Ivan Orkin, the renegade New Yorker-turned-Japanese-ramen-chef, discusses ramen culture in New York versus Tokyo. Chef Nakamura from Sun Noodles explains what makes a great bowl of ramen. Later, seafood purveyor-turned-ramen-chef Yuji Haraguchi creates a New York deli-style version of his broth-less ramen dish, mazemen, using sustainable and typically discarded seafood from a nearby supermarket. The episode ends in Berkeley, Calif. with a tour of the local greenmarket from three former Chez Panisse chefs. After traveling to Japan, they opened a restaurant in the U.S. that serves ramen dishes with their local and personal spin.
This episode visits New York and Los Angeles - home to the two largest Korean populations in the United States - to explore what distinguishes each. Both are 24-hour hubs of food and drinking culture. However, New York City's Koreatown covers just one block, whereas Los Angeles' Koreatown seems like a city unto itself. At dinner with Lisa Ling and her husband Paul Song, chef Sang Yoon breaks down the basics of Korean cooking. Back in New York, at Saveur Magazine'stest kitchen, Top Chefwinner Kristen Kish, a Seoul-born Korean adoptee, receives her first-ever Korean cooking lesson, a kimchi tutorial, from Korean homemaker and YouTube sensation, Maangchi. The episode ends with a night out at Pocha 32, an export of Korea's popular "tent" restaurants.
Northern Thai Cuisine
Andy Ricker, a carpenter-turned-chef from Portland, Oreg., is known for bringing "authentic" Thai food to America. At a food festival in Las Vegas, Ricker prepares a welcome dinner for the participating chefs at the much-loved Lotus of Siam, with chef/owner Saipin Chutima at the helm. The duo create their collective version of a spicy Issan dish. At the table, Jet Tila rhapsodizes about the days when his family opened America's first Thai grocery store in Hollywood, Calif., and introduced lemograss, kaffir lime leaves and other ingredients to the American palate. The episode also includes visits to a Thai temple in Los Angeles.
Filipinos comprise the second-largest Asian-American population nationwide, yet their cuisine is relatively unknown. PJ Quesada, founder of the Filipino Food Movement, explains Filipino cuisine while feasting at his friend Tim Luym's global-Filipino restaurant in San Mateo, Calif. Meet restaurateur Nicole Ponseca, who left her life as a advertising executive in New York to give voice to her culture through food. And finally, the two friends behind Bling Bling Dumplings manufacture thousands of dumplings - from scratch, at home - to serve at Coachella and other festivals.
Bay Area's Pacific Rim Cuisine
This episode introduces Olivia Wu, designer of the original Asian restaurant concepts on Google's "campus." Go behind-the-scenes at Google's first sit-down restaurant, as the assembly line churns out 2, 000 servings of the Indian fried rice dish, biryani. A visit to Google's purveyors showcases the ethos of the Bay Area food culture - local, seasonable and sustainable. After a career in Silicon Valley, two retired Japanese executives returned to their ancestral farming roots and constructed an indoor vertical farm which services some of the top restaurants in the Bay Area. The episode ends at a now-mainstream tofu factory.
Track the evolution of Chinese food in America through the lens of two third-generation Chinese-American restaurateurs. Wilson Tang preserves the legacy of his family's dim sum parlor (America's oldest) while opening a fine-dining Chinese restaurant on Chinatown's expanding Lower East Side. Ed Schoenfeld, a self-proclaimed Chinese food expert and owner of one of the most critically acclaimed Chinese restaurants in New York, provides a tutorial on Peking duck preparation. The episode concludes at Hakkasan, a global Chinese brand that includes nightclubs and restaurants from Beverly Hills to Dubai to Shanghai.
Japan has mesmerized American foodies for generations and a new wave of Japanese culinary culture continues to intoxicate us. Exploring American manifestations of otaku, the Japanese trope that combines cutting-edge pop culture with fetishistic obsession, Danielle visits New York's first cat cafe; a Brooklyn izakaya run by a Frenchman in thrall to Japanese anime and manga; and a California suburban mom who's a star on the international bento-box circuit. On a more traditional note, Danielle gets in the sumo ring with a 600-pound opponent and then helps him make chanko nabe, the sumo wrestler's staple meal.
Asian Farm to Table
Farmers are the new rock stars of the food world, and in this episode Danielle visits agriculturists large and small, traditional and cutting edge. Ross Koda, a third-generation Japanese-American, runs a renowned Central Valley rice farm and hopes to keep it in the family. Kristyn Leach, a Korean adoptee, hand grows artisanal, heirloom Asian produce for one of San Francisco's most popular restaurants. And on the gorgeous Half Moon Bay coast, a pair of electricians who saw a gap in the market operate America's first wasabi farm.
Food of the Gods
The relationship between faith and food is evident at three Asian houses of worship: an imposing Buddhist temple where Danielle is served an artful vegetarian feast; a Sikh temple where she helps cook Indian flatbread for a communal meal where all are welcome; and a Queens mosque's annual food fair, where she samples Indonesian dishes and learns about life as a Muslim in America.
Made In China
The rise of China has meant the rise of Chinese culinary traditions in America. Danielle checks out an industrial kitchen where traditional "confinement meals" are made for new mothers across the country; an underground Manhattan cocktail den whose main ingredient is the fiery liquor baijiu, the world's most heavily consumed spirit; and a wedding in the heart of San Francisco's Chinatown where old world and new meet at the banquet table and on the dance floor.
The New Indian
A new generation of chefs and entrepreneurs is finally bringing the amazing cooking of the world's second-largest country to a broad American audience. Danielle interviews a former financier who offers a light, healthy take on Indian classics at his fast-casual start-up Inday; the adventurous restaurateurs behind Babu Ji, where meticulous preparations and a Bollywood vibe have led to breakout success; and a Silicon Valley engineer who got her start in the food business selling homemade chai by bicycle in the hills of San Francisco.
Taiwan's True Flavors
Danielle gets back to her roots in an episode devoted to the distinctive, rustic cuisine of Taiwan. With Cathy Erway, author of "Foods of Taiwan," she hits a Chinatown market and then makes the island's most famous dish, beef noodle soup. At Taiwan Bear House, started by homesick young expats, she tries a New York take on the box lunches known as biandang. And in California's Orange County, she pays a twilight visit to America's closest counterpart to a classic Taiwanese night market.
Asian Food, American Dreams
Asian cuisine is increasingly the engine driving the growth of the American food industry. Danielle talks to three Asian-American entrepreneurs about the secrets of their success: Tim Wildin, the young Chipotle executive whose Thai aunties' recipes contribute to the menu at Shophouse; Lynda Trang Dai, once known as the Vietnamese Madonna and now the queen of banh mi sandwiches in Orange County's Little Saigon; and Charles Phan, the ground-breaking chef whose Slanted Door was named best restaurant in the country by the James Beard Foundation.
Food As Cultural Collision
This episode explores how cultures collide when trends meet traditions. Mister Softee taken over by the Chinese government; Brooklyn Brewery is using Japanese hops from Jeju Island; the Fung Bros visits a New Yorker who is reinventing the Shanghainese soup dumpling.
Food As Art
Today, what we watch can be just as appetizing as what we eat. From the Korean art of mukbang to viral sensations, artists both amateur and professional are using food as their medium of choice. Being a foodie today is just as likely to happen in a 24/7 Korean spa as it is in a restaurant.
Food As Global Locavore
It isn't just recipes that get imported and exported between the East and West, but also food practices. The farm to table movement is not at all uniquely American. We travel around China's Hangzhou region with Dai Jianjun of Dragon's Well Manor and to Sang Lee Farms in New York's North Fork to see how widespread this movement to keep things local really is.
Food As Wellness
As bone broth and kombucha line the shelves of your local grocery store, we take a closer look at "food as medicine". From visits to the Traditional Chinese Medicine Centre in China, Manhattan Chinatown's Po Wing Market and Seoul's Kimchi Museum, we learn that food is so much more than just sustenance.
Food As Azn
The next generation of Asian Americans are redefining what it means to be Asian in the U.S. by keeping one foot in the past, and the other in the future. We talk to renegade chefs, entrepreneurs and cultural ambassadors from Canal Street Market to the dance party sensation Bubble T to see what's in store for the future of Asians in the mainstream.
Food As Beauty
Asian beauty secrets have long held fascination with Western audiences. Charlotte Cho from Sokoglam shows us how the K-Beauty boom is all over mainstream America today. We talk to the (mostly) women leading the charge in the cosmetics and skincare scene and disrupting the American beauty industry, from inside out.
A fourth-generation Japanese-American farm (Chino Farms). America's oldest tofu shop in the hands of a surprising new owner (Ota Tofu). A mother-son relationship built on a passion for food and a love of heritage (Liv Wu and Erling Wu-Bower) . A historic Hollywood cafe that is part culinary hotspot, part Asians-in-Hollywood history exhibit. A former commander in the South Vietnamese army and CIA collaborator who now owns a James Beard award-winning restaurant (William Vuong). These are the incredible stories of immigrant hope, strength, perseverance, and courage that define American greatness and illustrate the richness of the Asian experience.
There is an ancient Ayurvedic proverb that says, "When diet is wrong, medicine is of no use. When diet is correct, medicine is of no need". We explore the idea of functional food and tell stories of individuals who are looking to heal the body, spirit, and global community one meal at a time. Accomplished multi-hyphenate Waris Aluwahlia, celebrated chef Su-Mei Yu along with Nimai Gupta, a farmer who is dedicated to practicing Ayurvedic agriculture show us that consciousness and intent are two of the most powerful ingredients in life.
Culinary creativity isn't always found in the kitchen. In today's day and age, innovation on how and what we eat and drink often happens in unexpected places-like the think tanks of Silicon Valley, suburban garages, and next-gen Chinese fast casual spots. We look into the future with three acclaimed women chefs in the Pacific Northwest; the founder of Pared, the game-changing app that has revolutionized how restaurants hire staff; Robert Wang, who invented the Instant Pot because he was looking to invent something to help him cook healthier food for his children; and Lucas Sin, hotshot chef and founder of Junzi Kitchen, who is leading the charge in bringing greater awareness to the diversity of Chinese food.
Through the eyes of four chefs, we explore the vast Asian diaspora and prove that if we are what we eat, we're all a little bit Asian. Cultural and culinary mashups take form in Park's Filipino-American BBQ, J.J. Johnson's Afro-Asian rice bowls, Llama San's take on the unique Peruvian-Japanese flavors known as Nikkei cuisine, and James Syhabout, the two Michelin-star Lao refugee chef who keeps one foot in the past while forging new flavor frontiers.
The celebration of Asian-American identity and history is taking shape in exciting new ways. In this episode, we meet the editors of Banana, a magazine creating a voice for contemporary AZN culture, visit an urban rice paddy in the heart of New York City, and talk to the creator of the hot Chinese cooking blog, Omnivores Cookbook. We also spend time looking at the future of Asian cocktail culture and how traditional Asian brews like sake and shochu are growing in popularity stateside.
Comfort food is nostalgic, hearty, soothing, and has never been more indispensable. Whether it's Chinese food made at home with an assist from cooking blogs like The Woks of Life or Taiwanese and Indonesian classics reimagined by young chefs like Eric Sze (886), Trigg Brown (Win Son), or Cedric Vongerichten (Wayan), fresh takes on familiar flavors are finding a new generation of hungry fans.