Bridesmaids (2011)

Rating:

This movie was heavily advertised earlier this year, and it attracted my attention a bit.  After seeing the trailer, I thought it would essentially be the girls version of The Hangover.  Oh, how wrong I was.  The Hangover will probably go down in history as a comedic great whereas Bridesmaids will probably be all but forgotten within two years.  The commercials say “critics are calling it the best comedy of the year.”  I get depressed at the thought that they may be right.

This movie had some occasional one-liners that were funny, and there is definitely one line that I anticipate using a lot in the near future.  “Help me, I’m poor!”  Well, I guess I could at least identify with Annie from this perspective.  Still, the movie had far too much pointless bickering  and it just created lots of incredibly long drawn out scenes that annoyed me much more than it entertained me.

I did like the part where her friend came to drag Annie out of her pitiful state of mind.  “I’m trying to get you to fight for your shitty life!” she says to Annie.  I guess all of us have our ups and downs.  Sadly, I think I still haven’t hit the bottom yet, so I’m still bracing myself for impact.

How I felt while watching the movie:  annoyed.  Watchable, but don’t pay any money to watch it.

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Bon Chon Chicken

Rating:

My partner in crime had come here a number of times this past week and recommended it to me as a delicious and unique chicken option.  Fortunately there was one located nearby Bodies The Exhibition down around the South Sea Port so I decided to scout it out.  I was in the mood for some wings anyways.  I was of course slightly hesitant because this was another sampling of Asian Fusion cuisine so I wasn’t sure how it’d go.  I had trouble finding the place just because I didn’t expect it to look so “modern.”

Upon finally finding and entering the place, I found the layout to be quite sleek in terms of design.  However, the bar setup and service seemed slightly dysfunctional.  They had a bar with a register where you couldn’t pay, and their selection of drinks was very limited.  Perhaps this was a relatively new store so I let it slide.  Unfortunately my timing wasn’t great either, and I was told that my batch of Soy Garlic Sauce and Spicy Soy Garlic Sauce wings would take about 20 minutes.  This compounded with the incomplete bar did not please me, but I think it was more a result of bad luck than a bad restaurant.

I started off with onion rings which surprisingly took 15 minutes to prepare.  However, I was quite taken with them.  The shells were nice and crispy and fused with the onion inside.  Unlike the average ring, it didn’t feel like I was eating a ring of uncooked onion and a separate ring of batter.  I also could bite through the onion unlike at some places where I spend half my time fighting the onion with my canines.  Their proficiency with onion rings gave me hope for the coming wings.

I was excited about the wings which came with a free side of dull-tasting pickled radishes.  The wings were cooked close to perfection and nice and crispy without loads of unnecessary breading or batter of any kind.  The sauce was very unique, combining hints of sweet and garlic flavors, which sadly isn’t a flavor I relish.  If they offered more flavors than the two I ordered, then this might be the perfect wing place.  Perhaps it is my bias against Asian Fusion again, but I just didn’t like the sauce despite the wings having been cooked so well.

I would come back here, but I’d really have to be in the mood for the unique flavor that is served at this restaurant.  Perhaps I will go to the one in Koreatown next time since I’ve heard that it is slightly better.  Bon Chon Chicken was certainly enough to satisfy my craving for some quality wings.

Club A Steakhouse

Rating:

Earlier this July, I bought a “dinner for two” coupon from LivingSocial.  I jumped on the deal during a time when I was craving steak.  Finally, two months later I was able to satisfy that craving.  Business casual was the suggested attire, so my date and I dressed nicely for the occasion.  Our reservations were set for 5:00 pm and unsurprisingly, we were the first at the restaurant.  As others trickled in, I saw that a majority of the diners around us were all participating in the same deal I had bought.

The coupon included a 4-course meal for each person in addition to a bottle of wine, either cabernet sauvignon or pinot grigio.  Since I was the only drinker, I decided a bottle of cabernet sauvignon since it would be better match with the steak.  To start we had the Mushroom Soup and Fried Calamari.  The Calamari was nothing out of the ordinary.  The mushroom soup really impressed me.  I was expecting the typical Campbell’s-like cream based soup with mushroom chunks/slices, but was surprised to find that their soup was a strange greenish color that was full of mushroom flavor but no mushroom chunks.  It was probably the best mushroom soup I’ve had in a while and it put a smile on my face.

We ordered a Hanger Steak and a Filet Mignon for our entrees with side orders of Mac and Cheese and Creamed Spinach.  The hanger steak was very good, but I thought the filet mignon was better.  My date had anticipated thus and let me enjoy the filet mignon, which was cooked medium and nearly perfectly.  Tender and a bit raw on the inside while nice and slightly charred on the outside, it really appeased and delighted me.  The creamed spinach was also delicious and smooth, although it felt a bit heavy after I ate a large portion of it.  The mac and cheese was good as well, but it was unimpressive compared to the S’mac we ate a few days ago.

Dessert was tiramisu and cream puffs.  The tiramisu was… edible.  But in the end I still couldn’t bring myself to finish it.  The cream puffs were good but it can’t compare the little dessert shops down in Little Italy such as Ferrera.  This place clearly does not specialize in desserts and could benefit greatly from hiring a new pastry chef.  From my meal, the dessert was the only real weak link in the entire meal, and I would’ve thought much more highly of the restaurant if I didn’t have to end the meal on such a low note.

Momofuku Noodle Bar

Rating:

I tagged this with Japanese, but it’s really another experiment in Asian fusion cuisine.  I have never found a fusion restaurant that I liked, but I kept hearing rave reviews about this place.  When describing the ramen at Momofuku, my co-worker said that it was like “Japan married Texas and had a baby.”  But after dining here for an early dinner, it only further reaffirmed my belief that more traditional dishes are far superior to fusion food.

We split an order of Oyster buns and each got the Momofuku Ramen.  The Oyster buns were like a variant of the Pork/Lamb Burgers they have at Xi’an Famous Foods, but not nearly as savory.  We got it for the Old Bay taste, which there were hints of; however I drowned those out with hot sauce, which I felt dramatically improved the bun.  It’s never a good thing when the dish is improved just by covering all of its original flavor with hot sauce.

The ramen was definitely different.  At first bite I thought it was amazing.  Well, the actual ramen was not that great, but the meat and the broth were so mouth-wateringly delicious.  Strangely though, after eating a little more, the delicious flavor of the meat had already lost its appeal.  I think this is one of those situations where they created too much of a positive high with the first bite, which couldn’t be maintained through the course of the meal.  My partner in crime seemed to be more disappointed than me; I at least enjoyed the first few moments of eating the ramen, whereas I don’t think she enjoyed any of it.  In fact, she didn’t even finish, and we ended up going around the corner to S’mac to get some quality mac & cheese.

Compounding the “different” taste of the ramen here with it’s price tag, I don’t think I’ll find myself dining here again.  Totto Ramen is still cheaper and better, and if you love meaty ramen, Totto Ramen serves a special ramen bowl right now which is a monster of a meal.  Better in terms of quality, quantity, and financially.  Personally, I still think Ippudo NY is the best ramen around Manhattan and it’s only two blocks away from Momofuku Noodle Bar.

Aangan

Rating:

We sat a block away and across the street at the Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream when I saw and began to crave some Indian food.  I always wanted to try Aangan, probably because there is an Aangan in Beijing, which I loved and considered the best Indian in the city.

This restaurant by the same name but situated in New York was not quite the same.  We ordered the typical Chicken Tikka Masala, which is a good baseline for comparison since I’ve had it at almost every Indian restaurant I’ve ever been to.  I wonder though if people really eat this dish in India.  In my mind, it may be like General Tso’s Chicken which is the most popular dish in the US, but non-existent in China.  We also ordered some Goat Rogan Josh in addition to Naan and Peshawari Naan, which were fine and edible.

The food wasn’t bad or difficult to eat since I cleaned up the plates, but it wasn’t anything great, and was incredibly overpriced.  If this were an Indian restaurant located in my hometown in Central Pennsylvania, then I’d probably think it was great; however in the city of New York, this restaurant offers nothing unique or amazing and there is no reason to dine here again.

Universal Soldier: The Return (1999)

Rating:

Since I just watched Universal Soldier: Regeneration, I wondered if I had missed anything in the second installment of the Universal Soldier series.  I watched this short movie, and it might possibly be one of the worst mistakes in my life.  After I finished, I looked on Wikipedia and discovered that when making Universal Soldier: Regeneration, they completely ignored the existence of this movie, and for very good reason.

This was essentially a B-movie, along with everything which that implies:  bad acting,  excessive out-of-place swearing, horrible dialogue, fragmented story, unknown actors (except Jean Claude Van Damme and Bill Goldberg), and lots of unnecessary boobs.  Bill Goldberg’s acting in the movie is exactly the same as when he wrestles on WCW Monday Nitro except he has a shirt on most of the time.  After all the grunting, I’m surprised Goldberg didn’t jackhammer anyone either.  It definitely wouldn’t have made the movie any worse.

The only reason this movie gets this high a rating is because some of JCVD’s flying kicking attacks reminded me of his other movies such as Bloodsport, Lionheart, Street Fighter and Kickboxer.  Also, the ending reminded me of Demolition Man, which is also one of my favorite action movies.  By the way, who is Michael Jai White?  He was in The Dark Knight?  Since they were making a B-movie anyways, they would’ve been better off employing Jaleel White like Mega Shark vs. Crocosaurus; I might have been willing to give this movie another half a star if he was in this movie too, just for added comedic value.

Universal Soldier: Regeneration (2009)

Rating:

Probably even without a review, you could guess exactly how good this movie will be.  Action-packed and fun to watch when your in the mood for something mindless and ridiculous.  Bringing back both of the original characters this time while adding UFC brawler Andrei Arlovski, this is 90 minutes of army people pounding on each other and trying to prove their are the manliest.

One shouldn’t be surprised to discover that the storyline behind this film is pretty shallow, but anyone who enjoyed the original Universal Soldier movie will definitely have fun watching this one.  It’s like watching the original except with a slightly different story, and both Jean Claude Van Damme and  Dolph Lundgren now look ancient.  They seemed to gasp and run out of breath just throwing a single punch.  Nevertheless, Russian terrorists, Chernobyl, hostages, interesting twist, and three testosterone-filled action stars are still a recipe for enjoyment.

At times, when I saw them fight and put each other through the walls, it reminded me of when Vin Diesel fought Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in Fast Five earlier this summer.  However, it is clear that Dolph and JCVD are far past their prime, and its obvious that the scriptwriters  were just sticking to the old proven action formula without introducing anything too new or too emotional.  The movie is exactly what you would expect it to be, nothing more and nothing less.

Do you of contemplate the complexities of life?