Andrew W.K. Has The Best Idea for a Restaurant Ever.
Most people know Andrew W.K. from the hit singles off his first album, 2001's I Get Wet, which included "Party Hard," "She is Beautiful" and "I Like to Party." If you sense that he's a fun guy who likes to party, then you, sir or madam, are correct. He parlayed his passion for good times into the raucous and totally unpretentious club Santos' Party House in Chinatown just under three years ago and starred in the Cartoon Network show Destroy Build Destroy last year. The easy-going (well, off-stage anyway) Andrew W.K. took the time to talk to us about haunted bars, spicy food, and why Midtown rocks.
Mike Lum Andrew W.K.
So what are your favorite restaurants in the city?
The ones I go to time and time again are the Waverly Diner on Sixth Avenue and Waverly Place and Big Nick's on 77th and Broadway. Fresco Tortillas, a kind of unofficial chain, that's probably been my favorite for the longest period time, ever since I moved to New York in 1998. I just instantly fell in love with it. It's Chinese-owned and -operated Tex-Mex. Their black beans are just fantastic, flavorful and not too watery. It's not traditional Mexican food, but that's not the idea. I used to eat there every single day.
I also really like Koreatown. The restaurants are open late and they can accommodate large groups of people. A lot of them are open 24 hours, which is excellent. Extremely intense flavors--for me the spicier the better. Also, there are a lot of Chinese restaurants that specialize in spicy Sichuan food. There is one on 39th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues, Lan Sheng. It's the spiciest food I've been able to find in Manhattan. So spicy you can barely eat it, but it has tremendous flavor.
My favorite Indian place is this place called Brick Lane Curry House, the one in Midtown. A lot of Indian restaurants I've been to around New York are good, but it's really hard to get food spicy, even when you ask. I think it's because people might come in and ask for something spicy, and it comes back spicier than they thought they wanted it, and they send it back. A lot of places I would come in and say, "I would like my curry very, very spicy," but now I know better and say, "I would like it spicy like you would make it spicy for an Indian person" and that's usually worked a little better.
If you were going to open a restaurant, what kind of restaurant would it be?
It would be all of the great spicy foods of the world represented. So we would have Indian curries, we would have Thai curries, we would have spicy Sichuan, we would have some Korean food, kimchi, you could order burgers with jabañeros on it. Of course I'd offer some non-spicy options for other diners. But I think it would be so much fun if there was a restaurant that was all about spiciness and you could enjoy all the various interpretations of spice from around the world.
That sounds awesome.
Thank you. I wonder if maybe someone tried it and it didn't work. Maybe it depends on the name. If you had a really silly name like Heat or The Hot Box, that might turn people away. If you gave it a cool name that didn't necessarily brand it as a spicy restaurant, then I think that might even work better, like Steve's Place or Rob's Diner, and it just happened to specialize in spicy food.
What's the best thing to eat before performing?
I don't eat before performing or I'll puke. I've learned that lesson many times. If I'm playing for someone else's band and it's not a very physical show then I can eat, but if I'm playing an Andrew W.K. show, then I can't eat for four or five hours before the show.
You must be starving afterwards.
That's one of the great rewards after the show. You get to shower and cool down and then have a really satisfying meal. It's actually a really important meal for refueling and repairing whatever damage you did during the show. I usually just want something very hot and high protein, like a hot turkey and ham sandwich or chicken-fried steak, something with a lot of calories and a lot of fat.
There have been times where I've been like, "Oh, I can eat this bagel, it's only two hours before the show," and then, sure enough, right after the show, or even during the show, I puke it out. I wrote a song called "Party Til You Puke" and sometimes people have thought I was intentionally trying to tie it into the song or something like that, but I prefer not to do it.