I recently did a dumpling demo at the Menlo Park library where I got to meet Jay, one of the banh mi recipe testers and a frequent visitor to this site. He told me how he enjoyed the lists of interesting articles and products that I used to post. If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you may have seen them in passing. But let’s be real, who has time to keep up with everything? Plus, a 140-character tweet or a long Facebook post isn’t quite the same as aggregating and organizing a list of information that’s interesting and potentially useful to you at a cocktail party or afternoon tea.
So I’m thinking of reviving the lists and calling them “VWK Leftovers.” My dad, Bo Gia (“old daddy” in Vietnamese), also culls the internet for stuff so I’d like to give him a shout out for being a precocious 83-year-old man.
Shopping & Eating
I love Japanese yen ($1.50) stores but last week spent a little more money at this shop. Where else can you get a sphrerical ice cube tray? (Shouldn't that be called an ice ball tray?) At the store, there was an entire end-cap display of products to create instant double-eyelids, which make Asian eyes look bigger, more like Western eyes. Seriously.
A UK journalist just queried me about hirata buns and I had to Google them. They’re not Japanese, just a Japanese name slapped on Taiwanese gua bao – steamed rolls filled with long-simmered pork or beef, cucumber and peanuts. Yep, the buns that Momufuku made famous are trending in the UK. Why not call the buns gua bao?
Shanghai soup dumpling (xiao long bao) lovers, you’ll be happy to know that there’s a new Din Tai Fung opening in September. I was surprised for about 5 seconds at the location, which is posted here, not DTF’s website.
I just got back from Los Angeles, where I ate a little too well at The Spice Table (modern Southeast Asian), Night Market (Northern Thai street food), Good Girl Dinette (clever, farm-fresh Vietnamese), Musha (Tokyo-style izakaya), and Tsujita (ramen only at lunch). For non-Asian food, I had splendid meals at Bestia (urban LA Italian) and Moles La Tia (what else but mole?).
Vietnam Master Chef Competition
A Q&A with Harold Ngo (Ngo Thanh Hoa), the winner of the first season of Vietnam Master Chef competition reflects how much the world has changed. He’s an overseas Viet-Australian who returned to Vietnam to cook. The article comes from Vietnam and is in English.
To see Harold in action, watch an episode; the full season is on YouTube. It’s in Vietnamese but you get to see some cool Viet landmarks, the inside of Viet kitchens, and modern supermarkets. You get the gist of the show via the dramatic music.
Farming & Food Supplies
How China’s economic growth is affecting its food supply. Yes, it’s bad and terribly sad. The plight of small-scale farmers in China may destabilize the government. This WSJ story is eye-opening and I hope the paywall isn’t up when you access “The Bad Earth.”
The shrinking amount of farmland in Vietnam is forcing people to grow food in surprising places.
On an upbeat note, we can all learn a few things from Jamaica, where high imported food costs have got people growing green thumbs and going hyper local with their food supply.
Bo Gia’s discoveries
A kick starter campaign dedicated to a very cool design for serving pho. The campaign is over but you should check out the page to get the low down on the cleverness of the lantern pho bowl.
Ginseng isn’t just an Asian thing. It grows wild in the Eastern United States and has enjoyed a long history in America. In fact, Daniel Boone earned a little extra on the side by foraging for and selling ginseng. Sadly, it’s endangered and illegal harvesting by ginseng rustlers is a major problem at National Parks.
So do you like these kinds of posts? If you do, I’ll do them more often. Let me know. Thanks.