What's Up With the Timing at Jewel Bako and Benkei?

Categories: My Rant

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Inside Jewel Bako
I don't know if I've been craving raw fish recently or if all of your joyless January juice cleanses are serving as a massive guilt trip, but I've found myself steadily plowing my way through sushi restaurants, stuffing my gullet with sea creatures and rice and washing it down with green tea. This is possibly at the expense of my job, because sushi restaurants are boring to write about.

But as a result of this attempt to exercise a modicum of restraint when it comes to picking my dinner venue, I've had the chance to compare a number of omakase offerings in a relatively short span of time. I don't want to talk much about them right now -- they range from delicious but only mildly interesting to phoning-it-in -- but I would like to rap for a hot second on the fact that the sushi omakase at Jewel Bako (239 East Fifth Street, 212-979-1012) is bewildering.

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When a Restaurant Screws You

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The offending piece of fish (click on image to enlarge)


Even the best restaurants make mistakes. Common ones include spilling a glass of water in the lap of a customer, who, of course, has no dry set of clothes; delaying the appearance of a dish by an unconscionable length of time, say one hour after the previous course was taken away; or allowing something aesthetically gross to happen, the most common of which in New York might be a roach running across your table. All these have happened to me, but none seemed as bad as what occurred yesterday in an Upper West Side restaurant, and an expensive one, too.


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Five Questions Every Diner Dreads

Categories: My Rant, Sietsema

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An empty dining room can sometimes be the hardest to secure a seat in.


Normally, I've received sterling service at NYC restaurants. But even the best front-of-the house experience can be improved. Here are five innocent-sounding questions that sometimes go awry.

Do you have a reservation? - Often it's hard to plan your dining adventures very far in advance. So you get into the habit of going to popular places spontaneously, and maximizing the chance you'll be seated by arriving ridiculously early or ridiculously late. But show up some places at 5 p.m. ready to eat, and the greeter looks perturbed that you have no reservation.

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In Praise of the Tuna Sandwich

Categories: My Rant, Sietsema

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The tuna sandwich, with raw onions, at Eisenberg's Sandwich Shop


I know of no fancy restaurant that lists tuna salad sandwiches on its menu, or its slutty cousin the patty melt, either. Nor do these places offer the sandwich's lo-cal sibling the scoop of tuna salad austerely plated on a leaf of iceberg lettuce. These are all the exclusive province of the sandwich shop, the diner, and the working-class snack bar, institutions rapidly disappearing from the city's dining landscape. Why does the tuna sandwich get so little respect?


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Today Is National Rum Day. What's Your Favorite Fakey Foodoliday?

Categories: My Rant, Sietsema

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ebay.com

Did you know August 29 is National Lemon-Juice Day? What are you planning on doing? We don't get off work, but I'm thinking of taking it as a personal day. You know, to show how much I really really like lemon juice.

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Restaurants That Only Pretend To Be Reopening

Categories: My Rant, Sietsema

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Is this a case of false signage?


You know how, when you pass a restaurant and see newspaper pasted up in the windows, and a scrawled sign on the door that reads "Closed for renovations," you sometimes shake your head and say "What a load of bullshit!"


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13 Reasons Why Banning 'Pig Gulp' Sodas in NYC Isn't Such a Bad Idea

Categories: My Rant, Sietsema

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ehow.com
I'm not a fan of Mayor Bloomberg. In fact, I'm often heard railing against the mayor's real estate policies, which have seen ugly condo towers soaring around the city at random, granted huge subsidies and tax abatements, disfiguring historic neighborhoods. The same policies have driven homegrown ma-and-pa eateries out of business in favor of awful national franchises, cavalierly obliterating what is best about New York City and sending the profits out of state. But there is something attractive about Bloomberg's ban on bathtub-size sodas. Here are 13 reasons to admire the ban on huge soft drinks.

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123BurgerShotBeer.Com -- The Bar That Wants You to Feel Cheated

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The $2 shot turns out to be a very small mixed drink at 123BurgerShotBeer.Com. This one has the charming name of "Panty Dropper."


The siren song of the storefront is irresistible: It seems to suggest you'll be able to buy a burger for $1, a shot of hard liquor for $2, and a beer for $3. "Why is the beer the most expensive thing?" you wonder as you traipse into the darkened Hell's Kitchen sports bar.


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Ethics of Eating Animals: NY Times Announces a Contest and FiTR Provides a Crib

Categories: My Rant, Sietsema

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Tomorrow's New York Times Magazine jumps the shark and provides its readers with a moral challenge: Justify your consumption of meat with a 600-word essay. Of course, the dice are loaded, and anyone who favors meat -- either actively or passively -- has a long row to hoe. Arguments like "Everyone does it" or "We've always done it" are likely to prove unavailing. The prize for the winner of the contest: publication of the essay in The New York Times, providing the Old Gray Lady with free content (what? you think the prize should be a pair of juicy steaks?), and justifying a position that its favorite writers (e.g., Michael Pollan) have long staked out.


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I'm So Over the Marilyn Hagerty Phenomenon, But Welcome to NYC Anyway, Lady

Categories: My Rant, Sietsema

I've got to admit I was charmed when the Marilyn Hagerty story broke, and she was interviewed by our own Camille Dodero. Then Lauren Shockey revealed Hagerty intended to visit our city. The so-called critic from Great Falls, Montana Grand Rapids, Michigan Grand Forks, North Dakota, prominently pastes her picture at the top of every column, makes a single non-anonymous visit to a restaurant, eats only one dish with no beverages, then writes at length about it in the flattest declarative prose imaginable, making the landscape of her native plains state seem mountainous by comparison. That sort of prose is a nice antidote to all the flowery food writing most of us have to digest on a daily basis.

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