India! To Western eyes, it is one of the most exotic of lands. India seems very far away, and yet it is strangely familiar in ways that draw us in. In your mind’s eye, think about the Taj Mahal in moonlight: Those shimmering white marble domes look like nothing you’d ever expect to see in Louisville, yet its strangely compelling beauty transcends time and space.
Let’s touch down for a couple of quick hits on the metro dining scene this week. Uptown Café has been a Bardstown Road landmark for 20 years, serving always reliable fare in a friendly setting that keeps bringing people back for more.
Shandaar Indian is so new that its well-crafted Facebook page still has that new-page smell. So far out in the East End that it feels closer to downtown Shelbyville than downtown Louisville, it proved to be well worth the trek.
Warmed by the delights of four big bowls of steaming ramen at Rumplings in five day’s time, I asked my baby boomer pals on Facebook a simple question this week: When did you first encounter instant ramen? What did you think of it when you did?
Hey! Vietnamese Kitchen’s got duck! Succulent, delicious duck, fatty and rich! And they’ve got “mock duck,” too: an alternative invented by vegetarian Buddhist monks! Either way, if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it must be … well, you know.
Naturally my mind spun a Pythonesque duck-taunting fight.
Okay, let’s just lay this out there as a true confession: I’ve reviewed a few national corporate franchise chain eateries lately, and I’m not sorry. Well, not very sorry.
The news that Thai-Siam had closed after 25 years of dishing up Thai cuisine to Louisville-area diners came with more of a sense of nostalgia than loss, I’d say.
When it opened in 1989, I was beside myself with joy. Having discovered Thai cuisine in California way back in the day, I loved it so hard, and ached for it to make its way east. Continue reading
Well, hey now. What’s this? A new restaurant reviewer at The Courier-Journal? How about that! This sort of thing fascinates me because I used to occupy that pulpit myself, as dining critic for the late, great Louisville Times (and, after its death, The CJ) until I left the building in 1990.
Hey, when did fusion cuisine stop being a thing? It seems like only yesterday – well, OK, maybe it was the ’80s and ’90s – when top chefs had everyone oohing and aahing over such multicultural goodies as Wolfie Puck’s smoked salmon and caviar pizza at Beverly Hills’ Ma Maison or Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s pricey Thai-French mash-ups at his almost-eponymous Vong restaurant in New York City. Continue reading
Life as a hunter-gatherer was hard, no question about that. As the philosopher Thomas Hobbes famously put it, this life was “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.”
But at least paleolithic humans didn’t have to make many decisions at supper time. Knock over an animal, whack off a chunk and chow down. Cooking it was optional, once people learned to tame fire. It was only when humans settled down in agricultural societies about 10,000 years ago that culinary life got complicated. Continue reading
Does the Buddha daydream?
As the ancient story is told, more than 2,500 years ago when Siddharta Gautama experienced his awakening, his six years of meditation and study provided him with sudden vast insight into the meaning of life. Thus he became the Buddha, “The Awakened One,” and one of the world’s great religious traditions was born.
So meditate me this: Does an Awakened One sleep? Probably not. What would be the point? But surely the Buddha daydreams, for what is daydreaming, after all, but random meditation?
Buddha’s Daydream! It’s a Zen koan, and it’s a dish at Saigon Cafe in St. Matthews. Continue reading
“Hack-hack! Ker-CHOO! Cough! Snort!” Aw, kee-rap! Mary’s got a cold, and it sounds like a monster. This can’t be good. Not only do I wish no ill on my dear bride, but also let’s face it: When Momma’s not happy, ain’t nobody happy.
What to do? What to do? I know! Chicken noodle soup!
As the signature upscale shopping district in Tokyo, Ginza is a landmark akin to Rodeo Drive in Los Angeles, Miraflores in Lima or Chicago’s purportedly magnificent Michigan Avenue. Which suggests that Ginza Asian Bistro, a newish suburban eatery in Louisville, has set itself to a mighty high standard with its choice of moniker.
When you first step through the door of this flashy spot on Shelbyville Road near Hurstbourne, with its pools of translucent blue, green and red lights marking out space on the ceilings and walls, lots of mirrors and an oversize lighted fish tank, you might feel a flash of high color and high tech that could make you think, “Ginza, yeah!” Continue reading