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Look, we know what you’re thinking: This is by far one of our worst pun-based ideas. But Greg gets real pissy if we don’t let him just go to town roasting something, both literally and figuratively, every thirty days or so. And so we present: Chaos Meals.
I’m not sure who invented the concept of the Chaos Meal, but what it basically refers to is a kind of de-gentrified tapas. Small plates were having a little bit of a Moment there, cruelly cut short by the last days of the Before Times. You can certainly do them on purpose and build a whole menu around the idea of sitting around grazing for hours, but the main idea of the Chaos meal is to take that structure and apply dirtbag energy to it. It’s a thin needle to thread, somewhat less fancy than a farm-to-table concept where you have to order nine plates at 12 bucks a pop just to feel full, but not as diseased as a full-on buffet.
A few types of restaurant really hit the sweet spot, while being the most relevant possible type of joint for Meatwatch: Korean barbeque, and Brazilian barbeque. At the intersection of both is, naturally, the Goonhammer Open.
I’m willing to bet that my Road To The GHO has been the worst of anyone’s. 49 other players in the GT, and 24 in the narrative, and I defy any of them to slog through the hell I landed myself in. I set myself, or had set for me, the following lofty goal: a single Primaris Librarian, 10 Hellblasters, and then, as a treat, 25 full tables of Vanguard Tactics terrain, totaling 216 MDF structures of various complexity. I didn’t exactly plan on doing this, and it’s fair to wonder how it happened, but the explanation is as easy as they come: Robert Jones is my friend, and he asked me to handle it, so I’m handling it. No stress! Just, you know, if I don’t get it done, 49 paying customers will be unable to play in the Grand Tournament we put all this work into, and every single one will be braying for blood. My blood, specifically, which I need. For Activities.
The terrain itself is actually pretty slick, and I’m excited for everyone to play on it, but building it en masse is brutal on a level I could not have anticipated. I’ll write up a full review for Goonhammer when my hands are no longer glued together, but the kits are designed very well, and almost put themselves together once you get the hang of them. It’s just a lot of parts. They fit together snugly and they generally only fit in one correct way, which is nice. A single table, for a home gaming room, would be a fine afternoon project. This many of them in a row? A little overwhelming.
In order to save ass, both mine personally and Goonhammer’s collectively, I did what anyone would do: break out into a cold sweat, and leverage personal connections to take advantage of volunteer labor while having a week-long panic attack. It was very cool, highly recommend this. First with bribery, and later by deploying Tactical Cruelty, I was able to keep the train on the tracks. A wide variety of Goonhammer patrons and members came out to help, unironically huge thanks to all of you for not immediately murdering me and also helping prevent me being murdered in the near future. Specifically:
In return for their work, I took everyone (save for a couple that left early) to my favorite Korean BBQ joint that has slanderously poor Yelp ratings, Honey Pig. It’s like Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory but for meat. I do love to compare the problems those kids have (chewing gum too much or snacking between meals didn’t end up being the level of decadence required to bring about the downfall of civilization, but they might have been onto something with the TV-obsessed kid) with the current spate of hardened Twitch racists that luck into a career of playing video games on TV for money but somehow can’t do that job without sending the cops to blow up each other’s houses.
Technically they have a menu, but there are only two things you order here: first an array of small bowls full of kimchi, lettuce, rice, and other types of coverings, and then just massive piles of raw meat.
The meat gets dumped on a grill mounted in the center of your table, and next comes the worst part: sitting there waiting for it to Become Delicious. After a few minutes, the thin slices of pig or beef will be crispy and ready to eat, and it becomes a race against your tablemates to annihilate as much of it as you can before it disappears. Repeat this five or six times until you can’t move anymore, and don’t eat again for a full day. Every table has a big exhaust fan over the top of it, which I think makes this one of the COVID-safest ways to go to an indoor restaurant, despite otherwise being one of the least healthy things you can do to your body.
I’ve been to several restaurants like this, including a few in [flexes] actual Korea, and the details change but the main idea is the same: paying restaurant prices for food while still having to do all the work yourself. I’m also never sure if the K-pop blasting over the speakers is a legitimate aesthetic choice or a way to beat white people over the head with the Bit, but either way, it rips.
This is different from Americanized Brazilian BBQ, where you don’t really order at all, and the table isn’t (generally) on fire. Dudes bring around big swords covered in chicken wings and drop them on your plate until you beg them to stop, please, I have a family, I don’t need any more, someone help me. There happens to be one, a Fogo de Chao, right across the street from the Goonhammer Open venue. If you think I’m not going to finish my games, walk over there, eat so much steak I can’t feel my extremities, and call an Uber to take me the .05 miles back to the hotel, then buddy you must have not been reading Meatwatch for long.
Which of these two wolves on the plate in front of you should you put inside of your face? Well, Fogo is the triumph of quantity over quality – it styles itself a little fancier, with pricing to match, but I don’t rate some of the individual meats as high as I do with the best of Korean BBQ. No shame to the Brazilians, but there aren’t a lot of meats I will damage my body with more than I will with beef bulgogi. I can sustain horrific damage from wings and steaks, but something about a big sizzling pile of shredded cheesesteak is just, I mean, all with that kimchi on it? Anyway, word on the street is that the drinks are better at Fogo, which isn’t my business, but if it’s yours you can choose between caipirinhas and soju and call your shots based on that.
I’m going to declare the Coward’s Victory and say this is a tie. In either case, the appeal is that there are so many things to try, and no cops to tell you when to stop. From the eye of the meat tornado, it feels like the party is never going to end. See you at the GHO.
Thanks for sticking around, and making this column what it is: a little-read corner of this website that exists solely for me to waste your time and get yelled at. If you have questions or comments, let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org, or right here in the comments. Meatwatch is here to help.