The Ascent of True “Asian-American” Food
In their June 2012 issue, Details magazine ran a four-part feature on “The Asian-Food Revolution” sweeping the country. From the trendiest new restaurants to the tastiest Asian food trucks, it showcases the latest developments in Asian cuisine popping up from coast to coast. This Asian food revolution features standard Asian fare introduced in wonderfully innovative contexts, often hybridized with another cuisine. Like the highly successful Kogi BBQ truck that Roy Choi opened in Los Angeles a few years ago that mashed together Korean and Mexican cuisine, the new era of Asian food can be proudly called “Asian-American.” Just like how the United States fosters an incredibly diverse array of cultures, Asian-American chefs and their peers have utilized this ethnic melting pot to draw inspiration for their latest creations.
For instance, the Details feature includes on its list of the hottest new Asian restaurants New York City’s Danji, opened by Hooni Kim. One particular dish to look for on the Danji menu is the bulgogi sliders. Bulgogi, a traditional Korean dish of marinated and barbecued beef usually served alongside rice, finds a new home on miniature burger buns topped with kimchi cucumbers. Edward Kim’s restaurant Ruxbin in Chicago, offers a starter of popcorn served with flecks of seaweed and sesame seeds. Another brilliant fusion dish in the Details feature is the green curry clam chowder at Roy Choi’s restaurant A-Frame, in Los Angeles. New England’s famous dish is served up with a fantastic Thai twist – coconut milk instead of cream, and a strong curry flavor. It may be crazy, but definitely nothing less than ingenious.
What do Hooni Kim, Edward Kim, and Roy Choi have in common? They are all Asian Americans, growing up in the cities where they now operate their restaurants. They are part of the new generation of chefs ushering in this “Asian-American” cuisine that boldly embraces the melding of Asian flavors with dishes of other cultures. Details didn’t have it wrong. A revolution is surely under foot as chefs like Kim and Choi open the door for more inventive combinations and dishes to follow. The new direction that Asian food is heading is exhilarating, and it is without a doubt that we await these latest avant-garde creations.