Gil Asakawa's Nikkei View | food & dining
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Quarter Pounder with Cheese: A Taste of American-style Heaven?Immigrants to the United States strive to gain the American dream.... and manage to gain American weight at the same time. It makes sense if you think about it: You want to fit in as a newcomer to the U.S., and you know the cliché, "when in Rome do as the Romans do" -- you eat like people in Peoria or Poughkeepsie. McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's, Fattburger, Inn-N-Out, White Castle.... and that's just the burgers and fries. There's pizza, shakes, funnel cakes, onion rings, fried chicken, tacos, burritos, hot dogs, brats, chips of all kinds and candy out the wazoo (though, to be honest, Asians eat a wider array of strange and wonderful candy than the typical American chocolate bar). It's not just the high-calorie, high carb, high-sugar diet of Americans, it's that immigrants embrace this diet with gusto to prove their American-ness. According to an article on Futurity.org, "Immigrants get supersized in U.S.," a study published in Psychological Science that compared Asian Americans with white college students found some facsinating data about their childhood food memories:

Miso Chashu Ramen at Sushi Spot in Boulder I was severely depressed a month ago, when I sauntered up University Hill from the University of Colorado campus for my semi-regular fix of ramen from Bento Zanmai, the fast foodish takeout counter aimed at the student population in a funky food court alongside a pizza joint and Thai, Middle Eastern and Nepalese counters, and found the ramen spot was closed. I was too upset to call Sushi Zanmai, the parent restaurant that also owns Amu, the super-fine izakaya. But today, as I pondered lunch options I decided to find out whaddup with the demise of Bento Zanmai. It's been closed, yes, I know, but what? Its entire menu is now being served just around the corner on the Hill at Sushi Spot, a slightly more upscale sushi restaurant that the Zanmai folks also own? Cool! I should say upfront that although I love sushi, I'm not big fan of the crazy variety of special rolls that have been invented to entice and entertain Americans as sushi became mainstream in the past two decades. To me, even a California Roll (which I know is these days commonplace in Japan) is a mutant invention. I mean really, rice on the outside? Avocado? Come on....

Meet Cheryl Tan on visualizAsian.com on May 24!We're thrilled to announce that we're celebrating the second anniversary of visualizAsian.com with TWO shows during Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month! We launbched visualizAsian in May of 2009 with a conversation with former Transportation Secretary Norm Mineta, and we've had almost two dozen calls since then. This month we have a show with Albert Kim, one of the writers and producers of the hit action series "Nikita" on Tuesday May 10, and we're closing out the month with a conversation with journalist and author Cheryl Tan on Tuesday, May 24! Click here to register for the call and you'll receive the dial-in and webcast information. Cheryl Tan has written for bigtime publications including the New York Times and Wall Street Journal, and earlier this year published "A Tiger in the Kitchen" (not to be confused with that other "Tiger" book...). Here's her biography from her website:

Lynn ChenUPDATE:Due to a scheduling conflict, our conversation with Lynn Chen is now scheduled for Monday, April 11 at 7 pm PT. Lynn Chen is a woman after Erin and my own hearts... and stomachs. She's a foodie as well as a talented actress and musician, and she writes one blog, "The Actor's Diet," about "the life of a Hollywood actress. Meal by meal," and recently launched another, "Thick Dumpling Skin," about Asians' diet and body issues, with Hyphen publisher Lisa Lee. We're thrilled to announce that we'll be speaking with Lynn for our next visualizAsian show on TUESDAY, APRIL 26MONDAY APRIL 11 at 7 pm PT (10 pm for you folks on the east coast). Just register here for the free dial-in and webinar information -- if you've registered for previous visualizAsian calls, you'll already receive the info. Wow, you missed a powerful conversation with Lynn on April 11, but you can still register to hear the archived MP3 of the call for 30 days. Lynn Chen, whose "excessive beauty makes us want to rip our eyeballs out," according to the ladies of the Disgrasian blog, was born in Queens, New York in 1976 to a mother who sang at the Metropolitan Opera and a father who is an ethnomusicologist, and she was raised in New Jersey and attended Wesleyan University. As a child, Lynn sang with the Children's Choirs at the Metropolitan and NYC Opera Houses, and made her acting debut in the NY State Theatre production of "South Pacific" at Lincoln Center. Television credits include "NCIS: LA," "Numbers," guest roles on almost all of the "Law and Order" shows, and recurring roles in "All My Children" and "The Singles Table," opposite John Cho and Alicia Silverstone. Of her films, Lynn's best-known as "Vivian Shing" in Sony Pictures Classic's feature film "Saving Face," a role for which she won the "Outstanding Newcomer Award" at the 2006 Asian Excellence Awards. Since then she has appeared in over a dozen films, most recently starring in "White on Rice," "Why Am I Doing This?." "The People I've Slept With," and the just-released "Surrogate Valentine," which is making the rounds of film festivals. "Surrogate Valentine" was directed by Dave Boyle, the young filmmaker who also wrote and directed "White on Rice," a terrific indie film, and it's a fictionalized story of the real-life experiences of singer-songwriter Goh Nakamura. The film was the closing night selection of the San Francisco Asian American Film Festival, and just screened at SXSW Film in Austin. But Lynn isn't just limited to acting. In fact, she took some time off from acting to deal with her eating disorders, and started "The Actor's Diet" in 2009 as a way to write about food and to hold herself accountable for eating healthy (with the burgers and fried thrown in). Here's how she explains the blog:

Japanese New Year Unlike other Asian cultures, the Japanese don't celebrate Lunar New Year. Instead, they celebrate the Western calendar New Year, January 1, and some of the special traditions for the holiday, called "Oshogatsu," have been handed down to Japanese Americans over the past century. Japanese New Year's traditions are different from Western (or at least, American) ones: First of all, New Year's Eve isn't the big holiday, and the focus isn't on partying and waiting until midnight on Dec. 31 to watch the Times Square ball slide down, or to see fireworks or make hearty toasts. A lot of us do, because we go to parties to celebrate with friends -- after all, we are Japanese American. In Japan, New Year's Eve and the days leading up to it are all about cleaning house, cleaning yourself and your soul, putting your business in order to prepare for the new year. It doesn't sound like much fun. And traditionally, people spend New Year's Eve quietly at home with family or friends. There are events, such as the release of thousands of balloons at Tokyo's Zojoji temple to pray for world peace -- pretty different from Times Square, huh? My mom's hometown of Nemuro is at the easternmost tip of the northern island of Hokkaido, and thousands of people gather on Cape Nosappu outside of town past midnight on January 1, to see the first sunrise of the new year in Japan. Buddhist temples ring their bell at midnight to mark the start of the new year, a very spiritual sound. There are other festive events throughout Japan too, with live music and fireworks just like in the US -- it's not all traditional. By the time the clock ticks over into the new year, Japanese have spruced up their house with traditional decorations made of pine, bamboo and plum trees to bring good luck. On New Year's Eve, families settle in with special toshikoshi soba noodles to bring long life, and watch Kohaku Utagassen, a men versus women singing contest that's like karaoke on serious steroids featuring the country's biggest enka (a traditional style of pop music) and J-pop stars. This show has been aired on New Year's Eve since the end of World War II, and for decades it was Japan's equivalent of the Super Bowl in popularity. Denver's Japanese community has held a Kohaku Utagassen competition for many years too. The main event in Japan isn't New Year's Eve and the midnight celebrations. It's New Year's Day, or Oshogatsu, and not because of college sports contests. The first days of January represent the start of a clean slate for everyone, and a time to celebrate family and friends by visiting people and wish everyone well. January 1 is also the day for a family feast that can put American Thanksgiving to shame.

Here's a cool Asian/Asian American spin on the ubiquitous city guides concept, if you live in LA or some select other cities around the globe. Privy 5 is a startup that's launching a series of city-focused websites that invites celebrities and local playas to submit their Top 5 lists in categories such as restaurants, hotels, bars, karaoke/noraebang, shops and spas,...

I came across this story on Reappropriate, a great blog about race and identity: New York restaurant owner Eddie Huang responds to a lukewarm NYT review of his Lower East Side joint Xiao Ye on his very unapologetic and in-your-face Asian AMERICAN blog, "Fresh off the Boat" and follows up by posting his mother's rather FoB-y note to him saying essentially, see? You deserve your bad review for not listening to me! Then CNN catches wind of the flap and interviews him. This is interesting to me on a couple of levels.

learn how to make curry laksa from New Asian Cuisine I should have written about New Asian Cuisine a long time ago, since I've been subscribing to the site's email newsletter for years. Seriously, I don't know what I'm thinking. NAC is just plain cool, and worth visiting. Regularly. The site is a treasure trove for foodies who love to cook, and who love Asian cuisine. You'll find a fabulous array of diverse recipes, both traditional and contemporary, authentic and fusion. Here's how the creators of the site describe it: