Continuing on with the "let's not be typical and eat Chinese food" quest, I thought hard about where we were going to eat after my Uncle wanted to treat us back for the meal at Boiling Crab. Suddenly it occurred to me - let's do BBQ! So off we headed over to Sam's BBQ in San Jose for some finger lickin' eats. It was nice to be at a place where it was casual and fun, especially with the impending 5 courses of meat. Such a change from the 10 courses of Chinese food. Yah, #firstworldproblems...
Fortunately for us, we were able to make a reservation since we were a large party. Funny that when we got there, a lady was sitting at our table and refused to budge. She wondered why we needed 2 tables. Um... 8 people cannot fit into one table! Anyways... Before the carnivore feast was about to begin, the Steak Fries made their appearance. These were thick, crunchy yet lacking in potatoness. My kids seemed to like them, so what do I know? Next up was a generous portion of Hush Puppies. These had a firm crunch from the cornmeal which I personally liked. Inside, it was dense, yet not heavy as it was moist. The side of honey butter helped soften things up even more so (as well as adding an aromatic sweetness).
I gave the Beef Ribs a sample and they were meaty with a "steak-like" texture. So it wasn't exactly falling off the bone (it's smoked so it shouldn't be), but that didn't mean it was difficult to eat either. It exhibited a nice even smoke ring that gave the meat depth of flavor. The BBQ sauce was a nice mix including enough smoke and sweetness. As for the Baby Back Ribs, they were ginormous with lots of meat that didn't suffer much shrinkage from smoking. Again, this type of BBQ would not yield fall-off-the-bone ribs necessarily since they marinate and the smoke it from raw (then put on the BBQ). Unlike being par-boiled (that would make BBQ purists cry), these ribs were meaty and full of natural flavour including the smoke and sweet BBQ sauce.
Moving on, we also got a pound of the Smoked Brisket which also had a flavorful smoke ring as well. Due to the cut (at the end of the brisket), the meat was on the drier side. With that being said, it wasn't chewy as the meat had tenderized from the 14 hours of smoking. It did have a nice bark that added a richness to the meat. I wasn't a huge fan of the BBQ Pork though as it was not exactly that tender. As you can see in the picture, it wasn't dry per se and indeed it wasn't lean either. But possibly due to the thickness of the meat, the center portion was chewy and a little bland. Again, there was a nice exterior bark and smoke ring. If I ate those pieces alone, it was okay.
Last meat option was 1/2 Sam's Salsa Chicken. Sporting a beautiful deep brown smoked exterior, the skin was completely rendered. Although no one would ever claim the meat was juicy, it wasn't too dry either. Even the breast meat was completely edible without chewy parts. Flavorwise, it was of course smoky, but I didn't get a whole lot of salsa though. For our sides, we had Potato Salad, Garlic Bread, Coleslaw and Chili Beans. The potato salad was the typical mashed potato-type with onions, celery and mustard. Coleslaw was good with a fresh crunch and zip. The chili beans were more like baked beans with some spice. Overall, the stuff at Sam's was decent and generally a good value. No one should be longing for any meat after a meal here. One word of caution to those who like chain restaurant BBQ food, you won't find it at Sam's. They smoke everything from raw where it retains its natural flavors and takes on a rich smoke. No parboiled stuff here.
- You won't leave hungry
- Casual, relaxed atmosphere
- Due to the cooking method, the meats will not fall-off-the-bone (if you want that style...)
- Pretty darn busy (good for them)