Tag Archives: canada

Trying Henry Lau’s Taiwanese restaurant in Apgujeong

The spread at Xiao Zhan (샤오짠) — Henry Lau’s Taiwanese restaurant in Apgujeong. SCREAMfmLondon

Henry Lau is a busy man. The singer/musician/actor/songwriter who speaks five languages also recently opened his first restaurant in Seoul. And here I am, barely managing to post one blog entry every six months…

Xiao Zhan, located on a cozy Apgujeong side street. SCREAMfmLondon

Henry is primarily known for his music as a member of Super Junior-M, the Chinese sub-unit of Korean boyband Super Junior. He’s also previously shown his passion for food by appearing on the competition show Master Chef Korea – Celebrity and in the film Final Recipe, in which he portrayed a struggling chef.

However, this April, he completed his ten-year contract with SM Entertainment and officially left the group and the company. Now, he appears to be open to more solo opportunities and business ventures (such as restaurant management?).

I’m definitely not a big fan of Super Junior (sorry… sorry), but I love food, and Henry’s restaurant is conveniently located a few blocks from my apartment in Apgujeong, so I decided to come along with my friend for the grand opening.

Pai gu fan and niu rou mien at Xiao Zhan Taiwanese restaurant in Apgujeong. SCREAMfmLondon

If you don’t know, Henry was raised in Canada but is of Hong Kong and Taiwanese descent. His restaurant, Xiao Zhan, pays tribute to his heritage by serving up Chinese and Taiwanese dishes.

The restaurant is cozy and warmly-decorated, and its offerings are affordably-priced. Although it’s located in the heart of Apgujeong’s shopping district, it can be found on a less-trafficked side street rather than a main thoroughfare.

We ordered pai gu fan (8,000 KRW) and niu rou mien (9,000 KRW), along with some Taiwanese beer.

Niu rou mien: beef noodley goodness at Xiao Zhan. SCREAMfmLondon

The niu rou mien is a tasty beef noodle soup. The broth is comforting and flavorful with a little kick of spicy peppercorn. The beef is soft and tender, melting in your mouth as you enjoy the large serving.

The pai gu fan is like fried pork chop over rice. The pork pieces were crispy, although rather dry. The delicious bok choy was probably my favorite part of this dish. Overall, the rice-to-toppings ratio was too far off. I had no interest in eating all that white rice when there were far more tasty things on the menu.

Next time, I’d like to try the Taiwan-style popcorn chicken (7,000) that I saw on so many other tables. It smelled amazing, and I was jealous that we didn’t order any of our own.

Pai gu fan: fried pork chop and like 20 pounds of white rice. SCREAMfmLondon

Xiao Zhan, with its close proximity to other tourist hotspots, would be a fun place for k-pop fans to visit in Seoul. The price point is certainly reasonable, and the delectable beef noodles offer a great taste of Taiwan.


 

 

 

Xiao Zhan (샤오짠)
657-22 Sinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu
Hours: daily from 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. for lunch, 4:30 – 9 p.m. for dinner

Advertisements

Film review: ‘Tusk’ (#WalrusYes)

TUSK

Justin Long and Michael Parks star in Kevin Smith’s “Tusk.” Photo courtesy of A24 Films.

Here’s the bottom line: “Tusk” kind of blows. But. I understand why it blows, and I even appreciate that it blows.

I attended a screening of the film at the ArcLight Cinema in Hollywood, after which director Kevin Smith explained and giggled about his latest horror-comedy.

I’ll try to keep it brief about the actual movie, because the actual movie is not really the point of this movie. The story follows an obnoxious podcaster, Wallace (Justin Long), who travels from Los Angeles to Manitoba, Canada in search of a subject for his next broadcast. He meets with Howard Howe (Michael Parks), a retired adventurer who is looking for a lodger to share his isolated mansion. Howe begins telling fantastic stories of his various journeys until one thing leads to another and it becomes clear that he intends to butcher Wallace, sew him into a suit made of human skin and make him live as Howe’s personal walrus companion, Mr. Tusk. You know how these things happen.

There are a handful of laugh-out-loud funny scenes, but “Tusk” never really gets creepy enough. I was expecting special effects makeup artist Robert Kurtzman’s Leatherface-style walrus suit to be pretty disturbing, but it was just a disappointment.

“Tusk” features some amazing collaborations with other artists, though. Parks is excellent throughout the film. He is equal parts dignified and unhinged, and he appears to take the role incredibly seriously, which is a feat in itself. Johnny Depp appears as French-Canadian private investigator Guy Lapointe, and both Depp’s and Smith’s teenage daughters make cameos as convenience store clerks, which is cute. The icing on the cake is the soundtrack, which includes Fleetwood Mac’s “Tusk” (of course), as well as a maudlin closing track recorded for the film by former My Chemical Romance frontman Gerard Way.

IMG_20140921_145402

Director Kevin Smith speaks at the ArcLight Cinema in Hollywood after a screening of his horror-comedy “Tusk.” SCREAMfmLondon

So, no, the movie “Tusk” is not very good. Like, at all. Not at all. I don’t really have any desire to ever watch it again. But the story behind it is interesting, electrifying and inspirational.

The tale of “Tusk” began a little more than a year ago during an episode of SModcast, the podcast that Smith hosts with his friend Scott Mosier. It starts with an offhanded observation that a joke real estate listing sounds like the premise for a horror movie and turns into about an hour of speculation and laughter about what that horror movie would look like. And now here we are with the fully-realized thing in our actual midst.

It’s not very often that someone happens to record and broadcast the exact moment they conceptualize what will go on to become a major motion picture. With “Tusk,” Smith makes the filmmaking process completely transparent, from the original inspiration to the fleshing out of a plot, through production and culminating with a finished product. He shows the audience that creating isn’t such a difficult process: you too can turn a stupid idea into a stupid reality if you work hard enough at it.

The overall message to take away from “Tusk” is that you should have faith in your stupid ideas. Bring them to fruition. Who cares if other people think they suck? That’s fine. At least you did something you wanted to do. Lots of things suck, and some of them could be yours if you set your mind to it.

I didn’t even like the movie, but I still left the theater feeling incredibly excited about all the stupid dreams I have to pursue. As Kevin Smith told us during his Q&A session, we’re all going to die. Might as well make a goofy horror movie with your friends. Why not?

‘Tusk’
Release Date:
Sept. 19, 2014
Director: Kevin Smith
Starring: Michael Parks, Justin Long and Haley Joel Osment
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Horror
Rating: R for some disturbing violence/gore, language and sexual content.
Grade: D+