Japanese chicken katsu with curry sauce

David Chang deserves props for more things than we can keep count. The latest, of course, is for his just-released Netflix series “Ugly Delicious” which, aside from being smart, provocative, and full of drool-worthy dishes, 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.

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

Jo Cooks

This Southern classic definitely delivers some science-experiment-gone-wrong-vibes thanks to the amorphous blob look of its signature flour and 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 the recipe.

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 pate with aspic

David Lebovitz

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 recipe.

Turkey Mulligatawny Soup

turkey mulligatawny soup


There’s a reason why the Seinfeld crew freaked over this rich, curry and garam marsala-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)

modongo (Dominican-style tripe stew)

Smart Little Cookie

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 recipe.

See more articles