Sunday, October 26, 2008

Inspector Gadget

I discovered this neat little cell phone shelf in eye-popping colors:

This solves the problem of resting your phone on the floor while recharging. This becomes really helpful when travelling specially in hotels where the outlets are in an odd location, or worse, in the bathroom.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


Cheesecake Factory's foray into Southeast Asian cuisine.

From the menu:

"Where the distinct flavors, dishes
and aromas of Southeast Asia
bring an exciting new experience
to the American palate.

Pass through our doors and 
you travel halfway around the world to 
Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia,
Singapore, Indonesia and India"

BAKET WALANG PILIPINS!!!! (How come no Philippines?!?!?!)  

5  When they say "pass through our doors", they weren't kidding! 
It's tall, it's ornate - and you're gunna LOVE IT!  

The entrance is a long and narrow passageway akin to entering a different world far far away from the mall you thought you were in.  Sounds exotic and romantic? Knowing how long the lines get at Cheesecake Factory restaurants, this may just be an exercise in creative crowd control.

5  Don't forget to look up!  Every inch of space is filled with stunning details.

5  And then you arrive at the hostess station - finally!

The name is a bit odd and I'm not really sure about the nomenclature.  The first restaurant of it's kind from Cheesecake Factory (and I'm sure there will be more!),  RockSugar debuted in June 2008.  The chef is Mohan Ismail.

5  Oriental Exoticism runs rampant at the bar.

5  The Main Dining Hall

For all the drama involved in the entrance, the restaurant has a relatively small dining area. The passageway is almost the same square footage as the dining room.  We arrived 30 minutes late from our appointed time and we ended up sitting in the indoor/outdoor patio area, which wasn't bad at all.

5  Survey the tablescape.

The tablescape consists of:  napkin, fork, spoon and chopsticks.  They sure covered all the bases (I used them all!).  The hot towel before the meal is a nice touch that is common in restaurants in Asia but a rare surprise in these here United States.  Does moist towelettes count?

5  Flatbread and sauce.

They start you off with some crispy crackers (very similar to kropek but without the shrimp-y flavor).  It's embedded with black sesame seeds and comes with a sweet savory sauce.

5  Sambal Eggplant

First up is Sambal Eggplant.  The eggplant is cut like fries (crisp outside, tender and moist inside) and arrives atop a sweet soy based sauce (a little too sweet really - I guess that explains the name RockSugar) and topped with spicy Sambal sauce (not enough).

5  Short Ribs

Next up is the short ribs served on top of Udon noodles and broth.  The broth still has a hint of sweetness and the shortribs were bland.  Maybe it needs to be seared more but the flavors did not carry through the meat leaving it bland with a sweet aftertaste.  The Udon in broth may not have been the best pairing .

5  Mens toilette

This may be the coolest men's toilet I've seen yet.  The tiles on the wall is actually clear glass tiles placed over a colored wall.  This creates a really nice effect.

And now, the verdict.  Overall, I found the sugary sweet flavors pervasive in all the dishes I ordered. But, the menu is full of very interesting and inventive dishes that is worth a trip back.  The service was attentive and efficient.  

I would love to work my way through the menu in the next few months.  They also have an onsite bakery and the waiter boasted they had fabuloous desserts as well. To find out more about RockSugar, click here.

Friday, October 17, 2008

An Evening With Tina Turner

Put your hands on your hips and let your backbone slip...

Wow! What an unbelievable evening this concert turned out to be.  I almost missed it since the original date was October 13 and SOLD OUT.  Then, they decided to add a second date, Thursday, October 16.  I guess, due to the late announcement, some tickets were available and I finally got to see the show with my friend, Amy.

First off, TINA looked GREAT! She's 68 and she can still do her moves.  She has not toured in 7 years.  She was supposed to have retired after her concert tour of 2000.  I am told a lot of the exciting elements of this show were first seen in that show.

And what a production!  Tina starts the show shakily suspended on an elevated platform in the middle of the stage and descends to start the show.  Suspending a 68-year old on a 3'x3' platform 40 feet above ground zero seems like a risky venture since she could fall and never get up!  

The stage is amazing, constantly morphing into staircases, jungle gyms and reveals.  She had ninjas, 4 backup dancers, two background singers and a first-rate band.  There were several pyrotechnics during the first half.

As for her performance, Tina can still bring it.  She did have difficulty with the ballads particularly Private Dancer, but she more than made up for it with the rest of the show (choreographed by Toni Basil).

Then there was a 30 minute intermission.  I assumed she was getting a blood transfusion after all that bouncing around. When she returned to the stage, she revealed that she had a very special guest backstage in the person of Denzel Washington.  Since we had nosebleed seats and conveniently forgot our binoculars, we weren't able to spot him.
The crowning glory of the evening was the performance of "Proud Mary".  By the end of the song, the crowd was on their feet dancing.  Amy and I tried to re-create the moves in our very narrow (and steep!) bleacher seats.  

A lot of people left after this number assuming it was the finale.  Mostly to get to their cars and avoid gridlock (this is L.A. after all).

But then she returned to perform two more songs!

And then the most amazing thing happened.

The stage transformed into a 60 foot lateral cherry picker which allowed her to hover above the audience as she sang Nutbush City Limits with the audience (see photo above). 

If she happens to be in your neck of the woods, it's worth the effort and money to go and see this wonderful, wonderful performer.  Check her tour dates here.


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Preview of Coming Attractions

The Little Harbor Collection from Halsea.

Here's another print I designed for Halsea based on a vintage print.

Saturday, October 11, 2008


Breakfast at the Ferry Building, San Francisco.

The Ferry Building is filled with wonderful artisanal edibles but can be a very expensive place to have breakfast. Mijita is a great cozy little Mexican place to have breakfast and is located next to the pier with a view of the Bay Bridge.

5  They have a small limited breakfast menu among the usual tacos and burritos.

5  A Mijita regular recommended the chorizo con huevos which was great! San Francisco is filled with great people like that.  Crumbled chorizo whipped in scrambled eggs and served with tortillas, beans and salsa for about $8.  

5  You can watch the ferries dock as you dine.  Great people watching.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Another Opening, Another Show

Bruce Brown's The Faces of Northern China

BruceBrown_kimono series
5  The spread of cheese and paté laid in front of the kimono series.

Dr. Bruce A. Brown, surgeon by day, photographer at other times, showed the photos he took in Northern China. He spent about a month in 2001 travelling to XinJiang, which is close to the border of China and the 'stans (Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan). The facial features of the people change from typical Chinese to almost Middle eastern.

5 The show was held in his photo studio/loft at the Brewery, Los Angeles.

5  Some of the more interesting guests.

5  Smooching in front of The Faces of Northern China

Sunday, October 5, 2008

R&G Lounge

Incredible Chinese food in San Francisco's Chinatown.

There are plenty of mediocre, touristy and some plain dirty places to eat in San Francisco's Chinatown. To be honest, some of the better Chinese restaurants are in Clement Street. But, R&G Lounge is one of the few restaurants with excellent food and facilities that is perfect for dining with friends and family.

5 The bar at R&G
They've added a new bar on the street level. The restaurant remains popular and can get crowded,  so this is a nice area to hang around and wait for a table.

5  R&G Lounge Dining Area
The downstairs dining area is not very big as far as Chinese restaurants go. After all, it's not a dimsum place. They do serve dishes prepared with the ever elusive "XO Sauce".

5  Ginger and Onion Chicken
This time around, for lunch, we decide to try the ginger and onion chicken. While it is a far cry from it's Singaporean counterparts, it's still quite tasty. The main difference is they smother a ginger and green onion sauce over the steamed chicken. The sauce is quite good by itself.

5  Three Treasures
This is another dish I haven't tried here before called Three Treasures. The three treasures consist of tofu, eggplant and peppers stuffed with shrimp in a garlicky sauce.

There are plenty of other dishes to try (and I hope to try them soon!) but this combo was a nice light prelude to an afternoon of exploring San Francisco's Chinatown and it's neighbor, Little Italy.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Omni Hotel San Francisco

A great hotel experience.

The Omni Hotel San Francisco is located on California and Montgomery Streets in the financial district, a couple of blocks away from the Mandarin Oriental and the TransAmerica Pyramid.  It's also very close to Chinatown and Little Italy. It's a little off the beaten path but if you go on a weekend, it's relatively quiet.

5  Main Entrance on California Street

5  View from the grand staircase upon arrival.

The lobby has a grand staircase and a grand lobby.  It also has a lot of pocket areas where you can meet friends and a mezzanine lobby-bar area sometimes with live music during the cocktail hour.

5  Lobby with view of the grand staircase

5  Small pocket areas in the lobby provide a great area for meeting friends, private conversations or a cocktail.

5  The bedrooms are on the small-ish side but quite comfortable and clean. 

5 View of entertainment center with flat screen tv, mini-bar and desk area.

5 View of bathroom

The bathroom has a pocket door and the shower/tub has a really tall ceiling which is quite nice when you are sitting in your bubble bath (provided).

5  Amenities include a bubble bath and surprisingly - spray starch!

5  They do a double point fold on the toilet paper and gift wrap the emergency roll - nice!

5  The slippers appear when they turn down the beds. It comes with it's own floor mat.

5  The housekeeper left a nice note.  

While the hotel may not be so different from other great San Francisco hotels, what sets it apart is the great people and unobtrusive service.  The service was impeccable from the front desk, concierge and housekeeping.  I would definitely love to stay here again.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Coming Attractions

The upcoming Yves Saint Laurent exhibit at the De Young Museum, San Francisco.

Here's a good reason to return to San Francisco this winter. The opening of the Yves Saint Laurent exhibit at the MH De Young Museum in Golden Gate Park. This will be the only US venue for this show.

© Andrew Rau. Courtesy of the Foundation Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurent
Yves died June 1st of this year so this exhibit is very timely.

I wonder if they have special YSL merhandise for this exhibit ala Murakami.  

Photo courtesy Foundation Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurent
5  Yves Saint Laurent (L) and Pierre Bergé (R).  

Yves partner, Pierre Berge, is involved in this exhibit.  There will be a lecture on YSL on November 1 by one of the Euro Vogue editors.

Original Sketch, Fall-Winter 1991. Foundation Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurent
5  Yves iconic "Le Smoking" jacket.

5 This is from the famous Van Gogh collection of 1988.  The Sunflower jacket took six hundred hours of individually sewing 350,000 sequins and 100,000 ceramic bugle beads by the House of Lesage, who did a lot of Yves embroidery work.

Courtesy Foundation Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurent

Courtesy Foundation Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurent
5  Fall Winter 1991 Goddess Gown

Courtesy Foundation Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurent
5 Fall-Winter 1990 Robe De Plume.

To find out more, click here.