In Season 2 of Lucky Chow, we wander up, down, and across America to discover how deeply Asian culture and cuisine are rooted in our everyday lives. Our appetite for everything Asian leads us to bowls of noodles and skewers of barbecued meats, to heaping Japanese okonomiyaki and velvety Indian duck curry. And along the way we were lucky enough to step into the lives of sumo wrestlers, Buddhist monks, seriously hip Korean-American farmers and a pair of Chinese newlyweds raucously merging old and new world traditions. Now we’re hungrier than ever.
Episode 1: “Trending Japanese”
Japan has mesmerized American foodies for generations and a new wave of Japanese culinary culture continues to intoxicate us. Exploring American manifestations of otaku, the Japanese trope that combines cutting-edge pop culture with fetishistic obsession, Danielle visits New York’s first cat cafe; a Brooklyn izakaya run by a Frenchman in thrall to Japanese anime and manga; and a California suburban mom who’s a star on the international bento-box circuit. On a more traditional note, Danielle gets in the sumo ring with a 600-pound opponent and then helps him make chanko nabe, the sumo wrestler’s staple meal.
Episode 2: “Asian Farm to Table”
Farmers are the new rock stars of the food world, and in this episode Danielle visits agriculturists large and small, traditional and cutting edge. Ross Koda, a third-generation Japanese-American, runs a renowned Central Valley rice farm and hopes to keep it in the family. Kristyn Leach, a Korean adoptee, hand grows artisanal, heirloom Asian produce for one of San Francisco’s most popular restaurants. And on the gorgeous Half Moon Bay coast, a pair of electricians who saw a gap in the market operate America’s first wasabi farm.
Episode 3: “Food of the Gods”
The relationship between faith and food is evident at three Asian houses of worship: an imposing Buddhist temple where Danielle is served an artful vegetarian feast; a Sikh temple where she helps cook Indian flatbread for a communal meal where all are welcome; and a Queens mosque’s annual food fair, where she samples Indonesian dishes and learns about life as a Muslim in America.
Episode 4: “Made in China”
The rise of China has meant the rise of Chinese culinary traditions in America. Danielle checks out an industrial kitchen where traditional “confinement meals” are made for new mothers across the country; an underground Manhattan cocktail den whose main ingredient is the fiery liquor baijiu, the world’s most heavily consumed spirit; and a wedding in the heart of San Francisco’s Chinatown where old world and new meet at the banquet table and on the dance floor.
Episode 5: “The New Indian”
A new generation of chefs and entrepreneurs is finally bringing the amazing cooking of the world’s second-largest country to a broad American audience. Danielle interviews a former financier who offers a light, healthy take on Indian classics at his fast-casual start-up Inday; the adventurous restaurateurs behind Babu Ji, where meticulous preparations and a Bollywood vibe have led to breakout success; and a Silicon Valley engineer who got her start in the food business selling homemade chai by bicycle in the hills of San Francisco.
Episode 6: “Taiwan’s True Flavor”
Danielle gets back to her roots in an episode devoted to the distinctive, rustic cuisine of Taiwan. With Cathy Erway, author of “Foods of Taiwan,” she hits a Chinatown market and then makes the island’s most famous dish, beef noodle soup. At Taiwan Bear House, started by homesick young expats, she tries a New York take on the box lunches known as biandang. And in California’s OC, she pays a twilight visit to America’s closest counterpart to a classic Taiwanese night market.
Episode 7: “Big Business in Little Saigon”
Asian cuisine is increasingly the engine driving the growth of the American food industry. Danielle talks to three Asian-American entrepreneurs about the secrets of their success: Tim Wildin, the young Chipotle executive whose Thai aunties’ recipes contribute to the menu at Shophouse; Lynda Trang Dai, once known as the Vietnamese Madonna and now the queen of banh mi sandwiches in Orange County’s Little Saigon; and Charles Phan, the ground-breaking chef whose Slanted Door was named best restaurant in the country by the James Beard Foundation.