dixie grill: yummily non-dixied

A new little restaurant (er … hole-in-the-wall) called Dixie Grill opened, so I went with a friend to try it out. And the food was really good. Fresh but hearty Asianified American – think wraps, salads, sandwiches, et cetera with a hint of vaguely Asian flavors. Truth be told, I barely tasted anything Asian, save for the obvious use of kimchi in the kimchi pulled pork fries, but everything we ordered was great nevertheless.

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I love Southern food and I love fusion food, but tacos and fries don’t make it Dixie. The food was straight-up random American. And who says Dixie anyway? To me, it’s one of those borderline offensive terms that used to be a source of pride and isn’t in itself offensive, but has all those negative historical connotations that have caused it to fall out of favor. But the proprietor’s not from the South (he’s Canadian-ish), so I guess I shouldn’t blame him too much, even though I’m sure I was rolling my eyes when he talked about the Tex-Mex style as being ‘Dixie’. Sorry honey, but Dixie is down-home cooking like biscuits and gravy or chicken fried steak. Tex-Mex, as much as it is Southern, ain’t Dixie Southern. I think Texas has always been a bit weird to that regard – South, but not ‘the South’.

Naming complaints aside, the food is delish. Delicious. Fried chicken taco was great. Fresh pear and orange juice was refreshingly fresh. Kimchi pulled pork fries were ohmygosh amazing. And the prices are reasonable. The chipotle sauce was a bit meh though. Apparently Dixie Grill opened for business around seven or so weeks ago, so it’s still in its fledgling stages. I hope it survives, if for those fries alone. They were talking about starting up delivery service, which would be a really, really great idea since the place is too small, even though it is clean and bright and in a good location. Try it out. The proprietor’s name is Jeff and he’s very willing to chat and listen to your advice on how to improve his place. And while you’re at it, check out DiscoverWish.com, founded by two guys, one of whom is a Houstonite I met here.

Dixie Grill
688 Changle Road, near Fumin Road
Jing’an District, Shanghai

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uniquely asian: the potato chip saga

A while back I had remarked about the weird flavors of potato chips on offer in Shanghai. Well, I thought I’d take things a step further. So here’s my review of Wasabi Shrimp and Spicy Green Peppercorn Fish. Ah Lay’s, I know you’re trying to cater to the very-lucrative Asian market, but … slow your roll.

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First of all, I have to admit that I’ve never liked wasabi. The worst thing that could happen to me when eating sushi would be that the fish or roll would run into that glob of green nastiness. So in a way that potato chip flavor was successful, because the wasabi taste was definitely present – but I had to chuck the bag because I couldn’t get beyond three chips. I could taste a hint of the shrimp, but it was pretty much all wasabi to me. Spicy Green Peppercorn Fish, on the other hand, I finished. It was reminiscent of the dish – all pepper and not fishy – but not too spicy or numbing, so my palate could cope. It wasn’t particularly great and definitely won’t make my list of favorites or go-tos, but it was interesting in an entirely tolerable sort of way.

Verdict: Avoid Wasabi Shrimp (unless you happen to really like wasabi) but give Spicy Green Peppercorn Fish a try … it’s definitely Chinese-y.