Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Fashionably Late

So Blondie has this theory about Coach.  He says he hates all sorts of things...cheesy people, for example, or our favorite place to buy imports, the ironically named Good Price.  However, upon closer inspection, he doesn't really hate those things (because he sticks up for one particularly cheesy coworker, telling her what a great guy he is, and ends up going to Good Price a LOT).  I'm telling you this in spite of the fact that I don't want you to start thinking this about me.  See, I spent a lot of time whining about how much I hated fashion this spring.  Ugh - fashion!  Partially I hate it on principle - the idea that you have to keep up with the Joneses in your clothes?  Bitch, please.  My philosophy is, and always has been, to wear what makes you look good and feel comfortable.

However, I have been known to watch America's Next Top Model.  You know, when all the hip young hagwon teachers are watching it, it's difficult to not give in to peer pressure.  And I can't deny that it was fascinating.  Strictly because I'm an art teacher and I was interested in the artistic aspects of it, of course...not because I got into the dramas between all the girls, no no no.  Actually, I'm being serious on that account - I was dying at the time for lack of artistic stimulation, besides which, c'mon.  I was teaching Korean kindergarteners back then; what did the theatrics of a bunch of glorified Barbie dolls have on my darlings and their impressions of the Exorcist???

(And - ahem - it's possible that for about five minutes in fourth grade I wanted to be a model. But anyways.)

However, my interest or lack thereof in fashion aside, I found myself in charge of the school's Junk to Punk fashion show last spring.  I kicked against the pricks for the entire lead-up to it.  I "hate" fashion.  I HATE organizing things.  This was not a happy time for me.  I may have yelled at my favorite class a week before it happened.  And then it was over, and I found myself full of all sorts of ideas on how I was going to do it this year.  And when this year rolled around, and I pretty much could have gotten away with killing it, I didn't.  So you may have to listen to me bitch about it in another five months.

This long-winded explanation is intended to tell you why, in spite of it being Sunday and me being debilitatingly sick, I found myself catching a cab with Geek into the Chinggis Hotel on Sunday evening.  This spring I learned about a number of fashion shows that take place in UB over the winter, and I was determined that I'd make it to one of them...it was sure to give me ideas for my own fashion show, right???  If I got to see some super weird as outfits, well, hey - Bonus!  And from the first model to step out on the runway (top photo), that bonus was paid.  The few scantily clad male...glove models (I finally figured out the first collection was both shoes AND gloves, Geek!)...were just icing on the cake.
However, the slightly bizarre if totally enjoyable start progressed to B. Erdenechimeg's collection of bags and shoes that I dig even more now that I've seen the petroglyphs out in Bayan-Olgii.  The simple, abstract figures of this collection definitely called to mind the rock drawings we saw back in October.  Not only did I love the design, the materials and colors were gorgeous.
I even liked the styling on the models.  They were wearing frocks that could have fit two of them inside, but it was a nice, neutral backdrop that didn't detract from the accessories, and I'm guessing it's not easy to do a fashion show for accessories and keep people looking from being caught up in the clothing.  I liked the masks a lot of the models had as well.  They continued the theme with the petroglyphs and were made of felt.  I found myself wondering if I could figure out how to make one.

Sunday's show ended around 8:50 which put us home well before our teacher bedtimes, and since the Nyquil Five left me did such a fantastic job of sending me off to sleep I was feeling much improved on Monday.  As there was one more show, we decided we'd go again.  Shoes, purses, and gloves are all well and good, but we thought we'd enjoy seeing E. Enkhchimeg's Spring and Summer collection even more.  We even managed to convince Engrish to blow off whatever boring thing she would otherwise have been doing (such as watching Downton Abbey without me), and come with us.  This evening, alas, did not go as smoothly as the night before.  In fact, Geek might have seen me having a certifiable Ugly American moment, after every single damn decision I made turned out to be a bad one (try to bypass traffic?  HERE'S SOME MORE TRAFFIC!  Decide it's going to be faster to walk?  J/K - NO MORE TRAFFIC!!! U MAD?????)  After a fantastic dinner at Hazara (which I can't link you to because it's the one grub club I didn't write about), which fortunately Engrish was able to order for us, since she walked over from her posh downtown digs, we made it to the show, where we were relegated to the second row.  And then waited.  And waited.  And waited, until this lady came out and opened the show mere moments before Sunday night's finished.  Apparently we were waiting for some VIP jackass.
She was singing.  The song was almost over before Geek figured out that it was the piece the blue alien opera singer performs in the Fifth Element.  I was too busy looking at the monstrosity of a dress she was wearing to wonder what it was she was singing.  I hope that was a gratuity.  Actually, no.  I hope she was paid extra to wear that, because DAAAYUM!  (Ugh.  I'm starting to sound like my students.  Stop me by any necessary means if I crack out the YOLO's!)

Anyways, here are a few highlights:
Off to a classy start....
The peplum has made it to Mongolia.
Forgive me a bad pun...THE END.

Eventually, UB Fashion Week's final show did come to an end, and the designer came out to receive our accolades.  How can you tell she's the designer?  The fact that she's the better part of a foot shorter than everyone else is a pretty good sign (also: people gave her flowers).  Her shoes had heels as tall as the models but she was STILL that much shorter.  After they all had their last catwalk, the audience came up and took photos with the models.  Engrish and I found ourselves thinking the same thing...NOT FOR ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD!  Engrish had helped herself to one of the glasses of champagne that were being served, but she was going to need a lot more booze than that.  After all, gorgeous white women such as Domestic Goddess are one thing.  Being in a photo with a Mongolian model?  Not just no - Hell, no.  Geek, meanwhile was trying to figure out how to get backstage and steal a purple dress that had been modeled earlier.  Probably Engrish and I could have helped her with that by creating a diversion, but she would have needed more champagne for that, as well.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Grub Club: Korchma? Again???

So if you feel like you've got déjà vu all over again as you're reading this post, don't feel bad.  You've read about Korchma before.  It was Five's last pick last year, before she decided she needed to save her money for saintly things like volunteering in Peru and Bhutan.  Prior to walking into the restaurant on Wednesday, neither me, Geek, or Engrish (who chose it) knew that the restaurant we were going to was, in fact, essentially Korchma in a different location.  But the decor and the menu were a pretty quick giveaway.
You might be surprised how different an experience the same restaurant can be.  They gave us a freebie starter here!  Nevermind the fact that it was slices of a fairly hard bread with mustard and slices of pork fat...  At first Champ (one of our two recent inductees) was the only one who would try it, but then Engrish decided to man up, and I figured if SHE could stomach it, so could I.  (Friendly advice: mustard and salt makes anything palatable).
We ordered a few other starters.  I hate potatoes, as you know if you've been reading my blog for any length of time, but I enjoyed their latkes (main rule of potatoes for Becky the Great: make them cease to resemble potatoes.  Done and done).  This was one of Geek's picks.  I have no idea what it actually was.  Looks like bacon, doesn't it, but it had a fair amount of sweetness to it, and was stuffed with what everyone kept calling coleslaw, but was actually cheddar cheese and - tomatoes? - in sour cream?  Whatever it was, it was pretty tasty.
Geek also got the cabbage rolls.  I didn't try them - maybe next time.  This time I went for the chicken Kiev, which is exactly the same thing I got when Five took us to Korchma, so I'm not including a picture of it.  It was still about the most delectable thing on the table, as far as I'm concerned.
Engrish and Squeaker (I think) both went for the sausage.  Do I have to call it kielbasa?  I feel like I should, but I'm not sure if that's the right name for Ukrainian sausage.  It looked every bit as greasy as you'd expect Ukrainian food to look, but they sure enjoyed it.
Finally, we have Geek's fried potatoes.  Except for the huge chunks of lard, they reminded me of the potatoes Vasilis' mother fried when I visited Bronte in Greece two trips back, so maybe I had to sneak one off her plate, and it was gorgeous.  Is it possible that I'm growing up and starting to accept potatoes as part of my diet????

Don't count on it.

This Korchma is on the north-east corner of Beijing Street and Tokyo Street, and since that explanation would pretty much ensure Blondie and people like her who don't know their cardinal directions never found their way back, it's catty-corner from the Chinggis Hotel.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

What I've Been Up To

If you haven't noticed, I haven't been as focused on my blog over the last few months as I was during most of the last year.  Which is not to excuse myself for late posts or whatever, I just haven't been doing that much to write about.  It's not Mongolia's fault, and it's not really mine, either.  It's just life.  I feel damn lucky to have a life as interesting as I do...but sometimes what I'm doing is just not good blog material.
For example, I've been having a helluva good time with my new friends...doing things my old friends and I did last year that I've already written about.  New people make all sorts of things new and exciting all over again.  Quiz night, for example.  We've been doing the Hennessy's quiz off and on over the last year, but only managed to take the first place prize again last Saturday.  (There should be a special prize for the most second place wins, because we would get that.  Alas, there is not.)
I'm also spending a lot more time trying to be what I consider a better teacher.  Teaching art is tricky.  You want your students to enjoy class, to be challenged, to be engaged, to learn, and to make things they'll want to keep forever.  I don't consider myself to be a tough teacher, and sometimes I feel like I'd be a "good" teacher if I were.  But would that make my students learn more, make me more effective?  I don't think so.  Instead, I'm trying to focus on making my time with them more engaging, and to be a better advocate for them, showcasing their talents and achievements more.  To that end, I went looking for the ceramics studio in town, and have spent a lot of time researching galleries that are around, in hopes we can put on a big junior/senior art exhibit this year.  It's not very exciting, legwork, and it doesn't make good blogs, but it's important.
I've also been reinventing Apples to Apples.  If you've never played it before, it's hilarious and a ton of fun.  You have green describing cards and red noun/verb cards from which you must pick the most appropriate comparison.  Well, toward the end of last year, somebody decided that we should make a special edition of Apples to Apples with cards relating to Mongolia and our school (I like to call it Apples for the Teacher).  We made it up on the penultimate day of school (the students were gone and the teachers had nothing to do) and played it that night at dinner.  It was so fantastic that this year I went all out and made templates on MS Publisher, typed the words into them, and printed them in color.  If you want to try your hand at your own edition of Apples, here are my templates.  But do yourself (and me - copyright infringement was SO not intended, Mattel!) a favor and buy the actual game first.  It will help you with your brainstorming and give you an edition to play with people who either won't get it or will be offended by your snarkiness.
Green Apples Template
Red Apples Template

Finally, forgive me for using a phrase as hackneyed as this, but I've been working on myself.  Or rather, failing to get back on the wagon of working on myself.  About a year ago I determined that I needed to cultivate some improved habits.  I did exactly that, but around summertime I kinda fell off the wagon, with the exception of my morning constitutional (a phrase which, in this instance, refers to a walk, not to a bowel movement!) which I've been neglecting for the last three weeks in the interests of my feet.  Part of this campaign was to get back some of the self-confidence I lost during my association with Socrates.  And to that end, in May I started taking a selfie every day (when I remembered), so that I would see myself as I actually was, the good and the bad.  I determined I would do this for 100 days, and although it took longer than 100 calendar days to complete it (thanks to my lack of memory at times), eventually I did.  I'm still not the most self-assured person on the planet, but it's helped.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Grub Club: Miko

I never liked sushi.  The all-you-can-eat teppanyaki places in Shanghai were like my gateway drug in regards to raw fish, but it wasn't until we went to Sho this spring that I could say that I actually liked it. 
I went back to Sho.  A lot.  And it wasn't just for their hot sushi chef.  Thus you might be able to imagine my horror when I tried to go there on my very lonely birthday and they were closed.  I was even more horrified when they were closed the next time I tried to go there.  I haven't been back, but I'm working under the assumption that Sho is one more page in the history of restaurants in UB.  :-(  Of course there are a couple of other places in town, but I loved the selection at Sho, and none of the other places I'd been had so many different rolls with so many things in them.

That changed last night.  Word on the UB Foodies street was that Miko sushi, newly reopened just south of the circus, was amazing, and I decided I needed to try it.  Three of us now have worked in Japan, so that was a little nerve-wracking (do other people feel nervous taking me to Korean places???  They should!) but it was well-received.  Engrish, who is FINALLY off her cabbage soup cleanse (blech!) started with the salad at the top, which was tasty and refreshing.  Geek, who-hates-anything-from-the-ocean-and-yes-I-knew-that-going-into-it-but-she-has-managed-to-cope-with-sushi-before-hell-she-was-the-one-who-picked-Sho (deep breath), went for the tempura veggies and some sort of chicken.  The chicken wasn't that great - our former Japanese residents couldn't remember what it was, and that's never a good sign - but that's what happens sometimes when you go for the less obvious choice.
We passed around a couple of orders of gyoza, Japanese pan-fried dumplings.  These are something Engrish, Blondie, and I routinely get at our ramen joint after our Tuesday night massages.  The ones at Miko were pretty tasty, although I think I still prefer Oishi Ramen's.
But of COURSE, the main event was the sushi, which apparently comes served on a boat and/or a bridge when you order enough of it.  I ended up having two rolls - Miko's UB roll (fried with cream cheese and salmon) and their Moscow (salmon, crab...uh....some other stuff....)  Originally I only ordered the UB roll, because I wasn't sure what else I would like (and I'd just gobbled up a Cinnabon on my way over from Good Price, where they are now being sold), but then I tried Engrish's Moscow and it was so scrumptious that I decided I should have one, too.  I'm pretty sure that sushi is healthy enough for you that you can pig out on it and not need to feel too guilty.  We were all feeling pleasantly stuffed when the sushi chef brought out one more roll - I want to call it a rainbow roll, but that may just be because I've done a lot of printmaking lately - and apologized while informing us they needed our table at 7:30.  We happily gobbled it up and paid our bill.

Do I still miss Sho?  Absolutely.  Their salmon citrus was the stuff of my new sushi dreams.  Also, they had a spicy one, I think they called it a Mexicana or something, with a little tempuraed fish inside, not to mention their hot sushi chef.  But at least I now have a place to go when the sushi cravings I never thought I'd have hit.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Winter in Summer

It's pretty pathetic, but I don't have much new to write about.  Saturday was our orphanage day followed by a winning quiz night at Hennessy's and Sunday was church, where I have a new (old) calling - primary teacher.  Which is kind of exhausting, teaching seven days a week, but I need the church, and pretty much all the time I like Mormon kids better than their parents, so it works.  (Why do I like Mormon kids better than their parents?  I'm pretty sure pitying me for being 34 and single has never crossed their minds.  Maybe it's never crossed their parents' minds, either, but I have preconceived notions, and perhaps one of these days I'll get over them, but for now, I'm still bad attitude girl).  One of these days perhaps I'll also do something new and exciting to write about here in UB, but for now, you're getting summer's leftovers.
I should know myself better than to think playing tour guide to a perfect stranger is a good idea, but back in June, when this chick in Korea emailed me to see if I wanted to show her around at Naadam, I was staring down the barrel of three weeks with no one to keep me company other than my own tour guides in Tibet and Bhutan, so I agreed.  I really liked and respected the ladies who showed me around on my vacation, and even though they had a nice paycheck to make putting up with me a little easier, after trying it myself, I have to respect them even more.  Of course, I was not getting paid, but being around a person ALL THE TIME and having to answer inane questions wouldn't have been much easier if I were.
Anyways.  After sitting out in the sun at the Central Stadium for long enough and having a couple of khuushuur, my new best buddy and I were ready to stretch our legs.  I suggested checking out the Winter Palace, based on the fact that it was close and I'd never been there, despite driving past it twice a day nearly every day.  Rumor amongst my colleagues last year had it that the Winter Palace of the Bogd Khan was the first two-story building in Mongolia.  After being to Kharkhorin last fall and reading about the original capital at the museum, I have my doubts, but it's a nice story, and the palace really is a nice place to have a nose around.

My new bestie had all sorts of questions about the place, most of which I couldn't answer, although a few I DID know, thanks to spending the previous three weeks in the Himalayas.  She busily snapped pictures, scoffing at the same time over a friend who had a "fancy camera like" mine, who was always stopping to take photos of things.  She probably thought I was crazy taking photos of the flowers, but hey, at least my photos weren't all grainy because of sand or dust that got in my camera.

The last building we came to was the big event, although it was kind of anticlimatic.  There are all sorts of stuffed animals in this portion of the museum, but the part that I thought was amazing was the leopard-skin ger that someone important had once given to the Bogd Khan.  There are so many jokes to be made about it that I don't even know where to start, and I'm not even going to try.  But if you come to Mongolia, you should check it out, especially because one of the things I realized while I was playing tour guide is that there just isn't that much to see in Ulaanbaatar if you're only going to be there for three days.  Don't get me wrong, I love Mongolia, but we're not exactly spoiled for choice when it comes to pastimes in UB.  It requires a little more creativity sometimes, and that's a GOOD thing, as I might tell you about soon if you're lucky.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Grub Club: The Ivy (Finally!)

This week was the first time we had a repeat experience in grub club.  Engrish, Geek, and I decided, before even inviting anyone to join us, that it would be okay if one of our newbies chose a restaurant to which we'd already been, and I'm glad that The Ivy was our déjà vu.  See, last year I only missed one grub club, and that was when I was cheating on them with Five, Fire Marshall, and Domestic Goddess (she was making tacos!  How was I supposed to say, "No, I already have dinner plans"?), before they were invited to join us.  It got good reviews, but I never really cared enough to check it out on my own.
Well, luckily for me, Blondie decided she would, and as a result, she brought us along this Wednesday.  Engrish - who is doing a cleanse - pretended she was satisfied with her green salad, which was the same thing I started with, except hers didn't have dressing and was NOT followed by a scrumptious pasta dish.  The greens were fresh and the dressing was light - it was fantastic.
Blondie, on the other hand, went for the Ivy salad (I think it was the Ivy, anyways).  When she's not ordering a sandwich, she tends to go for a salad, and it was her delicious salad here a couple weeks back that made her decide to drag us along.  Thank goodness for salads!
This week we invited a couple more of the newbies along.  Our decision is still pending so I haven't given them call signs (ie, I haven't figured out what to call them, since I've already used PE and Lit), but one of them went for a pizza, which looked pretty incredible, while the other...
...went for the Ivy pasta, along with Geek.  Besides some luscious beef, spinach noodles, and parmesan, it had a bit of a spicy kick on the end, and since spicy stuff is my favorite stuff in the world, I was worried I'd chosen the wrong main course AGAIN.
Then my pasta arrived.  I ordered the garganelli, which had a creamy sauce with Italian sausage and mushrooms.  It. Was.  Amazing.  Each bite was better than the last, and it was probably only because I was on my bestest behavior in front of our possible inductees that I actually shared a bite with everyone (because you know how I can be).  It was so delicious and filling that I wasn't even that tempted by dessert, even though their chocolate fondant cake and cheesecake both sounded delicious.

The Ivy is about a half block west of the Circus on Seoul Street on the south side of the street, above the Ti Amo.  It's the same building as the Golomt Bank.  It's a pretty swank place, but we went in our jeans anyways, because we fly in the face of convention, and because dress codes are made for places besides Ulaanbaatar.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

My Favorites

It's the second day of a three day weekend here in Mongolia.  Engrish, Blondie, and I originally planned to go to Sainshand for the weekend, Engrish's old digs.  When we learned on Wednesday that the tickets were all sold out, we were disappointed, but decided to go to Amarbayasgalant Monastery instead.  When Enkhaa talked us out of that move - he thought they were closed - we shrugged our shoulders and planned to go to go to Terelj.  Again.  Thththtffffffpt.  (I might be a little bored of Terelj at this point).  I was hoping to redeem it by swinging over to see Giant Chinggis on our way home - which would have been great, since tomorrow's holiday is in celebration of his birthday, whenever that might be, and would make an interesting post - but that didn't work out, either.  So, since I blamed my fairly crazy last week on my students, and since they are a huge consideration in why I am about 95% sure I'll sign on for another year, I thought I'd write about them this weekend.

I love fireworks.  There's something magical about their showers of sparks that appeals to my not-so-inner child.  I've watched them in Iowa from the hood of my old Wagoneer, the Beast, I've watched them from a barge in Venice's lagoon, I've watched them explode literally right outside my window in Shanghai.  And nearly every explosion prompts me to declare, "That's my favorite!" with absolute sincerity every time.
GDA Christmas Show, 2005
I wanted to begin talking about my students there because I feel much the same way about them as I do about fireworks.  I am constantly declaring one or another of them is my favorite.  They laugh at me, and I have to admit, this must make me sound fickle, but each time I say it, I mean it.  They really are all my favorites - each one of them is so bright and unique.
My Saudi-Cuban "daughter" in Bahrain, 2007
Over our trip to Bayan-Olgii, I was having a lot of fun freaking Geek out with the threat of killing her and hiding her body with a sky burial.  There were two problems with this plan - we were in Kazakh country where they don't do sky burials, and the fact that being a murderer would not make me a very good role model for my students, a fact which Geek took some degree of comfort in.
Young belly dance enthusiasts at SUIS, 2011
I wasn't one of those kids who grew up wanting to be a teacher.  I wanted to be all sorts of other things, including but not limited to: a cat, a ballerina, an artist, and a concert flautist.  I gave up that last dream and turned to education when I failed to get into UMKC's conservatory for the second time.  I did not live and breathe for my education classes.  In my Foundations class, I spent a lot of time drawing in my sketchbook.  My classroom management course I ditched several times.  When it came to becoming a teacher, I was not a very good student.  But learning how to manage a classroom, or knowing why our education system is the way it is really had nothing to do with why I wanted to be a teacher.  That boiled down to the fact that after spending some time with my younger sister and her friends, I felt not only that I liked working with kids, but I also thought that I could be a good role model for them (although Heaven forbid they hear me say that!)
I've been teaching eight of the nine years since I graduated from college. In that time, I've had parents that were constantly up my ass.  I've had students that made me want to crawl under my desk and weep.  I've taught ESL, art, and kids from the age of 3 all the way up to 18 or so.  Some days I just want to pull my hair out, and I understand why my elementary gifted teacher used to blame her grey hairs on us; I've gotten a few white ones myself over the years.  But I consider myself to be pretty damn lucky.  Not only am I the motherlovin' art teacher, I can go anywhere in the world and work.
So why am I really REALLY thinking of staying for another year (besides Engrish's obvious attempts to bribe me)?  These kids, that's why.  One of my eleventh graders told me I would cry when this year is over, and the truth is, it's probably going to be harder to leave Mongolia than it has been anywhere else except for Korea.  I've never enjoyed teaching as much as I have this year.  These kids are funny, and talented, and clever.  Some of them are, let's be honest, a pain in the ass.  I like them anyways.  Some of them are sweet.  Some of them are quiet.  Some of them I can't get to bloody shut up, and a few of those I don't really want to.  But they are all so marvelous that some days I feel so happy my heart could just explode, because they make me so proud.

Some days they make me want to cry.  Sometimes they say things that are profound.  Once in a while they say things that make me angry...usually not at them, but at other people, or at the world we live in.  On rare occasions they say things that reveal their weaknesses or fears.  Normally I hope that my students don't come across my blog; I swear too much on here, and I've been known to write about places that aren't exactly age-appropriate.  But if they DO find it, I hope they read this one, because even though I would sound totally cheesy if I said it in person, I think the world of them, and I want them to know it.  I believe they can do anything, and even when they don't live up to that expectation, I'll keep on believing in them.  They are so much more amazing than they give themselves credit for.  They are enough - smart enough, good enough, strong enough.

Middle school and high school make up a lot of rough years.  I know; I lived through them, and I wasn't perfect, either.  I had arguments with my parents, embarrassed myself (a LOT), had acne, got bullied, drove my car into a ditch...TWICE!...but those experiences helped make me who I am today.  And today I am STILL a person who makes a shitload of mistakes and embarrasses herself quite a bit, but I am also a person who is confident and strong and never gives up.  With any luck, I hope that one day they will be, too.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Grub Club: Bluefin Steakhouse

So I've been trying to make myself write this post since Wednesday night, but this week has gotten crazy.  We had grub club on our old night, Wednesday, because Thursday some people had parent-teacher conferences, while others got suckered into chaperoning.  In fact, most of my craziness this week can be chalked up to the fact that I'm a sucker for my students.  If they weren't so awesome, I might not have bothered with a Halloween costume, I might not have agreed to chaperone, I might not have agreed to bake cookies for their fundraising sale, and...well, actually, worrying about having a display up for Friday's parent-teacher conferences wasn't directly about my students.  It was directly about impressing their parents and our admin...so that hopefully I'll have some leverage to do a big show with them in a gallery later in the year.  Details, details.
So, Squeaker picked a restaurant she'd been to called the Bluefin Steakhouse.  I had misgivings about the name.  When eating at a place called Bluefin Steakhouse, it is a good guess that beef is NOT what's for dinner.  They had steak, it is true, but they had more seafood than they did steak.  In some cases, it was good - Blondie liked her seafood salad and Engrish and I enjoyed their Philly rolls - but not in others.  Blondie also had their ahi tuna, which wasn't pan-seared like she was expecting but raw, making it a HUGE disappointment.
I started off in a very sour mood because the pina colada I ordered was basically a tasteless glass of ice.  Blech.  A coke and a decent pulled pork sandwich put me in a better mood, although the pulled pork had too much coleslaw on it (any coleslaw at all is too much...Engrish ended up eating it after I scraped it off).  This restaurant's redemption, however, really boiled down to one thing:  desserts.
Banana tempura (Geek's choice)
Chocolate cheesecake (Squeaker's choice)
And mine: Snowflake cake.  White cake with creamy white frosting sprinkled with finely grated coconut, and for once, balls.  Not actual balls - they'd taken a truffle and cut it in half to adorn the back of the cake.  It just happened to look like...well, never mind what it looked like, it tasted like Heaven.

Would I go back?  Probably not.  The food was decent but pricey, and it's a little out of the way (down the street from the Kempinski as you walk toward the black market).  But don't take my word for it.  If you're in the neighborhood, go check it out.