Saturday, September 6, 2014

Product Review: Barbecue Grill Brush by Optimal Kit

I hate cleaning. I really do. Whether it's dirty dishes, house chores, whatever it may be -- it's just not something I want to do. But as a backyard BBQ griller/smoker, cleaning is an absolute necessity. The grates need to be cleaned for the next session, and if you don't, who knows what type of bacteria will start forming on there. Nobody wants to get sick from a BBQ party, that's for sure.

There are countless grill brushes out on the market, and I've used quite a few over the past several years as a BBQ enthusiast. Recently, I got the chance to try out the Heavy Duty Brass Barbecue Grill Brush by Optimal Kit. The first thing I noticed about this grill brush was how sturdy and durable it felt. I also liked the wide brush head with the long brass bristles.

I made sure to try out the grill brush after a few smoking sessions on my Weber Smoky Mountain. As you can see, there was a lot of gunk on the grates. We're not just talking about a few hot dogs and burgers here -- I smoked a few pork butts and a 14-pound brisket with a huge fat cap. I wanted to put the grill brush to the test and give it a good workout.

As you can tell in the video, it took about 30 seconds of medium-strength cleaning -- mostly centered around the big chunks of gunk -- to get most of it out from the grates. I was impressed with the wide real estate of the brass bristles, and none of the bristles were bent out of shape or fell out. Overall, this is a quality BBQ grill brush and worth the extra few bucks because of its durability.

Dirty Smoke Rating - (4.0 out of 5 stars)
Pros - Sturdy, high quality, wide brass bristles, made in the USA
Cons - Cost is on the higher side
Recommended - Check them out on

Monday, August 18, 2014

Juicy Pork Dumplings at Din Tai Fung, South Coast Plaza

By Dru Chai

Let the juicy pork dumpling madness begin. Today marks the official public grand opening of Din Tai Fung at South Coast Plaza. Din Tai Fung is a high-end Chinese restaurant that has earned countless accolades for their food. South Coast Plaza is the largest upscale shopping mall on the West coast with sales of over $1.5 billion (yes, billion with a "B") every year.

South Coast Plaza location: Replaced the old McDonald's spot by Sears 

You're probably saying, what? Isn't this a BBQ blog? Yes, you're right. But it's also about the ingredients and the meat. I'm all about the MEAT, especially when pork is involved.

Din Tai Fung is a restaurant that specializes in steamed dumplings. But they're not just your average, standard ho-hum dumpling. What makes these dumplings special is that they are filled with seasoned pork meat AND hot pork broth inside these porkalicious dumplings. Yes, I wrote porkalicious.

10 juicy pork dumplings, coming right up
Scalding hot and juicy pork broth inside

Now there are many different restaurants that serve these hot juicy pork dumplings (In Chinese, it's called xiao long bao). But what makes Din Tai Fung's version stand out from the rest is the attention to detail. They have an army of workers simply dedicated to making these dumplings by hand, from scratch. They go through countless hours of training just to be able to meet Din Tai Fung's high standards.

I wonder if they're allowed to make funny faces at customers walking by?

I can easily put down 30 of these hot-pork-broth filled dumplings. They're that good. Sure, I may burn every square inch inside of my mouth in the process, but that's how good they are. I love the intense pork flavor that's packed into each one of these dumplings, and the juicy hot broth is the best part.

While there are hundreds of locations throughout Asia, there are only a handful in the U.S. -- all of them on the West coast. If you find yourself with the opportunity to try these porkalicious dumplings, then jump on it. You can find more pictures on my Facebook page:

Din Tai Fung
3333 Bristol St
Costa Mesa, CA 92626