Exclusive Interview with the Cast of New Food and Travel Series 'Family Style'
Last year, the YouTube channel based on pop culture blog, "You Offend Me, You Offend My Family" YOMYOMF reached out to us to film their new food and travel series Family Style at our 626 Night Market event in Arcadia. They wanted to feature us alongside night markets in Taiwan in their episode about night markets. And of course we were on board with this!
The series follows the “Foodie Fam” — 8 friends bound together by their knowledge and love for culture, cuisine and sharing family moments around the table — as they travel around the world with their famous friends (Harry Shum Jr., Ki Hong Lee, Daniel Dae Kim, and many more) to Vietnam, China, the Philippines as well as Hawaii and Los Angeles to explore all sorts of cuisine and the tradition behind it.
We talked to 3 of the Foodie Fam about night markets, new food discoveries and the importance of food in Asian culture in an exclusive interview below!
Have you ever visited night markets outside the US? If so, how did the night markets there compare to 626 Night Market in California?
Fan: I’ve visited night markets in Taiwan. I think the biggest difference is the variety of fusion options that they have at the 626 Night Market, but I think it’s great. It’s respectfully embracing different cultures and at the same time encourages people that visit to try different kinds of foods that they might not have had a chance to experience otherwise!
Ma: Yes, I have! Ever since I was a kid I've visited Taiwan every year and have gone to their night markets. I can't say that I've been to all of them (there's way too many to visit) but I often visit the ones in Taipei, Zhongli and Kaoshiung. The first thing that comes to mind as far as comparisons to the night markets out here are of course the prices, it is MUCH more affordable in Taiwan than it is in the states, I could eat at 8-10 different delicious food stands with $10 where in the states that's probably the price at one stand. The night markets out there also run EVERY night, where in the states it's seasonally held. But one thing I do find very special about the night markets in the US is how it's built a community of passionate and innovative food trendsetters from all walks of life, not only Asians. This gives us a place where we can eat Lobster pasta or a sushi burrito while sipping on some boba milk tea, you can only get that experience in the melting pot culture of America.
Suk: I’ve never been to any night market so 626 was my first experience!
What was your favorite food at 626 Night Market?
Fan: I had this amazing Sweet Kloud: Cotton Candy Burrito with ice cream at the 626 Night Market, something I’d never had before, but loved, so inventive!
Ma: Definitely the giant fried squid that was way bigger than my head.
Suk: I feel like there is so much I still have yet to try at 626 but I really loved Lobsterdamus because I don’t normally eat lobster or crab but their lobster nest totally changed my mind.
Were you ever corrected on the way you've been eating a certain food, maybe one from your own culture?
Fan: One of my fondest memories of Taiwan was actually at a night market. I had been standing in line at this very popular noodle soup stand, and the woman who owned the stand was behind cooking and serving the food. The line went on forever and it was a hot night. She was sweating but smiling the entire time. Her energy was incredible. When it was my turn, I ordered my noodle soup, thanked her and sat down to eat it. She actually followed me over to where I was sitting and physically showed me how to drink the soup and eat the noodles to get the best of the flavors. She did it in the kindest way, almost like a mother showing their child. She was very proud of her food (and rightly so, it was so good..!) and wanted to make sure I got the full experience. It was a really touching moment for me. She was so busy and so hot, but it meant so much to her that I eat the food properly. That moment for me really epitomized just how important food is in the Asian / Taiwanese culture and the spirit, passion and pride behind it.
Ma: I'm still bad at holding chopsticks...every time I have a meal with my father, he's always gotta complain about the way I hold them. As far as foods though, I remember when I was very young I used to eat a xiaolongbao in one single bite and it burned the hell outta my tongue! My mother then taught me to use a spoon, then take a tiny bite of the skin, pour out the soup that's inside into the spoon then take that one single bite, after that you have some nice warm soup to sip from your spoon. No more burnt tongues after learning that trick. Thanks mom!
Suk: I don’t think I’ve ever been “corrected” on the way I eat something but I did get teased for not liking kimchi as a kid. Like “how can you be Korean and not like kimchi?!” But when I got older, I think around my college years, my taste buds change and I love all kinds of kimchi now.
Did you discover any favorite eats other than foods that are seen as mainstream Asian food like sushi, dim sum or boba?
Fan: The night market definitely opened up my eyes to more of the amazing street food in Taiwan. Even things like fried tempura is so different at the night markets. I love the variety.
Ma: Ever since I was a kid I HATED stinky tofu but it wasn't until one of my first experiences at the 626 night market where I ate it after a dare and found that it was OMG delicious. I take pride in stinky tofu being popularized in Taiwan now and will gladly eat it any day.
Suk: I think all the desserts we tried which I know might be slightly general of an answer. But Asians make the most fascinating dessert concoctions.
Why do you think Asians, more than most people, place so much importance on food?
Fan: For Asians, food is so much more than just a meal. It really is the way that we show that we care about our friends and family. One of the first things a parent / someone older or even a friend asks when you go to their house is, “Have you eaten?” Food is about nourishing the body, taking care of those around us, but it’s also a way that we bond. It’s about the time we spend together to enjoy food, family style. Not just a dish per person but a shared experience that we want to enjoy with the people we love.
Ma: Asians highly respect and honor their family, we even feed our dead ancestors fresh food on certain holidays. Food is a way to show love in our culture, instead of saying the actual words "I love you", we ask "Have you eaten yet?" This belief has been passed down from generation to generation and that love is instilled in every dish that we make. Also in America, I believe out of all the industries (entertainment, sports, politics) we are the celebrities of the food industry and we take pride in that and there's no slowing us down. I mean who hasn't eaten Chinese food, sushi or even Korean bbq?
Suk: I think at least for me, my family raised me to not leave a single kernel of rice left in my bowl. I think for many of us, food was an expression of love provided by our parents and not leaving anything left behind on our plates was our way of showing we love them back.
Family Style premiered on May 13 and the episode “Night Markets” is available starting today. Watch it below!
Update 6/25/19: Their 11th episode, “Social Networking,” features the giant bombing squid at our event and is available now:
YOMYOMF is directed by Justin Lin, who is also the director of The Fast and Furious franchise and Better Luck Tomorrow. Family Style is produced by YOMYOMF and Stage 13, the award-winning content studio that is part of Warner Bros. Digital Networks.