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For the 12th year running, I'm super excited to announce the annual Tastes of Detroit food tour at Expo Icrontic.
Here's the skinny:
The Tastes of Detroit Food Tour is a long-standing tradition. From the beginning, the goal has been to introduce out-of-towners to the unique, wonderful, diverse, and excellent food landscape here in the Detroit area. The Metro Detroit area is lovely in that we have a vast array of ethnicities and styles represented, and do not suffer heavily from the “national chain restaurant syndrome” that plagues much of this fine country.
In 2006, we went on our first food tour. It consisted of visits to a few of my local favorites (two of which are sadly out of business now), and a special visit from the former staff at Pi’s Thai in Hazel Park, where we were given a few gallons of soup for a hungry crowd (since the restaurant was too small to accommodate us). Since then, the Food Tour has been the single most requested and participated-in event at the Expo Icrontic. We routinely fill restaurants and spend hundreds of dollars at local businesses, all in the name of good eats.
As always, it gets harder and harder every year to find new places to accommodate our stringent requirements:
The restaurant must be unique. It’s safe to say that if a restaurant has a “corporate office” somewhere, we’ll probably never go there.
The restaurant must have some compelling theme or specialty that makes it truly a step above the normal establishment. This can be service, a menu item, decor, price, character, etc.
The restaurant must able to at least try to introduce people to something they’ve never had before.
The restaurant must be able to accommodate 50 or more people at once, as this is the average size of our group.
I try to accomplish these goals without any repeats, although tour favorites have made re-appearances throughout the years. Here’s the historical list of places we’ve covered so far:
Our selections for the 2017 edition of Tastes of Detroit are as follows:
Chinese American food is complicated to say the least. When you say "Chinese" food in the US, it is generally assumed to be a consistent experience no matter where you are: staples like Egg Foo Young, Mongolian Beef, Shrimp Fried Rice, and so on... you can be in Florida, Connecticut, Ohio, or Nevada and pick up a phone and call a "Chinese take out" place and get what is generally referred to as New York Style Chinese Food and have pretty much the same experience.
Trizest is not that.
Trizest is a traditional Sichuan restaurant. The key ingredient in many Sichuan dishes is the unique and amazing Sichuan peppercorn. Beyond adding heat to a dish, the Sichuan peppercorn has a unique property that makes it tingle on your tongue. There really isn't another seasoning like it, and Trizest has taken the use of it to an art. There are so many incredible things to try here, and the best way to do this is to eat family-style, with 8-10 at a table ordering a full range of dishes for everyone to sample.
From "double-flavor squirrel-shape fish" to "Sichuan lamb" to "dry tofu appetizer", there is nothing bad on this menu. For many people who don't have access to genuine Sichuan cooking, this will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I cannot recommend enough. Trizest is the real deal. There are also many options that are vegetarian and GF friendly, so unless you're a strict vegan, you'll find something delicious here.
GUS's WORLD FAMOUS FRIED CHICKEN
Seems so simple, right? Fried chicken? Boring, right?
No. Gus's is genuine Tennessee-style hot fried chicken. It's a thing with history and Gus's is Detroit's outpost of the original Memphis location. If you've never had southern hot fried chicken, this is your chance. Ask Bobby, he'll tell you.
There is no option other than Fried Chicken here. We will be catering in a variety of pieces with some mac and cheese, and beans on the side. That's it. Those with dietary restrictions will want to skip this one.
Warning: the chicken is kind of spicy, so if you are a spice wimp, opt-out. There are no options for "mild" or "no spice" here.
Most people are familiar with the neighborhood Jewish deli thing; working-class sandwiches that become favorites for all types of people. It's not uncommon to walk into a famous deli and find lawyers, government officials, construction workers, artists, firefighters, and cops all sitting in the same place eating giant, messy corned beef sandwiches. For Detroit, that place is Hygrade Deli. It's a million years old, and perfect. The food is consistent, delicious, and filling. Due to timing issues we will only have the option of cold sandwiches (no famous reubens, unfortunately), but that's no problem here; the sandwiches are fantastic. Included with your perfect deli sandwich will be a bag of Detroit-made Better Maid chips as well. Classic Detroit.
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