Le’s Chinese Bar-B-Que: My Newest Piece in DSM Magazine

A friend and I made a first visit to Le’s Chinese Bar-B-Que, and I wrote about it for DSM Magazine!

This is part of my Tried and True series for DSM Magazine, which you’ll find published in their weekly newsletter three more times this year. I’ve written a few other pieces for them, if you missed those.


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My favorite part was having my preconceived notions busted. That was my whole reason for wanting to do this, and I could not be more grateful to DSM Magazine and my editor for not only saying “yes,” but also turning it into a full series. That wasn’t even a thought when I pitched this.

Wrote about Le's Chinese Bar-B-Que for DSM Magazine
Le’s Chinese Bar-B-Que in Des Moines is freaking immaculate

My second favorite part is that they used my photos, and that’s a first for me. I’ve always wanted to improve my photography, and now I have a solid reason for doing it!

The photos I’ve included here weren’t in the piece because I didn’t think they lent themselves to the story, and I only had so much space.

But I need to mention the sauce at Le’s Chinese Bar-B-Que. I briefly mentioned it in the article, but it deserved its own post.

WTF is in that sauce, Le’s Chinese Bar-B-Que?!

See, there was this corral of condiments on the table, and I am a sucker for condiment corrals. I’ll acknowledge they are probably the dirtiest bit in most restaurants, but I’ve survived (mostly) so far.

The condiment corral at Le's Chinese Bar-B-Que
Le’s condiment corral is cleaner than most whole restaurants

Spy that jar on the bottom left of the corral? I saw that and said something to the effect of it looking spicy as fuck.

Naturally, I put a dab of the sauce on the corner of my plate to try it.

The bit from DSM Magazine I left out from Le's Chinese Bar-B-Que
I’m probably just weak.

One dip of my roast pork into the sauce, and I was like, “Holy shit whoa.”

My tongue felt like it had been betrayed, and I instantly questioned how long I would last on Hot Ones. (Sean. Call me. I’m not famous, but I just wanna eat with you and learn your ways.)

I tried more. Then more. And a little more.

My friend looked at me incredulously and said, “Why do you keep going back to that corner of the plate?!”

“Because I’m fascinated!”

For the rest of the experience, you’ll have to read the piece.

Horror Movie Prop

Now, if you’re vegan, vegetarian, and/or squeamish, you might want to look away.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Ducks!

This last picture was me absolutely getting a kick out of the visual because yissssssss. Mind you, that wasn’t blood but whatever they barbecued the ducks in.

I also want to note that you might be like, “Uh, that doesn’t look immaculate.” Shortly before we left, they were wiping down this surface thoroughly.

Horror movie scene or the work of a chef? Maybe both depending on your perspective.

Y’all, do not sleep on those supposedly questionable eateries that have been around for decades. Even if it took me two decades to try Le’s and 45 years to finally try duck, my goal with food is to live the Bourdain way:

“Do we really want to travel in hermetically sealed popemobiles through the rural provinces of France, Mexico and the Far East, eating only in Hard Rock Cafes and McDonalds? Or do we want to eat without fear, tearing into the local stew, the humble taqueria’s mystery meat, the sincerely offered gift of a lightly grilled fish head? I know what I want. I want it all. I want to try everything once.”

Anthony Bourdain, Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly

I’ll get there, Chef. I’ll get there.

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