China, Japan, Korea: What's the difference? Do they all look the same, or are they very distinct? Is there any truth to the stereotype, or is it ignorance? Well, enter the exam room here and find out for yourself. We have eight tests in different categories such as face, art, architecture, and food. Remember: We are not here to make a statement; it's a question. Good luck and enjoy.

Asian American Man Who Armed the Panthers

posted by Dyske

I’ve never heard of him before but this is an interesting story. By the way, the pronunciation of Aoki is wrong in this video. The “A” should not be “ei”, just “a”. (But maybe Richard Aoki himself pronounced┬áit that way.)


Beef Tripe Noodle Soup

posted by Dyske

This is beef tripe noodle soup from Tanxia Wang Fuzhou Cuisine at 13 Eldridge Street, New York. Only $3. I liked it. The place was packed at 5pm. Their dumplings looked good; I’ll try them next time.

Fish Balls from Yi Zhang Fishball

posted by Dyske

This is from Yi Zhang Fishball at 9 Eldridge Street. It’s really tasty. I wasn’t expecting to see anything inside, but this is fish and some sort of meat (probably pork). It’s only $3

Why Do Americans Still Think MSG Is Bad for You?

posted by Dyske

MSG Crystals

MSG Crystals

Why do so many Americans, even very well-educated ones, still believe that MSG is bad for our health? It is an urban myth that it causes allergic reactions. Many studies from around the world have proven that MSG is no more harmful to our health than plain salt, yet the urban myth in the US continues. (Read Wikipedia entry on MSG ┬╗) In fact, in large quantities, salt is more harmful to our health than MSG is. When restaurants don’t use MSG, they just put more salt which is worse. I think it’s just because the name “monosodium glutamate” sounds too scary. If we called salt by its chemical name, I think the same thing would happen: “Would you like some sodium chloride on your French fries?”

Some people feel lethargic after eating Chinese food which lead to this myth called “Chinese Restaurant Syndrome”. I believe this has to do with the heaviness of the food. I feel the same way whenever I eat rich, heavy, greasy food. Cheap food in general tends to be so, specially cheap Chinese, Indian, and deep-fried food. If you were to stuff yourself with rich French food loaded with butter, cream, and cheese, the same would probably happen but because French food is generally expensive, we don’t stuff ourselves with it. And, that leads to another argument that enhancing the flavors with MSG would be good for us because we would feel more satisfied with less calories.

The main reason why the urban myth of “Chinese Restaurant Syndrome” spread so fast and wide, I believe, is xenophobia. Chinese food was a perfect candidate for it. MSG is strongly associated with Chinese food but it was actually invented in Japan, and the Japanese people probably consume more MSG than the Chinese.

MSG first went into production in 1909 in Japan, and since then, the Japanese people have been using it in just about everything. It’s nearly impossible to avoid MSG in Japan, or even in Japanese grocery stores in the US. You pick up any food product randomly and look at the list of ingredients, you will find MSG. For over a century, the entire nation of Japan has been consuming MSG every day. But, as it is commonly known, the Japanese are significantly healthier and live longer than Americans. So, what is there to be concerned about? More than one generation of people have already consumed it all their lives. Cutting down on sodium consumption is a common health concern even in Japan, but I’ve never heard anyone talking about cutting down on MSG.

It is true that using MSG in everything you cook is a form of cheating, but the same is true for salt and sugar. When you eat fruit, say strawberries or a grapefruit, you would want it to be naturally sweet, and not have to add sugar to it artificially. The same is true for savory food. You want to enjoy the natural amount of salt that’s in the ingredients, and if you get high-quality ingredients full of natural flavors, you wouldn’t need to add salt. We tend to add salt to food when flavor is lacking. High-end restaurants don’t usually have salt on the table, and asking for more salt is considered an insult. In that sense, yes, adding MSG is a form of cheating; we should enjoy the naturally occurring MSG if possible. But why single out MSG as a form of cheating? If MSG is cheating, then chefs should not add any salt or sugar in any of their food either, but they all habitually do. So, it’s hypocritical to single out use of MSG as cheating.

Chinese Noodle Soup

posted by Dyske

This is beef soup noodle ($5) from Lam Zhou Handmade Noodle & Dumpling at 144 East Broadway, New York, NY 10002.

I used to think Japanese ramen noodles were superior to the original Chinese versions, but now that I started tasting a variety of Chinese noodle soups, I think the Chinese ones are better. I think the Japanese put too many things into their broth. It’s too rich. It’s somewhat ironic that there is a “Ramen” fad in New York right now, popularized by the famous Korean-American chef, David Chang.

Yellow Trash Food

posted by Dyske

This is what I would call yellow trash food. It’s chicken and cheese over rice. It tastes amazing. I loved this. Check it out at Xo Kitchen, 148 Hester St, New York 10013, (Between Elizabeth St & Bowery)

Oldest Companies in the World

posted by Dyske

I was looking at my bottle of Kikkoman soy sauce, and noticed that it says, “Over 300 Years of Excellence.” “300 years” of anything is not something you see in any American products, so it stood out. I then became curious what the oldest company in the world is. In my mind, I was imagining European breweries. I Googled and found a Wikipedia page for List of oldest companies. To my surprise, Japan dominates that page. Japan has 3,146 firms that are over 200 years old. In comparison, the second place is Germany with 837 firms.

Nisiyama Onsen Keiunkan, Japan

Another thing that surprised me was that many of these old businesses are hotels. I would not think hotel business is easy to sustain for a long period of time as it is easily affected by the trends in tourism as well as by the ups and downs of economy.

The photo you see on the right is of the hotel in Japan which is officially recognized as “the oldest hotel in the world” by the Guinness Book of World Records. Well, according to Wikipedia, it is not just the oldest hotel but it is the oldest company in the whole world. I would say that is a big difference. It’s been in business since the year 705. That’s 1,307 years old. “300 years of excellence” sounds like a trifling matter.

Another thing you notice about this list of oldest companies is that there are only about a dozen countries listed. It makes sense; it’s hard enough for a country to survive for that long, let alone businesses. Political instability too is another big factor even if the country itself survived. China, for instance, wouldn’t be there because of their Communism years. Japan was basically like Galapagos Island.