Chinatown Summer Nights: A Deep End Dining Homecoming. A Night of Harmony & Funky Food!
The Shake Weight for Men really works!!
Last Saturday was one of the best nights I've had in a long time. The unforgettable night was Chinatown Summer Nights which run every Saturday evening during August in Los Angeles' very own Chinatown, with the final night happening this Saturday night, August 28th, starting at 5pm.
I was asked to emcee cooking demos at the West Plaza. The theme of the night was harmony. And what began at the onset of the evening as a belly full of fluttering butterflies turned out to be a harmonious feeling between me and the huge audience. Not to sound overly Eastern and mystical, but I simply inhaled a deep breath and went zen with everyone and everything around me. The entire night ran smoother than I ever dreamed, in complete harmony.
Dim sum cart on the road! Watch out Dim Sum Truck!!
For my grand entrance, I rolled a dim sum cart into the demo area preceded by a guy banging a gong. It worked like a charm, a culinary Pied Piper leading the throng of hungry and curious to the cooking demo area.
Feelin' the Phoenix Talon aka Chicken Feet.
The delicious dim sum supplied by one of the oldest restaurants in Chinatown, Golden Dragon, was portioned into sample sizes and handed out to the salivating attendees.
Welcome to Chinatown Summer Nights!
The size of the crowd grew instantly from a couple of dozen to over a hundred in no time. Its energy fed me better than any all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet. People were extremely positive and participated like I hoped they would. Everyone had a great sense of humor, laughing at my jokes, lame ones and good ones. They laughed at themselves too because nobody was safe as I singled out audience members and made fun of them. You know, like jokes about white people really, really loving Kung Pao Chicken and Sweet & Sour Pork.
Chef Sito of Golden Dragon gets fish ready for a nice steam bath.
For the cooking demos, I got to choose many of the demonstrated dishes which I selected from the restaurants' menus. For Golden Dragon, I requested a live fish cooking demo when Chef Sito would dispatch a live fish in front of the crowd, steam it, and then finish off by ladling on hot oil over the fish. I wanted to focus on the popular notion of knowing from where one's food originates (not a can with a cartoon fish on it) and also that eating the entire animal is not wasteful and even tastier.
Chef Lupe Liang of Hop Woo prepping jellyfish.
Chef Lupe Liang of the famous Hop Woo restaurant wowed the crowd with his exotic delights like jellyfish with 1000 year-old eggs and candied walnuts, fried pig intestines, spicy, salted squid and rice congee with pig offals.
A flotilla of marinated jellyfish with an army of 1000 year-old eggs.
What really delighted this MC Eddie Ed was that people who have never tried stuff like jellyfish and 1000 year-old eggs, actually tried food unfamiliar and, maybe, scary to them. This Deep End Diner couldn't be happier recruiting regular eaters over to the Deep End.
Oooh, me so hungry!
I was surrounded by heady aromas and tasty morsels but couldn't really partake because I was so busy talking. I was barely making it by with my supper earlier at Hoan Kiem where I had their famous Pho Ga, chicken rice noodle soup. They are the In N' Out Burger of Vietnamese restaurants with only three items on their entire menu: Pho Ga, Banh Cuon (rice roll with ground pork and wood ear) and Hainan Chicken with Chicken Rice.
Hop Woo's fried pig intestines aka chitlins.
Hop Woo's Chef Lupe Liang really set off the stink bomb with his fried pig intestines, but with my encouragement, the crowd gave it a try and there was no trace of this "business end" of the intestine after the sampling.
Step up in 3D!
It wasn't all food. I pulled a couple of b-boys out of the crowd for an impromptu breakdancing exhibition. Of course, I had to call 'em out with some old school moves of my own (emphasis on the old). My back is still sore.
I am old school, emphasis on the old.
After the So You Think You Can Dance interlude, Chinatown Summer Nights got a surprise visit from royalty.
Miss Chinatown 2010, Jani Wang, & the Ho family of Hoan Kiem.
Miss Chinatown 2010, Jani Wang, made an appearance and lit up the night with her grace, poise and hotness. I volunteered to put her to work and help Hoan Kiem wrap some rice rolls. It's all in the wrist, and she was a natural, making it look like she was born to wave to crowds with that special princess panache and whip up rice rolls effortlessly.
Chinatown Prom Queen & King!
Miss Chinatown was more than gracious putting up with my jokes aimed at her incredibly tall and sparkly crown which I erroneously called a "tiara" until she pointed out my smart-alecky error. One day, I'll wear a tiara, um, I mean, crown like Miss Chinatown's. One day.
Actually, this guy is the Chinatown Prom Emperor.
Oh, what a night. It was a night of Chinese culinary creations and characters. A night that demonstrated how delicious life truly can be when you're surrounded by family, friends, culture, food and Chinatown.
Although I moved from Chinatown at the age of 5, I never really left Chinatown. That's the distinction I promised myself I'd make. I always held Chinatown close to my heart no matter where I was, coming back to visit every chance I got.
You can come home again. I did and I will...over and over again.
It'll leave you glowing!
CHINATOWN SUMMER NIGHTS
August 28, 2010 starting at 5pm
Click for more details at official website
Watch the video of Chinatown Summer Nights by Valentino Herrera of Trippy Food.
Thanks also to Valentino for the great photos!