The Hungry Cat – Oysters, Shrimp and Getting Past "Chicken"

the hungry cat restaurant, hollywood, los angeles, ca - peel and eat shrimp
It may appear from the words on this blog that I am friendly, outgoing, outspoken, loud, aggressive, borderline obnoxious, and when it comes to “party,” well hell, it just isn’t one until I get there.

Appearances, they say, can be deceiving.

I am under the impression that people who write on their personal blogs are very true to themselves. Their blogs are not merely an online extension of their normal, everyday selves, but a totally transparent floor-to-ceiling plate glass picture window into their souls. What you read is what you get. The way they write is the way they speak. The thoughts they put out there are exactly what they are thinking. Every other blogger out there behaves in real-life the way they “behave” through their writing.

Every other blogger out there in the big bad blogosphere, it seems, except me.

In real life, I am not even distantly related by fifth marriage to a second cousin thrice removed to the “big” personality that comes through on my blog. Or at least, the personality I try to convey.

It’s almost like my blog is my alter ego. Let’s break it down, SAT-style.

Clark Kent : Superman :: Sarah : The Delicious Life.

One side is “real-life” and the other side is “super-alter-ego.”

But which side of those colons is “real life?”

Strangely enough, my blog is my real-life persona, and it is this off-line life that is my alter ego. The Delicious Life is who I really am, and it is in this off-line, or “so-called real” life, where I have been programmed to be another way.

Proper. Put-together. Quiet and demure. Mature. No swear words. I am shy. I don’t talk much. If we’re at a party, I’m usually hovering around the food, peeking out from behind a cocktail, just watching. And that’s assuming I’ve even gone to the party. More likely than not, I am grateful for the invitation. “Thank you so much,” I say, “but that’s the night I upload photos to Flickr. But really, thank you.” A polite decline with a reasonable excuse. I don’t even use my Flickr account, so there you go. I stay home and listen to KOST 103.5 hoping to hear an anonymous dedication of Sade’s “By Your Side” from a secret admirer to me.

This is the reason I blog, for fox ache. Because I am very bad with off-line, real-life, social situations and would rather hide behind this electronic veil. On my blog, it is just me. In real life, there are *gasp!* other people around. On my blog, I am fearless. In real life, I am easily intimidated. On my blog, I am a goddamned wordsmith. But out in the real world, I stutter. I stumble over my words, and that’s only if I can find the words to begin with…I am a nervous, neurotic, train wreck of a girl.

In person.

For other bloggers, normal bloggers, this seems not to be the case. The blog really is just an outlet for…writing. It’s not someone else’s made-up face they put on in this grand masquerade ball called The Internets. And these normal bloggers like to meet each other outside The Internets. They like to socialize in person. They make friends.

*whoa*

That scares me. I am… *squawk!*

Chicken.

Food bloggers have invited me to social “food blogger” gatherings before, and though I don’t really try to not go, I am utterly relieved when I realize I simply can’t make it because I really do have a prior engagement (not just UL-ing photos, but like…waxing my upper lip. Just kidding. Sheesh, I’m Asian. I am basically hairless.)

Only once before have I ever gone out and “met” a blogger, and it took a lot for me to even light-heartedly reply to the email with a “Sure!” As if I did it all the time. As if it were no problem. As if I’d just *taptaptap* it into my Palm Pilot and not think about it until my Palm alarm preset-for-60-minutes-before beeped at me.

I thought about it. For three days before Jen and I met up at the Hollywood Farmers’ Market, I thought about. “What if she thinks I’m totally lame? What if she hates me? What if she blogs out loud to everyone how weird and awkward I am? Maybe I shouldn’t meet her. But then she’ll think I’m a flake. What if I flake and she blogs about it and tells everyone I’m a flake?” I was doubting myself into a giant hole. I was really nervous. More nervous than going to a third-round case interview. More nervous than meeting his parents. More nervous than going on a blind date. Okay, not that last one. I have never been on a blind-date.

Needless to say, I worried about it for three days for nothing. Meeting a blogger in real life isn’t so bad after all.

The thing is, I don’t seem to learn from experience.

So when the Scent of Green Bananas wafted her way across the Pacific eastward to LA and invited me to dinner with perhaps a few other LA-based food bloggers, I was… Well, I was a little more than intimidated. Again. As always. Meet bloggers? Like face-to-face? And like, actually speak and have a conversation? With words?!?!

My feathers were ruffled in the most chicken poop kind of way possible.

But as much of a social retard as I am, I am also not completely stupid. The only way to get past some weird hang-up is to yes, 1) realize that it is a weird hang-up, then 2) take the paddle attachment on your pink-is-for-power KitchenAid mixer at top speed and spank your fear into the ground.

Or maybe just start at Level 1 and ease your way up from there.

Santos and I exchanged emails about date, time, and most importantly location. Westside? Eastside? Right in the middle. When she finally suggested The Hungry Cat, I knew our first-time meeting wouldn’t totally fall apart. Even if she found me to be dreadfully dull, at least she would enjoy the food and drinks. The Hungry Cat…made me *meow*

Santos, Yoony (immaeatchu), and I took a table outside. The Hungry Cat inside is small, dark and high energy at the bar, but the acoustics, as part of the larger warehouse-like shopping center to which it is attached, can be a little clamorous for a dinner where conversation and “getting to know you” is the focus. It was a pretty fabulous summer evening for sitting on the patio.

We ordered drinks right away. Whether that was out of a nervous need for liquid calm, simply out of habit, or as a preparatory lubricant for the impending conversation, I am not quite sure. Perhaps some combination of all three. Yoony had sparkling wine, I, Citron/soda, and Santos ordered a deep dark scarlet/burnt-orange cocktail, the name of which e
scapes me. Negroni, perhaps? I only remember that she was able to identify all the liquors in it by taste. Impressive. I like her. :)

Ordering dishes is hard enough as it is, particularly at The Hungry Cat, where the tendency is toward…everything, even the Pug Burger (not made of pugs, just named after one) at this decidedly seafood restaurant. Toss that with three people from totally different lives who know nothing about one another, along with the added strangeness that indeed, they do know something about each other from reading one anothers’ blogs, and ordering becomes a cautious, slightly awkward pre-pubescent first dance. One person makes a shy, tentative step, retreats, then politely waits for another to take her step. “What do you think of…?” “How about…?” “Oooh, this looks good…”

Eventually, we made decisions, and that was after aplogetically shooing our very patient server away at least twice because we hadn’t even started to look at the menu.

the hungry cat restaurant, hollywood, los angeles, ca - raw oysters
screw the summer months!

Against standard brainwashed judgment regarding how we spell the months of the year, we started with oysters on the half shell because the server assured us they were fantastic. I love raw oysters, but aside from drowning them in a Molotov cocktail of Tabasco, horseradish, and their own obscene seepage, then sucking them down like…well, sucking them down, I know nothing about oysters. Briny vs. sweet, large vs small, Pacific Northwest vs. anywhere else. The server brought us a sampling, pointed and identified their names for which I nodded and smiled as if I would remember, then left us to it.

Even faced with which oysters to try, the three of us were overly polite to the point of – dare I say it? – ridiculous. No one wants to be “the gluttonous, greedy, selfish one” at the church picnic buffet line by going first, and at The Hungry Cat, we were the same, graciously deferring to one another to “go ahead.” The fact that the iced tray had two each of each kind of oyster made it even harder for us, as inevitably, each one of us would be omitted from a taste of one. Eventually we made it through, and I’m pretty certain than none of us felt shafted for not getting to try all three. Screw the summer months! The oysters were fabulous.

the hungry cat restaurant, hollywood, los angeles, ca - peel and eat shrimp
playboy bunnies of the prawn world

Peel n’ Eat Shrimp were so huge they could have been a mutant pygmy strain of lobsters. Big, pink, voluptuous, and perfectly accessorized with flakes of parsley, they were the Playboy Bunnies of prawns. They certainly looked good on the outside, but once they were out of their shells, they were disappointingly, a little bland. (Wow. The analogy worked better than I thought!)

Though the three of us had been courteous and cooperative and collaborative in ordering everything else, I have to admit that I might have been a little selfishly aggressive in suggesting the Braised Clams with Chorizo, which blew me away last time. Some may find that the greasy, spicy, strongly-flavored chorizo overwhelms the clams, but that is exactly whyI love about the dish. As you pluck tiny clams crammed full of chorizo out of the bowl, then use the empty shells to go back and scoop up more of the sausage out of the braising liquid, a shimmering scarlet halo of oil and spices gradually appears around the edge of the bowl where the braising liquid has lapped up against the sides then retreated. More than anything though, I love the grilled bread that come with it.

the hungry cat restaurant, hollywood, los angeles, ca - salad
the dish i don’t remember
the hungry cat restaurant, hollywood, los angeles, ca - scallops
good scallops, but slightly out of order

We had a couple more dishes, one which I don’t even remember, partly because I don’t think I tasted it, and partly because by the time we had gotten to it, I had completely lost my head to the company and conversation. The other dish of thinly sliced scallops marinated in citrus was good, but probably a mistake on our part to order after eating such strongly flavored clams and chorizo. Next time, it’ll have to come right after oysters.

Next time I go to Hungry Cat.

Or next time I meet up with bloggers. Yes, there will be a next time. I’m kicking that KitchenAid mixer into high gear.

The Hungry Cat
1555 North Vine Street (@ Sunset Blvd.)
Hollywood, CA 90028
323.462.2155

www.thehungrycat.com

Who Else Ate at The Hungry Cat?
I did! (Apr 2005)
la.foodblogging – Zteve (Feb 2006) and SoCalorie (May 2005)
La Weekly’s J. Gold – The Life Aquatic (Mar 2005)
LA Ritz – Drunk Girls, Hungry Cat (Apr 2005)
blogging.la – The Hungry Cat Brunch (Oct 2005)
Colleen Cuisine – The Hungry Cat (Apr 2006)
fhungry – The Hungry Cat (Jan 2006)
Potatomato – The Hungry Cat (Apr 2006)

** a year ago today, my cheap, cheating, taco-eating heart came clean **

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  • sam

    you don’t sound so dissimilar to some other blogger I know

  • Raspil

    “I stay home and listen to KOST 103.5 hoping to hear an anonymous dedication of Sade’s “By Your Side” from a secret admirer to me.”

    that is heartbreakingly sad. are you getting anything out of life if the above statement is true? you could be doing something instead of waiting for something. when you’re 80, what do you want to look back on?

    i am, for sure 100%, one of the people you mentioned in the beginning of your post. what you read is what you get, i write like i speak. i couldn’t even begin to imagine myself having an alter-ego that i would have to continuously cultivate because my own life is so dreadfully dull and safe that no one would care.

    you’re nervous, neurotic train wreck? join the club. we all are. some of us revel in it because being ashamed about it sucks!

    i’d like to share these words, some of the best i’ve seen strung together in order:

    “i will not tiptoe through life only to arrive safely at death.”

    i don’t know who said it but it doesn’t matter. they’re absolutely right. life is scary sometimes. if it wasn’t, it would be pointless. be honest with yourself and in turn, you will be honest with those you reach. are faking it in the blog? a great way to become even more socially stunted is to develop an online personality that doesn’t translate to real life. soon you won’t be able to leave your house.

    80 years old. that’s a long time from now. don’t waste it. get out and be awesome. it’s not too late.

  • KILROY_60

    I’ve invited you to connect with Fear And Loathing In The Blogosphere. A basic guideline of Gonzo! is blurring the line between reality and imagination…making yourself part of the story.

    It appears that you are applying the same technique…in a most delicious way. I’ve been looking forward to you returning for another visit. Perhaps some time sooner than later you will do so.

    I’ve had The Delicious Life in my Blogs Of Note list. I’d like to have us exchange links between our sites…let me know.

    Cheers!
    Kilroy_60

  • Anonymous

    I agree with previous commenter.

    You are pathetic.

  • bassbiz

    LOL. Sade isnt so bad, if it were Celine Dion I’d be really worried!!!! I can post a Missed Connection on Craigslist in your honor :P

  • bassbiz

    LOL. Sade isnt so bad, if it were Celine Dion I’d be really worried!!!! I can post a Missed Connection on Craigslist in your honor :P

  • Kevin

    What I really find pathetic is cheap cowards who leave anonymous comments for people on their blogs. It’s doesn’t get much more yellowbellied than that.

  • Di’s Kitchen

    Geez, I can relate! You wanna know what my husband said when he read my first post? “wow, honey I didn’t know you could write.” Um, and I think he liked it that-a-way cause he hasn’t read anything on it since!

    So yup, my blog is my alter ego, that confident, sarcastic, witty, delightful, individual who has never even BEEN to my house, let alone make a daily appearance in what I not so affectionately call my life.

    I checked my KitchenAid – there is most definitely a spank setting – but I haven’t tried it yet, I will soon, promise. Right after I shave my legs…walk the dogs…inspect my naval…

  • Andy

    “More than anything though, I love the grilled bread that come with it.”

    Oddly enough, it’s often the bread that sells me on a place or a cuisine. C&O Trattoria’s a good example. The food’s meh, but those garlic rolls….oh, the garlic rolls.

  • sarah

    sam: i actually do suspect that there are quite a few bloggers out there who are just as super shy. i envy the bloggers like you who are so outgoing!

    raspil: thanks for kicking my ass. love the quote.

    as far as “what you read is what you get” goes…i, too, write exactly as i speak – though when i write, i get to stop, think of words, and only on the screen do the words not have huge gaps and silences. when i speak, the words are the same, just slower. :)

    i have to say that i am slightly offended that you would suggest that i am “faking it” in my blog. i think my blog is a truer reflection of myself than the self that is out there in the offline world. i have been “raised” a certain way – a lot of it is what is “supposed to be” in an asian culture – but i am finding that it is not quite me. it’s taken a very long time to realize that in the first place, and i know it will take some time to “undo” certain things that are just sort of culturally programmed into my brain. that is what is coming out on the blog.

    kilroy: ah, i haven’t been ignoring you…just been busy with things like…oh, this big roundup of ice creams and stuff :)

    anonymous: thank you! but i already knew that! :)

    bassbiz: omg, you know you would totally make an entire weekend trip to vegas just to see celine in concert. i know you would. LOL! good to see you here again ;)

    kevin: “yellow-bellied.” i love it. we need to use that word more often.

    l.a.c.: what do you mean “self-loathing?!?!” we don’t loathe ourselves at all, do we susan?

    di: ah, glad to see that i’m not the only one. and i like the “spank setting.” :)

    andy: LOL! i don’t like c&o much either, and to be sure, the garlic rolls are probably made from frozen dough, but hell if those things are just dropped into vats of garlic butter before they come to the table!

  • Eve

    anonymous,

    you are a total hypocrite if you can be so rude and mean behind an anonymous facade. grow some balls (if that is what you have) and sign your name at least. your comment is no reflection on sarah, it’s only reflective of the miserable and bitter life you must lead.

  • suzanne

    Sarah-
    I love this blog because I think you are very intelligent and can communicate in writing extremely well. I must not be the only one who thinks this since you are listed on epicurious.com as one of the food blogs they like! If anyone wants to see lack of writing talent or a blogger with a high opinion of themselves, visit the blog of the “charmer” who thinks he has the answers for everybody. Pretty judgmental.

  • Daily Gluttony

    hey so when you gonna go out with us? i think you’re the last of the socal foodbloggers i have to meet (no wait, it’s you and elmomonster) i’m starting to think that y’all don’t exist. ha ha just kidding.

    next time you’re going. that’s an order. =)

  • julianne

    i can totally relate to your post sarah! although i haven’t revealed my “true” true self on my blog yet. i worry about what may haunt me someday. anyway, i love your posts-writing/rapping skills,etc…. blogging definitely gives the everyday timid an opportunity to let loose!

  • santos.

    omg, it only took like FOREVER to refind this post…and then you posted a link to it, bwarhar, you have impeccable off-timing, ms. delicious. i’m surprised you remember the food. i didn’t. too busy chatting with you fine folk.

    so, were you totally surprised to find i wasn’t a 13-year old girl wearing hello kitty gear?

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