Saturday, March 31, 2012

Japanese film Jiro Dreams of Sushi in Squirrel Hill.


Join the Pittsburgh Japanese Culture, Language, and Food Meet-up group for dinner and a movie on April 6th to watch Jiro Dreams of Sushi at Squirrel Hill's Manor Theatre. The film is a story, says the official website,
of 85 year-old Jiro Ono, considered by many to be the world’s greatest sushi chef. He is the proprietor of Sukiyabashi Jiro, a 10-seat, sushi-only restaurant inauspiciously located in a Tokyo subway station. Despite its humble appearances, it is the first restaurant of its kind to be awarded a prestigious 3 star Michelin review, and sushi lovers from around the globe make repeated pilgrimage, calling months in advance and shelling out top dollar for a coveted seat at Jiro’s sushi bar.

For most of his life, Jiro has been mastering the art of making sushi, but even at his age he sees himself still striving for perfection, working from sunrise to well beyond sunset to taste every piece of fish; meticulously train his employees; and carefully mold and finesse the impeccable presentation of each sushi creation. At the heart of this story is Jiro’s relationship with his eldest son Yoshikazu, the worthy heir to Jiro’s legacy, who is unable to live up to his full potential in his father’s shadow.
The group will have dinner at Chaya---like the Manor Theatre also on Squirrel Hill's Murray Avenue---considered by a lot of Japanese in the area to be the best Japanese restaurant in Pittsburgh.

Pirates trade Japanese pitcher to Toronto.

The Pittsburgh Pirates are again without an Asian player, trading relief pitcher Ryota Igarashi to Toronto for future considerations. The site Jays Journal says he
won’t be considered for a position in the Jays’ bullpen given that it’s already full, so he’s purely a depth pickup and that will spend the season with Triple-A Las Vegas. As a pitcher with a decent splitter that can generate ground balls but also rack up strikeouts, though, he’s a solid, low cost pickup for Vegas’ bullpen.
Igarashi, a 32-year-old out of Chiba who has 5 wins in 79 Major League appearances, signed a minor-league contract with Pittsburgh in December, a move that completely escaped my notice.

Pittsburgh has experimented with a few Asian-born players, but none have lasted an entire season, as I noted in a December post about some rumored free agent targets. My favorite, for sentimental reasons because he was a guy I wanted to see succeed after finally getting to the US, was Masume Kuwata, the 39-year-old pitcher signed in 2007. The sequence on his Baseball Reference wiki, though, shows a typical Pirates acquisition:
"1987-1994: The Glory Years," "1995-1996: Injury," "1997-2002: Post-Injury," "2003-2006: Further decline," "To the USA."

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

See Korean cartoon "Leafie" in Pittsburgh, April 4th.


The animated film Leafie, a Hen into the Wild (마당을 나온 암탉) is the third and final installment of the University of Pittsburgh's small 2012 Korean Film Festival (풍산개 and the others), and will be showing Wednesday, April 4th at 6:00 pm at Posvar Hall.

Here's how a Winter 2011 review in Koreana Quarterly concludes about the film's significance:
Despite minor flaws in the scenes presented with 3D imagery, “Leafie, a Hen into the Wild” has what it takes to signal a new era for the Korean animation industry, thus far limited to a student-age audience, in terms of its uplifting theme, advanced technology effects, brilliant artistry, and beneficial synergy created through the joint efforts of the animation and live-action film sectors. Korea has already seen a number of its animation directors and animators receive high praise at prestigious international film festivals abroad. As such, the doors have now been opened wider for their growing ranks.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

New Korean bakery / cakery in Squirrel Hill.

Squirrel Hill is starting to feel like a teeny-tiny Koreatown: there's a Korean grocery in Young's (영스), Korean food at Green Pepper and Aseoma, and now a Korean bakery on Murray Avenue. Sumi's Cakery opened yesterday, March 24th, and is located on 2119 Murray Ave., in the spot formerly occupied by Sweet Tammy's. It's open Tuesday through Saturday, 10 am to 6 pm; get there early for the full selection of cakes, cupcakes, rice cakes, and other items.

There are some photos on the Facebook page.