Archives > September 2004

My Favorite Street Food in the World...


Yutai: Drooling yet?

Everybody else: This is a 豬血糕/Zhu Xie Gao (Literal translation: pig's blood cake), usually found on street corners or in night markets of Taiwan. Might sound pretty gross, but it's damn delicious. It's a rice cake made from glutinous rice and (from what I've been told) chicken blood—not pig's blood as the name suggests. Either way, it's good. The black-colored rice cake is then steamed to tender softness and, just before serving, dipped in sweet chili sauce, coated with crushed peanuts and topped with chopped cilantro. (25NT/~75¢US)

You can usually find this in Taiwanese restaurants around the world, but don't bother ordering it. Everytime I've tried it, it's been really, really terrible. The taste is wrong and the texture is wrong as well. Just horrible. I've also tried buying frozen ones from Taiwanese supermarkets and those are no good either. Why nobody can make a half-decent 豬血糕 outside of Taiwan is beyond me.

Sep 30, 2004 | Filed Under: Food & Drink, Travel |

Kaikaya Restaurant in Shibuya

Ippei in Kaikaya

For my last night in Tokyo, I went back to a little restaurant I discovered last time—開花屋/Kaikaya.

Kaikaya serves interesting modern Japanese seafood. Order from "Today's Special" and you'll most likely taste some fish that you've never had before or even heard of. Aside from Shanghai and Taipei (which I don't consider foreign cities), I don't usually make it a point to find good restaurants. I simply don't have the time or energy after a long day of shooting and exploring. I go to random places that look packed and hope for the best. Kaikaya is one of those serendipidous finds.

The place is run by an affable manager named 一平/Ippei (the guy in the photo above). He doesn't speak much English (just like a typical Japanese person), but he sure makes the effort. If you go, just tell him to order for you; you won't regret it. He'll most likely recommend it, but make sure you get the tuna spareribs... it's not to be missed. You'll probably spend around 40USD per person, less if you don't drink.

I recommend calling ahead to reserve a seat as the place is always packed. Otherwise, you'll end up eating on the sidewalk like we did last time.

Kaikaya website (for telephone and directions)

Sep 23, 2004 | Filed Under: Food & Drink, Travel |

Prada Tokyo

Prada Tokyo


Prada and H&deM have really hit it out of the park with this one. Just a quick shot for now. I'll put up a full entry under architecture in Figure/Ground in the coming days.

Sep 21, 2004 | Filed Under: Architecture & Design |

Off to Asia!

In a couple of hours, I'll be on the plane, beginning my 8-week, 4-city romp through East Asia (Tokyo->Taipei->Seoul->Shanghai).

I'm planning to use as an outlet to post stories and photos from my travels that don't necessarily fit the type of narrative that I wish to maintain over at Figure/Ground. Figure/Ground started out life as the Rhapsody Travelogues. At first, it was very story-oriented: I would find pictures to fit the stories and anecdotes that I wanted to tell. Over the years, the emphasis on stories faded away and the photography took center stage. And that's fine, it's a direction that I consciously took. But that meant there are stories that I wanted to tell but can't because there are no good photographs to accompany them.

This is where will come in. I'm planning to have frequent updates about the trip on this site during my travels. There might be stories or funny observations. Or maybe there will be photos that aren't necessarily great but show something interesting. And at the conclusion of the trip, I will still put up my customary entry on Figure/Ground.

That's all just a very long-winded way of saying: check this space often!

Sep 20, 2004 | Filed Under: Announcements, Travel |

Photos of Gehry's Stata Center Posted on Figure/Ground

20040917stata.jpg[From Figure/Ground] I've been sitting on these photos for almost a month now. I think partly because I just wasn't that excited by the building. It's a bit cluttered when you try to take the whole complex in at once. But examined up close, it has its moments.

Before you jump to the gallery, I want to leave you with a quote that I read last year by Hugh Pearman that neatly sums up my feelings about Gehry:

Gehry has his detractors, usually people who are suspicious of the idea of architecture as sculpture. There does not at first seem to be a lot of form-follows-function about his work. My own doubts about Gehry tend to build up over time in this way—and then I go to see one of his buildings, and come away charmed. Gehry, who for the first half of his career had an utterly pragmatic grounding in reality working for big commercial firms of architects, has never lost that practical touch. Inside, his buildings work. They are not haphazard. Every space is thought through.

Click here to see the gallery at Figure/Ground.

Sep 17, 2004 | Filed Under: Architecture & Design, Photos |

New Cooper Academic Building's Design Unveiled

100% pre-schematic sketch by Thom Mayne

As previously mentioned, Thom Mayne unveiled the conceptual design for the new Cooper academic building today at noon. If you know me at all, you know that's way earlier than I care to wake up, so I didn't attend the presentation. I did, however, make it to the reception at night to check out the opening of the exhibition featuring the design. (Plus get some free wine and hors d'oeuvres. There's nothing quite like free-loading off Cooper, reminds me of the good ol' days.)

Described as a "vertical piazza," the glass-enclosed nine-story building has a soaring atrium inside with views of the Foundation Building across Third Avenue. Rather than me try to describe it in words, you should go see the exhibition at Cooper (the pictures in the NY Times article linked above doesn't do it justice). It's really quite a wonderful design.

If my classes were in a building like this, I might have showed up for a few more of them. Just my luck that I went to an old, crappy building for high school (Stuyvesant) and shortly after I leave, bam! a new high tech building with state-of-the-art everything opened. And then, I went to an even crappier building for college and now they decide to build something that is worthy of a world-class institution instead of the local-community-technical-trade-school of a building that I went to. Do I sound bitter? You bet I do.

The exhibition is at the Houghton Gallery through October 23, 2004 (Mon-Fri 11-7, Sat 12-5, closed Sundays). Houghton is on the 2nd floor of the Foundation Building for those not in the know. And if you don't even know where the Foundation Building is, then I can't help you.

Update: Cooper has put up a site about the new building. Lots of contents are still not available though.

Sep 14, 2004 | Filed Under: Architecture & Design |

Thom Mayne to Present Design for New Cooper Building Tomorrow

Thom Mayne will unveil the conceptual design for the new Cooper Union academic building tomorrow (9/14) at noon in the Great Hall. Following the presentation, there will be a reception on the 2nd floor and the exhibition of the design will open in the Houghton Gallery.

There has not been a good building project associated with the Cooper Union since the renovation of the Foundation Building (the engineering building looks like a bad 70s-era junior high school), I hope this breaks that trend. It's a wonder Cooper architecture students aren't more ashamed of their own school (quite the opposite, in fact).

Sep 13, 2004 | Filed Under: Architecture & Design |

Tivo and Netflix to Join Forces

Tivo+NetflixNewsweek is reporting that Tivo and Netflix are about to announce a partnership. While I don't use Netflix, I have been a loyal Tivo owner since their earliest days; and if they don't mess up the pricing and execution of this Netflix-on-Tivo idea (a big if, but those are two pretty cool companies), I just might become a Netflix subscriber as well.

This could help give Tivo some independence from DirecTV (an astounding 78% of new Tivo subscribers from the last quarter were DirecTV customers). Or this might just piss DirecTV off enough (by stealing their PPV movie business) that they stop promoting DirecTivo and drop Tivo altogether after their current deal expires.

9/30 Update: It's official.

Sep 6, 2004 | Filed Under: Entertainment, Internet, Technology |