In this week’s episode of “Off Menu,” host Lucas Kwan Peterson heads east of Los Angeles to the San Gabriel Valley, a 20-mile-wide swath that is the biggest and best Chinatown on the continent. Whether it’s hot pot or Taiwanese breakfast or northern Chinese dumplings, it’s possible to find almost every kind of regional Chinese cooking in the SGV.
Lucas heads to the restaurant Hui Tou Xiang to chat with David Chan, an amateur historian and Chinese food enthusiast who has eaten at more than 7,500 different Chinese restaurants in his life. Afterward he meets up with some friends and colleagues at Huge Tree Pastry, a Monterey Park staple known for its excellent Taiwanese breakfast. Genevieve Ko, The Times’ cooking editor, Frank Shyong, a columnist for The Times, and Danny Chau, formerly of the Ringer, sit down and talk about growing up Asian American and how it has shaped their relationship to food.
Finally, Lucas heads to West L.A. to visit Jon Yao at Kato, a modern Taiwanese fine dining restaurant that was recently named the top restaurant on The Times’ 101 Best Restaurants list. Yao reflects on his childhood growing in Walnut, a small city in the SGV, and how it affected the development of Kato, as well as what lies in store for the future of Chinese cuisine.