Chef and TV personality Eddie Huang has spent the past two years living in Los Angeles after approximately a decade residing in New York. The brains behind Fresh Off The Boat recently sat down with LA Weekly critic Besha Rodell to discuss the recently opened LA location of Baohaus and the food scene in the city he now calls home. Here are the eight best lines from the interview:
Huang is a full fledged member of the In-N-Out bandwagon
One of the most influential things to me has always been In-N-Out burger. I read the book, I read all the history, about how they kind of represented hot rod culture and surfers. And they never really changed the menu. They’ve got the secret stuff, but mainly it’s the staples. I really think that Baohaus in a lot of ways, if we could open these in neighborhoods and communities that we really vibe with and identify with, we could be a restaurant over the decades that’s planted a flag and anchored itself with a particular subculture and the immigrant story. That’s really what we stand for. It’s not about making new dishes or jumping on trends, we really are dedicated to this story we’re telling.
And trash talks Shake Shack
To be honest I think some of the locations Shake Shack has picked are somewhat haphazard. Then again, they’re a much more vanilla brand, they’re not necessarily connected to one community or story.
He sings Roy Choi’s praises
Roy [Choi] is the pioneer. Roy came opening night, Roy is absolutely the pioneer in Far East Plaza, he saw this over three years ago before anyone else did. And I think Roy has to get a lot of credit. Roy is one of those guys who, he gets a lot of attention in L.A. but I don’t think he could possibly get enough because he really, like myself in New York, he’s committed to community. And every move that he makes, you can see a lot of thought and soul go into what Roy does, and it’s not just about the food.
LA’s food scene > New York’s
But in terms of the food, I think it’s a much richer, more complex food city than New York. And I prefer the restaurants. If I had to choose a food scene, I would take L.A.’s. Not in the way reservations work, not the way you make plans with friends, not the way you get to the restaurant. But once you are physically in the restaurant eating the food, the food definitely wins. Especially the ethnic food. You can get things here. I’ve gotten better Korean barbecue here than I did in Seoul. I’ve gotten hot pot here on the level that I got in Chengdu. You can’t say that in New York. You absolutely can’t.
Eddie Huang loves LA’s Koreatown
I think my favorite thing is Koreatown! Koreatown is an absolute gem, you’ll never run out of things to do there, you’ll never run out of things to eat there. [...] I will never run out of restaurants, I will never be bored. I eat there at least three times a week.
Baohaus LA is better than Baohaus NYC
The produce is much better in L.A. Even just making our chili oils and our hot sauces, they’re brighter and more vibrant than they are in New York. So from day one, the food is better in the L.A. Baohaus than it is in the New York one.
LA diners rule
L.A. customers are much more discerning, and they’re much more informed about the food. The L.A. customer knows his Thai food, knows his Japanese food. [...] Everyone knows the way things are supposed to be, and ethnic communities here have enlisted their white allies so that everyone continues to project this information, so it’s not just Mexicans who will speak out about a good or bad taco, it’s not just Asians who will speak out about a good boat noodle.
The big statement
But this city, for food, is the most interesting place in America right now.