Skip to content

Eat Me: A Review of the Reviewers

I have always been a big fan of restaurant reviews and food sections, being as that I also am a big fan of food and eating. Since there were more restaurants in San Francisco than you could shake a stick at, there was always an abundance of well-written and varied reviews of said eateries. Sadly, Hartford does not hold claim to being any sort of culinary mecca. As a matter of fact, last week the Advocate (the area's free weekly newspaper that is lacking in every way possible&#41, the Hartford Business Journal (the area's, well, journal of business&#41 and the Hartford Courant (Connecticut's main newspaper&#41 all wrote reviews of the same place: Ichiban, which serves Japanese and Korean food. Ichiban isn't even a new restaurant, but merely an old restaurant that moved to the other side of town and took refuge in an abandoned Friendly's. So, this everyone reviewing the same place thing: weird coincidence or planned side-by-side compare and contrast exercise for Janet's amusement?

Let's just say this: the Hartford Courant review was thorough, honest and intelligently written. That said, I will now say this: to Judy and Rick Lunt of the Advocate and Stacey Webb of the Business Journal: why must you ruin my Subway Spicy Italian sandwich with everything on it, even hot peppers, by not only thinking with such ignorance and general hickishness, but actually typing it onto a piece of paper and having it published?

I'll start with the Business Journal review, as that one did not raise my hackles as much as the Advocate review did, and come to think of it, annoyed me for different reasons. Now, one would think that if you're going to make any portion of your living from writing restaurant reviews, or even if you're not making any money and simply like the idea of eating food and then writing about it, in any case, one would think that you are a person or persons very interested in food and food-related topics, wouldn't one? Wouldn't you imagine that your average restaurant/food reviewer would have a grand selection of cookbooks and books regarding the foods of many lands, and would have the Food Network marked as one of his or her "Favorites" on the remote?

Yes, yes you would, and you probably wouldn't think that they would say something like the following when writing about the Korean Stone Pot Bibim-Bap (my asides are in italics&#41: "Again, a large cast-iron pot arrives with a filling based on sticky sizzling rice. The rice is combined with ground beef, carrots, zucchini, as well as a variety of Asian vegetables." (translation: what the hell were those green and white things?&#41 "Surprisingly, they place a raw egg on top of this whole concoction." (the very word concoction indicates that she's finding herself not too fond of this strange, otherworldy, alien dish from a faraway universe&#41 "I must admit, I am very leery of raw eggs and though this is considered to be authentically prepared, I quickly remove it." This is the sentence that pissed me off the most. First of all, enough with the whole raw eggs will kill you thing. While I would never wish salmonella on anyone, and know that people have contracted it from poorly-kept eggs, how many eggs do you think carry the salmonella virus? I'll tell you: only 1 out of every 20,000 eggs! The likelihood of your finding an infected egg is about 0.005% (five one-thousandths of one percent!&#41 And, if the egg does contain the organism, the numbers in a freshly laid egg will be small and, if properly refrigerated, will not multiply enough to cause illness in a healthy person! Ha-ha!

Now that we've gotten the misconceptions about eggs and egg safety out of the way, let's talk about the other things that got stuck in my craw about the egg sentences. One word: "surprisingly." After mentioning authenticity twice in the review ("Everything is authentic", "…authentically prepared…"&#41 why is it surprising to her that there would be a raw egg on top of this Korean dish? Is it because we are in the United States, where everything is to be prepared authentically, but not too authentically, lest we let anyone experience the real way that a Korean meal should be served? Another word: "quickly." Interesting how she not only has to let us know that she will never, ever touch a raw egg, no, no, yuck, she feels that it is necessary to tell us that not only did she remove it from her dish, she QUICKLY removed it. Translation: "I think I may remember hearing something about only one in 20,000 eggs carrying the salmonella virus, but I'll be damned if I'll take my chances at a dirty Oriental restaurant, I mean, who knows what kind of health standards these people are used to anyway, right? Do they even have refrigerators in Korea?"

My web-based rebuttal: the Korean Stone Pot Bibim-Bap comes with a raw egg on top because it is served in an unbelievably hot sizzling pot, thus enabling you to stir the egg into the rest of the ingredients where it will actually cook! No more icky raw egg! It's kind of like fried rice – you know fried rice, don't you? Yes, that's right, it is what you order to go with your egg roll and chop suey! Now, if you had ordered the regular Bibim-Bap, sans unbelievably hot sizzling pot, you would have gotten a fried egg on top instead of a RAW one. How's that for egg safety, huh? Let's hear it for authenticity! Yay! Next week: Chili's Bar and Grill for some authentic Mexican Fa-ji-tas!

I'm not even going to try to figure out what the hell freeze-fried anchovies are, but according to her, they supposedly came with the dish.

The very same week, the restaurant reviewers of the Hartford Advocate also reviewed Ichiban. The reviewers, Rick and Judy Lunt, far surpassed Stacey Webb in their ignorance, trying so badly to be "hip" and "now" but failing so, so miserably. I'll abstain from making any comments about their comparison between beers of the world, stating that "Sapporo…(is&#41 more like a Heineken than a Guiness (sic&#41" (when in reality it is NOTHING like a Guinness, since Guinness is a STOUT, and in no way, shape or form even remotely resembles a Sapporo.&#41 I won't even say anything about their weird prediction that it would be a good meal because they got to use better-than-average chopsticks, rather than the "flimsy, square ones so typically found in substandard Chinese restaurants." What really chapped my ass about this review was the gross misinformation found within it. Again, you're food reviewers. Whether you do this part-time or full-time or even just once, Jesus Christ, could you pick up a reference book or something once in a while just to check your facts? Or do you think that just because you and the rest of your backwater Connecticut pseudo-alternayuppie friends agree on something that it is, in fact, correct?

Take, for example, their definition on sushi, something that happens to be a passion of mine, therefore angering me all the more to read the following drivel (my sarcastic barbs are in italics&#41:

"Although sushi is the overall term many people use to refer to this kind of eating in general, (many STUPID people, I guess, as the term would be describing the food itself not the "kind of eating," whatever the hell that is.&#41 sushi is actually just the sweetened pickled rice. (wrong.&#41 The fish is sashimi. (wrong again!&#41 And when you wrap the two together usually with nori (seaweed paper&#41, you get sushi. (Wrong yet again, you flaming idiot.&#41

Are you happy, Lunts? Now the entire Advocate-reading public of the Hartford area which, for the most part, needs all the help they can get when it comes to new culture, has been force-fed the stupid-flaming-idiot definition of sushi. I, being a person who is interested in food, especially Japanese food, happen to have several books on the subject (hint-hint, so-called food reviewers&#41, so just for kicks I flipped through one to see just how far off the mark Rick and Judy were in their assessment. Let's partake in a little bit of true or false, shall we? Just so I feel better.

1. Rick and Judy say: "sushi is actually just the sweetened pickled rice." True or False? False. ACTUALLY, actually, the rice is called sushi-meshi, and although it is seasoned with sugar, salt and vinegar, I wouldn't call it "pickled."

2. Rick and Judy say: "The fish is sashimi." Shut up. The fish that goes on top of the rice is called the neta. Sashimi is entirely different cuts of fish served alone, with no rice, often as an hors d'oeuvre with drinks at the beginning of a meal at a sushi-ya (sushi restaurant.&#41

3. Rick and Judy say: "when you put the two together, you get sushi." Please. When you put the NETA (NOT the sashimi&#41 on top of the SUSHI-MESHI or sushi rice, you get nigirizushi, also known as nigiri, which most people call sushi.

So, then. The moral of our story is: GET A CLUE ABOUT FOOD BEFORE YOU START REVIEWING IT, PLEASE, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD! Oh, and Judy? Next time, don't gobble up the pickled ginger in lieu of dessert, it's for cleansing the palate between pieces of fish, 'kay?

Posted in Scowls.

0 Responses

Stay in touch with the conversation, subscribe to the RSS feed for comments on this post.

Some HTML is OK

or, reply to this post via trackback.