What do you do? I’m a freelance journalist with a focus on food, travel, and Asian eats. I’m also a Citysearch expert scout. I co-founded a hyperlocal food blog about the San Gabriel Valley. It’s called 626 Foodettes. Regular bylines include LA Weekly, Serious Eats, the LA Times, KCET, and Food Network’s new reservation website CityEats. I was the daily food writer for the Village Voice for about nine months when I was in New York. I’ve penned multiple pieces for CNNTravel when I was abroad, and have made cameos in Pasadena Magazine, Time Out Los Angeles, BBC, CBS Los Angeles, and a New York Times blog. I was also chosen out of thousands of applicants for a semester-long stint as a USA Today Collegiate Correspondent and I have also done freelance work for the Travel Channel (including a brief cameo on Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern!)
Goals? There’s an imaginary sign hanging over my neck that reads: For hire: Chinese food correspondent. I know, I made that job up — but if you can have wine columnists, why can’t you have Chinese food columnists? It’s a unmarked territory that’s just as intricate and complicated. And c’mon look at the Los Angeles Chowhound board. It’s dominated with discussions on Chinese food. There’s a demand, and I want to fill it. Side note: I also have a secret desire to open a deliciously authentic Taiwanese eatery in a place where there is generally very crappy Asian food (i.e. West LA or Manhattan).
What sets you apart from the legions of Asian food bloggers out there? As much as I love talking about the taste, smell, and deliciousness factor of food — I’m not really all that interested in mere food porn. I like to investigate, and a lot of my articles (especially for LA Weekly) reflect that. Where do the chefs come from? Where did they learn to cook? What’s the culinary history behind a certain dish? How do they cater to American clientele? How “authentic” are their dishes? I prefer interviewing restauranteurs and chefs in Chinese and getting their perspectives down on paper and in English.
Why are you so adamant on getting the word out about restaurant backgrounds/who cares? Read a review by a professional restaurant critic on a Michelin-starred restaurant with a fancy French-trained chef, then read their review about a mom-and-pop Chinese restaurant. The former is inundated with references to the chef’s culinary background, who they worked under, and what region of -insert European country- the dishes are inspired from. The latter approaches the restaurant as if it were some foreign land with vague Googleable references to the provincial background of some of the dishes. It doesn’t have to be that way.
What are your favorite Chinese restaurants in Los Angeles? For spicy, Yunkun Garden. For Taiwanese, Happy Garden. For Western Chinese, Shaanxi Gourmet. For dumplings, Hui Tou Xiang. For hot pot, Boiling Point. For boba, AU 79. For shaved ice, Class 302. For late night eats, Tasty Garden. For noodles, Sweethome Grill.
New York? Oh god. *shakes head in disappointment* I’ll direct you to this for my answer. Yes, I am the food writer Chan references to.
What are you..er, ethnically? I was born and raised in Los Angeles. My parents are both Taiwanese (they come from the southern city of Tainan) and immigrated to the states in the late 1980s. I’m conversationally fluent in Chinese, semi-fluent in reading and writing, and can understand (but not speak) Taiwanese.
What are you currently looking for? Opportunities. I’m looking to write more and dabble in the restaurant industry. I’m game for anything along the lines of food, journalism (print, TV, or multimedia), and Asian culture.