Around the time of this blog’s genesis, I was eating a ridiculous amount of soul food. As the first post, Bludso’s basically inspired this blog.. Fast forward 3 years, and wafts of smoke from kettle drums are no longer frequent visitors of my olfactory.
Earlier in August, a little birdie on HiddenLA (careful, it’s heavily populated by a buncha ill-humoured WASPs) mentioned a new New Orleans place in Crenshaw, and another one on Yelp (yes, you read Yelp too, don’t be snooty) mentioned Brother’s BBQ in Inglewood. A few days later, we were off to da ‘hood.
Nu Nu Orleans is a neighborly family operated biz. Instead of hearing buzzing clippers at the barber shop, you smell the red beans and rice at the restaurant. This location used to host a certain crab boil joint named… well, “Crab Pit”. It apparently served turkey tacos and crab tacos. The new joint is a proper New Orleans “style” shack. As with most fry shacks, take-out is popular, and here, it’s almost a necessity due to scarcity of seating/tables. The restaurant’s lay out is so piss poor you almost feel bad for the operators. There is counter space, but it’s not conducive to sitting/eating/chatting because it ends abruptly into the take-out POS. Because Nu Nu Orleans occupies an entire corner within an albeit tiny strip mall, there should abundant seating space, but there isn’t. Despite the substantial foot print, the restaurant maximum occupancy is perhaps 20, on a good day. Despite new ownership and an attempt at remodeling, the building seems incongruous and unsure of its purpose.
But enough of the architecture! After all, this is just about po-boys in Crenshaw! It’s in the ‘hood, it’s OG, it’s got soul, Nu Nu must be good! BUZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ, try again contestant. 4 (or maybe it was just 3?) over cornmealed oysters constituted a $8.99 po-boy. The soft chewy “French roll” was indeed buttered & fluffy, but the entire assemblage was portionend for Weight Watchers. With every bite, there was more dough than seafood. Pretty sure the Korean operated you-buy-we-fry joints in Compton/Carson can concoct a superior seafood sandwich better to this. The shrimp po-boy was equally pathetic with perhaps 5 small (think more 31/25, less 21/15), poorly dusted, lukewarm shrimps, enveloped in the same roll, same sad lettuce, and some slices of tomato.
We were so depressed we had to run to Brother’s BBQ…
Over the past few years, Brother’s BBQ slowly built their street rep before opening their brick and mortar. The Bennett brothers rose from the catering ranks, having been a staple at various regional jazz festivals since 2005, and finally opened up their Crenshaw shop October of 2010. Akin to its neighbors, there is absolutely no seating space inside Brother’s BBQ. There are plenty of drum smokers, but if you want to dine in… Well, you can’t.
Unfortunately, this particular visit coincided with the Long Beach Jazz Festival and both the quality and the service at this smoke house clearly took a beating. From the ineptly sliced brisket, to the under smoked rib, nothing vouched for 30 years of experience. Despite the bellowing drum smokers, the pork ribs lacked distinct smoke ring:
The sliced brisket, though with ring, had the chew of well worn leather belt, with taste to match the texture. The saving grace was the jerkified rib tips — slightly charred, much too dry, but carrying the best flavors from the rub, and from the smoke. The pork rib / brisket / rib tip was part of the 3 meat combo, priced at approximately $20. 2 sides & some cute corn bread also come with the fast-food compartmentalized styrofoam box; though some dismissed the collards, I find the sour and slightly bitter greens entertaining and superior to the mac. All in all, Brother’s just isn’t up to snuff even versus Philips, the other local darlings, but another trip is definitely warranted. If it wasn’t festival weekend, the ribs might’ve been decent, and the bony rib tibs just right.
** Indeed Inglewood is an incorporated city, but we all know “South Central” just sounds “hard”, no matter how Los Angeles City tries to gentrify it as “South LA”.
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