Naika Reviews “Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories” from Netflix

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Despite my huge love for manga and anime, I believe you learn more about Japanese culture through television and film.  So what better way for you to soak it all in than to binge watch the newest season of a long running Japanese TV show adapted from a food manga?  Originally known as Shinya Shokudo, Netflix was able to get the rights to a brand new 4th season for 2016 called Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories.  It’s great television with lots of heart as we see the comings and goings of various patrons as they shack up a late night snack with our titular owner chef.  Portrayed by Kaoru Kobayashi, the “Master” is a quiet but warm character who acts as the silent cauldron that warms the broth of each new character’s story.  Whether it simmers, goes flat or boils over is something you’ll cherish as each episode slowly unfolds.

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Gennaro Contaldo Rocks!

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Labor Day weekend was awesome.  I ate like a pig, almost got stung by a bee and got to stroll thru more of my surroundings here in the D.C. / VA area.  The GF’s idea of making dumplings was rad indeed on Sunday and we’ll  have food for quite a bit now.  One of the other culinary highlights for me was that we teamed up to make a dish that I’ve longed to make: Ragu.  Not your store bought brand of Ragu pasta sauce but the Ragu where you slow cook meat in a tomato-ish wine sauce.  Now who in the world told me it was a good idea to make something that would’ve been fixed by a jar?  I’ll tell you who.  Gennaro Contaldo.

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Holy Half Smoke Batman, I LOVE Ben’s Chili Bowl!

Well folks, I am actually in the Arlington / D.C. area for a bit to visit the GF and so far, it’s been lovely.  I get to see Colonial architecture, the downtown sights of VA, a heck of a lot more diversity compared to Florida and food food food.  And let’s be honest folks, nothing says D.C. like Ben’s Chili Bowl (well, that and the rest of our capital’s amazing monuments).  After first hearing about Ben Ali’s D.C. landmark in the TV show Man vs. Food, me and GF told ourselves that we HAD to go.  With an Arlington branch just a few blocks away from her apartment, we strolled on over to feast on the legendary Chili Half Smoke, and it did NOT disappoint.

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Full of snap and smoky goodness, the Chili Half Smoke has got it all: diced onions, mustard, and Ben’s signature chili featuring a nice, spicy kick.  As a Chicagoan that loves his hot dogs, Ben’s Chili Half Smoke can give the Polish or Chicago Hot Dog a run for its money.  I loved it so much that I had to get ANOTHER one.  Shit, I might just get ANOTHER ONE before I check outta here next week.  In short, the area is great, but the Half Smoke around here is KING.  If you’re ever here in the D.C. / Arlington area, shed off that Organic fad for one day, and feast at Ben’s Chili Bowl.  Trust me, it’s the democratic thing to do.  ^_^

Iron Chef Chen Kenichi is AWESOME!!!

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Iron Chef is friggin’ awesome.  There.  I said it.  It’s engaging, eye-opening, entertaining and full of grandeur.  A multitude of culinary traditions come crashing together in front of a wild-eyed Chairman whose sole job is to maniacally set the tone for what’s at stake in Kitchen Stadium (via the Secret Theme Ingredient).  What ensues is furious cooking, artistic cuisine and some spurious dubbing, but all in all, Fuji TV’s Iron Chef is a marvel to behold and I recommend you dive into it if you haven’t already.

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Naika Reviews “The Search for General Tso”

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What started out as a query about the origins of General Tso’s Chicken evolved into a full-fledged exploration on both the dish’s namesake and the struggles of the Chinese-American immigrant community in Ian Cheney’s excellent documentary “The Search for General Tso.”

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Weekend Roundup (11/23/2013 to 11/24/2013)

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Quiet weekends are usually good weekends and in this case, it was damn good!  Saturday morning started out well with a good win from Arsenal at home against in-form Southampton and my, was it a cracker!  The Saints played very well in the first half, but some luck from Artur Boruc’s horrible work in front of goal saw Arsenal’s Giroud steal the ball from him to score on the spot (muhaha!).  Despite what the BBC’s written, luck wasn’t the only thing that helped us will that day.  With solid defending, great build-up play and a penalty for us due to Per getting his jersey yanked, we convincingly closed out the kind of game that we would usually falter with years ago.  How’s that for a good start to the weekend?

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Huang Fei Hong Spicy Peanuts are the SHIT!!!

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It’s probably no coincidence that this awesome snack is named after the famed martial artist from Foshan because Huang Fei Hong’s irresistable combinantion of crunchy, jumbo peanuts (from Shandong province mind you), chillis and peppercorns pack the right amount of kick that will keep you begging for more.  It’s a relatively simple snack that’s a farcry from the stuff we usually gobble here in the States, but maybe that’s what makes it so great to eat.  How can peanuts simply taste so good?

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