Gross Starbucks

Last week there was Dumb Starbucks that LA lined up for, and the news that Subway was using a chemical found in yoga mats to make their ever-fresh breads. It’s been an exciting time for global brands!

The suspect chemical, azodiacarbonamide, is banned in Europe, Australia, and conscientious Singapore and Japan, but still fine for everyone else to eat – and we know that pretty much anything goes in China.

Starbucks China has come clean and admitted that they also use azodiacarbonamide in their pastries, and they’re a bit unapologetic about it. It’s considered a legal food additive in the U.S. as well as China, just maybe not the most PR friendly of ingredients.

Funnily enough, Subway China has come out and stated that they don’t use azodiacarbonamide in their restaurant’s breads. That’s mostly because their bread comes from New Zealand where the chemical is banned as a food additive.

That’s a globalization WIN!

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Sushi Donuts? Mister Donuts

Not available just yet in Japan, Mister Donuts are making this happen in Thailand. Why there? Who knows, but I’d eat em. Sushi Do! (Huffington Post via Buzzfeed). It’s just icing thankfully.

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GR X Susan Feniger’s Street

GR X Street


Photos from Susan Feniger’s Street and our pop up shop there. Never Press and Space Camp joined in too. A fun day for sure, and we hope to do it again. The food? Yes, it was amazing. It was a special “Korean BBQ” day! Watch for more. The photo above is of Kajsa Alger!

Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

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Susan Feniger’s Street x Giant Robot and Friends: May 26th 12-3pm

Sunday May 26th

742 North Highland Avenue LA, CA!

We’ll be popping up 12-3 at Street! Sunday May 26th along with Space Camp Featuring Jesse Tise and Bradford Lynn and Never Press with Jesse Fillingham, Gabe Gonzales and James Chong.

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Senate Bean Soup Recipe

Why is this here? It turns out late Senator Daniel Inouye enjoyed this bean soup. (Senate – Bean Soup)

The Famous Senate Restaurant Bean Soup Recipe

2 pounds dried navy beans

four quarts hot water

1 1/2 pounds smoked ham hocks

1 onion, chopped

2 tablespoons butter

salt and pepper to taste

Wash the navy beans and run hot water through them until they are slightly whitened. Place beans into pot with hot water. Add ham hocks and simmer approximately three hours in a covered pot, stirring occasionally. Remove ham hocks and set aside to cool. Dice meat and return to soup. Lightly brown the onion in butter. Add to soup. Before serving, bring to a boil and season with salt and pepper. Serves 8.


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Food and Wine: Sawtelle with a GR Mention

Thanks Jonathan Gold. Love you too.

(Food and Wine – Jonathan Gold Sawtelle)

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McDonald’s China’s Sausage Double Beef Burger

“All the good stuff is in Asia”. We’ve heard it over and over and here’s yet another example. The legendary Sausage Double Beef Burger might be the way to control over-population. The bun looks great by the way and only $2.82!

(FoodBeast – McDonalds China Sausage Double Beef Burgers)

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Kid from OC Follows His Ramen Dreams – Film

Cool video of Keizo Shimamoto from Huntington Beach moves to Japan to follow is ramen passion.



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Spam Goes Glam in Japan

Spam, the kind you eat. It’s made it across! (Boston Globe – Spam)

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NPR: Cute Food in Japan

Cute food, but it doesn’t stop people from eating it. Cute lunches anyone? (NPR – Food)

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C’mon KPCC: Mochi Isn’t About Reconnecting to Roots

Yes it’s a nice and cute story. “Pounding” mochi is a tradition for some, but do you really think pounding mochi is about reconnecting to roots? Mochi pounding is sort of once a year hobby (at best). It’s like watching the Rose Parade. But what kind of “roots” are we talking about? This is still a cute story. (SCPR – Mochi)

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China to Grow Veggies on Moon

It’s been reported by Chinese media that veggie might be grown on the moon? Probably not literally, but growing veggies in space as an experiment may happen. But hasn’t it happened already? We’re waiting to have a new dish called “Celestial Bok Choy” or how about “medical Marijuana?” It’s not a vegetable, but an “herb”. How much could that be sold for? That’s not the point, or is it? (Xinhuanet – China moon veggies)

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Wahoo’s Fish Tacos Founder Wing Lam Profiled in LA Times

Wing Lam profile in the LA Times. From surfing to 80 million dollars a year. This man is wealthy and eating well. For a low price, you can get tasty fish tacos that are grilled. Black beans as pictured? No way, get the spicy beans only which is pictured at bottom! It’s a hefty meal for under $7. Casual and easy, the place is always decent. Congrats to Wing Lam and his partners. In addition to the article, this man has supported Asian American film festivals, events, and more. (LA Times – Wing Lam)

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Kobe Beef May Be Real Soon

We’ve reported more than once that when you see Wagyu or Kobe beef on a menu, it’s not real. It’s a fugazi. You’re eating nice meat, but it’s not Wagyu or Kobe but this is going to confuse things. The real meat will be imported soon, but it’s going to cost. So far, only two restaurant in San Francisco will get the meat.

“The overall production is small due to the restricted number of farmers and slaughterhouses designated to handle the cows. Only around 3,000 cows are sent to market each year, which translates to about 700-800 tons.” (WSJ – Kobe beef)

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Whale Meat: Meh

In a poll of 1200 people: “nearly 90 percent said they had not bought whale meat in the last year. Five percent had done so once, and only 2 percent had done so more than twice.” Most don’t even support it although too many just don’t care. (Discovery – Whale Meat)

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Iron Chef Sakai Cooking in LA for 230 people at $450 Each

What kind of meal will this be? Can an Iron Chef really handle 230 people? For $450, we have our doubts that this will work. The only way a chef can prep for 230 people is to make food that can sit for a while and not spoil. Or else it’ll be cooking by committee and for $450? How about a trip somewhere and a meal? (Sacbee – Sakai)

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Holiday Hint Mints by Audrey Kawasaki are in

Well you can order them, and we’ll have them on shelves November 1. That’s the official date. (

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5 Patty Burger at Lotteria in Japan

It’s too late, you missed out on the left 5 patty burger for $6. This was on October 16th, but you can get the sandwich with the 5 deep fried shrimp patties October 23rd. Lotteria is a junk food burger chain in Japan that might be one of the worst on the list of places to eat. (Huffpo – Lotteria) Rocketnews24 has a little more about the burgers in Japanese, including more photos. (Rocketnews24 – Lotteria)

Here’s a video of someone in Japan trying this monstrosity. The next size up? There was once a 10 patty burger.



Just so you can see it, here’s a photo of the 10 patty version from alafista

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Chopsticks: The Art

Funny topic of choice by Kotaku, but chopsticks are important. Perhaps with the evolving nature of food and our less analog culture influence a change in how we use chopsticks. The speed of our meals could also be a factor. Maybe it’s the fact that we write less and type more, thus holding pens in a specific way is no longer as much of an issue. Perhaps eating fast food with our hands and less noodles make us not need them from an early age. All of these factors make a difference, but Kotaku shows the old school way of how. (Kotaku – Chopsticks)

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Instant Gratification

I share a bittersweet moment with you all… the preparation and consumption of my last bowl of instant ttuk guk. It was a precious moment, and good things are always even better when shared.

This is the object of my obsession, Ottogi’s instant rice cake soup, or Ssal Ttuk Guk. Ottogi is the maker of many fine instant foods, but this has to be their best. The have lofty goals to make delicious, healthy and easy to make food. One of their mottos is “Ottogi fills ALIVE TASTE and Nutrition of nature to all products”. They create classic instant food products that try to recreate Korean comfort food, like burnt rice crusts, and ttukbokki (spicy rice cake) flavored ramen. They make weird trendy food too. Pizza flavored rice cakes? No thank you. I don’t care about any of that though, I just want this. Every day. All day long. In an unlimited supply.

I found these on the cup noodle shelf at the Apollo Market – the neighborhood market just across the parking lot from my first apartment here in Darkhan. It’s a popular market because they stock a good variety of products, everything is clearly priced, the staff if friendly, and with the Russian embassy across the street, they try to stock “international” foods. Korean food is popular in Mongolia. Korean restaurants are everywhere, and you can find Korean products on even the tiniest country mini-market’s shelves. This though… this precious food, I had never seen before, and on instinct, I bought 4 of them that day.

I spent the better part of my young/ not-so-young adult life as a strict vegan. Mongolia makes that a daily challenge. If I lived in Ulaanbaatar, I’d have access to all kinds of food in grocery stores, and vegan friendly cuisine at dozens of restaurants around the city, but I live in Darkhan. That means everything available here is what grows (or grazes) around here, and what comes in from distributors in Ulaanbaatar. In the winter, much of the produce selection disappears, and you want to eat seasonally to avoid Chinese produce that is over priced and chock full of chemical preservatives. I try to eliminate as much meat and dairy as possible from my daily diet, but as soon as I settled here I caved on Korean comfort foods. These are foods that I would make vegan versions of at home, and rarely ever found vegan versions of outside of veggie/vegan Korean restaurants in Seoul. Ttuk guk is a childhood favorite. With fresh rice cakes, it’s melt in your mouth delicious. Totally filling. It makes you feel like you’re being hugged by a polar bear wearing an electric blanket, and that polar bear just wants you and your tummy to be happy and full for forever.The soup usually comes with some ground or sliced beef in it, and the soup is a beef based broth, so this is one of those comforts I gave up over 17 years ago.

The beauty of most Korean instant foods is that the flavors are usually artificial. I checked the cholesterol count on the package and it was minimal, indicating a small amount of animal protein. Sodium was high, indicating a large amount of artificial “meat” flavor. All good in the new diet hood! I had no idea how they were going to pull off the rice cakes, but I was still willing to try.

The package contains a bag of vacuum packed rice cakes with a silica gel packet for “freshness”, an MSG-heavy, gooey soup sauce/gel, and a packet of dehydrated TVP (texturized vegetable protein), egg, green onion, and seaweed. No chunks of beef to be seen anywhere! Oh yeah, and a cute little soup spoon.

Dump all the contents into the bowl (rice cakes on the bottom), boil some hot water and fill it up about half-way (to the little line inside the bowl) and cover the top with the foil cover and something heavy-ish to keep all the power of hot water inside. Give the soup about 8-10 minutes to reach ultimate levels of delicious. I tried it at 5 minutes and it’s edible, but the rice cakes still needed some soaking in the soup. At it’s peak, the rice cakes are perfectly re-hydrated. They’re soft, chewy and they’ve absorbed the flavor in the soup. It’s like magic. Crazy, incomprehensible, developed in a laboratory, delicious food magic.

The final result stays nice and hot, but it might be the way I INHALE it as soon as I’ve taken off that foil top. I start with some soup and then work my way through the rice cakes so I can get a perfect ratio of rice cake to soup on my spoon. I have some OCD eating habits, and this is one of them. I also like to chew on both sides of my mouth so I try to make sure I’m always left with an even number of bites by the time I get to the bottom off the bowl. (When people give me three of something to snack on, I will usually bite the third snack in half to avoid anxiety. Please keep this in mind when sharing with me.)

So, this was the last bowl. After I finished the four I first bought at the Apollo Market, I went back and bought every single one on their shelves. I think I was squealing with delight as I was being rung up that day. Little did I know that they would not be restocking this item. I held on to this last bowl for one month, afraid to eat it – afraid it would be the last time and that I wasn’t ready to say good bye. I had to though. My incredibly considerate husband wanted to take the package to the manager of the Apollo Market and make a special request to get it back on their shelves. He offered to pay a little extra to get it to Darkhan, but it’s been two weeks now, and no sign of it.

Do yourself a favor, if you see this on your local Korean market’s shelves, buy it. It cost about $3 here, half the price of the same dish in a Korean restaurant. And do me a favor, if you find it, let me know so I can get on a plane and clean out the store’s inventory. In the meantime, this is a pretty good recipe for making the dish at home. I will be consoling myself with making ttukpokki for now, since the best husband in Mongolia managed to find me two bags of frozen ttuk. I could slice them up for soup, but it wouldn’t be the same, and I can’t fake the funk for that beef broth. File this under “Half-Korean Girl In Mongolia Problems”.



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