BBQ, smoked meats and a pitmasters journey at Naked BBQ

There’s a lot of BBQ joints in and around Phoenix with more on the way. It’s one of my favorite foods so it’s always good to see what’s what and who’s who in the BBQ world. More times than not the people are just as good as the food they serve, this is one pit masters journey into the world of BBQ and smoked meats.

I visited Naked BBQ to taste the meats and get the lowdown from Oren Hartman  at his Scottsdale location. His affordable smoked meats and friendly service & atmosphere have Oren thinking about expanding his “Eat Naked” philosophy. Not one for the competition circuit he prefers to spend his time at the restaurants or any number of catering events he does with his staff and customers.

He has many friends in the BBQ community in Arizona and from his travels and many come through for a taste.

Naked BBQ

Growing up in New York there wasn’t much BBQ but college in Madison WI. and living in Chicago helped open his eyes to smoked meats.

Corporate America had Oren travel the country most weeks and not a fan of steakhouse dinners he would visit BBQ pits in the south and mid-west. When a buyout of the company allowed Oren to retire early he knew BBQ was his next career.

After much research and development Oren opened Naked BBQ 4 years ago at Bell Rd. & 23rd  Ave. in north Phoenix and a Scottsdale location last year.

Brisket, ribs and pork shoulder in the smoker

Naked BBQ is named as one of the 100 restaurants by Arizona Republic food editor Dominic Armato in his recent article “The Ultimate Guide to Phoenix Restaurants”.

The meats at Naked BBQ

The aromas of the oak and pecan wood capture you right when you walk in the door as you make your way up to the counter and menu board. No surprises here brisket, pulled pork, ribs, sausage, smoked chicken and few sides are all you need. Smoked in a meat carousel for up to 16 hours meats are usually pulled sooner if they tasted the way they should.

Naked is the way your meats arrive with 4 sauces available if you choose to. My first tray arrives with strips of brisket that are moist and have a thin layer of fat and are well smoked. My St. Louis style pork ribs tender and cling to the bone just my bite to help fall off. A side of warm mixed beans have chunks of meat scraps and a tinge of heat. Not a big fan of potato salad only a bite or two and I’ll save the calories for the meats.

Tray two brought 2 kinds of smoked sausage, pulled pork, mac n cheese and creamy & Carolina style cole slaws. The pile of pulled pork was juicy and flavorful.

Naked BBQ
Tray 2

Sausage is low on my BBQ priority list so it was good to taste the sausage situation. A lingering spiced sausage and a herbed savory link set the bar for me as I’ll have to start to save room for the links. All three sides were emptied as who can’t resist mac & cheese and I’m always craving a good home cole slaw(s).

Friday and Saturday night specials Oren smokes up Prime Rib then Brontosaurus (beef) ribs respectively.

Sauce it up

If you prefer to dress you meats with sauce there are 4 styles to choose from. Sweet, spicy, a North Carolina vinegar and a rarely seen South Carolina mustard sauce will give you a look at regionally diverse sauces.

If you want more heat ask for the hot pepper paste to stir into your sauces. If you dare taste the paste naked with the meat. A few local beers are on tap to help tamper down the heat.

Scouting for other locations to open Naked BBQ, collaborations with other pitmasters & friends and playing around with a retail line of sauces and rubs Oren’s second career tastes better than his first.

The 2 locations of Naked BBQ are..

2340 W. Bell Rd Phoenix 85023 Lunch only Mon. – Fri. 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. or til the meats gone. Fri. & Sat.  11a.m. 8 a.m.

10240 N. 90th St. Suite 105. Scottsdale 85258. Sun – Thurs 11 a.m. – 8 p.m. and Sat. & Sun. til 9 p.m.

 

 

Ramen Hood opens serving Build-Your-Own-ramen bowls

The fast casual Build-Your-Own restaurant concepts seem to be catching more steam as Ramen Hood opened in north Scottsdale recently. The strip mall shop off the loop 101 at Frank Lloyd Wright Blvd. already has a captive audience.

Ramen Hood
All photos courtesy of Ramen Hood

Guests enjoy ramen bowls made with authentic Japanese ingredients along with rice bowls and Japanese specialties including Gyoza, Karaage Fried Chicken and  Steamed Bao. Wash your meal down with the popular Asian soft drink Ramune aka Marble soda or a Japanese tea.

Why Ramen Hood?

“Ramen is one of my most favorite foods in the world. Every time I visit Japan, my first stop is finding a mom and pop ramen restaurant. The best ones are always very low-key, no frills, but always have long lines,” says James Xie, owner of Ramen Hood. “I realized there isn’t really anything comparable in Phoenix. I want people here to know what real ramen is like, and to not be intimidated in trying new styles and flavors.

Ramen bowl with tofu

Walk up to the counter at Ramen Hood and pick a Ramen or Rice bowl then add a protein(Cha Siu Pork, Tofu, etc) broth, sauce and toppings and in minutes you’ll have an Instagram worthy meal.

“Ramen can be way more exciting than the instant packets we ate in college. And at Ramen Hood, we make it just as easy to enjoy!”

“I’ve spoken to many ramen chefs throughout Japan who graciously gave me advice on combining different ingredients, as well as helped me come up with a few new ideas to create the perfect bowl of ramen,” says Xie, who has worked in the restaurant industry since he was 15. “I think it’s these trade secrets that will really make Ramen Hood stand out in the Valley and resonate with people who may not be familiar with traditional ramen.”

Ramen Hood is in the Gateway 101 shopping center at 15807 N. Frank Lloyd Wright Blvd. Suite 105. Scottsdale 85260. For more information check out their website.

 

 

 

It’s National Italian Beef Week at Portillo’s

Chicago foodies around the country get ready as your favorite hometown sandwich, Italian Beef is celebrated at Portillo’s the week of May 21st-27th with National Italian Beef Week.

All 50 plus Portillo’s around the country are celebrating with 2 regular Italian Beef  sandwiches for only $10.

Portillo’s Rhyme Time Challenge

In addition to the great food deal customers are invited to submit rhymes for their Rhyme Time Challenge. Known for the rhymes that staff call out when customers orders are ready such as “Number 9 it’s time to dine” or “Number 7 you’re in heaven” customers can now create their own rhyme for prizes.

Customers are invited to submit their rhymes here during National Italian Beef Week. All entries must end with the number 1-9, not already being used, no inappropriate language and must be a rhyme.

The winner will receive Portillo’s food for a year and have their rhyme used nationwide. 2nd and 3rd place winners will get a swag bag and a $25 gift card.

For more information and to find a location near you check their website.

The Bodhi is packed with healthy food & information

Fast casual and healthy eating continue  to be priorities in the local restaurant community heading into 2018 and the newly opened The Bodhi in Tempe checks both boxes.

For those looking to extend new year resolutions to eat healthy as long as possible this restaurant can help you extend it.

Steak and eggs bowl. All photos courtesy of The Bodhi

In the heart of downtown Tempe on College Ave. will serve more than the  ASU crowd with its organic vegetables and vitamin rich foods at an affordable price.

The Bodhi provides

Whether you’re building a bowl, having salad or taking a cold pressed juice on the run all ingredients are crafted for a healthy and nutritious diet with research to see which ingredients and combinations work best.

Their blog provides information and facts on nutrition and healthy habits for its customers.

521 S. College Ave #112 Tempe 85281. Full menu and more! (480)699-0409Bodhi

 

Chicken is the main ingredient Chick-In on the ASU campus

Chicken is the #1 food trend for 2018 according to Nation’s Restaurant News which is great news for the local quick casual concept Chick-In. Located on the ASU campus in Tempe, Chick-In uses chicken as the main ingredient in its Mediterranean inspired cuisine with an emphasis on authentic Israeli dishes.

Owner Yariv Elazar is from Israel opened Chick-In in May of this year with head chef Maayan Glass who wanted to bring authentic dishes of his homeland to the ASU campus.  Israeli cuisine is #3 on the list of top food trends of 2018.Chicken The versatility of chicken as a protein and its affordability are two of the reasons it placed at the top of the list released in early November.

That versatility and affordability are evident on the menu at Chick-In with an assortment of sandwiches, platters, bowls along with vegan options as well. The restaurant also keeps kosher. All meals are made fresh to order and Grab & Go salads are made fresh daily.

Chick-In is in Wilson Hall at 24 E. Orange Mall Tempe 85281. 480-665-2185.  For hours and to see the menu visit their website.