b Happy Sumo Food Journal: October 2007

Sunday, October 21, 2007


You can't miss this place. It's on the east side of Highway 61 just south of Natchez. They have daily specials, along with sandwiches and salads. But the main draw is their homemade desserts.

I went with the daily special, which on Fridays is chicken pot pie, with a 'layered salad' and cornbread. I have never come across a layered salad before. Apparently it's a regional dish, consisting of iceberg lettuce, hard-boiled eggs, peas, bacon, and cheddar cheese in a mayonnaise-based dressing.
The chicken pot pie was good. You can tell they used plenty of butter in the crust. Along with the well dressed salad I probably got six months worth of my daily recommended saturated fat intake in one meal!
But I couldn't stop there...may as well go whole hog. I got a slice of the lemon icebox pie. Again, you'll never complain about portion sizes here. The slice was big enough for two. I ended up taking half to go to eat later. It was very good, rich and lemony.

Overall rating - 3 sumos

Saturday, October 20, 2007

LAEL'S - Vicksburg, MS

Finally, finally, the southern cooking I've been searching for the entire three months that I was in Mississippi! Lael's is a takeout only, meat and sides lunch and dinner place located in a shopping center just southwest of I-20 and Halls Ferry Rd.

If you're familiar with the takeout style bento places in Hawaii, then you'll see the similarities at Lael's. The menu is on the wall, step up to the steam table and pick out what you want.

I had a hard time picking between the fried chicken and the ribs. I could have gotten a combo, but I was on a diet :-) !

The owner was a wonderful woman who did all of the cooking from scratch. There was no place like this in Biloxi, and believe me, I tried my damnedest to find one.

I ended up getting the ribs, with rice, mixed greens (turnip, mustard and collard), potato salad and cornbread. I think the entire meal was $6.99. These ribs were so good - meaty, moist, perfectly cooked. They put The Shed to shame.

Since there were no tables to sit down at, I drove a short distance to a park overlooking the Mississippi River and enjoyed my feast. This was the single best meal I ate the entire time I was here. Please patronize this restaurant if you ever happen to be in the area.
M-Sat 1100-800. Sun 1100-500. 601 629-4335

Overall rating - 3.5 sumos


This is a casual diner known for their hot dogs and cheeseburgers, which singer Jimmy Buffett, who was a Mobile native, credits with starting his love for burgers.

Although they had typical southern dishes and daily specials, like fried catfish, I decided to try a couple of chili dogs with a side of cole slaw.

If you look at the picture below, you can kind of make out the type of chili they use. It's a very dry, crumbly type that I've never come across before.

I actually didn't care for it very much. They say that ex-Mobile-ers come from miles around to get their hot dog fix. I grew up on chili dogs from Tommy's and Pink's. Maybe it's just what one is used to, but the chili dogs from the Dew Drop Inn were, as Jules would say, "ain't in the same league, ain't even the same sport" as my favorites.

Overall rating - 2.5 sumos


As Yuki's was supposed to be the "best" Japanese restaurant in the area, El Saltillo was said to be the "best" Mexican restaurant in the greater Mississippi coast region. Kind of like saying that February is the best month in hell.

Someone ordered the enchiladas. Now doesn't this look like one of those $0.99 Banquet frozen dinners?

I ordered the carnitas. Now one thing I could never complain about was the portion size in the deep south. You certainly get plenty of food for your money. What you don't get, on the other hand, is flavor. The carnitas were just barely spiced, the wrong cut of pork was used, and it didn't have the crispy outside, tender inside of really well prepared carnitas.

And I thought the Mexican restaurants in Denver sucked (which they do).

Overall rating - 2 sumos

YUKI'S - Biloxi, MS

Now who'd have thought that you could get sushi in the deep south...not me. Then again, with a military base nearby you can usually find a variety of ethnic foods to serve the hungry population when they get tired of chow hall SOS.

Maria was an expat Samoan from Hawaii who worked on base. "Is there anywhere to get local grinds around here" I asked? Not bloody likely, but she said that there was a sushi place nearby. I skeptically asked if it was any good. "It's okay" she said. That was pretty much the theme the entire time I was down here. The vast majority of places were "okay," no more, no less.

At that point I knew I was tempting the food gods, but I had to try some sushi. I ordered the tempura/teriyaki dinner, plus two pieces each of salmon and yellowtail. The sushi was not bad, nice big pieces and flavorful. As for the dinner….hmmm, where to start? The tempura shrimp was about five parts batter to one part shrimp, like the kind you used to get at Far East, not that that's a bad thing. But to paraphrase Vince Vega, "I just got back from Tokyo." Tempura should be ethereal, like gossamer. It should dissolve as it hits your tongue. This batter was way too heavy.

But here's the topper, they served long-grain rice with dinner! Everybody knows that long-grain is Chinese rice and medium-grain is Japanese rice! What country is this? I could not have been more shocked if the sushi chef was wearing a Klan outfit. I guess I won't be eating any more Japanese food until I'm back home.

Overall rating - 2.5 sumos