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Famous food blogger moves to Dallas, calls out brisket at revered BBQ spot

Food blogger moves to Dallas, calls out brisket at revered BBQ spot

Strictly Dumpling Mike Chen
Mike Chen is an engaging and likable reviewer with a big following on YouTube. YouTube

A famous online food reviewer with millions of followers on YouTube has moved to Dallas to cover its booming restaurant scene.

Mike Chen is the host of Strictly Dumpling, a YouTube channel that has amassed 3.7 million subscribers since it launched in 2013. A companion channel, called MikeyChen, has 1.34 million subscribers.

Since his relocation to North Texas in early March, he's already posted raves about our ramen, Vietnamese food, and sushi.

But uh-oh: He was unimpressed with the city's No. 1 most recommended BBQ spot.

Chen follows a tradition of guys — it's always guys — touring restaurants and doing reviews that includes Anthony Bourdain, Guy Fieri, and Action Bronson. He's traveled around the world documenting foods he's tried, from an all-you-can-eat lobster buffet in Las Vegas to ramen in Japan.

Chen is in Texas because he's opening a Korean restaurant in Houston called Karne later this year. But he says he chose Dallas for his residence because of its burgeoning Asian restaurant scene. (He actually moved to Allen, into an apartment which he rented sight unseen; he dedicated a video in which he oohed and aahed over its spaciousness compared to his prior residence in Seattle.)

"Good Vietnamese food is part of the reason I came to Dallas," he says.

His arrival has been the buzz of the Asian Grub in DFW Facebook page, the center of the Dallas food universe right now, and he's proven to be an unflaggingly gracious recipient of the attention he's receiving from fans.

He's already covered lots of ground. For example, he just published an "Ultimate Japanese Ramen & Sushi Tour," covering ramen spots Wabi House on Greenville Avenue, Ichigo Ramen Lounge in Deep Ellum, and Ramen Izakaya Akira, which he proclaims is "the closest to a Japanese ramen shop I've been to in a long time."

He also did a tour of Dallas' Koreatown where he ate ribs for breakfast, and has even hit Houston for a tour of the city's Chinatown, where he discovers someone has strangely invaded his car and stolen a change-of-address form. One of the many likable things about his videos is his down-to-earth authenticity.

Most of his videos are positive. But his review of Dallas' BBQ sacred cow, Pecan Lodge in Deep Ellum, not so much.

His first disappointment: They're already sold out of the beef rib.

"I wanted a beef rib which is the Cadillac, the Rolls Royce, the Halle Berry of BBQ meat, but they sold out within one hour," he says.

Second disappointment: the lean brisket, which he proclaims to be dry.

"The biggest mistake I made was not specifying I wanted fatty brisket," he says. "I always specify fatty. I don't think I've ever had lean brisket that wasn't dry. I don't understand lean brisket."

Dear Mr. Chen, I can explain lean brisket: Some people don't like gross disgusting jiggly fat.

He has nicer things to say about their jalapeno sausage and he likes their signature sweet potato topped with chopped brisket.

He has a better experience at Terry Black's, also in Deep Ellum, where he gets his sought-after beef rib, plus smoked sausage, smoked turkey, and a tour of their smokers.

In the video, he promises to continue covering BBQ. "I will try most if not all of the BBQ places in Dallas and in Texas, but it's gonna take some time," he says.


Eric Sandler contributed to this story.