Hungry Onion Drooling Q&A with Luke Tsai (Dec 8, 2016 8-9pm PT)

Q&A with Luke Tsai

Dec 8, 2016 (Thurs) at 8-9pm PT

Luke Tsai is the food critic and food editor of East Bay Express. Luke covers restaurants all over the East Bay of San Francisco Bay Area, include Oakland and Berkeley. Luke’s work has also appeared in publications such as San Francisco Magazine, Best Food Writing 2016, Hyphen Magazine, and The China Post. When he isn’t writing and editing, you’ll find him eating most everything he can get his hands on. His obsessions include board games, stinky tofu, and the novels of Haruki Murakami.

In Luke’s own words: “the biggest goal is to find, and then to champion, the undiscovered, off-the-radar types of places.”

Twitter: @theluketsai
Website: East Bay Express

Hungry Onion Drooling Q&A is a place where you can interact with your favorite cookbook authors, food critics and chefs and ask them in-depth and thought-provoking questions about their areas of expertise. It is a great venue that lets us explore the interviewees’ thought processes, how they approach their professional work, and what drives their passion.

Got a question for Luke? Click ‘Reply’ and ask! Luke will join us on Dec 8.

Don’t forget to also check out our great Q&A lineup as well as our community members’ knowledgeable discussions on restaurant recommendations and cooking techniques!

What are your top 3 board games?

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Ask away!

Set aside the merits of the Michelin star system for a second, what’s the reason you believe Oakland got ‘ignored’ by Michelin inspectors, besides being the city across the bay? Who are the restaurants you think deserve stars or the bib?


Just so that we can calibrate your taste preferences against ours, what were the types of food you grew up eating and preferred? What are you favorite dishes nowadays?

What food can’t you stand, but out of professional duties, have to eat anyway?


What are the types of restaurants/ dishes, etc. that you think East Bay does better than San Francisco, and perhaps the rest of Bay Area? Or what are the good stuff that only East Bay has?


Even though you like to explore and champion lesser-known good eateries and cuisines, occasionally you may have to criticize an establishment. How do you balance between criticism and restaurateur’s livelihood potentially impacted by the criticism? When criticism is made, do you hear from chefs and owners much?


Immigrant communities (e.g. Chinese, Indian) have an active underground cottage food scene selling things like dumplings, cake, fully cooked meals, etc on places like WeChat, Facebook and word-of-mouth, and a lot of them are based in the East and South Bay. Thoughts on covering the cultural aspects? On the other hand, some proprietors had to stop, at least temporarily, taking new customers once the LA Times cottage food article came out).


And does that impact how or how much you criticize?

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What is your opinion of restaurants in the Lamorinda/Walnut Creek area? Please recommend a few of your favorites in that area.

With the minimum wage hikes, have you adjusted your tipping percent?

Hi Luke!

What are some of your favorite places on the other side of the bay?

Of all the places that have closed since you started reviewing for EBX, which ones do you miss the most?

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Has anyone in the industry figured out how you look like yet?

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Can you tell us a bit about your research process, specifically in towns outside of Oakland and Berkeley (e.g., Hayward) that typically don’t get much press coverage for restaurants?

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Restaurants you like, but haven’t written about for various reasons?

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How did you get into the restaurant review biz?

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In Murakami’s books, he has articles / stories on food especially he seems to be obsessed with the perfect pasta. What do you think about his dishes since you like his books?

Which is your fetish dish that you will try to cook to perfection?

I’ve enjoyed your reviews as you seem to have a similar sensibility to me–to seek out new places, particularly small, casual spots. You also seem to post mostly positive reviews of such restaurants. Is it correct to assume that you’re seeking out many of the newly opened spots that sound interesting (as evidenced by your pursuit of “Chiu’s”, but tend to review those that are pretty good?

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Making noodles. Phongdien Town, Cantho City, Southern Vietnam.
Credit: CiaoHo