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Pok Pok NY

As I approach my fourteenth year in NYC, I'm weaning myself from a no-longer-relevant ownership of everything Portland. Like somehow I would have an affinity for Atera or Pok Pok because Mathew Lightner cooked at Castagna or Andy Ricker made a name for himself in Portland. Never mind that I was long gone before any of this dining excitement was occurring, and that I didn't grow up in Portlandia.

 (Pre-twee Portland was working class when it wasn't unemployed, and unambitious and underdoggy with a chip on its shoulder–NYC certainly didn't make me this churlish–with a gun-loving, methy, murdery, white pride undercurrent. It's no coincidence that the aforementioned chefs are not native Oregonians.)

So, Pok Pok is purely new Portland, which means it's really good. And  Brooklyn Pok Pok isn't a letdown either. I'm glad to finally have something in the neighborhood to shut me up over the crappy state of local Thai food. Even the wait, which I'm averse to on principle, wasn't horrible. Initially, I balked at an hour-and-a-half quote at 9:30pm on a weeknight, but in reality it was 30 minutes (my city maximum–yes, I've waited double that at chains in the suburbs) which passed quickly with a tamarind sour in one hand and a menu to peruse in the other. I've waited longer in Portland standing on the sidewalk getting drizzled on my non-polar-fleeced self.

First off: Pok Pok is not a Sripraphai competitor, which I've heard/read, I don't even remember where. Pok Pok is not for curries and it's not all Thai things to all people; the food is mostly northern or Issan while Sripraphai is primarily Bangkok-style. And it's fairly obvious that Pok Pok has different aspirations. You will not find Mangalitsa pork, La Belle Rouge chicken, Niman Ranch ribs, drinking vinegars, nor Stumptown iced coffees (is there artisanal condensed and evaporated milk?)  at Sripraphai where I ordered a cocktail, a Thai mojito, for the first time on my last visit. I do miss the fridges full of desserts and nam prik, though. Well, and a lot of other things. You need Chao Thai, Ayada, and yes, Srirpraphai as much as you need Pok Pok in your world.

Also: Who cares if Andy Ricker isn't Thai? Or Harold Dirterle…or that I'm more Mexican than Alex Stupak (as if I were born knowing how to nixtamalize corn) and his food at Empellon Cocina hardly suffers. Does anyone question the ethnicity of chefs cooking French or Italian cuisine in the US, which is to say a large percentage of chefs in this country?

Oh, one other thing while I'm being a surly Portland transplant: Columbia Street is not Red Hook. Call it something invented like Columbia Street Waterfront District or Cobble Hill West, but you can no longer say an area is gritty when people are spending millions of dollars to live there. I just looked a house on the exact same block as Pok Pok  for $1.6 million and a condo down the street for even more. Er, not gritty (though also not prime enough to command those inflated prices). A diner actually asked where he was and was told Red Hook. I should probably be more concerned with people who manage to get to a restaurant without knowing where they are than with neighborhood demarcations.

Pok pok mangalitsa pork

Finally…the food: Mangalitsa pork neck. When I eat at restaurants years apart I often end up picking the same things I ate the previous visit without realizing it. I only recognized this dish when the side of iced mustard greens showed up. It threw me for a loop in Portland (and on this crisp spring evening) because it's such a tropical weather touch. Translating an authentic presentation when there's no fear of wilting produce was odd and charming both times (and yes, I realize the cooling effect is also meant as a relief from the chile heat) though I'm sure it will be appropriately stifling and toasty come summer with nothing more than a ceiling fan for ventilation in the makeshift tent-like back room. But yes, the grilled slices of pork (it was boar in Portland–I would have to try them side by side to taste the difference) were rich enough to stand up to the garlicky, tart dressing (citrus played a major role in all the dishes we ordered).

Pok pok black salted crab papaya salad

Papaya salad is where you should feel the heat, and the addition of salted black crab didn't just add serious funk but raised the spice level to a point that burned but didn't obliterate the flavor (the extra-spicy fried chicken at Peaches Hothouse last weekend, for instance, crossed the line into needless pain). I happen to enjoy the hot garbage/festering corpse smell of fermented sea creatures in condiments, which never taste as ominous as they smell,  but even smoothed out by lime juice and sugar this salad still retained a distinctive sludge color.

Pok pok catfish larb

I hate to say it, but sometimes I find larbs boring or overly healthy (probably because I make them with Costco chicken breasts) but with grilled catfish it was perfect because of the fluffy, crispy texture you might typically associate with yam pla duk fu served with shredded green mango instead of larbified with herbs and shallots. The flavors were really bright with lemongrass and mint; galangal sweetness peeked through. This might have been my favorite of the three.

And the most simple thing that garnered attention was the pandan-steeped water at each table. I'll never understand the audience for Mio water enhancers, i.e. people who don't like the taste of water, but if you're going to infuse water, vanilla-jasmine ricey-smelling pandan is the way to go.

Pok Pok NY *127  Columbia St., Brooklyn, NY

Real Cheap Eats Spring Edition: Chinatown

Bo ky cambodian noodles

The spring edition of Real Cheap Eats is live, and it's all about Chinatown(s). I'll admit that I don't spend much time in Manhattan's Chinese enclave anymore, so this was the perfect excuse to get re-excited. My contribution is about the not-really-Cambodian Cambodian noodles at Bo Ky.

Bo ky chile sauce

They also make a killer hot sauce.

Bo ky spring rolls

Serve Vietnamese-ish spring rolls.

Bo ky country style duck

And country-style duck, soy-braised with pickled radish.

Chain Links: Smashed Burgers and Cheeseburger Rims

Kuwait smashburger

Smashburger just opened its first international location—in Kuwait, naturally.

It doesn’t seem right that India will be barraged by Pinkberry and we are without a kulfi chain. Are there kulfi chains?

UK wiener crust has nothing on cheeseburger-rimmed pizza. Oh, Pizza Hut.

Ben & Jerry’s is now in Tokyo. So far the flavors (I'm not typing flavours) look all-American.

How could Puerto Rico not have an Olive Garden already?

Supposedly, in China, people only drink an average of three cups of coffee per year, so Starbucks is kind of screwed. Plus, they linger for hours and bring in outside food when they do patronize the cafe.

Photo: Smashburger Kuwait

The Third Wheel

California almonds

This California Almonds ad raises similar issues as the original version of the (controversial, blog-wise)  Marie Callender's four-cheese lasagna commercial featuring Gael from Breaking Bad and two other women. The brunette disappeared in an edited version more commonly aired, making it more clear that Gael and the older blonde were meant to be a couple when originally relationship among the three was ambiguous. 


It also says a lot about how immune I've become to media's warping of reality that I automatically want to pair the man with the younger woman. (The only reverse example I can even think of offhand is Edie Falco's Nurse Jackie character being partnered with a husband who appears younger and perhaps disproportionately handsome–while I appreciate the swap, it doesn't read as wholly believable.)

But the confusing two women issue still remains with the West Coast almond-loving family. At first glance, I interpreted this to be a husband, wife, daughter, and grandmother, maybe the woman's mom. But is the woman in a tailored denim dress old enough to be the mother of one of the adults at the table? It's hard to gauge because no one is directly facing the camera. The woman on the right could be anywhere from late-20s to mid-30s while the shorter haired woman is impossible to parse. She could be an older looking late 30s or a youthful  50s–I want to say 45, for some reason, pure middle-age.

Then the dude has gray hair, as men are allowed to, which also throws off the dynamic and makes him seem over 40, and therefore more age appropriate (which like the gray hair, kind of means nothing–men often marry younger women and don't cover gray hair when it shows up in their 30s) for the woman sitting closest to him.

And the body language makes it seem that the three on the left are a unit and the longer-haired woman is a visitor or more peripheral relative, maybe the aunt, maybe a friend or neighbor.  And yet sartorially I would pair the man with the hoodie lady because they're both dressed more casually and a t-shirt guy would view himself as youthful and prefer longer hair on a woman.


Help! Why are thre so many women at the table together how is it meant to sell food? I eat almonds (origins unknown) all the freaking time so maybe it's working on me. I even picked up one those tasty, chemical-laden, preservative-filled lasagnas not so long ago and tried to gussy it up with instagram. Pretty?


Back on Good Friday, it wouldn’t have surprised me to learn that we were the only ones in the restaurant not celebrating Passover. And even though I didn’t technically have the day off like everyone else seemed to, I still took the opportunity to cut out of work early and head out of town for 24 hours.

Zahav got skipped on my last Philadelphia visit, so this oversight needed to be rectified. I don’t speak passionately about Middle Eastern food much (I mean, I have practically every Asian cuisine separated out as a category but lump everyone except Turkey under the Middle Eastern umbrella) and though I certainly love grilled meats and rice as much as the next person, what I’m crazy for is mezze. I could eat little dishes of pickled things, roasted vegetables, dips, salads, along with unleavened bread every day.

But Zahav is more of what I’d call modern Israeli, which is to say you can drink fun cocktails like the Marble Rye (pumpernickel and caraway-infused rye topped with celery soda) which yes, tastes like rye bread, or even Israeli, Lebanese, and Moroccan wines, and mezze isn’t tabouli or muhammara, but dishes involving grilled duck hearts, veal tongue vinaigrette, and during this time of year, those ubiquitous ramps.

Zahav hummus & laffa

The $38 per person tasting, the tayim, is a crazy good deal. You’ll get a selection of salatim, hummus and laffa, two mezze, one al ha’esh, the main, and one dessert.  And no single dish is over $12 if you want a la carte, which is why it pays to get out of NYC every now and then.

Zahav salatim

The salatim, which I didn’t do a great job of showing in its colorful entirety, included a garden’s worth of eggplant, okra, cucumber, cauliflower, cabbage, beets, and carrots, some sweet, some vinegary. There was also a trio of condiments: sumac-and-sesame-heavy za’tar, harissa, and shug, the spicier green chile paste.

Zahav crispy haloumi, walnuts, apples, dates, squash

On my visit, the crispy haloumi was accompanied by still-wintery squash cubes, shredded apples, walnuts and sweet date puree. Just two weekends later, I see the mild cheese has been transformed with green peas, pine nuts, and ramps, so there’s definitely a hyper-seasonal approach.

Zahav fried cauliflower, labaneh with chive, dill, mint, garlic

Everyone knows that fried cauliflower is the best cauliflower (next to roasted cauliflower). The tender-crisp florets could be swiped through the labeneh flavored with mint, dill, and garlic.

Zahav sweetbread schnitzel, carob, cauliflower, tehina

I still don’t fully understand the Israeli schnitzel connection (see, Holy Schnitzel for more evidence) but couldn’t pass up schnitzel-fied sweetbreads.  This time the cauliflower was pickled, presumably red from beet juice, and served with a carob syrup, and tahnini. I’m not sure that I tasted the carob, but then, I haven’t had any since the ’70s when it was de rigueur at my aunt’s house instead of chocolate.

Zahav house smoked sable, challah, fried egg, poppy

Zahav sable, challah, egg interior

Never say no to anything containing a fried egg, especially a hidden yolk waiting to burst. This thick slice of challah, almost akin to what you might see drizzled with condensed milk at a Taiwanese cafe, was topped with house-cured sable, and a scattering of poppy seeds. Perfect for anyone who likes eating breakfast for dinner.

Zahav beef cheeks, potatoes, caramelized onions, paprika, celery

Thankfully, the mains were small plates, because I’d ruined my stomach’s capacity by eating snacks earlier at The Dandelion.  The beef cheeks came in compact crispy-edged squares like kibbeh, and were accented with celery, tiny onions, and paprika.

Zahav duck kebab, pistachios, saffron

The ground duck kebabs actually tasted like the rich poultry they were (I recently had a ground duck slider that just tasted like mushy generic meat) and paired well with the not untraditional combination of saffron rice with pistachios and pomegranate molasses sauce. Both mains were good, but the mezze felt more exciting.

Zahav apricot rugelach, almonds, turkish coffee ice cream

A dessert each seemed excessive  but that was a part of the bargain, so there was apricot rugulach with Turkish coffee ice cream.

Zahav halva, pomegranate, chocolate, pistachios

And halva with chocolate ice cream, pistachios, and a pomegranate sauce.

The biggest question I was left with was why do we not have a restaurant, not only along these lines, but of this caliber, in NYC? With that said, I haven’t yet been to Balaboosta, probably the most similar in ethos to Zahav. I mentioned this to who I assumed was a manager checking in with each table (and threw us off my asking our names–if this was a Jewish-gauging test, I don’t think I passed) and he said there was a possibility of a branch opening here, but that it would be Kosher. I guess there is more demand for that dietary requirement in NYC than Philadelphia? I’m not 100% sure what that would mean for the menu–I’m guessing the haloumi would get the boot–but I would be excited, nonetheless.

Zahav * 237 St. James Pl., Philadelphia, PA


When the news broke (ha, assuming restaurant openings/closings qualify as breaking news in your world) that Frankie’s 17 was turning Spanish and rebranding as Francesca, my only thought was that I wish it had been the original location instead. Yes, 457 has remained wildly popular since day one, but how much Italian food can one neighborhood sustain? Or rather (selfishly) how much Italian food can I continue not to eat?

It happened that the same Friday afternoon I was pining for pintxos on Twitter, Serious Eats posted a slide show of the new menu at Francesca. I knew I wasn’t going to get the San Sebastián experience I was craving—it’s just not going to happen in NYC for a gazillion reasons.  (I’ve already speculated why the true pintxo bar experience would never work here and won’t bore you again–in a nutshell: too expensive, not sufficient concentration of bars.)

Francesca creamed leeks, idiazabal, membrillo, jamon serrano

What looks like smoked salmon from afar is really jamón serrano drizzled with a viscous membrillo. The sweet and salty components sit atop a slice of Idiazabal and a big tuft of creamed leeks, and would be at home on the counter of any respectable pintxo bar.

Casa senra bar

Like this. A more traditional version of a pintxo bar at Casa Senra.

Zeruko pintxos

Or modern like Bar Zeruko.

I want that buffet-like feeling of walking into a crowded venue and seeing an entire bar covered in delightfully unrecognizable things layered on bread, stuck with toothpicks, maybe even gelatinized or radiating smoke,  like you've entered a canapé-filled party where anyone’s invited if you have $10 to spend—and foie gras or gold leaf might even schmooze its way into that equation. And that’s the other thing, the couple of dollars for a dish and a couple bucks more for a glass of wine—or more commonly a zurito, a small glass of beer—adds to the democratic appeal.

Francesca mushroom, morcilla, setti anni brotxeta

The brotxeta of morcilla, mushrooms, and peppers (setti anni–also served at Frankie's) exemplifies the quick and creative ethos, as well.

Francesca lomo

A fried egg covered slices of lomo, just fatty enough to remind you why grocery store pork loins are so wretched, and a pile of oil-slicked peppers and onions, piperrada, that had been cooked-down soft.

Francesca cheese

Instead of raciones, of which there were as many as the pintxos (five) we tried a selection of cheeses (Valdeón, Torta del Casar, and Idiazabal) all good, and a plate of jamón Serrano. The thinly shaved, cured meat could’ve been prosciutto. I guess if I wanted that luscious, substantial ham that could never be confused for lunch meat, we should’ve sprung the extra four dollars for Iberico.

Francesca sherry cocktails

The sherry cocktails were fun, and you don’t really see spirits being manipulated to creative ends in the Basque regions like you do with the food. Txakoli is txakoli. And kalimotxo? You might not want it. #3 (East india sherry, dry vermouth, orange bitters, seltzer) and #1 (Fino sherry, sweet vermouth, cinnamon syrup, whiskey barrel aged bitters). I also tried a glass of Benaza Mencia, a lighter red that I'm still getting a feel for.

If I happened to be in the area between 5pm-7pm, which I probably won't, I would stop by the bar for a happy hour snack and discounted cocktail

I'm not an eavesdropper (well, I try, but my hearing isn't always sharp enough) but it was hard not to take interest in the older couple sitting nearby who lived on the Upper East Side,  were somehow drawn to dining on Clinton Street,  yet had never heard of Frankie’s and hadn’t been to Carroll Gardens. As much as I hate the dated food media “make the trek to Brooklyn” trope, it’s refreshing to be reminded of that the celebrated Brooklyn artisan only has so much reach in reality.

Afterwards, we weren't terribly hungry, but in the spirit of a tapas crawl (Tapeo 29 and 1492 Food are both a block away) we went traditional at Tapeo 29 (more Madrid than San Sebastián, and too dark for photos) and had cazuelas of sweet cider-braised chorizo and garlicky shrimp with lots of bread and glasses of cava and Garnacha. My pronunciation of the red wine was corrected (I feel silly saying any non-English word as if I’m affecting an accent that’s not mine) and in a way the unasked for authoritativeness was endearing in a way that Francesca wasn't. I'll let the transformed pintxos bar get its footing before making any rash judgments, though.

Francesa * 17 Clinton St., New York, NY

Eaten, Barely Blogged: 24 Hours in Philadelphia

The dandelion logoI go to Philadelphia about once a year, just to keep myself in check and explore the world just slightly beyond NYC's borders–it's the second-largest city on the East Coast, after all. And it's a good food city. My only disappointment this time around was the shuttering of Mako's, a kind of dingy bar on South Street that was only notable because it served a Surfer on Acid, which I absorbed as second-hand nostalgia from James, who knew the drink as Surfing on Acid from his Baltimore days in the early '90s. Trashy as it may be (Malibu rum, canned pineapple juice and Jagermeister) the sweet and herbal brown cocktail has become a staple at our annual Super Bowl party, and it is surprisingly good. R.I.P. Mako's.

Because it's Philly, we started off at a Stephen Starr vehicle, faux British pub, The Dandelion, which I chose partially because it was only one block from our hotel (I'm still baffled how the Sofitel charges the exact same room price that I paid on my first visit to the city of brotherly love back in 2000–thank you, crappy economy) and also because I was wooed by their  '70s children's book lion illustration-style logo (I'm a leo, I can't help my fondness for anthropomorphic felines).

The dandelion cocktails

The intention was to merely sip cocktails and have a few bar snacks to hold us over till our 9:30pm dinner reservations at Zahav. Even though it was only 5pm, we may have ordered too much.Well, there were fun cocktails: a Bourbon Ginger Fizz (Bulliet bourbon, ginger, lemon, bitters, egg white) that looked like a little pint of beer, and the gin and bitter lemon (Beefeater gin, lemon, bitters, tonic) not unlike a gin and tonic, just a touch dryer. A more unusual, Scotch Honeysuckle (Dewar’s scotch, dry vermouth, honey, lemon, rose water) was also enjoyed, and wouldn't have been totally out of place at Zahav either, though not pictured.

The dandelion dressed crab
I wouldn't have chosen the dressed crab, two dishes were plenty, but it was more exciting than expected and not just because it was presented in an adorably farm-to-table glass jar, atop a bed of ice strewn with seaweed. The presentation transformed the crab-heavy salad, only cut with lemon-chervil mayonnaise and finely chopped hard-boiled egg, from a lady-like meal on a lettuce leaf into a heartier snack. It didn't really need the cocktail sauce.

The dandelion devilled eggs

The dandelion berkshire pork pate

There were also curried devilled eggs and a chunky pork pate, good alone, but complemented by the celery root remoulade and pear and raisin chutney.

Paesano's liveracce sandwich

I did have a nice, gross-sounding sandwich, the Liveracci, at Paesano's in the Italian Market. Who would ever think to combine fried chicken livers, Gorgonzola, orange marmalade, onions, and salami? What the hell?! This beast essentially crams my favorite strong flavors, salty and sweet, in  into one package. It could only be topped by adding more spice or fishy funk (the liver accomplishes that angle nearly) but that might be going too far.

Paesano's paesano sandwich

I did not try the namesake Paesano with its oozing fried egg, beef brisket, horseradish mayonnaise, provolone, and roasted tomatoes that apparently beat Bobby Flay in a throwdown.

Geno's cheesesteak

There was also Geno's for old time's sake. I always say I prefer Pat's, but are the two kitty-corner competitors really that different on sandwich alone? I did enjoy (cringed/ducked) witnessing the poor Filipino family who had the misfortune to ask the counter lady at, "What's good here?"

Chink's exterior

I also finally made it to Chink's, the old-school cheesesteakery with the most wholesome atmosphere and the most questionable name. In a way, it's more Philadelphia than either Geno's or Pat's could ever be at this point. Sit at the diner-style booths and play with the stuck-in-time personal jukebox filled with bands like Savage Garden and Marcy Playground.

Chink's cheesesteak

A large, with Cheez Whiz, of course. I know provolone is perfectly acceptable; it just melts down too much and isn't salty or gooey enough.

Chink's frame

Chink's frame!

Wrong-way parking philadelphia

Possibly the best non-food part of going to Philadelphia is frazzling James with willy-nilly parking. In Portland, I always parked any which way on streets, as they do in Philly, too (and also park in medians, which is a little odd) but it freaks the hell out of James. I got him to park the wrong way by convincing him it was a one-way street even though it wasn't.

Federal Donuts is exactly the type of place I avoid like the plague in Brooklyn. Foodie-approved, crazy crowds, kooky ordering procedures, painfully long waits, and daily selling-out of provisions. If you show up at 11:45am when they start selling fried chicken, you'll miss out on 80% of the donuts they start selling at 7am. I wake up at 9am on a weekday, so there's no way in hell I'm getting up two hours earlier on a weekend, let alone while on a mini-vacation. The only "fancy" donuts left on our arrival were oatmeal raisin, for a reason (gross) and mandarin orange coffee, which was ok, but like coffee grounds had accidentally affixed themselves to a citrusy glazed cake donut. No pistachio halvah, banana chocolate, s'mores, or blueberry lemon pie, all still listed on the chalkboard.

The procedure is convoluted for a first-timer. You need to get a number, though no one tells you that for a while, there are just a bunch of people crowded around the counter, and you get a number for each half, so two wholes would equal four separate hand-written numbers on cards. After maybe half-an-hour your number is called and you pay, give your name, and specify your flavor: za'taar, chile-garlic, coconut curry, harissa, honey ginger, or buttermilk ranch, and then you wait another 10 minutes or so before your name is called and your chicken is ready. Phew. Yeah, the chicken is pretty good, though there's no need to ever do it again and it's doubtful I  would partake if I lived in the area. I'm just not a liner-upper and have no patience in life, probably because I'm about to become middle-aged and every second is increasingly precious.

Federal donuts chicken

Half chicken. If I knew the chicken was going to take 40 minutes, I would've ordered a whole instead. I went on a za'taar binge, having experienced the spice blend the night before at Zahav, chef Mike Solomonov, more formal, modern Middle Eastern restaurant. Earthy is a cop-out, but it is, and not a distraction from the simple charms of crispy fried skin. You also get a little plastic container of Japanese pickles and a mini honey glazed doughnut.

That I didn't take a single photo of the donuts (there was also an Appolonia, a granulated sugar and cocoa power-covered number, and a vanilla-lavender, two standards that are always in-stock) further proves my indifference to fried, sugared dough. No knock on Federal Donuts, I'm just not donut-crazed.

Chink's * 6030 Torresdale Ave., Philadelphia, PA

The Dandelion * 124 S. 18th St.,  Philadelphia, PA

Federal Donuts * 1219 S. Second. St., Philadelphia, PA

Geno's * 1219 S. Ninth St., Philadelphia, PA

Getting a Leg Up

Dark meat
I didn’t think it needed to be said that dark meat is better than light meat. And now the WSJ has an adorable chart to prove its growing popularity. I don’t have anything else to say in the matter (well, I did glance in the freezer this morning and when faced with thighs or breasts, made the obvious defrosting choice) I just wanted an excuse to post this chart.

Economic takeaway:  Americans’ waking up to the crappiness of white meat is pushing up the costs of legs and thighs, which boo.

And flat-out creepy: "’If the industry realizes tastes are changing, perhaps they'll need to shift the genetics,’ said Akshay Jagdale, industry analyst at KeyBanc Capital Markets.”

I eagerly await these new four-legged birds.

Localized: Pizza Hut UK

Pizza Hut has been causing a ruckus (I don't even know who to link to–it was all over) this week with its new hot dog-stuffed crust in the UK. Is that really so weird in the scheme of things? It's not exactly mayonnaise-drizzled squid, beef stew, or foie gras–just wait until I get into Japanese pizza.

Pizza hut duo

Ok, teaser: can a demure wiener crust drizzled with mustard even compete with a pigs-in-a-blanket rim served with honey maple and ketchup? Both Pizza Hut creations.

We don't need to look to tube steaks squeezed where they have no right being to know that they do things a little differently in Ol' Britannia. See: sarnies, puds, and baps.

And with that, here are five things served at Pizza Hut UK that we don't have:


Foot Long Pastas (Classic Lasagne, Salmon Pasta Bake, Mac & Cheese and Chicken & Mushroom Bake). Um, metric system fail?

Creamy blue

Creamy Blue (blue cheese, mozzarella, béchamel instead of tomato sauce, mushrooms, and a drizzle of balsamic) from the "Posh" selection of pizzas.

Shrimply delicious

500-calorie Pizettas like the Shrimply Delicious

Blazin inferno

The Blazin' Inferno, which includes double pepperoni, jalapeños, and a trademarked chile called Roquito®, which appears to be similar to a piquillo.


Banoffee Hot Cookie Dough Dessert. This puts our HERSHEY'S® Chocolate Dunkers® to shame.

Previously on Localized: Dunkin' Donuts Taiwan

Photos: Pizza Hut UK, YumSugar, harpluck


Chain Links: Kuwaiti Toll House Cafe, Colombian Chicken & Costa Rican Cosi

As I research a potential summer trip to Dubai, I'm more and more fascinated by the number of imported chains, particularly the American ones, since it seems like most of the western tourists and expats are British, or at the very least not from the US. Nestlé Toll House Café by Chip is one of those weirdo chains that I'd never even heard of until recently. The CEO, originally from Lebanon, is having great success with the brand in the Middle East.

Speaking of, Smashburger just opened its first Middle East branch in Kuwait. Halal Angus beef, of course.

Kokoriko Natural Rotisserie, a Colombian chicken chain, has teamed up with chef Richard Sandoval (the man is ubiquitous) to create a menu for the US. The first location in Miami should open any day, though I'm still not sure how this differs from the Kokoriko that's already in Miami.

Twenty-five Wendy's may appear in Georgia and Azerbaijan over the next ten years.

The Original SoupMan's first international location will be in Tokyo's Central Train Station.

Cosi is franchising in Costa Rica.

Photo via Al-Mubarkia