Ali Wong's guide on how to tell a good Asian restaurant from a bad one

Comedian/actor Ali Wong has a new book out called Dear Girls: Intimate Tales, Untold Secrets & Advice for Living Your Best Life and it includes her guide for how to tell the difference between good and bad Asian restaurants. Vulture has an excerpt. Here's an excerpt of the excerpt:

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Diners use chest-mounted robot arms to feed each other in unusual social experiment

Researchers at Melbourne, Australia's RMIT University devised these bizarre "third arm" chest-mounted"robots to experiment with what they call "playful eating." For science. Video below. From RMIT University's Exertion Games Lab:

In this experience, all three arms (the person’s own two arms and the “third” arm, the robotic arm) are used for feeding oneself and the other person. The robotic arm (third arm) is attached to the body via a vest. We playfully subverted the functioning of the robotic arm so that its final movements (once it has picked up the food), i.e. whether to feed the wearer or the partner, are guided by the facial expressions of the dining partner...

Mapping of the partner’s “more positive” facial expression to the feeding of food to the partner (via the wearer’s third arm) we hoped would elicit joy, laughter, and a sense of sharing based on the knowledge of feeding one another that is associated with positive emotions, however, this could also result in the perception of a loss of agency over what one eats. Through to-and-fro ambiguous movements of the third arm in the air (when sensing a “neutral” facial expression of the dining partner), it gave an opportunity to the diners to express their reactions more vividly, as we know that facial expressions become a key element to engage with a partner while eating.

"Arm-A-Dine: Towards Understanding the Design of Playful Embodied Eating Experiences" (PDF)

More at IEEE Spectrum: "Feed Your Friends With Autonomous Chest-Mounted Robot Arms"

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Cutlery from 2001: A Space Odyssey is available on Amazon

In 1957, Danish architect Arne Jacobson designed a exquisite set of minimalist cutlery that Stanley Kubrick personally selected as the flatware aboard the Discovery One in “2001: A Space Odyssey" (1968). Now you can buy it on Amazon.com for $100/set. This is the future, baby! From the New York Times:

Jacobsen designed (the cutlery) at the height of his career, in his mid-50s, for one of his most prestigious assignments, the SAS Royal Hotel in Copenhagen. Having established his reputation as Denmark’s leading Modernist by designing first houses and then public buildings, Jacobsen sealed it in 1956 by bagging the most coveted position in Danish design, as professor of architecture at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts. The SAS commission offered an opportunity for him to create a new national landmark, a grand hotel for the jet age. This would require him to design not just the building but all of its contents: chairs, furnishings, curtains, lighting, even the cutlery.

Ignoring convention, Jacobsen started from scratch by imagining what eating utensils would be like if they were natural extensions of the human body, and came up with abstractions of the traditional shape for knives, forks and spoons. The light, slender slivers of metal are designed to fit neatly into the hand at one end and the mouth at the other, with wide, flat surfaces for the fingertips to hold on to.

"The Cutting Edge" (New York Times, 2009)

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A visit to a self-service sushi restaurant in Japan

You have probably seen sushi restaurants where plates of different kinds of sushi move past you on a conveyor belt. These kinds of places are called kaitenzushi. Here's one where you order sushi on a touch screen and the sushi arrives on a little rail system, stopping right in front of you. I want to go and see how it works. Read the rest

Finding a "secret" Chinese restaurant in Madrid

The folks at Great Big Story went to Madrid to find a hidden Chinese restaurant known as "The Underground."

Underneath a plaza in Madrid lies one of Spain’s greatest culinary secrets. Cafetería Yulong Zhou is home to some of the best Chinese food in the country. Getting there, however is another story. With no exact address or email, trying to find the restaurant takes some expert sleuthing. With the help of a friend and a hint, we embarked on the journey. Spoiler alert: the dumplings made the trek totally worth it.

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Hamburger joint run by robots will open in San Francisco

A robotics start-up, Momentum Machines, announced that it is going to open a restaurant in San Francisco that uses robots to make hamburgers.

From PopMech:

Every aspect of the burger is customizable, from thickness and cook time to condiments. The machine will take up about 24 square feet and the tech blog Xconomy predicted it could save a restaurant $90,000 a year in training and salaries.

Many people worry that the use of work-saving robotic technology like this machine will put vast numbers of people out of work. They might be right--one study from last year predicted that there's a 96.3% chance of restaurant cooks being put out of work by automation.

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Dinner in the Sky is coming to LA in July

If you like heights and Los Angeles and food and have a grand or so lying around, maybe Dinner in the Sky would be a fun July adventure. Read the rest

Each state's most disproportionately popular cuisine

According to a survey using Yelp data, Marylanders and Virginians love Peruvian food, Ohioans love soup, Coloradans love gluten free, and West Virginians love hotdog. Other trends: Read the rest

Key to the Gustavademecum

Last week, I posted about the The Gustavademecum for the Island of Manhattan, a delightfully geeky, DIY-made, mid-20th century dining guide produced by a physical chemist for the benefit of traveling scientists and engineers.

One of the key features of the guide was an elaborate series of symbols and letters that provided a lot of information about various restaurants in a small amount of space—and which look like some kind of crazy alchemical shorthand. In the original post, I included a page from the guide, so you can look at that to see the symbols in action.

Hugh Merwin, who wrote the story on The Gustavademecum for Saveur, also scanned a page from the guide's key, which didn't appear in the original story. You can see some of it above, and visit his personal website to see the full key. Read the rest