Hibachi of the Near Future

MTV2’s Subterranean is so much better now that we no longer have to watch smarmy Jim Shearer interview bands. More time for videos! The producers are still making "original content" for the show, however — band interview segments in kooky places. The past couple weeks they’ve shown The Klaxons being interviewed at some Japanese hibachi joint. Watching the band trying to give serious answers while being distracted by the hibachi chef’s antics is priceless. Even serious talk of how the internet has changed the way bands get signed is no match for the onion volcano:


NY Magazine
may say that England is undergoing a culinary Renaissance, but the Klaxons beg to differ:

 

The Klaxons’ epic, awesome debut, Myths of the Near Future, is out now. Tickets for the Klaxons April 13 show at Studio B are only $10 and still available. I was somewhat underwhelmed at the band’s first two NYC shows, but having heard the album in all it’s glory I’m hoping for greater things this time.

A couple more Subterranean clips after the jump…

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Elsewhere: Food

Minca_ramen
David Cross
shares a week’s worth of eating with Grub Street: It’s mostly snacks, including peanut butter on pretzel rods. "I just dip them in there and have them with a glass of red wine. I am not kidding. I am both 12 and 42 years old." He also eats a lot of ramen, but refreshingly doesn’t mention Momofuku, instead giving props to the nearby, excellent Minca: "It’s cheap, filling, and everything is infused with succulent pork fat, like an angel’s ejaculate."

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Additionally… this is a bit old, but I have to give props to New York Magazine‘s Everything Guide to Chinatown, which includes Fatty Crab owner Zac Pelaccio’s favorite places; a couple different annotated "so that’s what that stuff is" photos; and, best of all, a map of everything on mysterious East Broadway. This is easily the most useful, handy thing of it’s kind since the Porkchop Express brought us the map of the Red Hook Soccer Field vendors and is a good example of what the internet was made for.

Minca ramen photo swiped from Transparent Reality’s Flickr photostream.

Eat to the Beat: Galapagos / Music Hall of Williamsburg

Two of Williamsburg’s main rock venues, Galapagos and the soon-to-open Music Hall of Williamsburg (formerly NorthSix), are conveniently located right next to one another on N. 6th Street. There are loads of great chow choices for before or after the show. Note, these are not necessarily the best places in all of Williamsburg, just the best ones closest to the show.

PRE-SHOW BEST BETS

CHEAP-BUT-GREAT: In the back of Matamoros Puebla Grocery is a zero-frills taqueria offering some of the best, authentic Mexican food in the neighborhood. Skip the burritos and head straight for the tacos and the sopes (both $2 each) which you can get with a variety of fillings. The latter are thick, homemade tortillas filled with meat or vegetables, salsa, onions, crema and crumbly cotija cheese. There are non-meat options, but everything’s cooked on the same griddle…so vegans might want to head to the branch of San Loco on N. 4th.
193 Bedford (between N. 6th and N. 7th) | 10AM – 10PM (ish) daily.

EVERYONE LOVES PIZZA: Fornino opened two years ago and has been a pizza destination ever since. Using homemade moz and herbs grown in the backyard greenhouse, this is upscale pizza that will still leave you with money for beer. And the pie is pretty great, with plenty of options for carnivores, vegetarians and vegans alike. Whole pies only. For a slice, Anna Maria’s is on Bedford, just north of North 7th.
187 Bedford Ave | 718-384-6004 | Noon to 11PM daily.

THAI ONE ON: While it’s North 6h location makes it seem ideal, SEA is overrun with B&T/Sex & the City types and should be avoided at all costs on the weekends. Instead try Chai or Thai Thai. Chai scores with it’s deft mix of culinary finesse and atmosphere to match; Tai Thai is the cheapest in the area, with better than average food. It’s the only place you can find the extra-spicy Northern Thai specialty Jungle Curry in the neighborhood.
Chai: 124 N. 6th St (at Berry St) | 718-599-5889 | Noon to midnight daily
Tai Thai: 206 Bedford Ave (at N. 6th) |
718-599-5556 | Noon to 11PM daily

MORE: Sparky’s is a fast food concept with a slow food heart, using  organic and local ingredients; Miyako is the WB’s best sushi option; For a non-sushi Japanese fix in a transportive setting, Zenkichi offers luxe izakaya favorites… at a price; Oasis has your Middle Eastern options covered; Bliss is decent vegetarian; and Monkeytown is a destination in its own right.

POST-ROCK EATS

SNACK ATTACK: When your starved but want to keep the party going, few places in Williamsburg fit the bill as well as Snacky. As the name implies, it’s menu is full of little bites, drawn from Chinese, Japanese and Korean cuisine. But it’s Snacky’s spin on American classics that really satisfy the munchies. Hot dogs are topped with kimchee and a tangy, spicy sauce; and the Popsie Burger is their take on the slider, which is one of my favorite non-traditional burgers in the city. Kitchen stays open late…especially on weekends. There’s a nice selection of beer, sake and soju (distilled Korean rice wine that packs a vodka punch), the decor is hip and funky, and the stereo often plays mixes from yours truly.
187 Grand St (at Bedford) | 718-486-4848 | 6PM – 1AM (or later) Mon-Sat

IT’S THE BOMB: Further east on Grand St. is Bozu. Like Snacky, Bozu is essentially an izakaya joint — a place to drink with little items to nosh on while getting sloshed — but the two places have a totally different vibe. It’s very Japanese, and you feel like you’re walking into some secret den (kind of like Decibel in the East Village). There’s a full bar, but the emphasis is on beer (Hitachino on draft!), sake, and especially shochu — the Japanese equivalent of soju. The food is great. Their sushi bombs are made in muffin tins, the result are little pucks of raw fish and rice. Sushi rolls too — with many vegetarian/vegan varieties — and a nice selection of salads, cooked dishes and other little treats. The star, however, is the Pork Betty: slow-cooked pork belly, sliced thin into little medallions of fatty goodness.

296 Grand St. (btwn Havemeyer and Roebling) |
718-384-7770 | 6PM – 1AM (3AM on weekends)

BURGER ME: Open for less than a year, DuMont Burger has become one of the most popular spots on the South Bedford drag. During normal dinner hours, you have to fight for one of the 25 stools in the small place. But after 10PM, snagging a spot is pretty easy and the kitchen stays open till 2AM most nights. Their signature eight ounce burger uses top-quality, house-ground ground beef, and it’s served on a buttery brioche bun, which can be a bit much. The better option is the DuMont Mini — five ounces (still big) on a ciabatta bun. The fries and onion rings are excellent. You can also get DuMont’s famed Mac and Cheese (a portion big enough to feed four), a decent grilled chicken sandwich, and a veggie burger made with chickpeas. (It’s dry.) There are also daily specials, nice draft beer choices, plus more wines by the glass than you might expect. Still, my favorite menu item is the fish sandwich.
314 Bedford Ave (btwn S. 1st and S. 2nd) |
888-895-2668 | 11AM – 2AM

NO TIME: Despite it being open very late and located basically across the street from Galapagos and NorthSix, Anytime should be avoided at all costs. You can do much better.

Sam Mason: Indie Rock Superchef

Dinnerwiththeband
Sam Mason
is a busy man. The tattooed pastry chef that wowed diners with his clever deserts at Wylie Dufresne’s WD-50 left that famed temple of molecular gastronomy last year to do his own thing. TailormenuideasThat thing is Tailor, his new restaurant with Francis Derby (who worked at Gilt during Paul Liebrant’s controversial, short regime) which is set to open next month on the corner of Thompson and Broome. Mason has been documenting the process of getting the menu, space and details ready in weekly dispatches on New York Magazine‘s food blog, Grub Street. Mason’s genius deserts were the highlight of the birthday meal I had at WD-50 last year, and the menu ideas he posted on Grub Street make Tailor sound like one of the more adventurous, forward-thinking places in the city.

Dinnerwiththebandlogo
You’d think trying to open what will surely be one of the highest-profile restaurants of the Spring would be enough, but Mason is also host of the soon-to-happen online cooking-and-music show, Dinner with the Band. While the show’s pilot (which was online until just recently) played a bit like Tyler Florence’s Food 911 but with music slant, from the looks of web series’ official trailer, the show has been reworked so that bands come over to Mason’s apartment, hang out, cook, and play a couple songs. I think it’s a great idea (of course, given this blog’s name, I would) and if there was ever guy to do the job, Sam’s the man.

Upcoming episodes will feature EL-P but the show’s producers (those Finger-on-the-Pulse brothers, who should really think about changing their moniker to Fingers-in-Everything) are looking for bands to fill out the remaining shows. Not that many bands read this blog (if any) but I highly recommend that any that do contact the talent coordinator. Who would turn down the chance to have someone as talented as Mason cook for you — and get publicity out of it to boot? Even if I was in a band that wouldn’t normally bother with something on this small level, I would go do it. Even if the show never aired, it would be worth you hauling your gear over to his pad if you get to eat the food. But that’s me.

Peter and Bjorn (not John) on Sandwiches, Whistling

Turns out a PB&J sandwich would not be peanut butter and jelly as they don’t like them. (Too sweet.) So what is it? Sun-dried tomatoes, hummus, and "some kind of pork." How soon can the Stage Deli get this on the menu?

This bombshell and more over at The DL, where Peter Moren and Bjorn Yttling stopped by to play acoustic and answer fan questions. John was elsewhere.

Also, their response to "Whistlegate":

After last week’s shows at Union Hall and Mercury Lounge, I think I am PB&J’d out for a while. I am ready to try that sandwich, though.

Ok… one more of these. Some girl wrote in to ask them what they’re listening to at the moment. Bjorn recommends El Perro del Mar,  and then mentions some band called Locksaw, or Lochsa, or Lockso… I have Googled and Googled but can’t figure out what the hell he said. Any help here?

Unplanned Events

Knockeduppic1 Wednesday was chock-full of missed opportunities and botched plans. I turned down tickets to go see Paul Weller at Irving Plaza, in favor of attending a test screening of Judd Apatow‘s upcoming comedy, Knocked Up, and then going to NorthSix for the club’s final show. Looking at the setlist from last night, I mostly made the right decision. Style Council night? Sign me up, but I’m not very familiar with his solo stuff, and am a passing Jam fan at best.

I’m definitely a bigger Judd Apatow fan, be it The Cable Guy, Freaks & Geeks, Undeclared and The 40-Year-Old Virgin, and have interviewed him twice (most recently here), so I was really looking forward to getting to see Knocked Up so early — it’s not out till this summer. It’s about a guy (F&G/ Undeclared/40-Year-Old Virgin scene-stealer Seth Rogen, who also co-wrote the script with Apatow) who has a one-night-stand with a girl (Grey’s Anatomy‘s Katherine Heigl)… and gets her pregnant. Unfortunately, it was a 6pm screening on the Upper West Side and by the time I got there, the line of college kids and comedy nerds was stretched well beyond the point where it looked possible for me to get in. I’ve been to enough of these things to know when I didn’t’ have a chance.

Here’s the
Knocked Up trailer, in either the red-band R-rated version, or the also-explicit International "teaser" which is basically just one scene from the movie. Looks like most of the Undeclared cast is in the movie, plus Harold Ramis.

Luckily I had backup plans. Alex Kapranos was doing an in-store at the Barnes & Noble in Union Square, reading from his new book, Sound Bites. I’m not much of a "reader," and this was my first one of these, other than accidentally stumbling across one of CSPAN or something. It was a packed house, full of indie kids, college students, weirdos, aging hipsters, Mark Ibold, and at least a few people who seemed to have wandered in by accident. There were also a bunch of silly fangirls there (who looked a little too old to be doing such things) who immediately started screaming "ALEX YOU’RE SO HOT OHMIGOD SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!" when Kapranos appeared in jeans, a PiL t-shirt and leather jacket.

When the squeeing started Kapranos got a slightly frightened look on his face and I almost instantly regretted my decision to attend, but the girls mostly behaved themselves. What I like about him is how genuinely down-to-earth he is which I think is mostly based on not finding fame until he was in his 30s. Until "Take Me Out," Alex Kapranos was just this nice guy who had been in a bunch of somewhat known indie bands, but who had payed his rent by working various restaurant jobs (and, according to Wikipedia, as a welder) and other things.

He was pretty humble and nervous, admitting his coffee cup was full of red wine, but he did a great job reading maybe five of the articles from the book. (All had been originally published in The Guardian while Franz Ferdinand were on their 2005-2006 world tour.) While I already liked the book, it was actually much better hearing him read it aloud, you could tell it was really written as he speaks. He’s a witty writer too. One of the pieces, where he was faced with a dish of bull’s testicles in Buenos Aires, was especially funny.

After the reading, he took a lot of questions from the audience, which ranged from "You’re so awesome… how long did it take you to write the book?" (Answer: "A year, 400 words at a time.") to "What onomatopoeia would begin your autobiography?" (Answer: "a squelch.") He thoughtfully answered everything, even when declining requests to sing a song. Someone asked what his favorite NYC pizza place was, he admitted he didn’t know and asked for suggestions, resulting in a flurry of shouted replies — I heard DiFara’s mentioned, as well as bunch of Bleeker St places I’d never heard of. The best anecdote was about his favorite food as a child: white bread with loads of butter and sugar that he and his brother would then squash into a dense ball. If he didn’t already have a girlfriend, that would be the kind of story that gets you in good with the ladies.

Speaking of, I met my girlfriend at Men Kui Tei on 3rd Ave for a quick bowl of tonkatsu ramen. It’s been said here before, if you’re just going for the soup, Menkui Tei is preferable Momofuku any day. For these tastebuds, Momofuku’s broth is too salty ( everything else on their menu is awesome though). And you never have to worry about a wait.

Then it was back to the WB for the last-ever show at NorthSix: a killer triple-bill of Radio 4, The Big Sleep and !!!-offshoot Free Blood. Well it would’ve been killer if Con-Ed hadn’t turned off their power a day early. The show was canceled and it felt like the biggest letdown. But after three late nights in a row, there was also a feeling of relief. Was in bed before midnight.

The Less-Known Sound Bites

Soundbitesbook_1
Yes, I cringed back in 2005 when I heard that Franz Ferdinand frontman Alex Kapranos was going to have a column in The Guardian with the same name as my blog. Same idea too — Music and food. (Note to self: post occasionally about food.) And yes, mine was first, and I guess I could’ve had my army of lawyers something about it, but I figured the poor guy, as he is fond of singing, "needs the money."

His weekly reports from around the world while on tour were like little epicurean postcards, snapshots of where they were, what they were eating, and who they were eating with. And dammit, they were actually quite good. Maybe it shouldn’t have been a surprise as he logged time as cook, wine steward, waiter before starting Franz Ferdinand. Plus, his previous band had the word Yummy in their name.

As you may know, all those Guardian articles have been collected in a book, also called Sound Bites. It’s straight-to-paperback, quite a nice little read and, at $13 it’s cheaper than a Franz Ferdinand CD.

And those of you in NYC can pick up a signed copy — and hear Kapranos read from the book — tonight at the Barnes & Noble Union Square. There are a number of New York entries in the book, and I’m hoping he’ll read the article on Greenpoint’s Peter Pan Donut Shop. It all starts at 7pm.

Meanwhile in related news, Franz Ferdinand have posted a new song, "Hallam Foe, Dandelion Blow" to their MySpace page, and Alex drops a note about it too:

I’ve put a new song on this page. We wrote it a couple of months ago as
a theme for a Scottish film called Hallam Foe, directed by David
Mackenzie
who directed Young Adam and Asylum. The title character is
played by Jamie Bell who was the lead in Billy Elliot.

Sexual
tension, voyeurism, dark humour, Scotland and death are themes of the
film – all of which seem good ingredients for a song by the Ferdinand.
Nick and I read the script and went to screenings of early edits in the
Glasgow Film Theatre which gave us the ideas for the melody and lyrics.
Other Domino artists appear on the soundtrack including Psapp, Unpoc
and Sons & Daughters.

And if you go… and if you buy a book… and if you get him to sign it… be sure to say "hey, you know there’s *another* Sound Bites, right?"

CBGBs… the “C” Now Stands for Chocolate

Cbgbs_chocolateCertainly one of the most inappropriate product tie-ins ever, but just take comfort that, as the rock club has shuttered, these fancy chocolates aren’t actually being made on the premises. Idolator has already made enough toilet jokes, so I’ll refrain. $21 bucks for this sampler, made at the East Village’s Chocolate Bar. (You can order online.) They’ve also got these candy bars too:

Cbgbs_chocolatebarnewyork

Foodstuff: The Offal Truth

Robertburns
As you all know, it’s dead Scottish poet Robert Burns‘ birthday. Williamsburg pub Iona is offering free whiskey! Even better… free haggis! Okay maybe that’s not better, but there is also free Scottish music, though not of the Belle & Sebastian or Jesus & Mary Chain variety. Maybe that’s not better either. There is whiskey, though. Also… poetry! The fun begins at 8pm, all from the good folks at L Magazine (click here for details).

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Chef of the moment David Chang compares the growing Momofuku empire to Pavement albums in a candid entry on Eater today, talking specifically about Ssam’s shaky start: "a fast food concept that we didn’t know how to operate and no one knew how to eat at. We called it Ssam Bar, which was another brilliant move – giving the restaurant a name plenty of people didn’t know how to pronounce…. Ssam Bar isn’t the Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain sophomore effort I’d hoped for, but we will get it there." I don’t care for Saam’s asian burritos (your only daytime option), but the latenight menu, including a totally-worth-it $13 banh mi, is fabulous. And when they’re not playing the Dead or Zepplin, sometimes you will hear Pavement in there. What will be Chang’s Wowee Zowee?

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We’re down to two Top Chef contestants: Wolverine and Ted Allen. Word is the latter (real name: Ilan Hall) has quit his job at Molto’s tapas joint Casa Mono. Is that a spoiler? Not necessarily. Even if he comes in at #2, the attached celebrity quotient may be too high for it’s very open kitchen. I’m rooting for Marcel… just no more foam, ok? If Ferrán Adrià has given them up, so should you.

Fugu Me!

Happysushi_2006_webWhat was supposed to be a relaxing week visiting my folks in West Virginia turned into one of the most annoying air travel experiences of my life (down and back!) but when I finally got back to my apartment last night, I was happy to find a package from Sushi Yasuda waiting for me. It was this year’s sushi origami kit, sent as a holiday gift to everyone on their mailing list. (A $10 value, yours free! Sign up here.)

Origami_instructions
This year… delicious but potentially deadly blowfish! (As if the poisonous element wasn’t enough, it also twitches. Unsettling even for the adventurous palate.) This origami is much better than last year’s eel, if you ask me.

Fugu season runs from October to March, so we are in the prime of it right now. However, it’s hard to come by in New York — you have to be licensed to serve it — and Yasuda doesn’t have it on the menu as far as I know. Morimoto and kaiseki oasis Sugiyama have been known to do fugu, or you could try Masa if you don’t have to pay rent this month. From what I’m told, it’s not the fish’s flavor that is the draw as much as tingly, numbing sensation you get when you eat it. I think that’s called "mild poisoning." I’m game. As Homer Simpson once said, Fugu me!