Japanese gastropub delivers quality fare at reasonable prices.
A lot has changed in the decade since Anthony Bourdain penned "Kitchen Confidential." But with one critical exception -- fatherhood -- little has changed, at least outwardly, about Mr. Bourdain himself, who still is unapologetically crass and views himself as a sort of Don Quixote fighting for what's right in the food world.
This was more than apparent at a talk he gave Monday night to a nearly packed house of Bourdain groupies at Heinz Hall. They got their fill of the cantankerous chef-turned-TV personality, who liberally sprinkled his talk with F-bombs.
It was not so different from his talk two years ago. He started, like last time, railing on Food Network icons Rachael Ray and Sandra Lee, whom he referred to as "the hellspawn of Betty Crocker and Charles Manson."
And he knocked on Guy Fieri, the bleach-tipped, spiky-haired host of "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives."
"You're 40 [expletive] years old, Guy. Take the sunglasses off the back of your head," he said. "I'm pretty sure God didn't want you to put barbecue pork in a nori roll."
It's a schtick that felt a little tired and in the end, if the roaring laughter and cheers were any sign, he was preaching to the choir.
Later, he expounded the importance of being respectful while traveling, which he said means eating everything that's been laid before you, even if it violates your palate or your principles. (In Namibia, it was warthog rectum, the prized cut.)
Sure, he said, he doesn't believe in eating cats or dogs (the latter is fare in the Philippines and Vietnam) because he's had them as pets.
But, he said, if he was offered a "steaming plate of puppy heads ... given the choice of violating my principles of pets vs. meat, or offending the host, I like to think I'm the kind of person who would say 'pass the puppy heads.' "
It's a principle that seems to apply when he's abroad, filming his traveling food show "No Reservations." But when asked by an audience member if he would consider doing a show in Pittsburgh's Strip District, he was dismissive, asking if Pittsburgh had any indigenous foods. And when another asked what he ate when he was on his book tour, making stops in Middle American cities such as this, he said he usually "grabs a can of Pringles" out of the vending machine.
It felt like a slight of the city. Because hey, while it might not be a food destination, we all gotta eat.
Sure, Guy Fieri has bleach tips, but he's championed several of the city's iconic eateries. In the end, he's one of only a few that celebrate America's indigenous cuisine, for better or for worst. A Primanti Bros. sandwich is no Namibian warthog rectum, but it's ours. So where's the respect, Bourdain?
Moriah Balingit: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-2533.