DELICIOUS DEBUTS
The Grand Opening of Zhà-Mē

Last week, we were thrilled to see our contributing writer Steve Luw in culinary action with the debut of Zhà Pan Asian Streetfood. The creators (Steve and his friend Heezy) of Zhà-Mē, an original fried Asian rice ball, held their first ever pop-up last Thursday at Zucker Bakery. And it was delicious.

Zhà, which is pronounced "Ja," translates to "Deep fried" in Chinese. So it makes sense that the food is just that: large balls of rice (about the size of your fist) stuffed with tasty mixtures and dunked in an oil bath, for an oh-so-crispy crust and a sinfully tender center. These babies are all about complex texture and flavor, which is exactly what Zhà Pan Asian was going for. The best part? Despite being comprised of rice and saucy meats, they do not fall apart in your hands. Score.

CHEAP EATS
Zhà Pan Asian Streetfood Pop-Up

Who doesn't love street food? First Course's own contributing writer Steve Luw, and his corporate-turned-culinary buddy Heezy, have joined forces to bring us Zhà-Mē, Asian Fried Rice Balls to-go. Their creations are set to appear at a Pop-Up this Thursday, between 8pm and midnight (or until food runs out) at Zucker Bakery.

Their menu boasts traditional Asian cuisine in an innovative on-the-go format. Based on Lo Mài Gài a chicken-stuffed sticky rice dish made popular by dim sum restaurants, Zhà-Mē is a fried original, with a crispy outside and tasty fillings like Bulgogi, a type of Korean BBQ beef, or Char-Siu, a Chinese roasted pork. They also offer smaller rice balls, like K-Poppers, filled with Kim-Chi fried rice, eggs, scallions, bacon, and carrots. Try pairing any of those bad boys with a side of Asian Slaw or Asian Fries for anything but your run-of-the-mill dinner.

CHEAP EATS
Japadog

When Canada’s favorite street hot dogs crashed the East Village, nobody looked at hot dogs the same way again. Helmed by Japanese native Noriki Tamura, Japadog is a little shop on St. Marks Place that serves an eclectic array of Japanese snacks. Japadog takes the typical American fast food like fries and hot dogs on a non-quintessential spin, blowing minds away with crazy flavors and combinations that exceed your wildest imaginations.

Let's be frank. We love this place because everything on the menu screams adventure — from the butter and shoyu (soy sauce) fries to the three-scoop ice cream sandwich. The latter is known as the Ice Age and contains three scoops of flavored ice cream sandwiched between deep fried buns. We’re talking cool flavors like black sesame, mango and green tea, among the classic vanilla and strawberry.

DAILY BITES
Hidden Kitchen at Blackbird Ordinary

Contrary to popular belief, foodies aren’t always eating all the time. Sometimes we like to go out just to hang out, maybe listen to some good music, and maybe just move around the dance floor a little...you know...to burn off some of that incredible dinner we just had that is sure to appear on our blogs the next day. Nevertheless, it does go much appreciated when a nightlife venue offers a little something for foodies and makes a “one-stop shop” out of what would otherwise have been a night around town. I’m sure most night owls in Miami have seen delicious examples of this trend: the lounge offering non-afterthought small plates or the food truck parked just outside the bar. To add to the ever-increasing roster of bars, clubs, and lounges catering to foodies is Blackbird Ordinary in Brickell.

CULINARY OCCASIONS
SOBEWFF Recap: Trucks on Midtown's Tracks with Andrew Zimmern

This year’s South Beach Wine & Food Festival ended with a fun, homegrown party that honored Miami’s growing mobile food culture with a selection of over 20 of South Florida’s most popular food trucks in an event hosted by Andrew Zimmern in Midtown Miami. February 24th’s Trucks on Midtown’s Tracks event, presented by Diet Pepsi, offered the chance for locals to reacquaint themselves with some of Miami’s delicious street food and provided visitors the opportunity to savor some very tasty Miami traditions. The food trucks were pitted against each other as to which truck offered the best dish in a competition judged by everyone in attendance, and with a selection as varied and delicious as what was available this past Sunday, the choice wasn’t easy to make.

CHEAP EATS
Glaze Teriyaki Welcomed to Union Square

The end of August marked a great occasion for the Glaze Teriyaki chain. Hailing from Seattle, Glaze Teriyaki showcases delectable Japanese/Korean street food to metropolitan areas. Glaze Teriyaki opened its first restaurant in Midtown East in New York in 2010, and after much success, the branch has expanded to Union Square.

Owner Paul Krug and Chef Dennis Lake joined forces to open this second location downtown. The menu at the Union Square location remains the same as its Midtown sister, and trust us, this is a good thing. The simple menu consists of traditional teriyaki plates, where you can choose from chargrilled chicken thigh or breast, Japanese bbq hangar steak, organic salmon, pork loin, wok vegetables, or soy maritnated tofu as your main entree. Served over a bed of short grain white or brown rice, along with a side salad, the dish is a steal, with prices from $6.75-$9.50. The dish comes with so much food, it's enough for two meals. Pair with it some side dishes and you'll leave a happy customer. Sides range from $3-$5 with options like edamame, cold sesame soba noodles, shishito peppers cucumber salad, crispy gyoza, and spicy Asian bbq pickles. Chef Dennis Lake is passionate about the Glaze Teriyaki franchise and sure knows how to whip up some good grub. Another plus of dining at Glaze Teriyaki, besides the fact that it's quick and affordable, is that the restaurant is dedicated to using all natural proteins and local products whenever possible.

CULINARY OCCASIONS
San Francisco Street Food Festival

If you are going to be in San Francisco this Saturday, August 20th and want to be exposed to the amazing culinary scene of the city, the 3rd Annual San Francisco Street Food Festival, presented by La Cocina is not to be missed! SFSFF offers the best of the Bay Area food all in one great location. Trot down to the Mission district on Folsom Street between 22nd and 26th to stuff your tummy full of almost every type of cuisine imaginable.

CHEAP EATS
San Francisco Street Food

Food trucks came rolling on to the culinary scene a few years ago. Given these hard financial times, it’s no surprise that they continue to gain popularity. The growing street food culture led to the development of Off the Grid in the Bay Area. Off the Grid has a variety of different locations during the week where you can get access to all of your favorite food trucks in one location. So stop obsessively following your favorites on Twitter and mingle with your fellow foodies during the week!

DAILY BITES
Let's Take This Outside!

In lieu of Spring Break and our guide to cheap eats in the area, what better way to save money than with street food, right? I mean it’s wholesome, nutritious, and good for you. Ha! Just kidding, you may actually pay for it later after eating street food but it sure does taste pretty darn good! With that in mind, the only thing better than street food is a whole street full of it!

Tomorrow, March 11, the Wheelin’ Dealin’ Street Food Festival will take place at the Magic City Casino from 11AM-3PM. For four straight hours, you’ll get to indulge in amazing comfort food, hear great music, and even partake in cool giveaways. In this wonderfully sinful event, the street will be filled with over 20 food trucks offering everything from BBQ and tacos to desserts and crepes. You’ll even find some gourmet food from Miami’s original gourmet food truck, GastroPod.

BEST OF
Macondo

Nobody living in New York is completely immune to the lower east side’s charms and with restaurants like Macondo (and its older upscale sister Rayuela) why would you dare try? Macondo aims to bring Latin American street food to an elevated forum for its patrons to enjoy.

From the street, just the look of Macondo is enticing. The bar is just big enough for a party of five (no pun intended) and has a few seats hedging the outside (prime real estate during cocktail hour). The dining room stretches back, resembling the dimly lit aisles of a 747, and is decorated by old wooden shelves stocked with Latin staples (like canned chilies).