Monthly Archives: October 2009

Whole baked catfish, please, and hold the snobbery

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On the rare occasion that my family gets together and goes out to eat, we invariably end up at Restaurant Nhu Y Ca 8 Mon in Fountain Valley, CA. I believe the name translates to something like “8 courses of fish,” meaning that once you set foot in this fine establishment, you can expect to eat some kind of seafood–and lots of it, in lots of different ways. The best way, in my family’s opinion, is to order a whole catfish (sizes range from extra small to quadruple extra large, depending on how hungry/gluttonous you’re feeling), which is then baked to a golden crisp and served on a bed of greens and covered with roasted peanuts. Also note the two maraschino cherries over the eyes, which is a welcome alternative to picking at the fish while trying to avoid staring guiltily into the poor bastard’s blank, milky eyes. (Or perhaps in the piscine afterlife, Charon charges the dearly departed two cherries instead of gold coins to cross the River Styx? But then why couldn’t a fish just swim across the river and save itself the trouble of riding in a boat? Do fish even have an afterlife? Well. I digress.)

Along with the fish come a variety of accoutrements: fresh greens, including mint, cucumber slices, lettuce and some unidentifiable Vietnamese vegetation; picked carrots and daikon; bean sprouts, white rice noodles; rice wrappers and two sweet and sour dipping sauces, one with tamarind, one without. Once everything’s brought out, the labor-intensive fun begins:

1) Cut catfish up into chunks. Fight with family members over the biggest, juiciest-looking morsel.
2) Soak a rigid rice wrapper in a bowl of warm water, provided by the restaurant, and lay it out on your plate.
3) Place fish in the middle of the wrapper, then add some noodles, greens, pickled veggies and roasted peanuts.
4) Clumsily wrap everything into a cohesive parcel that resembles something like a fresh spring roll.
5) Give up trying to make it look pretty, and mash everything together and hope for the best.
5) Dip roll into one of two sauces.
6) Stuff into mouth.
7) Swallow and repeat.

With all this seafoody goodness, you’d think it would be easy to forget your surroundings and focus on the food. Not the case at Restaurant Nhu Y Ca 8 Mon. There’s nothing subtle about this place–from the moment you enter the eatery’s main dining room, your senses are assaulted by the cacophony of karaoke emanating from the adjacent lounge, the smell of roasted fish, and the blindingly bright neon signs and Christmas lights. Even your aesthetic sensibilities get bitch-slapped across the face, with plaster recreations of Venus de Milo and Michaelangelo’s David; a canopy of fake grapes and grape leaves adorning the ceiling; ugly stone fountains; gigantic potted plants and flowers, both artificial and real; paper butterflies; assorted gumball machines; and its crowning glory, a giant stag head wearing a red bow tie.

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The lack of pretentiousness (any restaurant with taste for honkin’ huge, bow-tied taxidermy can’t take itself too seriously)  and just all-around awesomeness of this restaurant can’t be captured in mere words. You’ll have to experience the magic for yourself.

What: Restaurant Nhu Y Ca 8 Mon
Where: 10830 Warner Ave., Fountain Valley, CA

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This little piggy went shopping…

…and found this cute little bank.

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Check out the look of resignation on the male pig’s face! Poor bastard. I’d imagine that my lady readers will get a bigger kick out of this than my gentlemen readers–or perhaps the gentlemen can identify with said male pig?

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Arts and Craps

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My dear friend “Belle” turned me on to this crazy blog, Regretsy–am I the only one who hasn’t heard of this yet? For those who aren’t familiar with Etsy, it’s a largest e-marketplace for handmade crafts and vintage clothes, accessories and housewares–most of the offerings are pretty cute and stylish (hell, I’m addicted to it), but some of it…not so much. Hence the tagline, “Handmade? It looks like you made it with your feet.”

From tampon cozies crocheted out of thrift-store wool to a brooch made with a dead turtle claw (really, I’m not kidding) to a baby gown made out of a recycled Lil Kim t-shirt to fetus-shaped catnip toys, nothing completely off-the-cuff is safe from blogger Helen Killer’s hateration. Sure, it’s mean-spirited and juvenile, but I’ve gotta say–it’s pretty clever as far as its writing style goes. Insult comedy is great. You just need a thick skin to be on the receiving end, which maybe a lot of Etsy sellers and Regretsy haters don’t have.

And you know how they say even bad publicity is good publicity? A lot of these subjects of ridicule are flying off the virtual shelf–including said Lil Kim baby gown. Goes to show that there really is something for everyone on Etsy. Even  if that something is a crocheted meerkat Christmas nativity set.

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Flower baskets? Edible fruit arrangements? Hell naw!

For that broke-ass friend who has everything but a job, a clean record, fewer than five kids and a house that’s not on wheels, nothing says “I care” like a Ghetto Basket:

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Apparently, the selection changes based on what falls off trucks around the ‘hood, but for the low, low price of  $20.99, you can pretty much count on getting the following:

Hot sauce
Pregnancy test
Grape drink
Batteries
Beef jerky
Potted meat
Pork rinds
Noodles in a cup
After shave
Plastic commemorative plate
Religious candle
Porcelain figurine
Kung-fu DVD
Cassette or VHS tape
Doo rag
Vapor Rub
Energy drank
Soap
Outdated calendar

I don’t know what’s more awesome, its contents or the fact that it’s wrapped up in a foil turkey pan and newspaper. Even better is that for just $5 more, you can get the “Ghetto Fabulous” basket, which contains exactly the same stuff as the original Ghetto Basket, but has a foil bow. Fo’ shizzle.

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Filed under Food, fun with food, this just in

Something’s fishy about this post.

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This confirms my suspicions all along: Red cod really are all morons.

(Taken at the local 99 Ranch supermarket in Irvine, CA. Why go to China to read Engrish when you can find it in your own backyard?)

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Gourmet magazine bites the dust

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The rumors of Gourmet magazine’s death are, unfortunately, not exaggerated. You could hear the collective, mid-bite gasp of foodies around the country when they heard the news–I admit that even I gasped a bit. Well, it was more like a pathetic yelp, but you get the picture. With one million subscribers, a recognizable brand, gorgeous photography, engaging articles and delicious recipes, Gourmet appeared to be the exceptional success story in the magazine publishing business, so it was a shock. I was also dismayed to hear that Gourmet’s publisher, Conde Nast, is giving several of its titles, including Modern Bride and Elegant Bride, the old heave-ho to stay afloat.

As a passenger on this sinking ship called “print publishing,” this news really scares me. I mean, it’s  bad enough that now I have one less quality food magazine to rely on for showstopping Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, but now I’m really worried about the future of magazine publishing. If a 70-year-old institution can’t make it in this crazy world of ours, then what will?

Thank god Gourmet’s little sister publication, Bon Appetit, is still around. Here’s my homage to Gourmet magazine–last year’s Thanksgiving feast, which could not have succeeded without either magazine. On the bright side, at least I now have 70 years’ worth of old Gourmet Thanksgiving recipes to sift through from this point forward. Later this month, get thee to a newsstand and nab the November issue–it’s the last one you’ll ever get to buy!

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