BEAUMONT — Taste of the Triangle Winners
Finch Hutton — Best Restaurant
Budweiser — Best Associate Booth
Clear Channel — Best Media Booth
Market Basket — Best Decorated Booth
Fat Tuesday was an understatement Tuesday night at the 30th Annual Taste of the Triangle presented by the Sabine Area Restaurant Association at Ford Park in Beaumont.
More than 60 restaurants and distrubuting companies, with local favorites such as Cheddars, Finch Hutton and Fuddruckers, presented booths on five rows of the giant arena.
The smells of delicious food from a multitude of cultures and unique palettes were accompanied by the tunes of local Zydeco musicians on the eve of Ash Wednesday, the start of 40 days of fasting in the Catholic tradition.
Following an exciting weekend at Mardi Gras, Southeast Texas eaters were exposed to anything from chips and queso from Casa Ole to praline bites from the Lamar University Hospitality Program to grilled shrimp from Tibideaux’s Louisiana Kitchen.
Port Arthur sushi eatery Ichiban Hibachi featured dishes from several Asian countries and were nearly out of food an hour after the event began.
Ichiban, in the Jefferson City Shopping Center on Twin City Highway, was purchased by new owners from New York about seven months ago, said manager Nancy Nurhasanah. It has recently undergone remodeling and will soon be renamed “The Red Door.”
“We’re still going to have sushi, but we’re going to feature food from Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, India and China,” Nurhasanah said. “It won’t only be Japanese food anymore.”
This was the first Taste experience for the restaurant and she said they were surprised by how many people were there — and how quickly the food was eaten.
“We’re serving Indonesian chicken curry, Thai spicy beef, chicken fried rice, spicy Ichiban rolls,” she said, adding that it was a sampling of their new menu.
“Since we’ve opened, we see many of the same faces all the time, so we hope after this that we have new people come to the restaurant,” she said.
According to Monica Roberts, Taste of Triangle chairperson, more than 2,000 tickets were sold for the event, but there were as many as 3,000 people in attendance.
Attendance was up considerably from last year’s Taste, she said, and they are excited about the success.
At $20 a ticket, more than $40,000 was raised for the Young Men’s Business League of Southeast Texas.
“It was a very great night — we can’t wait to get this money to the YMBL so they can purchase livestock,” Roberts said.
After living in California for most of her life, Tara Byler said she had never been to any event that centered on walking from booth to booth and sampling the area’s best cuisine.
Her favorite find?
“The crab cakes from The Grill,” Byler said, adding that the Beaumont fine dining restaurant would definitely be on her list to check out in the future.
“The ribs and chicken tenders from Cheddars were awesome,” she said. “In California, there’s casual dining, but not anywhere with such variety and affordable prices.”
Radio personality Al Caldwell, who has also acted as the “Voice of the Taste of the Triangle” was honored by SARA for his contribution to the Southeast Texas community for many years.