In just two days, Bob Blumer’s new show World’s Weirdest Restaurants will premier on Food Network Canada. Three weeks ago, I had the opportunity to Skype with him and learn more about the show. Last week, I also received the invitation to check out its pop-up restaurant at the Waldorf Hotel.
For one evening and two seatings only, Waldorf Hotel’s Tiki Bar became Bob’s World’s Weirdest Pop-up Restaurant.
I was quite excited heading into this dinner since I didn’t know what to expect. And I was even more excited, while confused, when I saw the centre piece at the table. The menu also didn’t help since it’s using cryptic names for each course.
Finally, Bob appeared to kick off the dinner! And the fun began! Before each course was served, we got a preview of the segment that was related to the course.
The first course, named Monkey See, Monkey Do, was inspired by a Japanese izakaya where a monkey is on staff to bring out the beer to customers, as well as to provide the evening’s entertainment. After we watched the segment, Bob emerged in a monkey suit and brought us some beer to go with the first course, which was Chicken Karaage that was based on the recipe from the same izakaya he visited.
The chicken karaage was very good. It’s tender, and super flavourful (mirin is part of the marinate) that you don’t really need to dip it into the wasabi and ginger soy sauce. I could eat a few more plates of those.
Next, we saw Bob visit an eatery in New York City where guests eat blindfolded, so all their other senses would be enhanced. Well, that explained the blindfold on the table! We had to put on the blindfold before our servers brought out the food. I managed to snap the following picture after a few tries. Not bad, eh?
The second course, named The Blind Feeding the Blind, included Salted Cod and Serrano Ham Croquettes and Ajoblanco Soup. It’s actually not easy to eat blindfolded, to get to the food without making a mess, let alone trying to guess what you are eating and the various ingredients that are in the dish. It was really interesting when the entire dining room got quiet, and we all snapped the crouton together. I never realized food can be this loud!
The third course was definitely the controversial one! The name Ling Cod a la John didn’t give you much clue as to what was about to happen. It was inspired by the toilet restaurant in Taipei (which is one of the weirder ones that Bob has featured on this show). Can you guess it now? How about the roll of toilet paper on the table?
When we finished watching the segment, Bob rolled out a real-size toilet bowl filled with food! Camera flashes were just going non-stop from that point on. It was no doubt one-up the toilet-shape containers at the Modern Toilet restaurant! Bob scooped out the pepper-based sauce out of the toilet bowl (the colour of the sauce certainly didn’t help!), handed over to the chefs at Waldorf Restaurant to top it with a piece of Ling Cod.
If you were on Twitter that evening, you would see the conversations between many of us, discussing how gross this sounds/looks. But trust me, this Ling Cod Vizcaina is definitely the best thing you would eat that comes out of a toilet bowl! The ling cod was moist and seared well; the sauce was made with mixed peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, onions and olives, and it was a bit spicy and full of flavours. If you didn’t know where it came from, you would enjoy this dish just as much as I did!
Lastly we saw a segment featuring the famous Voodoo Donuts in Portland – but not before we saw a short clip of a nudist pop-up restaurant, and Bob slam-shut the restaurant door and dared us to bare it all for the dessert course! No, sorry, it didn’t happen.
The dessert course, Glazed and Confused, was Bob’s interpretation of the Maple Bacon Donuts. They were in the shape of a pillow, more like a beignet than the traditional ring-shape donut. Love the sweet & savoury combination of maple and crumbled bacon bits.
It was such a fun night! We were able to enjoy some tasty food, while experiencing the weirdness of some of the restaurants that will be featured on the show. Of course, I wouldn’t leave the restaurant without updating my picture with Bob.
I can’t wait to check out the show! World’s Weirdest Restaurants will be on Food Network Canada every Wednesday starting April 4 at 6pm/6:30pm or 9pm/9:30pm PST.