Tag: Restaurants

Travel Movie Watch: ‘The Trip’

NPR notes that British comedians Steven Coogan and Rob Brydon have put together a travel-themed comedy that sees them playing themselves (or, versions of themselves) on a restaurant tour of northern England. The film is mostly improvised and, says Coogan, “what makes it interesting is that there’s an edge to it and a discomfort to it that makes it engaging. It’s not just a couple of actors saying, ‘Get a load of me. I’m laughing at myself.’ There are a couple of moments where I find Rob irritating—genuinely—and I respond naturally, but not the way that I would in reality.”

I’ve been a fan of Coogan’s since his Alan Partridge days, and the movie will take place in my old expat stomping grounds, so I’ll hope to catch this one when I can. “The Trip” went into limited North American release last weekend.

Australian Chef: Thai Cuisine is ‘Decaying’

Them’s fighting words. The chef in question, David Thompson, is responsible for London’s Michelin-starred Thai restaurant, Nahm, and now he’s “striving for authenticity” at a Nahm branch in Bangkok, too. The Thai reaction has been predictably indignant. The New York Times explains:

Cooking is profoundly wound up with Thailand’s identity. Many recipes were tested and refined in royal palaces. And Thais often spend a good share of their day talking about this or that dish they tried; a common greeting is, “Have you eaten yet?”

Mr. Thompson’s quest for authenticity is perceived by some Thais as a provocation, a pair of blue eyes striding a little too proudly into the temple of Thai cuisine. Foreigners cannot possibly master the art of cooking Thai food, many Thais say, because they did not grow up wandering through vast, wet markets filled with the cornucopia of Thai produce, or pulling at the apron strings of grandmothers and maids who imparted the complex and subtle balance of ingredients required for the perfect curry or chili paste. Foreigners, Thais believe, cannot stomach the spices that fire the best Thai dishes.

‘The Thrill of Menus is Bound Up to Some Degree With the Thrill of Travel’

Bruno Maddox explores the allure of restaurant menus and talks to “lifelong menu obsessive and collector” Kimball Chen about their power. From Travel + Leisure:

[M]enus function, for him, almost as maps, repositories of unique data as to Where One Is Now. But just as clearly, what is really being informed and enriched is the larger journey of a man through life. “Food,” Chen reflects rather wistfully at one stage, “doesn’t last.”

Another ‘Slightly Creepy’ North Korean Night Out

A couple of weeks back we met the chain restaurant as done by North Koreans. Now, the New Yorker’s Evan Osnos offers a glimpse of a more “upscale” North Korean restaurant experience in Beijing. A sample: “[T]he experience is not, in the traditional sense, relaxing. The food is serviceable, though it always arrives with the slightly creepy sensation that dining out on North Korean fare just might be an act of exceptionally poor taste.”

‘If You Take Photos of His Food, Grant Achatz Hates You’

So tweets Jason Wilson, regarding this blog post about Alinea chef Grant Achatz’s feelings toward people who photograph the famously photogenic food in his Chicago restaurant.

The Chain Restaurant, North Korean-Style

Slate’s Sebastian Strangio goes inside the Pyongyang restaurant chain, a government-owned operation that brings a taste of North Korea to diners across East and Southeast Asia—and, allegedly, launders money and funnels foreign currency back to the North Korean regime.

Kogi Truck Chef Turns Restaurateur

Now that his Korean taco trucks have made their mark on the Los Angeles food scene, chef Roy Choi is ready for his next challenge: the restaurant biz. Choi’s new restaurant will open in West Los Angeles in February, but the famous Kogi taco won’t be on the menu. Instead, he tells the Wall Street Journal that he plans to “update the rice bowl.” (Via @JohnnyJet)

At El Bulli, the Customer Comes Second

A Harvard Business School professor takes a look at “the best restaurant in the world” and why its chef, Ferran Adria, refuses to function according to business and marketing norms. (Via Kottke)

Photo You Must See: Ice Restaurant in China

Photo You Must See: Ice Restaurant in China REUTERS/China Daily
REUTERS/China Daily

Diners sit at a table in an ice restaurant in Harbin, in north east China. The temperature in the restaurant is about 25 degrees.

Kyoto Joins Tokyo Near the Top of the Michelin Heap

Kyoto Joins Tokyo Near the Top of the Michelin Heap Photo by rhosoi via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Photo by rhosoi via Flickr (Creative Commons)

Brace yourselves, foodies of the Western hemisphere: If you were disgruntled about Tokyo landing top Michelin honors last year—receiving more stars than Paris and New York combined in its debut guide—then you probably won’t be happy to hear that Kyoto is following close behind. The city received 110 stars in its first-ever Michelin treatment, including six three-star restaurants—one more than New York City.

Has the World’s First Novelty Restaurant Been Discovered?

Looks like it. Archaeologists in Rome claim to have unearthed a circular rotating dining room used by Emperor Nero, proving, as Felicity Cloake writes in the Guardian, that “when it comes to naff eateries, anything we can do, the toga wearers did first.”

The AP has a proper news report on the discovery:

Are Zagat Ratings an Endangered Species?

Are Zagat Ratings an Endangered Species? Photo by philosophygeek via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Photo by philosophygeek via Flickr (Creative Commons)

The New York Post reports that the company’s book sales are “down dramatically” and that web traffic is declining, too. The culprits? The recession—and its impact on high-end dining—on the one hand, and free online upstarts like Yelp and Chowhound on the other.

McWorld Goes Local

Further evidence (not that we needed it) that a globalized McWorld does not necessarily mean global homogeneity: Increasingly—though it has been going on for years—fast food franchises around the world are rolling out menu items created for local tastes.

From Global Post:

Domino’s pizzas come topped with squid in Taiwan, black beans in Guatemala and feta cheese in Greece. In China, Kentucky Fried Chicken sells rice congee, while Col. Sanders in India woos vegetarians with offerings like the Chana Snacker, a chickpea burger topped with Thousand Island sauce.

A Night at El Bulli, Frame by Frame

After a five-year effort, Amateur Gourmet blogger Adam Roberts finally landed a reservation at El Bulli, the Barcelona restaurant regularly dubbed the best in the world. He’s documented his 30-course evening in an entertaining comic strip/photo essay. David Farley interviewed El Bulli’s chef, Ferran Adria, for World Hum back in March. (Via The Morning News)

In Search of America’s Most Bizarre Restaurants

World Hum contributor Nicholas Gill lists his picks over at Forbes Traveler.

The Last Bite and the Other Part of the Fish

The Last Bite and the Other Part of the Fish Photo by David Farley
Photo by David Farley

Few people are lured to the Czech Republic for its cuisine, but I’m one of them. Actually, hearty Czech food is a taste acquired over time (accompanied by lots of pints of hoppy pilsner). Until recently the pub grub—rich goulash and pork made just about every way you can imagine—functioned more as stomach filler than actual taste bud pleasers. But things are slowly changing.

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Can We Interest You in a Whale Meat Spring Roll?

Uh oh. A group of restaurateurs in Yokohama, Japan, is looking to embrace the port city’s whaling heritage with a slew of new recipes—including whale dumplings, whale spring rolls and whale bacon. “Whale meat is a very important part of Japanese tradition,” one of the leading businessmen behind the push told the AFP. “If whaling is not done to excess, I think this is a great thing. ... Whale meat is delicious, high in protein, low in fat.”

Delicious or not, I can already hear the howls of protest from animal-rights activists worldwide.

Nashville: You’ve Still Got It

Nashville: You’ve Still Got It Photo by exothermic via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Photo by exothermic via Flickr (Creative Commons)


Just after I plucked my bag from the baggage carousel and walked out the airport doors to meet my ride, you wrapped me up in your humidity. Though that kind of welcome would, normally, put me off, I found it comforting. You were just making it clear that I was back in Nashville, that my two year for-no-good-reason exile from your borders had come to a close.

Before my visit, I told you I was nervous. One of my favorite cities, you had gone magical in my mind. When I thought about you, it was always fun fun fun, big food, history, music, blah blah blah. You were far removed from daily life. But from the minute that humidity grabbed me, I knew all would be OK. While my past visits have been anchored with purpose (reporting stories, the Tin Pan South festival, and so on), this trip was about, simply, hanging out and letting the week unfold as it might. I wanted to see what it was like just to be in Nashville, no run-around keep-yourself-busy necessary. My only requirements: eat at least one ice pop at Las Paletas and get a better understanding of the way your neighborhoods relate to each other.

You delivered.

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The Secret is Out on Secret Dining

The Secret is Out on Secret Dining Photo by wit via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Photo by wit via Flickr (Creative Commons)

I met a woman at a party a few months ago who, when she witnessed my eyebrow-raising eating prowess, revealed she knows of a few secret dining spots: places only known by the covert band of dining cognoscenti, a cabal of eaters who fetishize the idea of eating in places that no one else knows of. I know, it’s exciting. I tried to extract the information from her that night with the grace of a tooth-pulling dentist, but she wouldn’t budge.

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Checking in at the Boone Tavern

Checking in at the Boone Tavern Photo by Alexander Basek
Photo by Alexander Basek

Swinging through the positively quaint town of Berea, Kentucky, last week, I had the chance to stay at the refurbished Boone Tavern. The hotel, which is owned by Berea College, just across the street, celebrated its 100th anniversary this year with some renovations that are now more or less complete; they were laying a snazzy brick design in the parking lot turnaround when I was there.

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