Sushi in honky-town

We frequent a place in the straight-laced, lily white, defiantly preppy ‘burb known as New Canaan.

It is an absolutely idyllic community, with a slightly sordid history (you saw The Ice Storm, right?) and residents who buy and sell people like me for sport.

Despite these charming qualities—or is it because of them?—New Canaan has a rather thriving restaurant scene, with several places that routinely receive excellent reviews from the NYT Connecticut edition. Whatevs. We don’t care about stars; we’re in it for the chow. Which is why we go to Sushi 25

In a former incarnation, it was a straight-up Chinese place, and an outrageously good one, at that. I’m talking the best orange beef in, like, ever, amazing sauteed shrimp (I’ve had larger and more tender, but they were in Bangkok; so I make do), and an outrageously delish take on a throw-back: shrimp toast.

A few  years ago, it was re-imagined as a sushi place—and the rolls, sashimi, etc. turned out to be amazing. Not only that, but it retained many of its Chinese standouts. So, yeah, it’s now a kind of Asian fusion place (please stop laughing), but without all the nuveau window dressing and compromised quality normally associated with that descriptor.

The bathroom takes a hit because there’s only one. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no priss. It’s just that I absolutely abhor waiting in line for anything, and a toilet is at the top of the list. Still, it’s clean and roomy. I’m talking Manhattan-apartment roomy. So why they couldn’t come up with someplace other than the top of the toilet tank to store extra rolls of TP confounds me. As does the choice to leave the plunger out ‘en plein aire,’ as it were. I’d prefer a more design-y soap option (I think they use the same as the body wash in my gym), but the old-school paper towel dispenser is a nice touch. Just as long as they keep it stocked.

Author’s note: I was NOT the one who left an empty toilet paper roll (see images). Granted, I didn’t change it, but still…

Rating of chew: 4 out of 5

Rating of loo: 2.5 out of 5


Kitt’s Thai Kitchen (and bathroom)

The proprietress of this quaint establishment is so enamored of herself that the exterior is literally plastered with Warhol-esque repeat images of her shining countenance.

Odd, I know.

Turns out, though, she’s got plenty to be proud of. The eats are consistently high in quality, made with fresh, flavorful ingredients and prepared expertly by a whole team of people with questionable citizenship credentials in what looks to be a well-appointed kitchen.

My family’s favorites here are the Drunken noodle with shrimp, Massaman curry and, perhaps predictably, the Pad kra pow. Really, though, we’ve never had a sub-par dish, and the service is very good if not particularly warm. (It’s all about table-turn don’tcha know?)

But enough about all that; let’s get down to business, by which I mean the state of affairs in the restrooms. And the verdict is: Quite good, actually.

The business end of things

The business end of things

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. The whole place has a clean, well-ordered, functional aesthetic to it, and the loo is no exception. There’s nice tile work, bright-but-not-offensive colors, simplistic artwork/crafts and plenty of room to, um, spread out. All in all, a nice showing for a little place that could just as easily have cheaped-out and done the whole thing in builder’s-grade schlock from The Depot.

So kudos to you, Kitt.

That faux-marble countertop ain't fooling anybody

That faux-marble countertop ain't fooling anybody

Floor border detail; me like-y

Floor border detail; me like-y

Rating of chew: 3.5 out of 5

Rating of loo: 3 out of 5

Chit Chat. Ho hum.

This formerly run-of-the-mill Jersey diner now looks like a friggin’ spec house for Mackenzie-Childs, the slightly off-kilter interior design and home furnishings manufacturer whose stuff is part incredibly fun and funky and part, well, weird.

(Full disclosure: The wife and I were on a bit of a Mackie-C tear several years ago and, as I recall, mortgaged one or more of the kids to score a few drawer pulls and piece together shards of fabric into what we lovingly regard as drapes.)

The diner—improbably situated in Hackensack, of all places—is, truth be told, tastefully done. And everything (no, really, everything) is tarted up in M-C’s trademark circus stripes, black-and-white checks and purple-gold combos. I know, it sounds odd, but somehow it works. Mostly. Problem is, it’s woefully redundant and lacking any of the mix-and-match whimsy that defines Mackenzie-Childs’ decorating style.

Nowhere is that more apparent than in the bathroom, where the decorator either decided s/he’d had enough, or the owner’s wife ran out of money. Either way, the result is an uninspired ode to bland, combining checkerboard tiles (and green glass ones) with stainless steel and faux wood finishes. I’ll say this for it: It was clean.

And that’s all I’ll say.

As for the food, it seems infected with the same blandiosity as the decor. Save your money and, while in NJ, hit a real diner or, better yet, one of the hundreds of fine hot dog vending establishments that define my fair home state.

Rating of chew: 1.5 out of 5

Rating of loo: 3 out of 5

California Pizza Kitchen (and Bathroom)

Ho hum

Ho hum

I found the restrooms at CPK actually mimic the restaurant interiors—not in their decor, necessarily, but in their complete absence of creativity or imagination.

Don’t get me wrong: the mixed media (subway-style tile, marble counters and stainless fixtures) was nice and all. It’s just that, there was nothing to really distinguish it from, say, a corporate WC.

Regardless, I gotta give props for the immaculate state of affairs in there. And that’s saying something, considering that most CPKs are like a little melting pot of humanity by dint of their positioning in those larger couldrons of humanity we call malls.

Rating of chew: 2.5 out of 5

Rating of loo: 4 out of 5

Tawa’s Taj Mahal

Guess where I'm standing?

Guess where I'm standing?

In a cramped, suburban strip mall, Tawa stands out like…well, like an excellent Indian restaurant that has the misfortune of being nestled between a particularly sketchy-looking tanning salon and a Korean nail place (I know: shocker!).

As for the facilities, I recommend arriving with an empty tank and leaving before the urge strikes.

The men’s restroom is bigger than a bread box—but not by much—relatively clean and stocked with little more than the bare necessities.

Rating of chew: 3.5 out of 5

That's about the size of it!

That's about the size of it!

Rating of loo: 1.5 out of 5