Epicurean Review: Tenmasa in Crown Macau Hotel

Posted March 13, 2008 by Stephen
Categories: Cuisine

Tags: , , , , ,

So this winter break my family and I took our traditional winter trip to Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau. We dined in our usual restaurants, but this time we decided to try something new. We stayed at the Crown Hotel in Macau,a six star hotel which featured countless metal detectors, modern design, and an excellent tempura restaurant called Tenmasa. My dad heard a lot of good things about it, but I was dubious; over $60 dollars US for some vegetables and shrimp dipped in batter? I was about to be happily proven wrong.

Tenmasa was founded by Chef Masaji Hashii in the Kanda Sargakucho districk of Tokyo in 1937. Over time, Tenmasa in Tokyo became the most exclusive tempura restaurant in the city, synonymous with the celebrities, businessmen, and politicians that make up Tokyo’s socialite scene. Handed through three generations of tempura masters, Tenmasa in Macau is owned by his grandson, Yoshiaki Hashii.

We were ushered into a private room with a horseshoe table with one chef in front of a deep fryer. The room boasted a superb view of the Macau harbor and casinos and the famous Bridge of Friendship. The clean design of the room lent a comfortable cool ambiance, emulating the central restaurant in Tokyo. It combined a sleek modern design with Ozashiki (traditional full tatami) ideals. Our chef was a tempura jedi master, to say the least. He cooked the tempura in front of the patrons, using special metal chopsticks designed to sense the vibrations through the oil and food to make sure each dish was fried to perfection. At Tenmasa, the tempura is prepared in a way that coats the ingredients with a thin batter allowing the fresh ingredients to maintain their original flavor, unmarred by heavy oil and thick batter like it usually is. They are famous for using only the freshest seafood and cuts of fish usually reserved for sashimi. As I watched the chef finish up the other patrons’ orders, I could not contain my excitement. Tempura is one of my favorite picks for a quick cheap Japanese meal; I was interested in seeing if Tenmasa lived up to its hype and status as one of the premier restaurants in our six star hotel.

Bridge of Friendship

Browsing through the menu, we were given five choices: the Healthy menu ($270 hk), the Ume menu ($350 hk), the Take menu ($500 hk), the Seasonal menu ($700 hk), and the Matsu menu ($900 hk). We decided to order the Take menu, which came with an appetizer, 2 maki prawns, 2 pieces of seafood (kitsu and unagi), 4 vegetables, and 1 seasonal dish with the choice of ten don, ten bara, ten cha, and nyu men, followed by dessert. Doesn’t seem like much seeing as I was about to drop about $70 US including my beer.

However, when we got our food, I was blown away. The tempura was so light and crispy, not crunchy and heavy like most Americans are used to. It was almost as if the batter was an afterthought, a mere garnish to add to the perfect flavor of the fresh ingredients. After the main vegetable and seafood courses, we chose the ten bara, which Tenmasa is renowned for. Ten bara is a mix of salty rice and cracked kakaige fried in batter. As soon as I took a bite, I decreed it the most amazing dish of the meal. It was light but bursting with flavor, full of succulent and large pieces of shrimp all brought together with a light taste of batter. Usually I never order the kakiage; I consider the rough deep fried cobbled-together veggies and seafood a dish too heavy and tasteless for my snobby palate, so I was pleasantly surprised at how delicately our dish was made.

Now, for the rating. As with my previous review on Berkeley’s Chez Panisse, I like to rate my restaurants based on service, decor, food (both taste and presentation), and functionality. I give Tenmasa a four star rating on the Freakin’ Awesome’s five star scale. Go to Tenmasa for a nice classy lunch in an exclusive restaurant. The food is delicious, the service superb, the view breathtaking. It is a wonder that Tenmasa serves such traditionally heavy food but makes it so light that there is no trace of the oily aftertaste and subsequent food coma commonly associated with tempura. That is because the chef constantly switches the oil after every few pieces. I definitely recommend this restaurant anytime you are in Macau, as long as you got that fully loaded Visa card in your pocket.

The Good: Light, delicious food, service, view

The Bad: $$$

Freakin’ Awesome Rating: 4 stars


Top 9 Albums of 2007

Posted March 3, 2008 by Stephen
Categories: Music

Tags: , , , ,

1. Radiohead – In Rainbows

2. CunninLynguists- Dirty Acres

3. Elliott Smith – New Moon

4. Explosions in the Sky – All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone

5. Spoon – Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga

6. Arctic Monkeys – Favourite Worst Nightmare

7. Vampire Weekend- Vampire Weekend

8. Wilco – Sky Blue Sky

9. The New Pornographers – Challengers

I haven’t kept up with much music lately, so I can’t find an album worthy of the tenth spot on this list. I considered putting Spill Canvas’ new cd on the list, but honestly, though it was a solid piece of work, the band didn’t really surprise or impress me. Readers, go ahead and suggest some albums for my listening pleasure! And, if you haven’t checked out CunninLynguists’ new album yet, GET IT- rap fan or not. Now, I am by no means a hip hop fan, but this album is so soulful and rings of anguishing truths, representing the bedlam and tribulation experienced by many of the Southern populace. It is my favorite rap cd of all time, defying all stereotypes that I had previously held.

New Seasons of South Park and Weeds!

Posted February 22, 2008 by Stephen
Categories: TV

Tags: , ,

Now, I didn’t originally plan on including a TV segment on Freakin’ Awesome, but in lieu of recent exciting news of some of my favorite shows, I’ll start one and see how it picks up.

Everyone loves South Park, and if you don’t, you’re a douchebag. With that said, the 12th season of South Park will premiere on Comedy Central sometime in March. I am a huge fan of Cartman (I really identify with that fat bastard) and can only hope that many episodes will focus on him.

I’ve also heard that the 4th season of Weeds is coming out. If you follow the show, you can understand my surprise. Season 3 ended with an air of finality, or for lack of better words, defeat. I’m interested in seeing how the writers can develop the show past that point. Rumors have it that Nancy becomes pregnant, presumably with Conrad’s baby. Subsequently, Heylia and Vaneeta will follow Nancy to wherever she runs off to, setting the stage for more hilarity and drama as she puts “herb in the suburb”. Frankly, I’m not too thrilled with the idea of a pregnant Nancy, but since I already buried Weeds along with the Sopranos in the graveyard of past cable show greats, I’ll take what I can get.

Hopefully I will be posting soon about Entourage. As one of two of my favorite remaining shows on HBO (Curb Your Enthusiasm!), I have been faithfully waiting. However, the second half of the last season sucked ass, so I’m waiting with trepidation. At least Ari will always be gold.

Top 10 Oscar Movies

Posted February 20, 2008 by Stephen
Categories: Movies

Tags: , , ,

So in lieu of our Top 10 movies of the season, we’ve decided to make a top 10 Oscar nominated movie list. However, I was too lazy to actually look up all the nominations so Sean and I basically compiled all our Freakin’ Awesome worthy pictures into a list. Readers, we would welcome any suggestions!

1. No Country for Old Men

2. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

3. There Will Be Blood

4. Michael Clayton

5. Juno

6. Darjaleeing Limited

7. Hot Fuzz

8. 300

9. Ratatouille

10. Lust Caution



Last man I want to see walking towards me

hmm…Leonidas vs. Anton Chigurh

Damn I love this movie


Hot Fuzz and 300 may be debatable, but we had so much fun watching them that we felt they deserved a spot on our prestigious list. This year has been marked with some badass heroes, from Leonidas, Dieder Dangler (Rescue Dawn), every single character in No Country for Old Men, especially Josh Brolin and Javier Bardem’s characters, the ultimate badass Daniel Plainview (PERFECT performance by the marvelous Daniel Day Lewis), to George Clooney as Michael Clayton. You may notice that American Gangster is not on there. Personally, I was unimpressed with the movie. I think they could’ve went deeper with Frank Lucas, instead of idolizing him. There is a darkness there that can transform a good movie into a phenomenal classic.

Triumphant Return…COMING SOON

Posted February 1, 2008 by Stephen
Categories: Uncategorized

Readers, I know that this site has been stagnant for a few weeks, and I apologize. I just moved into my new apartment at school and dealing with my fraternity’s rush and Sean is busy applying for a job in London. However, do not worry, Freakin’ Awesome will be back in full force in a few days, with some awesome posts about the last year in movies, as well as some new music reviews! Keep reading!

Styleguide: Goods, St. Alfred, Vans x United Arrows

Posted November 20, 2007 by Stephen
Categories: Apparel

Tags: , , ,

Dear readers,

Now I know my movie posts have been quite the crowd-pleaser, but being a Berkeley student with a Berkeley budget, I haven’t had much silver screen exposure. However, it costs nothing to window shop and surf online, so I have compiled for you a few choice items from some urban underground brands I’ve been keeping my eyes on.

First off, I’ve recently became a huge fan of a Seattle-based brand called Goods. Goods started out in Seattle as a store that also carried an impressive in-store collection. The in-store collection was so phenomenal that it actually became a brand. Goods has moved into cut and sew with tremendous attention to detail. The Fall/Winter 07 collection has been released and includes tees, crewnecks, jackets, hoodies, and of course New Era caps. The thing I like about this brand is its detail and subtle grandeur. The thing is, their online shop on their site is down for the time being, so if anyone knows how I can get my hands on this material….well, I’m a very rich man and you can be too.

ignore the old guy

Now this other brand I’ve been looking at is St. Alfred. St. Alfred is a boutique in Chicago, and has released their Fall/Winter 07 collection as well. This collection consists of tees with eye grabbing designs. The collection is still tentative, so expect more works to come throughout the season. Check out St. Alfred in Chicago and some selected stores in Cali and NY for these.

Yves St. Laurent infringement

Ok and last, I was looking around online and came across this new collaboration between Vans and United Arrows.

Vans is a skateboard and shoe maker founded in…ok just kidding. United Arrows is a Japanese boutique and label that got together with Vans to dig up a shoe squirreled away in the archives of Vans and resurrect it with style. The two brands worked on the Vans Mountain Edition SP and gave it the gold and silver metallic treatment. The upper of the sneaker is made up in gold or silver—the gold model features a black croc skin stripe and the silver features one in white. If you’re a fan of the Half-Cab, you’ll appreciate the similarity, and the wide strap over the forefoot.



Halo 3: BELIEVE….in multiplayer.

Posted November 3, 2007 by Sean
Categories: Video Games

Well by now I’m sure most of you who’ve wanted to play Halo 3 have bought it and probably have beaten the campaign, so I’m not going to bother with spoilers, so read the first paragraph about the single player at your own discretion.

The lighting in the game is incredible.

I got it the day it came out and quickly ran through it before I crossed the pond. I have to say, after all the hype and the years of playing and/or waiting, the SINGLE PLAYER CAMPAIGN was a dissapointment. Yes it had some pretty cool epic moments with the new piano theme song playing in the background and a bunch of marines battling with you, but overall it felt just like more of the same. Every level was fairly linear, and it just pushes you through one group of enemies after another with some vehicle encounters sprinkled in between. I felt that two things should’ve been implemented. First of all, there should be more urban battles. I throughoughly enjoyed the one urban level, where it actually felt like you were helping Earth survive its last stand. Secondly, I wish there was at least a little variety and openness in choosing where you can go and what you can attack. Every level felt very linear as I was directed from one encounter to the next. The story could’ve also centered more on Earth, as I was dissapointed in Bungie repeating their formula of transporting you to another Halo-world half way through the campaign. The new guns, equipment items and vehicles however are pretty interesting. I don’t think any guns were added that were as important as the battle rifle of Halo 2, but they are different and refreshing in their different uses. The two new brute weapons do well in helping the brutes flesh out their side of the armory in both look and utility. I love speeding around in the new Mongoose, and the Hornet flying section was fun, but I don’t think they’ll change the multiplayer scene much. I personally have not begun to master any of the new items, but I can already tell from the few games I played online that they will change the whole landscape of the multiplayer scheme.

You can play up to 4 people co-op over Live.

Which leads me to talk about the section of the game that really makes Halo 3 the console-seller that it is. The multiplayer for Halo 3 is fantastic. With the inclusion of the Forge and Theatre, which allows ANYONE to make their own customizable maps, items, and gametypes and share their most awesome experiences in Halo on Xbox Live, Bungie has in my eyes perfected the console FPS multiplayer experience for this generation.

The hammer and new armors are awesome. (So is the Theater, where all of these pictures are from.)

I haven’t played more than a few hours worth of the multiplayer due to my internet being messed up, but I have been keeping track of it and have already seen the great results of the Forget and Theatre. Already there have been some interesting player-created multiplayer maps on the internet and freakin’ awesome videos of kills that everyone wished they could’ve recorded in Halo 2. I also like the new appearance models that can be unlocked. Even if everyone chooses to use a few models, it’s still a lot better than just seeing the same elites and master chiefs running around. It would take pages and pages to go over every aspect of the multiplayer, but trust me in that every part of Halo 2’s multiplayer has been improved. Bungie has even started with date-based downloadable events like a zombie-based gametype just for Halloween. Also, I’ve heard them promise updated versions of older maps from previous games. If you don’t know anything about Halo, you really don’t need to bother with either of the older ones, as Halo 3’s multilayer could potentially last you a lifetime with a sufficient playerbase and gives you a “greatest hits” version of the last two in addition to all new content.

I would say that Halo 3 has definetly lived up to its hype. The single player could have been a little better, but the reason one buys the game anyways is for the multiplayer. It will definitely go down as one of the best FPS games for any platform for this generation. I really hope more games in general can copy Halo’s Theater mode. I know a lot of PC games can let you take screenshots and make maps, but I would like to see more console games follow suit. Finally, if you would get any game for your 360, this is the game to get.

Halo 3 deserves a 5 out of5 stars. (add me on Xbox Live: Dumhartoir)