I’m fresh from almost half a decade of writing about food in Texas. I’ve eaten a lot of barbecue. It’s a culinary tradition that can breed an unlikely snobbishness in its aficionados. I am not among the afflicted. Give me a piece of meat that’s been smoked well and chances are, I won’t turn up my nose, no matter what kind of wood you used.
But I have to admit that I’m especially fond of ‘cue that fuses smoke rings with other traditions. When I spoke to Mokomandy chef/owner Thaddeus Kim recently about the closure of his restaurant, he recommended that I try his former sous-chef’s new project, a little spot in Chantilly’s Ono Brewing Company called Odd BBQ.
Just as he blended Korean and Cajun at Mokomandy, Nick Giorno now combines diverse Asian flavors with barbecue classics. It’s an ideal fit for the Hawaiian-themed brewery, where diners can sit at tables under the shade of thatched coverings that would be perfectly at home in a Frankie and Annette movie.
But the food might be a touch more interesting than Eric von Zipper and his gang would be prepared for. What other barbecue joint also slings homemade kimchi? I didn’t taste that, but having chosen ginger-sesame slaw instead at the last minute, I have no regrets. My tongue is still tingling as I write from the almost electrically sharp purple salad, made creamy with tahini instead of mayonnaise.
The cheesy biscuit reminded me of Brazilian pão de queijo, leveled up in scale and cheesiness. The exterior is crisp, the interior soft, flaky and stretchy with cheese. The scoop of well-cooked sticky rice benefits from a sweet soy and a briny finish of furikake.
But this is Meaty Monday. Where’s the beef? Wedged next to the biscuit, and wholly delicious. I almost feel guilty leaving its description for the end. The fall-apart-tender chunks of chuck practically mooed with beefy flavor and just enough smoke to remind me of where they’d been between stockyard and plate.
If the meat wasn’t at the forefront of my mind, blame the excellence of the sides, not the pitmaster. And the truth is, meat is never an afterthought. The plate needed that beef to come together as a whole, and, stroked with a bit of Alabama white barbecue sauce, the combination was a thing to behold, even for a girl who’s eaten more than her fair share of smoked flesh. // 4520 Daly Drive, Suite 102, Chantilly
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