I Made My Shed the Top Rated Restaurant On TripAdvisor: Once upon a time, long before I began selling my face by the acre for features on VICE dot com, I worked other jobs. There was one in particular that really had an impact on me: writing fake reviews on TripAdvisor. Restaurant owners would pay me £10 and I’d write a positive review of their place, despite never eating there. Over time, I became obsessed with monitoring the ratings of these businesses. Their fortunes would genuinely turn, and I was the catalyst.
A Restaurant Ruined My Life: Seven years ago, I was an analyst for Telefilm Canada, earning a paycheque by sitting in a grey cube and shuffling box office stats. At the end of each day, I would rush home to my wife, two daughters and truest passion: making dinner. The sights and smells of my kitchen were balms to my soul.
Vladimir Mukhin offers Japan a culinary reminder that Russia is just next door: Chef Vladimir Mukhin is spearheading a culinary revolution in Russia. At his Moscow restaurant The White Rabbit, which ranks No. 23 on the list of the world’s best, the bearded 34-year-old is resurrecting food traditions lost during seven decades of Soviet rule and reinventing them for modern times. Mukhin has also taken up the mantle of cultural ambassador, starring in an episode of the Netflix series “Chef’s Table” and traveling the globe to tell the story of Russian gastronomy.
Robots Will Transform Fast Food: Visitors to henn-na, a restaurant outside Nagasaki, Japan, are greeted by a peculiar sight: their food being prepared by a row of humanoid robots that bear a passing resemblance to the Terminator. The “head chef,” incongruously named Andrew, specializes in okonomiyaki, a Japanese pancake. Using his two long arms, he stirs batter in a metal bowl, then pours it onto a hot grill. While he waits for the batter to cook, he talks cheerily in Japanese about how much he enjoys his job. His robot colleagues, meanwhile, fry donuts, layer soft-serve ice cream into cones, and mix drinks. One made me a gin and tonic.
Akiko Katayama: Making the leap from business to food in NYC: One night in October 2002 at home in her tiny studio in Midtown, Manhattan, Akiko Katayama made a deal with herself: She was not going to bed until she had devised an action plan of what she wanted to do with her career — what she really wanted to do. And so she burned the midnight oil — spurred on by “anger and frustration” — right through until daybreak arrived and she had concocted a business plan.
The return of the power restaurant: Some new restaurants you can encounter and assess with dispassionate objectivity. Some you’ve been waiting to go to your whole life. I’m being literal. In the early 1980s, for their wedding anniversary, my parents went to The Four Seasons for dinner. This was a big deal in our house. They had been once before, soon after getting married in 1965. My mother’s salary then, as a newly minted New York City public-school teacher assigned to an elementary school in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, was $5,300 before taxes; my father, variously a cabdriver, optician, civil servant, and eventually CPA, could not have earned much more. Luckily, the pre-theater prix fixe menu was $16.95, a number that nevertheless required, if not scrimping, then at least a deep breath at a time when the fried-shrimp dinner at Lundy Bros., closer to home in Sheepshead Bay, cost a mere three bucks.
With its tachinomiya tradition, is Tokyo ripe for a pintxos revolution? The narrow alleys surrounding Karasumori Shrine in Tokyo’s Shinbashi neighborhood are crammed with tiny bars filled with salarymen making merry on a Friday night. In this milieu of wooden doors and shadowy interiors, the cobalt blue-framed glass storefront of recently opened Txiki Plaka draws the eye like a moth to a porch light. However, the bar stands out for more than its cheerful decor: Txiki Plaka specializes in pintxos, the unique version of tapas found in the Basque region of northern Spain.
The 35 best red wines to drink this Christmas: In the second of my four collections of wines for festive entertaining I recommend these reds, and, in some cases, how they might best be enjoyed. Some of them, particularly the simpler Beaujolais, would make great aperitifs for those who prefer reds to whites. Others are grand enough to be a centrepiece at a special meal. The burgundies and Pinot Noirs may be especially suitable for turkey. Wines are listed in ascending order of price per cl.