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Our perception of "authenticity"

I view authenticity in food as how close the food sticks to the home country.

Let's take the OP for example. There are lots of places in the US with kimchi that can be considered quite authentic in that it resembles kimchi you might get in a typical Korean restaurant.

Now let's say a lemon fad sweeps South Korea and lots of places start making kimchi with lemon juice. If Korean restaurants in the US started serving kimchi made with lemon juice I consider that perfectly authentic as it's reflecting changing Korean tastes.

On the other hand, if a lemon fad sweeps the US and American restaurants starting making kimchi with lemon juice to keep up with a non-Korean fad, it become inauthentic.

The end result tastes the same(however kimchi with lemon juice would taste), but the motivations behind the change would be my criteria for evaluating how authentic the dish is.

Just because something is inauthentic doesn't mean it tastes worse than the authentic dish. But for many travelers/immigrants who sometimes seek food that reflects a location or culture as much as possible, authenticity is an important criteria.

Aug 21, 2015
huaqiao in General Topics

Bawan Recommendations Taipei

I much prefer the south style bawan where the coating is steamed and gelatinous rather than the more local Taipei style where it's seeped in oil and the coating is translucent and kind of rubbery-looking.

Unfortunately, I am an infrequent visitor to Taipei so can't give you too many local suggestions. I do recall when I was there a few weeks ago that the same restaurant I remember from many years ago on YongKang Jie serving Tainan cuisine is still there.

Actually, I found a blog post about it and it doesn't look like the Tainan style restaurant that used to be there when I lived in the area many years ago, but they do have Tainan style bawan. You can see the pics in the post:


I only mention this place because I happened to pass it recently and one of the dishes I was tempted to go in and try was the bawan. Someone more familiar with Taipei might have better recs. :)

Popcorn Chicken in Irvine

They soft-opened last week in the 99 Ranch Plaza on Culver and Irvine Center Drive. In the food court where Tea Station and Panda are.

I'm surprised something like this hasn't opened in SoCal before now. Very very Taiwanese. And most people I saw waiting seemed to be savoring the nostalgia value of it.

For the uninitiated, check out their Yelp page and look at the picture of the menu and the glass display with different meat and veggie parts. Basically, you pick a few items, they toss it in a deep frier, then toss it with some spice power after it's done. It would be hard to spend any time in Taipei without coming across these types of carts everywhere.

I was there last Friday night(they soft opened on Thursday I believe) and here are my impressions:

1.) Ordering is pretty quick because of the scantron system, but it took 30 min for them to cook it up. You can see the backlog of orders waiting to be fried in the back. They give you a buzzer disc to let you know when it's ready. Hopefully this is just a novelty rush and the wait won't be this bad in a few months.

2.) Was cash only then, but the sign said they should be getting their credit card machine installed this week some time.

3.) Because of how busy they were, they were out of a few items, including the one thing I was really looking forward to(taro balls with egg yolk inside). Also, I didn't get any basil. Looking at the Yelp pics, it looks like most people didn't get basil, but some did. I feel like basil is one of the signatures of Taiwanese popcorn chicken so they really should try stock up more to make sure everyone gets it.

4.) It tastes OK, but at the end of the day it's just some stuff deep fried. I don't want to talk it up too much because people who've never had it will expect something amazing. It tastes just like the stuff I had in Taiwan, but again, it's just some stuff deep fried. The fun part is the interesting ingredients you can get in your order.

5.) It's more of a snack than a full meal. They have a pork chop rice that looks pretty good and a fancy Coke machine for the sit-downs, but it's more of a Taiwanese "small eats" snack like stuff you munch on as you cruise the night markets.

This place is going to be very popular with the Taiwanese population in OC, though I'm not sure how much it will appeal to those who've never had it before. I expect many more similar type places to open in the SGV and the rest of SoCal in the near future.

Oct 07, 2014
huaqiao in Los Angeles Area

Frozen custard in LA?

There seems to have been a lot of frozen custard places popping up in OC the last few years.

Outside of the aforementioned Stricklands, Bruxie has frozen custard. And Confetti and Frostbite offer the very nice combo of Italian ice and frozen custard.

I've never had "authentic" frozen custard in the midwest, but I've tried all those I mentioned above and they tasted good to me!

Jul 16, 2014
huaqiao in Los Angeles Area

NYT: Korean hongeo (fish) smells worse than durian

Years ago an old co-worker brought some leftovers back to freak us out. Unfortunately, I have no idea which restaurant he got it from. I work in the South Bay and there are a ton of Korean restaurants here. I would be surprised if KTown didn't have even more options for this.

For me personally, it's the overwhelming ammonia smell and taste that makes this repulsive. I'm completely unable to suppress my gag reflex when the heavy Windex taste takes over.

Jun 18, 2014
huaqiao in Los Angeles Area

85C in Torrance

Drove by the Japanese strip mall on the corner of Western and Carson this morning and saw the 85C signage on one of the vacant buildings. I think it's where the Japanese video store used to be.

JJ Bakery is about to get some serious competition around here.

Dec 11, 2013
huaqiao in Los Angeles Area

Why Does The Orange Curtain Exist? - A Discussion Regarding OC's Trailing of LA

Why is it a problem that a suburb has a lesser food scene than a city?

The food scene in Manhattan is better than in the Outer Boroughs. SF is better than South Bay. LA is better than OC.

Could probably extend to most large cities in the world. The food scene in Taipei is certainly better than in Hsinchu.

It should be more interesting and worthy of discussion if the food scene in a suburb was better than the city itself.

Oct 30, 2013
huaqiao in Los Angeles Area

Layover: Taipei

Some of those fruit stands in night markets are awesome and would have provided some great visuals with all the fruits prepared and cut arranged on blocks of ice. Could have even segued into all the juices and teas available everywhere on the island, too.

A shame they cut out the WSK segment. I would have preferred if they had cut the shrimp fishing segment instead. It was so awkward and so obvious that he did not want to be there.

Feb 01, 2013
huaqiao in Food Media & News

Most Kid Un-Friendly Restaurants In LA.

I don't understand why Daikokuya would make the list. Is it because people are freaked out by hot soup or something?

I've seen plenty of families at noodle shops all over LA.

Just a couple of weeks ago I was at SSG in FV and there was a father/son pair sitting at the crowded counter. The boy looked around 10 and the father was introducing him to ramen for the first time. I thought that was really cool, personally.

327 E 1st St, Los Angeles, CA 90012

Jul 29, 2011
huaqiao in Los Angeles Area

CNN GO's "50 World's Most Delicious Foods"

Texas BBQ pork? What?

So they gave ice cream to the Americans, but they award brownie and vanilla ice cream to global?

One of the worst researched food articles I've ever read on CNN.

Jul 28, 2011
huaqiao in Food Media & News

best or favourite market in the world?

The Oaxaca market was great. I especially loved the grill room. :)

Jul 22, 2011
huaqiao in General Topics

had some amazing lychees recently

So the last 2 weekends my parents have been buying lychees from Ranch 99. They say they're special lychees imported from Taiwan for a short time only. Or something like that.

Best lychees I've ever had outside of Asia. Except for the fact that they're small and off the branch, they're pretty much as good as lychees I've had in Taiwan. So much better than lychees I've bought in the US before.

Anyone else check them out? No idea if they still have them. I know my parents bought some from the Irvine Ranch 99 a couple of days ago.

Jul 19, 2011
huaqiao in Los Angeles Area

Suburbia HOA area food vs city food--how much did finding good food have to do with where you live?

Some great points there, susanc. I'll revise my "ethnic populations" theory to make it subordinate to economics. :) But I think both of those have a bigger impact on local food availability than a urban/suburban divide.

Jul 19, 2011
huaqiao in General Topics

Suburbia HOA area food vs city food--how much did finding good food have to do with where you live?

A major correlation is with the ethnic population in the area rather than if it's urban/suburban.

Korean food in LA is better in the city than in the burbs because that's where the Koreans live. Chinese food is better in the SGV suburbs and Vietnamese food is better in OC because that's where they live.

In Fountain Valley, you often wake up on Saturday mornings to the sound of a youth swim meet at the community pool where Green Valley(one HOA) is taking on Greenbrook(a neighboring HOA). Talk about suburbia! And yet you have better access there to great Japanese and Vietnamese food than most every large urban center in the US.

Focusing on an urban/suburban divide breaks down when you get to California because the suburbs aren't as homogeneous as other areas of the country.

Jul 18, 2011
huaqiao in General Topics

Kuala Lumpur - Jalan Alor Eats (Part 2)

My short trip to KL wasn't one of my best food trips for various reasons, but I sure did love those wings. I've included a picture of the huge thing they cooked the wings in.

Seeing all reviews on KL on these boards now makes me want to go back and give the city another shot.

A timeline on Food Blogs... according to Saveur

Chowhound was more bloggish when it started. I remember Jim Leff's vivid account of his rediscovery of Flint's BBQ in Oakland as the first time I tracked down a restaurant I read about online.

Didn't Jim also use to write a lot about some cereal which was no longer in production?

May 18, 2011
huaqiao in Food Media & News

where to draw the line on "authentic"?

Luckily, people are able to use more than just one word to describe a restaurant. Otherwise restaurant reviews would be rather boring.

Uncle Mike's Chengdu Palace is an authentic Sichun restaurant with tasty food.

Not sure what weird issue you have with the word "authentic" since it's never the only word used to describe restaurants on this or any other site.

May 04, 2011
huaqiao in General Topics

I love me some Apple Sidra!

I find Taipei 7-11's have a better variety of teas, juices, and milks. Many of the Japanese drinks available in the Tokyo 7-11's are also available in Taipei, but not the other way around.

Tokyo has a better variety of interesting alcoholic drinks, but for the other beverages I give the edge to Taipei. :)

I hit up several cobini in Tokyo a few months ago and thought the variety of drinks could be better. I think the Taiwanese are just used to drinking more flavored teas and such as evidenced by the milk tea stands on every other street corner. And each of those stands will have 50+ flavors available!

May 04, 2011
huaqiao in General Topics

There are some foods that I will not even try.

But if you don't try Korean fermented skate, how will you ever know what it feels like to have your mouth taste of Windex for the rest of the day? :D

May 03, 2011
huaqiao in General Topics

I love me some Apple Sidra!

I've tried some Mexican apple sodas and they were never quite the same. They just weren't as crisp as Apple Sidra.

Now if only someone would find some way to import apple milk.

Having traveled all through Asia, I'm a pretty strong believer that the drink section of a Taiwanese 7-11 is the best in the world. So many different drinks, teas, and milks.

I've book a trip to SE Asia that makes a layover in Taipei later this year in hopes that there'll be a 7-11 in the airport that I can hit up for drinks when I'm changing flights!

May 03, 2011
huaqiao in General Topics

Bizarre Foods: Chengdu

Besides the durian, there was the Peru episode where I think he spat out some slimy drink. Might have been some others, but I can't think of them off the top of my head.

And then there were instances where he wouldn't spit it out, but would make a super grossed out face with the cook standing right there next to him.

I just found it a bit rude and disrespectful of local customs.

Apr 15, 2011
huaqiao in Food Media & News

Bizarre Foods: Chengdu

I would suggest trying to visit some authentic Sichuan restaurants before you pack your bags. Not sure if that's possible where you live. Real Sichuan cuisine is really really really spicy. A lot of people who think they can handle spicy foods still get their stomachs destroyed. And it's hard to describe the mouth-numbing sensation that occurs from Sichuan peppercorns to someone who's never tried it. I can see how some people might not enjoy it.

Of course they have non-spicy dishes there as well, but I don't think a Chengdu trip would be worth it if you have to pick and choose non-spicy dishes.

As for the show itself, it's definitely improved through the years. I disliked the show in the beginning not because of the gross foods, but the way AZ would spit stuff out in what I think is a rather disrespectful manner. AZ still eats weird foods, but he's a vet now and seems to enjoy most everything.

Apr 15, 2011
huaqiao in Food Media & News

Food trends in the coming decade?

I'm guessing we'll see a lot of shaved snow ice pop up in the major metros in the next few years. A follow-up to the Pinkberry fad.

Apr 13, 2011
huaqiao in General Topics

Portugese egg tarts (nata) vs. Chinese egg tarts

Thanks for the interesting history. I first heard about KFC egg tarts at least 10 years ago. Lines out the door in Taipei whenever they rolled out new seasonal egg tarts(with the brulee style top).

I did not realize the Portuguese style egg tart was such a recent innovation.

Apr 07, 2011
huaqiao in General Topics

Duck chin?

I had fried duck jaw on my last trip to Bangkok. It wasn't bad. Then again, frying anything and serving it with a spicy Thai sauce makes just about everything taste good!

Apr 01, 2011
huaqiao in General Topics

Tom Colicchio + Game of Thrones + food trucks

Nobody on the LA board seemed interested, but I thought the media mavens, might:

Interesting marketing move and it makes sense if you've read the books and encountered the author's detailed descriptions of the food in his gritty knights-and-kings fantasy world.

Mar 25, 2011
huaqiao in Food Media & News

Game of Thrones food in LA

Interesting promotion HBO is doing for their new "Game of Thrones" series in LA and NY:

Gritty medieval fantasy meets the food truck.

300 a day is not much, but maybe there are some die hard "Song of Ice and Fire" fans on this forum who want to give it a go.

BTW, if you haven't read the books yet, you should!

Mar 25, 2011
huaqiao in Los Angeles Area

New Yorkers with Tweens Visiting L.A

I actually really like their chile verde burrito. I go to the one on Torrance Ave., but I'm guessing they're all the same. The chile verde used to have a really nice kick. I heard they toned it down, customers complained, and now it's back up to almost the same spiciness as before.

Feb 16, 2011
huaqiao in Los Angeles Area

New Yorkers with Tweens Visiting L.A

If you're in Redondo, you're not far from Gaja-mok. It's a fun and unique experience and could be fun for tweens. I know NYC has great Japanese food, but I'm not sure if they have something like this.

Here's a review from our resident uber-reviewer:

One thing not mentioned in the review is their huge list of crazy dessert parfaits. :D

Feb 16, 2011
huaqiao in Los Angeles Area

Favori – Delicious Vietnamese Catfish and Crab in Little Saigon

Favori has been our family's go-to spot for baked catfish since the 90's as well. I remember trying another highly regarded baked catfish place in the SGV once and the skin was soft and mushy. I much prefer the crispy peking-duck like skin at Favori.

It's been a while since I've had it, but I remember really liking the French onion soup at Favori, too. They put a whole raw egg yolk inside the soup and I'm just a sucker for egg yolks.

Favori Restaurant
3502 W 1st St, Santa Ana, CA 92703

Jan 06, 2011
huaqiao in Los Angeles Area