Food for Thought

A new kind of football food: Game day brings dreams of Asian chicken wings & sushi tacos

A new kind of football food: Game day brings dreams of Asian chicken wings & sushi tacos

Chicken wings, TV, football
Clearly my association with football food is not exactly typical, although there is one common item I am fond of, although I’ve never actually eaten them at a game: Wings. TasteMeDrinkMe.com
RA Sushi, Asian Buffalo wings, chicken wings
RA in Highland Village has some non-sushi things going on that are worth checking out. Like the new hot wings. Photo by Marene Gustin
RA Sushi, sushi taco, Crispy Asian Taco
I love these Asian-inspired tacos from RA Sushi. They make a great alternative, lighter and healthier than a Tex-Mex taco, although I’m not giving up Tex-Mex anytime soon. RA Sushi Houston/Facebook
RA Sushi,  Exterior, Highland Village
RA Sushi in Highland Village RASushi.com
Chicken wings, TV, football
RA Sushi, Asian Buffalo wings, chicken wings
RA Sushi, sushi taco, Crispy Asian Taco
RA Sushi,  Exterior, Highland Village

It’s that time of year again.

A time for Friday Night Lights, a whole day of watching college or pro games snuggled under a blanket (yeah, if we lived any where but Texas) and Monday night pro games.

All of which I care zip about because for me it’s all about the food.

I went to high school in a small Texas town and while I wasn’t a jock, I wasn’t a hippie either (think maxi dresses with cowboy boots). I had zero interest in sports, or cheerleading, but this being Texas it was a requirement to attend at least some of the high school football games.

I could always be found under the stands at the band booster food booth chowing down on a split bag of Fritos with chili ladled into it and topped with chopped white onions. 

Which was OK by me because I could always be found under the stands at the band booster food booth chowing down on a split bag of Fritos with chili ladled into it and topped with chopped white onions.

Fast forward (past college where I never attended a football game) to a relationship with a guy straight out of The Big Chill. Weekends were all about watching his favorite college and pro teams (none of which were Texan) and come Super Bowl time I found myself throwing a little game party. With a typical party menu of oysters Rockefeller and vodka martinis.

The next game I ever saw — well, attended anyway —was an inaugural preseason game of the Texans. I was a guest of the McNairs in the Founders Box. Now I don’t care if you loathe football, you do not turn down an invitation like that. The box was bigger than my apartment at the time and filled with antiques and works of art. Oh, and a huge table laden with cold shrimp, lobster and prime rib. And, of course, a full bar stocked with aged bourbon and fine wines.

Clearly my association with football food is not exactly typical, although there is one common item I am fond of, although I’ve never actually eaten them at a game.

Buffalo wings. Or chicken wings or hot wings, or as they say in Buffalo (like Chinese food in China) just plain wings.

I actually used to get male friends to take me to Hooters for their Three Mile Island wings because I liked them so much and I felt odd going there alone. And do they still call them that? Because clearly most of their clientele today isn’t old enough to get the association with radioactive heat. 

Anyway, I do like my wings, the spicier the better, with lots and lots of blue cheese dressing and some crunchy celery. But, like any fast food addiction, I try to restrain myself.

And then I found RA Sushi’s new non-sushi menu.

 These are extra large wings, slathered in Asian spices and served with edamame instead of boring celery. And there’s no blue cheese dressing to dip them in, but that’s OK.

 Now I like my raw seafood, I love sashimi, nigiri, a good spicy hand roll and anything topped with ikura.

But RA in Highland Village has some non-sushi things going on that are worth checking out. Like the new hot wings.

“We wanted to do something for game day,” says general manager Bill Roegelein. “Something people can stop in and take home for the game.”

These are extra large wings, slathered in Asian spices and served with edamame instead of boring celery. And there’s no blue cheese dressing to dip them in, but that’s OK.

They have a couple of flavors and my favorite was the chili ponzu. They are spicy hot with just a little crunch and they are messy, the way hot wings should be. And any place that serves hot wings that doesn’t provide finger bowls and cloth napkins is beyond me…wait, I digress.

Anyway, RA also has a black pepper teriyaki Asian chicken wing that is also wonderfully tasty. Roegelein says they will be offering the wings on the menu and as take-out now through Super Bowl time.

It’s enough to make me rethink my oysters Rockefeller Super Bowl menu.

Oh, and there’s more. RA has a delicious new edamame dip with wonton chips that makes a great appetizer for a game day (no, it’s not the same as tortilla chips and queso but it’s a nice alternative sometimes) and they even have, I’m guessing this is only in Texas, tacos.

Yep, tacos at a sushi joint.

Skeptical? What Texan wouldn’t be?

And while these tacos are not your usual picadillo in a crunchy fried tortilla with chopped tomatoes, lettuce and yellow cheese, they are really good. And creative.

“We made a rice paper shell,” says Roegelein. “We wrap it around a taco shaped thingamagig and fry it.”

That would be the technical term for a taco shell maker.

Anyway, once the rice paper resembles a crunchy tortilla shell, RA stuffs it with their RA’ckin shrimp, coleslaw and guacamole or with chilled, shredded sake-steamed chicken and Asian veggies.

And there’s even a sushi taco. A spicy sushi salmon mix with lobok (a Chinese radish), lettuce, crumbled wasabi rice cracker bits and guacamole.

I love these Asian inspired tacos, they make a great alternative, lighter and healthier than a Tex-Mex taco, although I’m not giving up Tex-Mex anytime soon.

And who knows? The Asian wings and tacos at RA may even inspire me to throw another game day party.

Nah.

I'll just order the food and watch a chick flick.