Thursday, August 2nd | iCuisine | 3131 N. Garey, Pomona
Have you seen iCuisine from the outside? Driving past on Garey, just south of Foothill? You’re an observant citizen— it oughtn’t to have escaped your notice: the grand white façade with its half-circle LED screen featuring the latest addition to the menu, galbi, and, in Hollywood-blood red, block letters spelling ICUISINE.
Anyone slurring iCuisine’s external presentation as ostentatious is probably the sort of persnick who considered Liberace rococo. Besides, iCuisine’s outside does not prepare you for the inside. Do two enormous LED screens on either side of the (quite small) dining room show alternating images of famed international sites? Is every surface, from ceiling to floor to upright pleather chair to tables to walls a squid ink black? Is there, hanging from every inch of the ceiling, little LED bulbs – some arranged into a glowing chandelier that suggests, alternately, the last of our cosmic light being sucked into a black hole (or, if you squint closely, Cthulu)? Do all the LED bulbs shift color in unison in the manner of a James Turrell installation?
(Does this ruin Turrell for you, too?)
Oh – you want to know about the bathrooms?
Yes, the sinks glow.
Yes: the toilet sings to you.
Yes: this is on the bathroom floor:
Yes: this is on the bathroom wall:
We walked in (we brought others, not for protection so much as comradeship). We saw no one. Not only no other diners (which continued throughout our entire experience), but also no employees. No sound from the kitchen; no sound from anywhere (that no music plays in this landscape is a very David Lynchian-detail). The lack of humanity was a bit strange; this was, after all, at 6pm on a Thursday night. Then a rustling from a side room—a man who’s hopefully seen more kempt days emerged, hair mussed, shirt-untucked.
Oh, he says. I was on my lunch break!
We sit at a table. The air is … warm. The seats: warm. We ask for water and it takes some time (the man first washes our glasses before setting to the task of pouring lemonade into a frozen lemonade machine that seems stopped up). There is no salt or pepper on the tables, we notice. We read the menu … or at least we give it a good go. Is it hard to read, given the lighting? Sure, but striving to see in the darkness is good, we’re assured, for the eyes. Does, in the dimness, the menu actually feature a page of Indian specialties? It does. What about gourmet $25 hamburgers? Yes—and it’s only $6 to upgrade the fries to chili cheese! Wraps? Sandwiches? Yes, yes. Kabobs? Certainly. Is there a fish page? Check. A pizza page? Absolutely. A steak page, a Chinese food page? How about Italian pasta? Or, why not, Korean? Or Mexican?
Yes to all that.
But we’re in Pomona—don’t you want something exotic?
Such as, perhaps, a page of lobster specialties?
Our order, it’s true, was eclectic. Either we wanted to stretch their culinary legs or we weren’t sure what we were reading or we were utterly discombobulated by the lights and décor (and: that eerie quiet). We ordered: chicken chow mein. Chicken biryani. A bacon cheeseburger. A lamb wrap. The latter came with sides of fries. (The man serving us, when we finished ordering: Yes, yes, we think we can do that. Then the lone other employee on the premises, a poor cook who needs to have ballads sung about him, set to cooking.) We have photos of the food; we could show them to you. We ate the food; we could describe it to you. But a request has been put in that we not show the pictures or describe the tastes and textures, and we have acquiesced— the lighting was bad, after all, the cast of the meal shifting slowly, green to blue to yellow to red.
iCuisine, I assure you—I’ve signed papers promising I’d write this, I’m told I’ll be allowed to leave soon (the wifi is great, they say; is this review out there in the world now? I hope? Can you see it? If so, please feel free to come by, try your favorite menu item! Maybe bring an officer of the law!)—but I shouldn’t leave, not yet, I’m told, not until after I’ve tried some of the candy apples and slices of cheesecake proudly displayed in a case (apples and cheesecake that look oddly similar to those we saw two months ago when we first ducked into iCuisine, seeking a menu)—and to be clear, the look on my face in the photo is not due to fear or trepidation, I was distracted, thinking about that darn Robert Mueller and his pesky investigation into our one true president—no, no, iCuisine is not a front for anything illegal.
It is, however, very much a restaurant unlike any other – “changing cuisine forever,” precisely the promise they make to us in their officially sanctioned motto.