The Weekly Eater
FORGET about writing the great American novel. According to one speaker at a writer's conference here recently, selling books and screenplays these days is about selling your character. Creating synergy. Creating something that translates to and sells from medium to medium to medium.
Its more fun
than food at Bubbas
What does writing screenplays have to do with restaurants? Look no further than the symbiosis of "Forrest Gump" and Bubba Gump's. First came the novel, then the 1994 "Forrest Gump" film, then Academy Awards for Best Actor Tom Hanks and Best Picture, then I don't remember whether the cookbook came first, or the bright idea to create a restaurant based on the shrimp salad, fried shrimp, boiled shrimp as cooked by Bubba's mom.
The food sounded good to me when I saw the film, but that's about it. Enter someone with synergy on the brain, Paramount Pictures' blessing and bucks, and a restaurant was born.
Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.
Ala Moana Center
Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily
Prices: Same for lunch and dinner, ranging from $15 to $45 for two without drinks
I thought Bubba might have trouble luring shoppers to the new Upper Level at Ala Moana Center, but I should have put more faith in the siren song of shrimp. It is packed. But forget reservations. It's first-come, first-served here.
You might want to watch the movie again before you go, because managers visit tables with movie trivia questions. Right answers may be rewarded with free food. Ours was, "Who was Forrest Gump's girlfriend?" He even hinted that it starts with a "J." I said Janet.
Duh! Never mind that we had ordered Jenny's Juice, and the name is all over the menu, as in Jenny's Sweet Ginger and Garlic Shrimp ($14.59) and her Peace 'n' Love Veggie Plate ($9.79) with teriyaki sauce.
OH , well, as Forrest says, "Stupid is as stupid does." This is the kind of place that really leaves one brain dead. It's noisy, it's crowded, and once you get down to eating, the hands-on food can be messy. You'll likely be peeling and eating beer-steamed shrimp ($9.99 for three-quarter pound), pulling apart crab claws ($17.99 for da Crab Pot) or lifting saucy Dixie Style Ribs ($16.99).
Start with the Run Across America Sampler ($12.99) with its Peel 'n' Eat Shrimp, Texas Wild Wings, Fried Shrimp with Okra and Bubba's Far Out Dip (spinach, roasted peppers, artichokes and Monterey Jack) with tortilla chips.
After this, you may find you need no more than a salad. The table will also have no room for more than a salad. A ping pong-paddle drink list and the license plate "Run Forrest Run" and "Stop Forrest Stop" signs meant to get waiters' attention take up a lot of space.
But the menu tempts you to keep that stomach running. The food is as can be expected at a theme restaurant. Shrimp in the shell is overcooked, though portions are generous. Fried shrimp might as well have come out of a frozen-foods box, Cajun sausage and burgers are dry. It doesn't matter. People who love theme restaurants will love this place for the fun it represents.
Before you leave, check out the company store, to pick up coffee mugs, T-shirts, and of course, Forrest's box of chocolates. Synergy, remember?
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Nadine Kam's restaurant reviews run on Thursdays. Reviews are conducted anonymously and paid for by the Star-Bulletin. Star ratings are based on comparisons of similar restaurants:
-- very good, exceeds expectations;
-- below average.
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