Monday, December 11, 2006

Amy's Manifesto

An uninhibited flow of personal opinion and original ideas is necessary in any democratic culture. Closely intertwined, I believe these two elements make the critic’s role indispensable in modern-day society.

Yes, the critic itself and the form of dispersing information are bound to change with the constant evolution of cultural norms and technological advances, but the importance of critical dialogue will never diminish.

What good is a new painting or an upcoming action film if the public has no avenue of discussion about the work? As the sheer volume of artistic work increases over time, the average citizen desperately needs tools at his disposable in order to sift through the endless amounts of work being created on a daily basis. Critics have a responsibility to assist the masses in taking in this ongoing stream of information that has become the norm in our society.

Most importantly, the beauty of criticism is that it is completely opinion-based. A writer is free to make any observation he desires, further enhancing and encouraging the creative aspect of this field.

However, with the recent development of blogs and their increasing popularity, there has been some concern among serious journalists, especially critics, who feel their jobs may soon be found obsolete in the face of the many random online rants penned by anonymous bloggers. But, I do not fear this new cultural trend. In fact, I find the challenge exciting and just another avenue critics have at their disposable to make their opinions known. I am confident that reputable and knowledgeable critics who provide factual reporting and clearly support their opinions will always rise to the top.

Kim's Manifesto

I started off the semester saying the motto for a critic should be “take it or leave it.” I walk away from this class believing that same thing, but more. My view of the critic expanded from believing that the only thing in a critique was opinion to learning that a lot more thought and research goes into critiques. To be a critic you really have to expand your mind, be open to new thoughts and be able to clearly express your ideas. I respect critics in a new way now than I did before. I believe their opinions are to be valued and listened too, but only to a reasonable amount. My advice for people out there is to trust your opinions and trust yourself, you are the only one who knows exactly what you will like.

Ariel's Manifesto

Perhaps, you may wonder why people always have to read a review to decide whether they will see the movie, read the book or listen to the album. Why can’t they decide it by themselves? But, I have to tell you that I am one of them. Before I go to see a movie, I read the review about it and then make a decision, to go or not. Reviews play an important role in my life and I always believe what these critics say. So, should I believe everything they said? There is no doubt that the review is matter and gives people information about movies, books, concerts, or restaurants, like a guideline. However, because you believe what the critic said, you may lose the chance to watch an amazing movie or waste money watching a crap. The safest way is that you may read several reviews about the same movie or the same book and determine that if you like. If you read the review before going to see the movie or reading the book, you would have different feeling about the movie or book.

Nowadays, because of the prevalence of blogging, writing a review is not some specific people’s job anymore. If you have a computer, you can post your opinion anytime and anywhere on the computer. It seems that people can be a journalist, but, remember, not all of them accept the training of becoming a journalist. A training journalist should do research about the topic they write and take responsibility for what they said. If people express only their opinion on the web site, I don’t think they are a real journalist.

Jeff's Manifesto

Critical writing must be a fair opinion of a work that is both well researched and accurate in its description. A critic must avoid alignment with particular art and artists in order to prohibit bias from influencing his/her reviewing. A critic should view his/her role as one that promotes the arts, not demeans them. If a work is to get a negative review, this opinion should be supported in an educated manner. A critique must explain why the critic has reached this stance.

Critical writing must use persuasive language and relevant evidence to create a strong opinion about something someone else has created. Often the critic is a vital source for the public to gain a sense of the experience of a work of art or cuisine.

Critics must seek to attract readers by showing an understanding and appreciation of the complexities of the work being reviewed. Critics must be prepared to engage in passionate debate. In other words, a critic must be a willing participant in the conversation of our culture.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Noodles at the Bellagio Hotel

Las Vegas, Nevada
Phone Number Not Available
Price: $20-$25

By Allison Loudermilk

The next time you’re living large in Las Vegas, consider dim sum instead of diner food after a long night of partying. Roll a die off the craps tables of the Bellagio’s casino, and you’ll hit Noodles, a noodle house turned tasty dim-sum joint on the weekends.

The bustling restaurant serves dim sum, the Chinese version of brunch, Friday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. from a spare, beautifully appointed space jammed next to other eateries. The stunning interior, designed by Tony Chi, features marble floors inlaid with gold Chinese characters and floor-to-ceiling wood shelves lined with glass jars that hold every imaginable type of noodle. Unlike the other eateries, however, this casual dining venue typically demands a wait.
Unless you’re with a very large party, Noodles doesn’t take reservations, the manager vaguely informed me. So on a Sunday afternoon around 1:45 that meant standing behind the velvet ropes with my husband for about 10 minutes and shamelessly eavesdropping on surrounding conversations to pass the time.

Once seated in the nonsmoking section, the white-smocked, no-fuss staff immediately set up on us. They brought a steaming pot of oolong tea ($4), a traditional accompaniment to the Chinese meal, and wheeled over steel carts full of the snacks characteristic of dim sum — some surprisingly savory and inventive, some substandard.

Sliced almond shrimp ($5.50), whole shrimp cloaked in delicate almond slivers and paired with a creamy sweet mayonnaise dipping sauce, marked a delicious if expensive departure from the usual dumplings and chicken feet. Pork buns were served steamed ($3.50) and baked in a sugary casing ($3.95) that wrapped around a filling of tangy barbequed meat, the taste of which would have made most Southerners proud. For dessert, a poker chip–sized flaky tart filled with a dollop of egg custard ($3.50) satisfied our collective sweet tooth.

Shanghai dumplings, sticky rice and pork shumai, the reigning crowd favorite according to our server, fell flat. The dumplings, stuffed with crab and pork and melded together with a hint of ginger, weren’t worth $6.95 for three. The bland sticky rice ($3.50) got stuck in your throat, and the lump of pork shumai ($3.50) might as well have been plucked from the frozen-food section.

The diverse and occasionally naughty crowd snapping up dim sum and noodles didn’t seem to mind these missteps. The seemingly sedate blonde seated with her party at the six-top table nearby waxed enthusiastic about an all-male revue featuring buff Australians in their skivvies, while popping a steady stream of dumplings into her mouth. The family seated two tables over may have had to cover the ears of their toddler holding court in her high chair. The ancient Asian couple seated across the room at the best spot in the house — one of four low, exotic wood, rectangular tables with leather-backed benches — had eyes and ears for nothing but their noodles.

The restaurant’s limited selection of dim-sum fare costs between $3.25 and $6.95 (for the chef’s specials), and credit cards are accepted. If you’re in the mood for alcohol to ease that pesky hangover, Noodles offers an assortment of Asian beers including Asahi, Tsingtao, Singha, Kirin and others, and it seems like the kind of place where no one will look at you funny if you order one before noon.

Like everything in Vegas except the buffets and the Motel Six, Noodles is overpriced, but damned if it wasn’t fun while it lasted. A pot of Chinese tea and ten small plates ordered a la carte set us back $70, after tax and tip. In comparison, dim sum at Atlanta’s ever-popular Canton House on Buford Highway runs about $15 per person. But then again, after a lucky streak at the craps table, maybe price won’t be an issue for you, high roller. If not, head for Noodles, where delectable dim sum is served with a side of glam and polish.

Izakaya Hashiguchi

Atlanta, Georgia
(404) 896-9455
Price: $10-$20

By Jui-Chen Liao

Located in the busy Atlanta area next to the Lenox Square Mall, Izakaya Hashiguchi is easily overlooked. However, after spending time looking for Izakaya Hashiguchi and enjoying food there, I found an original Japanese flavor, and an unforgettable taste.

The restaurant’s name, Izakaya Hashiguchi, has a specific meaning. Izakaya is a place that people can drink, talk and relax after a hard working day, similar to American pubs. The atmosphere is lively, and it may seem noisy, but this kind of restaurant is a good example of Japanese culture. The restaurant’s decorations, tables, chairs and the menu all awoke my memory, reminding me of my travels in Japan. Oh! I hoped the food would not disappoint me. I really want to eat a true Japanese meal in America, not an Americanized Japanese dish.

My friends and I ordered four different entrĂ©es and four pieces of nigiri sushi, tuna and squid. The tuna was fresh and tasted delicious. If you like sashimi, you have to try sashimi here. If you are afraid of eating raw fish, you should try it because the fish was so fresh that you can’t detect that you are eating the raw meat. I also found dreamy Japanese rice that was soft and chewy. When you eat Japanese rice, you know you have found heaven. The temperature of the rice is important; it can’t be warm but cold. Only cold rice can make people experience the flavor of ocean. Izakaya Hashiguchi’s rice reminded me of Japan. When I traveled to Japan, I often went to some special but not well-know restaurants which were hidden in the country’s dirty and traditional markets. Izakaya Hashiguchi’s gave me the same feeling as those special restaurants in Japan.

Sake-Shio, is a traditional Japanese dish that contains only grilled salmon and Japanese rice. The chef used a lot of salt to flavor the fish and then put the fish on the grill until it was cooked. The two ordinary pieces of salmon make you forget weight concerns and focus on finishing the great meal with one big bowl of rice, or maybe one more.

Don, the most seen meal in the Japanese restaurant, is rice and has meat and vegetables on the top with soy sauce. Because of that, my friend ordered the Katsu Don. The thick and solid pork was covered by a crispy husk and sprinkled with soy sauce. From the look of it, I knew the Katsu Don must be tasty, but my friend thought the meat itself was too salty. However, after I ate one bite of the pork, I really liked it. The mouthful of the pork was as palatable as if you were eating a peach and was better than other Katsu Don I have eaten.

Oyako Don, which is chicken, onion and eggs cooked with sauce over rice, is delicious too and is like Katsu Don but with chicken not pork. The chicken was tender, but, Izakaya Hashiguchi seems stingy with its chicken, putting very small pieces in the meal. I ordered my mother’s favorite food, Unagi Don, eel with teriyaki sauce over rice. Although the Unagi Don is the most expensive Don, it made me feel as if my mom were accompanying me, and I finally discovered why it is my mother’s favorite dish. The eel was soft and did not have a fishy taste. The sauce and eel were a very good match, and the amazing Japanese rice increased the integrity of the dish.

The taste of Izakaya Hashiguchi’s food is as delicious as in Taiwan and Japan, but Izakaya Hashiguchi did change a little to meet Americans’ taste, like providing salad. Of course, the price is important. Believe me, you only have to spend less than $20 and you can experience the true flavor of Japan.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

5 Seasons Brewing

Atlanta, Georgia
(404) 255-5911
Price: $20-$30

By Kim Malawy

The 5 Seasons Brewing is intriguing, intimate, casual and is the new hot spot in Roswell. This restaurant has combined its dimmed and cool winter like surroundings with food that is as warm and majestical as summer.

Combining handcrafted beers, organic inspired meals, and a casual dining atmosphere gives 5 Seasons Brewing an edge over its competitors. It reminded me of being at a mountain lodge with open windows engulfed by trees, dark wood furniture, and a candlelit room. The casual dress and exquisite food made me feel so comfortable that I forgot I was in a restaurant.

Partners David Larkworthy, the executive chef, and Dennis Lange certainly accomplished their goal of creating a casual welcoming surrounding, handcrafted beer on demand, continuously changing menu that reflects the local growing season, and authenticity rules, with everything prepared in-house.

Larkworthy really puts a Napa-like culinary touch into every bite. Together they created a dining experience that was elegant in its simplicity- real food paired with real beer.

5 Season Brewing offers a variety of menu items. The “Little Plates” appetizer section consists of items that range from the Seasonal Soup du Jour to grilled rice balls, calamari, Bratwurst and even more. I chose the Kari Kari for my “Little Plate.” It was a delectable mix of crab and cream cheese in a dumpling dipped in a brownish ponzu sauce. The texture was that of a thinly sliced bread that was translucent. The crab and cream cheese mix filled in your mouth in just one bite.

After that enjoyable item I was off to my organic salad. I chose the iceberg wedge with Danish blue cheese, spicy pecans, Bermuda onions and tomatoes. The cool crisp lettuce was as fresh as fresh could be, crunching in my mouth bite after bite. Drizzled on top was the sweet flowing blue cheese dressing. Surrounding the lettuce were big chunks of fresh blue cheese that were my favorite part of the dish. The fruit and pecans added a nice touch of color to the dish and many different sensations in my mouth.

The dinner entrees were split into two different sections. One being grilled pizzas and the other being meat dishes. I was lucky enough to go with five other people so I got a good grasp on a variety of meals.

First and foremost was my meal, the grilled ravioli. The mere presentation was astonishing. A stack of Louisiana crawfish, sausage, onions, asparagus, and red peppers were bundled in fried tortilla stacks surrounded by a beautiful orange cream sauce that resembled a setting sun. Each piece melted in my mouth so fast I barely had time to chew. This spicy and succulent meal was enhanced by the fresh taste of the crabmeat.

Number two on my list was definitely the kobe hanging tender. The knowledgeable waiter informed us that a kobe is the meat on the chest bone of a cow. The kobe is so tender that you do not even need a knife to cut through it. Its surroundings consisted of baby shitake mushrooms and sweet onions that added a unique spice to the meat.

Another good meal was the filet au poivre(with pepper). But watch out; if you don’t like pepper do not get this meal because it seems to overpower the steak. Other than that, it was tender and grilled to perfection. Its side of smashed potatoes was a nice compliment to the steak.

The house-cured salmon pizza was one I did not like because I am not a fish fan. This pizza was topped with avocado, cilantro, and Bermuda onions. There are plenty to choose from and are a perfect size to fill up one person, and hey, you might even have a little to take home.

Whatever you do, don’t miss out on tasting 5 Seasons’ handcrafted beer. There are varieties to choose from for dark beer lovers and light beer lovers.

The great ambiance, the great eating, and great company will put you right into the fifth season!