When one is working , Friday evening is perhaps the most pleasurable part of the weekend. On Friday evening, there is the prospect of two whole days for oneself; never mind that the reality is often quite different.
Our son had flown in from the West Coast for the Memorial Day weekend and we decided to go out for dinner and a movie, something we haven’t done in years because we are only occasional moviegoers : we see maybe three or four movies a year. Videos are more our speed. After some back-and -forth, we setttled on Woo Je On , a Korean / Japanese restaurant on Route 1 South in Edison and Spiderman 3.
Woo Je On has had two or three previous incarnations, the last as a Chinese/ Japanese restaurant named Chengdu. In it’s present avatar, it is a large restaurant seating about 150-200 and serving a full Korean menu as well as sushi. It is difficult to say exactly how large it is because , in addition to the main dining room, there are several private party rooms.
We got a booth near the entrance and quickly placed our order: bulgogi ( barbecued beef), seafood pancake and ,for my wife, sushi. The banchan or side-dishes soon arrived and there were a lot of them- nine little bowls plus two plates of fish ( one deepfried, the other stewed). At Woo Lae Oak last week ( see previous post), we were only served four side dishes and a salad. Yesterday’s spread was almost too much. Among the banchan were sauteed spinach, pungent kimchi, strips of fried beancurd, deep fried miniature anchovies, seaweed, stewed cuttlefish, pickled cucumber, lightly sauteed bean sprouts and translucent squares of China Grass. Except for the kimchi and the cuttlefish all the dishes were lightly seasoned with sesame oil and salt or a dash of soy sauce. I know that the banchan are not really ‘free’ ( their cost is figured into the prices of the main dishes) but it still feels good to be served so many. We had just about finished the side dishes when the main dishes arrived. The bulgogi strips were piping hot and we wrapped them in Romaine lettuce leaves with a dab of hot bean paste. The seafood pancake, the size of an individual pan pizza, was chockful of shrimps and cuttlefish.The sushi was dispatched in short order and we didn’t hear any complaints. Overall, I would say the food was good, though none of the dishes was a standout. Perhaps I’m being unfair because when one restricts oneself to traditional dishes, the chef has no scope for innovation and the food can never be classified as better than good. It was very good value for the money: for the three of us the check including tax and tip , no drinks, came to $63.
Down the road, at Loews,we noted that Pirates of the Caribbean-3 was completely sold out. Our theater, one of the smaller ones at this complex, was almost ,but not quite, full and I liked the movie more than it’s predecessor, Spiderman 2. The villains are a bit more sympathetic and the special effects, as always, are stupendous. As one amazing sequence follows another, we become a bit jaded and it is only afterwards that we have time to reflect and say to ourselves ” How did they do that ?”
In Spiderman 3 , Spiderman is shown as being a bit obtuse in failing to gauge his girlfriend’s feelings, thus precipitating a crisis. Realistic maybe,but bothersome to those of us who like our comicbook heroes to be perfect. The kids in the audience had a great time however, squealing with laughter at the comic moments and enthralled at the action sequences. Full marks to the director for recreating the ‘feel’ of the comics .
I had an interesting conversation with Rohan about how comics have evolved. In my childhood, the comics were almost simplistic, being aimed at pre-pubescents ; there was good, there was evil and nothing in-between. There was also just one main storyline for each episode. Todays comics are more complex being aimed for a wider audience that includes adolescents and young adults. The plot lines are more complicated, there are several side plots and the characters are not uni-dimensional. Today’s audiences are more sophisticated and arebetter able to absorb such nuances , a reflection perhaps on how our society has changed. My initial feeling was that films have become darker but Rohan opined that certain films were that way because of the director’s preference. Some of the Batman movies are definitely darker than others ; I have to agree with Rohan’s assessment.
All in all it was an enjoyable evening …. and the weekend is still ahead . Three whole days !!