Friday, March 15, 2019

It's a Mads world

I am 100% going to see the new Gaspar Noe movie at the Tower tonight even though it is probably trash. I loved the trash that was Love. I like Noe movies better now that they are not so violent. Tower has been on a good run lately and it's making me happy. Arctic was really good and I'm happy I caught it in the two weeks it was there. Madds Mikkelson is one of my favorite actors.

I went to see Dolls House Part 2 at B street last night. The acting was very strong but the popularity of that play escapes me.  in 2018 is was the most produced nationally. I think it could possibly because it makes people feel smart because they understand the reference to the original Doll's House? People love to feel smart (me included). Other than that, it's pretty damned slight.

The truly remarkable thing about last night is that I heard activity from six different phones during the play. Two different  phones rang, two phones received pinging texts, one near me did the full vibrating ring-to-voicemail and someone's iphone alarm went off for quite a while! Totally outrageous. I've never seen anything like it. Dave Pierini intro'd the play and he didn't tell people to turn their phones off so that probably accounts for it. In 2019 I guess you have to tell the Boomers (ok, one young girls phone went off, too) explicitly to take out their phones and turn them completely off.

Oh, the Bee. I fear you are not long for this earth. Not only do I miss deliveries probably once every couple weeks, even though it's quite expensive to get delivered, today an entire section was missing from the paper. I have been seeing frequent typos, sometimes on the front page, and recently they reran an entire food article that they had just run two week prior, as if no one would notice.

The Bee ran a piece today on local activist Berry Accius' quest to eat at a black-owned restaurant every day in Feb for Black History Month. The article had this quote,

'There were some judgment calls, too. Rob Archie owns Pangaea Bier Cafe and co-owns Urban Roots Brewery & Smokehouse, but Accius said he forgot about them because neither feels particularly “black.”

You can kind of feel the residue that it’s black-owned. You can feel it from the vibe, the music, the people, the food,” Accius said. “More than likely, if you go to a black restaurant – whether it’s Caribbean-style or African American food, which is considered soul food – there’s going to be some staples. You’re going to have mac and cheese, you’re going to have greens, you’re going to have a fried chicken, you’re going to have some kind of barbecue.'

I can't comment on that judgment call of course, but it would have been appropriate to ask Rob to comment, and also calls to mind the delicious mac and cheese and BBQ that I just had at Urban Roots the other day.

Tuesday, March 05, 2019

Tuesday ramblins

I have at least 12 minutes to kill so I will write a post. I am about to leave work but leaving right at 5 is a fool's errand (fool's journey?) because that is right when students all leave class so you will be stuck waiting for them to cross and they will all be on bikes and hoverboards and motorized skateboards and whatever and looking at their phones so you will be there a WHILE.

It is so dorky and good that the UCD Chancellor is having William Shatner speak on campus and also screening Wrath of Khan at the Mondavi. I would go, but it's on a Saturday (I avoid Davis on the weekends) and it's 55 bucks. But still, cute!

I don't have the steam right now for another Laos post because blogger still makes it pretty hard to upload photos. I'm going to Puebla and Mexico city in late April so I'm excited about that. I was just looking at the fancy architect-designed museum of the baroque in Puebla, which I will definitely go to. And eating mole obviously. Other than that, not too planned yet.

It's kinda cheesy that people are getting excited about the Michelin guide coming to Sac. That thing is so musty and dusty it should come with a sneeze guard (don't think about that too hard). But if chefs are excited to get a star, that's cool.

I've been seeing all the Instagram posting about Billy Ngo's ramen popup. I will wait for it to open on K street. All the ramen looks really good. I was skeptical about expensive ramen until I ate at Ramen Shop in Berkeley. If it can be that good, I'll pay close to 20 bucks for it. Hopefully that price will be hearty enough to be mostly a full meal, though. Those bowls at Ramen Shop are pretty light. But that gets into the debate on what types of dishes diners expect to be a bargain and what they will pay for.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Vientiane in November!

 I waited so long of course I'm already forgetting stuff about my trip. Vientiane has a ton of temples. That's mostly what there is to do, besides eat and go to the night market. All of it is interesting.

A variation on these dragons were outside pretty much every temple.
 This was the first thing I ate after a 27! Hour! Plane! Ride! Lot's o lemongrass. Tasted perfect with a beer Lao too.

 That same restaurant had pretty decent Lao sausage. Not as good as Spicy Joi Lao makes, or the super affordable sausage at Longchang market on Franklin.
 So many cool looking monks! I didn't want to be a jerk and always be snapping them but the colors of the robe were a feast for the eyes.
 This one is funny because if you zoom in on the plaque you see they are dissing this cement monument. It was somewhat ugly, true. You climb it to get a view of the city and the inside is packed with souvenir stores with wonderful old tshirts. It was hot AF the entire time I was there. In the 90s with killer humidity. I remember climbing to the top of this (Patuxai) monument to be particularly brutal as far as heat.
 One of my fave dishes ever! Nam Khao Tod, crispy rice with sausage. So good
 I tried to capture that these walking guy signs never ever turn green.
 A just ok version of papaya salad.

 Here's Patuxai again

Delicious noodle soup with blood cake, crispy garlic, "napa cabbage" (as I know it)

 More temple finery

Thursday, November 01, 2018

The wonder of Old Sac

I'm working on a review of Hao Bao Dumpling House on Stockton, and it's turning out pretty negative. I had more of a meh feeling when I was there, it's certainly cheap as hell, but it's one of those reviews I'm writing of a place that I know I will never go back to, so that seems pretty worthy of a negative. Why recommend it to peeps if I myself will never again darken the door?

What are your favorite dumplings spots? I like Journey to the Dumpling ok, but if I was going to drive to Elk Grove I'd probably rather eat at Kotteri Ramen, which I reviewed recently.

Liv said that the dumpling place on Freeport is better than Hao Bao, so I am hoping to get there this weekend to give me some timely perspective. I recently had a friend who grew up in Taiwan say that I Shanhai Delight in Old Sac is legit. I didn't even know there was a dumpling place there! The wonders of Old Sac.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Million dollar idea

Idea: custom kitchen wallpaper based on Corti ads. Supposedly custom wallpaper is a thing, according to Google. Any peeps with decorating knowledge want to chime in?


I was on my way to work on the causeway this morning as the sun came up. I look to my left, a guy in a Tesla in the fast lane is on his phone. Oh well, they practically drive themselves, right? Then I look to the right and a guy has a notepad in the middle of his steering wheel that he is writing on. Look to the right again and a driver is eating a massive burrito with both hands. I feel like I'm in a comedy where I'm going to look to the left and see a woman playing a violin.

I've been commuting for 15 years, and I understand better than anyone that it's super boring, and I don't want to be doing it either, but I feel something close to despair when I see that the majority of people on the road are paying attention to something besides driving. I have to watch for the swerve that means the person is texting, and stay away from the car. All I can say is: bring on self-driving cars!!! People are idiots.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Japan musings

I'm missing Japan, since I was there exactly a year ago. I was sure it was two years ago, and that I just couldn't remember what I did last Halloween, but Scott had to remind me it was one. Shows how fast life is flying by (nervous laughter). It's very nice to go to Japan in the fall, although we did catch one night of a gnarly typhoon. That just meant we had to stay near our airbnb for dinner, nothing worse than that, unless there was and I forgot (rueful laughter).

The NY Times magazine has a loooong (and very good) piece about Japanese Kit Kats and all the special flavors. My favorite little nugget of Japan knowledge buried at the end is that in the Yamanashi region, southwest of Tokyo, she sees tourists who are there to pick fruit, and they pay a flat fee for an allotted eating time! That is amazing.

I can't wait to go back to Japan. I have a resolution to take the Monday evening adult Japanese class at Sakura Gakuen, at the Buddhist church on 10th street. I almost do it every year, and then something gets in the way. Scott and I were talking about just doing a short trip to Tokyo next time. I love everywhere I've been, but Tokyo the best.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Annual Heckasac Rant

In my last review for SNR, of Kotteri Ramen Bar in Elk Grove (which has decent ramen and really good tsukemen), I started it with a rant about how "real" cities can support listicles such as's 13 best ramen shops in San Diego. We are smaller than San Diego, but we basically have two ramen places, Shoki and Ryu Jin.

Now they just listed 18 (18!) "splendid shakshukas" in the Boston area. Shakshuka is an egg-and-tomato dish that got trendy YEARS AGO, and a search of Yelp yields 1, that's right, 1, place to get it in Sac (Pushkin's). Oh, all right that weird Seasons 52 place at Arden Mall too. Boston is quite a bit bigger, but proportionately we should have....let me do some imaginary math....5-8 places to get this dish that has been trendy so long that it has now jumped the shark, yet never came here.

That is what bugs me, not that we are not trendy, that's fine, but that when good food and drink trends happen (like natural wine), they never come here and instead we get like 10 places riffing on the same trend or concept. And meanwhile, in the rest of the country, the trend builds, reaches saturation, is declared over, and on the the next thing, and there still isn't one restaurant where I can consistently get a glass of delicious natural wine, or shakshuka, or I have to go to the one ramen place over and over and over.

On another topic, I'm not always a fan of Marcos Breton, but this story is chilling on the subject of what sexual assault survivors go through, and also a wonderful profile of this brave woman. It is hard to take that her story was doubted, mainly because she got a ride to UCD campus from her attacker.