Ratatouille (Confit Byaldi)

Originally a rustic French summer dish of stewed vegetables, ratatouille is perfect for combating the autumn chill.

Soon Dubu Chigae (Korean Soft Tofu Stew)

There's something incredibly homey about a big, earthenware bowl filled with clams, tofu, beef, and broth.

Smoked Cha Shao (Chinese BBQ Pork)

Normally found hanging in the windows of Chinese delicatessens, cha shao is a marinated, slightly sweet, slow roasted pork with a deep crimson color and radiant finish.

Niko Niku Ramen Recipe

A meaty, braised pork ramen in soy broth that puts on smile on everyone's face.

Smoked Salmon Tarragon Pasta

A refreshing pasta of summer herbs and smoked salmon, perfect for staying cool during summer.


Savor Santa Ana 2015 VIP Pass Giveaway!

Some exciting news for all you Hungry Pandas! Chubbypanda.com is giving out TWO VIP passes for the Savor Santa Ana food festival in Downtown Santa Ana this Thursday, July 23, 2015.

Each $45 VIP tasting package includes:
  • 10 tasting tickets for food samples from participating restaurants.
  • 2 drink tickets for beer, wine, of liquor at the patio lounge.
  • Access to shorter VIP lines for all booths.
To enter:
  1. Follow us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.
  2. Take a selfie of yourself looking super hungry and post it to Twitter, Instagram, or our Facebook page with the tags #HungryPandas, #SavorSantaAna, and #Giveaway. Include a link to this giveaway article in your posts and make sure you include @chubbypandablog so that we see your entry.  Each post to Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook gives you an additional chance to win.
  3. Share this article with all your friends!
Submissions for Chubbypanda.com's Savor Santa Ana 2015 VIP Pass Giveaway close at 11:59pm PST on Wednesday, July 22nd, 2015. The winner with the hungriest looking selfie will be announced the morning of Thursday, July 23rd, 2015. Your VIP passes to Savor Santa Ana can be picked up from VIP Check In after 5pm on the day of the event.


Chop Suey, USA!

Of the truly great mentors I met at UC Irvine, Food and Asian American history professor Yong Chen was the most influential on my blogging. An incorrigible foodie, he shared with his students an infectious enthusiasm for food as a tangible form of history, a consumable form of expression, and a traceable social pathway. The first restaurant review I ever wrote, close 16 years ago, was an assignment for one of his seminars. Without Yong Chen's influence, knowledge, and friendship, Chubbypanda.com would never have existed. I would have lacked the ability to write it.

The central themes that ran through each of Yong's classes and helped to shaped my own development as amateur student of all things gastronomic, from the Asian American experience to food as both an expression and definition of self, can be found in his latest work, Chop Suey, USA: The Story of Chinese Food in America. Over a decade in the making, this book serves as part academic diary and part personal roadmap to Yong's own experiences as both an Asian American and a food historian. Throughout, it continually strives to answer a question central to every immigrant's identity, "What does it mean to be an American?", and challenges traditional interpretations of "American" cuisine.

In a country composed almost entirely of immigrants, whose customs and foodways constantly evolve with each new wave of arrivals, there can be no more meaningful topic. I highly recommend it to anyone with an interest.

(Press Release Below)
(Chop Suey, USA: The Story of Chinese Food in America. Columbia University Press, 2014).

The book starts with a question that many Chinese-food lovers have wondered about: Why is Chinese so popular in the United States?

Chinese food has been enormously popular for more than a century. The New York Tribune noted in 1903 that "there is hardly an American city that had not its Chinese restaurants, to which persons of every class like to go." Sun Yat-sen observed similarly in the 1910s that "there is no American town without a Chinese restaurant." By the 1980s, Chinese food had become the most consumed ethnic cuisine in the United States. Many have attributed this phenomenon to Chinese cooking’s gastronomical supremacy, a belief that has been expressed by numerous prominent individuals, including Sun Yat-sen.

Such a gastronomical interpretation, however, cannot sufficiently explain two historical facts: first, mainstream American consumers did not fall in love with Chinese food upon its initial arrival in the New World but rejected but rejected it for about half a century. Second, when American diners started to frequent Chinese restaurants, what they chose were not the exquisite dishes that Chinese epicures had cultivated over the centuries and Western food connoisseurs had widely regarded as best representing Chinese cuisine. Rather, American Chinese restaurant goers preferred the most simple and least trumpeted foods in Chinese cuisine, such as chop suey and chow mein. Clearly, culinary merits alone do not fully explicate the rise of Chinese food in America.

Chop Suey, USA offers the first comprehensive examination of the historical forces and players that turned the food of a despised race into dominant force in the country’s budding restaurant market. It sheds new light on the indispensable yet often overlooked role that Chinese food has played in developing the American way of life and extending American abundance. The multiplying Chinese restaurants helped to democratize America’s food consumption by making dining-out a universally accessible experience, expanding the meaning of American freedom and liberty in the realm of consumption. Their inexpensive, convenient, fast, and tasteful food developed an irresistible appeal to many Bohemians, and rebellious youth, African Americans as well as middle class tourists. Jewish diners too flocked to Chinese restaurants, where they found not only a novel cuisine but also a place to fulfill their desire to join the middle class and become American.

Thus, chop suey, the epitome of America’s Chinese food for decades, was the “Big Mac” in the pre-McDonald’s era. Through analyses of this and other once wildly popular Chinese dishes, the book also tackles the question of "gastronomical" authenticity, namely, whether chop suey or America’s Chinese food is authentically Chinese. The book does so by investigating the metamorphosis of Chinese food in both Chinese history and American society.

Chop Suey, USA also illustrates the vital importance of Chinese food for Chinese America. Economically, Chinese restaurants became an extremely important source of income and jobs for Chinese Americans, especially when Chinese were banned from entering most other occupations. In crowded Chinese communities, in addition, these dining places provided the much needed space for Chinese immigrant men to socialize. Culturally, Chinese food and food businesses became a most prominent feature of the community, visual and olfactory, making the American urban Chinatown virtually a "food town."

Also playing an important role in promoting Chinese food were the Chinese-food cookbooks -- more than 280 such cookbooks were published in the United States between the 1910s and the mid-1980s, written mostly by Chinese Americans. In introducing Chinese cooking to non-Chinese audiences, these cookbook writers made an unprecedentedly comprehensive attempt to define its essence. If the restaurants gave the Chinese a steady source of employment, cookbook writing created a visible and constant platform for Chinese Americans to speak to mainstream audiences. They spoke -- with pride and authority – not only about China’s cooking but also about its culture and history as well as their own experiences.

At a methodological and epistemic level, this book also reminds us of the centrality of food in history and in our own lives. It shows how food connects history and our personal experiences.

Readers interested in cooking Chinese food can find recipes for dishes like pork chop suey and kungpao chicken that American lovers of Chinese food most craved at different times.


Savor Santa Ana Tonight!

Looking for something to do in the OC after work? Check out the Savor Santa Ana Tastings Night in Downtown Santa Ana tonight from 5:30pm - 9:00pm. Buy your ticket books HERE!

Each $10 book gets you 12 tickets and a walking map of participating eateries in the area. The idea is that you stroll from restaurant to restaurant exchanging your tickets for samples of signature dishes from each stop. Participating restaurants include:
  • Little Sparrow
  • Playground
  • Robbins Nest
  • Chapter One: The Modern Local
  • Velvet Lounge
  • The Good Beer Co.
  • Blackmarket Bakery
  • Boldo
  • Gypsy Den
  • Life is Sweet Bakeshop
  • The Copper Door
Sounds like a really fun way to explore the area. I'm looking forward to it!


LA Weekly's 2014 Pancake Breakfast This Weekend!

Looking for something to sop up your Sunday morning hangover? The LA Weekly has you covered!

From the mind of KCRW's Good Food host, Evan Kleiman, comes this year's LA Weekly Pancake Breakfast lineup, featuring 38 of the hottest breakfast and brunch spots in all of Los Angeles. Confirmed attendees include Roy Choi's A-Frame, Berlin Currywurst, bld, CanelĂ©, East Borough, Eggslut, Euro Pane Bakery, Farmshop, Fred 62, Goldie's, Good Girl Dinette, Huckleberry Bakery & Cafe, Kitchen Mouse, KTCHN DTLA, Little Next Door, Lucky Duck by Square One, Metro Cafe, Salt's Cure, Secret Chinese Delivery, Sweet Butter Kitchen, The Waffle, Valerie Confections, and Wexler’s Deli.

5 Can't-Miss Vendors at L.A. Weekly's Pancake Breakfast

Hosted at the "legendary" Park Plaza Hotel in downtown LA, the event runs from 11am-2pm tomorrow, August 24th, 2014. Tickets are still available on Ticketfly.com. Tickets include unlimited access to sample dishes from each restaurant and additional complimentary samples from event sponsors Shock Top, Pinnacle Vodka, Hornitos Tequila, Kinky Liqueur, Risata, Sofia, Clover Juice, Califia Farms, and (personal NorCal favorite) Blue Bottle Coffee. Really looking forward to sampling some of their product post the merger with LA's own Handsome Coffee.

A portion of proceeds from the event will be donated to Food on Foot. Since 1996, the non-profit Food on Foot has been dedicated to providing the poor and homeless of Los Angeles with nutritious meals, clothing, job opportunities, and assistance in the transition to employment and life off the street.

If it's anything like this year's LA Weekly Tacolandia, this is going to be one amazing event!


Last Day for the Tacolandia 2014 Presale!

(Get your tickets before everyone else at Ticketfly using presale code CHUBBYPANDA.)

The best part about business trips to our Mexico offices? Hanging out with my engineers at those offices.

The second best part? Tacos.

Whether it's grabbing a quick bite from the cart of a street vendor, gathering for a team lunch in a fancy restaurant, or sucking down beers at an impromptu BBQ after work, tacos are everywhere. Part national dish, part basic staple, tacos are taken very very seriously in Mexico. If a bowl of rice is the purest expression of Chinese cuisine, then a corn tortilla topped with something simple and amazingly delicious serves a similar role in Mexican culinary tradition.

(A Project Manager and Lead Developer grilling it up near our Sonora office.)

Once back in the States, I'm seized with depression. Even in Los Angeles, a city with a huge Latino population and famous for its Mexican fare, finding tacos as good as the ones in Mexico is akin to searching for the Holy Grail. Much as the Din Tai Fung in Arcadia is a pale imitation of its sisters in Taipei, the Al Pastor and Cabeza tacos I've sampled in my quest through LA have been shadows thrown into harsh relief my incandescent Mexican dining experiences. Like a hungry ghost, I'm cursed to wander the Southland, chasing an ever elusive dragon.

But, hope springs eternal in this tender young panda's heart. The LA Weekly's second annual Tacolandia promises over 40 top taco vendors curated by local food icon, Bill Esparza. Among this year's attendees are:
GENERAL ADMISSION to Tacolandia is $25 and includes, entry into the event, entertainment, access to the vendor village and the cash bar as well as tacos from the many vendors.

PREMIUM ADMISSION tickets for Tacolandia add a gift bag and 5 drink tickets for $45! (Kinda worth it given how much a cocktail costs in DTLA.)

If you really want to get your drink on, you can add a TEQUILA GARDEN ticket for $20 that gets you access to the tequila garden and 10, 1/2oz tequila tastings.

A portion of the proceeds go to Homeboy Industries, a truly worthy cause.
Started by Father Greg Boyle in 1988, Homeboy Industries was created to answer the need for employment opportunities among youth. Today, the nonprofit helps former gang members and the previously incarcerated redirect their lives and become contributing members of their families and community. Homeboy Industries is the largest gang intervention program in the nation and has become a model for other organizations and cities.
Don't miss out! Get your tickets before the rest of the taco-starved hoi polloi from Ticketfly TODAY ONLY using special presale code CHUBBYPANDA. Tickets go on sale to the general public starting tomorrow, April 25th, 2014.

Tacolandia 2014 - Saturday, June 28 from 3 to 7 p.m. at El Pueblo de Los Angeles in DTLA.