Sarah Yukiko

Sarah Yukiko

82 posts

John Cho on coming-of-age as an Asian American, ‘Cowboy Bebop’ and racism in Hollywood

john cho book
  • Actor John Cho spoke to NextShark about his new young adult book, “Troublemaker,” an Asian American coming-of-age novel set during the 1992 Los Angeles Riots.
  • Told from the perspective of Korean American middle schooler Jordan, the novel highlights the experiences of his grandfather, parents and sister, highlighting generational differences.
  • Cho spoke about his career in Hollywood, the cancellation of “Cowboy Bebop” and his own journey of understanding his Korean American and Asian American identities.

In “Troublemaker,” actor-turned-author John Cho confronts the difficulties of coming of age as an Asian American in an era that parallels today’s issues. 

The cover of John Cho’s first book “Troublemaker” features the book’s protagonist Jordan, a young Asian American teenager, dressed simply in a white T-shirt and jeans and standing resolutely in the center of the street, his hands in fists, staring straight ahead at a point beyond the reader.

Panda Express chef on the appeal of orange chicken and why American Chinese is its own regional cuisine

Panda Express
  • Across 2,200 stores, Panda Express has become a staple of Chinese American fast food, and central to questions about cultural and culinary authenticity.
  • A third of the chain’s customers order the staple orange chicken, but new dishes like Sichuan chicken keep the brand busy with innovation.
  • Chef Jimmy Wang, director of culinary innovation, spoke to NextShark about the process of creating the next big dish, authenticity in the kitchen and his own Panda Express order.

Chef Jimmy Wang, executive director of culinary innovation at Panda Express, spoke to NextShark about the process of creating the next big dish, authenticity in the kitchen and his own go-to order.

What comes to mind looking at the circular Panda Express logo, featuring a soft, curvy panda with a blank expression popping out against a red background? For many, the zesty taste of orange chicken is synonymous with the brand. Or maybe it’s nostalgic memories of sitting in a mall food court, a scent vaguely reminiscent of Asian cuisine hanging in the air.

‘Forbidden City’ author Vanessa Hua on honoring the ‘space for agency’ of those who lived the Cultural Revolution

  • Award-winning novelist Vanessa Hua spoke to NextShark about her forthcoming novel “Forbidden City,” set during the Cultural Revolution in China.
  • The inspiration for the novel, which she wrote over the course of 14 years, came from a documentary about Chairman Mao and an arresting image Hua was struck by.
  • Hua discussed the impact of fiction, the parallels between her work and our contemporary world and taking an “empathetic leap of imagination.”

Author and journalist Vanessa Hua spoke to NextShark about her forthcoming third novel, “Forbidden City,” researching the Cultural Revolution and the gaps in history that fiction helps to fill.

Vanessa Hua remembers vividly the initial inspiration for her novel “Forbidden City.” 

‘I was the only one doing it’: TV chef icon Martin Yan on 43 years of sharing Asian American cuisine

  • Television chef Martin Yan spoke to NextShark about his 43 years in the industry, discrimination he has faced, the meaning of “authenticity” in cooking, and how he has become more vocal in advocating for Asian American communities.
  • In his new web series called “MY Chinatown,” Yan hopes to support the communities around him, saying he has become “more vocal” in his advocacy in the past few years.
  • “The Chinese have been living in Chinatown, have been working hard in Chinatown, have been contributing to the economy of the U.S., the tourism of California and the city, for 160 years! We are part of America. It’s a melting pot. Why do you have to hate us?” he said.

Chef Martin Yan has spent 43 years sharing Asian American culture and cooking on broadcast television – now he hopes to engage in more activism with his “MY Chinatown” series.

When Martin Yan joins the Zoom call, he instantly glides into TV presenter mode. After settling in with his AirPods, he cheerily walks me through the Chinese New Year decorations that have taken up the majority of his kitchen. 

Learn your 2022 Chinese Zodiac fortunes in McDonald’s feng shui-informed VR hall designed by Humberto Leon

  • American fast food company McDonald’s created a Virtual Reality (VR) Zodiac space to showcase the 12 animals of the Chinese Zodiac.
  • Designer Humberto Leon, a co-founder of street fashion brand Opening Ceremony, collaborated with McDonald’s and talked to NextShark about what the experience meant to him.
  • “The exciting thing about being Asian American is that we really get to bring our Asian culture to the American landscape, and that’s what makes us American.”
  • The exhibition is open Jan. 31-Feb. 15, 2022 for the entirety of the two-week Lunar New Year celebrations.

McDonald’s collaborated with designer Humberto Leon, a co-founder of street fashion brand Opening Ceremony, to design a virtual reality hall of Chinese Zodiac signs.

The fully virtual exhibition showcases the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac. Visitors to the space can explore each sign, the birth years of that sign, as well as their fortune for the year. In conversation with NextShark, Leon explained the ways visitors can interact with the space. 

‘I was Mei growing up’: Women-led team behind Pixar’s ‘Turning Red’ explain why ‘authenticity’ is key

turning red
  • In Disney Pixar’s new coming of age movie, 13-year-old Mei Lee confronts the monstrous difficulty of puberty and becoming who you really are.
  • The woman-led team behind “Turning Red” spoke to NextShark about the challenges behind creating a movie that felt both universal but also distinctly Asian American.
  • “In light of all the terrible things that have happened to our community, it’s more important than ever to really showcase these stories and put our faces out there to tell the world hey, we’re here, we have emotions and complex feelings and relationships, and the issues we go through are universal,” director Domee Shi said.
  • Art director Rona Liu added: “The key word that comes to mind is just authenticity. The story of ‘Turning Red’ is so personal to Domee, but also to all of us making it. I was Mei growing up.”
  • “Turning Red” will be released on Disney Plus on March 11.

In her first feature-length Pixar film, Oscar-winning director Domee Shi seeks to unpack complex questions about Asian mothers & daughters, but also to tell a coming-of-age story that feels universal.

In the trailer for “Turning Red,” a confident Mei Lee earns an A-plus on her test, shows off her flute skills, cares for the community temple, leads an environmental protest and shows off the matching friendship bracelets she shares with her three best friends.  

Mitski releases first new album ‘Laurel Hell’ after return from music hiatus

  • Japanese American singer-songwriter Mitski released her long-anticipated sixth studio album, Laurel Hell, on Friday.
  • Mitski had taken a hiatus after her 2019 tour concluded and returned to making music in October 2021 with the release of her single “Working for the Knife.”

Japanese American indie rock musician Mitski released her sixth studio album, “Laurel Hell,” on Friday. 

Mitski took a hiatus from music after her 2019 tour concluded, returning to music in October 2021 with the single “Working for the Knife.” That single, along with 10 other tracks, comprises the new album. She has also released music videos for four of the songs, the most recent of which dropped Friday for “Stay Soft.”

‘Delete this right now’: New York Times’ Singaporean Chicken Curry dish savaged online

nyt singapore chicken curry
  • A “Singaporean chicken curry” video posted to Instagram by New York Times Cooking has sparked online fervor because of the curry’s apparently less-than-appealing appearance.
  • In the video, posted Tuesday, a writer prepares the curry according to a recipe by a Singaporean contributor, which is highly rated with four out of five stars on the New York Times Cooking website.
  • Unfortunately, the finished dish fails to match the vibrant colors or thick texture of the original recipe, with the watery brown result leading to comparisons to “drainage water.”

A video of “Singaporean chicken curry” created from a recipe published by New York Times Cooking has stirred online fervor, as the resulting curry’s appearance drew comparisons to “drainage water.”

The video, uploaded to New York Times Cooking’s Instagram on Tuesday, shows Taipei-based freelance journalist Clarissa Wei preparing one of the publication’s recipes for Singaporean Chicken Curry. 

Why Taiwan’s athletes will compete as ‘Chinese Taipei’ at the Beijing Winter Olympics

chinese taipei olympics
  • Four athletes from Taiwan will participate in the 2022 Winter Olympics, competing under the label of “Chinese Taipei” because of a historical precedent set in the 1980s.
  • After the 1980 Winter Olympics – the first time China appeared in the Olympics – the name was created in an unsteady compromise that maintains the status quo.
  • Athletes from Hong Kong also compete under their own distinct label in the Olympics as “Hong Kong, China.”

Four athletes from Taiwan will compete as “Chinese Taipei” in the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, following a complicated historical precedent.

They will compete under the label with a distinctive flag bearing the symbol of the five Olympic rings. 

‘Extremely not correct’: Chinese alphabet printout purportedly given to third graders goes viral

Incorrect Chinese Alphabet
  • A viral tweet posted by a parent in Irvine, California, shared an alleged printout their third-grade child brought home from school showing a false “Chinese alphabet.”
  • The sheet matched Chinese Hanzi characters with Roman letters, seemingly vaguely correlated by the shape of the characters and letters.
  • “I had to gently explain to him that this was, uh…extremely Not Correct,” the tweet author wrote

A tweet shared by an Irvine, California, parent shows an alleged printout their third grader brought home that incorrectly matched Roman letters to Hanzi characters labeled as the “Chinese alphabet.” 

Twitter user Foz Meadows posted the tweet on Tuesday, also Lunar New Year. A photo of the handout was attached. 

Simu Liu announces memoir sharing his immigrant family’s ‘extraordinary origin story’

Simu Liu Memoir
  • Actor Simu Liu took to social media on Tuesday to announce his forthcoming memoir, “We Were Dreamers: An Immigrant Superhero Origin Story.”
  • The title alludes to Liu’s journey from child of a Chinese immigrant family in Canada to portraying superhero Shang-Chi in Marvel’s “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.”
  • HarperCollins Publishers called the book “more than a celebrity memoir” and announced a May 2022 publication date.

“Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” star Simu Liu announced on Tuesday via Twitter that his memoir will be available this May.

In the tweet posted Feb. 1, Liu shared news of his forthcoming memoir with HarperCollins Publishers by posting a photo of the book’s cover and publication date.

Figure skating judge banned for Chinese ‘national bias’ at 2018 Olympics to be back for Beijing Games

beijing olympics 2022
  • Chinese figure skating judge Huang Feng, who was suspended following a ruling that determined he was displaying preferential treatment toward Chinese skaters in the 2018 Olympics, will once again judge at the 2022 Beijing Olympics.
  • The International Skating Union (ISU) banned Huang for a year after the last Winter Olympics, but competition records revealed he will serve as a “technical controller” in Beijing.
  • Allegations of nationalistic bias in figure skating have been a consistent problem in the sport for years, with studies showing “consistently measurable bias” by judges around the world.

A Chinese figure skating judge who previously served a suspension for preferential treatment at the 2018 Olympics will be on a technical judging panel in Beijing, competition records show.

The International Skating Union (ISU) ruled that Huang displayed “obvious and systematic bias” while judging pairs figure skating at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics. It was determined that Huang displayed bias in favor of Chinese skaters Sui Wenjing and Han Cong, who won silver in the pairs competition. Huang was subsequently banned from judging for one year, although he maintained that the rules were unclear and moved to have the charges dismissed.