Chow, Baby: Wednesday, May 02, 2002
Deep-Fried Thoughts

Chow, Baby is rarely accused of thinking, much less overthinking. This week, though, three obsessive thoughts were stuck in Chow, Baby’s head like a meat cleaver.

Obsessive thought No. 1: What if there were a Winn-Dixie in Hanoi?

Trolling Arlington’s Nam Hung Supermarket for hairy lichees and avocado ice cream, Chow, Baby was marveling at the weird things that some people(s) consider food. Suddenly came a mind-opening vision, one like a Star Trek episode that shows how silly prejudice is: Maybe at this very moment adventurous locals of some large Asian city are visiting a market in the Little America section. Maybe at this very moment they’re marveling, “Americans actually eat curdled cow’s milk!” and “Oooh, what is that weird lack of smell in the fish market?” Even now, Chow, Baby can’t stop worrying about what they’d think of Spam.

Obsessive thought No. 2: Did Chow, Baby miss one?

This started as an ordinary quest: Where’s the best chile relleno on Hemphill? Fiesta, at 3233, was a good place to start — in the sense of getting it off the list early. The brick hacienda bejeweled in neon is a popular lunch spot for hospital-district Anglos; the service is brisk, and the salsa is bland. As bland as the ranchero sauce that drowned the jack-stuffed pepper ($10.95). The chicken and rice lunch special ($4.95) was, like Chow, Baby itself, tough and fatty.

La Tortilandia, at 4020, takes the tres leches cake for happy and homey. The oddly sauce-free chile relleno platter ($6), with a pretty guac side salad, was very, very good. The extra-large poblano ($5.35) at popular Joe T. Garcia’s, at 1109, was oh, so close to perfect. On to the purple banquettes at Restaurante Jimenez, at 4117, which offers the tingliest salsa and the coldest horchata on the strip. The chile relleno is fine and dandy, but not quite up to Joe T.’s.

Finally, at the very end of Day Two, Chow, Baby lassoed the elusive Best Chile Relleno on Hemphill. Nobody habla’d inglese at Taqueria Cholula, 2621, but judicious pointing and miming yielded a salacious union of succulent poblano, gooey Mexican cheese (not jack!), and flavor-ific ranchero sauce. The winnah! Except Chow, Baby can’t stop worrying about the restaurants it missed. Like Los Corporales #2, at 1818, which is closed for repairs now, but if it’s as good as the old Belknap location . . .

Obsessive thought No. 3: What does “Choo, Beby needs tu get a leeffe-a” mean?

Chow, Baby’s third fixation — more of an addiction, really — is Ze Sveedish Chef Page (, which translates any phrase, like “Chow, Baby needs to get a life,” into the words of Chow, Baby’s favorite Muppet. For example, “Where’s the antacid?” becomes “Vhere’s zee unteceed?” Unfortunately, the site doesn’t translate back, and Chow, Baby can’t stop worrying about the meaning of “leeffe-a.” Bork bork bork.

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