Chinese New Year, arguably the most important event in the Chinese calendar, is a momentous occasion in Chinese culture. As an American-born Chinese (ABC), I have celebrated this tradition for as long as I can remember. We feasted on steamed fish garnished with green onions and ginger slices, and New Year’s cake: a steamed, chewy sweet made from glutinous rice flour, slab sugar, and water. At night, my parents would leave the lights in our house on. Perhaps a long time ago, superstitions dictated that the house should be lit to guide the gods of good luck and prosperity, but now the tradition persists as the lore has faded away. For me, celebrating Chinese New Year has always been about eating together with my family. Receiving red packets with crisp dollar bills inside is an added perk, but after leaving home and moving to USC, I miss the familiar foods we used to celebrate the new year.
I am a connoisseur of all foods of all cultures. I will pretty much eat anything, as long as it is edible and doesn’t taste like dirt. I’ve eaten turtle, raw steak, pork knuckles, chicken feet—you name it and I’ve either had it or am willing to try it. But you can’t find or accurately pinpoint a culture’s essence in a (subjectively) weird meat or ingredient. In my opinion, it’s the spices and the flavors that really capture a culture’s essence.
Personally, I still prefer Chinese, as well as other Asian cuisine, over all other types of food, perhaps that has something to do with the way I grew up. Whether it is Korean, Thai, Indian, or any of the other many countries that constitute Asia, the flavors all hold their own unique taste profiles and embody the culture. However, second to my love for Asian cuisine is fusion, specifically Asian fusion.
The night before the last Autumn Moon Festival (AKA Harvest Moon or the Super Moon), I was in Chinatown where I had an amazing food experience. There were dozens of food trucks lined in an alleyway, but they weren’t just any food trucks. They were—you guessed it—Asian fusion food trucks. Of course I couldn’t manage to try all of them, but I did manage to try three: Jogasaki, Kogi BBQ, and Tokyo Doggie Style.
Jogasaki sold sushi burritos. Crazy right?! It was really just a large sushi roll minus the seaweed, wrapped in soy paper. The flavors were on point, capturing everything I loved about sushi: the delicate texture of fresh salmon, the refreshing crunch of cucumber, and the slight acidic sweetness of sushi rice. Kogi BBQ brought all the savory-sweet and charred flavors of kbbq into a corn tortilla, easy to hold and perfect to snack on while I waited for the takoyaki (octopus balls) from my last stop of the night.