Nachos at Coach’s Pub and Grill, Lansing

What’s a guy to do? Every year, I try to eat at 25 (or more) new restaurants. Last year I hit 30, which means for a small city like Lansing, I have to keep heading farther out to make my goal. This time, I headed to the prime real estate area of south Lansing, not far from where the ritzy town of Holt begins. I’m moving on up to the south side. My target for this visit: Nachos. The place: Coach’s Pub and Grill.

And what a nice looking set of nachos they were. They’re practically symmetrical, and they sure look like they were made with love, even though they weren’t. And the dual towers of condiments defended the nachos like guard towers. The Mt. Dew flowed freely and my lunch hour was looking good.

Nachos at Coach's

Nachos at Coach’s

Did their taste match their artistry of design? No. The problem was the beans. And the chips. They were firmly in the “blah” range. The cheese attained the lofty height of average. But the tomatoes and lettuce were fine, so they weren’t all bad. And the sour cream didn’t suck.  I would speak more about the chicken, but there really wasn’t enough to talk about. Fifty cents doesn’t get you much these days, though it will get you fifty rides on Sandy, the mechanical horse at Meijer.

As for the building, don’t be deceived by appearances. The building looked dumpy on the outside, but was quite nice on the inside. There was hardly a vertical surface not covered by a TV or dart board and it looked like a great place to watch a game. In fact, I may do that – the chicken strips looked very good, so those will most likely be my next victim. Remember, chickens are trying to take over the word – it’s them or us, so make sure it’s them.

Advertisements

Nachos at Beggar’s Banquet, East Lansing

Beggar’s Banquet has impressed me my past few visits. An excellent Dave’s Way mac & cheese was my previous meal, and this time, the nachos drew me in. I know… Beggar’s for nachos? But they were on the menu, so I had to try them. It’s the law.

Nachos at Beggar's

Nachos at Beggar’s

First off, they were chorizo nachos, not your ordinary chicken or beef, so points for that. And second off, they were outstanding. The chorizo was applied generously because no one likes a chorizo skimper. A little bit spicy, a lot bit tasty. Face it, you need more chorizo in your life.

Also not commonly seen on nachos were black beans and corn. I know – odd, but they worked. I didn’t feel like I was in Michigan anymore, but somewhere south, somewhere exotic. Like Indiana or something. Throw on the regular players of tomatoes and lettuce and you have your recommended daily allowance of vegetables. But I don’t follow that voodoo, anyways. Any list that doesn’t include a daily beer or wine is really a list made by hacks.

Rounding out the nacho ingredients, I’ll also mentioned that the salsa was excellent (there was some chipotle or armadillo or something in there that really flavored-up the salsa), and the chips were worth a mention as well. They were tough, fending off the aggressive assault by the assorted vegetables and staying crispy. I was skeptical of the nachos ability to fill me up, appearing on the small side, but they did their job. I’m sure the two beers I had helped, too.

So what is the final verdict? In the words of Dora the Explorer, “fantastico”. They are definitely top-rate nachos and worthy to be on my “Best of Lansing-ish” nachos.

Ukai, Okemos

Bonzai!

What’s better than Japanese food? Japanese food and a great big fire. That is the pull of Ukai in Okemos, a hibachi grill with entertaining chefs, huge flames, and, oh yeah, excellent food.

We entered through the large wooden doors complete with lion pull rings. I’d like to see McDonald’s try to pull that off. We were led past the sushi bar and aquarium – I don’t think the fish were going to be dinner – and into the main dining area, which had eight tables. Each table could seat eight, and each had their own grill. So if you do the math, that equals a bunch of people and eight great big fires.

Ukai

Ukai

First off, I went for the large Sapporo, because that’s how I roll. Maybe you’re a Mai Tai person, maybe wine, maybe sake. I don’t know under which category you fall, but you have your options. I had hoped that my beer would come in a paper sack, but apparently, you have to order a Mad Dog to get one, and they were all out of Mad Dog.

I always get the teriyaki chicken, and this trip was no exception. The dinner start with salad and soup. I found it very hard to eat the soup with chopsticks, so I had to resort to the spoon. I know, I know – Japanese food fail. The soup seemed extra salty which is fine by me – salt is the fifth food group. And you know you love little chunks of tofu floating in your soup. Oh, lovely soy bean-based cubes.

But, man does not live by soy-based products in soup alone. (I think that’s from the Bible.) No, the star of my show was the teriyaki chicken. After the ninja chef was done doing his magic, I had a plate with chicken, fried rice, sprouts, onions, mushrooms, and a few shrimp appetizers. And there was a lot of food waiting anxiously in front of me… waiting for me to devour it.

Teriyaki chicken

Teriyaki chicken

And devour it I did. The teriyaki sauce wasn’t heavy and the chicken was nicely prepared. And there was a lot of it – no skimping at Ukai. If you go hungry, it’s your own fault. Besides tasty chicken, I like my fried rice with lots of egg, and that’s what I got – lucky me. And you may not get one of these, but we were there for my daughter’s sixth birthday dinner, and they brought out a boat carved out of a pineapple, along with an orange and Maraschino cherries skewed with little plastic swords.

Ukai is a great break from the ordinary restaurant scene. Good food, very nice servers and chefs, large Japanese beers, and fires that could take off your eyebrows – in other words, a recipe for a great outing.