Hyphen TV: Wonderful Radishes

January 14, 2013

Josie as we've often seen her: with a line of people waiting as she cooks

It's Restaurant Wars on Top Chef! Well, it almost is. This week the chefs each had to develop a restaurant concept and a signature dish in the hopes of being one of the two winners who will go on to run their own Restaurant Wars establishments next week. Sheldon named his restaurant after his grandfather, Urbano, and found inspiration from him to develop the concept of modern Filipino food. After celebrating his 30th birthday with his competitors (and a sweet call home to his daughters), Sheldon served a sour tamarind soup with pork belly, shrimp, and snapper that the judges found "very beautiful" and "authentic yet elegant" (though I'm not sure why it's surprising that a dish can be both things, Padma). Guest judge Danny Meyer said that "the flavor makes you sit up straight -- in a good way" and "it's very very clear that he's cooking from the heart." With praise like that, it's no surprise that Sheldon went on to be one of the two winners. Though he's a man down in his group with Micah gone (did I mention that his team consists of all the guys?), I'm excited to see how Urbano shapes up next week.

Chrissy returns as sous chef and Filipino sister

Kristen went in an entirely different direction with Atelier Kwan, her take on French contemporary cuisine in a more formal setting. She served an onsen-style egg with camembert-mustard sauce and buttered radishes, and the judges found her egg "perfect" and radishes "wonderful." The richness of the food and the formality of its setting gave Kristen's proposed restaurant a sense of indulgence and near gluttony. She took the second win! She'll be competing against Sheldon for bragging rights and a new car; plus, each of them got $10,000, bringing Kristen's total winnings to a cool $45K. Of course I'm rooting for both chefs, but I have to give Kristen the edge.

Nothing says "fancy" like a hard to read chalkboard

And then there was Josie. She chose to highlight her hometown with the Cuban flavors of Miami in Home 305 (Miami's area code). Unfortunately, she was off to a bad start when she once again found a long line of people waiting for her to serve her dish, puerco asado with a black bean chorizo croquette, pickles, and mojo sauce. Even worse, the judges found the food not worth the wait: "Not only is [the pork] completely dried out, it's flavorless...so bland that all I actually tasted was grease." The pork was inedible, and when a judge tried to stick a fork in it, "the pork fought back." After Josie landed in the bottom, I thought (once again) that her time had come. But luckily for her, Micah's ill-conceived idea of a raw foods restaurant was even more poorly executed, and Josie was saved another day.

It's such a relief to have all our shows back after the holiday break -- am I right, guys? On The Mindy Project, we met Mindy's little brother Rishi (played by Utkarsh Ambudkar of recent Pitch Perfect fame), who was on break from Stanford. Or was he? He revealed to Mindy that he's dropping out of school to pursue his rap career, and Mindy had the breakdown that one would expect from a mature older sister (who apparently covers at least part of her brother's tuition). She explained to coworker Danny how upset their parents would be at the news: "Do you know what it's like for Indian immigrants to have their son drop out of college? It's like if Oscar Meyer's son was a vegetarian." That about sums it up. She's unable to talk Rishi out of participating in a rap battle where, of course, Mindy herself has to fill in as his backup. She was pretty supportive until the lyrics got dirty and she refused to say them to her brother. In the end, everything got back to sitcom normalcy with Rishi heading back to school. Wonder if we'll see him again...spring break?

Star-emblazoned sweaters are key in rap battles

And finally, Portlandia brought back frequent guest star Kumail Nanjiani, this time playing a "birthday loan officer." The show nails it yet again when it pokes fun at the lengthy, elaborate, and always expensive birthday bashes that middle class 20- and 30-somethings seem to love to partake in (particularly the ladies -- sorry but you know it's true), in this case pushing a couple to head to the bank so that they can afford to celebrate their friend turning 32. Kumail perfectly deadpanned the seriousness while filling out the appropriate birthday forms, and in the end, pricey tapas were enjoyed by all. Love the parts they come up with for this guy and love the way he steps right up to them.


Dianne Choie


Dianne Choie's TV is in Brooklyn, NY. She has a cat, several reusable shopping bags, and other mildly annoying stereotypes of youngish people who live in Brooklyn.