Restaurants »Umami Burger

4655 Hollywood Blvd

It was a couple days into my LA trip before I had a truly notable meal. After a long and impossible wait among underage drinkers at Alegria, we left in defeat and moseyed on over to Umami Burger, the home of burgers with a unique flavor that’s a little hard to describe but wildly yummy and memorable. Not surprisingly, I’ve learned that flavor is called “umami”.

Umami is the fifth basic taste that was discovered by the premiere chef in France of the late 1800’s Auguste Escoffier. Here is an NPR story all about it.

But back to the burger joint in Los Feliz: it’s delicious. My Socal was perfect with its lettuce, oven dried tomatoes, caramelized onions, “spread” and cheese and my tempura onion rings were crispy and addictive. The meal was filling and the spot boasts an excellent beer menu and a heated outdoor dining area. The only problem? the hostess was a complete eye-rolling witch. Really weird and uncalled for, right? Good thing there was great food to make up for it.

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Posted on February 28, 2010

Recipes »Chicken Yakitori on Watercress

from Cooking Light

When I was a kid I used to love to eat yakitori at a place called… Yakitori! They’d serve the skewers in a red car-shaped plate to kids who ate in-house and it was there that I had my very first taste of sushi at a very young age (octopus).

I even have a bottle of their custom yakitori sauce (the place is still going strong in my home town) so I was hesitant to try my own hand at the dish. This Cooking Light recipe (do I cook from anyplace else lately) was not a disappointment. It’s quick, easy, not too heavy or fatty and full of flavor.

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Posted on February 28, 2010

Web Sites »Tokyo Connection

tokyo connection

artsy. delicious. busy. blinding. always sublime

I am not sure what kind of camera the author of The Tokyo Connection uses, but he manages to make the city look like the stuff of faded fantastic dreams. He even makes construction and wiring look delicious and with a subject like Tokyo for a reader like me, who has always since forever dreamed of visiting, it’s almost too much! I’m on the verge of grabbing Jim, leaving our life behind, and taking a one-way trip to Japan…

Okay, I’m back in the now again and will just have to get by with these small glimpses on the internet for now.

tokyo connection

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Posted on January 17, 2010

Style Icons: Female »Meiko Kaji

female prisoner 701 scorpion Meiko KajiVengeful Lovely

Full disclosure, I rented Female Prisoner 701: Scorpion for strictly vanity reasons. When I went dark with my hair and got a new brimmed Japanese hat, there was some image in mind that kept popping up. There was a trench coat, ravens, and a sharp knife…

Eventually I tracked down the image and the film series it came from and settled into this wildly stylized exploitation film. I quickly realized, of course, the I look nothing like the stunning Meiko Kaji, being that I am not a stunning Japanese beauty myself, but I can certainly claim her as a personal style icon. The vengeance outfit (trench and brimmed hat) is impeccable, but I also ran out to get liquid eye liner inspired by the perfect dark lids she somehow boasts while hog tied in solitary confinement.

Kaji’s 1973 film, Lady Snowblood was one of the inspirations for the Kill Bill films. Below/after the jump are some of images from the trippy, visually wowzer Female Prisoner 701: Scorpion.

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Posted on December 13, 2009

Restaurants »Sui Ren

sui ren yakitoriWhen you go to the Renaissance Fair, you can find almost everything to eat on a stick, but undercooked chicken, pickles, and frozen chocolate covered cheesecake are no competition with the skewers you can find at the izakaya yakitori restaurant, Sui Ren, recently opened in Williamsburg.

While there everyday menu is mouthwateringly intriguing, we could not say no to the day's specials and opted to try them all: duck confit buns, fatty tuna skewer, and deep fried pickled radishes with an egg salad dipping sauce. We also shared the thinly sliced beef Gyu Tataki and the lightly salted grilled octopus. See my collection of photos here.

The food was great, and I am excited to try more of the menu on future visits. Drinks were equally note worthy, and I enjoyed sipping an oolong tea and soju combination. The staff is friendly, the back yard is pleasant, and the price is right for the quality of the food.

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Posted on September 14, 2009

Movies »Oldboy

oldboyDirector Park Chan-wook's revenge thriller Oldboy is a noted entry in the cinematic canon of Asian Extreme… which is an apt moniker for the genre – and this movie in particular. The plot is extreme: a man is imprisoned in a room for fifteen years without any reason only to be unexpectedly released into a bazaar game of cat and mouse.

The violence and action sequences are extreme: some scenes will make you squirm and, unlike most cinematic combat scenes, the ones here are memorable and pop off the screen – one in particular took seventeen days to perfect and was shot in a single, continuous take. The movie leaves you feeling socked in the gut – and liking it.

It's based on a manga series by Nobuaki Minegishi and Garon Tsuchiya who, someone along the line, must have been inspired by my favorite sci fi writer, Jack Vance. We were thrilled to see so many of his classic ideas on screen, even if it is just a coincidence (nowhere online can I find any concrete evidence of his influence… perhaps I'm the only pseudo scholar with a dual Vance/Park Chan-wook interest?).

The movie itself falters at the end; as is often the case, the conclusion of a compelling mystery can never be as intriguing as the initial investigation. Still, it's a worthy investment if you crave an action thriller and find that Hollywood just hasn't been delivering.

Chan-wook has a new vampire thriller out in theaters now called Thirst.

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Posted on September 7, 2009

Recipes »Japanese Ground Chicken and Egg over Rice

japanese rice bowlIf you ever need to make a quick meal of cheap ingredients that's sure to give you left overs, this hearty Japanese Rice Bowl is for you. Found on?the Unconfidental Cook, it's a healthy and tasty dish, but one that Jim and I, who boast pretty hefty appetites, could only finish a portion of.

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Posted on July 20, 2009

Spend a Couple Minutes »Japan Premium Beef

japan premium waygu beefNews of the wagyu butcher Japan Premium Beef coming to NoHo brought smiles to all the city’s meat loving home-chefs. Thrilled to see the offerings myself, I headed over after work intent on bringing home something special. The space itself is absolutely pristine and the very helpful staff even wears perfectly tailored suits as they walk you through the meat freezers.

I kind of expected to walk out with a much lighter wallet – and believe me, if I’d chosen a tenderloin, I would have – but shockingly, a pound of their juicy marbled ground cost me only five dollars. The butcher recommended I cook the beef with nothing more than salt, pepper, and (his own personal special recipe) a pinch of nutmeg. The resulting burger was fantastic and I will be returning to try other cuts.

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Posted on July 13, 2009

Restaurants »The Adore

amore sandwichThe Adore deserves it's name because:

a. the space – with natural wood and giant airy windows is adorable, and

b. as it was packed even after peak lunch hours, it seems to be universally adored by those who know about it. And it's little wonder with their large selection of fresh sandwiches, salads and soups at comparatively reasonable prices.

I was taken with the inclusion of a warm anchovy sandwich – simple and yummy like everything we tried, that I paired with a potato leek soup. Unlike most creamy, heavy versions, this one is with a clear broth that's salty but not too much and chock full of chopped up fresh veggies. Fresh and home made really were the words for the day. Shaun's mustard dressing was also not heavy, but clearly made from scratch with ground up mustard seeds.

We sat upstairs where views of green trees outside add to the strikingly pleasant atmosphere. Even though it's fairly square in the middle of NYU and Union Square bustle, once you're inside you feel transported. Where exactly to is up in the air. The place is Japanese owned and run, (and therefore has rules that drive some Americans crazy if you read all the yelp and menu pages complaints) but they serve solid French sandwiches in a farm house/ loft setting. Truly a gem to anyone that discovers it and if you're in a rush, they have pastries and coffee to go downstairs but you'd miss out on the peace the inside offers.

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Posted on June 1, 2009

Laughs »All your base are belong to us

All your base are belong to us See it here

The History:
1.Toaplan creates the Zero Wing video game.

2.Toaplan releases a port for the Sega Genesis console with the addition of an intro scene, which is then translated into english (very poorly) and released in the United States.

3. Toaplan goes out of business.

4. Someone from a Zany Video Game Quotes website notices the poor translation, and highlights the game.

5. does a humorous voiceover of the Zero Wing intro in a fake Wayne Newton voice.

6. Dozens of game-related messageboards begin to post quotes from the parody, and images altered to show the phrase.

7. Most of the threads lose interest and die off quickly as the trend is pronounced dead countless times.

8. The Flash movie/video is released with images from the threads and music taken from the original game someone had added the phrase “all your base” to.

9. AYB explosively expands to the general (non game messageboard-reading) public.

10. The original site for the video is shut down within hours due to excessive traffic, and moves to PlanetStarsiege.

11. Lycos ponders how “All your Base” was transformed from obscurity to a top 50 search practically overnight.

12. Mainstream media begin to notice the trend, and stories appear in Time Magazine, USA Today, Fox News, The Los Angeles Times, Tech TV, Wired, and many others.

13. As the 'remix' used in the video goes from 58 hits a day to several thousand per day, notices the track has been ripped directly from the video game and pulls the music off their site due to copyright violations. It is later returned unchanged.

14. The trend continues to grow as it expands into nearly every corner of the web.

15. Large websites like Angelfire and Hewlett Packard sneak “all your base” references into their designs.

16. “All Your Base” is pronounced dead several times every day, yet it's 15 minutes of fame continue for some reason…

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Posted on December 18, 2005

Restaurants »Yakitori Oh! Taisho

Yakitori Oh! Taisho Everything on a stick.
This place is so authentic, I half expected to be called back from retirement to hunt down four Replicants.

What, no Blade Runner fans here?

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Posted on November 28, 2005

Desserts »Anything at Chikalicious

Chikalicious Has a twelve dollar pre fixe menu.
Plus seven for wine pairing.
You won't get full on any of the desserts.
But you will be satisfied.
One warning: come early, this place is TINY.
They don't take reservations either.

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Posted on November 21, 2005