Eating The San Gabriel Valley With Bizarre Foods

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UPDATE: See my write-up on the experience for the LA Times here and KCET here
You can watch the whole episode here.

In the fourth grade, I used to tell my class during show-and-tell about how our family would order sea cucumber at restaurants and how instead of chips, we had dried squid at home. My peers thought I was the weirdest thing.

Fast forward a decade and I find myself sitting in front of a international food icon with cameras all around me… explaining how pig intestines with ginger and white vinegar is a Hakka dish traditionally used for morning sickness during pregnancy. And how the Hunan fish head dish originated from the Qing Dynasty.

This week, I had the absolutely humbling pleasure of working with Andrew Zimmern and the Bizarre Foods crew on shooting the beautiful cuisine of the San Gabriel Valley. They hired me as their on-camera guide and I got to live out a dream of eating my favorite foods on national television. Plus, I got to choose all the restaurants. Note that a lot of these were chosen for proximity-sake. I’ve bolded some of the must-trys though.

Here’s where we went:

1. Shaanxi Gourmet: (Western Chinese food)
2. Yung Ho City Restaurant: (Taiwanese Breakfast)
3. Hunan Mao Restaurant (spicy fish head from Hunan)
4. Vege Paradise (faux meat galore)
5. Cafe 85 (Asian bread)
6. 101 Hot Pot (stinky tofu)
7. Aji Ichiban (Japanese snacks by way of HK)
8. Happy Garden (authentic Taiwanese eatery)
9. Tea Station (boba..) but I prefer AU79 if you’re ever in Arcadia
10. Sam Woo BBQ (Canto-style roast duck)

I won’t give away all the details. Saving that for the broadcast. But here’s a sneak preview…of me eating.

I had a blast and am eternally grateful to Andrew, the producers, the crew and the people who helped put me on the map. The best part is that I’m coming out of the experience more motivated than ever. What an amazing way to start off the Lunar New Year. Cheers.

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