5@5 - Eddie Huang
March 30th, 2011
05:00 PM ET
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5@5 is a daily, food-related list from chefs, writers, political pundits, musicians, actors, and all manner of opinionated people from around the globe.

Some have labeled Eddie Huang "a bad boy," the next Anthony Bourdain - to us, he's just Eddie Huang. There's no other way to describe him.

Sure, he enjoys himself the occasional Four Loko, but the boy also makes a mean dorade and can write like no one's business - as evidenced in his blog "Fresh Off the Boat."

For those of you less familiar with our favorite Baron of Baos, he's the owner of BaoHaus in New York City. He also famously published his mother's e-mail response on his blog after Sam Sifton's zero-star New York Times review of his now-closed restaurant Xiao Ye. (You might need this information later - just sayin'.)

Five Favorite Food Writers: Eddie Huang

Believe it or not, I never read food blogs or food writing until I opened Baohaus. The only thing I read were cookbooks and the Village Voice's year-end wrap-up because it was the best list of restaurants I could actually afford to eat at and there didn't seem to be a cultural bias.

Over the last year, I've read all kinds of things about food. It seemed every one had a food book they wanted me to read: someone gave me On Food and Cooking, my agent gave me Veganomicon, I read Fortune Cookie Chronicles while commuting. Francis Lam and @SmithStreeter told me I HAD to read Jonathan Gold. I'm no expert on writers, but these were my favorites. They've been writing about cooks and chefs so much, I figured we'd write about them.

I've left out writers who I consider friends. If I drank Four Loko with you *cough* Kat Kinsman or rosé with wifey *cough* Chopstick Senator, I can't put you on. I mean, seriously, what kind of friend keeps score cards?

1. David Chang and Peter Meehan
"I read Momofuku cover to cover in 3 days. Best cookbook I've ever read. I bought The French Laundry Cookbook a year ago and I'm still on page five. Pei Mei taught me the most dishes this side of my mom, but she didn't have stories about Japanese strip clubs in Midtown. I mean, I'm sure she does, but she's holding out. If you're a restaurant owner looking at empty dining rooms, adzuki bean burritos, or puking before DOH inspections, there's no better book to read than Momofuku. Plus, I heard if you read it backward, all the pages turn into coupons for figs. #everybodypoops"

2. Josh Ozersky
"Josh is a strange guy. He interviewed me for his Time article and I asked 'have you eaten my food?' He hadn't so he came in that night at seven and ate the meat in the baos without the bao then proceeded to write about it vaguely. It's an interesting move, but par for the Ozersky course.

Of all food writers, he truly has created a persona. Whether Mr. Cutlets is actually Josh Ozersky or an alter ego is anyone's guess, but I think it's dope. Mr. Cutlets is the MF Doom of food writers. Eat rappers for lunch and spit out the chain. Reading his work, you realize that he is probably the only man alive that may actually like food more than [ladies]. There's a bit of Rodney Dangerfield to Ozersky and the brief moment of self-awareness which randomly rears it's head in the midst of burger worship are what make him unique. Must read."

3. Robert Sietsema
"This is the first food writer I ever actively followed and continue to. He covers more ground than anyone in New York and it takes a real saint to say all the nice things he does about Fukienese people. Seriously, there are over a billion people in China and none of them can do it.

He also has an appreciation for low-brow things like Tex-Mex despite the fact that he knows 'here today foodies' will jump on him for liking something that's past its prime. We need more food writers who will take a stand and say what they truly feel in the face of wanna-be foodies who rely on other people's research and taste buds to form opinions and trends. Not everyone wants to read about some sh*t hole with table cloths and tasting menus. Sometimes, we just want to know where the damn El Cantinero is in our neighborhood."

4. Jonathan Gold
"I recently started reading Gold and I like it. I probably should like him more with the Pulitzer and all, but 'Dude, it's LA.' These places don't exist to me. The one image I have of LA is that fool from 'I Love You, Man' wearing Uggs on a scooter. I can't get down with that. My friends told me to read his articles and I thought, 'Why? I'm never going to go. I can't relate.'

But then I read 'Great Balls o' Rice!' - I knew exactly what he was talking about! Not only did he have a mastery of Shanghai as a region, but he shouted out the midnight snack of my pre-stoner childhood: tong yuan. As a bonus, he was the one White Dude that finally echoed what I've been telling people forever: Chinese food is regional. You wouldn't go to Texas and order vinegar pulled pork and you shouldn't ever order ma po tofu at a Shanghainese restaurant cause it's going to taste like some raw food weirdo put agave nectar in it. The only things that you can get at any Chinese restaurant without any variance in quality are Johnnie Walker and zodiac placemats.

Then I kept reading ... and he dropped this heat rock:

But 55 essential cocktails? Why not 99? Why not 82? Why a number associated with that which Sammy Hagar cannot drive? Because I drive. Because I have a human liver. Because however much you may adore the saketini at that little place in Torrance, it is only essential if you happen to be eating a sliver of yellowtail sashimi there at the time.

Jonathan Gold, I fux wit you."

5. _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
"You already know. It doesn't even need to be said. This dude is the best and for some very Sally Albright, I want the pie heated and the ice cream on the side reason, a lot of you people hate him. There's a problem with food writing readers: you want fast food reviews of non-fast food. If someone took a paragraph to write about the room, you couldn't possibly make it to the LIRR on time. Blame _ _ _ _ _ _ for WPT and Palsgraf v. LIRR.

You're all about the verdict. Before you read, you're counting the stars and you want a second round knockout. I appreciate a writer who jabs, goes to the body, goes to the head, let's you bleed your way through 12 rounds knowing exactly how it's going to end and how he's going to end it - but he bleeds you. If I didn't respect the hustle, I'd just look at f#@$ing Zagat Books.

Due to the fact that most people read on a level somewhere between Gua, Viki, and Eli Porter, we want things spelled out with stars. If there's a reference you don't understand, it must be the writer's fault. Think but this and all is mended. Sure, my boy's got a very stylistic way of writing, but so do our favorite directors. Wes Anderson, Woody Allen, Alfred Hitchcock, Spike Lee: all stylistic, all original, borderline formulaic. Adidas, jump cuts, shadows, Johnny pumps. Cue Biggie's mom, 'Big Up to Brooklyn.'"

Is there someone you'd like to see in the hot seat? Let us know in the comments below and if we agree, we'll do our best to chase 'em down.

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Filed under: 5@5 • Celebrity Chefs • Eddie Huang • News • Think


soundoff (15 Responses)
  1. jill s.

    has anyone actually eating this kid's food? disgusting.

    March 31, 2011 at 4:16 pm |
  2. Dubs

    My main problem with all these great food writers is that they are all from New York City or Cali. No one ever explores food in that huge land mass between those two areas.

    March 31, 2011 at 11:33 am |
  3. I want da gold!

    Where da gold at?

    March 31, 2011 at 10:55 am |
  4. Ron in LA

    I always enjoyed Jonathan Reynolds in New York Times.

    March 31, 2011 at 8:36 am |
  5. Granite

    When I first saw this article I mistook Eddie Huang for Henry Hong. Turns out I was wrong about who they were talking about. Henry is the best food writer I know. He can break down a dish with the best of them.

    March 31, 2011 at 8:35 am |
  6. libmeister food

    I found the article hard to read and rather boring. It may have to do with my age (a ripe 29). However, I tend to think it is because CNN made a bad choice about who is writing this particular article/ blog.

    March 31, 2011 at 12:53 am |
  7. Greatest Moon

    5@5 Jason Bell—best youngest food writer working out there right now

    March 30, 2011 at 11:21 pm |
  8. cfdsiv

    Chinese food isn't even the best food in the far east, that honor goes to Vietnam. If you want the best in the world you have to go Normandy, France.

    March 30, 2011 at 8:25 pm |
  9. Regnad Kcin

    You left M.F.K. Fisher off the list. Shame on you.

    March 30, 2011 at 8:13 pm |
    • Kat Kinsman

      No argument on MFK, but he was just going with living writers for this piece.

      March 31, 2011 at 9:26 am |
  10. dogdays

    http://dogdays-phoenix.blogspot.com/

    if you like it, become a follower. you won't be dissapointed

    March 30, 2011 at 8:06 pm |
  11. Popeye

    I feel a connection here.

    March 30, 2011 at 7:51 pm |
  12. HeyWhoburnedMyRoux?

    OMG a fat Chinese guy! WOW, I feel like getting married again! I have eaten French food in France, Korean food in Korea and a bunch of other food in other places. But in my book China is like the EMPEROR of food. Delicious spices, and so many pleasing combinations of flavors.

    And I'll be vague to avoid offending anyone...they can make ANYTHING taste good!

    I sadly still haven't been to China, and because of the economy I'm probably not going to go anytime soon. But like, when I finally get there, I am going to eat my way through the entire country.

    March 30, 2011 at 7:25 pm |
  13. Todd Cappezza

    Nice article. Props on the MF Doom reference! Don't see that all too often on CNN, heh.

    March 30, 2011 at 7:25 pm |
 
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