Sunday Obon. The sun was going down slowly, and walking up La Grange street, you can hear and see people down the street having a good time. It was the last hour of the Obon in West LA. I used to revel in this event. It was one of the greatest moments of the year. I was small and the event was huge. Everywhere I walked felt like something great was happening. These days, it’s just as large, the foods are different and perhaps the changing times are dictating what happens.
No longer can you just buy at the booth. You need to purchase tickets from the specific place. Basically money can’t get messed with by the booth folks. The prizes aren’t the same as they once were. The bake sale area is gone. Goldfish are no longer prizes. Dime pitch into actual glass plates and cups where you keep the item you pitched into, is history.
Yet, the Obon odori (dance) is still festive, the same bonsai look healthy, shave ice (although I didn’t try it this year) looks as great as ever, chicken teriyaki still rules it, chili rice is a solid winner, imagawayaki (pictured below) is something newer and with blueberry and chocolate chip is heroic, bingo remains a favorite, and that’s Obon.
Images from West LA Obon. I’ve wanted to attend this for the last decade, but it unfortunately always took place the same weekend as Comic Con. This year, Comic Con moved up a couple of weeks making my attendance possible. My goal has always been to shoot the photo that captures the event. A single image. I didn’t quite get it, but it’s somewhat close to what I’ve been picturing. We also had the Theo Ellsworth exhibition at the same time. Maybe we’ll make this an annual event.
Radness. Coke, frozen style sounds great on a hot day. Can’t beat it. It’s in Hong Kong.
Bigger Belts Needed Soon in Singapore! 300 wristbands to taste a pretty decent burger happened in Singapore. It’s actually happening elsewhere too. Burgers are taking over the world. The question is, will there be “Animal Style” added to the menu and the those little Biblical religious messages on the cups? Perhaps they’ll curtail it to the religions of the region. Buddha 1:1 (Huffpo – In-N-Out)
C’mon NPR, manju is not candy and fresh manju doesn’t last for days. This covers a new shop in Seattle called Umai-do that’s been open only a year which is remarkable. Most manju shops have been around for decades. This is the key point in the story which should be the focus. These shops may one day disappear.
(NPR – manju)
Japan, of course. “Biohazard Cafe and Grill S.T.A.R.S restaurant” will the name, and they’re sell some limited good, it’ll supposedly last a year and really, that’s all the info Capcom and game folks have figured out. The easiest part might be the menu. It can be straight up ugly and crappy and it’ll still work. (Huffpo – Zombie)
The coolest trends or should we say fads are often are born, if not, then bred by Asians or Asian Americans. Streetwear, sneakers, fixies, the boutique shop and food are just some of them. In a the day when a new generation matures, somewhat away from the internet boom of the early 2000s, it’s a look back into craft and working with your hands. Yet, all of a sudden, food has stepped up as being some kind of important thing to line up for. Really? Is it? Can the kids of today hybrid food enough to make it something that you need to line for? Is it better than our own parents or is it just derivative of it? Is it just heavy sauces and cheap fat or bacon that’s making everyone happy? Although article after article will make stars out of new young chefs, we’ll see how soon it passes once every possible hybrid gets made. The market will continue to flood and we’re already seeing less food trucks. Like all things, a few strong will continue to innovate and many will fall. After people realize that although the experience was great at the time, it all just ends up in a toilet. Sneakers? They get worn down. Fixies need brakes. Boutique shops battle the internet. It’s a cycle. (Time - Food)
Funny List of how to pick a Chinese restaurant and how to order off of the secret menu. We can picture it already.
You: Can I see the other menu?
Them: There is no other menu.
You: Surely there must be other food aside from Mu Shu Pork?
Them: No, but would you like Chow Mein?
After all this, what do you do? What if the menu shows up in Chinese and then the conversation switches to a mountainous dialog of Chinese? Doom. This crap isn’t going to work. Do Chinese restaurants really have another menu that’s ready to go? It’ll take an entire different fridge, cooking techniques and time. A few may do it, but do you really think over 50% would entertain this? (MSNBC – Chinese food)
The other day while working, a colleague and I finished off a box of pizza. It was great and the box was a 20″ square behemoth. It was in great condition and looked like a box that I could almost pack art in. Yes, the pepperonis left oil stains. The slices got moved around a bit, meaning, sauces were spilled. Deth P Sun once did a painting that said, Pizza is Forever, and like almost anything man made it leaves a footprint including a problem in recycling. The contaminants that come from oil, cheese, and the tomato sauce actually hinders recycling and can cause an entire recycling batch to go wrong. So what to do? In a nutshell cut out the contaminated parts and recycle the cleaner parts. (Recycle Bank – Pizza)
Kogi’s Roy Choi is quitting? Yes, he might have single handedly created a new food truck craze which then led to another restaurant craze which then led to millions of overnight food critics on Yelp. The foodista movement began and in it’s wake destroyed as much as it began. Healthy food, no, much of the food trucks out there is rich, oily, buttery and is shit you wouldn’t make or eat at home. Maybe that’s what most people want, but not if you knew how it was made, and maybe not if you ate better versions of it that’s been around much longer.
Yes, I’ve interviewed Roy early on for Giant Robot. He is great at what he does. Yet him wanting to not cook, not eat beef, and this is big news? C’mon. It’s a dietary and lifestyle change. His shits will be different, his tastes will be different, and it’s just his own evolution. His commentary on the riot look back? As much as he’s a great guy and does make a point of what’s important today as well – the current youth, it’s a look back at a tragedy. As much as 9.11 was covered again, so is the LA Riots by LA papers. Why not let LA papers re look at the riots? It’s the web, it’s writing and it’s important. If you think he makes sense, then let’s transpose The LA Dodgers? The kids are more important than them as well. (Huffington Post – Roy Choi)
Elvers! Yes, they’re fetching up to $2000 a pound in Maine. When is the last time you’ve seen eel on a menu when it’s not at a Japanese restaurant? Eel is scarce and may some day get on the endangered list. They net them and a typical fisherman might haul two pounds a day. Last year it was at $891 a pound. Time to start an eel farm?
What’s for breakfast? How about eggs cooked in piss? In Dongyang, China, that’s what’s special. Virgin boys under the age of 10 pee into buckets and those get used to cook the eggs. Yes, the eggs crack after cooking and then more piss is added. Want to prevent head stroke? Then eat these eggs. It takes a day to make them and it sounds like something that can be made anywhere.
Asians have eaten jellyfish as an ingredient for ages, but for Georgian fisherman, this is a huge crop. It’s technically not an animal, according to some vegans since they have no nervous system. They’re like floating plants, but the word “fish” persists which keeps many away. It has a crunch, a flavor that tastes simple yet offers a strange experience. Add soy sauce, it’ll taste like soy sauce. After you get over it, it becomes a staple. No big deal, but gladly it’s an alternative food source. (VOA news – Jellyfish)
GR interviewed David Gelb a while back about this film. You can read the interview here. Imagine a person who strives for perfection. It doesn’t have to be in food, it could be anything. Searching for it and finding it is a rare thing, and Jiro has done that. The film is stunning, seriously, and it’s opening up nation wide now! Here’s a link to the page. For anyone local in LA, it begins today at the Nuart.
All you have to do is watch the video. Hopefully the ramen tastes good.
Does the guy still have hair on his arm?
Fujiya Market which has always looked out of place on Virgil was once in an area of Japanese Americans called J-Flats. No. I’ve never heard of that, and this market at 80 years is still there. The proprietors aren’t the originals, but the space looks classic and great. I made a comment recently about Granada Market on Sawtelle which shares a similar type vibe. It’s old, classic, strange and you hope it won’t close, but it probably will. No kid wants to take over an old market as much as they’d want to own a taco truck. For spots like these, I’d wish there were grants, rent subsidies and so on just to keep them open as historical locations. They do matter in the history of a city. (LA Weekly – Fujiya Market) For more photos, take a look at this flickr page by Guzzleandnosh.