Tag Archives: san francisco

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Margaret Cho Busks for San Francisco’s Homeless

by REERA YOO | @reerabo
reera@iamkoream.com

Margaret Cho has launched a two-month-long busking tour in San Francisco to raise awareness and funds for the homeless.

On Monday, the Korean American comedienne, actress and singer arrived at the corner of Haight and Ashbury and set down a guitar case with a handwritten sign that read, “If you have give. If you need, take (please remember your fellow man).”

Joined by Gerri Lee Lawler, Cho performed to a modest crowd and encouraged passerby to donate clothes, blankets, food and money to the homeless.

According to Demotix, Cho aims to busk the streets of SF every day for the next two months in memory of Robin Williams, who co-funded Comic Relief to help raise funds for the homeless. Today, Cho is performing on Castro and Market from noon.

Cho will announce the location and time of her performances each day via twitter. If you’re in the Bay Area, go find Cho and donate what you can to help raise awareness for a good cause!

asiana-airlines-boeing-777-plane

Asiana’s San Francisco Route Suspended For 45 Days

by STEVE HAN

South Korea’s Asiana Airlines will suspend its services to San Francisco for 45 days over a jet crash that killed three people in the U.S. city last year, according to Yonhap News Agency.

The review committee banned Asiana from operating its Incheon-San Francisco route for 45 days, which begins from a date of the airline’s own choosing, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport announced. Asiana, which previously said a 90-day suspension would cause a loss of $18.9 million in sales, has 15 days to appeal the decision.

In a statement released in response to the ban, Asiana said it will definitely appeal the decision, arguing that over 170,000 passengers use its Incheon-San Francisco route annually and that suspending it for 45 days will create problems for travelers. It also emphasized that last year’s crash was not caused by the airline’s violation of safety-related rules.

Although Asiana reportedly expected nothing more than a fine from the South Korean government,  Kwon Young-bok, head of South Korea’s aviation security department, said that the penalty isn’t as severe as an accident involving casualties could lead to a suspension of up to 90 days.

“The committee decided to reduce the duration by 50 percent, which is the maximum reduction allowed under the law, considering the sincere and dedicated evacuation efforts by the flight’s crew that helped minimize casualties,” Kwon said.

Asiana’s Flight 214, a B777-200ER jet, carrying 307 people, crashed while landing at the San Francisco airport in July 2013. The crash killed three and injured more than 180 people.

Photo courtesy of Reuters

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Chef Corey Lee’s Benu Receives Three Michelin Stars

by JAMES S. KIM

San Francisco’s reputation for excellent cuisine soared as two more of its restaurants were awarded three stars by the 2015 Michelin Guide to Bay Area restaurants, which was released earlier today.

As of yesterday, Chef Corey Lee’s Benu and Joshua Skenes’ Saison joined Bay Area’s restaurants the French Laundry and the Restaurant at Meadowood in the esteemed three-star category.

Michelin’s international director told Mercury News what set Benu and Saison apart were a “dazzling and distinctive fusion of local ingredients, Asian inspiration and Northern Californian gastronomic sensibility.”

Lee opened Benu in August 2010 and was given two stars by Michelin in October 2011. KoreAm had the opportunity to talk to him then about the food he serves, as well as his journey to becoming one of the most well-known chefs in San Francsico. You can read the article here from the November 2011 issue of KoreAm.

Expect to hear a lot more about Lee and Skenes and their cuisine in the coming months. Lee, a French Laundry alum, opened Monsieur Benjamin, a 90-seat bistro, over the summer, and he is putting together a cookbook. Skenes also has one on the way, and he plans to open a hand-pulled noodle restaurant with Umami Burger founder Adam Fleischman in 2015.

Mercury News also noted the rise of Asian-inspired restaurants on the Michelin list. Along with Benu and Saison, sushi restaurants Kusakabe and Maruya joined the one-star roster. Seven out of the 13 newcomers to the 2015 Michelin Bib Gourmand honors, which is bestowed on excellent restaurants where two courses and a glass of wine costs $40 or less, were Chinese, Japanese or Asian-inspired. You can find the full list of the 2015 restaurants here.

According to SF Gate, it’s the first time in history that San Francisco proper has had a three-star Michelin restaurant, let alone two. The French Laundry and the Restaurant at Meadowood are both in Napa Valley.

If you’re looking to make a reservation at the newly-christened Benu or Saison, do it quickly and expect to pay a good amount. Saison was already among the most expensive restaurants in America, and Benu could understandably raise their prices.

The West Coast now boasts four Michelin three-star restaurants, although unfortunately for Southern Californians, they’re all in the Bay Area. Chef Roy Choi is quick to defend the Southland, however.

The 2015 Michelin dining guide for San Francisco, one of just three U.S. regions to have its own guide, goes on sale today. The Michelin Guide discontinued its Los Angeles version two years ago.

Photo by Vivien Kim Thorp

roychoi

Roy Choi to Launch Healthy, Affordable Fast Food Chain

by JAMES S. KIM

Is there anything this man isn’t doing?

In his latest culinary venture, chef Roy Choi is partnering up with San Francisco chef Daniel Patterson to launch a new chain of fast food restaurants called Loco’l. The chefs made the announcement on Monday at MAD4, the fourth annual Copenhagen conference for chefs, cooks and farmers.

“We want to go toe to toe with fast food chains and offer the community a choice,” Choi told Inside Scoop SF.

“Price point, culture, design, hospitality, relevance and most of all flavor. 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.”

All items on the menu will range from $2-$6 in order to compete with places like McDonald’s and Burger King. The recipes will be prepared by Patterson, who owns the Coi in San Francisco and has appeared on PBS’s Mind of a Chef. According to LA Eater, dishes will include burgers made with a beef and tofu mixture, salads, rice bowls, and “cross-cultural” items like falafel and tacos–the latter of which Choi knows a thing or two about.

For the lucky NorCal folk, Choi and Patterson plan to open the first Loco’l branch in San Francisco in spring 2015, and Los Angeles will get its own a few months later.

“High-level chefs have an opportunity to do much more than just cook for the few people who can afford it,” Patterson said in a blog post on the MAD website. “We can create real change, in this case, by building a better business. As much as thoughtful articles and speeches and books are important in shifting how we think, they are not going to solve the food problems we have in our country.

“If we can open profitable restaurants that are inexpensive and serve delicious food made with real ingredients; if we bring new options to places that currently lack quality food; if we cook with heart; if we create an environment of warmth, generosity and caring; if we value the people with less money just as much as the ones with plenty, we can make a difference.”

At last year’s MAD conference, Choi emphasized social responsibility among chefs to bring delicious, healthy food to people in need. And as busy as he’s been, especially with the recently opened Commissary restaurant at the Line Hotel in Koreatown, where he also has Pot, Pot Cafe and Pot Bar, the chef appears to be doing his part to carry out that vision.

Last year, Choi opened the 3 Worlds Cafe in South Central Los Angeles, which is often referred to as a food desert because of the lack of healthy food options available in the area. With its fresh juices, smoothies and coffee the goal was to bring healthy, delicious options to a place where chefs and restaurants normally kept away from, as well as provide a place for local youth to frequent.

Choi said Loco’l was the beginning of a “ripple movement,” and like the inspiration for its name, it’s going to be crazy.

“Loco–we are crazy to do this and you’re crazy to believe it,” he said. “Local–it’s about the community and everyone, not just the ones that can afford it. Loco’l.”

Boeing 777 Crashes At San Francisco Airport

Safety Board: Pilot Error To Blame For Asiana Flight Crash

by TONY KIM

The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board has declared that a culmination of factors led to the crash of Asiana Flight 214 in San Francisco last July 6, including several errors made by the veteran pilot. Three Chinese students died, 182 passengers were injured and 49 were in critical condition from the  accident.

Veteran pilot Lee Kang Kuk made several errors prior to landing due to his unfamiliarity with the mechanics of Boeing 777’s autothrottle and auto flight director. According to Yahoo News, one of the central mistakes pilot Lee made was assuming that the autothrottle, which had been on hold, retained the proper speed for landing.

The plane approached the runway too slowly and too low, ultimately resulting in the crash. NTSB faulted both Asiana’s pilot training system and Boeing’s insufficient instruction material for the complex piloting system for the crash.

“In their efforts to compensate for the unreliability of human performance, the designers of automated control systems have unwittingly created opportunities for new error types that can be even more serious than those they were seeking to avoid,” the board’s acting chairman Chris Hart said in the report.

Asiana, headquartered in South Korea, has already began adjusting its training system in accordance with the 27 recommendations made by the board.

 

 

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Food Equals Identity For Chef Corey Lee

Now He’s Cookin’

From picky eater to winner of the James Beard Award, chef Corey Lee is scaling the culinary heights.

Story and photographs by VIVIEN KIM THORP

In some ways, Corey Lee could be seen as your typical 30-something bachelor. He works hard, lives alone and keeps no perishables in his fridge (only beverages, and mostly alcohol at that). He doesn’t bother taking his shoes off when he gets home and hasn’t made breakfast in 10 years.

But then Lee, who turns 34 at the end of this year, had a James Beard Award under his belt by the time he was 28. He’s worked at Michelin-starred restaurants in the U.S. and Europe, co-authored a book with Thomas Keller, and served for more than four years as chef de cuisine at Keller’s world-renowned French Laundry in Yountville, Calif. Now, Lee is the chef and owner of his own restaurant, Benu, which opened in San Francisco in August of 2010.

Benu was given two stars by the prestigious Michelin restaurant guide on Oct. 25. It’s a major victory for the chef.

“It’s a huge honor, and the whole thing feels a bit surreal,” Lee says. “You just do what you feel is best and hope Michelin recognizes that. But that was yesterday, and today we are already going about our work like nothing happened.”

Housed in an elegant brick building in the SoMa district, a simple silver sign features the restaurant’s name, which means “phoenix” in Egyptian. Lee picked the name as much for its meaning and sound, as for its hard-to-determine origins. The restaurant’s facade boasts large windows where passersby can stare into the bright and busy kitchen. Here, sous vide machines (which utilize a method that combines the steady heat of poaching and an airtight seal) bubble up perfectly poached sea cucumbers, and staff members meticulously slice duck flesh and patiently weigh dumpling skins, a pair at a time.

The dining room, in contrast, is dim and serene, representing a kind of understated luxury, with a neutral palette and spare modern art. It’s here that Lee nightly serves a brand of cuisine strictly his own, drawn from his more than 16 years of experience, as well as the Asian foods he loves to eat. A dish of oysters, pork belly and kimchi may find itself in the company of a fois gras-filled Chinese dumpling. Flavors such as the Japanese citrus yuzu sit alongside watercress and apples. Lee’s food is creative, complex and lauded by his peers, including Momofuku’s David Chang, who, ironically, is often quoted as a critic of the San Francisco food scene. In January, the New York Times declared Benu one of “10 Restaurants Worth a Plane Ride,” and an early October Wall Street Journal article named it a restaurant to watch in its predictions of the world’s next star dining experiences.

Using tweezers, Lee painstakingly places chrysanthemum leaves in a bowl containing homemade tofu in a spicy kimchi-based broth. He chose these leaves because they are typically served with jjigae.

Lee, whose Korean name is Dong Min, was born in Seoul in 1977. At the age of 4, he moved to New York with his family for his father’s work as an engineer. After eight years in the States, the elder Lee decided to move back to South Korea.

The move made sense for Lee’s two older sisters, who would eventually attend university there. But Lee was only 12 years old, and his parents decided it would be an awkward time to uproot him. The next few years, his mother, a graphic illustrator, went back and forth between the two countries.

“Looking back, there were things I missed out on,” he says. “But my sense of family wasn’t affected by the separation.  I consider us to be very close.”

During those years, Lee would live in Manhattan, Connecticut and, eventually, New Jersey, where he graduated from Tenafly High School in 1995. It was then he would make a decision that would indirectly change his life’s direction.

Lee, who had no culinary aspirations, though an admittedly picky eater (no spicy foods!), had applied to out-of-state colleges. He began to realize that with his family in Korea, he didn’t want to split his time between Seoul and somewhere more remote. So he started the application process again, this time focusing on schools in New York. In the meantime, he got a job through a friend at Blue Ribbon Sushi in SoHo. It wasn’t long before he ended up in the kitchen.

“I got a real glimpse at the work chefs were doing,” he says.  “I saw how hard they worked, and that being a chef required physical strength but also creativity and, at an extreme level, artistry.” Lee also thought the career path was a fair one, if you worked hard, you did well. Eventually, the owners took a personal interest in him, encouraging Lee to go abroad. He listened, went to London and got his first experience in the world of fine dining, working at a number of restaurants including Gordon Ramsay’s Savoy Grill. His career trajectory took off from there, with Lee climbing the ranks of elite restaurants in Europe and then New York, finally alongside Keller in California. He spent a year opening Keller’s Per Se in New York and together they co-authored Under Pressure, a book on the sous vide method of cooking.

Lee has a precise and modern approach to cooking, in which technique and research are implemented at every turn, but still take a back seat to the ingredients themselves.  Though he came at his career by happy accident, Lee always had a respect for the meaning of a meal.

Some of Lee’s preferred Korean dishes include bossam (steamed pork with oysters), maneuljong (kimchi made from garlic stalks) and ganjang gejang (soy-sauce-marinated crab).  But he says he can’t identify one single dish to symbolize what he loves about Korean food. “That’s not how Korean food is eaten,” he says. “It’s about balancing intense flavors with milder dishes, such as rice or noodles, not one dish.” Lee says owning his own restaurant has been a welcome experience. “In many ways, day to day, I’m still a chef in the kitchen,” he says. “But there’s a different sense of responsibility.” Before, great chefs like Keller entrusted their vision to him, which almost felt like a bigger responsibility to him, he says.

But now he gets to experiment more freely. “On your own, you can take more liberties,” he says. “It’s your own reputation at stake.” Still, Lee is well aware that along with his own success and that of his business partners, he has 34 employees and their families to whom he is beholden. He’s had spare time for hobbies such as golf, and when he reads, it usually reflects his industry. Lee says he feels incredibly fortunate to have had the opportunity to open his own restaurant, which is booked every night.

The a la carte menu changes according to season and the chef’s inspiration. The tasting menu, an intricate affair of paired textures, flavors and even aromas, changes less often.  Currently, three dishes have remained on the menu since the restaurant opened: the silky-textured monkfish liver, various takes on the 1,000-year-old egg and a faux shark fin soup, which is Lee’s interpretation of the iconic Chinese dish.

The chef says coming to the U.S. as a kid greatly influenced his perspectives on food. “I was young, but still old enough to recognize that we ate differently from most people around us,” he says. “My understanding of food was about the critical role it plays in identity and culture. Food is more than sustenance and nutrition. It’s part of who you are.”

This article was published in the November 2011 issue of KoreAm.

Wednesday's Link Attack: Dan Choi, Sex Assault Case, North Korea

The making of Dan Choi
Global Post

When The Rachel Maddow Show came calling to discuss his public defiance of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” Lt. Dan Choi answered the call of duty for what would become an all-consuming public role as the face of change within the U.S. military.

On MSNBC’s Maddow Show, the fresh-faced Choi made his debut on national television with three powerful words which he spoke while staring directly into the camera: “I am gay.”

That sentence, stated publicly, broke Army regulations and immediately put the decorated Iraq war veteran’s job on the line. They were just three words, but they sparked an international media firestorm, leading Choi — living with his parents at the time — to perform 18-hour days filled with interviews, appearances and lobbying. They also galvanized a movement that Tuesday ended with the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” which like so many army regulations has its own acronym, DADT.

“I didn’t know if I could say no to anybody so I just did every interview,” Choi said of his first months as an activist.

He was using his father’s phone, who asked the newly minted superstar, “Are you turning my house into gay headquarters?”

Seung Hoon Choi leaves S. Korea for educational opportunity, ends up in No. 9 Huskers’ lineup
AP via Washington Post

Here’s a nice profile of Seung Hoon Choi, the Korean immigrant walk-on player who started for the ninth-ranked Nebraska Cornhuskers last Saturday.

Choi’s parents sent him to this country with the belief he would have a better chance at a college education. The family picked Lincoln because an uncle, the brother of Seung’s father, had worked at the university as a researcher and lived here with his two children, Seung’s cousins.

Seung’s older sister, Ju-Youn Choi, preceded him to Lincoln and went on to the University of Washington — the school whose team Choi started against on Saturday.

“Although I am an alum from the University of Washington, I am happier that Huskers got victory,” Ju-Youn wrote from South Korea in an email to The Associated Press.

The only words Choi knew upon his arrival in Lincoln were “yes” and “no,” and homesickness prompted him to beg his mother, unsuccessfully, to let him to go back to South Korea.

Girl describes alleged sexual assaults at the hands of Ace Academy director in Pen Argyl
The Express-Times (Lehigh Valley, Pa.)

A 15-year-old high school girl testified this morning how the director of a Slate Belt foreign study program sexually assaulted her 17 times over a three-month period.

The girl said she recorded in her diary the dates and times that Richard Kim, 33, of Horsham, Pa., allegedly made advances and sexually assaulted her. She said the encounters started with Kim kissing her and eventually progressed into unwanted molestation and oral sex.

‘Hell on earth': Detailed satellite photos show death camps North Korea still deny even exist
Daily Mail (U.K.)

The North Korean government may deny their existence, but photos taken from space have revealed in unprecedented detail the concentration camps that are used imprison more than 200,000 citizens.

Men, women and children are forced to work seven days a week as slaves and eat ‘rats, frogs, snakes, insects’ and even faeces to battle starvation in the camps.

Previously there have been blurred images taken by satellite but new detailed pictures from South Korea’s Unification Ministry allow a closer look at the sites – and also prove they have grown.

N.Koreans tell US of lives ‘worth less than flies’
AFP via Google News

North Korean defectors Tuesday urged the United States to isolate Kim Jong-Il’s regime as they recounted years in camps where they toiled morning until night and lives were worth less than flies.

Amid cautious international efforts to engage North Korea, US lawmakers invited two women to share their stories of suffering in a bid to put a greater priority on improving human rights in the communist nation.

Kim Hye-Sook told a congressional panel that she was taken to a prison camp with her family when she was only 13 because, she learned later, her grandfather had defected to South Korea years earlier.

Inmates were forced to work in coalmines for up to 18 hours a day and ate scraps of food, she said, and guards threatened to execute anyone who broke rules — including a ban on prisoners even knowing why they were jailed.

Springfield Sisters Make Chocolate, Write Books
Patch.com (Burke, Va.)

If chocolate is the basis of your food pyramid, you can’t miss Chocolate Chocolate: The True Story of Two Sisters, Tons of Treats, and the Little Shop That Could, by local authors Frances and Ginger Park.

The Park sisters co-own the popular D.C. shop Chocolate Chocolate — a Washington Post editor’s pick — and together have co-authored nine books inspired by their Korean American heritage.

Chocolate, Chocolate is their latest book and first memoir. It chronicles their lives after the death of their father in 1979. Grief stricken, the Park sisters, with their mother as a silent partner, opened a chocolate shop. It has thrived for the past twenty seven years.

[San Francisco Restaurant] Seoul Patch Starts Serving Bulgogi LTs Today
SF Weekly

Not long ago, Eric Ehler, who’d been a cook and sous-chef at Serpentine for three years, took a break from cooking to hang out in Seoul. “I didn’t just love the cuisine of Seoul,” says Ehler, who was born in Korea but had spent his life in the States. “I also wondered: What is this crazy Americanization of everything? Because of the American influence on the country after the Korean War, I saw a lot of foods there like corn dogs wrapped in french fries. Real Korean American food.”

Spotted on the Street | Heewon Kim
New York Times (fashion blog)

The Girl: Heewon Kim, a fashion stylist and the executive director of the store Qlosette, a women’s clothing boutique.

The Location: Mulberry Street between Prince and Spring.

The Look: A demure but striking combination of pretty pink lips and cheeks, framed with a strong, angled bob with bangs.

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Rise Seen in North Korean Intimidation
Wall Street Journal

North Korean attempts to hack computers at South Korea’s Health Ministry and related organizations have nearly doubled this year, officials said Tuesday, part of a campaign of intimidation and sometimes violence by Pyongyang that appears to be escalating but gets less attention than military and nuclear provocations.

North Korean hackers have ramped up efforts to obtain health records of individual South Koreans that are maintained in the South’s state-run health-care system, Yoon Seok-yong, a member of the South’s parliament said. Computer systems at the South’s Health Ministry withstood over 14,000 access attempts through the first six months of the year traced to the North, compared with about 17,000 for all of 2010, he said. It is unclear what information, other than basic name and address data, is the focus of the attacks.

Is a Miracle Happening for Oh Kil-nam?
Wall Street Journal

It’s amazing news if it’s true: Oh Kil-nam’s wife and daughters are alive, after 25 years in North Korean concentration camps.

Mr. Oh, a 69-year-old former economist who has tried during all that time to bring attention to his family’s plight, hasn’t heard since the late 1980s whether his wife Shin Sook-ja and their two daughters were still alive inside North Korea’s prison system.

He learned that they were on Tuesday when he read a story in Chosun Ilbo, South Korea’s largest newspaper by circulation. (He says the newspaper didn’t call him first.)

Korea beats Oman 2-0 in Olympic football qualifier
Korea Times

Korea opened its final round of the 2012 Olympic regional qualifiers triumphantly, defeating Oman 2-0 in Changwon, South Gyeongsang Province, Wednesday.

Midfielder Yoon Bitgaram broke the deadlock with a free kick in the 23rd minute after a tense competition to dominate the field at the Changwon Football Center, while substitute Kim Bo-kyung secured the victory at home in the 74th.

Ji-sung Park: The United cash machine who owes it all to a diet of boiled frogs and antlers!
Daily Mail (U.K.)

At midnight on Sunday, Korean time, millions will tune their televisions or radios into Manchester United kicking off against Chelsea, none of them sure if their main man will even feature.

For this is hero worship, Asian-style, and the man they all adore is Park Ji-sung, the most successful footballer the world’s largest continent has produced.

It is also music to the ears of United’s money men because, increasingly, even the most far-flung fans are translating to cash. What does Park life sound like at Old Trafford? Ker-ching.

Report: Terrell Owens is in Korea for stem cell treatment
Yahoo Sports

Back in the day, an NFL player would tear up his knee and say, “Ah, I’ll just rub some dirt on it and go play.” We’ve evolved past that now. We’re at least to the point where a guy will insist on rubbing some Korean dirt on it before going back out and playing.

Terrell Owens is in Korea right now, according to the Korea Times, looking for a stem cell treatment he couldn’t get here in the states. Owens tore his ACL a couple of months ago, and I guess it’s not healing as fast as he wants it to.

More from the Korea Times.

Two Men Arrested in Killing of TV Reporter in China
New York Times

The police in central Henan Province have arrested two men suspected of killing a television reporter whose microblog posting touched on a scandal involving the illegal reuse of cooking oil, the state media reported Wednesday.

In the days since the reporter, Li Xiang, 30, was stabbed to death, the Chinese media have speculated that his murder may have been prompted by a posting he sent out about a local factory that processed and resold discarded restaurant grease.

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee To Seek Reelection

San Francisco interim mayor Ed Lee announced today he will seek a full four-year term in the upcoming mayoral election, according to news reports.

The Chinese American former city administrator was named mayor, replacing Gavin Newsom, seven months ago on the premise that he would not seek the office once the interim period ended.

“I’ve changed my mind,” Lee told The San Francisco Chronicle. “I know it might be hard for people to understand that change … but my change of mind in seeking this office has everything to do with wanting what’s best for this city.”

He said he had no designs on running for mayor back in January. That’s when the avuncular city administrator with a penchant for goofy jokes had to be talked into taking the job temporarily after then-Mayor Gavin Newsom was elected lieutenant governor.

Lee said he changed his mind after elected officials, including U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, persuaded him Continue reading