November 16th, 2010
10:00 AM ET
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World-renowned chef, author and Emmy winning television personality Anthony Bourdain visits Los Angeles' Koreatown in the next episode of "Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown," airing Sunday, April 21, at 9 p.m. ET. Follow the show on Twitter and Facebook. This story ran in 2010, and we're sharing it again as Bourdain explores the role of food in Asian-American identity.

Susan Chun is a Producer with AC360°.

A negative review of a new restaurant can be devastating, especially when it comes from the New York Times. Restaurant critic Sam Sifton recently reviewed Eddie Huang's Taiwanese/Chinese restaurant Xiao Ye on the Lower East Side of Manhattan and while Sifton had a lot of praise for Huang's food, he also had a lot of criticism over the menu and the chef himself. He declined to give Xiao Ye a star.

But that didn’t really discourage Eddie Huang, who is a writer as well as a chef and restaurant owner. Huang responded publicly to the review by posting an e-mail from his mother Jessica on his blog "Fresh Off the Boat". Jessica called it a "review of your life". She wrote, "You have always tried to be different or funny for the sake of funny, to cover up your anger and discomforts about how we Asian are being perceived. It is not necessary to do that, your true talents will lead you above it all."

Her e-mail prompted a lot of comments from readers of Eddie's blog on both his food and his Asian American identity. CNN Eatocracy's editor Kat Kinsman recently sat down with Eddie and Jessica at Xiao Ye to talk about these issues and find out why Eddie was actually pleased with the review.

Read more:
Los Angeles food trucks are in it for the long haul
Bridging generations and cultures, one blistering bowl of bibimbap at a time
Sundays are for dim sum
8 things to know about L.A.'s Koreatown
The ever-changing flavor of L.A.'s Koreatown

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Filed under: Bite • Celebrity Chefs • Chefs with Issues • Cuisines • Culture • Eddie Huang • Taiwanese • Think


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soundoff (21 Responses)
  1. Nick

    White people telling me what good Chinese food is, is like a vegan telling me where to get a good hamburger.

    March 30, 2011 at 6:37 pm |
  2. bepster

    compelling story, yes, but Huang is no D. chang. sorry.

    November 18, 2010 at 1:13 pm |
  3. jdoe

    LOL. I've had many non-Asian people recommend a Chinese (and Vietnamese/Thai/Japanese/etc.) restaurant, only to find that it sucked. Americans want Americanized food, not authentic food, and prefer quantity over quality. Want to make something taste better? Just double or triple the size. Someone who's just been to Europe recently told me that Italian food is nothing like it is here. For one thing, it's nowhere as loaded up with cheese like it is here.

    November 17, 2010 at 3:49 pm |
  4. Clear Plate and Grape Apple Jam

    Ed got a raw deal by none other than the New York Times...This place is filled full of sour reporters and ticked off staff who couldn’t find their pins even if they were right in their hands.. I don't know what time they are on anymore beause the NYT staff is living in another dimension...

    Eddie's place is great and his persistence is what makes him appealing. Eddie's attitude will take him farther than most probably give him credit for. I feel one day his restaurant will shine with time, persistence, and others who see his true potential..

    November 17, 2010 at 1:01 am |
  5. J

    Nice to know you enjoy stereotypes, Snow. Lemme guess your a multinational mongrel white man.

    November 16, 2010 at 1:41 pm |
    • Snow

      Nope! I'm a chick. And guess what... I can say that because my favorite chinese restuarant was closed because they found cat carcusses in the dumpster behind the bldg. So shove it right up ur @ss!

      November 17, 2010 at 12:42 pm |
      • Jerv

        Maybe J can have lunch with Audry and eat some grass.

        November 17, 2010 at 12:48 pm |
  6. Snow

    Got cat?

    November 16, 2010 at 12:20 pm |
    • Jdizzle McHammerpants

      Cat: The other white meat.

      November 16, 2010 at 1:21 pm |
      • Jerry A.

        Yet another Hammerpants failure. He's rude and crude, and now shows his lack of culinary expertise. Everyone who has read the Addams Family cookbook knows cat is a _dark_ meat and should be served with merlot, not chardonnay.

        November 16, 2010 at 3:34 pm |
      • Jdizzle McHammerpants

        I FAIL.

        November 16, 2010 at 5:28 pm |
  7. Stickermeister

    Great to see Eddie's Mom in action. There are many great aspects to this story, but the most compelling one for me was the way he responded to the NYT review–which was more sympathetic to his point of view than many starred reviews have been. The inclusion of the Mom Email on F.O.B. was a crazy brilliant masterstroke. Especially since it AGREED with Sifton's critique that Huang had to stop coasting on his smarts & sense of humor.

    What better demonstration of smarts, humor and generousity than to embrace both a NYT critique and your mom's? All around interesting & worthwhile.

    November 16, 2010 at 12:16 pm |
  8. matt

    Dude, Yelp is awesome. I contribute when I can and I make sure I let readers know the context which I write in. This guy says its dangerous...good, it should be for crappy places. I would be curious to visit his place and test the food. ALL of the Taiwanese restaurants I have eaten in Houston do suck. Absolutely no subtly, just salt, oil, or sugar. They are good if you are on the go and want super cheap food... but they are no culinary experiences worth revisiting.

    Houston has TONS of asian places which are awesome...Taiwanese and Malaysian restaurants aren't among them.

    November 16, 2010 at 12:11 pm |
  9. Evil Grin

    Authentic for many in the U.S. means General Tso's Chicken. And fortune cookies.

    It's always been our tradition not to care at all what's authentic as long as it has the label of foreign food. So it's kind of dumb to tell someone their food is not good not because of taste but because of how authentic they think the dish is.

    November 16, 2010 at 11:27 am |
  10. shots

    Glad he didn't get discouraged. Nice to have family support too.

    November 16, 2010 at 11:12 am |
  11. joe

    This is a pretty useless part of CNN. Almost worse then Ireport.

    November 16, 2010 at 10:56 am |
    • bartholomew humble

      Joe:
      Do you get paid to be a serial grump or do you just do it for the attention? pro or amateur? ... just sayin ...
      I often wonder who pays the cadre of professional critics who sit all day waiting to criticize CNN.

      November 16, 2010 at 11:52 am |
  12. Jdizzle McHammerpants

    Everyone's tastes are different.

    November 16, 2010 at 10:12 am |
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