Sunday, April 21, 2013

Today's Special: Trust Me


 I think that I am in love with romantic restaurant resuscitation films.  Like "Today's Special" ("Trust Me", a challenge to customers who seek a little mystery in their dining), a 2009 independent comedy film loosely inspired by Aasif Mandvi's play, Sakina's Restaurant. The film was directed by David Kaplan.

How many of these can you remember?  Most obvious are Bagdad Cafe (Adion, 1988), Big Night (Tucci, 1996), When Fish Fall in Love (Raffie, 2005, in Persian, Iran), Ratatouille (Pinkava, 2007), Blood Diner (Kong, 1987), A Chef in Love (Nana Dzhordzhadze, French, Georgian and Russian, 1997), Chinese Feast (a.k.a. Jin yu man ta, Tsui Hark, 1995) Dinner Rush (Bob  Giraldi, 2999) Eat, Drink, Man, Woman (Ang Lee, 1994), Fried Green Tomatoes (Jon Avnet, 1991), Gas Food Lodging, (Peck, 1992), Heavy (Mangold, 1995), Married to the Mob (Demme, 1988), The Bread, My Sweet (Martin, 2002), Tampopo (Titami, 1987), Wise Guys (De Palma, 1986), Woman on Top
(Torres, 2000), maybe Barbara Broadcast (Metzger, 1977).

[With help from "webmaster (at) gastronomica.org".] 

                                                                             Fish Fall in Love
Today's Special. Below, Tamopo

 Samir (Aasif Mandvi), works brilliantly as a sous chef at an upscale New York restaurant but is passed over when the top spot opens.He quits and just happens to meet an old gent who drives a cab but was once a master chef. Son confronts father who owns Tandoori Palace, a neglected and run down eatery with few customers.  Son takes over the business, contacts cabby to be his mentor, faces down his father, meets lovely blond, and lives happily ever...
Several wonderful, very funny scenes, keep things lively.

 Now, what raises my interest is the article below about a sushi place in L.A. that employs the same signature challenge, "Trust Me"

From Rafu Shimpo, The Los Angeles Daily News, February 2012:


 STUDIO CITY — Sushi Nozawa, a pricey but inelegant eatery that catapulted its sometimes cantankerous owner to heading a mini-chain of modern sushi restaurants across Southern California, is closing Wednesday after 25 years in a Studio City mini-mall.



Famed in the “foodie” community for great sushi, along with its cheap plastic chairs, a sign at the sushi bar read, “Today’s Special: Trust Me.” If diners lingered too long after finishing their food, they were often told in no uncertain terms to get up and leave.
“No talking” and “do not even try to order rolls (or brace for the 'sternest gaze you’ll ever suffer’)” were part of the otherwise highly complimentary review of Nozawa’s eatery in the 2012 Zagat Survey restaurant review book.

OK, this is not a film and NOT even a romantic restaurant story . It's more along the lines of my experience in a small restaurant I visited in Paris in 1957, Roger Grenouille (Roger the Frog), that specialized, of course, in sauteed frog's legs.

The menu was scrawled on a chalk board some 40 meters away, on the back wall. When I complained to the waiter that I couldn't read it, he whipped out binoculars (from where, I cannot imagine) and slammed them, on the table, with a snaral so French that I felt roundly admonished. It was all part of the act of faux nastiness. For the crowd.

We never got to order; he simply brought us the special; Cuisse de grenouilles. He knew we would trust him.

from French-Property.com:

Frogs are a protected species in France, they are now imported from Asia. Preparing frogs legs is simple, just dip them into flour, then add garlic and fry them in olive oil in a pan, for 5 minutes on each side. Outstanding!

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