Category Archives: Ethnic & Eclectic

We take the Soul Train to Big Momma’s

When the Supreme Court axed Louisville’s long-standing school-desegregation plan this summer, an ABC News team came to town to report local reaction, and while they were here, they took their cameras to lunch at Big Momma’s Soul Kitchen and declared this tiny West End eatery “a true oasis of lovingly prepared home cooking that delivers great taste at a great price.”

That’s strong praise, so we headed west on Broadway to Shawnee Park, where Big Momma’s occupies a tiny, white-painted building just large enough for a service window and five tall stools along a short lunch counter.

Open for lunch and early dinner daily, Big Momma’s offers a lot of soul food for a little price. Each day’s menu changes slightly, but fried chicken and a few other items remain constant. A main course and two sides is $7 to $7.50; sandwiches are $3.50, mostly.

We filled up on crisp, juicy fried chicken and an oversize breaded pork chop smothered in gravy, with excellent long-simmered green beans and bacon; white beans; creamy, rich mashed potatoes; and long-cooked chunks of cabbage, all well-seasoned and flavored and prepared with obvious TLC. That’s what “soul” is all about. We dropped a good tip in the jar and left with smiles and change from a $20.

Big Momma’s Soul Kitchen
4532 W. Broadway
772-9580

Looking for the source of the Nile

Thai Taste
Thai Taste in Clifton had a full contingent staffing its WorldFest booth. From left, Ratunaporn Sangrung, Hammarach Nuangkhamma, Malai Nuangkhamma and Samorn Thanawattako. Photos by Robin Garr.

LEO’s Eat ‘n’ Blog with Louisville HotBytes
(Seven worthy ethnic eats)

Dr. Livingstone, I presume?

At some point during the colorful WorldFest celebration over the weekend, I started to feel a bit in common with Dr. David Livingstone, the 19th century British explorer famous for his dogged quest for the source of the Nile River in Africa’s deepest jungles.

Like Livingstone but on a much smaller scale, I spent a good bit of time and energy during the two-day event on the Belvedere in quest of The Nile.

The Nile Restaurant, that is. This mysterious reference turned up on WorldFest’s list of more than two dozen food booths run by local restaurants, social and civic groups, a worldwide array of mostly ethnic goodies that even extended to a couple of corn dog and funnel cake vendors. A Sudanese restaurant! In Louisville! Always eager to add another ethnic eating experience to my list, I made a beeline to Booth 144.
Continue reading Looking for the source of the Nile

Plus ça change at Café Lou Lou

Cafe Lou Lou
One of the reasons Café Lou Lou’s new locale works is the retention of the original look, including striking art pieces. LEO photo by Nicole Pullen.

LEO’s Eat ‘n’ Blog with Louisville HotBytes

The 19th century French satirist and polymath Alphonse Karr was not, as far as we know, a food critic. But when he penned the lines, “Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose” (“The more things change, the more they stay the same”), he might as well have been talking about Louisville’s Café Lou Lou.

A lot of us obligate urbanites were horrified to learn earlier this year that Chef Clay Wallace and co-owner Helen Ellis planned to move the popular eatery’s quarters from Frankfort Avenue in Clifton to St. Matthews, literally across the street from where Sears used to be.

Leaving the artsy, hippy-dippy diversity of Clifton for almost-suburban St. Matthews? How can this be, we wailed! Café Lou Lou can’t possibly stay the same! How can it survive in the whitebread land of SUVs?

As it turns out, the answer to these questions turns out to be, “Very nicely indeed.” Or, if you prefer, “Plus ça change.”
Continue reading Plus ça change at Café Lou Lou

It’s fast … it’s casual … it’s Asian!

Lettuce wraps
The lettuce wraps at Yang Kee Noodle (top) and I Ching Asian Cafe are similar, but Yang Kee provides more lettuce and goodies on the side. Photos by Robin Garr

(Yang Kee Noodle, I Ching Asian Cafe, Voice-Tribune, July 12, 2007)

If you like the fresh, healthy and enticing flavors of the colorful cuisines of East Asia, but feel a little wary about dining at ethnic eateries where the menu is printed in a language you can’t speak, then fast-casual Asian dining may be just right for you.

Coming from the West Coast, as so many modern food trends do, this spreading development is largely carried by franchise chains like Pei Wei (P.F. Chang’s little brother), Rice Boxx, Pick Up Stix Fresh Asian Kitchen, Chef Martin Yan’s Yan Can and Tokyo Joe’s.

Like the similarly swelling wave of “fresh burrito” chains, competition is keen in this niche, and the concepts are so similar that sometimes the only way to tell where you’re dining is to look at the corporate logo.

None of the Asian chains have reached Louisville yet, but the concept is going strong in the East End, with two independent properties competing from shopping-center venues just a mile apart on Shelbyville Road.
Continue reading It’s fast … it’s casual … it’s Asian!

We like smut. It’s good.

Bruce Ucan
After a brief hiatus, former Mayan Gypsy chef Bruce Ucan is back at it with Mayan Café, in the East Market location where Mayan Gypsy started out. LEO Photo by Nicole Pullen

LEO’s Eat ‘n’ Blog with Louisville HotBytes

Smut. Corn smut. It’s a nasty name for a nasty-looking thing, a black, disgusting fungus that turns corn kernels into swollen gray blobs that look like an alien mutation, a sight so gross that the ancient Aztecs named the stuff “cuitlacoche” or, literally, well, “black turds.”

Although cuitlacoche may look like something the dog dragged in, it tastes really, really good. So, while North American farmers curse and destroy smut-afflicted corn, Mexican growers are more inclined to praise Lord Quetzalcoatl, peel off the pillowy black fungus and serve it for lunch. Or put some in cans and ship it north to savvy restaurateurs.

Selling it to Anglos can be a challenge, though, so the few eateries around the United States that serve cuitlacoche (pronounced “wheat-la-COH-chay”) generally describe it with more appetizing euphemisms. “Mexican caviar,” for instance. Or, at Louisville’s excellent Mayan Café, “exotic mushroom,” appended to the Aztec “cuitlacoche” without the literal translation.
Continue reading We like smut. It’s good.