Opinion: T. Ho Fresh Vietnamese Kitchen is deliciously addictive

There is a lot to be said for restaurant recommendations from your foodie friends. I love having friends who have a passion for food and a passion for finding restaurants that you have to keep going back to just to satisfy your cravings.

One day, I was scrolling through Instagram and I saw a gorgeous photo of Vietnamese food. My good friend recommended that everyone try T. Ho Fresh Vietnamese Kitchen. The eatery is owned by friends of his family.

I heard a lot of amazing things about the restaurant so, I knew that I had to go try it. It is a little far away from campus, but I found out that the food is definitely worth the extra mileage.

Upon entering T. Ho, you can smell the Vietnamese food cooking. The restaurant is very quaint. There are only a few seats in the place and it is located on the very corner of a series of buildings. The parking lot is very small so, be sure to carpool if you and your friends want to make a trip there.

The pho at T. Ho Fresh Vietnamese Kitchen is served with bean sprouts, Hoisin sauce and optional jalapenos. //Photo by Jessica Carr
The pho at T. Ho Fresh Vietnamese Kitchen is served with bean sprouts, hoisin sauce and optional jalapenos. //Photo by Jessica Carr

NOW, let’s talk about the most important subject. The absolutely fantastic Vietnamese food that T. Ho is cooking up. As an Asian, I love love love Vietnamese food. As a food blogger, I’m in love with T. Ho’s Vietnamese food. The ingredients are as fresh as they come. Literally, you can see them making your food through the clear glass that separates the cooking area from the eating area. The menu is cleverly done. It allows you to choose a base so either pho, fried rice, a crepe or vermicelli noodles. Then, it allows you to choose a protein of either grilled pork, beef, chicken or tofu.

I got the grilled pork with the vermicelli noodles. To me, Vietnamese grilled pork is the best. It reminds me a lot of a Filipino dish that my mom makes. However, if you are not a pork person the other protein options are delicious as well. With the vermicelli noodles, don’t be afraid to pour the sauce over the noodles. It was my absolute favorite part of my dish. I’ve already been to T. Ho twice now so, I’ve gotten to taste a little bit of everything. If I’m speaking honestly, I don’t think you can go wrong with anything on their menu. The pho is some of the best that I’ve ever had. Also, the basil roll and fried egg roll are superb as well.

The prices are very reasonable. I spent under $15 even when I splurged on Vietnamese coffee and a basil roll.

If you love Vietnamese food then, you should definitely stop by T. Ho’s. I’m already planning my next trip there.

Score: 20/20

Ambiance-5

Food-5

Presentation-5

Price-5

T. Ho Fresh Vietnamese Kitchen is located at 815 Merchant Dr, Knoxville, TN 37912

Jessica Carr is a senior majoring in journalism and electronic media at UT. She is an independent food blogger. You can check out her blog by clicking here.

Featured Image by Jessica Carr

Opinion: Balter Beerworks brews up tasty upscale bar food

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So, this post is long overdue. I’ve been so so so busy this semester–which isn’t a very good excuse, but hey I thought I would give it a try. I love writing about food more than anything else. In fact, I love it exceptionally more than working on history or biology homework, but unfortunately college doesn’t care about how you’d rather be spending your precious time.

Anyways, I ate at Balter Beerworks several weeks ago and am just now getting to write about it. I’m working on a separate freelance project where I write about new restaurants in Knoxville and it was on the list. So, I’m killing two birds with one fork by writing this review for TNJN.

Balter Beerworks is a pretty hip place. It has a very industrial look to the building which really emphasizes the fact that it is not only a restaurant, but also a brewery. The vibe in the joint is very laidback. It is a place that I can see both frat bros and families alike grabbing a bite to eat.

There are currently eight types of balter beer on tap. Each beer is handcrafted at the brewery that is connected to the restaurant. I was told that a very popular option was the “bear blend” which is a balanced Ale loaded with Three Bears Coffee Co.’s Brazil Poco Fundo. I’m not a beer expert so, I have no prior knowledge of beer lingo, but the waitress was very helpful in describing each kind.

While I know that the beer is supposed to be the star of the show, I really need to talk about the food. Now, I’m going to be honest with you guys because you are my loyal readers and because honesty is the best policy. I am so broke that I couldn’t even afford a beer here. That’s not because their prices are unreasonable, but it is because I only had ten dollars to my name when I visited. So, I ordered a water and the potato chip nachos. I managed to spend about $9 dollars and I had no regrets.

The potato chip nachos were very filling and for a poor college student that is very promising. The shareable appetizer features homemade chips topped with a blend of shredded cheese, black beans, cilantro and pico de gallo. There was an additional cup of queso that was on the plate. I think pairing homemade potato chips with queso is the most brilliant idea ever. The chips were so crisp and they paired so well with the cheese. It added an upscale factor to something as simple as a plate of nachos. My friend also got the fried chicken sliders which were super tasty as well. We ended up sharing both dishes which actually made for a fulfilling meal at a brewery.

I plan on going back to Balter Beerworks, hopefully when I can get a bit more pocket change to spend. I want to try the beer and expand my knowledge in that beverage area.

Overall, this trendy brewery and restaurant is a great place to take your friends and family. It has a nice patio out front perfect for enjoying the cool Knoxville air while sipping on a beer with your comrades. The prices are reasonable and the food is tasty. I’d say that’s a good enough reason to give it a visit.

Score: 18/20

Ambiance-5

Food-4

Presentation-5

Price-4

Balter Beerworks is located at 100 South Broadway St. in Knoxville.

Jessica Carr is a senior majoring in journalism and electronic media at UT. She is an independent food blogger. You can check out her blog by clicking here.

Featured Image by Jessica Carr

Opinion: Babalu Tacos & Tapas brings Mexican flair to the Scruffy City

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What even is tapas–you might ask yourself. Well, tapas is a word to describe small plates of culinary deliciousness. It is a way for foodies to experience multiple flavor combinations without spending too much money.

My friends and I decided to try Babalu located on S. Gay Street just before we caught a late night showing of “Hail, Ceasar!” It was a Friday night so, as you can imagine the wait was about 30-45 minutes. Babalu was filled to the brim with young and old people alike waiting for food that featured Mexican flair.

Babalu is located on S. Gay Street in Knoxville, Tenn.
Babalu is located on S. Gay Street in Knoxville, Tenn.//Photo by Jessy Alva

Once we were seated we were told that the menu featured tapas that we could all share and sides that we could all share as well. Some of my friends decided to go the tapas sharing route and some did not. It really depends on whom you dine with when you eat here. Personally, the tapas route is a gamble because you might not like what others order and then you have to share your dish with them (which you might really like). This happened to me when I had to fork over my filet on a stick featuring cubed potatoes and broccolini. I enjoyed the other two small plates–crusted seared tuna and chicken satay–but I loved mine so much that I immediately felt sad when I had to give it away.

However, learning to share is a part of life. I really enjoyed the experience of sharing small plates with my friends. It was a lovely bonding experience that you couldn’t really get at all restaurants. We also got to share some tableside guacamole. It was cool to see them make it in front of us and my friends 0000 and ahh’d the whole time. We also got a surprise plate of fries that we were mistakenly given. It was a pleasant surprise and I kid you not, one of my friends ordered Mexican street corn, but when the manager brought it over he said, “Did you guys order these fries?” We replied no because we didn’t want to take another table’s fries again. Come to find out he was actually holding the corn that she had ordered. It was a funny mix-up and they took the corn off my friend’s check since she never actually got it. What I gathered was that the staff at Babalu were incredibly nice and maybe a little sleep deprived. Our waitress quickly apologized for any inconvenience and we still all had a great meal with some free fries.

Filet on a stick small plate paired with broccolini and cubed potatoes.//Photo by Jessica Carr
Filet on a stick small plate paired with broccolini and cubed potatoes.//Photo by Jessica Carr

Babalu also features an awesome cocktail menu with signature margaritas and my personal new favorite the strawberry martinez which consists of house-infused strawberry tequila, fresh-squeezed sour mix, triple sec, agave nectar and salt foam.

So, if you are looking for a good time with friends and you are willing to not only share, but spend a little extra money then, Babalu Tacos & Tapas is the next spot for you.

Score: 17/20

Ambiance-5

Food-4

Presentation-5

Price-3

Babalu Tacos & Tapas is located at 412 S Gay St, Knoxville, TN 37902

Jessica Carr is a senior majoring in journalism and electronic media at UT. She is an independent food blogger. You can check out her blog by clicking here.

Featured Image by Jessy Alva

Editor’s Letter: The Final Countdown

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Dear reader,

It’s the final countdown …well at least for my fellow seniors and I. In May, we will walk across the stage in Thompson-Boling and that will be that.

If I had a dollar every time a family member asked me what I would do after I graduate well, I could probably buy six Powerball tickets.

It’s a scary time for us seniors, but it’s also kind of peaceful. I worry about finding a job, but at the same time I know that I can have fun this semester because it’s the last one that I will ever spend in college ever.

I went to the bookstore on Monday to buy my Biology 102 lab manual and textbook (yes, I’m a senior taking Bio 102….yes, I put off taking it) and the guy working there definitely thought I was either a freshman or a sophomore. When I told him I was a senior, his demeanor went from, “Have lots of fun” to “Good luck and buckle down on your studies.”

I mean, I can understand why he’d feel that way, but I’m here to say that I’m going to have fun this semester. I’m going to paint the rock. I’m going to Cook Out at 2 a.m. I’m going to make memories and not dwell on entering the real world UNTIL AFTER I walk across the stage fake paper diploma in hand.

Last but not least, I want you to have fun reading TNJN. As EIC, it is my job to make sure we are reaching UT’s audience. Before I leave TNJN, I want to make sure that my three years working here wasn’t in vain. That’s why, I’m extending an invitation for readers to send me an e-mail with suggestions and comments on how you think the site is going and what we can improve.

This is going to be a great semester and I’m glad you guys are here to enjoy it with me and my staff.

Best,

Jessica Carr
Editor-in-chief, Tennessee Journalist
E-mail: Jcarr21@vols.utk.edu

Featured Image by Jim Frye