Asian American Commercial Watch: Tostitos “Reposting”

Although this commercial was uploaded to Tostitos’ YouTube channel over 7 months ago, I only recently caught this TV commercial, which stars actress Alli Chung.

I like how this commercial kind of mocks those who tend to be a bit too active on social media, although to be honest, this could include me.


Asian American Frozen Foods: Ajinomoto’s Shoyu Chicken Ramen Bowls

I was at Costco the other day, and noticed this new frozen meal – Ajinomoto’s Tokyo Style Shoyu Chicken Ramen Bowls. I’m always looking for something I can bring to work, since I had mentioned, the company cafeteria kind of sucks. So the fact that this packing has six dishes for $12.99, that definitely caught my eye.

Although, as usual, the dish alone probably wouldn’t be that filling for lunch. I’ll probably have to bring something else, like a salad. In any case, you really can’t too much about how the dish is going to taste after taking it out of the box:

But once you remove the plastic, fill the plastic container with water until a certain line, and microwave for about four minutes, this is what you get:

I was pleasantly surprised – the dish tasted pretty decent. On the packaging, the instructions suggest:

“Add some soy sauce, black pepper, or a soft boiled egg to customize your ramen!”

And I am sure that will make the ramen dish taste better, but I’m not going to bring soy sauce, etc. to work with me. Again, the meal size was okay – but I’d definitely still be hungry in a few hours if I only had this for lunch.

8Books Review: The Discovery of Ramen

Instant ramen noodles have been one of my comfort foods since I was a kid.  I wrote about how I even ate them raw as a kid in a previous 8Asians post, and how I’m still searching for the elusive and probably relegated to history “Sun Lih Men” brand of instant ramen noodles.  When I was asked to review a new kid’s book, The Discovery of Ramen, I jumped on the chance, even though my daughter is probably a little too old (she’s twelve now) for the picture book format of this title.  The new book is from the same publisher and one of the authors and illustrators of the Chinese New Year kids books, Tales from the Chinese Zodiac including the most recent one, The Year of the Rooster, that I reviewed back in January of 2017.

While the book appeared to target a child younger than my daughter, I asked her if she’d be interested in reading it.  When she saw the title, she said yes, as ramen noodles are also her favorite (she takes after her dad in that respect!).  She sat and read the book completely engrossed in the contents.  After she finished I asked her what she thought of the book, and she agreed with my initial assessment that the title was better suited for a younger child (ages 2 to 10), but she did thoroughly enjoy reading about the history of ramen, and how it came to be a staple for many Japanese restaurants.

If ramen figures highly among your child’s favorite  foods, this will be a great addition to your reading library.  The new book will release on November 14, 2017.

Footnote: Unfortunately I never found a source for the elusive “Sun Lih Men”, but I know I’m not the only one looking.  It appears the factory that manufactured these instant noodles burned down, and none of the other brands seem to satisfy the taste buds of those who had the original “Sun Lih Men”.

Din Tai Fung San Diego Delayed Until 2018

I first blogged about the first Din Tai Fung opening in San Diego this past February for this fall, but apparently that has been delayed:

“While most of its big name new restaurants are lined up to launch in Westfield UTC this fall, it will be a slightly longer wait for dumpling specialists Din Tai Fung. As part of the shopping center’s multi-million expansion and remodel, there will be plenty of fresh food and drink options to celebrate come October including Shake Shack, Great Maple, True Food Kitchen and more, but a rep for the Taiwanese chain confirmed that it will not be opening in Westfield UTC until 2018.”

I’ve only been to San Diego for work, so I don’t think I’ve ever been to the Westfield UTC mall, but from Google Maps, it doesn’t look too far from UC San Diego (less than 3 miles).

Asian American Frozen Foods: Review: Trader Joe’s Spicy Thai Shrimp Fried Rice

At my local Trader Joe’s in Silicon Valley, this frozen dish goes for $4.99. I’ve had this dish before where I have stir fried it, so this time around, I microwaved the dish – first the shrimp separately, then adding the shrimp to the rice, for a total microwave time of around 4 to 5 minutes:

Overall, the dish tasted almost as good as stir fried. Overall, I like the dish – it was pretty tasty, and maybe even a little spicy for some. I highly recommend compared to some of the other frozen dishes I’ve had from Trader Joe’s.

Asian American Frozen Foods: Review: Trader Joe’s Bi Bim Bap Bowl

I’m a big fan Korean food, especially Korean BBQ. But I also like bibimbap:

“The word literally means “mixed rice”. Bibimbap is served as a bowl of warm white rice topped with namul (sautéed and seasoned vegetables) and gochujang (chili pepper paste), soy sauce, or doenjang (a fermented soybean paste). A raw or fried egg and sliced meat (usually beef) are common additions. The hot dish is stirred together thoroughly just before eating.”

At my local Trader Joe’s in Silicon Valley, this frozen meal goes for $3.49. I brought this in the other day for lunch at work and microwaved it. Here’s what the dish looks like frozen, taken out of the packaging along with the flavor pack that it comes with (the instructions for the flavor pack is to thaw it in warm water for a few minutes and mix in after microwaving the dish):

And after a few minutes in the microwave:

This is what the dish looks like after being microwaved and with the flavor pack mixed in. Overall, I really like the dish – the combination of meat, vegetables, and sauce tastes great. My only complaint is that I wish the dish was a little larger. I definitely would pay more to get more. But overall, this tastes pretty good – of course not nearly as good as something freshly made, but still tasty to me.


Asian American Frozen Foods: Review: Trader Joe’s Pork Shu Mai

I a single guy and not necessarily a great cook. I do enjoy cooking, but cooking for one person can be a challenge at times. Also, I’m acutely aware of wasting food, so oftentimes I wind up buying frozen foods. That isn’t exactly very healthy, but it is convenient. What I’ve noticed the past few years is that places like Trader Joe’s, Costco and even supermarkets like Safeway, will carry a lot of frozen Chinese, Japanese and other Asian ethnic cuisines. So I thought I’d start a new series called Asian American Frozen Foods – to  highlight and possibly review these frozen food dishes.

First up, is Trader Joe’s Pork Shu Mai. First of all, Trader Joe’s tries to be clever by calling itself “Trader Ming’s” on the packaging:

At my local Trader Joe’s in Silicon Valley, this frozen dish goes for $2.99. The instructions were to either microwave the dumplings for 3 minutes or to steam for 12 minutes. I decided to steam:

After 12 minutes, I got this:

To be honest, the shu mai pork dumplings didn’t really taste all that flavorful compared to what you would get at a Chinese restaurant, or even as good as some frozen shu mai pork dumplings that I got at a local Ranch 99. So I can’t really recommend these, unless you’re desperate for some shu mai.

Asian American Commercial Watch: Jimmy John’s Saves the Day: Stangry

I was watching an 2017 NBA Playoffs game when I saw this Jimmy John’s TV commercial. To be honest, I had never heard of Jimmy John’s before I saw this commercial – but their sandwiches, from what I could see – reminded me of Jersey Mike’s. Apparently, there are a few Jimmy John’s in San Francisco, but certainly not that pervasive (like Subway) and none in Silicon Valley.

Ran Wei is the actress in the commercial and her “character” kind of reminds me of Calista Flockhart as Cat Grant in the TV series Supergirl, as well as a little Ling Woo in Ally McBeal (who was played by Lucy Liu).



Din Tai Fung Opens 4th Branch in Greater Seattle – Westfield Southcenter

Back in March of this year, I had blogged about Seattle’s 3rd Din Tai Fung restaurant opening in downtown Seattle. Well, the 4th one is now open at Westfield Southcenter, as described here:

“The long-awaited arrival of Din Tai Fung’s Southcenter outpost came to an end on Friday at 6 p.m., when the ribbon was cut on the fourth Seattle-area restaurant for the international dumpling chain.

Din Tai Fung originated in Taiwan and has expanded its dumpling empire to 11 other countries including the United States. The company’s third location opened at Pacific Place last month, on level four of the shopping center. There are also restaurants in Bellevue and at University Village.

Din Tai Fung consistently draws long lines for its xiao long bao, or soup dumplings. Other popular menu items include pot stickers, wontons, fried rice, soups, and fried noodles.”

Personally, I have only been to the Din Tai Fung at Bellevue in Seattle and have yet to visit the one in the Bay Area (but that one is now no longer requiring reservations!)

Asian Americans are driving up Jerky’s Popularity

Of the many areas where Asian Americans affect American life, the last place I expected to see an influence is with jerky.  Jerky has never been a favorite of mine (it’s okay), so I was surprised to read that Asian Americans are driving up the popularity of jerky and other meat snacks.   In the Nielsen Homescan report that is the source of that article, Nielsen claims that meat snacks are now the biggest snack spend per trip when people go out and shop.     I really should not have been surprised, for a number of reasons.

Continue reading “Asian Americans are driving up Jerky’s Popularity”

Asian American Commercial Watch: Panda Express’s Five Flavor Shrimp

While watching the local evening news recently, I came across this new Panda Express commercial promoting their latest dish, Five Flavor Shrimp:

“Five quality ingredients. Five delicious flavors. Experience the moment when premium shrimp, green beans, red bell pepper and white onion come together in our five flavor sauce in our new TV spot”

I’m a big fan of shrimp, so that definitely caught my eye – especially since the dish looked simple enough for me to make at home. But what really caught my attention was the cute actress, Shavvon Lin, in the commercial as well as the catchy tune and story of the woman and her apartment neighbor missing each other – ultimately meeting at Panda Express in a light romantic comedic way.

In discovered the actress by reading some nasty comments in the YouTube comments – there’s some pretty nasty comments regarding the inter-racial nature of the commercial, especially some comments regarding Lin, and the typical rant of  the pairing of an Asian Female and White Male (AF/WM). While that is the most common inter-racial TV commercial pairing, which I’ve blogged about and putting that issue aside, I really did like this commercial on its own storytelling terms.

And for some reason, maybe because I thought that since Panda Express corporate headquarters is based in Los Angeles, I thought the scenes were shot in LA (which wouldn’t surprise me), but the commercial reminded me of the movie, 500 Days of Summer, a movie and soundtrack I really loved.

Also from the YouTube comments, I also came across that the song was written and composed by Tiff Jimber and Matt Bobb. I Shazam’d the song with my phone, but nothing came up, so I assumed the song was composed and performed specifically for the commercial.

One last thought – the actor in the commercial sort of reminded me of Tobey Maguire in the first Spider-Man (2002) movie.


Din Tai Fung Opens in Downtown Seattle

As I had blogged back in January 2016, Din Tai Fung had announced that they were opening a FOURTH restaurant in the Greater Seattle region – even before opening the first in the Bay Area  – which did eventually happen (back in May 2016).

Well, the third Seattle Din Tai Fung is now open:

“The waiting is over — except for in the giant lines about to form at Pacific Place for the latest local outlet of massively beloved dumpling chain Din Tai Fung. The ribbon will be cut at 10:45 a.m. Thursday, March 9, and whoever gets in the queue earliest will get D.T.F.’s first downtown Seattle xiao long bao — the famous soup dumplings — when the doors open at 11 a.m.

Pacific Place opens at 10 a.m. — meaning there will probably be lines to get into the mall to line up for Din Tai Fung.”

Personally, I have only been to the Bellevue one in the Greater Seattle area. Here’s a list of all three current locations in the Seattle area. The fourth Din Tai Fung Southcenter restaurant was slated for January 2017, but like it seems with all of its locations, Din Tai Fung is behind schedule.