Destiny Food Court – Bourbon Chicken Vs Hibachi Chicken

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This is going to seem like an odd thing to review but hey, it’s what I care about the most right now.

For decades I’ve been going to Destiny Mall, previously Carousel Mall (which I still call it on occasion), and many times I head to the food court to eat. Now there are a lot of restaurant choices, yet the food court is where you’re going to get your food the fastest. When you’re hungry, you don’t want to sit around for a long period of time waiting for your food.

IMG_20150306_183306Even though there are a lot of choices, for me nothing touched the bourbon chicken at Cajun Cafe. I’m not sure if this is only a local restaurant or part of a chain of restaurants, but I tend to believe it’s local. If you do a search you’ll find lots of restaurants around the country with the same name, but once you see the images none of the food choices look the same. They had a second restaurant at Great Northern for a short period of time but it’s gone now.

The chicken is non-breaded and always very tender, and they give you a lot of it. I think it’s still fried, and it’s in a sweet sauce that I love. If you wish you can get it with vegetables and rice, or one or the other, or just the chicken. There’s something about the sauce that compels me to want more of it even hours after I’ve eaten it. There’s never been another competitor… until recently.

Their competition… Koto Syracuse, which is only a few spots down. It’s actually a full Japanese steakhouse where you can either sit where they cook the food in front of you or get a table and let them bring it to you. I’ve enjoyed their salmon teriyaki for years, although truthfully I liked it better when they had their standalone location on Erie Boulevard. That’s been sold off to someone else and the flavor is different, so it’s either Koto if I want an open experience or Ichiban if I want more of a home feeling; I can’t explain that one any better.

Anyway, I had the occasion to go into the food court a couple of weeks ago with the intention of getting some bourbon chicken, when I smelled something pretty wonderful. I looked and noticed that at the takeout menu, where Koto always sold sushi, they had added a hibachi grill and were cooking up, well, hibachi type meals. They offer shrimp, beef and a few other things, but I decided on the chicken. Wow! When you get hibachi meals, they mix the meat with teriyaki sauce; I love teriyaki!

Instead of just talking about it in general I thought I’d do a comparison of its hibachi chicken meal against Cajun Cafe’s bourbon chicken meal.

IMG_20150609_124043First off, the presentation of each is different. If you’re eating in, Cajun Cafe gives you kind of a tray of food. They do this so your selection of food choices is separate; probably helps them figure out how much to dole out of each item. Koto gives you a styrofoam take out container, where the chicken sits on top of all the other choices… which you can probably ask not to have, but if you don’t you’re getting whatever they give you.

Second, the amount of chicken you get each place is probably the same. I don’t know cuts of meat all that well, but it almost seems like Cajun Cafe is giving you dark meat while Koto is giving you white meat. Frankly, dark meat is more tender but the way they cook it at Koto makes it come out pretty tender also; that’s a push.

Third, Koto actually cooks the food in front of you, which means it can take up to 5 minutes to get it if there are a lot of people waiting for their meals. Cajun Cafe cooks theirs in the back, so you’re going to have your food in less than a minute. That makes a difference in warmth of food since Koto’s would be hotter, but truthfully I think it’s close to a push there. How quickly you want your food might mean more if you don’t have a lot of time to wait or if you’re really hungry.

Fourth, the vegetables. In general I’m not a vegetable guy, so I never get the vegetables at Cajun Cafe. As I said, you can probably ask Koto not to put the vegetables in there but they’re not bad. I only have to pick out the zucchini, which I refuse to eat, so it’s not all that bad. They’re also crisp; the couple of times I’ve tasted my wife’s vegetables from the Cafe they’re kind of limp, probably because they’re sitting out and being steamed constantly.

Fifth, the rice. I’ve never liked the rice at Cajun Cafe. It doesn’t matter whether it’s their rice and beans or their version of jambalaya; just not my cup of tea. However, I love fried rice, Chinese or Japanese, and you’re offered white, brown or fried rice at Koto. I got the fried rice and it was wonderful; I knew it would be. That’s a total plus for Koto.

Sixth, everything else. The cost of the full meals are pretty comparable. It seems like you get way more food from Koto, as the few times I’ve had their meal I’ve left very full. Then again, I’m not getting the rice from Koto. There are a lot of other choices at Cajun Cafe than you’re not going to get at Koto when it comes to chicken and vegetable choices, whereas Koto offers more meat and rice options. Koto also offers the idea that their foods are fresher because you see them cooking it in front of you.

I’m calling it a tie because neither is going to make me forget the other. Your choice might be different based on what I’ve shared here, and if you have the opportunity to try both of these options I hope you share your thoughts on it. All I know is that I’m finally glad there’s a place in the food court that actually has tasty fried rice; my dreams have been answered!  

Body Shaming – Why It Needs To End

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A couple of weeks ago I was alerted to a video made by a young lady named Cassie Ho. She’s a fitness authority who’s made a lot of videos on YouTube helping people get healthier.

One of the strangest things, at least to me, is that there are a lot of people shaming her, or body shaming her, for not being thinner than she is. Frankly, I think she’s pretty close to perfect as far as health goes, but some folks think only ultra thin is healthy. So, Ho put this intriguing video together:

Wow, pretty amazing right? Well, another strange thing is that many people felt that when she showed the really skinny version of her that suddenly she was perfect; are you kidding me?

As someone who’s been overweight for most of my life, I have to say that I’ve been lucky to almost never have anyone say anything about it. Actually, the most I ever heard was when I’d actually dropped 26 pounds my freshman year of college because I couldn’t get used to the food, and having one of my friends always referring to me as a “skinny little thing”; at 6′, being called “little” anything was intriguing. When I was at my first job in a hospital this one Italian lady used to pinch my cheeks all the time calling me “pudgy”, and she was actually bigger than me. :-)

Let’s be truthful here. We all notice what other people look like. We’re not always either so kind or so observant when it comes to ourselves. I remember as a kid we’d call each other things like “pumpkin head” and “big tomato nose”, but no one actually looked like those things. We did pick on the heavier kids sometimes, but one thing my group never did was pick on someone because they had skin issues. Since I heard that happened at other schools I’m not sure if we were just nicer because we were military kids or if we didn’t dare because it could have been us.

Anyway, we notice when someone is too heavy or too thin or bald or tall or short or whatever. Those folks know what they are also; some are good with it, some aren’t. Like most things, no matter what we notice and what we might think at the time, it’s none of our business to go out of our way to say negative things to these people. I mean, what kind of society are we anyway?

Actually, we stink as a society, especially in this day and age where people can adopt secret personas and say stuff from afar, believing they’ll never get caught. Funny enough, people sometimes do get caught, and when they do they fall back on “I was just joking” or “I didn’t mean anything by it”. That’s our society these days; be stupid without thought and apologize later without really meaning it.

GoOrange01Sometimes I’ve been doing a lot lately is walking. I track my steps via Fitbit, and I’ve lost a little bit of weight. I’ve lost way more inches, to the effect that my clothes are fitting much looser. However, when I look in a mirror, I still see the same guy I’ve always seen. My wife says she sees a big difference but I don’t see it; am I body shaming myself?

Possibly. I never really started looking in a mirror until the selfie revolution came. I shaved in the shower and based my clothing choices on what colors I thought matched each other. Once I got a smartphone and learned how to take pictures, I became more open to taking pictures of myself, as there aren’t a lot before that period.

I can’t say I think I look great; not by any means. What I am is confident, for the most part, that I am what I am and that my body doesn’t define me. I’m obviously healthy because of the walking and having clothes loose shows me I’m doing better. But people who meet me for the first time have no idea I’ve lost weight, so to them I’m probably a big, overweight guy.

Personally I don’t care because almost no one will ever say anything to me about it, in person or online. Well, it might happen online, but anyone who knows me even a little bit might worry that I could find them; I’ve done it before. lol However, I’d probably just eliminate their comment and block them; I have no time to deal with insensitive people.

Not everyone can do this though, which is why I’m imploring people to be kinder and gentler and more encouraging. One of my online friends has lost 187 pounds and is proud of what she’s done; you can easily see the difference. Another of my friends has lost 125 pounds, which is fantastic, though I’d have to admit I can’t see it. However, for each person what I think and see doesn’t matter; it’s what they see and what they’ve done and my being proud of them for doing it that counts.

Who’s with me on this topic? What did the video above show you about society’s beliefs in what a proper female body should look like?  

Avengers: Age Of Ultron Review

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Wow! That’s what I was saying minutes after I walked out of the Destiny Regal Destiny IMAX 3D presentation of Avengers: Age of Ultron. I was trying to catch my breath; I’d been so engaged that I couldn’t even think of getting up at any point to go to the bathroom. At my age that’s a big deal.

poster imageBefore I get to the movie itself, let me talk about the IMAX theater at Destiny here in Syracuse. I’d only seen one other movie there, that being Ender’s Game. Although I enjoyed that movie, what it was lacking was a 3D version. In essence, it was a regular movie but on a bigger screen. It lacked punch because of that; I enjoyed it much better on blu-ray DVD.

However, watching Age of Ultron in IMAX 3D; that’s what this type of technology and movie was made for. The action was big; the explosions were big; the sound was big. Also, the spacing of the seats meant you would be very comfortable since you weren’t packed in tightly against your neighbor. I’ve read some reviews where the person said there was too much action; they couldn’t have handled this movie in this theater. It was perfect!

Now to the movie, which I’ll try to do without giving anything big away; that’s never fair, especially since it just came out.

In a nutshell, Age of Ultron follows what was revealed at the end of Captain America: Winter Soldier. If people didn’t see that one then the beginning wouldn’t make sense. In Captain America, we’re introduced to a group calling itself Hydra that had thoroughly infiltrated The Shield and, though the main group had been thwarted, there was a secret hideout for Hydra where they were using some of the alien technology introduced in previous Marvel movies to enhance not only some machinery but two… not sure I can call them kids, so I’ll say young adults.

This movie begins with the Avengers having figured out where the hideout is and attacking the compound. Suffice it to say that they’re the Avengers; you know what has to happen. However, in the process they encounter the kids and aren’t prepared for their skills. They also encounter the technology, which sets up the premise for the rest of the movie.

The central question of this movie is something that most of us have pondered once or twice in our lives: if there was a way to create something that would assure the protection of the earth and all of civilization should we create it? I’m not giving anything away to say that’s where Ultron comes from, as that’s Tony Stark’s motive (once again played by Robert Downey, Jr), since all previews have alerted us to this. Like many movies before, technology has come to a much different conclusion of what measures need to be taken to protect humanity than humanity has.

I’m not going to give away any of the plot twists and surprises that come because I don’t want to ruin it for anyone; maybe a year from now I’ll come back and update this article. What I will say is that there was a lot of action sequences that I loved, including the ending parts of the movie. In the down times we learn a lot more about some of the characters that I found fascinating.

Oh yeah; there’s lots of humor in the movie as well. I love one-liners and there are tons here. Whether they’re in the midst of the battle or just chilling, it’s fascinating stuff; when these folks are aligned in thought they really seem to like each other. One thing I wasn’t sure of was the time period between Winter Soldier and this movie, but they seemed to have learned how to be more cohesive as a unit.

If you like action, you’ll love this movie. If you want to see something in 3D that will finally blow your mind away, this is that movie, and if you have access to IMAX… do it! Heck, I might have to do it again… even at the price of $18.50; yes, it was worth that! :-)  

5 Takeaways From The Bruce Jenner Interview

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Wow! Last night was something special wasn’t it?

For those not in the know, Bruce Jenner, the 1976 Decathlon champion of the Olympics, which made him the greatest athlete in the world, was interviewed by Diane Sawyer of ABC News where he announced to the world that he considers himself a woman. Goodness, just the topic was compelling enough to get me to turn on the TV to watch, as the only things I’ve watched on TV for the last bunch of months has been a couple of movies, some sports and WWE Wrestling. :-)

theinterviewI decided to get my thoughts in early on this one because, I’ll admit it, I know that there’s going to be a lot of people who will write about this one later and I hope to beat a bunch of them to the punch; old expression but so be it. And, because I know people love list posts so much, I decided to give 5 things I got from this entire process. Here we go.

1. We got this response right from the beginning from Bruce: “I am a woman.” Wow! I was hoping we wouldn’t have to wait an hour for that one and instead we got it out of the way right from the beginning. That was smart because it allowed the two of them to talk about it without their being this albatross in the room about “Is he or not; let’s get to it already.”

2. As nervous as he seemed early on, you could tell that he had been prepared to tell his story for a long while. It was interesting to see how he’d kind of told his previous wives about his interest in wearing women’s clothing during a time when that would have been a major taboo. I like how he said he knew his first wife thought she could change him; wives, you can never change your men unless they want to be changed. lol

His second wife couldn’t handle it all that well, but after all she’d also been with but come on, Linda Thompson had to deal with the Elvis stuff and probably thought she had a good thing going with Bruce and then he started his first round of treatments; I don’t blame her for anything.

3. The family dynamic overall is an interesting one.

His older kids seem to be the most comfortable and openly supportive of it all. One of his sons even said “Now it all makes sense”. His other son is the coolest, mellowest guy I’ve seen in a long time. His previous wives had nice statements of support also.

His sister had an interesting first response. Seems he told her 10 years ago and she handled it well initially, cried while driving home, and never talked to him again about it, including reaching out to him, until recently, thinking that maybe it would just go away. He owned up to wearing her clothes as a child; that freaked her out. I could appreciate her response on this one, and was glad she owned up to it. I figure that most siblings might react this way, especially with the clothes issue.

The second family? Well, that was intriguing. Seems the only one who’s really come along was Kim Kardashian (whom I’ve always liked, even if others have tried to beat her down), and she came along because of someone I’ve never liked but have to give him his props on this one, her husband Kanye West, who said to her “I would never be happy if I couldn’t be myself.” The one he thought might be the most supportive was Khloe, and she seems to be the one with the most problems in dealing with it.

But the person who came off the worst in my opinion? Kris Jenner, the architect of the entire Kardashian franchise, the one who used to kind of berate him and beat him up here and there on the show (which I never saw an episode of but used to see clips here and there) decided to give a “no comment” when asked for a statement. Come on; her entire life has been commenting on things, living her life in the public, even having a talk show for a short period of time, and she couldn’t deign to give a comment? Is she that ashamed, or is it that she couldn’t give one because she wasn’t going to get any money from it? Sheesh!

Still, Bruce was gracious to each and every one of them, and you could tell that those were the people he was worried about the most, even more than himself. Class!

4. The thing about sex and sexuality came up a few times in the interview, and Bruce was probably more comfortable with it than most of us were. My issue with it is that I’ve never fully understood why people immediately feel like all these things have to do with is sex. I mean, when people think of homosexuals they immediately start thinking about how they have sex rather than what kind of people they are. I’ll admit to not knowing a lot about transgendered people but the thing furthest from my mind is their sexual preferences.

Even with that, Bruce started out saying he was heterosexual, but asked how he’d see himself after the sex change he looked thoughtful at first, then said he was 65 years old, wasn’t thinking about relationships at this point in his life and just wanted to be himself; I thought that was enough. It was also gracious of him to allow Diane Sawyer and the rest of us to refer to “him”, just to keep things going smoothly.

5. No one but Diane Sawyer could have done this interview. I was thinking that as we got close to the end. I couldn’t think of a single male interviewer other than Larry King who might have been able to pull this off, but I don’t think Larry would have asked the types of questions or gone into the type of research Diane did.

Also, I tried to think of which women interviewers who had enough cachet to handle this and Diane Sawyer is pretty much the only one. But there would have been some close contenders. I think Katie Couric would have done pretty well with it, possibly Meredith Vieira. Barbara Walters… nope. Lesley Stahl; not sure she’d have had the compassion to do it. Oprah… nope, I think she’d have injected more of herself into this one than Sawyer did, based on her interview with Lance Armstrong. If this was even 10 years ago I’d have said Connie Chung or Deborah Roberts could have pulled it off. But Diane Sawyer was perfect; great job!

That’s all I have. Actually, I have lots more, but this is long enough. If you saw it what were your thoughts on it all?  

Is Syracuse A Drug Capital?

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Enticing title isn’t it? I’m not sure whether I believe it or not, although I’m inclined not to believe it. Yet, there have been some interesting things that seemed to happen around here before it spread to other areas… unless I’ve just been clueless.

hookah loungeThe first time I heard of hookahs (which I had always thought was just a fancy bong) was when a couple of Syracuse University football players opened a lounge in the Marshall Street area. They ran it for a few weeks until university officials asked them to sell it for whatever reason. They did, although I’m not sure the university had the right to ask them to sell.

I’ll admit that I don’t know a lot about this type of thing, but from what I hear more than just regular tobacco is sometimes consumed in places like this. Regardless, my first introduction to it was locally.

Move forward a couple of decades and suddenly I was hearing about something called bath salts. That turned out to not be what I thought it would be (of course now), but was instead some sort of herbal product that turned out to be a powerful drug. This resulted in lots of people acting like zombies (I kid you not) and doing some pretty strange stuff, most of the time having to be naked to do so (supposedly the stuff made on extremely hot inside). This one I know started in central New York in some fashion because it made national news, and I wasn’t in the state when it became a big deal.

Then yesterday I read about this stuff known as synthetic marijuana (as if the original stuff just isn’t enough) that’s so powerful that a lot of people are ending up in local emergency rooms. People are actually foaming at the mouth. This also made national news, only it’s occurring all over the state so at least it’s not just the Syracuse area this time around.

Can someone help me out with this one?

I’ve never taken any drugs other than prescription or over the counter stuff for pain. I’ve never even had a drink. I don’t understand this thing about using a foreign substance to get high. Whenever I need to feel good, I go find something sweet.

That a lot of this is happening in the Syracuse area is problematic to me, although it’s possible that the same type of thing happens almost everywhere, just that I’m living here and hearing about it. Yet, I spent 18 months working in Memphis and you heard about “regular” drug busts, but nothing about synthetic stuff down that way.

I’ve also heard more lately about this thing called meth, which I’m referring to that way because it seems it can be made in many different ways. What I heard is that it can make a teenager look decades older in a relatively short time, and in some cases people are waiting for their bodies to give out on them and kill them within a few years. Someone asked a meth person why they took it and was told that it gives them a greater rush than having sex and that the feeling lasts longer. Supposedly police can tell a meth user by looking at their teeth; I saw a picture and it’s absolutely disgusting.

My mind can’t get behind this because I’ve always needed to have some kind of control over my life. These folks, once they start they lose all control, even if they think they have it. Cant get a job, can’t keep their minds clear enough to learn anything… talk about your gateway drug!

I have no answers, only questions. None of this affects my life in any way. I’ve never known of any drug users in my circles. It’s not something I’ve seen all that often in my life; the worst I’ve ever seen were a couple of folks I knew who used cocaine in the 80’s, which was easy to figure out, but that stuff seems to be baby food when compared to what’s available now.

All I know is that I hope someone figures out why people in this area seem to need it, seem to figure out new ways of making more of it and make it stronger, and how to stop it.  

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