Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Miyako Sushi

I'll tell you what I love most about Miyako Sushi - their bento boxes. Bento boxes are the compartmentalized trays that are used to serve a variety of foods without them having to touch. I'd never seen one of those before Miyako, though of course I've been exposed to them from my geeky period when I read anime, which I am now announcing to the internet. This is my final confession, now you guys know everything about me. From these anime I learned that bento boxes are really just Japanese style lunch boxes, this is what a Japanese dad would prepare for his daughter before school in grade school. I don't know how to say this without feeling like I'm patronizing an entire culture, but they are seriously the cutest things ever. Little individual slots for each portion, so your pickle doesn't get your ham sandwich wet. Or, you know, whatever they eat for school lunches in Japan. +112 I guess now that I think about it they might be a cheezy thing to put in a restaurant, but I love them. The Japanese have done it. They've found the perfect solution to OCD! Your sauces and sides never ever ever have to touch each other again! I feel like I can finally dine freely again.

They have a turtle pond in the waiting area of their restaurant, which I confess I don't care for. It's similar to koi ponds that other Japanese and Asian restaurants have, with the open top that people throw pennies into. But they weren't koi, they were turtles! I met this guy the other day who's last name was Ready. This is a true story folks not my usual nonsense. After I pried him for the secrets to his success, he told me that the trick was to not make the jokes too often. "You can only say 'I was born ready' so many times before it isn't funny," he told me. "You have to space yourself out." You all know that this is the exact opposite of my comedy ability, and I rely on having the same repertoire of jokes to tell over and over until people laugh again because they feel sorry for me. At restaurants with koi fish, I say, "Oh look, they're growing our dinner." And I think it's so funny because they're koi fish and of course koi fish aren't in sushi, the joke is why would you eat a KOI fish? Get it? It's funny, right? And everyone's looking around like they're wishing they hadn't waited for me to put pants on and just left me behind. But Miyako has turtles instead of koi fish and my humor is much too sophisticated and subtle to point out a wide disparate as that, and I'm forced to spend the evening in sullen silence, my outstanding wit being forced under a rock. -14

There is a mystery to Miyako, however. You guys know how much I love mysteries +24 if only someone would film a crime drama about it, my life would be slick and perfect. So when you walk in, the hostess says, "Would you guys like a table or Japanese style?" Oooh!!! I've always said "table", and I wonder.... what could Japanese style even be! Those people get led off into an entirely separate side of the restaurant. If you're at a table, you have no idea what's going on in that other room. My anime training prepared me for this for sure. I bet you go into the other side of the restaurant and bam! A thousand ninjas drop down from the sky and out from behind the walls. Vengeance, brought down on you from the tiresome path of your fate! All looks lost for you. You close your eyes, and the air around you turns into vertical lines on a white background. You press your palms together, and center your mind. Pow! All of the ninjas explode in a flash of light! In their place sit piles of sushi and bento boxes, already with the pieces drug through the sauce in exactly the way you like. You lay on your back, arms crossed behind your head, and someone feeds you each piece of sushi.

If anyone can confirm this chain of events, please email me at arbitrarycriticism@live.com.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014


That's right guys. I don't spend all of my time locked up in my bedroom, typing away on my computer and spending hours staring out the window at the rain thinking about sorrow and poetry and what rhymes with "young adult wasteland" and "why do my boobs hurt so bad when I lay on top of them". Sometimes, I leave my house and go to fancy, trendy restaurants in Houston's popular downtown district. And sometimes, I even wear clothes that I haven't slept in. I am an adult, ladies and gentlemen.

I really like Batanga, I've actually been there twice. I like it the most because of a drink they have called "Finn's Revenge." I'm not exactly sure what's in it (even though they print all of the details on the menu); it's something like coconut milk and vanilla rum and ginger beer and basil and mint. It's definitely the most delicious alcoholic beverage I've ever had and it tastes like a milkshake. The real reason I like it though is because of the basil and mint that they put in there. Guys I LOVE drinking alcohol with roughage in it. I always pick it out and eat it, even though my mother, director of the Etiquette School of Central Texas, would probably suggest that that is "rude and disgusting." Look, here's my argument: that may be the only serving of vegetables I eat that week. Would you rather I was a little bit rude at the dinner table with somebody who's obviously, let's face it, I mean look at me, dating me for my looks anyways and doesn't care about my habits.... or that I die of some kind of vitamin deficiency because most of my diet is made up of bowls of strawberry frosted shredded wheat and frozen pierogies? Or as I call them, little pastry puffs of heaven. I think that the choice here is obvious. Finn's Revenge saves lives, and we should respect that. +13

Here's what's actually the best thing about Batanga that I can't believe I didn't start with: hello, it is so freaking fun to say! Batanga! Batanga! Batanga! It seems like it should be someone's catchphrase, or something! Or like a polite way of saying something dirty. "I really need to go to the facilities and batanga." "Man, did you see that hot guy? I'd really like to curl up with him and batanga." "I went out last night and had a few too many Finn's Revenges, and this morning.... bam! Batanga everywhere!" Not because Batanga the restaurant is a dirty kind of place but just because, you know. I want to say the word every day, in every situation. +21

My main criticism of Batanga is of course completely arbitrary. I hate that it's a tapas restaurant! The food is so good, why does it have to be served in such an annoying way! I hate tapas for one very simple reason: I'm an extremely competitive person. When I go to the restaurant, I want to sit down, look at the menu, and then pick the most delicious thing they've got. When my dish comes out, I want to say, "Oh my gosh, this is the most delicious thing I've ever tasted! I'll give up batangaing for life if it means I can only eat this until I die! Though, without batanga, that might be pretty quickly, am I right?" And then everyone that I'm with is super jealous, and they're eating whatever inferior thing they ordered, and they're sullenly dragging their soup through some gross broth or like trying to carve some kind of quail or something pretentious, seething with hatred that I'm so much better at restauranting than they are. That's all I want, OK? That's my idea of a perfect night, of a perfect meal. For me to, you know, be better than everyone else. Tapas? They're like the communism of the dinner table. Everyone gets the same thing. I don't get to sit there, smug and high and mighty, lording over my companions. Now, we're all eating the same bacon-wrapped dates or whatever (an excellent dish actually available at Batanga, it's a new year so I'll give you an actual fact about a restaurant for a change. Just don't get used to it) and we're all closing our eyes and wondering what wonderful thing we did in a past life to deserve this. -90 I wanted to be the only one who did something great in my past life! I want to be the one with all the stored karma credits! If I wanted to live my life in the horrible kind of way where we're all equal, I would move to Cuba. But I don't! I want to be champion of the universe, and Batanga is making it really difficult to reach my goals. So thanks a lot, and I'll be reporting you to Senator McCarthy to be dealt with accordingly.

If I were you I'd get to Batanga now, before it's closed down, and if anyone is interested in signing my petition to end tapas restaurants once and for all, feel free to email me at arbitrarycriticism@live.com.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Soma Sushi

Oh you guys thought you'd gotten rid of me? You thought you'd chased me out of town for good? Well you were wrong! Sorry about my absence over the last few months, I've been in hiding after a restaurant review gone horribly wrong ended with me running for my life on a five-continent chase for my life. In the end I made it out alive with barely any scratches; the disgruntled restaurateur, however, is sleeping with the fishes. At the Moody Gardens aquarium, because he likes sleeping there and it makes him feel more at peace. Neither one of us will be getting the show on the Food Network any time soon, it seems.

I'm here with you today to discuss my current favorite restaurant, Soma Sushi. I'll tell you what, guys, I've fallen hard into this ramen trend. Is ramen even still a hot trend? I don't know, because I haven't been eating anything else so I've missed all the new food crazes. I like going to Soma because it makes me feel alright about paying $17 for something I can make for thirteen cents at home. It's just a really sexy restaurant, with it's dim lights and deep red accent walls and the pictures of mostly naked men and women on the bathroom doors. +17 Like I feel like I'm some kind of international spy, meeting my lover from the other side for our once-yearly tete-a-tete. Honestly those bathroom doors are the coolest I've ever seen, and if I didn't think it would keep me from getting my security deposit back I'd install some in my apartment.

Despite the fact that this is my favorite restaurant, there are actually a number of negatives that I'm going to recite for you, in the hopes that you don't go to Soma and I can always get a table. The main problem, of course, is the after dinner mints. They taste like poop. I've eaten a lot of after dinner mints in my life, and these have to be the grossest. They're some kind of minty, chocolately, hard candy monstrosity which combines three great characteristics of after dinner mints into something that makes angels weep. -9 The worst part is my boyfriend loves them, which leads me to wonder if this man that I am dating has any sense of taste at all.

For people like me who go to a restaurant and expect to drink several gallons of free water, they provide a bottle of water at the table so that I can serve myself. Normally this is something I like - there's nothing worse than dying of thirst because the waiter has a dozen other tables and doesn't have the time to hover at my elbow refilling my glass every three minutes. The negative is that they keep the water in these tall, beautiful wine glasses to class up the joint, and I can't look at them without feeling the sick sense of shame. One time I was dining at Johnny Carino's with my parents, and like the pig I am I went ahead and ate all the oil and garlic provided. What to do, what to do... There was a green wine bottle sitting on my table- that must be filled with more oil! There was a cork in the bottle that was wedged in pretty deeply; it took all of my strength and the encouragement of my parents to get it open. Finally free, I poured the oil into the dish only to discover - it was water! That bottle wasn't full of something I wanted to eat on bread! It was simply decorative! The damn bottle wasn't meant to be used for anything at all! To add insult to the injury, the waitress was shocked when she walked by that I was able to get the cork open at all. Not only did I not have the oil for my bread, I'd ruined what oil was left and now I had superpowers that I would forever associate with this horrible day. So I hate the green bottles at Soma (-12) and I hate superheroes, for being able to embrace what I must repress.

Here's the worst thing about Soma: the parking situation is a little fierce, the restaurant is on Washington Avenue and the other shops in the strip center have been careful to put up "Will Tow Soma Diners During Business Hours" signs. This blows big ones because it seems like you may have to valet your car. Now, my roommate is a valet, and thanks to the stories he tells when he returns home, I will never valet my car unless I can help it. So here I was, waiting to parallel park a street over, trying to get out of the parking lot, when I pull up behind a red Honda Civic parked in front of the valet line. The brake lights are on and I figure this person is waiting for a valet, so I wait patiently behind it because I'm a patient person and I don't what to run over a guy who parks cars for a living, that seems like I'll never find the karma to overtake that. I'm waiting, I'm waiting, I'm waiting, finally I realize - there's nobody in that freaking car! I'm just sitting here, idling, like a complete moron while other people come in and take what few parking spots are left! Ugh, it was the worst day ever. -5 So I swung around the car, struggled to fit my car into a space that was just four inches larger than my vehicle, and then went in to dine - the car was STILL THERE. It's probably there to this day! It makes me so angry because HELLO! I'm twenty three years old, I should definitely be able to tell the difference between parking brakes and regular brakes, but can you please just turn off your car? What about the environment, and our nation's dependence of foreign oil? Some people are just so inconsiderate.

That's all the information I have for you today. Please feel free to email me at arbitrarycriticism@live.com to tell me how much you missed me when I was too depressed to write - I mean, in the middle of a global fight for my life.

Monday, August 12, 2013

La Mexicana

I arrived at La Mexicana today after a devastating morning. Having completely bought into the ramen craze that is sweeping the nation's tastebuds (or at least my tastebuds) I set out this morning to Nippon on Montrose. Guess what guys, it's closed on Monday, meaning I had to make alternative plans for lunch. After a succession of similar blows, I found myself in the Montrose area, mourning the fact that I had paid full price for a shirt at Target that showed boob sweat in a really visible way, almost unable to go on. My boyfriend had pulled his car into the parking lot of La Mexicana and was waiting expectantly for me to follow him in. Would I be able to? Would I have a nervous breakdown? Would I ever eat again? I'll spoil the ending for you guys: there was a 4runner in the parking lot at La Mexicana with an open spot  next to it -and they were open on a Monday and for lunch- yes. I was able to have breakfast. This just goes to show, 4runner owners of America - leaving a parking spot open for you on one side for other 4runner owners really does change lives.

Let's talk about the salsa here at La Mexicana. You know how lots of Mexican restaurants have two bowls of salsa, one green and one red? And the green salsa, no matter how good it tastes, always has the consistency of boogers? Just real thick and mucus-y? Look I know it's real gross, but I kind of like it. It's like the texture of okra, which is something I've been eating a lot of lately. (The only thing about okra is that the seeds come back out whole, which is a bit alarming if you know what I mean :/) Anyway so yeah at La Mexicana, the red salsa tastes like it has a ground up jellyfish in it, too! I just think it's wonderful, because I normally don't like the flavoring of tomatillo sauce but I do like the flavor; it's perfect, they've just combined the things that I love and made them into THE PERFECT SALSA. +14 Thank you La Mexicana, it was worth not eating ramen.

Except here's the thing: if I'd had a bowl of ramen instead of a bowl of chicken tortilla soup, when it came to my table it would all be in one bowl instead of the THREE SEPARATE BOWLS I was given to hold the chicken soup, the tortilla, and the cheese and avocado. Seriously guys???? If I'd wanted to make my own dinner I would have stayed at home! -9 The problem with this is when you give me a side dish of cheese, it's not going to go into my soup guys, it's just not! I'm going to take a pinch of it, "just for a taste", and then it's going to taste good so I'll have another, and then another and another and before I know it there's a cube of cheese in my soup and the rest has been pre-eaten. Same guys for the avocado, and don't even get me started on tortilla strips, guys. I just don't get what the big deal is I mean it's soup. If I didn't want to eat all that stuff I could just eat around it you know, there's no reason to have a create your own adventure here.

Look but more than anything, here's why I love this place: they sell Obleas! You know, that treat from Mexico where it's a pair of wafers and in between is caramel made from goat milk?? Or something??? Either way I think these things are the best thing in the world. The first time I ever had one I was like six or seven and my aunt went to Mexico City and sent us a package and I'm sure there were lots of very cool things in there, but all I remember are the Obleas (and this neat-o Mayan sculpture she sent to my brother that I always thought was really awesome because it had real gold flakes in it, but now as I'm typing this I'm finally realizing that she probably did not send a nine year old boy a whole sculpture filled with gold flakes, and also that statue was not even heavy enough to be filled with gold, and also my whole childhood is now ruined.) Anyways so I've been addicted to them ever since, spending lots of time in Mexico (A note to Homeland Security: This is a bit of exaggeration that comes down to about three weeks in the past six years), crying whenever my stash runs out. These things are awesome life changers, and now I know where to find them here in Houston! Look guys there's probably a lot of places you can buy them, not least of which is Fiesta, but I was having a bad day when these appeared and I'd thank you not to judge me. +20

Friday, August 9, 2013


In case you guys didn't know, Oishii is the new cool place (as opposed to the cool new place; Oishii has definitely been there for a while and everybody but us is going there) to go to in Upper Kirby. I'm getting my information from my best friend, who has been going there for over a year which means she's way cooler than the rest of us, and the people that I babysit for, who also have recently been going there and also are cooler than the rest of us. These guys have a loyal fan base and an excellent happy hour, and a relatively small parking lot to go with all this. It's the type of combination that Houstonians love. Let's get with the program people!!!

Look let's get this straight: the very best part about Oishii (besides the fact that during there happy hour they have buy one get one free appetizers and $1.25 domestic beers) is their ceiling tiles. I cannot make it clear enough: their ceiling tiles are the best in the entire country! They're gold and they have engravings of dragons and more dragons and other things that Asian restaurants like, like koi fish and more dragons. +12 It's pretty inspiring guys. The ceiling at my apartment complex has just a regular white, textured ceiling with no character at all, and up until I went to Oishii I thought that my apartment was pretty rad. Now I know. Now I know that my apartment has the most boring ceilings in the world, apart from regular white ceilings with no texture at all. I don't know that I necessarily have the pizzazz to pull off gold dragon tiles, but I think there are some options that I can explore in the future. Maybe I could install a series of velvet Elvises, covering the entirety of my room. This would have the added benefit of making it look like I lived in an opium den. I'm also thinking of a decorative covering patterned with tiger stripes, but that might be too 80's porn star. A final thought would be to have some sort of edible hanging; maybe like bananas or kiwis or something, and then trade out my carpet for tampolines, but I think maybe that wouldn't work out with my current set up. These are just some ideas, I'll obviously have to consult my lease before I start any major renovations.

Here's what else is cool. Guess what they wrap their sushi in! Well, obviously, I mean it's mostly seaweed, I don't think that should come as a surprise to anybody, but their soy paper? Is pink!!! Is that not the cutest thing you've ever heard of?? +28 This means it's highly possible for them to have Catherine Martin themed sushi rolls. Which is another thing that they do. Create custom sushi rolls for their customers, and actually put them on the menu, that is. Like they have a Kennedy roll, and a Rachel roll, and one day they're going to have a Catherine Martin roll, and it's going to have a pink soy wrapper and spicy tuna and strawberries and other pink things inside it, and people are going to buy it and think they are donating a portion of their profits to breast cancer, but really I just like the color pink a whole lot.

Look here's what I didn't like. I drank a bottle of Kirin Ichiban when I was there, which is a type of Japanese beer I believe. I drank it because it was happy hour, and foreign beers were priced at $1.75 and Melissa got one and let's face it guys, I'm a follower. I don't even like beer and I got one because Melissa did. Yes, if all my friends jumped off a bridge, I probably would too, especially if it wasn't a particularly high bridge and there was water underneath and not any snakes and I'd practiced to get my swan dive shallow enough. Look here's the thing, I want everyone to know that Japanese beer tastes just as gross as American beer. -9 I don't want to get political here, but people on the internet need to stop making fun of all countries other than Canada (people never make fun of people from Canada because people from Canada are so nice. The exception to this is of course Justin Beiber, who everyone makes fun of but forgets is from Canada) because we're all united by our ability to make really gross beer. I hope this brings everyone together, it was a message to the world.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Food Cravings - a series of haikus

There was the time that
For one semester, my meals
Were hashbrowns and eggs

For the last three weeks
It's been cous-cous (with butter,
'stead of olive oil

Let us be clear here
Food cravings are about my
Period, not health)

Those Wint-O-Green mints
More like individually wrapped
Crack- I can't resist.

Cans of artichokes
Jalapeno stuffed olives
Nutella celery

Those good Biscotti
That when you open in bed
Get crumbs everywhere

Boxes of hot tea
Brewed in dirty coffee pots
Final drops stain cups

What is wrong with me???
I'll listen to the same song
On repeat, for weeks

Wear the same T-shirt
Whenever it's clean (also
Whenever it's not)

Let's just agree to
Call it a Super Power
"Stuck in a Rut Girl"

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

10 Places In Houston It's OK To Eat At Alone and In Your PJs.

Let's be honest, there are only a few places that I WON'T go in my pajamas. And I'm not just talking about eateries - the grocery store, the museum, the movies. The only place I never wear my pajamas to is class, because that is so overdone and expected. Whether it's a confidence in myself or a confidence in my Hello Kitty pajama bottoms, it's hard to say. But I've noticed a few strange looks as I wonder through displays at the Museum of Natural Science in my pink plaid pajama bottoms and my World's Only Corn Palace sweatshirt. I think this needs to change. People, you should be free to be who you are, no matter what the venue! But I know that not everyone as uninhibited as I am. I am almost positive that my mother's greatest regret was allowing young Catherine to pick out her own clothes in kindergarten - I've felt the same freedom to match my socks to my turtleneck my whole life. You were not cultivated by the same individuality, and so I'm providing for you here ten places where you can go on practice runs in your PJs and not get any strange looks.

1. Pink's Pizza
Pink's Pizza is all about the punk rock lifestyle. What is the punk rock lifestyle, you ask? Punk rock is not caring what punk rock means. Punk rock is giving yourself the freedom to define punk rock for yourself, outside the constraints of what society expects punk rock to mean. Not to mention, being a mostly pickup/delivery place, there are hardly ever customers actually inside the restaurant, and if you want to stop in for a slice I guarantee the employees are going to be so wrapped up in their own punk rock lifestyles to notice if you are even wearing pants, let alone whether or not they are from the same Betty Boop set that your  mother bought you for your high school graduation.

2. Torchy's Tacos
Torchy's also lives the punk rock lifestyle, but your sense of anonymity here comes from the fact that no matter what, there are always at least five dozen other people trying to get a taco as well and nobody cares what you're wearing, they just want you to not be in line in front of them. Walking out to your car in the parking lot? There will be no dirty looks from drivers that you didn't bother to shower and impress them; instead, the dirty looks will be that you are not hurrying out of your spot so that they might take it.

3. Whataburger
This is definitely a good place for novices to try out wearing pajamas in public. The Walmart of fast food, the general audience of this fine establishment has generally had to make so much of an effort to even get out of bed that day that any clothing at all seems like a huge bonus. If you've had a hard night of drinking and don't think you'll be able to face the day without an HBCB, don't even try. Find someone else to drive you there, and worry about the logistics of clothing later on.

4. Bernie's Burger Bus
The best thing about Bernie's Burger Bus is that most of the year, they have a bus parked out in front of University of Houston's UC for lunch. If you don't feel like getting dressed in the morning, never fear - just head over to a place where nobody every feels like getting dressed - a college campus. You'll fit right in, I guarantee it. (Incidentally, if you wear real clothes and work in an office and are interested in having a catered visit from Bernie's, feel free to hit up at my new email address, catherine.berniesburgerbus@gmail.com)

5. Buffalo Wild Wings
This is mostly only OK if you go right when they open. I'm speaking from experience on this one guys, having worn pajamas to Buffalo Wild Wings at all different sorts of times on all different sorts of days. This is a sports bar, and people are going to look at you funny if instead of paying attention to the games they are forced to be distracted by your loud, obnoxiously colored pants. In the morning, however, you're more likely to get sympathy from a waitstaff who also wishes they were in their pjs but are, in fact, at Buffalo Wild Wings instead.

6. Prince's Hamburgers
One time I went to Prince's Hamburgers and I asked for the Prince's Original and the girl at the counter replied "The one with the sauce?" as if there was another. These people are far too adorable to care what you are wearing.

7. Moon Tower Inn
Wearing your pajamas to the Moon Tower might actually be better for your rep than not, because people will just assume that you're a hipster making commentary about societal expectations rather than just a really lazy person who had a tough enough time making the decision of whether or not to brush their teeth, let alone what to wear. Order a beer off the menu that nobody has ever heard of, and you'll fit right in with the crowd. (Note: I'd recommend wearing long pajama bottoms here rather than short ones, as there is a risk of splintering on the benches if there is too much exposed skin. You're welcome.)

8. Spanish Flower
Like Buffalo Wild Wings, there are only certain times of the day that you can go to Spanish Flower in your pjs. Part of the day, it's a highly respectable joint that I went to for my graduation dinner and Lady Gaga, in fact, frequents. (If by frequents you of course mean "went to one time and then probably never again") Anytime after about ten pm though you're fine, and that goes until that awkward part of the night when people with real jobs are going out for breakfast and people without real jobs are coming back in from the night. (I'm writing about this time of the night like I know something about it, but I went to bed at 11:30 last night because I was really tired.)

9. Jerry Built
These people have a hand washing station inside their restaurant, guys. These are the craziest dude and dudettes you'll ever meet! One time I went in and the lady handed me some dice and we each rolled and I got a higher number than her and she gave me my food for free! I kid you not! The people who work at Jerry Built are the type that snort cocaine out of the open mouth of a live alligator, and then punch a Grizzly bear for looking at them funny. These people do not mess around, guys. Wearing your pajamas to Jerry Built? Please. They've been wearing their pajamas in public since they were in their mother's uterus.

10. Dot's Diner
Diners are always OK to wear your pajamas to, with one ironclad exception that even I don't break. DO NOT, under any circumstances, wear your pajamas to a diner on a Sunday morning or a Sunday afternoon! That is when diners do not belong to you; they belong to the severest of the church going crowd, and let me tell you, those people are not interested in seeing your brand new green striped pajama bottoms and in fact would much rather you were repenting the sin of wearing them from your home at that very moment.