Master Chef Builds a Michelin-Starred Taiwanese Restaurant in a Strip Mall – Los Angeles

16 September 2020

This is a caviar the caviar dish is based off of instant breakfast soup that you have a lot in Japan or Taiwan is
called corn potage we get a Kaluga hybrid caviar from China Chinese have yours for sure didn’t want to popular
it’s an interesting way to have caviar because in Chinese food different textures are appreciated and like crispy
isn’t the first texture you resort to so our caviar course is different levels of softness that’s basically a different
texture of egg yolk but we just use it as like a pedestal to kind of keep everything upright so it comes with a
smoked onion cream of sake oh people always have an image of what fine dining should be I think it’s super interesting
for us to challenge those notions and do stuff our way seeing if it gets rewarded in the same manner that stereotypical
fine-dining does some milk that we cooked with corn cob I mean I grew up in an East Asian household like your
parents are always just like if you’re gonna play like you might as well win so in food yeah pretty much like SARS is
the goal I don’t think you’d expect to come to a strip mall and have like a nice tasting
menu but we make deal with what we have it’s 10:30 we’re waiting for our fish to get here
I wake up with night sweats I’m like our entire restaurant hinges on a seafood order yeah we can’t really do anything
until seafood said see if it’s pretty late today this was not this isn’t staged or anything that’s that’s our
fridge for everything 600 plates of food every night that’s our fridge yeah so he’s like finally here you get set it up
over here we’re just working with so much fish and it’s like a time crunch so see who comes in like we’re racing to
break it down and store it properly this is what we get in every day turbo sea bream lobsters crabs oysters Avalon yeah
we’re good we basically have the next like 5 hours like to fabricate everything and turn into a tasting menu
yeah this is a spiny lobster they’re seasonal these are from Santa Barbara it looks like the thing from alien it’s not
as fat as like a Maine lobster it’s really lean they’re closer to like a giant shrimp they’re really strong and
they’re covered in these spikes so that’s the tail it’s a lot more like vibrant than a Maine lobster we’re gonna
make a out of all this roasted like head fence the tails get lightly poached in rice
wine and dashi basically we used to let it sit in the warm poaching liquid and then he’s gonna take it out of the show
unfortunately this is Lalo he’s very handsome this is really lightly cooked so on the outside it’s still a little
bit translucent and it kind of looks like it’s fully cooked but when you bite into it’s a really interesting texture
it’s just like barely set there’s no give it’s and then it gets a roasted sesame vinaigrette over the top it’s
just the sauce that was kind of based on my mom’s cold noodle sauce so this is Alex he’s doing a seabream
for the rock horse today he’s really good at it this is a seabream from Japan that’s pretty bad when I first started
we’d have to get like extra fish just so we didn’t be able to have enough for service so it’s just breakfast yeah but
that’s we’re always willing to at least make that investment and letting someone get better because other places like
buck up once there like give me that like you’re not gonna do this for at least two months and then you get to
revisit in like how the supposed to get better in like another two months really everyone gets to touch everything I feel
like people here a closer and they get better a lot faster than like other places for surfing this is good cure for
ten minutes and then we’ll rinse off the salt and we’ll cured in kombu you just wrap it yeah we always try to call
things by the Chinese version here but Chinese selling it really he brought there so we use English raw fish is raw
fish [Music] this is farm Spanish turbo this is for
basically our most important dish on the menu right now I’ve never really felt like we’re a Taiwanese restaurant so we
started doing the steamed fish I was always scared to do food I grew up eating because you just take it for
granted and people always have a skewed perception of the value of Chinese food you always want to use like a live fish
so they always use like a live to Latvia which is like the only like fishing get at the supermarket so we just wanted to
use something that is a little more like luxurious I guess this is like the rack in the center that we like make a tea
with ginger we have to do like 10 a day every day so should I get the fastest way everyone
has their different style he goes around the center go I hope you go viral for this dude just fastest turbo I think
that’s like that’s everything that we do here you teach someone the basics and they
take it further basically every Chinese household does a version of this it’s uh bravi so after shading get these like
nice little ribbons traditionally it’ll be steamed and then they’ll put ginger and scallion over the top get a little
bit of relish and this would get wrapped around a turbo and then they’ll pour soy sauce over it so like hot soy sauce
essentially creates a broth for the fish this for the turbos dish this is the prophetís port just gets about seven to
like ten different types of soy this is one of the hardest thing to learn for me was this brush because I was like okay
well what’s the recipe there like there’s no recipe a difficult thing to try to master the first time we put it
on was maybe two years ago and you never really know putting something like that on the menu if you can really convey it
the same feeling that you get when you eat it but I think people really got it which was a pleasant surprise ever since
then I felt more confident calling ourselves a Taiwanese restaurant so you want to start steaming crab
this is Dungeness crab this goes into our con Moshi yeah that’s that’s that’s a you
this is Toni close friend of ours / roommate / sous chef he’ll reserve any of the steaming liquid
left inside the carapace and then it will save all the head back and then pick everything else we have so many
steps that we can’t necessarily all fit if something is not temperature sensitive we’ll be prepping the dining
room sometimes he has to make sure it’s uh flip it backwards so all that juice stays in there that’s cold
oh that’s delicious that’s arguably the best part of the curve there’s edition Taiwan where it’s like
tofu or egg tofu either/or and it’s smothered with crab fat sauce this is our version of it this is gonna be all
pigs I’ll break through all these kind of go through that afternoon check for shells or for like a second and third
time these are Avalonia one of like my favorite dishes it’s like our version of three cups chicken so I tell people I
work with abalone every day and then they look at me they’re like what’s an abalone I’m like yeah it’s kind of like
a gigantic snail abalone Tony yeah what’s up so we go through about maybe 45 for a day and that’s a three hour two
for our process just doing the last like touch-up just clean off the edges take off the I don’t know if it’s like new
kiss kind of Lee for sure don’t say new guys it’s like this thick he’s actually on the outside and then this is dashi in
the pot over here two hours to three hours crazy I’m very like low simmer tryna Avalonia is really big in Chinese
culture it’s one of those luxury ingredients that Chinese people really value getting diners used to having
abalone and treating as a luxury ingredients like an education process it’s called three cup because it’s equal
parts sesame oil rice wine and soy sauce so we make our own version here and i marinate the abalone in it so it’s
basically the same flavors but with fresh abalone i think it’s important to like not necessarily adhere to like one
cultures perception of luxury that’s part of sharing our culture right like sharing what we value these are boniato
yams they’re like Japanese roasting potatoes like when I grew up my parents ate these
all the time for suppose at health benefits so this is our CDC Dora also another
roommate we’ve lived together since the restaurant open I didn’t been living
together for years now we get older well I don’t really fight or anything like that
dartie you want to move that up here it just gets boiled and turned into like a tapioca dumpling it’s gonna be our
version of like shaved ice or bubble milk tea it’s almost the exact same flavors but just rearranged
yeah people go apeshit for this thing and it’s slowly holding it in this gets mixed with a certain ratio of tapioca
starch it gets cooked until they’re completely tender all the way through and I get
soaked in Muscovado syrup and then we make a fresh cheese that gets whipped and placed on top of the boba and it
gets shaped brown butter sadly yeah it’s like 4:30 right now we’re gonna get ready for service will do tasters around
five but right now is like what everyone has the muscle this is the cordyceps for our big dish so our meat dish is
basically our version of bread braised meat redgraves means to braise a meat and soy sugar sometimes chilies
five-spice ours is a slow grilled beef and then other components of that dish are red brace so we’re gonna have the
cordyceps [Music] so over the next 30 minutes we’ll keep
continuously rolling it on a grill it doesn’t look like it’s doing anything but like internally the key like travels
inward it’s five o’clock five o’clock every day we taste everything make sure it’s okay
your livers a little salty go a little sake glaze in here tuna this is the turbo soy go little salt and sugar in
this I’ll just a little bit more I don’t have to taste good line up please okay we’re at forty four today fairly smooth
there’s only a seven cover bump at six okay [Music]
we play heads up every day before service the bonding exercise we did right the chocolate sounds close
they’re like the to start restaurants it’s 5:45 we’re about to hit our Russian you start seeing some plates come out
now the first course is a set of three snacks I always say this restaurant has been
exercising me understanding my culture and like finding my identity so the limitations are good it’s pushed us to
be creative with a lot of the things that we do I think they expand how you think and how you execute it challenges
us to be the best that we can be it might represent our perspective well but you want to move into a new space and
shoot for three Michelin stars and do the food that we really want we just don’t want to compromise on
things anymore you’re on seven lobster yeah [Music]
you don’t need a referral um I’m pretty slow yes ordering one rice this is grilled black
cod for the rice of course cooking isn’t a glorified career in East Asian cultures so I just want to not
disappoint my entire family if I don’t succeed remember I was on a different career trajectory when I was in college
and I just suddenly dropped everything to start cooking so I don’t want my parents to feel like they wasted their
efforts on me fire seven cha want the steamed egg custard sort all the crab went into like it’s always a risk going
against the norm but it’s also the point of friction where exciting things happen so it’s exciting to be in like uncharted
ground can I get back for seven please I just feels like you’re championing your
culture and sharing like under-under realized cuisine with everybody [Music]

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