So I just turned 21. As the saying goes, “With great power comes great responsibility.” To be more precise, I spent most of the weekend trying to not be hung over. (I still can’t get over the thrill of being carded, whipping out my ID, and bursting, “Yes! Contrary to my height and adorable looks, I am of legal drinking age! Ha ha! Now stop hitting on me, you creepy old pedophile!”) My intense analytical skills are temporarily gone, and sadly, this is my last review of the year. But instead of spending my page trying to be cruel and critical, why not celebrate the best of the food in Claremont? Below are the most primeval, satisfying, curative, and cheap foods that will slaughter your hangover. Trust me, I’ve tested all of these dishes—thoroughly.
Fries from the Back Abbey
There’s so much to love about the Back Abbey—namely, its laid-back, cool vibe, its consistently amazing menu, its burgers, and as I recently discovered, its beer. So. Much. Good. Beer.
No, I’m not recommending “hair of the dog” as a hangover cure. If you thought that, you need to seek some professional help. The first step to solving your problem is admitting that a restaurant critic realized you have a problem.
The real solution to a hangover is the Back Abbey’s fries. Thick-cut, twice-fried Kennebec beauties in batons the size of a fountain pen, that four people could easily share for eight dollars. They arrive in a glorious, paper cone mounted in a triumphant steel service piece: a tower of deep-fried goodness the height of a standing baby.
Three friends and I had spent the entire night sampling amazing beers, and perhaps I overindulged. Nothing settles the stomach like one or twenty of these fries, dipped in ketchup or a garlic remoulade. (The horseradish mayo is good, but too strong for my taste.) If fries alone can’t quell your stomach, a charcuterie plate of “assorted meats from around the world” helps. Prosciutto and pancetta—essentially upscale bacon—have been proven to solve hangovers due to their high concentration of fats and amino acids.
In short, fried potatoes and bacon at the Back Abbey outdo fried potatoes and bacon at Collins or Frary. Do the right thing. Drive the Ferrari instead of the Honda.
128 North Oberlin Avenue, Claremont, CA (909) 625-2642
Egg Sliders from Some Crust
No matter what time in the morning—or afternoon—you can always depend on Some Crust to be open whenever you want egg sliders. And not only are they great hangover food, they are the CUTEST little delicate sandwiches I have EVER seen. Like watercress tea sandwiches, except more egg-y.
Poached egg on a soft bun, with whatever two toppings you want, and a choice of sauce. What a cute little dose of hangover cure, and only for $1.75! (Sausage, deli meats, and bacon cost an extra 25 to 75 cents. It’s worth it. This is like some kind of crazy 1950s era treat in terms of its cost and ingenuity.) I recommend the provolone, tomato, and bacon with pesto on French. Like I said earlier, bacon and eggs have been scientifically proven to cure hangovers because of the deadly tasty combination of amino acids, fats, and proteins. So suck it, vegans. This sandwich is definitely not for you.
119 Yale Avenue, Claremont, CA (909) 621-9772
Pork Dumplings and Rice Cakes from Din Tai Fung
On Saturday afternoon, equally hung over, I found a friend stumbling around Green Beach, drinking Andre out of the bottle with a straw. “DRIVE ME SOMEWHERE, TINA!” he slurred, and flung his car keys into my face.
The perfect place to solve midday shenanigans or prepare for nightly adventures is Din Tai Fung in Arcadia, 30 minutes from Claremont. My esteemed colleague Trevor Felch CM ‘11 highlighted this internationally-renowned place last semester for its gustatory delights, but I’m focusing on its ability to magically cure what ails you.
You check off the items you want on the menu, ranging from fried rice with pork cutlets, broccoli with garlic, freshly made noodle soup, and the restaurant’s rainmaker: dumplings. Everything else on the menu is wonderful, but dumplings are like tiny gifts wrapped with a papery-thin rice dough, filled with restorative medicine.
Juicy pork dumplings, crafted lovingly by hand—You can watch the workers in the back scurry like Keebler elves, meticulously rolling the dough and stuffing each with a mixture of meat and a gelatin that melts when cooked—and brought by the tens, arrive at your table shortly after the waitress sweeps your order away. The chopstick wrappers inform you of the proper way to eat a soup dumpling, or Xiaolongbao, in careful Engrish: Garnish with ginger and vinegar, nibble the top off your golf ball-sized dumpling, slurp the soup out, then pop the piping-hot parcel into your mouth. Or just pop the entire thing in your mouth after dunking it in a mixture of whatever combination of vinegar, fresh ginger, soy sauce, and chili oil you want. It will explode in a savory burst of hot soup, pork (and crab, if you want, but pork is best), and dough, enveloping you in its hearty yet sophisticated and silky touch.
Alternatively, order stir-fried rice cakes and let sliced, stir-fried mochi in a savory hoisin sauce with scallions and tiny shreds of either chicken or pork settle in your queasy stomach. It is Asian flavors on a rice cake with the chewy texture of a good New York bagel.
And tea! Normal, familiar, Chinese-restaurant tea! Don’t go for anything cold to drink: Drinking anything of a cool temperature while eating hot foods, according to most Asian traditions, upsets the balance of chi. I don’t know if I believe that, but ice water does give you a stomachache after dumplings.