My Dinner (or Lunch) with Finland’s Sonata Arctica

This week was an interesting one and had I taken the initiative to generate this thing earlier the information would have flowed a little more in order of occurence. This fact troubles me as the Technical Guy, since I am a fan of both order and detail. That which confuses, ruins the flow of information or makes things come off as nonsense and with Music Adventuring there is plenty of nonsense to come naturally without me offering any extra. Be that as it may, I digress from my original point.

Food & Metal Uniting As One
My week started off with a really cool opportunity to enjoy lunch with members of the Finnish Metal sensation Sonata Arctica, who were in town for a CD Listening that was open to the general public. Lead singer Tony Kakko and keyboardist Henrik Klingenberg would be present to spin this CD for the fans and mingle among them answering questions and posing for the ever-necessary MySpace photos. Earlier in the day the guys and their rep from Nuclear Blast Records would head down to New York City’s Chinatown and hit one of my very favorite restaurants “Nha Trang”. The selection of this place came as a pleasant surprise to me, for I had recommended it to the label rep when Hammerfall was in town for a similar listening event but there was just insufficient time to do it. Luckily, they would keep the card for future reference and bring it on the next adventure into the City. Nha Trang is a Vietnamese restaurant, and there are so many delicious things in the place that I would be writing for days just explaining them. It’s been there for a number of years, and I only first heard about them when my friend Peter Pardo (Publisher of suggested I join him before we hit a show. Been a fan ever since, so back to “The Metal Lunch”.

The band, rep, several other media peeps and myself secured a large table to the side and then the bantering between me and one of the wait staff, who always loves to bust my chops began. At first the rep thought I was being curt until they saw how this guy works whatever verbal challenge to me that he can muster. He is a great sort and made some cool recommendations on the appetizers which included Summer Rolls (I love these things) and some shrimp that is cooked and served on a sugar cane stick. Both items were a hit and I dont think the Sonata’s had ever tried them before. Generally when I dine here I suggest people try a number of the appetizers since its keeps it interesting and one can get many different flavor angles addressed. I swore to be on my best behavior since I had to go back to work and then get to reviews after that so it was limited to a couple of light drinks and lots of joking. Those who know me have accepted my quirkey, dark and very comical view on most things and this would be a first time seeing this end of me for the Sonata’s. Henrik swore he would use some of the jokes if I was not in the same room with him, so its nice to know the material goes over well. I do think his accent will ruin my somewhat dead on Ozzy impersonation and Austin Powers however.   I kept the guys amused and that was the plan I had.   Make them feel like welcome old friends instead of doing work. I think I fooled them at first asking when Unia would be joining us because that is the name of their new album and not a person at all. More antics in image care of Loana from Nuclear Blast Records below.

sonata arctica, sonata arctica press lunch
Sonata Arctica Press Lunch by Loana
sonata arctica, sonata arctica press lunch
Sonata Arctica Press Lunch by Loana

The sad part was not being able to join in on the listening because of writing deadlines. Given my Metal Edge affiliation runs to some solid time constraints their assignments have to get done in a very timely fashion. The upside would be my assignment of the guys new album which I look forward to doing for both the magazine and of course – the photo I posted is the guys and their rep Loana and I in front of the restaurant.

Fast Forward Several Weeks

As I mentioned I ended up loving this restaurant and often returned with friends.  I recently dug up this shot of myself being very Metal with two of our favorite waiters who are no longer at the restaurant.  On the left is Leslie, a man who never sent a warm beer over to the table or food that was anything less than piping hot and on the right is Michael, a man whose need to amuse the customers rivaled my own absurd sense of humor.   I have to admit I felt sadness when those two familiar faces were no longer at the place we had come to  call our great meeting spot before shows in the vicinity and whatever they are doing in their lives I can only hope it is fantastic.  The shot was taken right after my friend and I had explained to them what the Metal “horns” were all about.  Good times.

"Metal's Most Dangerous Waiters & Ken Pierce"
“Metal’s Most Dangerous Waiters & Ken Pierce”

Official Websites:
Sonata Arctica:
Nuclear Blast Records:
Nha Trang Centre:

One thought on “My Dinner (or Lunch) with Finland’s Sonata Arctica”

  1. Ahhh Nha Trang….a place that was frequented many times from around 2006 to 2008 by Ken Pierce and myself, along with various other friends and acquantances. Not only do they have outstanding Vietnamese food, at very affordable prices (the soups, spring rolls, summer rolls, and garlic calamari are to DIE FOR!), but their Asian beer selection is quite good and at prices you can’t beat. During that time period we became very friendly with the staff, who treated us as ROCK AND ROLL royalty, and always had our favorite back corner table, a few ice cold beers, summer rolls, squid, and hot bowls of soups ready for us within minutes after we walked in the door. Sadly, most of those folks no longer work there, so the experience is not quite the same, but the food, drink, and prices are still the same. For an inexpensive Vietnamese lunch or dinner, you just can’t go wrong with Nha Trang.

    And remember, make sure you ask for the ‘Well, Well, well” banana cake!

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