Sakaya Kitchen chef and owner Richard Hales was none too pleased to learn author, restaurateur and Vice magazine show host Eddie Huang thought his food was "goofy."
@mreddiehuang off the boat?which one its a small world in Disneyyoure not from brooklyn u poser ur from orlando and a fucking lawyer ha— & Dim Ssäm à gogo(@SakayaKitchen) December 11, 2012
It all began when we posted an interview with Huang after a November visit to Miami visit to shoot for "Fresh Off The Boat," the Vice YouTube series with the same name as his recently published memoir. In the interview Huang said he finds "white boy" Asian food too salty and rich.
"I'm just trying to do my thing, cook my food and do my part to make Miami a better food city," Hales said in e-mail late Tuesday night. "I lived in NYC for eight years cooked for some great chefs, lived in Asia doing the same and if this pussy is going to talk shit he is going to get it back."
In an hour-long interview, Huang sort of derided the dining scene that has risen in the area stretching from Wynwood to the Design District.
"There's this international class of restaurant and you go to... any bougie neighborhood and they're going to be there," he said. "I wanted to go find places that don't have Twitter, don't have Instagram and we did that."
Instead Huang visited Morro Castle in Hialeah, La Camaronera, Chef Creole and Jamaica Kitchen. Those Miami institutions deserve just as much, if not more, adulation than any "bougie" restaurant in the aforementioned neighborhoods.
To Hales' credit he opened Sakaya Kitchen in 2009, when the Midtown mall was little more than a Target and a Five Guys on the edge of the ghetto. Since then numerous Asian restaurants have opened nearby. Along with the thankfully just departed art fairs that orbit Art Basel Miami Beach, the restaurant movement that began with Sakaya has been credited with helping to revive the long-depressed neighborhood.
To Huang's credit, he's Asian, Taiwanese to be specific, though he was born in Washington D.C. in 1982 after his parents immigrated to the U.S. Hales made a point of mentioning Huang went to law school before jumping into the kitchen. Does being Asian give him or anyone of the ethnicity carte blanche as an expert of their indigenous cuisine? Likely not, but Vice and Random House found him good enough to give an Internet show and a book deal so he's got some credibility for the moment.
Is there any real compromise to this latest online-gastro pissing match? Probably not, but it went well with popcorn.
For more follow Zach on Twitter @ZachIsWeird.