People come to Miami for a lot of different reasons. Some come to escape cold climate, some life under a leftist dictator and others just don't want to pay state income tax. Eddie Huang wanted to ride the Bang Bus and shout out Miami's cultural and gastronomic diversity.
"I really like the hood. There's a real community, those people are there, they grew up there, they live there," he said. "There are so many interesting native Miamians that I hope get to own the city, do their thing and show the world what they have."
The author and owner of New York's Baohaus was in Miami recently shooting for "Fresh Off The Boat," the same name as his recently memoir. It's YouTube travel show produced with the in-your-face Vice magazine. Lately food media has taken notice of Huang for his critical look at the concept of authenticity in Asian cuisine as its popularity continues to explode, in a variety of forms, in the U.S.
"I was made fun of for my stinky lunch upwards of 10 years," Huang said in a recent interview with food writer Francis Lam. "Immigrants of our parents' generation have largely given up any hope that Americans will like their food."
What was planned a short interview with Huang turned into an hourlong odyssey that went to Hialeah's Moros Castle via the Bang Bus and back south to Little Haiti and Wynwood.
"The first meeting I ever had with producers of the show... they said if you could go anywhere where would you go?" he said. "I said I would go to Miami because I want to do an episode with the Bang Bus. Brands collaborate all the time. Every single male in America watches Bang Bus, why has no one ever collaborated with them? I want to know what these girls are like, I want to know what they eat regularly, what the eat on shoot days."
Huang linked up with pornstar Jada Stevens who said "if I'm doing anal I can't eat certain things." He didn't cut a scene, but said if he did he "would make Asian men look good."
He also picked an unusual food tour guide -- Miami's rapper-diplomat Uncle Luke.
"New American food is great, my book release was at [Andrew Carmellini's] Locanda Verde, it was nice to be in a nice restaurant but I don't usually go to restaurants like that," he said. "When I go to Miami I don't go to Michael's Genuine."
Instead he went to Morro Castle, Jamaica Kitchen, La Camaronera, Chef Creole in Little Haiti, Skebo's Kitchen BBQ outside of Club Lexx and Conch Daddy. He called Miami Beach's Puerto Sagua "Puerto Soggy" and said Sakaya Kitchen was "goofy."
"It's too heavy," he argued. "White boy Asian food is too salty, it's too rich."
Huang wasn't too derisive about the Miami restaurants that get a lot of press, but said they're just not his thing in any city.
"There's this international class of restaurant and you go to any restaurant in 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."
He also encouraged people to explore the Caribbean food in Miami, saying it shouldn't be reserved for just vacation.
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"People don't talk enough about Caribbean food... cattle foot, oxtail, beef soup, ackee and shellfish," he said. "Jay-Z will come to Miami and on the way out he'll call Chef Creole, Jay-Z knows what's up."
Huang left before Art Basel kicked off, but also had some commentary on Miami's growing art scene
"Wynwood for me didn't do it," he said. Part of graffiti culture, he argued, is bombing; spray painting places where it's not welcome. All of the sanctioned graffiti in Wynwood is "kind of like seeing Shamu in the wild and seeing Shamu in the tank. I understand the necessity of seeing Shamu in a tank, but to me it's depressing."