Seoul, South Korea

Inside one of the most famous Korean palaces in Seoul

Seoul, South Korea

Statue of King Sejong - Inventor of the Korean alphabet

Beijing, China

Awesome snapshot of the Temple of Heaven

Beijing, China

The Great Wall of China, even more breathtaking in person

Beijing, China

Outside Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City

Koh Phi Phi Island, Thailand

Absolutely breathtaking water and beaches in Thailand

Tokyo, Japan

Downtown Shibuya at night

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

How To Use Chopsticks: A Step By Step Guide With Pictures

I woke up this morning and wanted to write something for this site, but had no idea what. Then it hit me that with a site named the Chopstick Lounge, I should have mentioned something about chopsticks. I know chopsticks can be a difficult thing to get used to, plus not many people are taught how to properly use them. In case you suck at using chopsticks and want to learn how to get better, here's a great step by step picture guide on how to use chopsticks with ease.

Let's get started using chopsticks

1) Make a peace sign with your fingers and face them towards you.

Peace sign with your hand
2) Open your thumb out so that you can place the first chopstick (what I like to call the Stationary Chopstick) in your hand.

Open up your thumb
3) Place the Stationary Chopstick down between your ring finger and the base of your thumb and palm. Apply pressure from your ring finger and base of the thumb almost as if you are trying to snap the chopstick in half using only these two fingers. This will keep the Stationary Chopstick sturdy. 

Place chopstick at base of thumb and ring finger
4) Next, place the other chopstick between your middle and index fingers and support the chopstick by using the tip of your thumb to stabilize it. Just imagine you are holding a pencil and apply pressure from all fingers. Remember, the base of your thumb should still be holding the Stationary Chopstick and the actual thumb is used to support what I call the Moving Chopstick.

Place moving chopstick between middle and index fingers and thumb
5) Now, once you have both the Stationary and Moving Chopsticks in place, remember to apply pressure from the respective fingers that were discussed earlier. The Stationary Chopstick will NEVER move. With your fingers, slowly move the Moving Chopsticks up and down in almost a Pacman like munching motion. 

Apply pressure to both chopsticks
6) Close the Moving Chopstick down toward the Stationary Chopstick. See the pressure being applied by the fingers in the picture below. Tip: once you master the movement and your chopsticks are stable, try to pierce your food or pick up food from the side instead of from above. This will help ensure a more reliable grip on whatever you want to pick up.

Move the moving chopstick against the stationary chopstick
Now that you know how to use chopsticks, you should buy a nice pair that you are comfortable with and start practicing! I personally only use wooden chopsticks like Totally Bamboo Twist Chopsticks, which I think are much better for hand and food griping. Plastic and metal chopsticks can be a little too slick and harder to grab your food. I hope that helps. Enjoy folks!


Top image courtesy of Carlos Porto / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Ken Jeong Sucks!

If any of you have seen The Hangover movie series [The Hangover (Rated Single-Disc Edition)], you will have undoubtedly noticed the over the top Asian character named Mr. Chow. This character, who is played by Ken Jeong, is not only ridiculously annoying, but is also racially stereotyped in a bad light. With his undeniable Asian accent and insinuations of excessive gambling and murder, Jeong really is not doing himself, or the Asian community for that matter, much help. I personally am very sick of seeing Ken Jeong and I will just flat out say that I think he sucks!

This guy really needs to get out of show business. He always plays the same overly aggressive and stereotypical Asian character in pretty much all the TV shows, commercials, and movies he is somehow miraculously cast in. Although I commend him for making it to the limelight and also making a fortune (apparent net worth of $14 million), I just feel that he needs to work with the Asian community to begin changing the perception that most of the Western world has about us Asians, particularly Asian men. Asian actors have always been portrayed as either nerdy, eccentric, evil, or asexual beings that are incapable of standing side by side with their American counterparts. Ever since the world was sadly introduced to Long Duck Dong in Sixteen Candles, Asian men have faced a long climb up. 

Since Sixteen Candles made its debut in the 80's, Asians have worked hard to assimilate within Western society and have tried to shed some of the negative stereotypes that were unfairly assigned to us. That is why I feel it is even more important that the next generation of Asian actors continue to work to change the perception of Asians and to show that we are not the karate kicking, math loving, and socially inept people that we are portrayed as on TV or in movies. This is the exact reason why I hate all of Ken Jeong's work and I think he is a no talent sell out. Yes, I'm a hater. Yes, he's free to do whatever he wants. But I am also entitled to my opinion and I feel that he just needs to stop what he's doing and leave show business graciously. You made your cheap buck, now get out! 

Sorry, this was my annoyed rant of the day since I just saw him in another ridiculous commercial with Dwight Howard and Derrick Rose. I have tons of things that annoy me, but nothing more than Ken Jeong. He irritates me. Profusely. That is all. 


Image courtesy of Gage Skidmore [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Why Korean Bon Chon Chicken Is America's Best Fried Chicken

If you've never heard of Bon Chon Chicken, I highly suggest you run to the nearest internet connected device and Google where the closest store is to your location. I just recently tried these succulent, juicy, and ridiculously (emphasis on the ridiculous) crunchy chicken wings and it changed my life forever. If you live in the New York, California, Washington, or New Jersey areas then I would definitely give these wings a try. My sister first turned me onto these wings after she had her first Bon Chon experience and she couldn't stop raving about them ever since. After hearing all of the hype, I decided to give these little suckers a try. Once I finished my first batch of Bon Chon wings, I realized that these were the best wings I have ever tried in my life and could be the best in the entire country. Here are the reasons why I believe Bon Chon chicken is the best fried chicken in America. 

Why is Korean Bon Chon Chicken the best?

1) EXTREME crunch 
A lot of chicken wing restaurants in the country tend to heavily batter their fried chicken to give it extra flavor and crunch. However, Bon Chon separates itself from the rest of the pack. Now, I have no idea what their frying technique is, but I can assure you that these wings will break like glass once you bite into them. They somehow transformed the skin into a candy like substance that shatters once it hits your mouth. They also were able to retain the chicken's natural moisture, so the meat stays juicy while the exterior provides an indescribable crunch. 

2) No mess 

Another reason why I think these fried chicken wings are the best in America is because the sauce is somehow embedded into the crunchy skin. Most bars and restaurants tend to fry the chicken wings and douse wing sauce onto the meat, which leaves your mouth and fingers very messy while eating. However, Bon Chon has reinvented the way we think of sauces. Their sauce seems to be infused into the skin of the chicken or is some form of adhesive glaze that just leaves your fingers very clean when you dig into these morsels of goodness. 

3) Less greasy and fatty

Bon Chon claims to have a secret double frying method that makes their wings "healthier". Although I am skeptical of these claims since pretty much anything deep fried in oil adds tons of unwanted calories and fat, I do feel like their wings ARE less greasy and fatty. If you're a chicken wing fanatic, you know the difference between good and crappy wings. I've tried some in dive bars where the skin was still soggy and chewy and it just ruins the taste of the wings. Bon Chon, through some crazy ancient Asian frying method, almost obliterates the fat off the skin and leaves it as a crunchy outer crust. It's heavenly.

4) Unique and Asian-y Flavors
I know Bon Chon only has two flavors, but they are absolutely delicious. The first is a non spicy Soy Garlic, which kinda tastes like a soy sauce mixed with teriyaki. This one is not spicy at all. The other flavor is just called Hot and Spicy and I'll admit its ridiculously spicy. The first wing isn't so bad, but then the spiciness DEFINITELY creeps up on you. Watch out for those creepers. The only issue is that these wings probably have crack in them and you can't stop eating, even if it's fire in your mouth. At least its delicious fire. 

I am glad Korean fried chicken is starting to get some recognition around the country. People are slowly starting to realize how good these little suckers are and will do anything to get their hands on them. At the end of the day, Asians love fried chicken and each country has their own version of preparing them. If you want to see what else Asians like, check out my list of 30 Things Asians Love. Until then, happy eating!


Note: I am not employed or have ever been employed by Bon Chon Chicken. I am just an avid fan that is addicted to their chicken! 

Image courtesy of rakratchada torsap / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

I Love Neoguri Instant Ramen!

The other day, I was craving something good to eat. I had no idea what to eat, but I knew I wanted something that would hit the spot. I love to eat fancy or new foods as much as the next guy, but sometimes I get random indescribable cravings for ghetto ramen noodles. After brainstorming some ideas in my kitchen, I found this little nugget of gold that just made me weep with joy once I rediscovered its existence in the pile of dry and canned food in my pantry. What is it you ask? It's spicy seafood Neoguri Ramen by Nongshim!

What is Neoguri Instant Ramen?

If you don't know what Neoguri Ramen is, then you're in for a treat. In my opinion, Neoguri blows every ramen noodle out of the water. The packaging describes it as "spicy seafood udon style" instant noodles. I honestly don't even care what it says, it just tastes so damn good. If it were up to me, I'd be eating this breakfast, lunch, and dinner and would probably bathe in it if I had the chance (minus the temperature burns in certain private areas of my body). 

What does Neoguri taste like?

Spicy. That is one way of describing its red lava like goodness in its broth. The one thing that I love about it are the actual noodles itself. Since they claim to be more udon style, the noodles are a bit beefier and thicker than other typical Asian style instant noodles. It also comes with bits of seaweed, carrots, mushrooms, and scallions, which gives it a delicious seafood-y taste. All I'm going to say is once it all hits your mouth, you'll be glad to have tasted the sweet nectar of Neoguri. 

How do you eat Neoguri?

I personally love to add an egg or two to the ramen noodles to give it more substance and a tastier broth. I then bust out my jar of Kimchi and go to town on these noodles. If I'm still hungry by the end or if I'm feeling ambitious, then I'll thrown in a couple scoops of rice to the broth to finish it up. You can't let good things go to waste!

OK, I'm done with my obsessive rant about Neoguri. Sometimes I get an overwhelming craving for instant ramen and my number one go to is ALWAYS Neoguri. If you want to try some, you can actually grab a box (20 pack) from Amazon for about 20 bucks, which is a steal in my opinion. Click on the Neoguri picture below and pick some up today. You won't regret it!



Photo courtesy of nuchylee / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Is Asian Food Healthier Than Western Food?

According to the Get America Fit Foundation, roughly 60 million Americans that are 20 years or older are obese and another 9 million American children are overweight. Now that is a lot of fat people! A lot of this obesity problem can be attributed to the fact that most Americans live completely sedentary lives (approximately 25%) and do not or refuse to work out. But how much of this obesity problem is also caused by the diets that we eat? Personally, I feel that Asian food is much lighter in comparison to American style food and here is a breakdown of why (outside of Chinese take out of course).

Rice is the star of the show

Many people don't realize that in Asian cuisine rice is the MAIN dish and all other meats, seafood, vegetables, and/or soups are all considered SIDE DISHES. On the other hand, in American style meals, meat is typically the star of the show and is supported by a rich cast of potatoes/rice and vegetables. Also, meat, such as beef, chicken, bacon, ham, etc., can increase our "bad" cholesterol levels which can impact our overall cardiovascular health. Check out this interesting article from WebMD about 9 Surprising Foods That May Raise Your Cholesterol

Portion control for Asian food

Maybe you guys haven't noticed, but Asians tend to eat with something called chopsticks! Chopsticks are huge in that they really help people eat with portion control. Instead of using large forks and spoons to pile food into our mouths, Asians usually just continuously pick and nibble on food with chopsticks. The good thing here is that at the end of the day, chopsticks can only pick up so much which can help us eat at a slower pace. Thus, gives time for our stomachs to shoot a signal to our brains to tell us to stop pigging out so damn much!

Asians like to use naturally prepared foods

Asians love to eat whole and naturally prepared foods. Before you guys blast me on Asians eating ramen noodles all day, hear me out. For the most part, whenever we have our tiger moms or tiger grandmoms cook us food, it is almost always a meal that is actually prepared in the kitchen and consists of natural whole foods. None of that Chef Boyardee or Stouffer's fully cooked lasagna crap that you blast in the microwave/oven. Those kinds of foods are jam packed with preservatives and/or other crazy chemicals that I don't even wanna know about and probably can't even properly pronounce. Usually, Asians like to stick to nice organic vegetables and ingredients to be used in our meals.

Asian snacks are very different

Lastly, Asians tend to shy away from eating greasy or overly sweet snacks on a regular basis. We DO, however, love to munch on some Shrimp Crackers every once in a while (mmmmm shrimp crackers...), but you won't see us eating too many Dunkaroos, Ritz Crackers, Doritos, Bagels, or anything that has crazy refined carbs and grease. Growing up, my main go to snacks were sliced apples, oranges, and the occasional shrimp crackers that I would dominate. If you want to try some shrimp crackers by Nongshim, you can pick some up by clicking the Amazon link below. The flavors are Original or Hot and Spicy. Enjoy!

This is all from my own personal experience of what Asian food is to me and how it can actually be lighter/healthier than the typical American diet. I want to know what all of your thoughts are. Is Asian food actually healthier?


(Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

Sunday, October 7, 2012

5 Tips to Be Thin Like Asians

Overweight Asians. No, it's not an oxymoron, they actually exist. Somewhere. In a galaxy far far away. Haha, I'm just kidding, but as you may have noticed, a good majority of Asians are usually pretty damn skinny. I always used to think I was skinny myself, especially when compared to my friends or peers that weren't Asian, but this all came crashing down when I decided to move to China. 

How do Asians stay so thin?

I know most of you are probably thinking that Asians all have some freakish metabolisms or they are free from these mysterious thyroid conditions that can somehow trigger magical weight gain. This may be partially true, but living in Asia has made me realize that weight gain is a direct reflection of what we eat and what we do. When I first moved to China, I noticed I was a bit bigger and beefier than most guys my age. I was so used to being smaller and skinnier than my friends back home that I was shocked to find out that I easily outweighed the majority of guys here by a solid 20 lbs. or so (at the very least). Then it hit me. It has got to be the habits I learned and foods I loved eating while growing up in the States! It was crazy to think that even though I'm Asian, I looked so different than the Asians that were born and raised here in Asia. This made me want to pay attention to their daily eating and exercise habits to find out the reason why. After awhile, I feel like I came up with a pretty good list. So, without further ado, here are my 5 tips to be thin like Asians (or at least the ones that live in Asia haha).

1) Drink tons of tea (but none of that Lipton crap). Asians love drinking tea and all different types, i.e., green, red, white, black, pu'er, oolong, etc. Not only is tea good for you, but drinking tea can actually help you lose weight. Research shows that tea can help speed up metabolism, lower cholesterol levels, aid in digestion, and detoxify your body! Pretty amazing stuff for something that only needs hot water to drink! My only advice is to stay away from Lipton type of tea bags and get more organic or loose leaf tea. 


2) Stay away from processed food like it's the devil. Asians rarely eat processed foods. That means going to McDonald's or KFC is a rare treat or break from their usual diets. Asians tend to buy fresh meat, fish, and vegetables to prepare meals as they were intended. Nowadays, there are so many fast and easy prepared meals that you can buy in grocery stores to help you avoid the hassle of cooking, but these are not good for you or your diet! Even some of these microwavable meals that claim to be "healthy" are LOADED with sodium and preservatives. I'd rather grill myself a greasy cheeseburger than to know what kind of sick chemicals and ingredients are in my food. Stay away from that kind of stuff and cook yourself a healthy meal with fresh ingredients. It's worth the effort and your body will thank you later!


3) Limit dairy intake. As some of you may know, almost all Asians are known to be lactose intolerant. Maybe that's a blessing in disguise. Check out this article by the Chicago Tribune that talks about how dairy doesn't really help you in losing or keeping weight off. For the most part, dairy is used to help maintain weight or help you bulk up since it is high in protein. I'm not saying that you should ban all dairy products, but it is a good idea to limit the amount of dairy you take in to help you lose those extra pounds.


4) Don't be a lazy ass and move around moreWhether it's doing Tai Chi, ping pong, badminton, or martial arts, Asians are always moving around. They also walk EVERYWHERE. So, after you eat that monster burrito from Chipotle or a personal pizza from Pizza Hut for lunch, don't just take the elevator back upstairs to your cubicle or work space. Do yourself a favor and try to take the stairs back up to the office to burn some extra calories and get your blood flowing. Every little bit counts and a little bit is still better than nothing.

5) Learn to use chopsticks to help get rid of those nasty love handles. Ah, chopsticks...an Asian's best friend. You might be thinking how chopsticks help you lose weight, but it's actually pretty simple and logical. Chopsticks are devices that aren't capable of picking up too many items or large quantities of food; thus, they can naturally limit the amount of food you eat within a certain time frame (granted you eat at the same pace as you normally would). Remember that it usually takes about 20 minutes for your stomach to send signals to your brain that it's full. However, 20 minutes may be too late. Within that time, you might have gorged yourself to the brink of overeating, which is one of the main reasons of weight gain. Chopsticks can help you regulate the amount of food you eat since you can only pick up a small amount of food at a time. This slows down your overall eating and gives your stomach a chance to tell your brain to stop pigging out. So, next time you get a chance to use chopsticks, give it a try and see for yourself!



(Photo courtesy of hin255 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

G-Dragon "One of a Kind" Full Album Review

After three long years, G-Dragon, the leader of Korean idol group Big Bang, has come out with his much anticipated second solo album titled “One of a Kind”. The album consists of six tracks and a bonus seventh track that is only available on the bronze or gold version of his CD. I know some of you may be wondering what the difference is between the bronze and gold version of his album. Well, for starters, it looks as though both CDs are designed to look like books; more specifically, the bronze version has “One of a Kind” written on the front cover and the gold version has a cross with the phrase "GD One of a Kind" inscribed. Inside the CDs, you'll notice a few goodies, such as photographs of G-Dragon and a track listing with lyrics. Both are beautifully designed and includes the bonus seventh track “Light It Up" Feat. Tablo and Dok2. 
G-Dragon street art in Seoul - One of a Kind Album
G-Dragon aka GD street art in Seoul

G-Dragon "One of a Kind" Full Album Review

Here's a full track-by-track review of G-Dragon's new album:

Track 1 - "One of a Kind"

The first track is the title track, “One of a Kind”. G-Dragon takes a slightly different approach with this song. It focuses on how G-Dragon is "one of a kind" and he raps about the struggles of being young and rich...if only we all had that problem! It has a very strong hip-hop feel, which allows G-Dragon to display his immensely talented rapping skills. You can check out the music video here!

Track 2 - "크레용 (Crayon)"

The second track is a personal favorite of mine. It has a very fun and upbeat dubstep/dance feel to it. "Crayon" is short for “Crazy On” or “Get Your Crazy On”. If you haven’t already, you should definitely check out the music video for "Crayon" on YouTube. If there was one song from this album that could make you get up and break out into spontaneous dance it would definitely be this track!

Track 3 - "결국 (Finally)" feat. ? of YG's New Girl Group

The track “Finally" features the unknown female singer from YG's new girl group. Although her identity has been kept under wraps, what we do know is that she has an amazing voice that blends perfectly with G-Dragon's soft tone. This is the first slow track on the album with a more relaxing mood to it. As beautiful as this song is, it's actually one of the sad love songs included in this album.

Track 4 - "그 XX (That XX)"

The fourth track is called “That XX”. This sad song is about a man who wants his crush to know that he is the one for her. For those that are not familiar with Korean censorship, any kind of cursing will automatically get you labeled as a 19+ song until you change the lyrics. You'll notice that the song's soft acoustic guitar riff is interrupted by periodic censorship beeps whenever G-Dragon says the Korean curse word "gaesaekki". Thankfully the album has an uncensored version, so you can enjoy this amazing song undisturbed. You can also check out the music video here!

Track 5 - "Missing You" feat. 김윤아 of 자우림 (Kim Yoon Ah of Jaurim)

Next up is “Missing You” featuring Kim Yoon Ah of Jaurim. This song starts off with melodic whistling, then quickly moves into a catchy beat that is reminiscent of throwback pop music. This song is another one of the love songs included in the album that talks about getting over break ups.

Track 6 - "Today" feat. 김종완 of Nell (Kim Jong Wan of Nell)

Originally, G-Dragon wanted to feature Tablo (of Epik High) on this track, but instead worked with Kim Jong Wan. This song bounces between an upbeat chorus and a mellow melody for the verses. This song is also a love song and talks about how a guy has an affair and ultimately leaves his girlfriend to be with his lover. Even though this song is about cheating, it still has a very easy sound to it, so you can’t help but enjoy it.

Bonus Track - "불 붙여봐라 (Light It Up)" feat. Tablo and Dok2

And finally we come to the bonus track “Light It Up" feat. Tablo and Dok2. If you were looking for a song with a strong rap feel to it, then this is your song. This song features three of Korea's most talented rappers, along with an extremely catchy beat that's definitely one of the best tracks on the album. This track is only available if you buy the CD, so I hope you’ll go out and buy this amazing album and enjoy all the goodies that come with it. I know I will!

As stated earlier, G-Dragon has been working on this solo mini album (writing, producing, and rapping/singing) for roughly 3 years, so please show your support! If you are interested in purchasing the album, you can click on the Amazon image below!





Guest post by Megan Sarabia - G-Dragon "One of a Kind" Full Album Review


(CC image courtesy of seafaringwoman / Flickr)

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Chink's Cheesesteaks - Really Philly?!

Chink's Philly Cheesesteak That's OUR word! Haha, all kidding aside, I just wanted to vent a little bit about Chink's Cheesesteaks in Philadelphia. I honestly can't believe something so blatantly racist can even exist in today's day and age. Apparently, Chink's (yes, that IS the actual name of the restaurant) has been in business for over 60 years. As the story goes, the original owner, Samuel "Chink" Sherman, opened his own Cheesesteak shop in Northeast Philly after learning the ropes at another establishment. As a child, Samuel Sherman was nicknamed "Chink" by his friends and family because of his supposedly "slanted, Asian looking" eyes. Later, he opened Chink's Cheesesteaks with his nickname to boot. The only issue is the current owner (who purchased the restaurant from the Sherman family) has no intentions of changing the name of his shop. Back in 2008, Asian American activist groups tried to lobby for the restaurant to change its name, but soon received backlash from loyal patrons, as well as being mocked by Philadelphia Magazine for "worst complaint of the year".


The restaurant sign at Chink's Cheesesteaks in Philly
The restaurant sign at Chink's Cheesesteaks
So, what's the owner's reason to keep the name? Apparently, Joseph Groh (current owner) believes the name remains a part of the restaurant's long standing neighborhood tradition. I understand his argument on the history behind his restaurant's name, but the thing that really bothers me and makes me angry is his blatant exploitation/promotion of the derogatory name. In a Washington Post interview, Joseph Grohl states, "I don't think you could open a place today with that name." Yes, this is true and this also applies to merchandising as well. If you go on the restaurant's website they are openly selling Chink's merchandise, as well as apparel for kids. I don't know about you, but something seems quite disturbing to me if we try to sell clothing to kids with such hurtful and offensive words. The scary part is this may potentially lead to kids growing up learning the word "Chink" is commonplace. Instead of letting kids wear clothing that is racially insensitive, we should be teaching them WHY it is racially insensitive in the first place.

This brings me to my next question. Why are people so ignorant of Asian stereotypes and slurs? Is using an Asian slur not as bad as using other racially charged slurs? I bet people wouldn't dare use any other type of derogatory word in their restaurant name. I can't imagine the types of riots that would ensue if a restaurant opened its doors with a name that clearly targeted the African American or even Jewish communities (since the original owner was Jewish). 


Why do you think Asian American groups were unsuccessful in their attempts to change the restaurant's name? Is it OK for the restaurant to keep its name for the next generation of kids? I'd love to hear your thoughts on this, so please leave a comment!



(CC images courtesy of goodiesfirst / Flickr)