Thursday, April 03, 2008

The Name Game

Yes, it's been awhile since I've written and I'm still in the midst of writer's block. My birthday was a couple of days ago and I had quite a nice time of it, but someone was missing. A call would have been nice, you know?

Oh well, so much for those hopes and dreams.

I've been watching a lot of Kitchen Nightmares on YouTube, so my mind (and therefore my world) is filled with Gordon Ramsay's "fuck this", "fuck that", "fuck me", "fuckin' hell" and "you're a fuckin' donkey." I mean really, this is not a healthy way to live. Everywhere I eat now, I want to ask the chef: "did you even taste your fucking food before serving this shit to me?"

And unfortunately, I've endured some disappointing meals lately.

Like the God-awful "Fried Kim Chee & Tofu" at the ill-conceived Aloha Tokyo here in Baltimore. Warmed kim chee, topped with nori strips on top of a sliced tofu cake. There's nothing "fried" about that dish. Just limp-dick bland tofu and warm (what the fuck?) kim chee. I really did wonder if those people bothered tasting the food before putting it on the menu. How about deep-frying the tofu for some texture? That might have been exciting.

Of course, I knew we were in trouble right off the bat when I asked the sushi chef for a spicy tuna temaki, or hand roll. He looked at me like he was a deer in headlights. He didn't have a fucking clue.

Then there was the sad "bulgogi roll" - a sushi roll filled with cold bulgogi Korean-style beef. I really felt as though I was in Gordon Ramsay's Nightmare. I could go on but I'll only piss myself off and rant about my house shouting "What the fuck were you thinking?"


Today, we checked out Baltimore Pho. Finally, supposedly good Vietnamese has landed in Baltimore by Hollins Market. The place looks just like a Las Vegas nightclub should look. In my usual jeans and black t-shirt, I was decidedly underdressed for this decor. Bright red leather seats with matching chopsticks and eye-catching logo'd tableware, it was stunning.

The first thing I noticed was that this pho restaurant had no Asians anywhere in sight. In fact, I was the only person of Asian ethnicity in the dining room. It didn't bode well.

Since my seat had a view of the door to the kitchen, I caught a glimpse of what might have been the black hair of an Asian man (hopefully Vietnamese) who might have been making out food. Now, don't get me wrong, I have no problem with a team of Mexicans or Latinos cooking my French meal, but I'm comforted by a Vietnamese guy cooking my pho.

The food was pretty good. Fresh spring rolls, fried spring rolls, fish cakes and beef pho. Unlike my favorite places in Columbia and Honolulu, the pho selection is quite limited - but at least they will serve me a side of raw meat (which I love). Their pho is missing the tripe and tendons that make a good pho and maybe that's why I found the beef broth to be lacking. It lacked body. It lacked "ooomph". It lacked soul. I put the usual basil, sprouts and lime but it was still lacking. Hell, I even added a lot of salt - and I've never added salt to my pho. Ever. Still lacked the body. The chili pepper helped but wasn't enough.

When it comes to pho, I want to guzzle the broth. It should be rich, beefy and with that weird almost sweet twang that sets it apart. Again, this pho was like it was tuned down for white people. Jesus Christ, it's like the Outback of pho.

But enough about those food adventures, the reason for this post is to ask your help. Once again, I'm looking to open a new joint and have started discussion with several developers for a proper location and I need a name. It needs to be a good one and one that communicates. It's going to be a coffee and cuisine concept that will bring the vision of the barista chef together in a forward-thinking, progressive and delicious way. We're planning on utilizing as many sustainable and environmentally-friendly practices as possible, as well as sourcing top-quality ingredients from local suppliers. Casual but serious, though not a white tablecloth environment.

As far as names go, the sky is the limit - just so long as you don't suggest those fucking stupid coffeeshop names you find in every city like: Daily Grind, Common Grounds, Central Perk, Perking Lot. No cutesy coffee puns. And nothing that ends in a fucking "Z", like Grindz. Bloody Hell. Nothing that ends in "coffee" either - no Spro Coffee, Hines Coffee, Stumptown Coffee, etc. It's meant to be more than that.

And of course, no names that are already being used in another city, like: Starbucks, French Laundry, Alinea, etc.

Some of the names that have already been suggested are:

- Spiral Jetty
- Persephone
- Level
- entonces
- kayumanggi
- talyer

So please, any ideas you have, drop me a line or leave it in the comments. I'll compile a list and report back and maybe you'll have a hand in naming our next venture!