Thursday, October 22, 2009

Eat It - Mr. Yum, 1945 SW 8th St., Miami, FL (786)360-2371

Mr. Yum Asian Cuisine. Sounds pretty standard, right? I've gotta tell you, I don't like that as a theme for a restaurant. I don't like it one bit. You know I'm about to tell you why. Here comes one of my rants that has practically nothing to do with reviewing the restaurant!

You wouldn't have a North American themed restaurant, would you? You wouldn't have a restaurant that touted Caucasian Cuisine, am I right? See, this is what's wrong with America, but also highlights how Asians are using our ignorance against us in their evil plot to take over the world. Now I'm displaying a similar ignorance in lumping them all together, but hey, give me a break. I'm a gringo, too!

Please use a generic Asian accent as you read this. "Hey whitey, you like Chinese foo', you like sushi, you like fried rice, you like Pad Thai? We give all to you in one rest-a-rant."

I can't blame them. For years, anyone who was, uh, Jesus, I don't even know what to call them. Goddammit. I get in arguments with Indian friends of mine who say that they are ethnically Asian when I say that they are Caucasian. I sure am argumentative. Point is that people have, for generations, called everyone who's like that "Chinese." It's like calling everyone who's Hispanic "Mexican." For white people, this does not happen, for some reason. Maybe it does and we don't know about it.

So, what about all of the other "Asians" who don't get the designation that was once known as "Oriental?" Russia is in Asia. Pakistan. Afghanistan. Turkey. India. Yemen. These are all countries located in Asia. Man, this is making me even more upset now that I'm typing it out.

Anyway, you might be disappointed to learn, after all of that, that Mr. Yum has no Yemeni food anywhere on the menu. At least, not that I know of. I didn't look at the menu even once while I was there, since my friends ordered for the entire table. I also don't know what anything costs, because one of my fellow diners (a totally sweet dude) picked up the tab. I am not complaining about either of those things. Frankly, I'd be elated to live a fantasy life where tabs were picked up and I didn't know the price of the things I consumed. Actually, my life was like that until fairly recently, come to think of it.

To the Internet for pricing information! Chicken Pad Thai is 14 bucks. Red curry is the same. Appetizers range from 4 to 20 dollars, but you could easily be satisfied by sharing a few between two diners. The prices are fair and the quality of the food is very, very good. Beer ranges in price from $4 to $6.50. That makes me happy.

Ha ha, I just checked for desserts and they're listed under "desert." I have to keep reminding people that "dessert" is spelled with two esses because you want more of it. We had the very Atkins-unfriendly Twinkies Tempura. I don't think frying Twinkies is necessary. But one could say that I shouldn't crush Oreos up in my ice cream or order ten items when I go to Taco Bell.

Service at Mr. Yum is excellent, though the friends with whom I dined know the owner and he waited on us personally. It's possible that I had a slightly better experience than the average diner, but the place was packed on a Thursday night and people continued to arrive and fill the tables throughout the evening. We spent like 3 hours there, so we saw a fair amount of table turnover. Atmosphere and decor are hip and exciting. Bathrooms are spotless and for some reason I really liked the way the paper towels were rolled up -

As I finish this post, I am remembering that when I lived in Singapore, my host father once offered to bring me home some "western food" for dinner. It took me a little while to understand what he meant, because it came out as "westan foo." Even after I figured out what he saying, I had no idea what that could possibly mean, and it turned out that it was fried chicken, baked beans and cucumber all thrown together in a box that he got at a hawker center, which is basically a Singaporean food court. I suppose that's exactly the same thing as what I complained about throughout this post, but there's no way I'm starting over from scratch. Uh, withdrawn?

Friday, October 9, 2009

Eat It - George's, 3145 Commodore Plz., Miami, FL (305)444-7878

Let me know when this website works, because I'd like to get another look at the prices. For now, it's just some post-modern, black screen. Deep. Probably meant as some sort of metaphor. Life is meaningless. Food will not fill the gaping hole in our souls. You know, that old chestnut. I guess the alternative would be a photo of a cake with a big penis between two breasts. That will make sense later.

A good buddy of mine recently celebrated his birthday at George's in the Grove. It's one of his usual dinner spots, so I was happy to try it out after hearing him talk about it for so long. It's kind of a tourist trap for locals, if that makes any sense, but it's worth checking out. George's is certainly waaaay less annoying than Barton G. It's been voted "Best Restaurant for Celebrating a Birthday" by the New Times, and there were at least 6 other tables who celebrated on the same night that we did. They do make it fun with loud music and dimmed lights accompanying the cake presentation. It's a lot better than the usual restaurant birthday song that makes one embarrassed to be a member of the human race.

From what I've read on line, you can make a reservation, which they'll take over the phone, only to pretend it never existed once you've arrived. That kind of sucks. I strolled in with the first couple of attendees that night and we waited for at least 20 minutes before being seated. That wouldn't have been so bad had there been someone to serve us a drink at the bar. I guess people sit at the bar and eat sometimes, but the restaurant is so packed with tables that you can't even stand at the bar without being completely in the way of the waitstaff. While you're eating, with your legs pinned beside the table's (legs), you are regularly bumped by waiters on the way to the kitchen and diners on the way to and from the potty. I hope they're washing their hands.

The lack of pre-dinner drink was quickly excused when we were presented with glasses of complimentary champagne, one of the restaurant's signatures. It's a nice touch and makes any meal at George's feel celebratory, I am sure.

The food at George's is good. It's not great. It's not surprisingly good. Nor is it disappointing. It's just adequate, I think. The disappointment for me came when, after having pointed directly at the Duck Confit Pizza on the menu to avoid confusion, I was served the regular Duck Confit dish (which is located far away on the menu, by the way). Life is so hard sometimes...

I have a policy of not returning food unless I plan on not eating anything, so I told the waiter that I would prefer not to be charged for the dish I was served, but rather the (cheaper) dish I had ordered, and that I did not want to make a big deal of it. He took the plate away immediately, at which point the diner across the table offered to split his pizza with me (We were a large group and we had only just met. It was, indeed, a gracious offer.). I agreed and canceled the Duck Confit Pizza. I am basically paranoid about sending food back to the kitchen and waiting to ingest a mystery ingredient (bodily fluid) that has been surreptitiously added to my dish. Think "Road Trip" French Toast -

God, I love the internet.

Other diners ordered fish dishes that were pretty average. Mostly, the ambiance and company made for a delightful evening, and the atmosphere at George's is so relaxed that you're comfortable hooting and hollering and having a great time. It really is perfect for birthdays in that regard.

When dessert came, it was clear that we were celebrating with a special birthday boy. The song they blasted seemed much louder and cooler than the typical YMCA and Dancing Queen that had been played for others, and the cake was bigger and more elaborate than ones we had seen presented at other tables.

Here is a photo of both the cake and the birthday boy. His face has been obscured for his protection. Let's give him a pseudonym like, oh, say, Jeff Boden.

Aside from the delicious dessert, when the bill came, of course, we got a cluster fudge. That's what always happens when you have a big group. Everyone feels cheated and, even though the birthday boy was the biggest earner at a table that had among its members grad students and the underemployed, we all paid for him. So, I was a little annoyed that I spent $80 for my share and ate only half a pizza. It's a good thing I drank a LOT of the wine. I had to point out that we had still been charged for the Duck Confit, but that wasn't surprising. That's why you must always check the bill at the end of your meal. The dessert was tasty, but I think they charged us $7/person. That's a little too much.

I know it sounds like I didn't like it that much, but I really enjoyed George's. You should just know what to expect before you go there.