Robert Austin Cho is very proud of his product, and he should be. He was recently on ABC News for the invention of his Chonut which we previously reviewed, but there are so many other fantastic items on the menu as well. Let me just say this, if you are not into kimchi or anything out of the ordinary, you still need to pay this place a visit. At the very least, get the brisket or pulled pork on a roll, plain, or whatever suits your tastes, but do not pass this place up. And while I never traveled the entire USA for brisket, this is no doubt the best brisket I’ve ever had, especially in the Northeast.
Just take a look at how the brisket comes out of the smoker. They say you eat with your eyes first but trust me, no photo could match what this tastes like.
So this is how it starts, a beautiful slab of brisket which has been smoking slowly and patiently for 12 hours, and then, it is the base of a dozen menu items all unique and something you really cannot find elsewhere. Here are just some of those I had the pleasure of tasting.
Let’s start with the No Cho Mama Chili. Named best dish of May 2015 by The Record (one of the largest newspapers in Northern Jersey), it is a winner. Its creamy silky, and has a spicy heat which is subtle at first until you feel the beads of sweat forming on our head. But the most amazing thing is its not a punch in the face type of heat. Its a good heat which cuts through a cold and rainy November evening. It has both pulled pork shoulder and brisket, along with the pink beans, and topped with two different types of cheese and chopped scallions. What you don’t see is the smoked kimchi, and this is what the secret and silent ingredient is lending to the flavor of some of the best chili I ever had. It is thick and rich, you can eat it with a fork if you wanted. They serve this as a side (as shown above) but I think its best as a regular item since they serve it over rice to cut some of the heat.
Cholander Mac & Cheese: Baked macaroni with a blend of 3 cheeses and topped with pulled pork, smoked kimchi, melted cheese, and chopped scallions. This is deliciously painful to eat. It is probably the most spicy but tolerable heat I’ve ever eaten. And there is a theme here you will see throughout the menu, there is a spicy heat, but the genius of Chef Cho’s dishes is that he has a built-in way of cutting a bit of that heat to make it pleasurable and enjoyable. The cheesy macaroni helps offset the heat from the kimchi, while the signature Fatboy Bourbon Chipotle Sauce adds just the perfect amount of smokey sweetness.
Robert Austin Cho’s baby is the Chonut. Its everything you love all at once. While most might argue that isn’t always a good thing, this is. You have brisket, bacon, cheese, bourbon sauce, spicy kimchi and the sweetness of a donut. In all honestly I didn’t think I was going to like it either, but bite after bite you see why it totally works. So next I gave it to one of the world’s toughest critics, my wife. She refused to eat it, but with some prodding I cut it into quarters and just pleaded for her to try it. Hesitant at first, she started shaking her head and said the spiciness and the sweetness worked together well, and of course, center stage, is the brisket holding it all together, but the bacon and cheese are just an extra added bonus. Its a fireworks display of flavor.
One of my all time favorite sandwiches is the Reuben. The Ruben Lee is the perfect answer to those who might not enjoy their sweet and savory mixed as is the case with the Chonut. Anyone familiar with the Reuben, they know its brisket on rye with swiss cheese and cole slaw. In place of the cheese you have remoulade, and to replace the cole slaw you have kimchi. The sweet subtleness of the rye cuts the heat of the spicy kimchi and this works quite well. Again, balancing everything out perfectly.
There are at least another dozen items on the menu including tacos, ribs, ramen, chicken, and even a kicked up version of hot dogs. Of course you have your sides like Cholander Fries which are loaded with cheese, kimchi, pork and/or chili and topped with Fatboy Bourbon Chipotle Sauce.
Again, if heat and spice is not your thing, simply get the brisket or pulled pork on a roll, you will not be disappointed, as this is the core of all these incredibly delicious and innovated dishes.
301 Center Avenue, Westwood NJ 07675
Phone: 201-497-6333 or www.KimchiSmoke.com (@KimchiSmoke)
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