Celebrating APAHM: Chef James Syhabout Cooks Up Thai Fare at Macy’s Union Square

Butchering the chicken. (credit: Karen Datangel)

Culinary delights are sure things to be celebrated during Asian Pacific-American Heritage Month, and Bay Area foodies rejoiced at the opportunity to learn more about the art of Asian cooking (And satisfy their tastebuds too!) from a local celebrity chef.

As part of Macy’s series of Asian Pacific-American Heritage Month events, the Union Square store in San Francisco welcomed Michelin Star chef James Syhabout to the Cellar Kitchen on May 5th for a cooking demonstration and tasting. A Thailand native who grew up in Oakland, CA, he is the chef and owner of Commis Restaurant and proprietor of Hawker Fare Restaurant, which are also both located in Oakland. Hawker Fare is a Southeast Asian street food joint that Syhabout brought a piece of to his audience, by cooking one of their signature dishes Khao Mun Gai, or Thai-style chicken and rice.

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Pistahan Highlights Food, Boxing, Art, and More in Celebration of Filipino Culture

The Saturday afternoon parade was a grand moving showcase of Filipino customs and culture along with community (All photos by Karen Datangel).

Last weekend in San Francisco was a busy one with Outside Lands, baseball, and preseason football going on, but there was one other big event that brought more hustle and bustle to the city: The 19th Annual Pistahan Parade and Festival at Yerba Buena Gardens was also the only event where you could hear good music and watch a live sport at the same time, plus find the rare entertainment in watching people eat ice cream and duck eggs. Pistahan—which ran for two days on August 11th and 12th—is the largest street celebration of Filipino culture in San Francisco, and this year’s event broke some new ground as well as kept up with beloved traditions.

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Savoring the Night at Plate by Plate San Francisco 2012

A balcony view of the crowd at the 3rd Annual Plate by Plate Tasting Benefit for Project by Project San Francisco. The event took place at the Bently Reserve and marked the 15th anniversary for Project by Project nationally (photo: Nicole Abalde).

Back in July, Audrey told you all about Plate by Plate in Los Angeles and in August, we previewed the annual tasting benefit in San Francisco. The time has come and passed, and this year’s event by the Bay fulfilled its promise of bringing together a terrific crowd to enjoy the company of each other, support the community, and of course, devour plenty of delicious tiny dishes!

The 3rd Annual Plate by Plate Tasting Benefit organized by the San Francisco chapter of Project by Project took place on September 22 at the spacious and gorgeous Bently Reserve near the Embarcadero Center. The evening attracted some hundred of finely dressed attendees to socialize and enjoy three rooms of food samples, desserts, and liquor. Actual RafiqRedstickman, Speakeasy Ray, and Big Sloppy of The Ambient Mafia provided the sounds for the event, and a silent auction for some fun items was also in place.

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Entertaining | Dina Yuen

When entrepreneur Dina Yuenisn’t cooking a scrumptious, home-style meal, working on her
historical fiction novel, The Shanghai Legacy, or traveling for inspiration, she’s building up
AsianFusion, a multimedia website and company focused on celebrating Asian cultures and
traditions via food, art, music and more. Yuen’s latest venture is her debut cookbook, Indonesian
Cooking, featuring beautiful photos and original family recipes that simplify flavorful, authentic
cooking. Currently based in San Francisco, the Chinese-Russian American’s journey with food
began as a 5-year-old in Indonesia, where cooking was her family’s primary love language.
She eventually became the youngest student to graduate from Indonesia’s foremost culinary
academy at the age of 12.

ISSUE: Spring 2012
DEPT: Entertaining
STORY: Courtney Hong

Audrey Magazine: If you could cook for anyone in the world, who would you choose and what
would you cook?
Dina Yuen: Easily, my father. I cook for him whenever we’re in the same city, but I never feel it’s
enough. Being a huge foodie, he’s very flexible with his palate. I want him to enjoy great flavors
but maintain his good health so I’m very conscious about creating dishes that incorporate or-
ganic and fresh ingredients and have explosive flavors, but little fat. One of his favorite meals is Roasted Salmon with Tamarind Glaze, Garlic Stir-fried Spinach and Garlic Mashed Potatoes(using broth and olive oil instead of cream and butter). I also ply him with antioxidant rich fruits such as dragon fruit and pomegranates for dessert.

AM:Of your many professions (she’s an industrial engineer and classical musician by training),
which is your favorite?
DY:I come from a long history of entrepreneurs on both sides of my family. As young as in second grade, I started my first business in school, selling pretty stickers at a premium price. And writing is an outlet that helped maintain my faith and sanity during intense travels and the dramatic turbulence every entrepreneur endures at some point in life.

AM:How are you a strong proponent of women’s and children’s rights?
DY:One of my ultimate goals with Asian Fusion is to create meaningful dialogue and solutions
among Asian people globally regarding the diminishing love and respect for our heritage and
traditions. Consequently, I hope that a positive cultural shift across Asia will help to dramatically reduce the number of children in prostitution and increase the self-value of Asian women.

Audrey’s Days of Summer | Summer Cooking with Nai Nai

Since I can remember I’ve always been eating my Nai Nai’s (dad’s mom’s) cooking. She’s now over 95 years old and continues to be incredible, bustling around and constantly feeding me. I recently spent time at home and my most important mission during my visit was to spend time with her learning how to cook the dishes I had grown up loving. Like most chefs, my Nai Nai does not believe in exact measurements. “Just look at it,” she says “Taste it,”—and that’s how I learned to make the necessary adjustments. So, for those who prefer more precise measurements, here are two of my Nai Nai’s recipes quantified.

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L.A. Weekly’s 99 Essential Restaurants 2013: Which Asian Restaurants Made the List?

What I love about L.A. Weekly’s 99 Essential Restaurants list is that it’s a good mix of places that has something for everyone – especially in a city with some of the world’s most eccentric characters. I’ll admit there were some surprises, but I was pleasantly pleased with the numerous Asian entries on the list.

This year’s list is a little different – not just because of the new entries on the list – but because this is the first time other contributors have also worked on this list besides famous food writer Jonathan Gold (Tien Nguyen and Christine Chiao were enlisted). With a place as big and diverse as L.A., it’s important to have a mix of different voices  to offer their opinions (and you know, share with us their hidden gems).

Did some of your favorites make the list? Click on to see!
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Fall 2012 | The Good Life: Namu Gaji of San Francisco

DEPT The Good Life
ISSUE Fall 2012
AUTHOR Kanara Ty
PHOTOS Interior photo by Mohammad Gorjestani, all other photos by Jennifer Yin.

In recent years, the San Francisco Bay Area’s culinary scene has grown beyond the local-produce-loving-community it has become recognized for. In fact, it is steadfastly becoming the playground for renowned chefs to create some of the region’s most creative and innovative dishes. Of course, this all comes at a hefty price — many folks will find themselves breaking the bank to eat at some of the Bay Area’s most coveted restaurants. While this may be an exciting time for food enthusiasts, the accessibility to such experiences is another matter.

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You May Be Digesting this Deadly Ingredient Right Now (and Not Even Know It)

Author: Eugene Sung

Raise your hand if you were under the impression that the majority of the products sold at Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s is good for you.  *Raises hand* Yes, I’ll admit it…I’m a Whole Foods whore. While there are a lot of healthy and nutritious items at these stores, don’t be so quick to believe that everything you’re buying is good for you. A perfect example of this is a common food additive called carrageenan, which can be found in items sold at ‘organic’ supermarkets.

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Six Scary Things Found in Meat

Author: Eugene Sung

The average American eats approximately 2,000 pounds of food each year. Out of those 2,000 pounds, we consume 110 pounds of red meat, 62 pounds of beef, 46 pounds of pork and 73.6 pounds of poultry. Unfortunately, with large corporations controlling a vast amount of our food source, we need to be more diligent in educating ourselves about where our food is coming from and how it’s prepared. Below is a list of appalling facts regarding the meat industry that I hope will raise more awareness and assist you in being a smarter shopper.

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Beat the Summer Heat: Naengmyun

Koreans love the refreshing noodle dish called naengmyun. Photo courtesy of the Los Angeles Times.

It’s the prime of summer and food is always a great way to rejuvenate oneself during hot weather.

Curious as to what my peers were enjoying this time around, I asked a few friends and, to my delight, the top pick was a dish that I had almost forgotten about but was soon ecstatic to re-explore: Korean cold buckwheat noodles or mul naengmyun.

Thought to have been made since the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1897), mul naengmyun (or naengmyun for short) is a traditional Korean noodle dish that is made up of cold broth, thin buckwheat noodles (or other various noodles), julienned cucumbers, sliced beef, boiled eggs, and sliced Asian pears. Vinegar and mustard are common condiments used for extra flavoring.

These fresh, tangy and refreshing noodles are served cold, and is not only a favorite among Koreans but it’s also gaining in popularity among many non-Koreans.

Mr. Li, an investment banker of Chinese descent, was introduced to naengmyun by his Korean girlfriend and now calls it his favorite summer dish. He frequents Yu-Chun in L.A. to satiate his appetite for these noodles. (His visits to Yu-Chun have led him to try out other Korean dishes). Ms. Yoshida, a fashion market researcher of Japanese descent, says that she has had a great experience trying naengmyun and wishes to try the other spicier kind that her friend had last time at their dinner.

The positive reviews from both native Koreans and other ethnicities have quickly allowed naengmyun to become a dish of first resort to beat the summer heat.

Have you had your naengmyun yet?

Some popular destinations for naengmyun if you’re in the L.A. area:

Yu-Chun Chik Naeng Myun

3185 W Olympic Blvd Los Angeles, CA 90006

Chil Bo Myun Ok Ulsacc

3680 W 6th Street Los Angeles, CA 90020

P.S. Most Korean BBQ joints other than the aforementioned will also serve naengmyun. It’s a great accompaniment to your hot grilled, savory meat.

Happy Summer!