Gangchu: Korean Chicken and Beer

T ime for another trendy restaurant in Seminole Heights. Gangchu, 2021 W elcome to 2021. As you can imagine, as anyone living during this period can, new restaurants aren't as easy to come by, and the older favorites are much harder to enjoy. As someone who has taken to using their platform to showcase small, local business, you can imagine how excited I was to find out there was a new place opening. Rumor had been circling for a while that the mind behind  Ichicoro  was in the process of opening a new restaurant. Then I saw it. On Instagram of all places. An ad for the soft opening. Should we check this out?  Kitchen, 2021 A fter convincing Stormy to come along, we made the call over to Brian and Sharnese. We knew we needed experts on chicken to truly help us enjoy this meal. So, I booked a reservation online, or at least, I thought I did. They use an outside program for reservations and for whatever reason, it did not take my reservation. No big deal, they were able to fit us in.

Wicked Oak BBQ: Another Stellar Restaurant in Seminole Heights

 Once you figure out how to get there, that is.

There May or May Not Have Been a Line, 2020

So, this is one place that I have been wanting to check out for months. With Covid going on, it's been incredibly difficult to leave the house and Stormy just took on a new schedule herself. Alas, Small Business Saturday comes and we now have a chance to check out a new restaurant. Let the games begin! Now, if you're familiar with King of the Coop, you know exactly where Wicked Oak is... Because King of the Coop moved next door. I did not get that memo, so it took a little longer than it should have to find this place. But once you get in, you'll see instantly that this side of the building got a new makeover. It's a much more pleasant experience now. We did have a chance to talk to Bubba, the owner, after we were finished eating, as he seems to make a habit of asking everyone how their meal was. He gave us a little bit of background. He has been competing in the world of competitive barbeque for the last seven years, and then he opened up a food truck. At some point, he came to the realization that a restaurant might work better for him/his lifestyle. He partnered with King of the Coop, who were renting out their old half of the building and a new BBQ concept was born. But that's not why you came here.

Dirty Dog, 2020

So I did my usual and asked the woman behind the counter what her favorite was and she informed me that I must absolutely try the dirty dog. To those of you not in the know, a dirty dog is a cheddar and jalapeno infused smoked sausage topped with slow smoked pulled pork, queso, and shredded cheese all on a brioche bun. The sausage itself was cooked to perfection, with a nice crunch when you took a bite. There was a really nice heat to the sausage, not too spicy, but just spicy enough. The cheese/queso mix is 100% sure to make a mess, but good BBQ always does. The real star of this meal, I'll argue, is the pulled pork, arguably the best thing on their menu. The pork was nice and moist, the flavor was kicking through the heat and the cheese during the entire meal. There was not a single bite I took that did not deliver a very nice, pork undertone. That is not to say the sausage was bad by any means. I thought the sausage was also amazing. However, that pork definitely stole the show. If you have never been here before, I would 100% suggest you start with a dirty dog. This sandwich (yeah, I'm going to start a debate) was the perfect lunch. I actually also got a side of tots that I didn't even touch as the sandwich had me so full. 

Pulled Pork, 2020

Stormy played this a little smarter than me and got the pulled pork sandwich. Before she even sat down, she decided she wanted to deconstruct it. She had good reason and Wicked Oak also makes their own BBQ sauces. We had a mango, a guava, and a sweet sauce. Now, both Stormy and I will drown pulled pork in sauce as it always tends to be dry and unexciting. So, to say that we didn't use the sauces, just about at all, is a pretty huge leap and should tell you what type of quality we're dealing with here. The pork was far from dry, and it was far from devoid of flavor. The sauces were good (very good, actually), but the pork simply didn't need it. That and I found the sauces to be a lot sweeter than I would typically put on BBQ. I did make the comment that they would work a lot better as jelly that you could put on your corn bread. Actually, if we were doing a blind taste test, and I were to give you some bread with their sauce on it, you would probably think it was a jelly moreso than a sauce. But, Bubba is very proud of his sauces, and I will say that you should try them anyway! I will also say that, if you have a few people coming with you, go for the meat plates and you'll have plenty of food. 

Outside Seating, 2020

Things to know before you go:

- This is Seminole Heights, you already know the parking sucks.
- This is in the same space that King of the Coop was previously in.
- Due to Covid (if you're reading this in the future, it probably wont be true), there is only outside seating, and it's very limited. You'll be making friends.
- The year may not be over, but I am naming this the Exploring Tampa Restaurant of the Year. 

Where is your favorite BBQ joint? Do you think their sauces would work better as jelly? Leave a comment below. If you'd like more information on Tampa, check out my YouTube Channel and if you'd like to support my efforts, don't hesitate to buy a shirt from our Spreadshirt. Also, don't be afraid to click subscribe and you'll instantly be notified whenever a new entry is posted. If you'd like to meet other people who love Tampa, consider joining our Facebook Group. Thank you all and I will see you next time!