, in the manifestation of a memory we can acknowledge, purify, and unbind. In a sense this community is a simulacra of our society which is in dire need of healing, and perhaps Generation gives us the tools.

Arguably the most powerful image in past Torn Space shows was the hanged man of the Feast. At the time, I believed this to be a sacrificial figure used to invoke harvest magick. This time the figure was only hoisted for a matter of moments. He was raised almost reverently like an idol, reminiscent of Tarot’s Hanged Man—a symbol for stagnation, and a time for change. As he was quickly released to the ground it signaled that a change was made, in lieu of sacrifice. The past is part of who we are. It should neither bind us, nor be forgotten.

The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.

—Omar Khayyam

The show ends with everyone dancing.

I left happy and sated.

Next weekend is your last chance to catch this spectacular event. Tickets are on sale now.

📷: Michael Thomas

When Coffee’s Third Wave hit Buffalo it was very, very late—around 2015 embodied in the guise of Public Espresso + Coffe...

When Coffee’s Third Wave hit Buffalo it was very, very late—around 2015 embodied in the guise of Public Espresso + Coffee found in the lobby of the Hotel Lafayette. That was probably due to the fact that Buffalo stubbornly embraced Second Wave SPoT Coffee well after their sell-out years. While Spot’s coffee was decent, there was no experimentation on technique and ingredients, unlike Public whose varietals sang with their individual flavors, originally paired with Butter Block’s glorious confections. Yet, the Buffalo cafe never reached the heights of nearby Rochester’s Joe Bean Roasters with its own test kitchen for the over-caffeinated, mad scientists. Shortly thereafter, West Side’s Tipico Coffee Roasters joined the scene as WNY’s Third Wave intensity diminished to that of Kiddie Pool levels.

As soon as Public realized they could make more money selling out they quickly did, with quality sinking as fast as their bottom line was rising. Bespoke was tossed for prêt-à-porter. Tipico’s coffee never reached the caffeinated heights of Public’s glory days, but held steady to their small neighborhood cafe vibe, even with their new location on the worst, most popular section of Elmwood (near Cole's).

Yet, the one thing common to all these “cafes,” especially recently was the lack of really good food to pair with your coffee. Spot still has those glorious Golden Graham marshmallow bars, and Public had some culinary moments in the sun, but as of a month ago, there were very few unique bites that paired well with coffee—more like lackluster menu items offered out of necessity to pair something with your cup of Joe.

(I would like to take this moment to recognize Undergrounds Coffee House and Roastery which still makes incredible house-roasted coffee, with some tasty food, but certainly not of the ilk I am about to describe.)

After analyzing Buffalo’s cafe scene, Tipico showed some foresight in realizing that the food scene was lacking, and hired a chef who made some waves of his own at the short-lived, yet cult favorite, Cafe Godot: Kevin Thurston. From this point forward he will be referred to as chef Thurston because it will drive him absolutely bonkers.

Chef Thurston’s background consisting of years spent in South Korea and Brooklyn, a stint at Buffalo Barrel + Brine, Borelli’s years at The Little Club, and marriage to a reforming Vegan has resulted in his developing a unique flavor profile unlike any industry professional in WNY. His strengths are seasonal vegetables, fermentation, and meat substitutes. While his flavors may be refined, his presentation would never aspire to such heights as they would reek of Cheektowagan, suburban bourgeois from which he tries so hard to disassociate (escape).

Highlights on chef Thurston’s new menu are unique items that pair really well with coffee including a ciabatta sandwich of roasted squash rubbed in coffee and cocoa, with a southwest slaw, and chipotle mayo. It was a rare sandwich that could be enjoyed cold. I also adored the lentil salad with cilantro, cumin, and lime as a healthy, delicious snack. Sadie’s preference was his cold chai noodles. Trying to retain his title as the “Meat King” his empanadas with slow-roasted, cocoa-rubbed pork were rich with porky goodness. Finally, his years hanging at Godot bore some strange fruit with a dopest dough bagel taken in a new direction with strawberry, black pepper cream cheese. Be forewarned though that the Dopest Dough bagel is only at its peak when piping hot, and quickly degrades thereafter.

This was chef Thurston’s opening volley at Tipico, as this menu just hit last week. Knowing chef Thurston I imagine the menu will change with the seasons, leaving crowd favorites so as not to upset the clientele. Should you wish to welcome proper cafe culture back to WNY, we suggest you start at Tipico.

After everyone loved the bánh mì we found at Boba Stop in the Walden Galleria, it is time to unearth another of our favo...

After everyone loved the bánh mì we found at Boba Stop in the Walden Galleria, it is time to unearth another of our favorites, and one of the biggest culinary sleepers in WNY: the Tofu Bánh Mì at Pho Dollar on Ferry in the West Side. This inexpensive, snack-sized sandwich is packed with flavor and lasts for hours after ordering. Order a few to take home and eat later.

While we find their grilled beef and pork version of this sandwich far too garlicky, the tofu iteration strikes the perfect balance. With a wonderful crusty roll, plenty of crunchy do chua and cilantro, and a few dashes of Magi seasoning sauce (intense umami) the firm tofu melds perfectly, sucking up all of the buttery goodness in the roll. It may not look as pretty as others, but it is packed with flavor.

Otaku Tip: Ask for jalapeños to make sure you experience this sandwich in its most glorious guise.

The West Side Bazaar has been one of our City’s finest culinary gems since its founding, helping talented chefs bring wo...

The West Side Bazaar has been one of our City’s finest culinary gems since its founding, helping talented chefs bring worldwide flavors conspicuously absent in our City, to our City on a minimal budget. After a fire, they have recently relocated to the former Expo in the theater district, and on our last visit for lunch on a Friday we were the ONLY customers present enjoying Filipino and Sudanese cuisines that were as delicious as they were inexpensive. Dear Buffalonians, please rectify this situation, as this may be one of the most important organizations contained within the gerrymandered borders of our fair City, and a quick walk from most downtown offices.

Representing many restaurants as an attorney, and being intimately familiar with their operators, and operations I can attest that almost every aspect of the restaurant business is directed against the success of the restauranteur. From the bureaucratic loopholes of City Hall requiring Olympic level athletic skills to maneuver, Fire and Health Department codes, and the SLA with their ancient regulations derived from a mix of mafia and Puritanism, there is little room to maneuver. Combine that with the draconian almost predatory contracts of landlords, liquor suppliers, linen contracts, rug cleaning, extermination, CO2 lines, and inventory suppliers, one slow month could have you on COD, with years of accelerated payments due immediately—or they will try and take their home. Finally, post-COVID with a choke on most supplies, prices have surged making it difficult to compete, only to have some as***le complain online that the delicious sandwich they devoured costs $10–when in reality the restaurant is earning only a pittance on the same because of same inflation we are experiencing everywhere.

Buffalo, New York and the politicians which represent the same substantially benefit from the stubborn determination and untapped optimism of our restauranteurs, can brag a strong cultural infrastructure from their successes, but does little to nothing to help these fledgling enterprises, or to facilitate new growth. I do not know about you, but when I visit a City for pleasure it is not because of the major corporations they house, but the culture it has inspired. Of that culture, restaurants are the bedrock.

This is where the West Side Bazaar comes in. Think of it as a greenhouse for restauranteurs that helps turn seeds into small plants, that can then be transplanted into the wild, and ideally thrive or at least have a fighting chance. Not only that, these are plants that are not indigenous to our area, but would not only make our local flora more beautiful, but stronger.

On our last visit, the highlight was rising star, chef Lloyd Ligao with his celebrated Pinoy Boi featuring the cuisine of the Philippines. We have lauded praise on his “crushable” lumpia—spring rolls, and pork sisig (diced pork belly in a citrus soy) in the past, but as his menu grows he is embracing fusion with things like spam fries, Filipino Mac and cheese, and longanisa sausage breakfast sandwiches with the king of condiments, spicy banana ketchup. Paired with his purple ube cheesecake or halo halo for dessert, we can only pray that chef Ligao continues to thrive.

Next up was some delicious Sudanese sambusas (meat pies) stuffed with peppery beef, and ful from the adjacent Nile River Restaurant. If you like hummus then you will adore the thicker and more flavorful ful medames dip made with fava beans in lieu of chichi beans.

That was just one afternoon, and there is so much more. Presently they also feature an Ethiopian restaurant, Mexican cuisine, and a bubble tea spot, with hopefully more to come. As Buffaloneans it is our job to help them thrive and in turn strengthen our City, because if you actually read this piece, you should realize that everything else is built against their success. In the alternative, if they flop, we can always brag about the new Applebee's that decided to move next to the primely situated eyesore that is TGI Fridays on Main and Chippewa.


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Join us in raising money for Family Meal Hospitality Trust and try out our awesome food and cocktail collab with Buffalo Food Otaku
Only a few more days to try this delicious burger Mister Sizzle’s on the westside...The Year of the Hog burger is a deeelicious collaboration between Mister Sizzles and local foodie blogger Buffalo Food Otaku.
Buffalo Food Otaku 🙏🙏 Nandri ..our authentic way of saying "thank you."...We want to call ourselves authentic but you summed it up very well. The local ingredient and water does makes a difference in the food preparation and taste. We strive for it and try to do best with what we can! Thanks for allmtjr support.
Check out Buffalo Food Otakus newest write up!
🥳🥳 so excited that Smita Chutke Meat and Veggie Spice blends will be now available at Moriarty Meats In store 🥳🥳

❤️The owner Tom and Caitlin Moriarty are such an amazing couple who own and operate with the philosophy to minimize waste by using traditional French butchery, and work exclusively by hand, and offer more variety of cuts than standard American meat shops or slaughterhouses.
🎉And I am super thrilled for this collaboration!

"ABOUT: is a whole animal butcher shop in Buffalo, NY, sourcing local meats and inspired by traditional European butcheries “

Special Thanks to Joe Buffalo Food Otaku and Sadie Japanesey
for always connecting food community around WNY and support the small businesses and reviewing this pairing !! 🙏🏽🙏🏽🎉

Other places you Can find Spice blends:
1) Fresh Catch Poke Co. in Williamsville, NY
2) ShopCraft on Elmwood Ave,
3) Flat #12 Mushrooms , 37 Chandler market
Or just email [email protected]
Throwback Thursday to when Buffalo Food Otaku stopped by in May to try some brisket. (TBT is still a thing, right?)

Sliced brisket is available on Saturdays only, and according to the website inventory tracker, we still have a couple pounds available for this weekend. Head to southernjunction716.com to grab some.
Hmmmm. Seems cool!