Saturday, March 31, 2007

7 miles, Phantom of the Opera, Okonomi House, One of a Kind Show, again

What a day. After running 7 miles through High Park this morning (Darcy, Koto, and I are in training for the Mississauga Half Marathon), Koto and I went to the matinee performance of Phantom of the Opera. When I bought the tickets a few weeks ago, I was overcome with buyer's remorse because the tickets were very expensive, I'd seen it already, and it is obviously so cheesy. But, I wanted to see it as an adult (last time I was 18).

I think that the first time you see any show will remain the best in your mind. If you see the same show again and again, you always hope that they will remake the first one you saw. I remember so many details from the one in Montreal like the beautiful glass chandelier that free-fell from the ceiling, Christine's spooky reflection in the mirror that pitched forward and scared everyone, and the menagerie of taxidermied animals that the phantom assembled to make his underground world seem welcoming. All those details were either absent or toned down in today's show, so that was a bit disappointing. But, overall it was a very good production. All of the lead actors were competent in their singing, acting, and dancing, the comedic portions of the play came off very well, the costumes were striking and appropriate, and the sets were grand and expertly changed. And I even cried, so there. I think it was a very good showing of a very over-the-top musical.

After the show, we subwayed up to Yonge and Bloor to go to Okonomi House. I had heard and read a lot about this place over the past few years and I'd been dying to try it. Their specialty, Okonomiyaki, is basically a pancake filled with cabbage and other ingredients such as pork, chicken, beef, or shrimp. My parents made it a few times at home, but this was the first time I'd seen it served in a restaurant.

I'd read somewhere that Okonomi House has been around since 1978 and it looks like it hasn't changed much since then, which is a good thing. It's casual, affordable, and has lots of vinyl. It's a total mom and pop joint run by a first generation Japanese family, which lends an air of authenticity. The menu is small, simple, and engraved in a permanent sign above the counter, so I think that they have been making the same stuff really well for a very long time. Stuff like terikayi, yakisoba, yakiniku, and okonomiyaki.

When you sit down, they give you menus along with an order form and pen like you get at some Chinese places. I always enjoy ordering like this because I tend to speak softly and I think I exasperate waiters. We ordered edamame to start, and we decided to share one pork and shrimp okonomiyaki and one yakisoba.

The edamame were lovely and nicely salted. I always feel so virtuous when I eat them. I got served the okonomiyaki first, so I ate the first half. When my parents made it at home, I found that it tended to get very large and thick. Maybe the ingredients were cut into bigger pieces? This one was much thinner, but was still full of goodies. They serve it to you on a hot, iron skillet, so it retains heat well. The entire thing is covered with a savoury sauce (not tonkatsu sauce though; we couldn't figure out what it was) followed by a dollop of mayonnaise. For an extra 50 cents, they will bring you a small dish of shaved bonito and a shaker of seaweed, both of which you can sprinkle on top. When you sprinkle bonito flakes on hot food, they curl up from the heat and look like they're alive. I remember when I was in university, I put some on rice and told my roommate that they were bugs. She believed me and screamed so loud. I took a little video so you could see what I mean. I really liked the okonomiyaki. It was tasty, generously filled, and reasonably priced ($6).

While I was working through the okonomiyaki, Koto started on the yakisoba, which is basically stir-fried noodle with vegetables and meat. This particular one had onions, cabbage, pork, chicken, and beef. Even though it was a noodle dish, it came alongside a scoop of white rice. I love double starch. Although it was nicely cooked and not too greasy, it was a little bland for my taste. And the noodle was strangely reminiscent of spaghetti (although I know it wasn't). If you have a choice, I'd go for the okonomiyaki instead.

For all that food plus two soft drinks, the bill came to a crazy $23. I love this place. I wish it was in my neighbourhood. And I hope it never changes.

Full of warm food, we made our way down to Exhibition Place to spend a few hours at the One of a Kind Show. Koto has a keen interest in jewelry, bags, clothes, food, and bath products, so I knew that we needed a head start on the show even though we're going again tomorrow. We adopted a more free form strategy than Diane and I used on Wednesday. First we made a beeline for the candi factory because Koto needed to stock up on the best underwear in the world. She bought 6 pairs and I went ahead and bought that adorable baby dress I saw on Wednesday even though I don't have a shower to shop for. I'm going to send it to our friends Jack and Dana in Boston for their little Maggie.

Next, we set out to find the NSCAD booth. Apparently, I had browsed through this booth on Wednesday, but since the signage was so small I didn't even know I was there. They had some very nice jewelry, including some rings made of resin with things floating inside like tea leaves and other flakey items. They also had some very wearable (i.e. conservative) t-shirts, cute sculptures of dogs and rodents, greeting cards, bags, pottery, and framed stitchwork. I suppose that the pieces that they choose to bring to the show were the most marketable ones, which means that they left the really crazy/interesting stuff at home. Everything there looked very presentable and of good quality, but nothing struck you as very original or funny or spirited or different. It was on par with everything else at the show. I took lots of pictures of the booth while Koto distracted the girls by trying on the jewelry.

After that we floated around, sampled some chocolate, and Koto tried on lots of jewelry. I ended up buying some cute t-shirts for Ollie, Jack and Dana's little guy, because I can't send that dress to Maggie without a present for him too. One is very brainy with pictures of planets and spaceships, one will probably be a conversation piece with his other 3-year old friends because it has a picture of a cassette tape on it (what's that?), and the last one is a bit edgy with two rubber chickens -- I don't know what he'll make of this one.

We really only scratched the surface today, so tomorrow is going to be a big day at the show. It's nice to go a few times because you can leave something for now and rationalize whether or not you need it. I haven't been doing so well at that. I bought baby clothes without a baby to shop for. You would have too. The dress is adorable.


Jack said...

The dress IS adorable!

And of course Ollie had no idea what a cassette was, so I produced an actual one for him to look at - after which it took him approximately 0.7 seconds to completely unwind it and string it from one end of the house to the other (Please inform your significant other that there will be no rocking out to "G n' R Lies" in the greater Brighton area for the forseeable future).

k-chan said...

I'm so glad you like the dress. And I thought the cassette tape would be a great conversation piece for Ollie and his 21st century little buddies. Darcy might have an extra copy of Lies. If we find it, we'll be sure to send it along. :)