s m o r g a s w o r d

Archive for April, 2016|Monthly archive page


In Uncategorized on April 30, 2016 at 9:30 am

Friday. We went back to Momosan and got seated by the bar at the same spot as the last time. We were by the far corner facing the windows and the main door, and the bar kitchen of course, where, while waiting for our food, we got a free tutorial on how to carve a duck (Momosan, being run by a Japanese, promotes a culture of apprenticeship, someone is always shadowing the chef on how to do things.) As before, the service and food was superb. There were no piped in muzak that I was aware of, all the staff were friendly with none of the fakery. Morimoto-san is at his element of doing the rounds, sometimes seating beside diners and doing the pour.

Oh, my favorite appetizer, is the crispy mimiga (fried pork jowl) closely followed by the topogi (rice cake with seaweed wrap). As for ramen, my choice would be the tantan ramen, closely followed by tsukemen. I’m sure all the ramen choices are excellent as any authentic ramen broth, to recall what two Japanese ex-officemates have told me, should be syrupy and should feel that you are eating half a pig. And Momosan, tastes exactly like that. On a Pinoy context, it would be like having a pork sinigang with blendered pork fat thrown in. Delicious.

Tomorrow, my thoughts on  the Philippine presidential election and why I wrote that beauty-contest winning novel.



In Uncategorized on April 24, 2016 at 9:54 pm

There is a myriad number of wrongs when it come to the dining scene of New York. These could be found in one of the issues of The Guardian last January wherein the resident restaurant critic listed down things that restaurants should stop doing this year and the column generated over 2K of comments in as little as 2 hours. Such is the level of offense being felt by the paying patrons of the service industry.

I agree with all of the points, but there are two things that really drives me mental:

One. Deafening noise level. When I say deafening, I mean deafening. Lots of New York restaurants are pumping extremely loud upbeat music. The reason for this is to make each and every diner so uncomfortable so as to hurry up in their eating and get the fuck out. This is very puzzling as I think all New Yorkers and those who visit New York can understand the not so subtle question of: “Can I get you anything else?” But still, most restaurants would subject both diners and staff to these ear-splitting decibels. Four years ago, someone proposed a class action lawsuit in behalf of all the servers who are subjected to this harmful noise about 8 hours per shift. I have walked out of restaurants before even ordering because of noise. Not just because I am old and can no longer take loud noises (some restaurants pump in Metallica’s Black Album, I shit you not, which I really like listening to in my living room or live at the Madison Square Garden, but not in a crowded restaurant) but because I want to talk to my wife or with friends every time we dine out. The worst offender of this stupidity is Momofuku.

Two. Smug servers. This is so apparent nowadays that if it is not irritating, it would almost be funny. I have encountered countless front of house persons who literally give you a frown or that faraway look that conveys I don’t want to serve you. And if ever they engage, they spit out the words, “It would be a two-hour wait,” even though half the dining room is empty. This loathing for customers is also a puzzle as I believe all servers know the dynamic when they work at restaurants: that the customers are the ones paying their salary and the boss is just the conduit that channels the money from one hand to the other. But still, you would be surprised. I have encountered some servers who couldn’t be bothered to put a fake smile, as if they are tortured poets doing the serving on the side. In equal footing, the  offenders of this consumer condescension are: Momofuku, Beyoglu, Mission Chinese, The Catch, Roberta’s. Most, if not all of these, I have never gone back, even if an out-of-towner would pay my dinner. Why dine in a place that makes you feel unwelcome?

Enter Momosan.

Yep, the ramen and sake bar by Morimoto-san.

The one restaurant, so far, who has righted two of my dining nightmares. We have eaten twice since it has opened two weeks ago and both times, I feel the sense that finally, a New York restaurant cares about its patrons.

Is that respect I hear?

The first time we went there, we are not even sure if there is a PA, although when I asked our server, she said that there was and it was on. This was a day after it opened, a Saturday at around 5.30 PM and we have just watched Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible” on Broadway (superb, from the acting to the set to the sound and costume design). We met another couple and conversations were had without an effort to shout or lean in to hear what is being said in our own universe that is a booth for four. The second time we dropped by was last Friday, on impulse, as I met the missus at her Times Square mother ship. We walked the whole way to Momosan and were told that there is going to be a one hour wait, if we are willing. We said we are, and that also, bar seating would not be a problem. I listed my name and then we hang out by the door. Lo and behold, we got seated at a corner by the bar in about 20 minutes. There was music piping in but it was so un-intrusive that it doesn’t even register, all I remember is that it is neither metal nor hip-hop.

Is that genuine care I feel?

The Front of House is a real Front of House. His care for the customer is not in conflict with his command of the service. Both times, he was smiling as he told as the waiting times. The other front of house was also smiling as he surveyed the lines and the tables. Now, don’t get racist and think that this kind of service is an Asian or Japanese thing. Because while one of the FoH was indeed Asian, the other was Caucasian and they both behaved with the same kind of professionalism. None of that-I-am-an-artist-hipster-shit-and-I- am-better-than-you-and-I-would-rather-not-be-here-except-that-my-art-is- unrecognized-and-I-am-broke-as-fuck-so-I might-as-well-offer-my-ass-to-the-Man- and-try-to-earn-an-honest-wage-as-I-pretend-that-I-am-a-Trustafarian. What a relief, indeed, to be greeted by someone who loves his job. As I have said, we were seated before the allotted time was even up, both times. But the excellent service continues with the waitstaff who are polite, un-intrusive, and dedicated. This is consistent across all the servers that we saw. Including Morimoto-san himself who does all things from seating customers to clearing the table to providing a napkin to a customer who has splattered some soup on her phone. And this could be it. The source code. Morimoto-san himself is happy to be at that joint. He does everything with and then some with a smile. On both times I saw him: provide a plastic bib to a customer wearing a dress, place a handbag in one of the bar hangers before seating the customer, have a waitstaff take a photo of him with a customer — plus a safety shot — to avoid that awkward selfie. All these with a sincere smile. He really enjoys what he is doing. The last time we were there, he chatted the missus on how to eat the rice cake, a very nifty trick that works wonders. And on our way out, he also chatted us up to say “Thank You.” As did the very efficient FoH.

As for the food, well, words fail me. All I know is that we are eating there again next week.




In Uncategorized on April 24, 2016 at 1:36 am


The weather has been very friendly to walking the entire weekend, bubbling up and down the mid-60’s. Sunsets beyond 8 PM make me very thankful that I am done, for now, with the two things that need writing. A short story and a stage play. Not writing in this weather is very much appreciated of course, and I am grateful for this mini-vacation. Although there is that fact that not writing is also called research because as a great Irish writer has said, “the best kind of research is the research that you do not yet know as research.”

So. Weather. I arrive home at around 5.45 in the afternoon, greet the doorman, score a bottle or two of Rioja from the purveyor 5 blocks down and then, depending on the mood of the missus, either cook dinner or wait for her for a bite out. Precious real estate on the sidewalks of both our apartment avenues are so enticing that we have started mapping our dinners based on this outdoor seating. At least the UES has plenty to offer, cuisine-wise.

Have caught up on films and two worthwhile titles are: Green Room and The Invitation. Both must-sees, in cinemas, if possible. I used “caught up” because there is not much to see these days.

Catching up on TV. A lot of shows starting tomorrow. The Night Manager promises to be good, but as of now, The Americans is where it is at.

Catching up on my readings. Magazines and the NYT weekender. Done with Granta (Irish Writers! I am so happy!) and has started with The Paris Review. After this, will start with a gothic novel before moving on to the latest paperback from Knausgaard (Book 4).

A single word is telling my brain that it wants to be 140, 000-word novel.

Friday, we ate at Momosan again. Today, we ate at Salvation Burger. I will write a full post of our Momosan experience tomorrow.

Later, friends.



In Uncategorized on April 18, 2016 at 11:37 pm

The deed is fucking done. All I have to do is wait until August. In the meantime, there are a lot of things that need writing. Also, my pop-culture backlog needs to be addressed.

There is relief, of course, every time this happens. The words “Final Draft” followed by a date is the sweetest words in the English language. It gives me permission to let the manuscript be and move on. Moving on usually begins with drinking a copious amount of alcohol. The relief comes from all the non-writing related parts of writing. Formatting, proof-reading, saving back-ups, filing the manuscript in all forms of formats (from doc to pdf to rtf). Another source of relief is being able to finish another manuscript in an antediluvian macbook which hasn’t had a taste of an OS upgrade since the day it was purchased, a week before we immigrated to this US of A. I keep telling myself that I will reward myself with either a new laptop or a a pair of glasses should I win a writing beauty contest but every time it happens, I just don’t see the point. But who knows, this year could be the year.

Now that that is out of the way…

I just want to say that whoever should represent our country should have a global worldview. That is all.


In Uncategorized on April 14, 2016 at 3:32 pm

The line editing begins as soon as I get home. Ruler, red pen, manuscript, and the stopwatch on the iPhone. It is a 90-minuter monologue and this timing is critical as there is no intermission in this 3 act play. I also speak as fast as a Sorkin character and so timing the monologue is key. And as with any editing be it a prose or a poem, reading the words aloud is the way to do it. Descriptions and dialogues that are poorlt constructed will stick out like a red flare. Also, flaws in the structure, internal or otherwise will reveal themselves.
Once the edit is done, I will reward myself with Ramen and a million appetizers at Momosan. The food is as superb as the ambiance and the staff–who are very, very accomodating without being patronising. I can’t wait. So yes, this is my motivation.
Now, I work.


In Uncategorized on April 12, 2016 at 7:26 am

Catching up on my readingsas I take a break before the line edits. The usual magazines (Wired, Esquire, The New Yorker, NYT Sunday Magazine plus the weekend paper.) Around 11 books that are waiting by the bedside table. This month’s issues of The Paris Review and Granta. The book titles will have its own photo and reveal maybe this weekend.

Catching up too, hopefully, on films. At least there is Netflix and Hulu and Amazon Prime video, for the days when the words do not come. If there is one obscure film you need to watch, it is “Suburra” directed by Stefano Sollima. Trust me on this.

Ah, TV, this is the real lag. The DVR is almost full of shows never even began. Then there’s the scripted shows from the above purveyors of binge-watching. I haven’t even started House of Cards. I hope that gets remedied before GoT comes and The Night Manager.

Finally, I need to catch up with humans. For a face to face conversation, preferably over a bottle of wine. Or, a hotpot.



In Uncategorized on April 10, 2016 at 11:25 pm

Done with my full-length stage play written under the project name: Sanib. 


In Uncategorized on April 9, 2016 at 4:46 am

4.30 in the AM and the quest for the words “Curtain Falls” continues.

I just need to write the final scene and I can print this manuscript, forget about it for around two days before I do the line edits. I have brought the big-ass ruler with me that I use in the office doing spreadsheets and such. But before that, printing it of course on cheap bond paper. Words. It is just like magic but real.

Right now, I am in my briefs with two window blinds undrawn. Kids, don’t try this at home. The living room temperatura is at 83 degrees F because we turned the heater on as outside, it is reported that the real feel will be about 28 degrees and snow might actually fall and accumulate later.

With that, the plan for the day is to watch the “The Crucible” on Broadway followed by a bowl of steaming hot ramen in Momosan, the new joint by Morimoto. Then head back home to write some more and print the other manuscript plus a couple of summaries plus an author bio, which to honest, are both a pain to write.


PS: Happy birthday to my first love, G.




In Uncategorized on April 1, 2016 at 10:49 pm

Status report:

13 pages til “curtain falls” and these pages will be subdivided into three sequences. Action sequences via a monologue. The stage play is 90 minutes long about a single person narrating an event.
Sleeping beside my macbook, a post it, a moleskin, a pen of course. I pride myself on having a serviceable handwriting so all notes are still readable when I awake.
Tonight we sleep with the AC set to 45 degrees F as it is currently 77 outside. But there will be snow this Tuesday. What the fuck indeed.
Now I sleep & wake up at 3 AM to write.


UPDATE: Woke up at 3 AM on the dot without any alarm and has been writing ever since with the help of a cup of coffee. Getting nearer and nearer the end and I cannot wait to print this out and do some line edits.