THE CRITICAL CRAPPER

A blog for those of us who care about what goes in AND what comes out.

Aji Sai Japanese Restaurant

8206 Bayview Ave
Toronto, ON CANADA

Here’s something you may not know about the Critical Crapper: We like to keep our reviews natural and organic.

That’s right. Here at the Critical Crapper, we don’t just visit the bathroom, we experience the bathroom. That means we vow to never write a review, unless nature calls us to it, if you catch my drift …

Case in point: Aji Sai Japanese Restaurant.

This is the kind of all-you-can-eat-sushi-buffet place that litters the streets of Toronto, mainly uptown. There’s not much to distinguish Aji Sai Sushi from the rest, but it’s a family favourite of one of our writing staff. Having grown up 10 minutes from this place, she’s been to this delicious establishment countless times, and yet, mysteriously, has never heard the call of the wild. Apparently, no amount of fresh sashimi and delicious spicy salmon maki from Aji Sai Japanese Restaurant has been enough …

Just how many sheets does Aji Sai Japanese Restaurant deserve? It’s another great mystery of life …

Two Goats Brewery

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5027 State Rt 414
Hector, NY 14841  

Two Goats Brewing is one of those interesting places that Finger Lakes locals love and so do we. They serve housemade beers, which are light and delicious! The menu has ONE item - roast beef sandwich with chips and a pickle. Not the best roast beef, I’ve ever had, but well, that doesn’t matter. Two Goats is charming, the staff is relaxed and the patio outside looks over beautiful fields into Seneca Lake. 

If you want to relax with friends over good beer - go to Two Goats!

If you want a nice clean bathroom to dump out that roast beef sandwich - go to Two Goats! The décor of the single bathroom matches the rest of the quirkiness of Two Goats and is obviously carefully crafted and thought-out. I love that! I love that they gave so much attention to the bathroom. It’s clean, but a little musky for those of us with a sensitive nose. Other than that, we have no complaints about this bathroom and we give it 4 out of 5 rocking IPA sheets!

Caravan of Dreams

405 E 6th St
(between 1st Ave & Avenue A) 
New YorkNY 10009

IT’S ALIVE! and we loved it.

Since moving to NYC, your Critical Crapper has been looking to sample a raw vegan foods joint. While dining with the upper echelon of society at Pure Food and Wine was tempting (Alec Baldwin met his now-wife there and Chelsea took father, Bill, here for a meal before too), Caravan of Dreams was an excellent, more frugal alternative.

Went with a group of friends for a goodbye party, we got there around 19:00 and we were seated immediately but … that’s about the only thing that was immediate that evening. Ordered from just their live menu which featured great variations on pizza, spaghetti and ravioli. I enjoyed this place thoroughly. The ingredients are simple but so well-balanced! Delicious. By the way, the spiced apple and blood orange sangria can get any party going. And by the way, there were only TWO waiters for the whole joint! Come here if you’re in no rush.

For a restaurant whose patrons go above and beyond the daily recommended intake of dietary fibre, the bathrooms were lacking. Two singles at the back of the restaurant, red lighting with red wallpaper, but a lovely mexican tile border around the room. The one I went to had a painting of a woman looking out of a window in that A-Room-Of-One’s-Own kind of way. It was placed strategically to block an ugly wall fan. I sense effort. Still, it was a typical, tiny, NYC bathroom. Olfactory experience? Somewhat sudate … Cleanliness? Meh …

Verdict? 2-sheeter, fo sho!

The Greek Kitchen

Greek Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Had a meal here with a friend before a night at the Metropolitan Opera and was delighted by the food and service. 

We arrived around 18:00 on a Wednesday night, there were not many people around and we were seated promptly. We shared appetizers of the classics: Spanakopita and Tzatziki with pita. Both were great - you can’t ask for more than light and crisp philo dough with a perfectly warmed spinach inside!

I ordered the pork souvlaki which comes with salad and your choice of rice, potatoes, Greek fries or orzo. A huge and tasty salad arrived first, then the best pork souvlaki and orzo I have ever had! Such tender and succulent morsels and a great delight for the taste buds.

I will tell you that the service is attentive and accommodating. We had to rush a bit to catch our show and the staff was very good about helping us get to the opera on time. The normal pace of service is a little slower than most places I’ve been too, but if we didn’t have other plans after, I would have really loved sitting and eating there leisurely. 

Bathroom stop before the opera? Head toward one of the two bathrooms located past the food counter, open the door and you’ll be greeted by (an attempt at) ancient Greece. The décor of the restrooms likened them to an old time bath house, with mock stone wallpaper on the bottom and painted/stained walls at the top. The place was clean, smelled great, had everything you need in a bathroom and didn’t ruin the delectable pork souvlaki I had just scarfed.

The Greek Kitchen didn’t push any envelopes though (and soon, neither will the USPS …) and for that we give it a respectable 3 of 5 sheets.

Indian Tandoor Oven Restaurant

175 E 83rd St.
New York, NY 10082

Indian Tandoor-Oven Restaurant on Urbanspoon

My first Indian restaurant in the City and if it’s true what they say about Indian food, bathrooms are key. And, this place gets rave reviews from Woody Allen!

I walk in around 18:30 to an empty restaurant, kind of dimly lit. There were 6 or 7 men sitting in various locations around the place and it unsettles me just a little. One of them greeted me with a smile and welcome and had me seated in seconds! My dinner mates arrived shortly and for the rest of the evening the place really picked up! 

Tandoor Oven had delicious food and very good service. The waitstaff was accommodating and friendly, but if you’re like me, you’ll be a little freaked out by how “attentive” they are. One guy overheard my dinner mates say my name and later used it to address me. Maybe I’m overly sensitive, but I feel like that was overstepping the waiter-customer boundaries. Am I right? 

Might I suggest the chicken tikka massala with naan or beef vindaloo? Both these dishes were fabulous! And they know how to make a good mango lassi.

But … even the free rice pudding dessert could not make up for the trauma of the bathrooms. Down a long winding hall, past the kitchen and past all other signs of life, two doors lead to the male and female bathrooms respectively. Once inside, you’ll be shocked by the cold of the unheated bathroom and wondering why there is red light and a weird vanity. The switch controls the light and the fan (blue duct-taped square thing) and you’re shivering as you sit to do your business … maybe from the cold, but probably from the fear that some lady will appear and try to sell your drugs.

All of this would normally have given Indian Tandoor Oven Restaurant a whopping NO-SHEETS, but this critical crapper can make do with a clean, fully stocked, odourless bathroom. Now, whether to lack of bathroom smell was because it was too cold for any of those chemicals to volatilize is a question for another day …

Maybe Woody didn’t use the bathrooms?

"Kappa ga nozoita toire mandara"

Humourous adventure stories of bathrooms all over the world. Available only in Japanese and Chinese! It’s gotta be weird for a Japanese man to visit an Indian toilet. Am I right? 

We need it in English now!

Ippudo

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65 Fourth Avenue 
New YorkN.Y. 10003 

Ippudo on Urbanspoon

Your faithful Critical Crapper has been to this establishment more than any other in the great “city that never sleeps”. Everything about it vibes.

The ramen is delicious, the appetizers are fabulous and the drinks are good partners for your meal. One thing you’ll notice about Ippudo is their dedication to detail and excellence. I sat at the bar once and watched the chefs take their time composing the appetizers and meals and you can certainly taste it. The place is like an utopian society. Each member of the staff seems to have their own distinct purpose and the customers come first. Service is fast, quick, and REALLY friendly. And I love the diversity of the wait staff. This place is kind of what I hope the future could be like … a bunch of totally different people together working toward a common goal.

adore Ippudo.

And just like a loving sibling might express discontent to her family member, I have to say that the place could pay a little more attention to the end of digestion. The bathrooms are downstairs, there are two female and one male and despite the absolutely HUGE crowds that populate Ippudo, I’ve never had to wait to use the bathrooms. 

What will hit you first is the smell, then the dingy lighting, then the drops of fluid on the ground, then the lack of décor or attention to cleaning … the toilet seats are that gross cheap plastic and there are mirrors for walls (which can go so wrong if not done right). The only interesting thing about the place is the faucet. The kind that pours water out like a spoon over your hands. fancy, but ill-placed.

It’s worth it just to chew on some miso ramen and jam to a Nujabes record. A tip: I try and go to the bathroom before I go here so I can avoid the trauma.

Nao’s Japanese Restaurant

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117 Murray St
Perth, WA 6000

Nao Japanese on Urbanspoon

As readers of The Critical Crapper might soon discover, we love ramen.

So, how could we pass up an opportunity to sample Japanese ramen in Australia. Articles have been written about Nao’s great ramen noodle making and this is the first place Perth locals will recommend for delicious ramen offerrings.

We waited 10 minutes for our table on a Sunday afternoon. They took our orders, brought our drinks, and food at an excellent pace. The menu offers an interesting variety of ramen including the traditional egg noodles and the not-so-traditional spinach or red chili-infused noodles. The broth was a good balance and the noodles, well, they were ok … (If you’ve been to Ippudo in New York City for ramen (or Japan), you’ll be ruined for life). It was an enjoyable meal to share with friends. I was really impressed with their offering of “cold ramen”. Pretty tasty and very appropriate for the hot Australian weather. Way to adapt, Nao.

Here’s a weird thing about Nao’s, it’s closed on Saturdays! Whaaat?

Here’s another weird thing about Nao’s, they didn’t have bathrooms (which I’m told is common in Aus - Australian readers, yes?)!

In any case, I think this Critical Crapper verdict speaks for itself …

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Alice’s Tea Cup II

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156 East 64th Street
New York, NY

Alice's Tea Cup Chapter II on Urbanspoon

This is a whimsical and delightful place to have brunch on a weekend. They are well-known for their delicious scones, but I had the crepe and it was quite good as well. They also have a great selection of teas which some may enjoy. If you’re a coffee-lover like me though, you might find their selection and taste a little wanting. Although, they do give you a GIANT cup of the mediocre coffee. hahaha.

Definitely call ahead for reservations, last time my wait was an hour! Although they do have a lovely system where they will call you to let you know your table is ready and the area is not too bad to roam around in. There are two stores just near it that sell puppies.

The Alice theme is carried out in their smaller bathrooms. They are clean with some effort at design, but just ever-so-slightly smelly the way that bathrooms are smelly. You know, that moist, moldy smell … ew. If you’re wearing a summer dress (which you are if you’re going here with girlfriends for brunch), it makes you worried you’ll dirty it.

And so, I give Alice’s Tea Cup, Chapter II and their bathroom offering two, summer-dress-fantasy-ruining sheets. 

Central image courtesy of: Shannon Eileen

Bon Chon (Midtown East)

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957 2nd Avenue
New York, NY

I biked to midtown looking for a meal at The Smith, but I was met with a 1.5 hour wait on a Tuesday night (make reservations, people!). My dinner partner and I stood outside the beautiful building trying to decide where to go and when we turned around we saw Bon Chon (Midtown East). 

"How ‘bout there? I could do Korean."

I sat down and looked at the menu hoping to see some of my go-to Korean favorites, I didn’t see any. Alas. I was not prepared for this Korean-adaptation joint (but now you are). This place is known for its Korean-style fried chicken and they do that well. Crispy and tasty, a definite delight.

The décor was stylish with a lounge-like flare. I found the temperature a little warm for the kinds of foods they were serving. After sitting in the place for 5 minutes surveying the menu, I was craving greens, but was met with heavy meat dishes and fried rice instead. That being said, salad is not their strong suit, but the chicken is great. The portions are huge and taste pretty great heated for lunch the next day! 

There are two single room bathrooms in the whole place (but that’s enough, it’s not huge). Longest wait for one of them is 5 minutes, I would say. The lounge design of the dining area is definitely carried out into the bathrooms. The room felt large and clean, they had paper towels in baskets (which I prefer to the wall-mounted dispensers) and nice smelling soap. 

It wasn’t the restaurant’s fault that my restroom visit followed that of a horrible, greasy man who urinated all over the toilet seat and did nothing about it. I knew things were looking grim when I saw his used paper towel haphazardly missing the trash can on his way out. At least he washed his hands. When I walked in there was nothing but soap and water to clean the seat … I had nightmares that night. Any ladies or gentlemen care to comment on how they would deal with this situation? 

Although it was a lovely restroom and did not ruin my chicken-chomping experience one bit, the restaurant leaves its toilet seats defenseless against sanitation violators like the nasty man I encountered (who pops the collar on a button-down, am I right?). A little alcohol foam in the corner somewhere, or maybe even some seat covers. Maybe Bon Chon Midtown East should get some Sani-seats!

This restroom was a measly 3-sheeter.