Welcome to Dinner and a Movie, a new OnMilwaukee Dining Month series where dining editor Lori Fredrich and culture editor Matt Mueller serve up the perfect menu for your upcoming night-in with scrumptuous local eats paired with splendid streamable cinema. Let OnMilwaukee take over the planning; all you have to do is enjoy the food and the entertainment.
Make the usual Chinese takeout night an adventure by ordering at least one dish you’ve never tried before, then seeking out a feast of a foreign feature from the Asian continent – ranging in flavor from funny to fierce to family drama.
When it comes to Chinese fare, Sze Chuan is the real deal. Do it up right and focus on their specialty: dishes from the Szechuan region. Don’t miss the Szechuan pork dumplings, grilled curry lamb or dry pot cauliflower, among others.
There’s nothing like a meal from Dandan, which offers playful twists on modern Chinese-American fare. Get fancy with short rib and foie gras potstickers, or stick to the standards and order their unique crab rangoon. Then head to their list of house specialties and order away. And be sure to ask about beverages that pair well with your food!
"Eat Drink Man Woman"
It's pretty much impossible for two-time Academy Award winner Ang Lee to make a movie that isn't luscious to look at. (OK, maybe "Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk – but that's the one!) So add his usual rich and lush visual style to a warm and emotionally savvy story about a widowed chef trying to connect with his three free-thinking daughters over extravagantly crafted Sunday meals, and you have an early gem from a directing master that's good enough to eat. (Editor's note: Do not atttempt to eat your screen; it will neither be tasty nor satisfying.) (Available on Hoopla.)
Why let your stomach do all the feasting? Let you eyes enjoy a sumptuous meal of their own with "Shadow," a gorgeously crafted epic from Chinese wuxia (aka a genre of period-set martial arts action-dramas) master Zhang Yimou. Sure, the plot – a tale of royal intrigue, rival kingdoms, betrayals and doppelgangers – is as knotty and tangled as a noodle dish, but when it looks as beautiful as "Shadow," you just dive in and ask questions later. Plus, it has action scenes with bladed umbrellas! (Available on Netflix and Hoopla.)
This acclaimed Japanese comedy is one of the all time great food movies, so much so it created it's own genre: the "ramen western." OK, it's a genre comprised of one (and even that description falls short of capturing its eclectic nature) but what a one it is, an anarchic and goofy tale of several strangers banding together to defend a small ramen shop with perfect brothy noodles, amongst other dining-related dramas. And it's a good thing you ordered takeout, because if you weren't hungry before watching "Tampopo," you certainly will be afterward. (Available on HBO Max, Kanopy and The Criterion Channel.)