Piedmont Triad, N.C. -- North Carolina is known for culinary staples including barbecue, Krispy Kreme doughnuts and Cheerwine. It also offers exotic eats so WFMY News 2's Julie Luck searched for some of bizarre foods in the Triad.
Julie's first stop was at Melt Kitchen and Bar in Greensboro where a bustling dining room is the norm.
"We try to keep it creative, keep it a little different than what others have on their menu," said co-owner Kim Brewer.
The popular restaurant is known for its homemade fries, paninis, crispy brussels sprouts and portions.
"They're going to walk away full, that's for sure," said chef and co-owner Jeff Brewer.
Every week or so, the restaurant offers something new.
"We try to be familiar, but also a little unique," said Chef Brewer.
Just for us, Chef Brewer stepped outside of his comfort zone to create an entirely new dish with oxtail.
"The ingredient is strange.It's a tail," said Chef Brewer.
He cooked the meat low and slow in beef broth, wine and herbs. Then added a bunch of other ingredients like brown sugar, chili oil, worcestershire sauce to make chili. After adding the shredded oxtail meat and simmering to bring the flavors together, it's time to plate. Introducing: oxtail chili cheese fries featuring Melt's signature duck fat fries, cheese sauce, oxtail chili, pickled onions, cilantro and spicy garlic aioli.
"It's crispy. It's savory. You wouldn't know it's oxtail," said Julie while trying the dish.
Diners who tried the dish said the oxtail tasted like brisked or pulled pork.
For a limited time, the oxtail chili cheese fries will be offered as a special at both Melt locations in Greensboro.
Who knows? Maybe it'll end up on the regular menu if it's a top seller.
Our second stop was in Winston-Salem where some unusual dishes are a stable on the menu at 1703 Restaurant.
"I try to do crazy things on the menu," said head chef Curtis Hackaday.
Some of the dishes that have been offered at the restaurant include heart, tongue and braised pigs feet. One of Chef Hackady's favorite ingredients is beef tongue. He likes to serve up bizarre ingredients in a familiar way, such as putting the unique proteins in a slider or a taco.
After trying lengua (tongue) tacos with an avocado puree, feta cheese and scallions, I was a fan and so was WFMY News 2 photojournalist Sean Higgins.
"I could eat 5 or 10 of these things," exclaimed Higgins.
That's one of Chef Hackaday's goals: to get someone to try it and like it.
"I love it because I told you so," said Hackaday.
Our third and final stop brought us back to Greensboro where hungry diners have been flocking to Van Loi 2 for nearly 20 years. People come far and wide for the authentic Vietnamese cuisine.
"The barbecue. The best in North Carolina. The customers come from Raleigh, Durham, Roanoke," said restaurant owner Trang Tran.
Some of the top sellers are the roast duck and pork. Noodle soup, or pho, is another popular dish. But during our visit, I decided to really push my boundaries by ordering the #9. The number 9 features pork stomach, liver, heart, intestines, and sausage.
It's all sliced and served with vegetables and a dipping sauce. I tried everything on the plate but it was all a bit too exotic for my palette. But if you ask the regulars, I'm missing out.
"My favorite has pork, beef and pig blood, which I love the most.... The flavors are good. It might look weird but it tastes great," said May Htun who dines at Van Loi weekly.
Are you brave enough to try these exotic eats?
You can find the #9 at Van Loi 2 everyday. The oxtail chili cheese fries at Melt Kitchen and Bar are a one time special. The tongue tacos at 1703 Restaurant appear frequently on the menu.
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