Tag Archives: food


[VIDEO] This is What Happens When You Bring Asian Food to School for Lunch


Chow mein. Pork buns. Dumplings. Fried rice. Eggrolls. Adobo. Hungry yet?

This is just a small sample of all the Asian food that I grew up with and deeply love. However, as a child, despite how often I ate Asian food (everyday) and how much I enjoyed Asian food (I wanted it everyday), you’d be hard-pressed to ever find rice and tocino in my lunch pail. Instead, my Hello Kitty lunch pail was home to PB&J sandwiches, go-gurts and of course, lunchables.

Early on, I learned to associate my beloved Asian food with home and (as 11-year-old Eddie Huang says in Fresh off the Boat after making the mistake of bringing noodles for lunch) I associated “white people food” with school.

This is probably why I laughed out loud to the Domics short animation “Asian Food.” The animator of Domics very humorously (and accurately) describes the struggle of bringing Asian food to school for lunch around non-Asian classmates.

With our grade school lunch days long behind us, it’s easy to laugh this situation off as children being children. But who am I kidding? We’ve seen adults overreact to Asian food too. Admittedly, many of our delicious dishes (like blood sausages and century eggs) look absolutely horrifying to people who are unfamiliar. But like the other kids in this animation, they just don’t know what they’re missing.

Now excuse me while I go get my hands on some sweet corn.


Originally published on Audrey Magazine

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Roy Choi Reveals Second Loco’l Restaurant in Watts, Los Angeles

by JAMES S. KIM | @james_s_kim

Roy Choi and Daniel Patterson’s commitment to bring affordable, locally-sourced fast food to the inner city took another step forward today. The social media-savvy Choi revealed on Twitter that the future second location of Loco’l will be in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles.

According to L.A. Eater, the area is just a few blocks away from the recognizable Watts Towers and about 7.5 miles south of Downtown. This isn’t the first time the chef has opened an eatery in South L.A. Last summer, Choi opened Three Worlds Cafe in South Central, a neighborhood where he has close connections with the locals.

The first Loco’l restaurant will open in the Tenderloin district in San Francisco. There hasn’t been a specific opening date for either restaurant, but they are both slated to open this year. You can check out their crowdfunding effort on Indiegogo to learn more about the Loco’l team or even contribute to the campaign.

Image via L.A. Eater

Dog Cafe

L.A.’s First Dog Cafe Seeks to Revolutionize Dog Adoption

by JAMES S. KIM | @james_s_kim

Cat cafes are all the rage in Asia and Europe, and their popularity seems to be increasing even more afer the first American cat cafe opened in Oakland, California last November. But what about dog cafes?

Sarah Wolfgang recently launched an Indiegogo campaign to raise funds for the Dog Cafe, the first of its kind in the U.S. The cafe will give patrons the opportunity to enjoy a cup of joe with a pooch at their side, but its larger goal is to address the overcrowding of L.A.’s animal shelters.

“The Dog Cafe is going to put a spin on the way people adopt by totally reinventing the way we connect with homeless dogs,” Wolfgang writes on her Indiegogo page. “We want to provide you with the opportunity to see these highly adoptable pooches in their true light. And even if you’re not looking to adopt, you can still enjoy all of the sloppy kisses you’ve ever wanted.”

Wolfgang assures future patrons that the cafe is, in fact, legal. Kind of. According to the city health department, the Dog Cafe will need two separate locations–a cafe and a dog zone–that are not connected in any way. A good amount of the $200,000 goal will go towards finding a large location where dogs can run and frolick, as well as hiring a staff to take care of the dogs. Meanwhile, the coffee will be fittingly provided by Grounds & Hounds Coffee Co.

Perks include pre-paid entries to visit the cafe and chill with the dogs while enjoying free drinks, as well as a pre-sale voucher to a “Pup-Up” event in Downtown Los Angeles from Jan. 22-25. Bigger perks include a private puppy party, assistance in adopting a dog and getting your own plaque on a table in the cafe.

The Dog Cafe’s Indiegogo campaign will run until Feb. 5.

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Korean ‘Fire Noodle Challenge’ Spreads Online

by REERA YOO | @reeraboo

Koreans love ramen, and they love spice. But can they handle the taste of fire?

There’s been a recent surge of people trying to eat Samyang’s Bool Dak Bokkeum Myun (translation: Flaming Chicken Fried Noodles), one of South Korea’s spiciest ramens, as quickly as possible on YouTube. Why are so many people doing this sadistic challenge? I have no idea, but watching strangers cry and writhe in food pain is surprisingly entertaining.

Here are some brave souls who accepted the “Fire Noodle Challenge.” Some dominated while others lost their tongues to the fires of ramen hell.

Americans take on the Fire Noodle Challenge

London’s Fire Noodle Challenge

Korean teens devour Fire Noodles in under 15 seconds

The spit-take near the end of the challenge is the highlight of the video.

Two Americans do the Fire Noodle Race

Korean YouTubers attempt to eat 12 Fire Noodles in 10 minutes

Mokbang star eats five packets of Fire Noodles

Fire Noodles get spicier with chili peppers and chili powder

Fire is catching, and it doesn’t look like the trend will die down anytime soon.

Roy Daniel

Roy Choi’s Fast Food Restaurant Loco’l Launches Crowdfunding Effort

by JAMES S. KIM | @james_s_kim

Fast food chains aren’t known to crowdfund, but Loco’l isn’t your normal fast food restaurant. Spearheaded by chefs Roy Choi and Daniel Patterson, Loco’l is touted as a locally sourced and affordable fast food option.

The first location is set to open in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood later this year. The funds from the Indiegogo campaign will go towards building that first restaurant. As of Jan. 14, 2015, the campaign has raised 7 percent of its $150,000 goal.

“Our vision with Loco’l is to create a fast food concept that’s delicious, but do it with the heart of a chef,” the Indiegogo campaign page says. “As chefs, we’re approaching it just like we would another restaurant … Then on the other side of it is being aware of what fast food is and what it’s become in America, and why it’s so important, popular, and powerful. Not trying to throw all of those things away.”

“We’re just trying to take it back to basics,” the page continues. “A lot of these fast food chains weren’t evil before. Somehow along the line as businesses grow, money and things start to change your decisions. Then before you know it, sometimes you don’t know which way is up anymore. Our philosophy in this is always to know which way is up. As chefs, we would never get to the point where we would be serving poison to people.”

One basic staple of fast food is the burger, and according to Choi, the cornerstone of Loco’l will be a 99 cent burger. The challenge will be not to make it a gourmet burger, but something that “feels, tastes, looks, smells, and sits in your hand just like a Quarter Pounder.”

Perks for contributors include with a social media shout-out, Loco’l sticker, signed copies of the chefs’ individual books (including Choi’s L.A. Son), and even opportunities to personally hang out with the chefs or get a private cooking class with Chef Chad Robertson from Tartine.


South Koreans Consume the Most Ramen in the World

by JAMES S. KIM | @james_s_kim

The convenience of Korean instant ramen makes the dish a favorite among college students, single folk and the lazy alike, but there may be such a thing as too convenient.

South Koreans consumed the most ramen (ramyun or ramyeon) per person in the world last year, according to a study by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs and the World Instant Noodles Association (WINA). The average Korean eats 74.1 servings ramen per year, followed by Vietnamese people, who consume about 60.3 servings a year. Indonesia, China and Hong Kong round out the top five out of a total 15 countries in the study.

Japan did not make the top five list for ramen servings per person, but they do consume the third-most amount of ramen as a country. Meanwhile, Hong Kong and China come in first place, followed by Indonesia Japan, and Vietnam. South Korea came in seventh in overall consumption.

According to the study, Koreans are also the most likely to purchase ramen at a convenience store: 25.6 percent of shoppers purchase ramen. Nongshim Shin Ramyun has been the most popular brand for four years, followed by Jjapaguri, Neoguri and Samyang Ramyun. The ramenritto, the ramen grilled cheese sandwich, the ramen pizza and the infamous ramen burger still have a ways to go to catch up.

The study also provided a number of interesting tidbits about ramen in general: From 2008 to 2013, South Korean ramen exports increased 64 percent, and cup ramen production increased 67 percent compared to 26.5 percent for bagged instant ramen in the same time period.

If you’re in the mood for Korean ramen, check out blogger Hans Lienesch’s list of Top 10 South Korean Instant Noodles for a few hearty recommendations.

Photo courtesy of Soompi

Patterson Choi

Roy Choi’s Fast Food Restaurant to Open in San Francisco Next Year

by JAMES S. KIM | @james_s_kim

Not many individuals can create a fast food chain from the ground up, but not everyone is Roy Choi.

After announcing his latest venture with Chef Daniel Patterson back in the summer, Choi made the official announcement yesterday that the first location of the chain, called loco’l, will be in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood. Locals can expect the restaurant to open by late spring/early summer.


Choi and Patterson unveiled their plans for the fast food chain back in August at the MAD3 symposium. Patterson said that they planned to start a business that could grow quickly to “supplant the fast-food chains and convenience stores that separate our youth from the taste of real food.”

“I envisioned a new kind of fast-food restaurant that served real food in a nice environment, and which could contribute to the neighborhood around it in myriad ways,” he added. “My answer lay to the south, in Los Angeles, where Roy Choi was bringing people together from all over the city around Kogi—food trucks that served tasty, hard-to-categorize food.”

For Roy Choi, loco’l is his latest project in offering affordable and healthy options–a rare “food oasis–to neighborhoods that are considered “food deserts.” Last year, Choi opened 3 Worlds Cafe in South Central Los Angeles, an idea that originated from a fruit cart project Choi was running at the local Jefferson High School.

“Price point, culture, design, hospitality, relevance and most of all flavor,” Choi said to Inside Scoop SF in August. “We will be using all our sciences and knowledge and sixth sense as restaurateurs/chefs to create a concept people love and a menu they crave, but keep it all in the pocket, keep it all affordable and delicious, and speak to what the people want.”

The location was seemingly the perfect fit for the restaurant, which is part of an overall community project. The intersection of Taylor Street and Turk, where loco’l will open, will be seeing was identified as one of nine “action zones” by the Tenderloin Health Improvement Partnership (TLHIP) with the goal of rebuilding and revamping the neighborhood. Future locations for loco’l include other inner-city “food deserts,” including Oakland, Pleasanton and Watts in L.A.

Loco’l plans to offer a menu with options like tofu-and-grain-heavy burgers, veggie bowls, falafel, rice bowls, and other items in the $2-6 range, according to Eater SF. The restaurant will also feature a “multi-use commissary kitchen” for cooking classes hosted by Patterson and The Cooking Project, a San Francisco nonprofit.

As the Bay Area gets its first taste of Roy Choi, Southern California can’t get enough of him. Director Jon Favreau (Iron Man, Swingers) and Choi announced back in September that they were trying to open a restaurant in Los Angeles featuring some of the cuisine from Chef, a film that chronicled their road trip. Along with the Kogi truck, Choi’s current list of restaurants in Los Angeles includes 3 Worlds Cafe, Chego!, Sunny Spot, A-Frame and POT at the Line Hotel in Koreatown.

Don’t forget, Choi also has his own reality show on CNN coming up sometime in 2015, too.

Feature image via Grub Street

WL headshot

Move Over, Sriracha, and Make Room for Gochujang


While the piquant and tangy spice of Sriracha sauce has thrived in the culinary spotlight, finding a home even in mainstream supermarkets and restaurants in recent years, a certain peppery condiment peer has quietly remained in the background. But food writer and Korean cuisine expert Naomi Imatome-Yun thinks it’s about time gochujang gets its closeup. In Cooking with Gochujang: Asia’s Original Hot Sauce, Imatome-Yun introduces a diverse catalog of recipes that highlight the bold flavors of the Korean hot pepper paste.

But what exactly is gochujang? “It’s a chili paste with a complex spicy, sweet and deep flavor,” explains Imatome-Yun, who is of Japanese and Korean descent. “It is so full of umami flavor and depth, that it can really spice up your cooking.”

She says the rich and nuanced taste of gochujang can be blended into any type of cuisine, as the author showcases with an eclectic array of gochujang-infused dishes, from soba salads and stews to spicy pastas, quesadillas and even cookies and cocktails. Kicked-up Halibut Teriyaki, Marble Swirl Cake With a Twist and Gochujang Bloody Mary are among the offerings.

“I tried to create recipes and dishes that people would actually make and enjoy,” said Imatome-Yun. “The more traditional Korean recipes are based on things we eat often at home and some I did learn through my mother and grandmother. But since most of the recipes aren’t strictly Korean, the bulk of the recipes were created from scratch in my kitchen.”

A New York native, and now a Los Angeles resident, Imatome-Yun has worked as a food writer for over 15 years, from writing restaurant and bar reviews for AOL to working as the copy editor for the food publication Art Culinaire. She is also the Korean food expert for About.com, where she’s shared her knowledge of the cuisine for seven years and counting.

“I’m always shocked at the traffic and how many people are looking for Korean recipes,” she said. “I hear from readers who grew up in Korean homes, but couldn’t cook anything after they moved out, expats in Korea who want recipes in English, and people who aren’t experts in the cuisine and need some simple, clear instructions.”

The cookbook, released in September by Countryman Press, publisher of many James Beard Award-winning cookbooks, took about six months to make and was very much a family affair. Her husband took the photos featured in the book, and her two sons were likely among her trusted tasters. Imatome-Yun says the boys love Korean food, especially—no surprise here—the spicy dishes.


Crab Dip and Crackers

Seoulful Cheese Dip

This is an easy to whip together dip for chips, vegetables and crackers that always has people asking for the recipe. It’s creamy with a little heat, and you’ll also find a fun variation on Buffalo chicken wings on the bottom.

Prep time: 5 minutes


1 8-oz package of cream cheese

1/4 cup half and half 2 cloves garlic, minced

2 Tbsp gochujang

1 tsp fresh lemon juice

1 small sweet onion, grated

Instructions: Soften the cream cheese and stir in the half and half until it’s creamy. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix with a fork until it reaches a smooth consistency. Serve with vegetables, chips, or bread.

Buffalo Wings variation:

Add 1⁄2 cup crumbled blue cheese, 1/4 cup ranch dressing and 3 Tbsp Frank’s hot sauce to the above dip. Bake in the oven at 400 degrees until it’s hot and bubbly. Serve with celery sticks and cooked chicken cut into strips or bite-sized pieces for dipping.

lime chicken photo 3

Grilled Chicken with Lime

Prep Time: 2 hours

Cook Time: 15 minutes    Serves: 4


4 chicken thighs or breasts

4 Tbsp gochujang

2 tsp sesame oil

1 Tbsp soy sauce

2 Tbsp honey

2 Tbsp fresh lime juice

Instructions: Mix all the ingredients together except for the chicken for the marinade. Marinate the chicken for at least 2 hours. Grill for about 7 minutes per side, or until completely cooked through.