For a guy who writes about food, I rarely leave work to go out to lunch, even though I work near some of our city’s best restaurants. Nope, I pack mostly-healthy lunches in a lunch box with baked chicken, sometimes cans of sardines, hard-boiled pickled eggs I pickle myself, big salads, vegetables, berries. Everyday stuff. Boring stuff. And I eat alone in our break room and usually choke it all down quickly so I can get back to work. Not festive, folks. Not blog-worthy. This Onion article hits really close to home for me: https://local.theonion.com/man-brings-lunch-from-home-to-cut-down-on-small-joys-1819577433
But today was a rarity, because not only did I go out to a nice lunch, but I met a lot of super-cool people from the Orlando Foodie Forum on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/groups/orlandofoodieforum/), the community that keeps me in the loop and eating well in the first place. If I’m any kind of authority on local food (and I am, at least for friends, co-workers, and students), it’s thanks to that place.
Seven of us assembled at Jade Sushi & New Asian (http://jadenewasian.com/) in the College Park neighborhood near downtown Orlando: myself, Foodie Forum and Tasty Chomps food blog (http://tastychomps.com/) founder Ricky Ly (who I’ve known online for years but never met), and other super-cool people who probably don’t want me to list their full names: Krystle (another fellow blogger, of http://www.theorlandogirl.com/ fame), Monica, Mia and Aranya, and Lani (who I owe a debt of gratitude to, for welcoming me into the world of pie championship judging earlier this year). I always feel awkward in social situations, like I’m not going to belong, but this was a very friendly and welcoming group, and I like to think I clicked with them.*
*Speaking of “clicked,” I’m sure at least one careful Foodie Forum reader at this gathering was like “Really? This is the guy who elected to take the group picture?”
We ordered lots of food, and everyone was very generous and laid-back about sharing. We tried fried chicken wings in spicy-sweet Korean red sauce, pork belly bao, and they brought out thin slices of hamachi (a fish similar to amberjack) for us all to sample, which was really nice.
A few of us ordered spicy tan tan men, which is thin, ramen-like noodles served with ground beef in a spicy, oily red sauce. I love a similar dish at Chuan Lu Garden with ground pork, but this might have even been better because it also came with soft-boiled egg halves like “fancy” ramen (to me, that’s any non-instant ramen), beautiful chili threads as a garnish, and I opted for a bit of sliced cha shu pork with mine as well.
I’m pretty sure Ricky took this picture with my camera phone:
And here’s my terrible photography again!
Ricky has been promising to give me a food photography tutorial, so today was our chance. I felt extremely relieved and vindicated when he quickly concluded that my phone camera is just the worst, rather than my eye or my talent as a photographer. Hey, it’s not a fancy phone, but you would plotz if you knew how little it cost, and how little I pay for my plan per month. That allows me to go out to eat slightly more often and write about my experiences here. The downside, dear readers, is you have to look at my blurry-ass food photos from time to time.
Well, I can never resist a deal on sushi, and Jade has some great lunch specials, including two rolls for $11. I opted for two standards, intending to share them: a spicy tuna roll and a bagel roll with smoked salmon and cream cheese, because that is the food of my people. I haven’t had sushi in a long time, and they totally hit the spot.
Other people ordered some beautiful-looking bento boxes and ramen bowls. Jade Sushi & New Asian has a huge menu (http://jadenewasian.com/menu/), so take your time looking it over so you can make the best choices. Better yet, go with a bunch of friends (or friendly Internet strangers) and share everything!
I have been to Jade twice before, and from those prior visits, I strongly recommend the “sizzling evil ribs” (great name, even greater dish) and the Stormtrooper roll, with smoked salmon, asparagus, and fried jalapeno, wrapped with escolar, spicy mayo, and eel sauce.
So today was better than most days. I left work, ate a terrific lunch at a restaurant I love, and hung out with some friendly fellow foodies for the first time.