Restaurant Review: Franchia (Park Avenue, NYC)

Official site: http://www.franchia.com/

Came here with some vegan friends. My opinion is that of an omnivore, so bear with it.

Like most vegan places, the food here was overpriced, under portioned, and didn’t taste great. With that said, the vegan half of our party loved the food.

We ordered a lot of things: the scallion pancakes, the Peking buns, the vegan scallops, Franchia noodles, the pad thai, stuffed mushrooms, the fritters, the vegan caviar and truffle rolls, the chocolate tofu pudding, soy cheese cake and the blueberry coconut cake. To my taste, it was all pretty lousy. To my vegan friends, it was fantastic.

They also have an assortment of teas for people who like that. I think we had the citron, with some plum wine and mojitos. These were okay.

Score: 2.8/10 If you’re vegan, this place is great. Otherwise, there is no reason for anyone non-vegan to ever set foot in this quagmire of half-assed dishes and lousy food. I’ve eaten vegan food before, and I just wish they’d try to make the food appetizing. Maybe get someone with formal culinary training to take on the food. It’s almost as if they are aiming for bland food.

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Movie Review: Jason Bourne

Jason Bourne movies (at least when directed by Paul Greengrass) are extremely formulaic and if you are coming to see this movie, you should expect that. Actually I love the formula of a Bourne movie and my main criticisms with this movie are where it deviates from the formula.

The premise is this. Bourne is pulled back in to the action by hacker Nicky Parsons when she alerts him to some shenanigans going on with his father.

The basic Bourne formula is a few set pieces (a few running around scenes, driving scene, and shaky cam hand to hand scene) with a thin general plot. You come to this movie for the action, shaky cam, and editing, not an Academy Award winning story. And this movie delivers in all regards. Jason Bourne runs around outsmarting everyone while kicking everyone’s ass.

My only complaint with this film is that there is only one real hand to hand fight scene and it was kind of  shitty when compared to the visceral fight scenes in the prior Bourne films. I guess you can’t help that though because Matt Damon is getting kind of old. I mean, he’s in his forties now.

Score: 6.8/10 When that Moby song played at the end of the movie, the crowd cheered as did I. This was a decent movie.

Movie Review: Star Trek Beyond

Of the three Star Trek reboot movies (including Star Trek Beyond), I think the first one is easily the best. When going to see it, there was this anticipation of what J.J. Abrams was going to do with this franchise. What we got was a welcome, modernized re-imagining of Star Trek with a healthy dose of heart. Star Trek: Into Darkness stepped away from that to retread some old ground and retell an old, but fan favorite story. Star Trek Beyond steps even further away from the heart in the 2009 Star Trek film and delivers a films that feels like an episode of the TV series, except with a bigger budget.

The premise is this: the Enterprise crew answer a distress call in an uncharted nebula, then plot twists occur. It’s a basic story.

I feel like there were an inordinate amount of jokes in this movie. Which is fine as long as you throw in the requisite amount of drama to  buttress that. They did not. I walked away from this movie entertained, but ultimately feeling like this was a pointless movie. There was no real overall progression or meaningful character development with the crew.

Some additional notes:

Interesting that Sulu is now officially gay married and has a kid. I’m sure George Takei is happy about that.

Lot of dead red shirts in this movie. Kind of odd how little the primary cast feels so little for these dead extras. Also promotes that TV show feel rather than the feature film feel.

Villain had an interesting plot twist, but not enough to make him matter.

Inclusion of modern music and calling it classical was a nice attempt at a joke that fell flat with my audience.

Special effects were on point. Nice job.

Score: 5.8/10 Ultimately, this was an entertaining movie. In my opinion, there were no narrative reasons for this movie to be made. Clearly a film made just for the money, not because there was a story that needed be told.

Restaurant Review: Debasaki (Flushing, NY)

Official site: http://www.dbsknyc.com/home.html

I originally found this place because it’s the only place with one thing: stuffed wings or gyoza wings. It’s basically the wing and wing tip part of the chicken. The bones in the wing are removed and that part is stuffed with something, then deep fried. An order of stuffed wings is about twenty bucks and comes with ten. The stuffing includes corn and cheese, kimchi cheese, spicy crab meat, garlic shrimp and veggie. You can mix and match the flavors however you want.

Our order of stuffed wings was a mix of all the flavors on the menu. We mostly concluded that the best flavor was the kimchi stuffed wings. The spicy crab was ridiculously spicy. In hindsight, I probably would have gone half and half with kimchi and corn stuffings.

We also ordered a plate of their soy garlic wings and mozzarella fries, which were both great. The soy garlic wings were sweeter than they were at other Korean friend chicken places, which was nice actually.

Additionally there were a lot of other Korean things here (jjigae, kimchi fried rice, etc.) We didn’t order any of that, but they all looked good and a lot of tables had them.

Service is worth a mention. They were very nice.

Score: 6.7/10 The stuffed wings were fine. Not sure if I would come back though now that I’ve tried it. If I wanted to come back for jjigae or kimchi fried rice, I’d probably go somewhere else.

Restaurant Review: Joju (Elmhurst, NY)

Official site: http://www.jojuny.com/

The first time I had Joju was from a left over half sandwich in my friends fridge. I don’t know if it was the hunger, but it was damn good. After a visit to Joju’s Elmhurst location, I now know it wasn’t hunger. The sandwiches at Joju are damn good.

With that said, it is just a Vietnamese sandwich. There are many places strewn across the city who make comparable Vietnamese sandwiches. So what differentiates this place from others? A few additional options really. Also the price is fantastic as it’s about six dollars for a full sandwich (not half sandwich). This includes sandwiches like pork belly. It was so cheap I thought I was paying for a half sandwich.

As for these additional options, they have your standard ham and head cheese that you can get anywhere. They also have bulgogi, bbq pork, and pork belly (my personal favorite). There are also specialty fries (kim chi and banh mi) but after trying them, they aren’t extraordinary. Just some fries that taste like the sandwiches. The also have other appetizers and chicken wings (which were really over breaded). Ultimately, the sandwiches are the only thing here that are worth buying in my opinion.

Score: 6.7/10 Great place. The prices are great. Worth a visit.

Movie Review: Fantastic Four (2015)

I sat down for this movie expecting a train wreck. I was not disappointed.

The best part of this film was easily the first act. The introduction to Reed and his whole situation was fine. No great, but fine.

Things fall apart upon act two, when they go to the dimension zero. The lines were just really poorly written. They start throwing around all these science fiction terminology and plot points which really didn’t have any foundation. It was just one jarring, emotionless scene after another.

Score: 2.5/10 There’s a lot of good ideas here. Act one and the horror elements were good. It just wasn’t put together very well. They definitely needed some rewrites.

Movie Review: Ghostbusters (2016)

If you’re walking into this film expecting a reinvention of the wheel, you’re going to be disappointed. At the same time, there are enough differences that it is not exactly a female version of Bill Murray’s Ghostbusters movie.

What you have here is a heavily formulaic remake. Watching this film was like watching someone checking off boxes to a list of requirements for a “hip” Ghostbusters remake. Gender bended the cast? Check. Guest roles for each member of the last Ghostbusters movie? Check. A big villain reminiscent of the marshmallow man? Check. And a long list of jokes that wink at scenes from the old film are present, too.

At the same time, there are a number of new ideas. Some work, some really don’t. They have new weapons. That’s kind of cool. Off the top of my head that’s about it.

Score: 4.6/10 All right movie. Kind of soulless. It’s mainly for a sort of different, sort of same walk down Ghostbusters memory lane. I sort of enjoyed it.

Just Sharing Jessie Mueller’s performance at the 2016 Tony Awards

Like most people this year, I was obsessed with the musical Hamilton. After browsing youtube, I found myself overcome with guilt for overlooking this musical. As a youtube commenter has said, this song goes straight for the kill and I could feel myself choking up just listening to it. The part that gets me is the one with Jessie Mueller. The show is called Waitress and is on Broadway. Great song and great performance that I must’ve listened to over a dozen times now.

Restaurant Review: Rafele (Seventh Ave., NYC)

Official site: http://rafele.com/

Yelp page: http://www.yelp.com/biz/rafele-ristorante-new-york

This place was a shit hole. Waiter (tall guy with an accent) got our order wrong then lied to our faces about it over and over and fought with us about it. Treated us like shit from the moment we walked in and tried to rush us out. Only good thing about this place was the eggplant dip. Otherwise, all the food we had was pretty shit. Had the cannelloni special. That was shit. Service was especially shit.

Avoid this place like the plague.

Score: 0/10