Last Tuesday, Nitehawk Cinema (136 Metropolitan Ave) celebrated Korean National Liberation Day with a spectacular Film Feast. The Nitehawk team collaborated with Yooeating?! and Tokki Soju to turn Chan-wook Park’s Old Boy (2003) into a multi-sensory, totally immersive thrill ride.
Old Boy is a neo-noir mystery thriller that critics have called “a dazzling work of pop-culture artistry…[that] makes us feel a part of something bigger than ourselves.” With praise like that, I knew I was in for a good time, but add to it Yooeating?!’s evocative and delicious dishes, and Tokki Soju’s imaginative pours made with Soju, a traditional Korean distilled spirit, delivered at precisely the moment of the film which inspired their creation, and Tuesday’s Film Feast was one of the most exciting and satisfying experiences I’ve had at the movies.
And that’s the point. Nitehawk pulls out all the stops for Film Feasts. The program is the theater’s bi-monthly signature series, and every event is the result of at least six months of preparation. First, Nitehawk chooses the film, then the local food and beverage partners create an experimental menu based on the movie. Next, these visiting culinary rock stars sit down with Nitehawk’s food and beverage department to do a tasting to ensure that the food and drink pair expertly—the whole culinary experience reflects specific scenes in the film, and that everything on the plate or in the glass enhances what’s on the screen.
For Old Boy, Irene Yoo and Nick Dodge, of Yooeating?!, created a five course menu including ingredients as diverse as quail egg, octopus and beef tongue. Every bite was exceptional. Yooeating?! is a monthly Korean food popup that brings a fusion of Korean home cooking and street food to Brooklyn. The drinks were Brooklyn-based as well. At Tokki Soju, Brandon Hill produces America’s first handcrafted traditional rice Soju in Redhook. For the film, Hill served his creation straight and Nick Dodge, Nitehawk’s bar manager, created interesting and even effervescent cocktail combinations with ingredients like lemongrass, pine and kombucha.
The entire event was so excellent not only because of the quality of both the film and the feast but also because this isn’t Nitehawk’s first rodeo. Nitehawk’s public relations director Alexa Harrison explained that the dine-in theater experience is something Nitehawk actually pioneered in New York. They were the first theater in the city to offer it, and they even spearheaded lobbying efforts to make it possible. Film Feasts are a culmination of that work. Alexa says that the series allows the food and beverage department to “showcase everything that Nitehawk does in one sitting.” In the process, all of Nitehawk’s departments shine. Food and Beverage can get creative in the kitchen and behind the bar, and the cinema department can introduce guests to new films, or help them see beloved films in a new way.
Goodfellas was the first movie to get the official Film Feast treatment in 2014, and since then, the series has featured titles including Marie Antoinette, Big Trouble in Little China and Coming to America. The next Film Feast is set for Tuesday, October 17. It will be a 35mm print of Suspiria, “Dario Argento’s candy-colored nightmare” with food and drinks by Campari and Buon Italia. The event quickly sold out, so stay tuned for Nitehawk’s next Film Feast!