mneme: (Default)
I wrote a comment in [personal profile] nancylebov's journal which was pretty substantial, so I'm adjusting it here as a quasi-review. Spoilers be here, be warned! )
mneme: (oldharp)
La Vie en Szechuan, 14 East 33rd Street, New York, NY, 10016

There have been a succession of mediocre resturants in the spot across the street from the Complete Strategist. However, a few months ago, I noticed that the new place appeared to be an authentic Szechuan place--and a fairly popular one, at that. So naturally, being who we are, [personal profile] drcpunk and I resolved to visit La Vie at the next opportunity.

We didn't, of course, do so as soon as we could have, mostly because we'd also wanted to to hit Hot Kitchen (which is also quite good, if more in the Grand Sichuan mode than La Vie is) in person rather than just takeout. But tonight, as it happened, it was on our route home, so off we went.

It was great. Not cheap--but not awful, either (we ordered 3 cold dishes and a tea smoked duck (for $18) and it came to $56 with tip.

First, the menu. It's full of appetizing pictures of authentic food--and from what I saw on our plates and those of the (mostly Chinese) diners around us, totally accurate. This place is certainly paying attention to presentation, but our food, at least, was also delicious.

So, food we got:

The tea smoked duck: Came with three soft buns, and tasted the way tea smoked duck should taste.

Cold dishes ("Appetizers"--hot appetizers are "signature appetisers"):

Sliced beef in chili paste: Lovely and spicy; definitely provided most of the heat in the meal, and very tasty. Unannounced, but welcome by us were some chinese eggplants hidden in the mix.

Chicken in sczechuan pepper sauce: this was served in a spicy and sour green sauce, and tasted very different (but also really good) sauce than the beef in chili paste.

Spring Bamboo shoots in sessame oil: This, like the duck, wasn't spicy, but it had its own tang from the vegitables in the sauce (scallions, maybe garlic) and we had the chili paste confusing our senses. Also really tasty--we love well made bamboo shoot dishes.

Have to go back--the menu is huge, and really varied. Would love to go back with more people so we can get more of a range.
mneme: (Default)
When in the library, I spied a copy of Rapunzel's Revenge, which I'd seen recommended earlier. And...yeah. Kick-ass Rapunzel, no need for a prince to save -her-, pretty cool worldbuilding, good storytelling, and nice role-reversal. Not to mention, hair used as a lasso. What's not to love?
mneme: (Default)
I'm a little fried, so I'm going to try not to go into depth -- but I finished Seanan McGuire's ([ profile] seanan_mcguire's) A Local Habitation -- the second October Daye novel -- and very much enjoyed it.

(no cut tag, but even a spoiler-free review has to say -something- about the work, so reader beware)

Seanan describes herself as an "old-school horror girl", and boy do she show it here, as our protagonist enters combat with a classic combination of horror tropes in a battle to the last murder and last revelation. This time, I, at least, found the mystery (or parts of it) to be fairly obvious -- but there's enough misdirection and stage business to keep you guessing about the details -- and to keep at least -some- surprises for the end.

Unlike the first novel in the series, Rosemary and Rue, where I had some questions about motives that I needed to reread the novel in order to resolve for myself, here, any similar questions are asked and answered in the text (I do have some quibbles -- but I'm a pretty careful reader and unless I close my brain, I nearly -always- have quibbles); this is a tight story with strong characters, a good unity of place and time, (unlike the first novel, where on reread I noticed that we largely rotated among 5-6 sets, this one takes place almost entirely in a single set--but a big and varied enoug one that it -feels- like we're in a different place almost every chapter), and satisfying developments in at least some of the the ongoing storylines established in the first novel in the series.

If you like well written Faerie-themed Urban Fantasy/Horror/Romance/Mystery -- or think you might, read this book!
mneme: (doctor)
(This is the "mostly avoiding specifics" review of Rosemary & Rue. I might do another with a lot more spoilers, or I might not (I'll likely put it under a flock, though))

Review Ahoy! )
mneme: (oldharp)
Saw Silver Hawk (with Michelle Yeoh) last week, and again yesterday.

This movie was an easy sell for me. Lisa tried to read me the back of the box. My memory of this is something like "blah, blah, Michelle Yeoh, blah, blah, costumed crimefighter, blah, blah..."

"Lisa?", I said, "You had me with 'Michelle Yeoh.' I mean, dude, she can kick higher than her head.

It therefore comes as no surprise to me that the first scene of the movie includes Michelle Yeoh, as Silver Hawk, kicking a guy behind her -- kicking over her own head. And that's just an opening.

I mean, it's got all the basic conventions for a modern martial arts film. Martial artists remove all the guns from people's hands at the beginning of fights, at which point they're forgotten or "gone from the field", plot serves as a frame for really wacked out fight scenes (in this case, the hockey mooks and bungie chord mooks were particularly impressive) , the villain, no matter his background, is also the strongest fighter (except posibly the heroes) in the movie, etc.

But it's also very clearly science fiction. Not just "this is skiffy because of the heroine's crime fighting gadgets and the villainous semi-unbelievable wacky scheme" science fiction, but clearly set in the near future. There's an early scene where Lulu Wong (Michelle Yeoh) is playing a video game on a plane...using a projected-in-air keybard coming from her seat, and while the bits of impossible tech beyond the gimmick itself - AI, image projection that can use a non-flat surface like your hand, probably some other sf touches that I missed, and, of course, the main gimmick. It's not amazingly good SF--but still. And it's a comic-style costumed crmefighter movie, and one that rises from the pack, at that.

I've grown to expect mild disappointment from "costumed crimefighter" films coming out of HK -- they tend to have cool martial arts, but mediocre superheroics (certainly, I found _The Heroic Trio_, also with Michelle Yeoh, disappointing and ultimately forgettable, though far from unwatchable). This movie stands well above the pack, though -- the angst is very much comic heroic angst, the martial arts are well integrated into the heroics, the heroine has a background very much like a (much) less angsty batman, and the plot is very much the kind I'd expect in a comic book -- with only the flashback sequences (and the training scene cliche) being more of a martial arts story... and both fit very well into the heroics here. They've got an origin story, cop vs crimefighter tension, a strongly themed heroine, cloak and microchip stuff from multiple sources, a heroine balancing (or failing to balance) her surface and heroic identities, bald-faced lying to preserve a secret ID, and trademark gadgets that get used over and over again (as well as others that only get used once).

Is it cheesy? Sure; it's an HK heroic flick without Hollywood gloss (not that you could tell by the 100% glass&metal villain's lair...and if you think that glass isn't going to get smashed up, you're in for a shock). But a lot of fun. And the acting is good, the characters smart, and the action over the top.

And hey, it's Michelle Yeoh! She can kick higher than her own head!
mneme: (oldharp)
Good Enough to Eat
483 Amstedam Avenue (twixt 83rd and 84th street)

[ profile] drcpunk found this place in a food guide, and it was pretty close to where we were going, so we went. It was Quite Nice. Not cheap -- we were $67 before tip! But nummy.

We ordered pink lemonade (good enough that we finished it and ordered another), halibut (great), beef (adequate) with broccoli (quite nice) salad (likewise) and potatoes&shallots (glorious). And a godiva chocoalte pie under custard, which was amazing.

Only thing I wasn't thrilled with was the beef. Which, well, not a steakhouse, and we got it rare.
mneme: (oldharp)
Oh, my.

[ profile] daftnewtwas unimpressed by Edgars, particularly since he was in a tea mood (and J. So I did a little bit of googling on my phone, and sent us careening toward Alice's Tea Cup -- on 102 West 73rd, near Columbus (and over half a mile away).

It was worth the walk, and then some (a fine thing, as it also set the three of us back a good $90, including tip). What I'm told, by our tea-drinking guest, was an excellent selection of teas (and having sampled all three, I'm inclined to agree, but I've not a fine palate in the matter; I certainly enjoyed them). The sandwiches, scones and melted chocolate cake we ordered were also quite extraordinary. The hot hot chocolate wasn't bad, but wasn't as good as the tea by a long shot and only had a hint of the spice that was promised, if that (otoh, it was cheaper than the tea).

We'll be back.

After a lovely looking nighttime walk through central park, we're in the Mac Store, where I'm buying a macbook 13" foam case for my Lenovo x300 (the "air-killer", whose adverts now talk about "the others are all full of hot air", and which is quite lovely, though I can't deny that the Macbook Air's a sexier-looking machine).

I had the image of, when I pulled out the X300, of a customer staring at me in horror, and saying "you brought -that- in this holy temple? Sacrilege!" and having to flee the store in a death defying chase up the glass staircase from an angry mob of macaddicts, fending off thrown I-pods with the case of the Thinkpad, and eventually have a fending duel with mac ninjas wielding razor-sharp Airs. If I did a webcomic, this image would probably wind up there -- but as it is, you'll have to imagine it.
mneme: (oldharp)
Chinese-Indian cuisine ("asian fusion")
39-23 Queens Boulevard
suitable for very large parties (banquet hall)
Entrees are $7-$14, except for crab and lobster at $20

This is apparently an expansion from a much smaller, established resturant, and it shows -- the food is very well prepared, not at all generic, and not very expensive. We got a chicken tangra (dry -- like many of their dishes, this can be prepared dry or with sauce) and a tofu manchurian.

The chicken was quite moist, but very mild (we'd been warned that this was spicy, and it did have a bite, but only a small one), and quite flavorful. Very pleasant, but we werer glad it was "dry", since it really didn't need a thick sauce. It was more Indian than Chinese, which makes sense.

The tofu, we'd ordered extra spicy, but came with much less bite than the chicken (the table did have chili oil, fine-ground black pepper, and pickled peppers, though, and I made liberal use of the first two), in a black bean sauce. Lisa was miffed that the bean curd was lightly fried (we'd asked and been told it was soft -- guess we should have been more specific), but it was quite pleasant and comfort-food-like (and, of course, quite Chinese).

They also had shakes at $3.25 -- $.25 cheaper than their lassis, so we ordered a pistacio one. Unfortunately, they were out of pistacio ice cream, so we got a malai shake, which was very vanilla, but quite pleasant.

Their rice (free with entrees) was very Indian -- short-grain and very dry.

The menu's got a much higher variety than we tried, of course -- goat, "fish", prawns, lobster, crab, beef, chicken, fried rice, chow mein, thai noodle, chop suey and a quite long variety of veggiterian dishes ("gobi", eggplant, potato, string bean, paneer, tofu, and baby corn).

Alltogether, a positive experience, though we'll want to make a greater attempt to get them to spice up their food next time; I'm not quite sure what they're used to, but they clearly have an expectation that their customer base likes things very mild, which is not really the case for us.


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Joshua Kronengold

October 2018

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