Charlie Rose: Danny Bowien & Mission Chinese Food and Mission Cantina

David_Bowien_Charlie_RoseIf you follow this blog, you may know I’m an avid follower of Charlie Rose and appreciate his more in-depth television interviews. I recently came across this one with Danny Bowien, chef and co-founder of the restaurants Mission Chinese Food and Mission Cantina. His new book is called “The Mission Chinese Food Cookbook.”

Living in the San Francisco Bay Area, I was surprised to have never heard of Mission Chinese Food. What I found interesting was that Bowien is a Korean American that was raised by white parents in Oklahoma, but was interested in Chinese food. He’s just published this past fall a new cook book – The Mission Chinese Food Cookbook.

8Books Review: “Chop Suey, USA” by Yong Chen

chopsueyReading Yong Chen’s new book Chop Suey, USA: The Story of Chinese Food in America is an education. In some ways, it seems more like an encyclopedia or a peak into the brain of a man who has read and retained an almost overwhelming number of books. Chen’s books is filled to the brim with details about the history of Chinese American food. Beginning with a brief history of the culinary realm in China, the books delves into the rise and development of Chinese restaurants, Chinese cookbooks, and the Chinese American population generally. He places credit for the proliferation of Chinese restaurants in the US not in Chinese foods’ innate tastiness, but rather to both Chinese immigrant entrepreneurship and trends within our nation’s development. Sound complicated?

It is, a little bit. Chen’s book is not for someone looking for a nice airplane read about chop suey and egg foo young. Rather, this is a complex addition to the history of Chinese food in the United States. Chen hopes to answer the question: Why did Chinese food become so popular in America?

But in answering it, the book does not confine itself only to the history of Chinese restaurants, and also looks at this question from a national and global perspective — from the emergence of Chinese restaurants just as a developing middle class was looking for cheap options for eating out, to the first cookbooks to emerge in dynastic China. For anyone who wants to understand in depth where Chinese food fits into the large arc of American history, this one is a winner.

Continue reading “8Books Review: “Chop Suey, USA” by Yong Chen”

8$: ‘We Need Diverse Books’

8$ is a series which occasionally highlights interesting crowdfunding projects. Every day, the 8Asians team is inundated by many worthy pitches. We are unable to highlight every one that comes our way, or even the ones we might individually support. The projects selected for 8$ are not endorsements by 8Asians. (To be considered for 8$, we highly suggest you not harass the writers or the editors of 8Asians.)

8A-2014-11-09-WeNeedDiverseBooks-logoWHO: A team of folks led by President Ellen Oh, including: Aisha Saeed, I.W. Gregorio, Miranda Paul, Marieke Nijkamp, Lamar Giles, Caroline Richmond

WHAT: Indiegogo project: We Need Diverse Books

What is We Need Diverse Books™?

Reading is the ultimate form of empathy.

Though more than half of schoolchildren are minorities–people of color, LGBTQIA, and/or people with disabilities–the fact remains that too few of these children see reflections of themselves in the books they read. Books are more than mirrors– they’re windows as well. The more kids read, the more they understand not just themselves, but the Story of Us All.

We Need Diverse Books™ (WNDB) is a grassroots organization dedicated to advocating and supporting non-majority narratives.

WHEN: Deadline to contribute is Monday, November 24, 2014 (11:59pm PT).


With your donation, WNDB will be able to:

  • Diversify our classrooms: Through our Diversity in the Classroom program we will work with An Open Book Children’s Literacy Foundation, First Book, and the National Education Association to bring diverse books and authors into disadvantaged schools. Diverse authors will also visit other schools to give all children windows into different backgrounds and cultures so they can increase their empathy and understanding.
  • Support diverse authors: Through our newly announced Walter Dean Myers Award & Grant program “The Walter” will recognize outstanding diverse contributions by authors in Young Adult and Middle Grade literature, and provide funds to help develop new diverse authors and artists.
  • Promote diverse programming: WNDB will continue to have a presence at conferences across the country, aiming to foster positive, honest, and constructive discussions on diversity and show people that a diverse book is just a good book that any child can enjoy.
  • Develop educational kits: In conjunction with School Library Journal and the American Booksellers Association, WNDB is creating educational kits to introduce teachers, librarians and booksellers to select diverse books.
  • Host WNDB’s inaugural Kidlit Diversity Festival: It will be a celebration of diversity in children’s literature to be held in the Washington, DC area in the summer of 2016. The festival will showcase both diverse authors & illustrators, as well as authors who write diversely, with programming geared to promote the importance of our shared life experiences.

Slant Book Review: Timothy Wang’s Debut Novel

Timothy Wang’s debut novel Slant is about a gay Chinese boy growing up in America. As I was reading along, I found myself constantly laughing and relating to almost every page.

Wang tackles the issues that Asians and Asian Americans experience growing up. These issues are obvious and honest. We’ve all been there, the confusion of growing up different from what society mainly consist of, the self-loathe of our culture because we were watching shows that didn’t have culture, things that the majority population can’t seem to understand.

Culture and identity is huge nowadays. Up until now, people are just starting to realize that there is a lot more to what they surround themselves with.

Continue reading “Slant Book Review: Timothy Wang’s Debut Novel”

‘Never Let Me Go’ Movie Adaptation Gives Asian Brits Sophistication Points

At first glance, Never Let Me Go has nothing to do with Asians. Actually, there isn’t really a trace of any Asian-osity throughout the entire film: Carey Mulligan isn’t Asian; neither is the new Spider-man/Brit-boy du jour Andrew Garfield. If you put Keira Knightley in an unfocused lens, she can look kind of Asian. Other than that, there is nothing Asian about this movie — except the writer of the book in which the movie was based: the Japanese-English author Kazuo Ishiguro.

The most I know about Ishiguro is what my high-brow classy colleagues have told me. When they were talking about him, I just nodded my head, raised my eyebrows and said “Mmm-hmm — I totally agree.”

I was a big ol’ poser.

But I did know one thing about him: he wrote Remains of the Day. And that is considered a brilliant book. In turn, he is a brilliant writer. Therefore, Never Let Me Go is a good book. And by the transitive property, the movie is a good — and I can vouch for that. Continue reading “‘Never Let Me Go’ Movie Adaptation Gives Asian Brits Sophistication Points”

POP 88 #14 – Interview with Olivia Cheng

Olivia Cheng on POP 88Hello Everyone,

Thank you for downloading our 14th episode.

This episode includes your requests played, plus an interview/ conversation with Olivia Cheng from the new docudrama Iris Chang: The Rape of Nanking (*note there is use of cursive words – but I think we’re all adults) and highlights from the Reel Asian Book Launch.

The Reel Asian International Film Festival is going on now till November 18th (Sunday) – lots happenning so check the site for details.

For requests, feedbacks, suggestions and comments, please leave a message at or you can send an email to christine [at] Continue reading “POP 88 #14 – Interview with Olivia Cheng”

Shortcomings goes to LA

This Saturday, November 3rd (that’s tomorrow!) graphic novelist Adrian Tomine is going to be at Skylight Books in LA. According to the official Shortcomings website, it’s the third stop on his tour. He’s coming from Toronto, and after Los Angeles is going to Philadelphia, then back up to Ann Arbor, which isn’t too far from Toronto. This seems a bit geographically inefficient, but what do I know about book tours?

And what do I know about graphic novels. But before I disqualify myself from this post completely, one of the ideas that is circulating about Adrian Tomine is that his work is accessible to those outside the core graphic novel readers. I for one have been seeing his name for years, but didn’t actually read anything by him until a few weeks ago. Even then, it took Giant Robot, the New Yorker and a dozen other mentions before I finally made my way over to the comics section of the bookstore. Perhaps this goes to show how much a person has to be exposed to something before they finally react. Or how far graphic novels seem to some people.

In reality, it takes just two leisurely hours to read, and at the end of it you will be glad you got to know Ben Tanaka and the other lost souls of his universe. Ben Tanaka is an anti-hero, weak and ineffectual, and the world of Shortcomings is anti-comic, absent of fantastic adventures and super powers. The three chapters trace the comings and goings (mostly goings) of Ben, his girlfriend Miko, and his friend Alice. Many of the events happen despite the resistance of Ben, and there is a quiet humor to his identifiable struggles as a 30-year old and an Asian-American. Like all literature, when it is done well, you don’t notice the seams. It captures choice moments, faces them with honesty, and weaves them into an effective narrative.

Shortcomings is Tomine’s first foray into a longer story arc than his previous Optic Nerve comics. It was first serialized as Optic Nerve #9-11, and was published last month in one book-signing friendly volume. Up your nerdy-cool factor and go if you live in one of the hipster cities on his tour.