Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Resto Review: Khao San Road in Toronto

A Perfectly Reasonable Thai Place/ A Far Cry from the Real Khao San Road

You've just met your friend's 'meh' boyfriend. He's not someone you would call up for a drink or anything, not that you have anything against him but when your friend eagerly wants to know what you thought of him you struggle to respond. And so with that polite enthusiasm when  describing someone we had no exceptional opinion of, you reply, "'he's nice." You know what I'm talking about, that over-compensatory upward inflection tinged with a sprinkle of defensiveness as if our unspoken thoughts had been exposed nude to the world.  Khao San Road, the new Thai restaruant in Toronto is a nice place.

This article summed up in one big Larry "meh" face

I had been very excited to experience this restaurant, as I am back in T Dizzle for my French visa and looking to update The Indie Guide with some rare ethnic gems, but the only experience I had was a remarkable amount of ordinary, like the sedimentary rocks of the resto world or something.

First of all, it doesn't do justice to its namesake, the infamous chaotic and scummy but loads of fun backpacker spot of Khao San  Road in Bangkok (think opening scene of The Beach with Lionardo Dicaprio). I had a very interesting experience there a couple months ago that is still seared into my memory. I will blog about it someday.  Anyways, an unremarkable Khao San Road may seem rather like an oxymoron but not in Toronto. This version of dining is fine; the ambiance was rather basic with only a cool chalk board wall that stood out. It was actually quite loud making my reunion with my highschool friends into a shouting match. But not the sort of loud that gets you excited about life and socializing as say the real Khao San Road, just annoyingly so. Definitely do not take an intimate date there! The demographic is mid 20's to older and the prices are nothing to tweet about. However, one good thing Sibel, an old friend of mine dining with me observed, "The tables are sturdy." Score! You don't get that just anywhere.

In the Holy Restaurant Trinity of food, price, and ambiance, at least one thing must excel to find parking in my heart..which Khao San Road fails to do.

Yet the place has been drawing a lot of attention. On Twitter it was recommended to me by @wucandoit who had heard good things but hadn't been there herself and my close friend had told me of the same place (sorry ans!). The line was huge to get a table, so the publicity is definitely good (good hype from its sister resto Sukhothai), but somehow this location just failed to impress. I had got my staple of red curry with rice for 12 CAD. While the portions were pretty large, the taste lacked the spicy dynamic you find in more authentic and smaller Thai restaurants in Toronto, like my beloved Chiang Mai on Baldwin that passed away in 2010. The Thai Ice Tea was pretty expensive at 4.5 CAD and just way too sweet.  Service was slow but nice at least.

My beloved, if you had a gravestone I'd leave flowers for you.  Truly the best Thai food in Toronto. Where did you go?

As I said, the place is perfectly reasonable, not much to complain about but not really my thing. In my Holy Restaurant Trinity of food, price, and ambiance, at least one thing must excel for it to end up in my Indie Guides slash my heart, which Khao San Road fails to do.  It's my firm belief that Toronto is the best place in the world to eat ethnic foods (read here), but this catchy named fake  Khao San Road just does not do Toronto nor its namesake justice.  If people love it I think it's because it's easy and accessible decent Thai food in the centre of the entertainment district and people feel part of the resto culture scene going there, unlike the badass and sometimes risky mom n' pop shops this guide goes gaga over. But as I said, I would not take a date there, it's not even that trendy.  Know that there is definitely better in this city, and I. Will. Find. It.

Khao San Road: 326 Adelaide St. West (between Peter St. and Widmer St.), 647-352- 5773,

Alas, the hunt for a great Thai gem in Toronto continues, as well as any other resto gold nuggets in the city! I am only here for a couple more weeks so please share your summer's top resto picks! I apologize if this has come off too harsh, it's only my opinion (which probably suffers from being spoiled on Thailand's food itself too recently). But whateves, looking forward to going food hunting some more.  The next Thai place best make the cut, yo.  Next on the exploration list is definitely Guu, a new Japanese place that everyone is raving about!

 Exceptional Awesomeness in Toronto...
A Guide to Cool and Cheap Eats in Toronto

In Pictures: This is my City

Indie Guide to Nightlife

Best Vintage Shopping and Asian Imports

Music: The Way My Heart Beats

Whether it be 'Meh' feelings about girls or restaurants,The Good Shoes, an Indie English Pop Band says it best while giving you a melodic pop/indie rock song to sing your heart out too! It's not this-week new or anything but still will find a warm place in your playlist.

Download: The Way My Heart Beats-The Good Shoes.mp3

Monday, June 27, 2011

From Bollywood to Bumfruit Nowhere Canada

My Super Canadian Life Return

When one of my closest buddies invited me to his friend's farm for a hoe-down near Niagra falls with square dancing and a dj called Rockin' Robin in a barn, there was no way in hell my Canadianness deprived self could say no. After 14 months away from the great white north, hanging out in Whiteyville Canada seemed like the best way to re-initiate myself. We even camped out in a tent (that I won in Tim Horton's Roll up the Rim to Win Contest!). Because the tent belongs to my Guyanese calypso dancing family who knows nothing about camping, it has officially been named the Soca Dome, as all great homes should be named. Pictures and good times courtesy of Katie Hinks, a talented and lovely graphic designer in Toronto. Thanks gyal!

My Movember Rebellion

Movember Rebellion part 2. Canadians invented plaid bt-dubz. Whereas the fashion is dying out around the world after a Canadiana craze took over in 2009-2010, plaid will never die here! Live strong, Lumberjack stereotypes!

You can either get this when you come to Canada or..

Bollywood!! This weekend was the IIFA (International Indian Film Awards) which brought a billion people to Toronto (mostly brown, obvi) and while meeting up with my old partner in crime, we somehow made it into this fancy exclusive Bollywood charity event. ("Somehow" being her main squeeze Brooks, who is a bad ass film director.)

We saw this famous singer from some movie called Guru (I think...). Please forgive me, Bollywood fanatics (like my family!), but I had no idea who all these famous people were. Apparently the woman who was to win the Lifetime Achievement award was sitting behind us.. This weekend of Bollywood has actually gotten me pretty obsessed. They are all so beautiful, gave me lots of inspiration for hair, makeup and dresses because I feel bodytype/skin solidarity (big hips!). The movies themselves though need a bit more complexity to float my boat.

There are so many faces to Canada, and this weekend made me remember why I love this country (also the best eating ever, find the Indie Guide here)!

Lastly, a highlight of my weekend: GoT

 Long Distance Lovin to the Geekiness Maxitude!! Another way (besides the three I listed) to stay connected is to watch movies together or in this case GAME OF THRONES aka the best show on television right now, via skype!

Music: My personal fav from Bollywood

James, the big ginger above said I was" a white girl in a brown body" which I resented very much. Anyways, in subconscious rebellion I spent all today watching Bollywood films with my family. I do love me some Indian music, and here is one of my fav's to help you sort through the thousands. Eat it, Sasquatch man! (If you have suggestions for your best bollywood hits, let us know!)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Happy Birthday to Me

Time Travel to 1987 or How Lil' Fel turned into a Travel Addicted Monster

June 21, 1987. 24 goddamn years ago, my mother popped out this little Asian looking nugget. I was one of the first grandchildren born and I rewarded them good on this summer solstice by pooping all over my incubator while my family watched their precious new member's first  moments. Showed them good that I wasn't part of the system!

1991. Rebellious curled lip smile showing off the infamous Family Gap. Not happy at all to be wearing pink. Age 4 in Junior Kindergarden. Major events this year: learned to tie my show laces, discovered my addiction to high places when I started climbing my apple tree, realized I loved some instrument called the French Horn because it was pretty, and took the training wheels off my bike (which was the biggest thing ever. My first means to go exploring the great unknowns of my neighbourhood). Big year for Lil'Fel. 

10 years later: For my 14th birthday I got my hair professionally dyed BLUE. Here it is faded to some gross green. And what is with the rocker ball chain necklace and 3 ear piercings/ear?   No comment. In highschool and middle school my hair went from pink to purple blue and finally...wait for it..dreadlocks. I was into KORN and Pennywise and snowboarding. F*ck the system blah blah.  In 2001 my restless spirit embodied itself mainly through my appearance.  As I became older, I realized there were cooler ways to be adventurous.  I dreamed of being a photojournalist mainly so I could rock out around the world and write, then I chose international relations as a program for university because being a diplomat and being able to live everywhere seemed like the best deal eva..

Now, I'm here. 24 years later. Did I become the journalist or the diplomat? No. But those aspirations drove me to be the person I am today, from studying abroad at SciencesPo for its reputation in IR, to living in Thailand and Indonesia to work with international organizations. However, it was this year I realized that I wanted something between int'l relations and journalism. Something more creative, but where I could write and be awesome. And so..just yesterday I just got offered a position in a media agency that specializes in communications for governments, non-profits, embassies and like interesting people overall in PARIS!! My first real job, what will the next ten years bring? They say age is only a number, but today I am really about to grow up.

Oh yea..I'm back in the city of my birth. LET'S PARTY HARD(Y) !!!

I'm not part of the system! I'M AN ADULT.

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Friday, June 3, 2011

London vs Paris (vs. America)

The first 5 things my eyeballs saw in London
So, I was here in London three years ago but I don't think it really counts. It was only for a weekend and on a school trip with SciencesPo for the Weekend Integration (like Freshman week). We spent the whole time drunk, partying in Kings College and speaking French (with some Top Shop and Burger King being the only culture I took in). Anyways, I'm here for a job interview (waiting to hear back from them) and taking the time to enjoy this city like a real lass. Below are my very astute and well thought out observations of the city upon my first couple days here.

1. The French weren't wrong. It's definitely European New York. There are houses on the streets, everything in North and East London is a bit more grungier, the bars and nightlife seem just more American unlike the beauty that surrounds everything in Paris. Also, the diversity of people make me feel like I'm in NY or Toronto, which is cool (hello my fellow brown brothers!). Whether the American feeling is for better or for worse, I'm not sure, I'll see tonight when I see Is TROPICAL  (who I just posted about) woot!

2. English are not that ugly. I'm sorry but I just kind of thought that in comparison to the French and having grown up watching Mr. Bean, that the English were just all weird teethed mates. But actually walking around the city I was super impressed by the style and the charming faces that surrounded me. The style is much less conservative than Paris and is filled with funky tights and bright colours. I'd have to say the people are much better looking than anywhere in NY or Canada and the accents are a bonus!

3. I have to be wary of getting stabbed by girls. There's something sinister feeling when you walk by certain groups that I never once felt in Paris. I don't like it. I have prepared my mean Scarborough face to ward off arseholes and lay some smackdown if need be this weekend (I'm obviously kidding myself. I'll get eaten alive by butch English girls).

4.  It feels more like Canada. The parks are much more natural than Paris. You're allowed to sit on the grass, whoah, whereas in Paris a majority of the fields are meant for looking at, wtf. The nature itself looks Canadian with soft grass and oak like trees that I used to love climbing as a youth.

5. You WILL go poor here. To take the "tube" did you know it costs 4 pounds for one way? That's like 6-7 dollars to use public transportation! In Paris it's around 2 USD and in Toronto about the same.  Absolute bollocks. McDonalds is more expensive than in Paris too! The Royal Cheese (quarter pounder) is a whole euro cheaper in France. I haven't bought much else, but with staples in life such as fastfood and public transport being hella expensive I don't want to imagine the other costs of living. There are entrance fees to most clubs here too, but at least they're cheaper than Toronto (here it's 5 dollars). I think if you are a poor student, Paris although expensive in itself, is much more livable than London and why I'd rather spend my vacation there than here.

This is only the beginning. Let's see how the weekend goes. Have a good one everyone and please feel free to share your experiences or recommendations on London!

While on the topic of charming Englishmen, Alex Turner and the Arctic Monkeys have just released their new album Suck it and See. Not quite sure if I'm digging it yet because I haven't heard it all but feels a bit too rock and roll for my tastes. What's your take?

Indie Guide to Paris: Eyes Wide Open for Stan Kubrick Expo

My Strangelove for Stan or How to Spend an Evening in Paris without Drinking

Stanley Kubrick was unknowingly one of my favourite directors before I even knew or cared what a director was. In middle school I had memorized quotes from Full Metal Jacket to effectively diss my friends:

Me: "How tall are you, little Suzie ?"
Little Suzie:  "I dunno, 4''5?"
Me (snickering in anticipation): 4'5''? I didn't know they stacked shit that high! *muahaha Annoying Orange laugh as I ran away.

In highschool, I hosted a movie marathon Night of Horror with friends and spent most of it smooching the guy I liked except for when The Shining came on..which was the only one to scare the teen love out of me.

I had waited two long days for A Clockwork Orange to download off Limewire and had watched it every other night before bed (these were the days before blogging and facebook. Donnie Darko was also on this weird obsessive list). I confused and worried my young self with how humourous Alex kicking the shit out of his friends to classical music was. Was I supposed to be laughing?

Miniature model of the set in Dr. Strangelove

But when Uni came and I started to get a clue. We had to watch Dr. Strangelove for my second year International Relations class to analyze Mutually Assured Destruction in a more fun way. That was the moment when I realized this dude Stanley was pretty damn cool and pursued watching his work just for the sake of it being by him.

With friendboy Big P we watched 2001 together and felt all the soundless awe and bewilderment imaginable as if we were both in the 60's and untouched by the wonders of modern movie effects. The larger than life soundtrack, and the ape thing smashing the skulls in the beginning still linger both lovingly yet all uncomfortably in my memory (like all of his films see to do). 

That's why when friendboy told me he had free tickets to the Stanley Kubrick Expo at la Cinemateque francaise, Humbert levels of desire took me over.  It took us a month to find the time between partying and working though, but finally we made a date on a Sunday evening (along with trying an Indonesian restaurant) and did the deed.

The expo was divided by movie and holds old props, scripts, financial statements of all his films, hate mail, fan mail, costumes and everything you can imagine and will be more than enough to indulge you intense fan buffs. For friendboy, an aspiring film producer and director he particularly was into the process of making the films, the budgets, the theory in the filmmaking. He took forever to get through Kubrick's earliest films (apparently his first feature film lost 20,000 dollars), whereas I was dying to know about the stories and the writing process. I particularly liked the Lolita bit, where he explains his regrets about making the movie and how much he had to tone down the steamy love scenes. It was cool because he used humour and music to express what he wasn't permitted to show.

The next Kubrick of the internet?Check out Ninth Pole's new site:

The expo is a massive pleasure and gives you the chance to shortly relive all your favourite Kubrick moments whilst diving deeper than you could have thought into the world of his film making. Coming out of it we both had the urge to re-watch all the Kubrick films. Truth, you'll have a craving that needs to be satisfied. Next one on the list for me is Eyes Wide Shut, which I've avoided seeing because Tom Cruise makes me want to punch him in the kidneys..Anyways enjoy!

Alternative names for Dr. Strangelove.. Amazing!!

Exposition Stanley Kubrick
Until July 31st 2011

Monday-Friday :12-7pm except closed on Tuesday
Thursday: 12-10pm
Weekends: 10am-8 pm

Cinémathèque française - musée du Cinéma
51   rue de Bercy 
75012  PARIS

8 euros regular price
6.5 euros reduced (bring your student cards!!)

One of the coolest new music videos around
Speaking of wicked film making and directing, check out this bad ass music video! The artist, Kitsune Maison produced 'Is Tropical' (NOT THE GREEKS) have their latest video done in big style. Megaforce, the same who made Kid Cudi's trippy but legendary Pursuit of Happiness video has done it again. This time infusing you with the joy it is to be a child again. I'm sort of pissed that this is portrayed as only the imagination of little boys, with not one single girl in it. Definitely wasn't true of my child hood where we played with ropes and bondage, bazookas and lots of karate moves (Ninja Turtles and Karate Kid were major influences for a 90's childhood)!