Thursday, July 22, 2010

a-wah and gentrification

Congrats to A-Wah on their NYTimes mention! The homegirl, Victoria (CCC), took me and Emery to lunch here 2 months ago. She's always up on that division/east broadway/catherine street chino scene under the bridge haha. Emery and I aint Cantonese so we don't hear as much about the new joints popping up down there (OMG we aint all the same? lol) but Victoria and Steve's Grandma let us know what's good.

Randomly, Steve's grandma kept trying to explain to Steve this restaurant he should go to. She kept saying "hot rice with cover, hot rice with cover!" haha. I liked the joint the first time I went with Victoria. But we didn't pour their soy sauce all over the rice. I was like, that's some gringo shit to order a bowl of white rice and eat it with soy sauce.

But I went back last night wit Steve and the owner told me to use the soy sauce. BONG. Mind mofuckin blown. Get the red sausage and preserved duck rice casserole. Of all the Chinese cuisines, I think Cantonese has the most in common with Taiwanese. Both are island-ish spots and we both like to use dried shrimps, dried scallops, preserved meats, cured cabbage, and funk. We got stinky tofu, they got king of fruits durian haha. Hong Kong is like Harlem and Taiwan is the rockaways. Renegade Island LOL.

ANyway, I'm happy when joints like A-Wah that people in the hood actually go to get press. I always shit on Joe's Shanghai cause its a wack tourist joint. Its harrible. I went to A-Wah last night cause I knew people would start coming and there was a wait. I won't be back for a while cause its gonna be packed but I don't care. I wanna see these people get paper and come up. I hate gentrification more than the next guy, but my perception has changed. My dad said it best. I came back from Beijing 2 years ago and was like, "Dad, its wack man, they are tearing up everything for the Olympics. All the hu-tongs are being destroyed." And he had the best answer, "Chinese people in Beijing aren't zoo animals. Hu-tongs aren't an exhibit that they need to maintain so you can always go see it." I understood it. We cant see these neighborhoods like fish bowls we put on a shelf like lonely planet books. We like visiting those neighborhoods, we like to see the old school shit, but its easy cause we don't have to live in concrete boxes with no plumbing. We can come back to a/c, laundromats, and poland spring. But they need to come up too.

The important thing is to just make sure we own the land our businesses are on. Lines and wack people coming to your hood are small potatoes. Its annoying, but its a battle, not the war. You want to make sure you don't get displaced but I think overall, Chinese people frequently own the property so I like to think we'll do aite defending chinatown. Where my horns at?


  1. pot rice? get familiar

    what your pops said about gentrification is true, i love the gentrification as it's happened in bk and whatever.

    I think it's a little different in Beijing though, when i visited earlier this year, the area by Qianmen basically turned into a mall with freaking Sephora and Starbucks, I mean...why? There is no character in that. I'm not sure it's so much gentrification as globalization or Americanization, I think that's a bit problematic.

  2. Funny, I just blogged about Xi'an Famous Foods and said sort of the same thing - hate Anthony Bourdain for gentrifying the place, love him for giving them the support they deserved. So happy for them.

  3. And when is Xiao Ye opening??

  4. the problem is that gentrification typically displaces society's the under-served and marginalized communities, and also disrepects and ruins a neighborhood's culture and organic progress. gentrification sucks...

  5. i don't think more mainstream publicity for these small businesses are necessarily something to SMH at (fuck, English come back to my grasp yeah?), and I think a lot of people who do shake their heads, do because 1) they love pseudo-exclusivity and are defined by it. 2) they like to be subversive whores.

    and you cannot equate that with gentrification.

    Displacement is a bitch and the worst aspect of gentrification is the entitlement complex people bring with them. There's no concept of I'm kind of here uninvited, therefore I should have some decency and respect for the people who came before, but then this is why am I surprised?

    Beijing is different, because natives kind of chose gentrification for profits. Land disputes exist but most of them are just an issue of money, no one is that concerned about culture. I think that's pretty sad.

  6. As they said, use the f*** soy sauce, you won't regret it. Although Cantonese and Taiwanese food are similar, but not to that extent. This is not a theory... and when you are done, keep cooking good food, just the way you do. You rock!

  7. No comment on gentrification -- I live in the mofo burbs directly bordering the hoods of East Los Angeles. We hear po-po birds on the daily while in our "Cape Cod" house. It's beyond ironic. Cest la vie.

    However, that stone pot rice shit the Cantos serves borders retardation, especially in terms of price.

    $8.50 for a bowl of rice with toppings on it. There's an LA joint that serves this shit, it's called "Tasty Garden": You gotta wait 30min just for the rice to cook on the stove, and there's only 2 oz of whatever on top. Stupid, STUPID, STUPID.

  8. I love A-Wah! The chef used to be at Yummy Noodles. The place has been so packed lately (it's small to begin with...), that we just order it to go. Besides the Chinese sausage and preserved duck, the beef and egg is my other fave. I like to leave the lid on for a bit to get the crispy rice on the bottom. Delicious!