Stu Helm, Asheville’s Facebook Food Critic: Rediscovering the joy of food after the flu


By Stu Helm

Hello, Asheville!

Not unexpectedly, I have been getting a lot of Facebook friend requests as a result of being the Facebook Food Critic. While I’m a pretty friendly guy, there are just too many haters and trolls in this world for me to open my personal FB page to everyone. So instead of trying to figure out who’s chill and who’s a pill, I’ve decided to start a Facebook Page just for my Facebook Food Critic stuff. Now, for some lawyery-type of reasons, I can’t use the word “Facebook” on Facebook, so over on Facebook, I’m just The Food Critic, while here on Ashvegas, I will remain the Facebook Food Critic. Make sense? Anyhoodles, I post something almost daily over there, so go check it out and Follow me if you’d like!

Okay, in the meantime, last weekend I caught this motherfuckin’ flu that been tearing half of Asheville a new one, and it was a double suck-fest for me because, not only did I feel like ass, but I had NO appetite at all, and the few things that I did eat, I couldn’t taste. I ate some salted caramel ice cream that tasted like cold. I ate a toaster oven cheeseburger that tasted like warm. And my mommy brought me some chicken noodle soup that tasted like chunky salt water. Boo! NG. Hating every bland second of my dumb stupid life.

The first thing I actually tasted in three days was a piece of Italian-style meatloaf that Dawn brought home from the new Katuah Market in Biltmore Village. Holy-fuck-a-moly, that shit tasted good. Like, super good. It was hefty and dense, just the way meatloaf should be, and each slice had a sizable portion of melted cheese on it’s broad side. Normally, I don’t need or even like a big ol’ bunch of cheese gooping-up my meatloaf, but the “Italian-style” nature of it made it okay for the cheese to be there. It went very well with, and served to temper slightly, the spicy Italian sauce that the meatloaf was glazed with.

We re-heated it, which may have dried it out a little, so I added my own artistic dollop of organic red sauce to the plate (IE: a blob of ketchup) and it was the perfect melding of Suburban Meat-Shaped-Like-Bread meets fine Italian flavors! YUM! Thanks, Dawn, and thanks, Katuha cooks!

The next step on my recovery was hot Thai food from Thai Orchid on Broadway. I frickin’ love Thai Food and Thai Orchid rocks it as good as many, and better than some, though not as good as the best I’ve ever had… not by far. Still, they know how to hit a fucking curry sauce out of the park, especially if you like it thick and creamy (Spycey Spyce?), which I do. I got something I’d never had before, based entirely on the name (and ingreeds) called, “Hor Mok.” Yep. Hor Mok. Dawn got beef and something. I ordered mine hot, and it was hot. I ordered it with chicken (of course!) and the chicken was good, clean, fat and gristle free, all white meat. Buck-buckyyy! I loved it! There was also plenty of good vegetables, like carrots, broccoli, onion, and such involved. It did have bell peppers, and I do hate bell peppers, but I picked them out and cast them into the pits of Hell.

I also got Tom Yum coconut soup with chicken, and while it was good, it had many large and small bits of inedible material, like whole chunks of raw ginger, and some hairy, ring-shaped stuff that had the texture of an army man. Flavor: 3.5 stars. Texture: Law suit waiting to happen.

Dawn also got a fresh-roll. She was underwhelmed, but whatevs. It’s a fresh-roll. It said to her, “Whatcha want outta me, Dawn? I served my purpose in life, of being some fresh stuff in this otherwise heavily cooked and be-sauced meal. Now leave me be!” I’ve eaten hundreds of fresh-rolls over the years, and, like, maybe one or two were anything to remark on. It’s a fucking salad wrapped in a piece of skin, as far as I can tell. Naw, deep fry mine, and call it a fucking spring roll. Then we’ll talk.

One of the best aspects of our Thai Orchid experience is that we did not have to leave the warmth of our couch or the safety of the Internet to enjoy it! We used Valet Gourmet. This service is pretty fucking great, I have to say. The website is very comprehensive, features some of A-town’s best places, and the way it functions is really cool. The food is always delivered hot, fresh, and delicious, and has always been on time, in my experience. I don’t use them often, but when I do, I’m really glad that they’re here for us. The up-charge is worth it, and you can pay on line, including the tip, so there’s no awkward exchange of cash or middle fingers at the door. I said to the young gentleman, “We tipped you on line,” and he replied, “Yes! I know, thank you!” We’re generous tippers, and it was, like, one fucking degree outside, so I got the idea he appreciated that.

In conclusion… Valet Gourmet: 2 thumbs up. Thai Orchid: 3 balloons. Katuha Meatloaf: 5 smiley faces. Flu: zero erect penises.

I used the Hustler System to rate that last one.

Stu Helm is an artist and writer living in Asheville, NC, and a frequent diner at local restaurants, cafes, food trucks, and the like. His tastes run from hot dogs and mac ‘n’ cheese, to haute cuisine, and his opinions are based on a lifetime of eating out. He began writing restaurant reviews strictly to amuse his friends on Facebook in 2013.


tubemate 2.2.8 June 30, 2016 - 1:14 am

I couldn’t refrain from commenting. Exceptionally well written!

LEW January 14, 2014 - 11:17 am

I think Thai Basil (also known as Suwana’s) is great too; definitely the best Thai food in Asheville proper. However, I disagree with your friends opinion of the fresh roll there; I think they’re wonderful and I love the peanut and hot sauce that comes with the. Last week I had two starters as a meal, the fresh roll and coconut shrimp, and I thought I’d died an gone to heaven (cliche, I know.)

Edward M January 13, 2014 - 4:39 pm

Try Katuah’s Italian sandwich, it is ridiculously good. I had it the day they opened, and on Jan 1st. Good enough to make me recall the exact days I have eaten it. I started thinking about it the last 30 minutes of an MTB ride on the 1st and had to swing by and get it again.

Jody F January 13, 2014 - 1:23 pm

That hairy army man was galangal. S’posed to be in there for flavor, but not eaten.

And I’m not a pill. I even sought you out at the Mill Room kid’s dance party to say I like your reviews.

Stu Helm January 13, 2014 - 2:58 pm

Did we talk at the DYDO2 party at The Mill Room, Jody? I was a little out of it, but I remember a nice person turning to me and asking if I was the food critic. I appreciate your comment here! I thought that those items might be in the soup for flavor, but I am of the school that says bay leaves and other non-edibles should be removed from soup before serving, at home or to the public. That’s just me, I know, but the large chunks of raw ginger were particularly unpleasant to discover with my mouth. Like, the texture of a water-logged piece of landscaping bark, and the flavor of… raw ginger. See ya at the next DYDO!!!

Post Comment