From Chop Suey to Haute Cuisine: A Case Study in American “Ethnic Food” (Book Reviews)

March 27th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

Liu, Haiming. From Canton Restaurant to Panda Express: A History of Chinese Food in the United States. Rutgers University Press, 2015.

Ray, Krishnendu. The Ethnic Restaurateur. Bloomsbury Academic, 2016.

Reviewed in: The Los Angeles Review of Books, March 20, 2017

Space Invaders (Book Review)

May 13th, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

Manaugh, Geoff. A Burglar’s Guide to the City. FSG Originals, 2016.

Reviewed in: The Los Angeles Review of Books, May 12, 2016

Book review of “Girls & Sex: Navigating the Complicated New Landscape”

March 25th, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

Orenstein, Peggy. Girls & Sex: Navigating the Complicated New Landscape. Harper, 2016.

Reviewed in: The Los Angeles Times, March 24, 2016

Top Five, Dead or Alive (Book Review)

February 7th, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

Serrano, Shea. The Rap Year Book: The Most Important Rap Song From Every Year Since 1979, Discussed, Debated, and Deconstructed. Abrams, 2015.

Reviewed in: The Los Angeles Review of Books, February 6, 2016.

Book review of “The Making of Asian America”

September 4th, 2015 § 0 comments § permalink

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Lee, Erika. The Making of Asian America: A History. Simon & Schuster, 2015.

Reviewed in: New York Times Sunday Book ReviewSeptember 4, 2015

Book review of “LAtitudes: An Angeleno’s Atlas”

May 7th, 2015 § 0 comments § permalink

LAtitudes: An Angeleno’s Atlas. Edited by Patricia Wakida. Heyday, 2015

Reviewed in: The Los Angeles Times, May 7, 2015

Book review of “Do Not Sell at Any Price: The Wild, Obsessive Hunt for the World’s Rarest 78rpm Records”

October 15th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

Petrusich, Amanda. Do Not Sell at Any Price: The Wild, Obsessive Hunt for the World’s Rarest 78rpm Records. Scribner, 2014.

Appears in Los Angeles Review of Books, October 15, 2014.

Book Review of “Overdrive,” “Never Built Los Angeles” and “Songs in the Key of Los Angeles”

August 3rd, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

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Overdrive: L.A. Constructs the Future, 1940–1990. Edited by Wim de Wit and Christopher Alexander. (Los Angeles: Getty Research Institute, 2013. 320 pages. $59.95 cloth.)

Never Built Los Angeles. Edited by Greg Goldin and Sam Lubell. (New York: Metropolis Books, 2013. 376 pages. $55.00 cloth.)

Songs in the Key of Los Angeles. By Josh Kun. (Los Angeles: Angel City Press, 2013. 223 pages. $50.00 cloth.)

Appears in Southern California Quarterly, 96(2): 235-239.

Book review of “L.A. Son : My Life, My City, My Food” and “Fresh Off the Boat: A Memoir.”

April 27th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink


Choi, Roy. L.A. Son : My Life, My City, My Food. Ecco, 2013.

Huang, Eddie. Fresh Off the Boat: A Memoir. Spiel, 2013.

Appears in: Los Angeles Review of Books, April 27, 2014.

To Live and Dine in Kogi L.A.

November 13th, 2009 § 0 comments § permalink

“To Live and Dine in Kogi L.A.” Contexts. Vol. 8(4), Fall 2009

Culture review.

“While praised for being a more youthful, multiethnic, and tech savvy form of food delivery, Kogi trucks providing ethnic fusion street food in Los Angeles also illustrate the persistence of socioeconomic divisions in urban life. According to Oliver Wang, Kogi demonstrates that there are still lines that aren’t crossed when it comes to urban ethnic relations.”

Background: I was first introduced to Kogi by my colleague at USC, Karen Tongson, who had heard about the truck before its popularity had reached the proverbial tipping point. As the Kogi story began to unfold in the winter of 2009, I was intrigued by how media coverage of the Truck wanted to posit it as this culinary representation of Los Angeles culture and society. To be sure, I did think Kogi was marvelously ingenious; less so for its food (though those short-rib tacos are delicious) and more so for its distribution and marketing innovations as a haute cuisine catering truck. However, I was also struck at how Kogi’s changing set of locations seemed to synch up perfectly with any number of increasing popular, gentrifying neighborhoods and thanks to the Truck’s well-remarked upon Twitter feed, I was able to do a simple mapping of where the Truck had been and equally important, where it never went. That put me on the path of this article, the core thesis being that Kogi does indeed reflect L.A. It just happens to be a far more complex Los Angeles than is promoted in news stories or publicity boilerplate. (Note: anyone having trouble accessing this article in full PDF form can email me for a copy instead).