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Weekly Welcome

Weekly Welcome

By With Warm Welcome
Korean-American host and producer Arnold Byun welcomes Asian-American restaurateurs, chefs, founders, and tastemakers to share conversations and insights on culinary entrepreneurship, hyphenated identity, and food culture.
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Alice Jun with Hana Makgeolli

Weekly Welcome

Deau Arpapornopparat & Joy Yuon with Holy Basil
Deau and Joy are the power couple and Co-Founders behind LA's buzziest Thai restaurant, Holy Basil. Both hail from Bangkok, but boast different stories on how their paths eventually converged at the now-closed Chandara as cashier and bartender, respectively. Deau's background was in graphic design and naturally the pair launched a string of pop-ups promoting their beverage brand The_Base. Naturally, the opportunity presented itself and the duo soon found themselves launching their first ever full blown Bangkok street food concept in Downtown Los Angeles. Since opening in early 2021, they've had their share of challenges in educating the consumer base as well as a string of accolades validating their years of work in this industry. Hosted + produced by Arnold Byun. Cover art illustration by Seohui Chi. Photography by Calvin Khurniawan. Follow us on Instagram @withwarmwelcome or visit our website,
May 12, 2022
Katy Noochlaor with Tuk Tuk, Same Same, Chao Krung
Katy Noochlaor is the Co-Owner and operator of 20+ year Thai street food Tuk Tuk in Sawtelle, robust wine and casual Thai fare Same Same in Silver Lake, and the multigenerational dining institution Chao Krung in Fairfax. We speak on her newly relocated and updated Tuk Tuk as well as the importance in reclaiming Thai food. Hosted + produced by Arnold Byun. Cover art illustration by Seohui Chi. Photography by Calvin Khurniawan. Follow us on Instagram @withwarmwelcome or visit our website,
May 05, 2022
Eric Tjahyadi with Bone Kettle
Eric Tjahyadi is a Co-Owner in his family owned Southeast Asian restaurant Bone Kettle in Old Town Pasadena. During the day, Eric is also the VP, Head of Global Ad Sales at Sony Music. He's also a partner in Supa Coffee, a hip-hop themed conceptual café. We touch on creating organizational structure, importance of delegating, and not giving up on what you want to do and what you love. Eric and his family immigrated from Indonesia and their initial perception of America (Victorian houses/Full House) ended up being anything but. There have been many challenges in this self-funded, family venture in Bone Kettle. Through it all, it's still here and after conversing with Eric, it's easy to see why. Hosted + produced by Arnold Byun. Cover art illustration by Seohui Chi. Photography + videography by Calvin Khurniawan. Follow us on Instagram @withwarmwelcome or visit our website,
April 28, 2022
Vanda Asapahu with Ayara Thai
Vanda Asapahu is a second generation restaurant owner of Ayara Thai, a Thai institution in Westchester, LA nearing two decades of operation. Family owned and operated in every sense, we dive into the dynamics of working with family, the harmful notion of “cheap Asian food,” and what’s next for the Asapahu family. Hosted + produced by Arnold Byun. Cover art illustration by Seohui Chi. Photography + videography by Calvin Khurniawan. Follow us on Instagram @withwarmwelcome or visit our website,
April 20, 2022
Adrienne Borlongan with Wanderlust Creamery
Bartender-turned-ice cream shop owner Adrienne Borlongan is the Co-Founder of Wanderlust Creamery — artisanal ice cream inspired by the founders’ feelings of wanderlust, every flavor is a love letter to the places they’ve been, the places they long to visit, and childhood memories. Hosted + produced by Arnold Byun. Cover art illustration by Seohui Chi. Photography + videography by Calvin Khurniawan. Recorded at 3.1 Phillip Lim. Follow us on Instagram @withwarmwelcome or visit our website,
April 13, 2022
Ria Dolly Barbosa with Petite Peso
Ria Dolly Barbosa is the Executive Chef and VP of Culinary at Peso Hospitality. Their first restaurant Petite Peso serves thoughtful, comforting Filipino food in DTLA. We chronicle her immigrant experience from the Philippines to running the popular Sqirl to eventually meeting her now business partners through Instagram. Hosted + produced by Arnold Byun. Cover art illustration by Seohui Chi. Photography + videography by Calvin Khurniawan. Recorded at 3.1 Phillip Lim. Follow us on Instagram @withwarmwelcome or visit our website,
April 06, 2022
Rica Leon with Chifa 國偉
Rica Leon is the Co-Owner/CEO of Chifa in Eagle Rock, Los Angeles ― a restaurant that features Cantonese, Peruvian, and Taiwanese cooking. Truly a family owned and operated restaurant, it's inspired by Rica's mom Wendy "Popo" who emigrated from Hong Kong to Lima, Peru with her family. Eventually the family made their way stateside landing in Highland Park, which neighbors Eagle Rock. Rica's story is a full circle story about grit, perseverance, and the American dream.  Hosted + produced by Arnold Byun. Cover art illustration by Seohui Chi. Photography + videography by Calvin Khurniawan. Recorded at 3.1 Phillip Lim. Follow us on Instagram @withwarmwelcome or visit our website,
March 30, 2022
Justin Pichetrungsi with Anajak Thai
Justin Pichetrungsi is the second generation owner and operator of Anajak Thai Cuisine in Sherman Oaks. Anajak has been around for multiple decades and one of the first Thai restaurants in the valley. We chat about challenges of multigenerational restaurant ownership in maintaining the older clientele while attaining the new, the expression of Thai cuisine, how his ever popular "Thai Taco Tuesday (TTT)" came to be, his use of social media, and how he came to fully realize his responsibility in returning to run the family business. Hosted + produced by Arnold Byun. Cover art illustration by Seohui Chi. Photography + videography by Calvin Khurniawan. Recorded at 3.1 Phillip Lim. Follow us on Instagram @withwarmwelcome or visit our website,
March 23, 2022
Lien Ta with HLAY, All Day Baby, RE:Her
Lien Ta is the Co-Owner and operator of LA restaurants Here’s Looking at You and All Day Baby. In addition, she’s a Co-Founder of Regarding Her, a national non-profit driven by women restaurateurs on a mission to empower and advance all women identifying food and drink entrepreneurs.  Hosted + produced by Arnold Byun. Cover art illustration by Seohui Chi. Photography + videography by Calvin Khurniawan. Recorded at 3.1 Phillip Lim. Follow us on Instagram @withwarmwelcome or visit our website,
March 16, 2022
Leo Lee with RiceBox
Leo Lee is the Co-Owner and Chef of RiceBox in DTLA. A Cantonese BBQ restaurant by definition, Leo's story is anything but orthodox. Starting as a dishwasher in his family restaurant in Mexicali to CIA to Levy Restaurants, Leo finally opened his own with his wife and business partner Lydia. We revisit the early days to surviving through COVID, having a baby during these tumultuous times and how they've continued to put family and employees first and foremost. Hosted + produced by Arnold Byun. Cover art illustration by Seohui Chi. Photography + videography by Calvin Khurniawan. Recorded at 3.1 Phillip Lim. Follow us on Instagram @withwarmwelcome or visit our website,
March 09, 2022
Jimin Kim and Sandy Han with Saikai Ramen Bar
Jimin and Sandy are the husband-and-wife duo behind Saikai Ramen Bar in LA’s Koreatown, serving up some of the best bowls you’ll find in the city alongside a LA-inspired rotation of yakitori and appetizers.  Hosted + produced by Arnold Byun. Cover art illustration by Seohui Chi. Photography + videography by Calvin Khurniawan. Recorded at 3.1 Phillip Lim. Follow us on Instagram @withwarmwelcome or visit our website,
March 02, 2022
Tuan Lee with Vervet
Tuan Lee is the Co-Founder/CEO of Vervet, farm-to-can sparkling cocktails celebrating the global cultures of LA.  Hosted + produced by Arnold Byun. Cover art illustration by Seohui Chi. Photography + videography by Calvin Khurniawan. Recorded at 3.1 Phillip Lim. Follow us on Instagram @withwarmwelcome or visit our website, 
February 23, 2022
Corey Chow with Per Se
Corey Chow is the Chef de Cuisine at Per Se, a 3-Michelin starred restaurant in New York City from Thomas Keller Restaurant Group. Growing up in San Gabriel Valley, Corey spent weekends at his grandparents' where he learned the importance of food and the connection it has to culture. His original path would've had him in education, teaching children; however, a transformative time in Alan Wong's restaurant In Hawaii soon changed the course of his career. In a decade, he rose the ranks of Per Se from a Commis to Chef de Cuisine and now even as a co-author of The French Laundry, Per Se cookbook, available at the Finesse Store here. Follow Corey Chow at @coreydchow and Per Se at @perseny.
December 30, 2020
Lydia Lin with Steep LA
Lydia is the Co-Owner of Steep in LA’s Chinatown. We converse on her concept and definition of a “modern tea room,” how they approach tea ceremonies, her trips to China to source directly, the sensation of being tea drunk, and navigating her business through COVID-19.
December 23, 2020
Jing Gao with Fly By Jing
Jing Gao is the Founder and CEO of Fly By Jing. Gao was born in Chengdu, identifying as Chinese Canadian, has lived in and hopped around a number of countries, and now calls Los Angeles her home.   We discuss Gao's reclamation of her birth name, her culinary journey throughout Asia working at P&G and Blackberry, writing for international food publications while exploring Chinese cuisine more deeply, to filming Eddie Huang's Fresh Off the Boat and Bizzare Foods with Andrew Zimmerman. Her a-ha moment finally presented itself at a natural food expo which led to the creation of her dream CPG company. With Fly By Jing, she continues unapologetically turn biases on its head, driving exposure and understanding of the depth and breadth of Chinese cuisine and culture.
December 16, 2020
Johnny Lee with Pearl River Deli
Johnny Lee is the Chef/Owner of Pearl River Deli. Lee is a Los Angeles native whose humble beginnings started at McDonalds to working front of house as a waiter and restaurant manager at a Chinese restaurant in Colorado. His love for the hospitality business grew from these experiences and led him back to LA at the time when food trucks were booming. We fast-forward to Lee running the kitchens at Sticky Rice and Alvin Cailan's Eggslut in Grand Central Market before finally creating his own pop-up; which was so successful at the peak of the pandemic that it evolved into his brick and mortar restaurant located in the Far East Plaza in Chinatown. Lee also shares with us his dream of having a sustainable restaurant.
December 09, 2020
Jenny Dorsey with Studio ATAO
Jenny Dorsey is a bi-coastal chef, food writer, speaker, and social entrepreneur. Dorsey owns Studio ATAO, a nonprofit community think tank that creates content and experiences at the intersection of food, art and social impact. She started her career as a management consultant in the fashion industry but discovered her true calling in culinary arts after taking a sabbatical to explore food interests. We dig into her backstory and discuss topics like the need to exercise creative muscle, hospitality being based off of a slave labor society, white and asian fragility, changing the food narrative, and much more.
December 02, 2020
David Kuo with Little Fatty
David Kuo is Chef/Owner of Little Fatty, a Taiwanese soul food restaurant located in Mar Vista, California. A California native whose passion for cooking and food was influenced by his family's traditional cooking as well as watching Food Network & Iron Chef growing up. Kuo spent some time in real estate before following his dream of owning a restaurant, but it didn't come easy; as he refers to it as the school of hard knocks. Through these experiences he was able to glean insights into successfully running a restaurant business among other food related ventures.
November 25, 2020
Ryan Wong with Needle
Ryan Wong is Chef/Owner of Needle, a Cantonese restaurant in Silver Lake, California. He’s got a chef’s conviction to carry on his Hong Kong heritage. Formerly a substitute teacher moonlighting as a guitarist in a rock-alt band, to washing dishes at a Sheraton Hotel, to finally cooking food he has connections to.
November 18, 2020
Keizo Shimamoto with Ramen Burger, Ramen Shack, Shimamoto Noodle
Keizo Shimamoto is living the ramen dream — from the first Tokyo-style shoyu ramen as a picky eater, trying over 600 bowls of ramen in a year while running his ramen blog, to becoming a first-time business owner with a viral food sensation that was the ramen burger. Keizo's had quite a career; he's paid his dues in the original Ivan Ramen and Bassanova in Tokyo. We document his ups and downs; highs and lows, as he makes a hard decision this year to shut his businesses in NYC and relocate back home to California, where he grew up.
November 11, 2020
Kevin Wong and Sean Ro with Lunar Hard Seltzer
A story of how two Asian-American friends who sat in the back of their Calculus class birthed the idea of an Asian-American craft hard seltzer and launched in the middle of a global pandemic. Lunar is the first and only Asian-American craft hard seltzer. Born and raised in NYC, their seltzers are made from premium, authentic Asian ingredients sourced from the motherland. They've taken the fruits most emblematic of their childhood - trips back to Asia, their parents cutting fruit for us while we do homework, and even their “lunchbox moments” - and crafted unique recipes to unapologetically celebrate those experiences of Asian-Americana.  Each can is filtered multiple times for each flavor—all real, natural ingredients—to shine its brightest. More info at or follow on Instagram @drinklunar.
November 04, 2020
Matthew Jung-Quillen with Sey Coffee
Matthew runs all business-related matters at Sey Coffee, a specialty coffee roaster based out in Brooklyn. Originally a dentist, Matthew has developed a newfound passion for coffee and has paved his own path in becoming involved in the most talked about coffee roasteries in the US.
October 28, 2020
Kyungmoon Kim with KMS Imports
Kyungmoon is a certified Master Sommelier and a CIA graduate who began his career at Jungsik, a 2-Michelin starred Korean restaurant in Seoul and NYC. Now, he aims to showcase and share the wide variety of sool (Korean alcoholic beverages) it has to offer through his own importing company. Where to find his imported K-Sool here: Follow KMS Imports on Instagram @woorisoul_nyc.
October 21, 2020
Alice Jun with Hana Makgeolli
Alice is a Korean-American producing her own makgeolli in her very own brewery out in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. We touch exclusively on how she’s cultivated such an interest and admiration for makgeolli and how right now is the perfect time to introduce the beverage. Website:
October 14, 2020
Carol Pak with Makku
Carol Pak is the founder of Makku, dubbed “America’s first craft makgeolli.” Makgeolli is the lesser-known alcoholic choice in comparison to the widely popular soju. However, it is considered Korea’s oldest. Carol decided to take this old-school beverage and bring it to market for a modern audience.
October 07, 2020
Sandro Roco with Sanzo
Sandro is a Queens-born Filipino-American who has started Sanzo: a new kind of sparkling water offering that celebrates Asian flavors. We speak on his unique journey that’s lead him to work on his dream of filling grocery shelves with a product that best represents him and his community.
September 30, 2020
Kevin Liang with Southeast Asia Food Group
Kevin Liang grew up in the family grocery business in Manhattan’s Chinatown. Now, he oversees Southeast Asia Food Group (SAFG) that calls some of the chefs we’ve had as clients. With the pandemic, Kevin has pivoted from serving restaurants to now also offering hard to find Asian products for the general public. 
September 23, 2020
Claire Sprouse with Hunky Dory
Claire is a Filipino-American bar owner of Hunky Dory in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. Named after the name of a David Bowie album (one of her favorites), Hunky Dory is not your typical bar with brightly painted walls and lots of lights throughout the space. Originally, an all-day cocktail bar, coffee shop, and restaurant; Claire explains to us how she’s pivoted and indefinitely decided against returning for indoor dining.
September 16, 2020
Elizabeth Yee with Tonii's Fresh Rice Noodle
Elizabeth Yee is the owner of Tonii's Fresh Rice Noodle in Manhattan's Chinatown. We sat down with Elizabeth to share her family's origin story and connections to Chinatown as well as the importance of family legacy. From Send Chinatown Love: "Opened in October 2019, Tonii’s specializes in the Cantonese dim sum classic cheung-fun, otherwise known as rice noodle rolls. The small eatery on Bayard Street offers a wide variety of Hong Kong-style breakfast foods that make for a quintessential element of the Chinatown experience." Join the Send Chinatown Love Food Crawl, more information available at:
September 10, 2020
Alice Liu with Grand Tea & Imports
Alice Liu's family runs Grand Tea & Imports. From SCL "Since 2006, ‘Grand Tea Imports’ has been a Chinatown staple for folks looking for unique tea blends, spiritual goods, and niche Chinese cultural items. Whether you have questions about Buddhist symbolism or curious on Chinese teas and their provenance, Alice and her family have all the answers." More information about Send Chinatown Love is available at:
September 03, 2020
Ling Song with Send Chinatown Love
Ling Song is the Seller Empathy Lead at Send Chinatown Love (SCL), an organization that provides an online platform to low-tech, cash-only, Asian-owned small businesses that have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.  Ling's family business, New Win, is also the second merchant that SCL onboarded to their online platform. In this episode, Ling explains to use how SCL came to be, how the mission has evolved and developed overtime, and the importance of supporting and safeguarding Chinatown.  
August 26, 2020
Hannah Wong with Haema
Hannah Wong is the Chef & Owner of Haema, an upcoming Asian street-food inspired restaurant in Brooklyn. Previously, she was the Executive Chef at Van Da, a modern Vietnamese restaurant in the East Village with a Michelin Bib nod. We chronicle her culinary journey from academic publishing to professional cooking. We converse on rethinking, reimagining, and repurposing restaurants as community-based third spaces rather than a traditional restaurant model. How do we radically restructure the power dynamics within a restaurant setting to redistribute resources back to the community while offering an equitable work environment for restaurant professionals? 
August 19, 2020
Eric Huang with Anzhu & Pecking House
Eric Huang is a former Sous Chef at Eleven Madison Park who is setting out to create and open his own restaurant, Anzhu. Drawing from his experience in fine-dining kitchens in NYC (Cafe Boulud, Gramercy Tavern), Anzhu will be Eric's take on reintroducing Chinese-American cuisine. We tackle topics such as cultural appropriation in food, the perception of Chinese cuisine in America, the lack of representation in kitchens, and changing the conversation about "cheap" takeout and MSG. We chronicle the humbling full circle of Eric's experience of growing up in the family restaurant to now filling in as its dim sum chef due to COVID-19. 
August 12, 2020
Ben Hon with @StuffBenEats
Ben Hon is the creator behind @StuffBenEats on Instagram. On the regular, you'll see him featured on various lists on food media as a must-follow account for foodies. We speak about the negative connotation around the term "food influencer" and how he uses his platform in hopes to feature and capture more than just a snapshot of a dish. Ben's ties and experience growing up firsthand in a restaurant family has enabled him to connect and cultivate meaningful and lasting relationships with restaurant owners and Chefs around the city. 
August 05, 2020
Linus Kim with Linus BBQ
Linus Kim is the Chef-Owner of Linus BBQ in Seoul, South Korea. He's an acclaimed pitmaster and runs easily the most accomplished and tastiest American-style barbecue joint in all of Korea. He also happens to call Itaewon, home. Itaewon is a foreign-friendly neighborhood in Korea with a progressive and LGBTQ-friendly nightlife. While Korea has certainly gotten ahead of managing the pandemic; there's another story we hope to tell and capture with Linus in the fold. He shares his respective struggles running a restaurant during the pandemic as well as his outlook on the future of dining in Korea.
July 29, 2020
Helen Nguyen with Saigon Social
Helen is the Chef-Owner of Saigon Social on the Lower East Side in NYC. A concept in the making for well over a year; Helen had initially set an official opening date that coincided with "New York on Pause" -- a city-wide mandate that required all restaurants to indefinitely close in response to COVID-19. We share Helen's journey from a career in real estate in Seattle to pursuing her passion for cooking via culinary school in the city. Her first professional kitchen experience at Restaurant Daniel and the boom of a new-wave of modern Vietnamese restaurants inspired the birth of Saigon Social. 
July 22, 2020
Jenn Saesue with Fish Cheeks
Jenn’s Thai-American identity paired with an extensive experience within the industry has led to the critical and commercial success of contemporary “pad thai free zone” Thai restaurant, Fish Cheeks. 
July 15, 2020
Peter Tondreau with Bar Suzette, Bangkok Bar, Very Fresh Noodles, Le Song, Tings
Peter Tondreau is a 10-year restaurant vet who has successfully made his imprint in NYC operating concepts within food halls and markets. The Korean-adoptee grew up in California, actively engaged in sports. Eventually, his passion and interest lead to a pursuit in career in professional ice hockey. An unfortunate accident soon derailed his pursuit; however, his lifelong love for food and cooking opened a new chapter into the culinary arts. Peter found himself full circle back in California, cooking at then 2-Michelin starred Wolfgang Puck's legendary Spago in Beverly Hills. A best friend's invite to a New Years' Party in NYC was enough to attract Peter to relocating to the East Coast, where he opened up his very first concept Bar Suzette with the same friend that had convinced the move. A successful run at Bar Suzette has since then birthed numerous and various concepts for Peter who runs with a collaborative philosophy in running restaurants. 
July 08, 2020
Sarah Lee with Kimbap Lab
Sarah Lee is the Co-Owner of Kimbap Lab, located in Whole Foods Williamsburg in Brooklyn. Kimbap Lab features its namesake kimbap, a Korean dish made from cooked rice and other ingredients rolled in kim, or otherwise known as dried nori seaweed. Sarah takes this traditional dish and applies a modern approach featuring a gluten-free menu and locally sourced ingredients. Sarah’s experiences range from catering to managing restaurants to marketing a Korean celebrity chef. She ultimately brought her favorite Korean comfort food, kimbap, stateside with a spin offering sauces and pickles. 
July 01, 2020
Erika Chou with Rivers and Hills (Northern Tiger, Wayla)
Erika Chou is a Managing Partner of Rivers and Hills Hospitality Group, which owns and operates multiple restaurant concepts such as Yunnan Kitchen, Northern Tiger, Kodawari, Wayla, and Little Wayla. Growing up in North Carolina, Erika found herself in various unfortunate scenarios where she was made insecure about her Asian-American identity and culture. So much so that even her school teacher had made a comment about her Chinese-cooked lunches she would bring from home. A mid-career change from fashion production to restaurant creation has brought Erika much success in the field having had experience in both full-service and fast-casual restaurants. We talk about her journey but also how she is adapting to the new landscape with Phase 2 in NYC underway.
June 24, 2020
Dennis Ngo with Di An Di
Dennis Ngo is the Chef and Co-Owner of Di An Di, a modern Vietnamese restaurant that's quickly become a neighborhood staple in Greenpoint, Brooklyn since opening in May 2018. Dennis is a second generation Vietnamese-American and Texan-native who found himself in New York via a consulting career and fell in love with the restaurant scene. In the early 2000's, Vietnamese cuisine was still relatively unknown. Dennis saw an opportunity to join this movement and decided to take upon a role as a dishwasher to get his feet wet. Fast forward to now, after a successful opening with Di An Di; Dennis shares his creative initiatives and outlook on an industry that he's come to love and what it may look like during these times with COVID-19.
June 17, 2020
Calvin Eng with Win Son
Brooklyn born and bred, Calvin Eng is the Chef de Cuisine at Win Son. Win Son is a Taiwanese-American restaurant in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Calvin's first encounter with food occurred in the family kitchen and soon working at a neighborhood deli. An abundance of Chinese cooking at home led to an initial disinterest drift from his Cantonese heritage, only to arrive at a newfound appreciation for his heritage and culture. We share Calvin's insights and experiences leading up to his current position via his time in culinary school at Johnson & Wales, being one of the first Sous Chef hires at fast-casual chain Dig Inn, and opening up a quick-service outpost of a legendary dim sum parlor, Nom Wah Nolita with Wilson Tang. 
June 10, 2020
Steve Wong with Oxalis
Steve Wong is a Partner and the Director of Operations for Oxalis, an affordable, accessible, and approachable neighborhood bistro with a Michelin star just steps away from Brooklyn Museum and Prospect Park. Steve's childhood in the Bay Area involved early opening shifts at coffee shops, light Forbes article reading, and eventually a career in the world of worker cooperatives. However, hospitality always played a part for Steve, and not long after, he reunited with his high school friend, Chef Nico Russell (Daniel, Mirazur) and beverage director Piper Kristensen (Booker and Dax) to run Oxalis as a successful pop-up, selling out 50 events in a span of two years. It now faces a new challenge ahead in response to COVID-19 in the form of a pantry box, appropriately named 'Boxalis.' 
May 27, 2020
Jae Lee with Nowon
Jae Lee isn't shy to let you know where he's from, where he's been, and who he represents. Jae Lee is Chef-Owner of Nowon, serving nontraditional Korean fare in the East Village. Formerly, he worked for heavyweight chefs such as Masaharu Morimoto and Dale Talde. From a ramen line cook in his college days to picking up the late Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential to opening Executive Chef at Momosan, Jae’s journey is cemented in hustle and hard work. Eventually, he struck out on his own via his pop-up concept Him, which featured a kimchi burger that spawned a media frenzy. In an unusual and unprecedented manner in a notoriously slow-to-open industry, Jae opened the doors to Nowon in a matter of simply two months from signing the lease.
May 20, 2020
Simone Tong with Little Tong Noodle Shop & Silver Apricot
Not many Chefs in the restaurant industry can claim to have been a competitive poker player, work retail at Louis Vuitton, and start an English school in China. Simone Tong is a force of nature and someone with a track record that just makes it happen. A few fateful encounters translating English for her mom's restaurant and an episode of After Hours with Daniel Boulud piqued a curiosity for the culinary arts. Now, she is the Chef and Co-Owner of Little Tong, a noodle shop inspired by the province of Yunnan. Now open in 3 locations across Manhattan, NY.
February 05, 2020
Ellia Park with Atoboy & Atomix
Ellia Park is the Co-Owner of Atoboy and Atomix. Both restaurants are in partnership with her husband and business partner, Chef Junghyun Park. Atoboy since opening has retained its Michelin Bib Gourmand nod while their newest venture Atomix has been elevated to 2 Michelin Stars in the 2020 Michelin Guide. Ellia shares her early beginnings in Korea, being raised by a loving grandma who would pack her lunch everyday to eventually fulfilling the couple's dream to open a restaurant that brought Korean cuisine into the international stage.
January 29, 2020
Esther Choi with Mokbar & Ms. Yoo
Esther Choi is the Chef-Owner of Mokbar & Ms. Yoo. Growing up in rural New Jersey, Esther spent her childhood following her Korean grandmother around, who was a fixture in her community and known for her cooking. That is not to say, she was fearlessly independent and entrepreneurial early on, selling candy as a young teen to her friends and working in the hospitality business throughout her early adulthood. Soon enough, a pharmacy degree in Rutgers turned into a degree in psychology to a stint at Food Network to having her very own food hall in the coveted Chelsea Market.
January 22, 2020
Jenny Kwak with Haenyeo
Jenny Kwak is the Chef-Owner of Haenyeo, a neighborhood Korean restaurant in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Prior to Haenyeo, which is an homage to the tenacious female divers off of Korea's Jeju Island; Jenny and her mom, Myung Ja, had operated Dok Suni in the East Village in the 90's and Do Hwa in the West Village in the early 2000's. Having been in the business of educating guests of Korean cuisine and culture in NYC for over two decades, Jenny documents her journey to opening her first solo venture with her husband and partner, Terrence. 
January 15, 2020
Ochi Latjuba with Wayan
Ochi Latjuba is the Co-Owner of Wayan, a restaurant done in partnership with her husband Cedric Vongerichten. Wayan offers Indonesian cuisine with a modern French flair. Wayan is named after its meaning in Indonesian, a name given for the first-born. After all, it is the couple's first solo project in NYC after opening eateries in Jakarta. Ochi grew up in Indonesia; where her mother ran a catering business. Later on, she went onto studying at CIA and attaining experiences at Daniel Boulud's Feast and Fetes and Thomas Keller's Per Se.
January 08, 2020
Maiko Kyogoku with Bessou
Maiko Kyogoku is the Owner of Bessou — a restaurant showcasing a modern take on Japanese comfort food. As fate would have it, Bessou is housed in a space on Bleecker Street in the NoHo neighborhood that formerly was Maiko's favorite cash-only Italian restaurant in NYC. Maiko has not had a linear or direct path to restaurant entrepreneurship; in fact the very opposite. Growing up, her father opened the first sushi restaurant on the Upper West Side. She would go on to work in children's publishing, work on Sesame Street to becoming famed artist Takashi Murakami's right hand before fulfilling her aspirations of operating her own restaurant.
January 01, 2020
Yen Ngo with Van Da
Yen Ngo is the owner & restaurateur of Van Da, a modern Vietnamese restaurant in the East Village. "Van Da" is female warrior in the ancient Vietnamese language, an homage to the female figures in Vietnamese cuisine and culture. Van Da, as a restaurant, showcases various regions and vibrant flavors of the country Yen grew up in. From the earliest and fondest food memories to an engineering career moonlighting as a deli waitress to starting a catering company, Yen's story is singular and makes Van Da that much more special.
December 25, 2019
Moonlynn Tsai with Kopitiam & Heart of Dinner
Moonlynn Tsai is the Co-Owner and Operator of Kopitiam. We interviewed the other half of Kopitiam, Kyo Pang, Co-Owner and Chef of Kopitiam in Season 2. For this season, we wanted to feature Moonlynn’s side of the story of the partnership but also her take on her unique staffing of high school students at Kopitiam and how she tackles the idea of gentrification being a new restaurant that lies on the converging borderline of rapidly developing neighborhoods in Chinatown and the Lower East Side. 
December 18, 2019
Amelie Kang with Mala Project
Amelie Kang is the restaurateur and Co-Owner of MaLa Project in New York City. A former Eater Young Gun and a recently minted Forbes 30 Under 30 for Food & Drink, Class of 2020, Amelie grew up in Beijing, standing on a stool watching her grandma pick persimmons, peach, and pear from her garden. Her early exposure to food had her pursue Culinary Arts at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA). From her first externship at Chef Daniel Boulud's Bar Boulud to managing China Blue in its infancy, Amelie shares her early stories and her journey to opening and operating MaLa Project.
December 11, 2019
Sakura Yagi with TIC Restaurant Group (Hasaki, Sake Bar Decibel, Sakagura, Curry-ya, Sobaya, Shabu Tatsu, Hi-Collar, Rai Rai Ken, Cha An)
Sakura Yagi is the COO of T.I.C Restaurant Group, a collection of Japanese restaurant concepts predominantly located in the East Village in NYC. Their concepts include: Hasaki, Sake Bar Decibel, Sakagura, Curry-ya, Sobaya, Shabu Tatsu, Hi-Collar, Rai Rai Ken, Otafuku x Medetei, and Cha An Teahouse. While New York does not have an official Japantown like Koreatown or Chinatown has, T.I.C Restaurant Group has created their own little impressive community of Japanese restaurants that specialize in certain dishes. In this episode, we follow Sakura Yagi's origin story of growing up as a Japanese-American in NYC to working various odd jobs after college to her fateful homecoming in 2012 as the COO of T.I.C Restaurant Group.
November 01, 2019
Roni Mazumdar with Adda, Rahi, Masalawala, & Dhamaka
Roni Mazumdar is the restaurateur behind The MasalaWala, Rahi, Adda Indian Canteen, and the soon to open, Dhamaka in the Essex Street Market. An engineer turned actor turned restaurateur; Roni has found tremendous success recently with Adda. Adda has gained critical acclaim, named on various best new restaurants lists such as the New York Times, Bon Appetit, Eater, and was a semi-finalist for Best New Restaurant by the James Beard Foundation.From helping run his father's fruit cart in downtown Manhattan, Roni gained early experience in hospitality and guest interactions. Roni went onto a successful engineering career, which blossomed into opening his first restaurant as a retirement gift to his father, The MasalaWala.Roni soon realized in operating an Indian restaurant, how under appreciated and under represented Indian cuisine was in New York City. This episode delves into his first restaurant entrepreneurial lessons from running The MasalaWala, the "biggest failure in his life" in having to close down Tapestry, and his eventual calling to demystify Indian cuisine. 
October 28, 2019
Nicole Ponseca with Jeepney
Nicole Ponseca is the restaurateur and co-owner of the Filipino restaurants Maharlika and Jeepney in the East Village in NYC as well as the author of the 2019 James Beard Award Finalist cookbook, I Am A Filipino. A former advertising executive turned restaurateur, Nicole's coming-of-age story is familiar perhaps to other Filipino-Americans having been born to a military dad and nurse mom. Moving to New York with $75 to her name and to advance her career in advertising, she soon realized her calling to represent her Filipino heritage and culture. While working in advertising, she moonlighted as a dishwasher, busser, runner, and server. A childhood memory of shame in watching her father eat with his bare hands would only later become the saving grace for her restaurant Jeepney which opened during Hurricane Sandy. This episode delves into the origin stories of both restaurants as well as tackling self-identity in relation to restaurant entrepreneurship.
October 25, 2019
Thanaruek Laoraowirodge with Somtum Der
Thanaruek "Eh" Laoraowirodge, is the Founder & Owner of Somtum Der, an Isan regional Thai restaurant that is now in over 7 locations worldwide. Born in the countryside in the Isan region in Thailand, Eh would later go on to major in economics in Bangkok and at NYU. With his friends, he returned home to Thailand to open Minibar Royale -- a French bistro inspired by his time in New York.What started initially as an excuse to spend more time in the city in Bangkok away from the countryside turned into a prolific career where Eh has established a name for himself in Thailand with his Supanniga Group, home to the Somtum Der brand as well as Supanniga Eating Room and EAT (Eat All Thai).Eh comes full circle when deciding to expand Somtum Der overseas into NYC; bringing a part of his culture and cuisine to the Alphabet City neighborhood in the East Village. It opens to wide acclaim, even garnering the coveted Michelin Star in 2016.
October 21, 2019
Kyo Pang with Kopitiam
Kyo Pang is the Chef-Owner of Kopitiam, a Malaysian restaurant located on the Lower East Side in NYC. Kyo has been named Eater's Best Chef of the Year in 2018 and was a semi-finalist for Best Chef: New York City in 2019 from the James Beard Foundation.Kopitiam, despite its accolades and critical success, is not an overnight sensation. In fact, before reopening in 2018 in its current location; it existed as a hole-in-the-wall stall in Chinatown that eventually had to close due to a drastic rent hike.In this episode, we discover Kyo's upbringing in Penang, Malaysia, growing up in a family restaurant business, early discriminations she faced while working in NYC as a bartender and club promoter, to the eventful meeting with her current business partner, Moonlyn Tsai, to open Kopitiam 2.0.
October 18, 2019
Eric Sze with 886
Eric Sze is the Chef & Owner of 886, a Taiwanese restaurant on St. Marks Place in NYC. The name is an homage to Taiwan's country code, +886. It's a restaurant that celebrates Taiwanese culture and showcases a roster of dishes that Eric grew up with in Taiwan.From turning down a full-time job offer in operations from David Chang's Momofuku restaurant group to starting his own food delivery start-up, Scallion Foods ― Eric has come a long way in his culinary career.In this episode, we share insights into growing up in Taiwan and how a class at NYU inspired Eric to dive further into his Taiwanese roots that has now manifested into a successful restaurant in Manhattan.
October 14, 2019
Jimmy Ly with Madame Vo & Madame Vo BBQ
Jimmy Ly is the Chef-Owner of Madame Vo and Madame Vo BBQ in the East Village. Jimmy and his wife, Yen Vo (for which the restaurants are named after), have certainly changed the conversation of Vietnamese restaurants in NYC. Once nonexistent, there are now a new wave of places to grab your pho or even BBQ fix. Growing up in Chinatown to immigrant parents who owned a dim sum restaurant and a nail salon, Jimmy learned early on about entrepreneurship and hard work. His fateful meeting with his wife and their disdain for the lack of Vietnamese restaurant options spurred the opening of Madame Vo. In this episode, we dive into the origin story of Madame Vo, the SJP (Sarah Jessica Parker) effect, and the loses along the way for Jimmy that have now turned into anything but wins.
October 11, 2019
Lucas Sin with Junzi Kitchen
Lucas Sin, Culinary Director of Junzi Kitchen, a chain of Chinese fast-casual restaurants, joins us to share his upbringing in Hong Kong, his takes on regional Chinese cooking, as well as his opinions on the ever controversial word in the modern culinary world ― "authentic."A graduate of Yale University, Lucas met the Co-Founders of Junzi in New Haven, Connecticut. With a mission and purpose to change the perception and narrative of Chinese food, he set out to do exactly that.Lucas started his culinary experience running a pop-up as a 16 year-old in an abandoned newspaper factory on the outskirts of Hong Kong and hasn't looked back since.
October 07, 2019
Simon Kim with Cote Korean Steakhouse
Simon Kim is a Korean-American restaurateur ― the owner of Cote Korean Steakhouse in NYC. Cote, also Korean for "flower," is the first ever Michelin-starred Korean barbecue restaurant.From his parents serendipitously running a Korean restaurant in Tribeca in the 90's to studying hospitality at University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) and running restaurants for other famed restaurateurs and chefs such as Steve Hanson (Blue Fin), Jean-Georges (The Mark), and Thomas Keller (Bouchon Bakery); Simon's story is that of a vibrant flower, one that has to go through struggles to become actualized.This episode features behind the scenes stories of his NYC upbringing to opening his first restaurant, Piora, in the West Village and of course, Cote Korean Steakhouse.
October 02, 2019