Hello, The Capital Grille in Costa Mesa, California

This one… requires a little bit of backstory.

Over a decade ago, I used to stream a lot on Twitch, a live broadcasting platform serving as the gaming arm of Justin.tv. Since then, I stopped streaming consistently, but I do still hit that coveted “Start Streaming” button once in a while, most frequently when I’m making a guest appearance on a show, but some­times when I’m just gaming with friends.

May 12, 2023 was one of those days. After a long and treacherous journey through the first 20 levels of World of War­craft: Classic in hardcore mode with my friend Doug Wreden, we managed to make it to the first pair of dungeons and I streamed footage of us clearing Wailing Caverns. During that stream, I gave moderator privileges to a user named @PhummyLW so he could use Twitch’s Channel Points Predictions feature to make the broadcast a bit more interactive. I picked him because Doug recognized his name as an active member of his own Twitch community.

Since then, I’ve been streaming once in a while, and Phummy kept returning to watch and chat. Moderators are usually responsible for ensuring com­pli­ance with the broadcaster’s rules, but considering that the only rule I have for my viewers and chatters is to follow the Twitch Terms of Service and Com­mu­ni­ty Guidelines, and I use AutoMod to automatically moderate my chat, there is very little for my human moderators to do. So, Phummy con­tin­ued to stick around to run Channel Points Predictions where relevant.

To go on a tangent for a little bit, I am not a fan of the traditional streamer-moderator relationship. I don’t know if this is just because I ended up build­ing a lot of friendships with female Twitch streamers throughout the years as a consequence of my industry of work, but when I see my friends’ mod­er­a­tors, a lot of them give off the impression of matching a lot of the negative stereotypes—a lonely man who is socially awkward and is dedicating a sub­stan­tial amount of time supporting and moderating for these women due to developing a parasocial relationship and holding onto the non-existent chance that the streamer will reciprocate their love after seeing how much the moderator has done for the streamer. I think this is extremely unhealthy, and I go out of my way to call it out when I see it—not only because I want it to stop before it goes too far and my friends end up with resentful stalkers with motives rooted in unrequited love, but also because I don’t want these men to be exploited and suffer through inevitable pain once something hap­pens that snaps them back into reality.

One of the reasons I liked having Phummy around is that he just seemed like a very normal guy with a normal and healthy lifestyle who also just hap­pens to have a hobby of watching Twitch streams once in a while. He also seemed to be aligned with my opinion on being strongly against unhealthy parasocial relation­ships—so much so that he would joke about it and create satirical situations pretending like he and I had some deep bond and lifelong close friendship, using comedy to exaggerate how absurd some of these situations with other streamers and moderators have gotten.

Not too long ago, Phummy started counting down the days in my Discord server (which, if you’re not familiar, is sort of like a real-time forum and chat channel which is reserved for paid subscribers to my Twitch channel). I didn’t know what he was counting down to, but I knew he was cooking up some kind of joke.

Yesterday, May 13, 2024, I got my answer. In the morning, he messaged me wishing me a happy anniversary of him becoming my Twitch moderator. He sent a bunch of heart emojis and even translated a portion into Korean about how he looks forward to the next year ahead. I figured he was going to come up with some prank like this, so I just replied “ok” and went back to sleep.

A few hours later, I realized there was a big problem. Remember how I said earlier that my World of Warcraft: Classic stream was on May 12, 2023? Phummy was one day late to wish me a happy anniversary. At first I couldn’t have been any more indifferent about this entire situation, but now that I had found out that Phummy messed up his own prank, I was ex­tremely invested.

I let Phummy know of his critical error, and he replied in due sarcasm, profusely apologizing and asking if the anniversary was ruined and whether he should cancel the celebration dinner reservation. Of course, there was never a dinner reservation, but I decided I would stonewall him and take his joke in the most literal way possible. I told him that if he books a dinner reservation for us tonight at a high-end restaurant of his choice, I would show up for our “anniversary date.”

So he did.

… So I did too.

When Phummy booked the reservation, he wrote in the comments that this dinner was for a special occasion—an anniversary. Apparently this restaurant took that note very seriously, because when we arrived, they had our table… specially prepared.

The funny part is that they gave us a yellow rose, which often symbolizes friendship, but still scattered red heart confetti over our table and drew red hearts on the note.

While we were browsing through the menu, we received a bowl of complementary bread with a side of butter. The variety of bread in this bowl was nice, and it was a lot better than the average bowl of free bread that you get from other restaurants.

Our first appetizer was fresh oyster on half shells atop ice and with a side of mignonette sauce and lemon. There was nothing particularly remarkable about these oysters, but sometimes, that’s a good thing—they tasted crisp and clean, and served as a solid start to our meal.

Next was steak tartare with capers, chives, sweet onion, hard-boiled egg, and brioche toasts.

I had never had beef tartare before with hard-boiled egg in it, and today I discovered that I really like that flavor combination. I’m a big fan of onions, so I ob­vi­ous­ly liked that ingredient too. The capers added a nice touch to the flavor—they’re usually a bit too sour, but these were milder and balanced the umami of the steak well.

I wish there was a little bit of mild oil to help mix together the ingredients, but overall, this was one of my favorite tartare dishes I’ve ever had.

For my entrée, I ordered seared tenderloin with butter-poached lobster tails.

I ordered the tenderloin cooked rare, and it was prepared perfectly. I made sure to slice against the grain, and it ended up being the most tender steak I’ve ever had, up to the point where the first bite was actually surprising. It took “melt in your mouth” to a whole other level.

The lobster tails were also great. Something I dislike about lobster is how butter is often overused during its preparation, but this restaurant used just enough butter that the added flavor was recognizable but subtle.

Phummy ordered a 10 oz. filet mignon.

For dessert, we got a crème brûlée with seasonal berries. As you can see from the photograph, they continued the festivities by writing “Happy An­ni­ver­sa­ry” in chocolate on the plate.

I found this to be the most mediocre dish out of our entire meal. It didn’t really taste like what I’d expect from a crème brûlée, and the layer of hardened caramelized sugar didn’t have the satisfying crunch that people come to expect from crème brûlée.

Here are some shots of the dining area and exterior of the restaurant:

Oysters  $  23.00
Steak tartare  $  20.00
Tenderloin and lobster  $  74.00
Filet mignon  $  65.00
Mashed potatoes  $  15.00
Sales tax (7.75%)  $  15.27
Gratuity  $  45.00
Total  $ 257.27

I treated Phummy to the meal; the table to the right shows how much I paid.

I had an amusingly good time. In case it wasn’t clearly implied from the story, I have only ever interacted with Phummy through the Internet and this was my first time ever meeting him in-person. I’m known to be someone to do some unexpectedly chaotic and impromptu things, and I feel like driving a round-trip of almost a hundred miles relative to where I was staying in Los Angeles County and spending over $250 on dinner seems characteristic of some of the strange things I would do.

With that being said, I think this exceeded my threshold of comfort because Phummy does still keep an eye out on chat for me when I’m streaming and takes care of removing spammy advertising bots and other egregiously intrusive chatters that AutoMod does not catch, so I was far more willing to treat him to a nice din­ner as a gesture of appreciation, considering that he doesn’t formally accept payment from me.

On top of that, Phummy also occasionally live streams on Twitch himself for fun, so I had enough footage of him online for me to watch and determine that he wasn’t some unstable and dangerous person. In fact, he was very sociable, and if anything, he was the one carrying our conversation while I was basically busy role playing as a professional competitive eater and stuffing my mouth with good food.

The restaurant he picked was great. I did not expect the food quality to be that high, and I feel like this whole joke ended up coming to a best-case pos­si­ble conclusion.

… I guess this may be the birth of a new annual tradition.