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Wichita Pizza Fest is on the way
Wichita has proven over and over their love of food festivals. A day after Wichita Taco Fest generated crowds that nobody was expecting, the same event organizers have confirmed they are planning another event.

Be on the look out for another foodie favorite: pizza.

Wichita Pizza Fest is scheduled to take place in the fall, no other details have been made public.

What pizza vendors will be on hand? Or more importantly, who should be on hand? How will the slices be sold? What lessons learned from Wichita Taco Fest will be used to make Wichita Pizza Fest successful?

My biggest concern would be quality. Places like Il Vicino, Piatto or Avivo would not be able to replicate what they have in the restaurant at a food festival. Regardless, there's a lot of questions left to be answered.

We'll find out soon enough.

Stay tuned. We'll post updates as they become available.

Happy Dining,
Eddy

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Welcome back to our "Must Try Menu Item" Feature where we go around from restaurant to restaurant and pick one item on the menu that everybody should try at least once.

There are certain monthly cravings I have: pho, tacos, steamed rice, breakfast burritos and the subject of this blog: sashimi.

Sashimi is a Japanese delicacy consisting of very fresh raw meat or fish sliced into thin pieces. When it comes to sashimi, there's one place I'll look to first in getting my monthly fill: Tokyo Japanese Cuisine.


I know that raw fish isn't for everyone but if you love sashimi as do I, Tokyo is fantastic for the price and for the flavor. The quality of fish they get in is top notch. The tuna and salmon just melt in your mouth; there's no need to take actual bites.


When it comes to sashimi, they have it all: shrimp, eel, tuna, yellowtail, salmon, tuna, white tuna, red snapper, tako, you name it. All of it comes out fresh and just as good if not better than any other place you'll find in Wichita.

I understand people are hesitant to order sushi in Wichita because we live in a landlocked state. But take it from me, I've had the sashimi at Tokyo countless of times and it's always been a wonderful experience.

If YOU have a suggestion of a certain menu item we should try at a particular restaurant, comment below or shoot us an e-mail at wichitabyeb@gmail.com

Happy Dining!
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Photo Courtesy of Donovan Metcalf: "Past the Bridge"

Long lines ended up being the theme of the first ever Wichita Taco Fest.

What was originally an excellent idea had some poor execution and lessons to be learned if and when a second one takes place next year.

I had so many friends, family, and co-workers with tickets in advance who didn't want to stand for 45 minutes to get in and wait another 20 minutes in line for tacos. It was pre-purchased tickets that had gone to waste. For friends that were able to get in, they were lucky to only try a few tacos due to long lines or vendors running out.

Wichita Taco Fest
When I received word of the event taking place, I messaged one of the event operators to see if tickets would be limited. As someone who has planned many events in the past, I felt limiting tickets for a first time event would be the best route to go. Limiting tickets would give everyone including food vendors an exact number of what to expect for turnout.

While the start of Taco Fest was delayed due to health inspectors taking a little longer than expected, lines started to wrap around both sides of Union Station. What was unfortunate was when I arrived around 12:15, they had the exact same lines for whether you had a ticket or not. Separating those lines would have been more ideal.

One vendor I spoke to who wish not to be named told me that they were told to prepare food for 500-1,000 people. If that was actually the case, that was really poor planning.

Another suggestion I would give Wichita Taco Fest is to increase the price of tickets to include the price of tacos. At ICT Bloktoberfest, people were given punch cards. Each time you tried out a vendor, they punched your ticket so show you've been to that particular vendor. It made the process run smoother and saved the time of having to deal with paying each taco vendor one customer at a time.

Location is also a thing to reconsider. If they hold it again at Union Station, limiting tickets is almost a must. If they get the same turnout, exploring other venues should be discussed at the very least.

Possibly speaking with other successful event organizers like those that run Downtown Chili Cook Off, Midwest Beerfest and others to gain ideas on how to better run a festival would be of good use.

Just looking at the turnout alone, it's obvious Wichita loves these types of events. When you mix in food that everyone loves, making it family oriented and having it outside, it's going to draw big crowds. Looking at the reviews online from Wichita Taco Fest, they were getting torn up left and right from many unhappy people and deservedly so. The people are the customers; the ones you aim to please.

Here's to hoping that Wichita Taco Fest can learn from these mistakes, really build on them and earn back some goodwill. As stated earlier, it's a great idea. If they can get it right, it could turn out to be one of the best food fests to take place every year.

And if the rumored Wichita Pizza Fest does in fact take place later this year, hopefully they can learn from these mistakes as well.

Happy Dining,
Eddy

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There's a new food truck coming to Wichita in July called Manny's Mexi-Kan Kitchen.

While details are pretty limited at the moment, the new truck is owned by a local couple. They will be serving out tacos, quesadillas, burritos, steak fries and nachos. Here the most up to date menu.



According to one post I saw, they will be situated downtown near Douglas & Emporia and are aiming for a July 4th weekend opening.

For more on Manny's Mexi-Kan Kitchen food truck, be sure to Like them on Facebook.

Happy Dining,
Eddy

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My family loves us some fish. We eat it multiple times a month and it still doesn't get old. Now with summer upon it, that meant it was time to check out Bonefish Grill's new summer menu. My family and I headed out to the Waterfront to give the new menu a go.


The new seasonal menu can vary upon location. For Wichita, the big new feature was Creole-Style Redfish. Since it was brand new to the menu, it was a certainty for me to try.



For our visit, we ordered the Creole-Style Refish, Cedar Plank Norwegian Salmon (not pictured) and the Applewood Bacon Wrapped Scallops Starters.


The starter consisted of four Georges Bank Scallops wrapped in Applewood bacon and topped with mango salsa. Now we've had the scallops before and they were amazing. We learned something new on our venture. Bacon makes everything better. The bacon added a nice crispy bite to the scallops that just added to the meal.


Next up wias the Creole-Style Redfish. We've never had redfish before; completely new to everybody. It was a mild sweet fish with a firm texture. It had a Cajun feel to it as if we were eating in New Orleans. As big fans of cajun food, we loved it. The refish was topped with crawfish along with a creole sauce that gave it a nice bite. It wasn't so much either that it turned away anybody. While I wouldn't call it spicy at all, my cousin called it mildly spicy.

The Cedar Plank Norwegian Salmon was another winner. The salmon was roasted on a western red cedar plank and topped with fresh, light citrus, honey-based glaze. Had my brother not gone to town on the meal when it arrived, I could have taken a glorious picture. He loved every bite of it. It was a sweet yet smokey flavor to it all.

In trying out the new seasonal menu at Bonefish, we can definitely say we give it our approval yet again. Once again the food and service was quality and deserving of another family visit. It's safe to say we will be back again soon.

Happy Dining,
Eddy

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With the heat really coming on, a new concept that been spreading all over the country finally made it's way to Wichita just in time to cool down our palates.

It's time to introduce the city to 8 Below Rolled Ice Cream.


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Union Station canopies
701 E Douglas
Wichita, KS 67202
316-768-6032

Open Daily 11am - 10pm

Website - Menu available online
Facebook

Cash/Card accepted

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8 Below Rolled Ice Cream brings something Wichita has never seen before and people are coming in masses. They really nailed it down with the location being in Old Town inside the Union State canopies. With an open area with a great view of Douglas, you could grab a dessert and walk around downtown unless it's so hot out that the ice cream melts. We found some shaded areas in Union Station to sit and enjoy our treats.

The concept is visually appealing as they make the ice cream right in front of you. All the ingredients you choose are placed onto a pan set at negative eight degrees. Then similar to a hibachi grill chef, the staff chops its, mixes it, flattens its, and rolls the ice cream into eggroll shape desserts. They then put them into bowls and top them with additional ingredients of your choosing.

It's all very cool. I stopped by over the weekend with my niece and cousins and everyone was up against the counter watching the employees work away.

If you don't want to pick all your ingredients, they have preset options of desserts you can choose from.

We recorded our creations in the works.




On our visit, we ordered the Brownie Mix, Pink Lady, Cookies & Cream, Mango Tango and Gimme Smore.

With only three stations available to make the ice cream, it can take some time especially when there's long lines. Each dessert took roughly 10-15 minutes to make. We arrived at 12:30 on Saturday afternoon and were able to order immediately. Within minutes after we ordered, an extremely long line built up that had to create about an hour wait. We were very lucky.




The ice cream was better than expected. All the kids absolutely it. The rolls had a great texture which tasted incredibly fresh. Couple of the kids said it was the best ice cream they've ever had.

The Mango Tango was probably the favorite of all the ice creams. The strawberries and mango really stood out from your everyday vanilla or chocolate ice cream that the kids are accustomed to. Even though there was a standout favorite, there wasn't one that anybody disliked or felt was average.

At six bucks per bowl, it was a little on the high end even though everyone liked it. The price would probably hinder many families from going frequently.

The wait times also left a lot to be desired. I was speaking with a couple of the employees and they noted that wait times all week long were 1-2 hours long. That hopefully will get better as the staff becomes more experienced at making the ice cream. Also when the ice cream was ready, the staff would announce out a number which caused some issues. Some people would order their ice cream and step outside of the building because it was so packed. Others would forget their number. Fixing that process of customers retrieving their ice cream could use some work.

Our experience at 8 Below Ice Cream was incredible partly because we were able to beat the rush. It took no more than fifteen minutes to order and get our ice cream. That instance became a rarity within minutes after our arrival. Many people I spoke to later who had tried 8 Below gave me their stories of long wait times close to an hour but loved the ice cream.

We will see how 8 Below Ice Cream improves as the summer moves along. With a great product, their process has a lot of room for improvement. If you can try it out without the long wait times, it's certainly recommended.

Happy Dining,
Eddy

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Who's ready for Wichita Taco Fest? I have my tickets, do you?


The event takes place at Union State on Saturday June 24th from Noon to 7 pm.

19 different vendors around Wichita will be on hand selling 4.5 inch bite size tacos for $1 a piece. You can pair that with chips and salsa for $2.

There will be several different contests such as Best Taco, Best Salsa and Best Margarita where crowds can participate in the voting.

For those that are there for the tequila, there's a Tequila Bar open from 12-4 pm. Q92's Carla Ayala will also be on hand to host the event with free giveaways. As for the most important part, here's the list of who will be on hand.
Taco Fest Participants:

Molino’s
Funky Monkey
Tacos el Torito
Angry Elephant
Hot 2 Trot
The Kitchen
The Mumbai Rail
Emerson Biggins
On The Border
Las Dos Costas
37 West
Blue Fin Sake Bar
Casa Del Charro
District Taqueria
Las Palmas Mexican
Los Compadres
Carlos O'Kellys
Chase Branscum
La Hacienda
Tickets are just $5 a piece and kids 5 and under are free. If you haven't purchased your tickets yet, head over to wichitatacofest.com to buy them online to stop by any of the Mobilecomm locations in town or the Demo Skate Shop to pick them up in person.

For more information, head over to wichitatacofest.com

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Blue Fin Sake Bar is having their grand opening on Friday, June 9th.

For this day only, they are offering 10% off of everything. They have been closed all week long for renovations and are ready to open their doors.

While Blue Fin Sake Bar has technically been open for a couple months, they will have a changed look inside and hope to improve on a key area that plagued them originally: the slow service as evident in some of their reviews. I can attest the sushi was great though. If they can overcome the long waits, Blue Fin has a great shot at making it.

Blue Fin Sake Bar is located at 255 N. Washington Ave.

You can check out our original First Look from back in April as well as follow Blue Fin Sake Bar on Facebook.

Happy Dining,
Eddy

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The Village at Greenwich has really grown over the year and now houses many restaurants. So far the offering has been lackluster with no restaurants that are true must try's. We've been to every single place within the Village that offers food and not one has caught our attention that makes us crave it again.

Our hope is that will change with their newest restaurant, the much talked about and truly beautiful Oak and Pie.


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2244 N Greenwich Rd Suite 900
Wichita, KS 67226
316-768-6900

Sunday & Monday: 11am - 9pm
Tuesday - Thursday: 11am - 10pm
Friday - Saturday: 11am - 11pm

Website - Menu available online
Facebook

Cash/Card accepted
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Oak and Pie is the newest wood oven pizza restaurant following in the footsteps of places like Il Vicino and Piatto. Oddly enough all the main upscale wood oven pizza restaurants are on the east side of town.

What sets Oak and Pie apart is the true beauty of the restaurant. They really did it right with the decor.


Everywhere you sit, it's certain to be comfortable. They have a great patio facing the north side of the restaurant and the bar area is great; nice and spacious and a wonderful place for afterwork drinks......


.......... or in our case, anytime drinks. For the record, we really loved their Cucumber Blood Orange Spritzer seen in the middle (and the right, they messed that one up).


This first look actually goes over two different visits. I had family and friends who both were anxious to try Oak and Pie so I did what any caring person would do.....go both times.

On both visits, we ordered appetizers in the form of meatballs with pie sauce and the calamari tossed with spicy pickled peppers. My niece loved the pita bread and dipping it into the pizza sauce. As for the meatballs, there weren't much to them. It was your typical ground beef with spices and seasonings. One of my colleagues wasn't a fan at all and was done after one. As for the calamari, they were much better. When eaten with the spicy pickled peppers it was even better. The peppers really gave the calamari that great complimentary kick. A couple of people did note that some parts of the calamari were a bit under-cooked and you could tell by the color.



Next up were the salads. Everybody ordered salads. From their house salad to the Caesar Salad to the Fresh Market Salad, anybody who went with one of the greens was a happy camper. My cousin noted that the house salad was one of the best salads she has ever had. The red wine vinaigrette was key in making it her favorite.

A few people, including myself, had the Farmer's Market Salad. Once again, their white balsamic vinaigrette dressing lightly drizzled over the candied walnuts, apples and Bibb lettuce were a great combination.

Even my friend who had the Caesar salad was eating away with pure jealousy saying he wished he could make something like that at home.

The only negative went to the Chilled Pasta Salad which was essentially flavorless. If there was any dressing on it, you couldn't tell.

Farmer's Market Salad

Caesar Salad

House Salad

Chilled Pasta Salad
Next up: the main course. There were some orders that weren't pizza in our group: the Lou's Lasagna and the Famous Panini with tomato basil soup. The lasagna came out a bit cooler than it should have been. Ironically enough, a lady who sat right next to us had the same issue. I had the lasagna and admittedly it wasn't my favorite. When it comes to lasagna, it wasn't close to others in town like DeFazio's or Il Vicino or Angelo's. There was something off to it that was hard to spot. I had a couple of my friends also try it and they had the exact same feeling.

My friend had no issue with the tomato basil soup and felt it to be pretty good. As for the Famous Panini, he said the chicken was too tender as if it had been boiled for too long.



Finally it was time for what we came for: the pizzas. The first thing we noticed was the temperature of the pizza. The pizzas were warm but it wasn't the same type of heat you'd find at Il Vicino or Piatto. When doing a quick google search on Oak and Pie to get the website information, I noticed on Google Reviews one of my photographer friends said the same thing.

Without getting too much into it, nobody left really blown away by the pizzas. While the wood oven pizzas are larger than the competition, there was a lot of crust to it as seen in the pictures below. The favorite of all the pizzas ordered was the Chicken White Pie and one of my cousins said if it weren't for the alfredo sauce, he probably wouldn't have finished it. The Soprano Italiano was very greasy which turned off another family member.

All of the other pizzas just lacked the flavor we were expecting. Maybe we set our expectations too high. Even for myself, I went twice and really wanted to like it but it just wasn't for me.

Chicken White Pie

Soprano Italiano

Oh, Buddy!

The Dogfather
For the service, the servers were fantastic. They catered to our every need which is why we wanted to like the place. Add in the whole ambiance of it all and it was a place we could have seen coming back for multiple returns had we been a fans of our food.

As for price, they are about on par with Piatto. When you compare it to Il Vicino which they are essentially like, you're spending more for a slightly larger pizza (10 inches versus 12 inches). Il Vicino prices are $8-11.50 while Oak and Pie is $12-15. The pepperoni pizza at Il Vicino is $8.50 vs. $12 at Oak and Pie.

In the competitive scene of wood oven in Wichita, Oak and Pie just failed to capture the magic we've come to love at places like Piatto and Il Vicino. We left with an underwhelming feeling.

Wichita Eagle writer, Denise Neil, recently boasted about her rare four star review for Piatto. Looking back at her past reviews, it looks as though she hasn't reviewed many pizza establishments so we were all interested to see if she would do a review of Oak and Pie and how it compared.

Upon looking at further reviews online, Oak and Pie certainly has their fans and could end up doing very well in Wichita with their following. There were also some that had our point of views. Unfortunately for my group of ten friends and family, it was a miss.

Happy Dining,
Eddy

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