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Mike Chen is a food vlogger (video blogger) with over 3.7 million followers on his Strictly Dumpling Youtube channel. Chen was born in China but grew up in the Midwest, where his parents ran Chinese buffet restaurants, which gave him a place at the forefront of the food industry from an early age. Later in life, Chen worked in finance and digital strategy before becoming a full-time eater. Recently he moved from Seattle to North Texas where he quickly got used to Texan cuisine.
Last week, the 40-year-old headed south to central Texas where he had a fried chicken sandwich in Austin before waking up before dawn to queue in the rain for Snow BBQ in Lexington.
This week’s video, however, was about the universe’s best little gas station, Buc-ee’s. He feasted on the New Braunfels location with seemingly no regard for calories or money. “Atta kid!
Surprisingly, we learned a few things about the place that we thought we already knew. Sometimes it takes … well, regardless of calories or money … to really size a place.
Chen made a commitment to eat all of his meals (and even some) at Buc-ee’s for 24 hours and here’s what we learned.
Order hot food at the computer terminals and avoid the prefabricated station.
In all the burritos and sandwiches Chen has eaten, the one thing that really stood out is that the food coming out of the kitchen is way better than the station ready to go. Substantially. So while it might take a few more minutes, use the computer screens to create your own sandwiches, burritos, and the like.
Add jalapeños to everything.
Chen added jalapeños to every sandwich he ordered. It was a natural gesture for him; her hand still slipped easily and naturally over the jalapeño button. It’s silly that someone who grew up in the Midwest had to make this point.
Never forget the sauce.
I actually knew about this one, but make sure you grab some sauce packs or containers before you go. Chen awkwardly nibbled on a chest of sawdust. Have you ever had one of their turkey sandwiches? Pity the fool who learned how dry they are on Interstate 35 at 80 km / h.
Change your gloves if you are switching from cleaning to food handling.
Buc-ee is sort of known for being clean, so as a Texan it was as hard to swallow as that dry chest. But, Chen watched a crew member use a broom, clean things up, then stuff his sandwich into a container without ever changing gloves. As the gloves do not get dirty.
Save the life of a chest.
Since Chen’s chest was exposed to whatever was on the handle of that broom and who knows what else, Chen wanted to microwave it before eating it in order to neutralize the germs. I don’t think he ever did, though; on the show, anyway. We never see the breast sandwich again. Either way, microwave chest gives us all the sadness.
Sit where I will sit, Pastrami Sandwich.
Never drove up the thought of a Buc-ee, “Yum! Pastrami sandwich, here I am!” Chen says the pastrami sandwich he had at Buc-ee’s was “one of the best sandwiches I’ve had since I came to Texas.” And he’s come a long way since he arrived. The sandwich is a gloppy monster of tender pastrami, juicy fat, peppery bacon, sauerkraut, mustard, and jalapeños. The bun barely holds everything together – bless her heart.
Toss Buc-ee’s Lemon Cookies with their banana pudding.
Chen points out that Buc-ee’s pays close attention to the flavor it promotes on the packaging. A container of lemon cookies is almost too tart to eat on its own, so he drops some in his banana pudding, which he already loved on its own. But, with the two together, Chen says, “It’s like Aladdin and Jasmine together. It’s a whole new world.”
Balance the overly sweet barbecue sauce with marinated eggs (or not).
While the brisket breakfast tacos were dry, a brisket sandwich (not the gloved one) was overwhelmed with barbecue sauce making it too sweet. Chen opened a pot of Buc-ee’s pickled eggs, which crinkled his sour face, and paired it with the sandwich. He says it works. We will take his word for it. (I can’t with pickled eggs.)
Order anything that contains the word “beast”.
Chen has a rule when discovering new menus: always order anything that contains the word “beast”. In this case, it was a 17-pound ‘Beast’ breakfast burrito, which was one of the best things to eat so far (besides the pastrami) Bon lort .
IT WAS JUST BRUNCH.
For the second round later in the day, Chen grabbed a caddy, which he failed to do the first time around. Clever. He loaded up an extra 10 pounds of food, and this time brought it back to his hotel to enjoy the sights and sounds of a nearby river.
A koblinski by the river is a new list of Airbnb experiences.
Should be anyway. Chen grabbed a pecan kolache and sausage, cheese and jalapeño koblinski for the second round at Buc-ee. This is probably the quieter, quieter part of the episode. Time slowed down as he ate the puffy soft bread that swaddled a sausage and gooey cheese, “I could just sit here by the river and slowly stuff my face,” Chen said after a bite. “I just want to snuggle up with him at night.”
We slept on the $ 2 Buc-ee Cinnamon Rolls.
When chatting about Buc-ee’s in the office, at the lake, or anywhere else, have you ever heard someone say, “How about their $ 2 Cinnamon Buns?” And now I realize that sometimes it takes an outside perspective to see the forest through the ice. Chen said the people at the store told him to warm it up before eating it, which he did. The fluffy swirl of dough was as big as her face and swam in hot icing. “My new motto is IBKIT, in Buc-ee’s kitchen I trust,” Chen says. He is expected to run for governor on this platform. He would win.
We also slept on Buc-ee’s fish sandwich.
Personally, the fish sandwich looked like the best thing he had tried on this feast. I didn’t even know they had fish sandwiches. This one had a crispy crust wrapped around delicate flakes of white fish. The bread looked “not too breaded” and the fish lay on a pile of coleslaw. Who knew?
Spotted mosquitoes are dangerous.
Chen’s riverside buffet turned against him as the sun set. The eater has become the eaten. But, he said something interesting: “I saw some dangerous looking mosquitoes, you know the ones that have been spotted.” Huh?
Mike Chen is a beast.
Chen topped off his marauding night with a scrumptious roast beef sandwich, pulled pork burrito with jalapeño cheese, and tender French fries. He has gone mad about all of them. The fried pie was covered in sugar and cinnamon, and he said the apples didn’t have a manufactured taste. Even though he only took a few bites from his 36-course tasting menu, he devoured a copious amount of food and never got tired. He gave every bite his bestial attention.
We don’t know how a man could even taste all this food in one day, but seeing is believing. Welcome to Texas.
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