Chef/TV Star/Author Anthony Bourdain is headed to Orlando this Friday night for his Guts and Glory tour stop at the Hard Rock Live at Universal Studios. He has a new show on CNN called Parts Unknown (watch Episode 1: Myanmar here) and a new book entitled Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook (P.S.).
Although our city beautiful often gets stereotyped as a tourist mecca, we have quite a burgeoning food scene that is excellent and notable in its own right and deserves to be reckoned with.
Just this past year alone, 6 Central Florida Chefs were nominated for the James Beard Award for Best Chef – South as semi-finalists and we have pockets of unique enclaves like Mills 50 (Vietnamese District), Little Brazil growing by the day along I-Drive, Winter Park, and more.
A Photo with the “Lunch Lady” Nguyen Thi Thanh in the heart of Saigon, Vietnam – bowl of bun bo hue – made famous during Anthony Bourdain’s visit to Vietnam during No Reservations
Based on his propensity for dining a la street food and his affinity for Asian cuisine and disregard for sweets (from watching ABC’s The Taste), I would probably take Anthony Bourdain to these places in Orlando. You can tell he has good tastes in Orlando already by choosing Cask and Larder as his official tour stop restaurant for the VIP Event!
Mills-50 District / Viet Town
Chuan Lu Garden – probably the best new authentic Chinese restaurant right now in the heart of Mills 50 / Viet Town district, this tiny place serves up Sichuan specialities like super spicy ChonqQing La Zi fried chicken and hand pulled noodles.
Banh Mi Nha Trang – specializing in Nha Trang style banh mi (with a hot chili fish sauce added), this hole in the wall is run by a Vietnamese couple with hearts of gold. Ms. Nguyen’s sweet smile, slightly limited English, and affectionate “See you tomorrow!” will definitely win Anthony’s heart.
Boiling Crab and Seafood – I’d go for the fresh cajun style hot and spicy garlic steamed shrimp made by a Vietnamese family here. Eat with your hands to get all the bits and pieces.
Pho Vinh – My favorite and probably the best Vietnamese restaurant in the area, with super fresh spring rolls and flavorful pho broth. They have some nice specials like bun thit nuong and bun mam, too.
Tako Cheena – Asian/Latin fusion tacos, a food truck in restaurant form, open late and run by Chef Pom Moongauklang, formerly of Nobu. Fabulous empanadas, tacos, and burritos with fillings like Char siu pork belly, Asian braised beef, Thai Peanut Chicken, and Indian yellow curry tofu.
Prato – seasonal, modern/progressive Italian run by James Beard nominated Chef Brandon McGlamery ( The French Laundry / Chez Panisse alumni) and his chef di cucina Matthew Cargo. One of their newest dish is veal belly topped with egg.
The Pharmacy Orlando – From the same owners/chefs who brought you The Table Orlando, comes their latest restaurant concept—Pharmacy. This 1920s “speakeasy” is now open to the public—if you can find it. hint – check the elevator
Hanamizuki (for lunch only) – shio butter ramen and the fried rice
Sushi Tomi – really good fresh sushi and homestyle japanese dishes like pork curry katsu, pork tonkatsu ramen, and fried chicken karaage.
Teriyaki House – mom and pop Taiwanese Place serving delicious Taiwanese sausage, braised pork belly, fried tofu, fried salt and pepper chicken and other street foody type comfort food.
Photo Courtesy of BurgerJunkies.com
The After Party Food truck – the Brazilian Xtravaganza Burger made with 16 ingredients: hamburger patty, cheese, bacon, shredded chicken, sausage, fried egg, ham,lettuce, tomato, onions, garlic, mayo, ketchup, pea, corn, potato sticks
Any of the ones below that were nominated this past year for the
James Beard Award – Best Chef – South – Central Florida Nominees 2013
Kathleen Blake, The Rusty Spoon and Pine 22, Orlando, FL
Scott Hunnel, Victoria & Albert’s at Disney’s Grand Floridian resort & Spa, Lake Buena Vista, FL
Hari Pulapaka, Cress, DeLand, FL