Japanese chicken katsu with curry sauce
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David Chang deserves props for more things than we can keep count, but the list definitely includes his Netflix series “Ugly Delicious” which is back for season two on March 6.

Aside from being smart, provocative, and full of drool-worthy dishes, “Ugly Delicious” introduces an interesting idea about how not good good-tasting food can look. In its honor, we present this anti-food porn round-up of delicious but aesthetically challenged dishes.

Sloppy Joes

Sloppy Joes


The answer’s pretty much in the question with this one, wouldn’t you say? (After all, “sloppy” isn’t exactly the sexiest way to describe a dish.) Still, the fact of the matter is this all-American comfort food classic—literally just a mound of savory chili over-stuffed into a hamburger bun—is downright delectable. Get our Sloppy Joes recipe.

Japanese Chicken Katsu with Curry Sauce

Japanese chicken katsu with curry sauce


Admittedly, this dish doesn’t have much going for it in the color and plating department—flat and brown-on-brown doesn’t exactly scream “Instagrammable food porn.” But while that brown chunky gravy may not be doing itself any favors in the aesthetics department, the bold ginger-coconut curry flavor and creamy texture are exactly what you want smothering a piece of golden-crisp fried chicken. Get our Japanese Chicken Katsu with Curry Sauce recipe.

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Mom’s Meatloaf

classic meatloaf with peas and mashed potatoes


Sorry, Mom. Love your meatloaf, hate the way it looks. Seasoned ground meat baked in a loaf tin served simply sliced looks about as drab as it sounds, but the taste is pure, unadulterated childhood nostalgia and we can’t get enough of it. Get our Mom’s Meatloaf recipe.

Pimento Cheese Dip

pimento cheese dip


Hot crab dip? Baba ghanoush? Black bean hummus? Not to diss dip, but let’s be honest, more often than not the stuff just looks like a bowl of chunky, monochromatic mush. True to form, one of the least visually appealing—pimento cheese dip—just happens to be one of the most delicious. The classic Southern spread of grated cheese, mayonnaise, cream cheese, and pimento chile is not only dynamite on a cracker, it also rocks as a grilled cheese filling and burger topper. Get our Pimento Cheese recipe.

Ginger Chicken Jook

ginger chicken jook


Porridge is one of many peasant foods that isn’t much to look at when it’s plated up. But just because it looks like mush, doesn’t mean it tastes like mush—or maybe it does, but definitely in a good way. This savory Cantonese rice porridge, starring aromatic ginger and pulled chicken, is simple, hearty, and warm-your-belly good. Get our Ginger Chicken Jook recipe. (Incidentally, if you’ve got more of a sweet tooth, this farro porridge with mango and coconut is equally unattractive and delicious and a great way to shake up your basic oatmeal routine.)

Chicken and Drop Dumplings

chicken and dumplings recipe


This Southern classic definitely delivers some science-experiment-gone-wrong-vibes thanks to the amorphous blob look of its signature flour and milk (or buttermilk) dumplings. But we’re not about judging books by their cover here, because if we were, then we’d miss out on this hearty, hug-you-from-the-inside comfort food staple. Get our Chicken and Dumplings recipe.

Related Reading: Chefs Share Their Favorite Comfort Foods

Egg Salad Gribiche

egg salad gribiche


It’s not likely that the iconic non-salad salad is going to win any awards in the beauty department, but we have to give this creative variation props for really focusing on flavor. Inspired by the traditional French sauce, gribiche, this rendition smartly adds capers, cornichons, and fines herbes to the mix, creating a jazzed-up, cravable version of the original. Get our Egg Salad Gribiche recipe.

Chicken Liver Pâté

chicken liver port pate


Let’s be honest, chicken liver pâté looks about as attractive as it sounds. But if you’re smart you’ll turn a blind eye and reach for the crostini and cornichons because this creamy, savory spread is the bomb. Get the Chicken Liver Pâté recipe.

Turkey Mulligatawny Soup

turkey mulligatawny soup


There’s a reason why the “Seinfeld” crew freaked over this rich, curry and garam masala-seasoned Indian soup—and it’s not because it was the best-looking bowl in town. Get our Turkey Mulligatawny Soup recipe.

Mondongo (Dominican-Style Tripe Stew)

Tripe—a.k.a the soft, honeycomb-shaped lining of a cow’s stomach—has enough of a hurdle to overcome when it comes to general perception and acceptance without adding to the fact that the dishes it stars in (stews, usually) never really do much to elevate its appeal. But any true food geek will tell you it’s worth it to ignore the ick factor and appreciate the flavor and texture it adds to dishes like this Dominican classic. Get the Mondongo (Dominican-Style Tripe Stew) recipe.

Related Video: Check Out the “Ugly Delicious” Season Two Trailer

Header image by Chowhound.

Maryse Chevriere is a certified sommelier, James Beard Award winner for @freshcutgardenhose, and author of "Grasping the Grape," a no-nonsense but really fun guide to wine.
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