February 2008 Table Hopping - from my column in Tastebud Magazine
“Places you’ll fall in love with on 39th Street!”
Mama’s 39th Street Diner
39th & Southwest Trafficway
Kansas City, MO 64108
Picking up the torch at the iconic Nichol’s lunch location is “Mama” Jan Imber and Ira Auerbach, the owners of the 10-year-old Bell Street Mama’s diner on 39th Street, who have moved their business to this new historic location. With a fantastically large menu with everything from breakfast dishes to burgers, New York style deli sandwiches to traditional Italian dishes you are guaranteed to find something you’ll love in the home cooking here. Choose from one of Mama’s 66 different types of omelets served with hash browns or grits and toast or a biscuit for around $8. SAVE: Room for a cinnamon roll or cake sliced bigger than your head, view the tempting selection rotating inside the case at the front door.
For owner Mohammed Iskandrani and his younger brother, Mazen, this is Aladdin’s second outpost. The first location is on Massachusetts in Lawrence, which the brothers purchased from the owners of Jerusalem Café. Come here and order any dish that features their silky hummus or succulent lamb and you will not be disappointed, as these are signature items. Try the Petra Platter featuring roughly ground beef and lamb sautéed with onions, green peppers and tomatoes served on top of their creamy hummus. Comes with your choice of Greek Salad or a rich, flavorful pureed Lentil soup and a basket of warm, herb studded pita bread for about $7. DRINK: Rose Lemonade for a soft, floral take on traditional lemonade made with lemons, rosewater and a pinch of saffron.
Po’s Dumpling Bar
1715 W. 39th Street
Kansas City, MO 64111
You are in good hands when the owner, Po Hwang, is your server and his wife, Ow, is in charge of the kitchen. Po’s is trying hard to cater to palates of all types, but ask the owner for his authentic Asian favorites on his menu and you will enjoy tender dumplings and home cooked Chinese dishes, just like, well, Po’s Mom used to make. Do not miss the Emperor’s Dumplings, get 6 pan-fried dumplings with savory filling of your choice for $6. Mao Po Tofu with ground pork and Beef with Tomato over rice are both around $10 and excellent. TELL: Po you like it hot and spicy and he will be happy to dial up the heat on any dish.
1719 West 39th Street
Kansas City, MO 64111
10561 Mission Road
Leawood, KS 66206
Chefs and owners Ted Habiger and Andrew Sloan worked together at Café Allegro, a 39th street legend, before opening their own place which has now grown to include a second location in Leawood. Focusing on seasonal, fresh and locally grown ingredients, they opened to rave reviews and continue to deliver in their laid back and cozy dining room. For lunch, get their award-winning Room 39 Burger or the Veggie Burger, both amazingly thick and satisfying, comes with terrific “roommade” fries for $8. At dinner, you truly can do no wrong, with all entrees around $23. OPEN: Late night, Tuesdays and Thursdays, for Happy Hour from 9:30 pm to 12:30 pm with tempting food and drink specials.
Friends Sushi and Bento Place
1808 W. 39th Street
Kansas City, MO 64111
Owners and happy hosts, Paul and Lilly Zhu, are originally from Shanghai, China, but since Lilly’s parents ran a Japanese noodle shop in Shanghai, she admits Japanese food is in her blood. Come to this little jewel box of a restaurant and experience the fun of customizing your own bento box – small box with individual spaces for 4-5 different dishes traditionally eaten during lunch. For only $8 – you get a small lettuce salad with your choice of dressing, fried spring rolls or rice, two pieces of Nigiri sushi of your choice and a sushi roll of your choice along with Onion soup or traditional Miso soup. The sushi is also excellent and the Daikon roll for $9 should not be missed. COME: On Monday nights from 5-9 pm for their Sushi Specials: $1 Nigiri and $4 Sushi Rolls.
Jenny Vergara is a full time Foodie and a woman on quest to develop her palate and herself through cooking, eating, drinking, traveling and writing. She has spent the last 5 years documenting all the restaurants she found along the way in a series of personal restaurant journals she keeps for her own enjoyment. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or keep up with her Foodie adventures at http://www.makingafoodie.com.