March 24, 2018

Miss Saigon on Broadway, New York… pretty schmaltzy

Miss Saigon is back in New York. Known as “the musical with the helicopter,” it’s a tale of   doomed love affair between a young Vietnamese woman and an American GI in the last days of the Vietnam War. I am one of a whole new generation of theatregoers who never saw it during its run 20 years ago, and jumped at the chance to see it now.

Much of those songs are sweeping, melodramatic ballads. The likable and undeniably talented Philippines actor Jon Jon Briones, the show’s slimy pimp known as the Engineer is equally contemptible and charming. He delivered the stunning upbeat ‘American Dream’ number to perfection. He even threw in a joke about making America great again (something that surely wasn’t in the original script).

I can’t say I was deeply moved. Still, it’s a pretty schmaltzy show. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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February 24, 2018

Pandemonium, Boston…nothing extraordinary

Filed under: Activities, American, board games, Books, Entertainment, games, USA — Tags: , , , , , — PEr @ 3:09 pm

The board game is enjoying a resurgence. Sales in the U.S. grew 28% last year and worldwide, the industry is worth nearly $10 billion. Why? Probably it’s just fun to spend time with friends and get immersed in something completely unique.

Pandemonium has got a really decent selection of books (mostly used paperbacks, focusing on sci-fi and fantasy) and they put conscious effort into getting material from local authors. The game selection is good, though tabletop RPGs and a fairly decent area (if you can overlook the unattractive smelly basement) for the gaming community to meet.

This store isn’t terrible but it’s nothing extraordinary for a game shop. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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January 6, 2018

Nathan’s Famous, New Jersey…no better, no worse

Deep down, I just want to be eating the real Nathan’s dogs at the original Coney Island stand, but I guess, this Nathan’s stall at Jersey Garden food court is what I have to settle for.

A mild, juicy meat and crispy exterior that “melds in a nice way” with bun and condiments. They have the pop when you bite through the skin, releasing all those yummy juices into your mouth. The low points are that it feels processed.

Nathan’s is no better, no worse than any hot dogs in America. Is this as good as it gets, or do I really need to go to the original location? This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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December 2, 2017

The Compleat Strategist, New York…I left empty handed

This is a true aficionado’s pure nirvana in a tiny space near the Empire State Building. Not a single online or computer game.  This is role playing at its finest and board games galore.

This store isn’t really big but from the ground all the way to the ceiling it is packed with games. The walls are bursting with games. The narrow aisles have games, miniatures, books and other collectibles crammed along the shelves. They have brand new games, old vintage games, expansions packs for games you’ve never heard of, and most importantly: RPG books

They seem to have everything except the thing I’d wanted: a foam value set for the Star Wars Rebellion board game box.

Don’t come here for customer service, though. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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November 5, 2017

Oyster Bar Restaurant, New York…Manhattan clam chowder hits all the right notes

Grand Central Station isn’t in the greatest food neighborhood, but there’s a spot worthy of mention. The century-old Oyster Bar Restaurant is where you’ll get the best atmosphere, not to mention the best views of oyster after oyster being shucked at impressive speed.

There are dozens of oyster varieties line its epic menu. I picked out the roasted Bluepoint oysters with grilled pineapple-citrus-ginger butter to go with my grilled shrimp with garlic herb butter and coconut rice. The BIG reason, though to go to Oyster Bar Restaurant is for their zesty Manhattan clam chowder. This distinguishable red-colored broth is a great change of pace from the creamy New England version. With its base of stock and tomatoes, it’s lighter, a bit healthier and loaded with flavor. It hits all the right notes.

The service can be downright awful. Want that wedge of lemon you asked for 20 minutes ago? You’ll have better luck flagging a cab during a rush hour rainstorm. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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October 22, 2017

Regina Pizzeria, Boston…a slice of heaven

It’s one of the world’s most popular foods – and rightly so. Boston offers gluttonous amounts of very good pizza indeed.

An old-school pizza parlor with few frills, Regina’s Pizzeria opened in Boston’s North End in 1926.

The pizza? Made using dough from an 80-year-old family recipe, sauce, and natural toppings with no preservatives or additives, and all cooked in a brick oven. The Giambotta – their finest creation…it’s the pizza that comes with all the traditional toppings on it – a full three pounds! The end couldn’t have come soon enough. In Italian homes when they’re having a giambotta, they’re going to have mama’s best combination. Molta bene! (Anchovies upon request). Part of the appeal is the crust, chewy, springy, and addictive.

But beware: There’s often a wait for a table. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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September 9, 2017

Atlantic Fish Co, Boston…(not) the best in Boston

When it comes to lobsters, Boston leads the way. Now for the hard part.  Who has the best lobster in Boston?

A Boston staple, Atlantic Fish Company is an upscale seafood centric restaurant that focuses on traditional preparations.

No prizes for guessing the main attraction – it’s all about the lobster. I enjoyed the lobster, corn on the cob, potatoes 1/4 lbs and have never felt happier. A well-matched accompaniment is the award winning new England clam chowder cup. Overall, this was a good find. It’s still better than most seafood restaurants I’ve tried in the USA but I don’t think it’s the best in Boston.

The way I see it as a layman, a steamed or boiled lobster is not some fine art of cooking.  Even my seven-year-old niece can cook you up a great steamed lobster.  All you are doing is dropping the poor bastard(s) in a pot of water for about ten minutes and that is it.

Unless it is some crazy lobster pie dish, then it doesn’t really matter where you get it if you just want it steamed or boiled. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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August 27, 2017

Walrus & Carpenter Oyster Bar, Boston…damn delicious lobster roll

In Singapore, people treat lobsters like celebrities, and Boston has no shortage of them.

Named after the Lewis Carroll poem, The Walrus and the Carpenter Oyster Bar in Quincy Market Food Colonnade at Fanueil Hall Marketplace specializes in oysters, lobsters and other delicious seafood dishes. So, yes, these very public eating places, I’m all for them. I love the public — and can spend up to two or three occasions a month in close proximity to them without panic, vomiting or assault

The heart and soul of the menu and the reason to come eat here (or take out) is the pure and simple and elegantly delicious lobster roll. Order a lobster roll with a cup of chowder and the split top bun will arrive stuffed with chunks of impeccably cooked lobster meat which is ample, firm, tender and sweet, spot-on seasoning, and a meat-to-bun ratio that works. The winning key here is that the sandwich taste like lobster and not mayo. The creamy and comforting clam chowder also shines.

The downside? This teeny lobster roll is just enough to make you wish you had more. Just don’t try to share it…in fact, perhaps order two just for yourself.

This is the kind of lobster roll dreams are made of. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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July 29, 2017

Minetta Tavern Restaurant and Bar, New York City…The black label burger renders other burgers meaningless

This place opened in the 30’s so it’s wonderful to see the vintage décor of the old saloon-era interior intact. Being a full house, I sat at the refinished oak bar in the front of the room, elbow to elbow with other diners. The vibe is buzzy, exclusive, and properly chaotic.

The food rocks as much as the scene. The US$33 Black Label Burger – selection of prime dry-aged beef cuts with caramelized onions and pomme frites is without question a mind-blowing rivetingly intense experience. Named the best burger in America by CNBC, a continent full of burger connoisseurs, The Daily Meal,  calls it “the stuff of legend.”  The beef is a blend of four different cuts—short rib, skirt, brisket and rib-eye. It’s like eating a dry-aged steak in burger format. The bun was airy but not spongy. There is a chewiness and lushness in the same bite. Each bite of this burger was lingered over and savored. Even the fries were perfectly seasoned, and nicely crisped. It held to the quality of the burger.

This is now my must-go place in NYC, but frequent Minetta too often and I’ll be broke and really fat. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…


December 2, 2016

Morton’s The Steakhouse, Macau…it was so hit and miss

I have been to several Mortons and was excited to see that there was one in Macau. Like all other Morton’s Steakhouses, the restaurant’s interior is elegantly layered in dark hues, white linens and eye-catching light fixtures.

Morton’s prime burger – choice of cheese, crisp bacon, sauteed mushrooms or onions served with french fries was good but the Filet mignon trio – three mini filet steaks topped with Bearnaise, Blue Cheese Butter and au Poivre Sauce was subpar. I expected much higher end food. In the end, it was a case of a hit and a miss. I wasn’t wild about it.

Have eaten at Morton’s in other locations and this isn’t it – just go somewhere else. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…



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