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Anthony Bourdain’s New Food Hall Will Be Part Hawker Center, Part Farmers’ Market

Anthony Bourdain’s New Food Hall Will Be Part Hawker Center, Part Farmers’ Market


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Little by little, the plans for what is sure to be one of Anthony Bourdain’s most impressive food projects, his upcoming international food hall in New York, are being revealed. At the recent World Street Food Congress in Singapore, Bourdain’s business partner, Stephen Werther, spoke about the floor plan designs of the giant food center. The Bourdain Market, set to open later this year, will feature authentic street food and casual cuisine from around the globe.

According to Today Online, a Singaporean publication printed in English, Werther presented a “crazy-looking” floor plan, which divides the food hall into two sections: a farmers’ market and an authentic hawker center. Hawker centers are not common in America, but in Singapore they are a way of life: semi-enclosed buildings house dozens of stalls with prepared-to-order foods, where proprietors hawk their wares.

Bourdain is also big on authenticity at this market, says Werther. “If someone comes into the Bourdain Market and has chicken rice, and they’re from Singapore, they better say: ‘That’s as good as any chicken rice I’ve had at home.’ That is the very high standard by which Tony, myself, and KF Seetoh [an expert on Singaporean cuisine and a partner in the project] will attempt to execute.”

Although no vendors have been revealed as of yet, the atmosphere will be crowded, chaotic, and, yes, there will be quite a bit of waiting in line. Other features of the food hall will include a 1,500 square-foot oyster bar, specialized butchers, a bakery, a tapas bar, a pastry shop, and a tea shop, according to Today Online.


Tag Archives: No Reservations


White Bean Soup with Chorizo and Chives


Mackerel: Line caught mackerel from Eyemouth poached in stock a’la grecque and served with local vegetables


Hare: Ravioli of brown hare from Humbie served in a game consomme


Game: Terrine of Scottish game and foie gras served with elderberry jelly, autum fruits and vegetables


Hake: Seared fillet of hake from Scrabster served with Perthshire girolles and herb gnocchi


Partridge: Roasted red-legged partridge served with braised red cabbage and grapes


Ox: Braised ox cheek from Peter Flockhart cooked ‘daube style’ and served with puréed potatoes and garnish ‘a’la grand-mere’


Millefeuille of British apples served with chestnut parfait and candied chestnuts


Pistachio souffle served with pistachio ice cream


Cheese: A selection of Scottish and French cheese served from the trolley


I already miss my brother so much, and really loved spending the day with him in Edinburgh!

The Kitchin
78 Commercial Quay
Leith, Edinburgh EH6 6LX
Telephone 0131 555 1755
Fax 0131 553 0608
website


An post-lunch stroll past Edinburgh Castle


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You may see Singaporeans engaging in feisty debates about which South Indian rice joint is best, whether those in the spiritual heart of Serangoon Road or the outlying renegades such as Karu’s and Samy’s. None comes close to what you might find in places such as Port Dickson, Penang and, of course, Kuala Lumpur. Never mind South India itself, a three-hour flight away.

The one exceptional Indian dish I have had is black sotong curry aka squid ink curry, a sour, fiery take of a Malay classic at a place called Rajah’s curry. I wrote about it a few years ago. Sadly Mr Rajah had to close his stall. However, by sheer stonking coincidence, as this blog post lay sitting dormant in a folder last week, I found out that Mr Rajah and his black sotong curry may be making a brief return in mid August. I wish Tony could have tried it.

If this ended up being longer and more of a drag than any of us planned for, well, then, Tony, dear Tony of “We can’t get Tony off his soapbox” fame…I wish I had editors as good as yours.

When I quote Tony and myself in our discussion on weed, there may be some small discrepancies from what was actually said. Nothing major. I didn’t have my recorder with me. Typically I would make the paraphrase clear, but this time I’ve kept the quotation marks in the interest of style.

Image credits: Mee pok (me), Hokkien Mee ( The Smart Local ), Karus ( Burpple ) and for the Parts Unknown shots, the people themselves.


[CLOSED] Susan Feniger’s Street

I loved watching the recent “Street Food Special” episode of “No Reservations”. It brought together my very favorite Anthony Bourdain clips the scenes when he’s out and about eating “real food” with the locals, and also recapped Tony-visits to Singapore hawker (food) centers. It really made me wish we had something similar here in Los Angeles.

As Bourdain so eloquently stated: “Whereas in America the food court is the nexus of all things generic and awful, in Singapore these open-to-the-street food centers, coffee shops and hawker centers offer a near limitless variety of Malay, Chinese and Indian dishes”.

In a 1991 LA Times piece, my favorite food writer Jonathan Gold wrote: “The closest thing to a hawker center in Los Angeles is, of course, the Grand Central Market downtown… Among the fruit stalls and the poultry stands, there are 10-odd places where a hungry person can get something to eat”. I haven’t been there in years, and look forward to rediscovering the Grand Central Market again soon, but still it’s not exactly what Bourdain calls, “a ONE chef, ONE dish vast food court”.

It’s true that our multicultural city is filled with delicious strip-mall eats, and I personally plan to spend more time searching them out (hint to my foodie pals). But the large food courts I’ve been to (at various local shopping malls) would never be a destination dining trek of sorts. Well, except for “Hotdog-On-A-Stick”. I’m a sucker for any type of food on a stick.

Susan Feniger’s Street Food

When I first read about Chef Feniger’s new restaurant, I envisioned it to be a sort of miniature hawker center. An enclosed space filled with individual street carts from the around the world. In my mind, I even imagined individual cooks (in traditional attire) selling the dishes at these tiny indoor food stalls. I don’t know WHERE I came up with these ideas, but reading Jonathan Gold’s description in LA Weekly certainly added to my fantasy:

“Street is a virtual museum of world street food, snacks and savories from every part of Asia — Korean-style mung bean pancakes studded with bits of anise-braised pork belly hollow, potato-stuffed Indian ping-pong balls called paani puri, moistened with a bit of spicy broth a juniper-laced salad of roasted beets and crumbled walnuts even a take on the classic Singaporean breakfast dish of toast with coconut-jam kaya and a runny egg. There are dense dal fritters, a delicious version of the do-it-yourself Thai bundles of roasted coconut, bird chiles, peanuts, tamarind jam and minced lime, among other things, sensibly wrapped in bits of collard instead of the traditional betel leaf.”

So no, Susan Feniger’s Street is not the culinary “It’s A Small World” experience that I fantasized about, but it is a wonderful, exciting (and fun!) restaurant that brings my dream just a little bit closer.

What we ate:


Amuse-Bouche: A very exotic (savory) version of a Rice Crispy Treat! Millet Seed Puffs, with Marshmallow, Fennel, Curry, Coriander,Cumin and Black Currant


Spinach Varenyky: Ukrainian dumplings stuffed with spinach and cheese. Served with sour cream and lemon marmalade


Paani Puri: Chef Susan Feniger first tried these on a street market in Mumbai, India. Filled with potato, chutney, beans and topped with yogurt cilantro


Cuban Stuffed Potato Cake: Filled with spiced beef, raisins, and capers with tomato mint salsa and poblano crema


Scandinavian Beet and Apple Salad – Slow roasted beets with apple, black currant, watercress, toasted walnut, and millet croutons in a juniper vinaigrette


My FAVORITE bite: Kaya Toast, a uniquely Singapore experience toasted bread spread thick with coconut jam served with a soft poached egg drizzled in dark soy and white pepper (link to recipe below!)


Marinated New York Strip Steak, skewered and roasted in the wood oven, served with Wild Mushroom Spaetzle and Rapini with Creamed Onions and Bacon


Top Photo: Vietnamese Corn – wok cooked medley of fresh corn, spring onion with glazed pork belly.
Bottom: Saag paneer with Kokum Dal and Rice Plate – A South Indian spinach dish stewed with homemade paneer cheese, tomato and spices served with dried plum dal and yogurt rice.

Susan Feniger’s Street [CLOSED]
742 N. Highland
Los Angeles , CA 90038
(323) 203-0500
Website


KēSa House

When you travel as much as we do, it can be challenging to live out of a suitcase. Rarely have we felt as relaxed and at home as we felt at KēSa House. We stayed here an entire week, and really felt like we had enough time to settle in. We stayed in an Entertain room and loved having our own private terrace – this amenity truly made us feel at home, whether we were reading a book and taking in the sun, or having friends over for some natural wine. But it's the beautifully-designed common areas like the living room, the fully-equipped kitchen with an espresso machine and sparkling water on tap, and the self-service laundry room (free for guests!) that really make you feel like you can stay for a while. KēSa House is a string of old shophouses – the historic exterior has been preserved, while the inside has been beautifully renovated. It's conveniently located in the heart of Chinatown, right next to Burnt Ends and Potato Head Singapore. A great base to explore Singapore hawker centers as well as restaurants.


Monday, May 20, 2013

New Singapore Heritage Menu at York Hotel

"I'm stuffed," I texted my Singaporean friend, "I just came from a media buffet serving Singapore classics."
He responded, "Oh, York Hotel?"

I was surprised how he guessed so easily. But it turns out York Hotel has been well-known amongst Singaporeans for decades, particularly for their Penang Hawkers' Fare, a showcasing of 10 select hawkers visiting from Penang for an all-you-can-eat experience.

White Rose Cafe in York Hotel is now kicking off a new menu, highlighting 20 of Singapore's heritage dishes. Led by Chef Charlie Tham, formerly of Soon Heng Restaurant, the menu's key items include Curry Fish Head, Crab Masala, Sambal King Prawn, Black Ink Sotong (squid), Chap Chye (vegetable stew), and Chicken Masala. The dishes do require one day advance order however, to ensure freshness of the seafood ingredients required.

White Rose Café
York Hotel, 21 Mount Elizabeth
Singapore 228516
Tel: +65 6830-1156


Southeast Asian Dishes to Feature in Anthony Bourdain’s International Street Food Market in New York

Come 2019, a Southeast Asian-style hawker centre &ndash complete with the region&rsquos very best street vendors &ndash is set to open in New York and will occupy a space the size of three football fields, making it the largest food hall in New York by far

Anthony Bourdain, the uncensored chef, author and peripatetic culinary traveler said to The New York Times that he'll be opening Bourdain Market at Pier 57 on the Hudson River, Manhattan, New York.

He pointed out planned attractions with steaming noodle stalls, vibrant farmers&rsquo markets, a mezzanine cluttered with food stations and bars.

Anthony Bourdain on the site of his planned megamarket for international cuisine. Image: Credit Alex Welsh/The New York Times

&ldquoThink of an Asian night market,&rdquo he said. &ldquoEating and drinking at midnight.&rdquo

&ldquoThey moved them into enclosed spaces, imposed certain regulations to ensure safe food handling, and now you can go to this cleanest of city-states and line up with people rich and poor &ndash all of whom value the $2.95 plate of noodles just as much as something in a fancy restaurant. Why don&rsquot we have this in New York, or Europe or the rest of the world?&rdquo said Bourdain at the World Street Food Congress held in Manila.

And given the scale of the Bourdain Market&rsquos own ambitions, it&rsquos perhaps unsurprising that Bourdain and his partners expect to see it packed with shoppers, diners, and tourists alike &mdash they&rsquore estimating 20,000 visitors per day.

Char Kway Teow. Image: Nyonya Cooking

He also assured the crowd that he wants to &ldquointroduce New Yorkers to the ways things have been enjoyed in their [the hawkers&rsquo] home countries for years. Not a modern, Westernized take. . We will need open flame. We need the smells. We&rsquore looking for a sense of controlled chaos. We&rsquore creating a living, breathing, stinking market."

&ldquoIs there a market in New York for char kway teow? I don&rsquot really give a shit,&rdquo Bourdain said. &ldquoI love it and I&rsquom pretty sure that if New Yorkers are introduced to good char kway teow, they will love it, too."

When pressed for his wishlist of Singapore stalls, without naming any specific hawker, Bourdain said: &ldquoWe need a very good char kway teow stall, chicken rice, laksa, nasi lemak and black pepper crab. Those are just the baseline before we even look further to other varieties.&rdquo

Bourdain also thinks Americans will go crazy for sisig, predicting it will be a &ldquobreakout dish,&rdquo fit &ldquointo the current pork-centric zeitgeist.&rdquo &ldquoBest. Thing. Ever,&rdquo says Bourdain.

Sisig Pusit. Image: Kawaling Pinoy

&ldquoFilipino food is definitely underrated worldwide. In New York, it doesn&rsquot have hipster credibility yet," he concluded. "But things are changing, and I hope to be a part of that change."

He assured local press that he is not interested in stealing hawkers from their countries: He knows that would be anathema to the international food world. His goal: All invited hawkers need to have the means to open a second shop in NYC in addition to running their original businesses back home.


Tag Archives: food writer

I loved watching the recent “Street Food Special” episode of “No Reservations”. It brought together my very favorite Anthony Bourdain clips the scenes when he’s out and about eating “real food” with the locals, and also recapped Tony-visits to Singapore hawker (food) centers. It really made me wish we had something similar here in Los Angeles.

As Bourdain so eloquently stated: “Whereas in America the food court is the nexus of all things generic and awful, in Singapore these open-to-the-street food centers, coffee shops and hawker centers offer a near limitless variety of Malay, Chinese and Indian dishes”.

In a 1991 LA Times piece, my favorite food writer Jonathan Gold wrote: “The closest thing to a hawker center in Los Angeles is, of course, the Grand Central Market downtown… Among the fruit stalls and the poultry stands, there are 10-odd places where a hungry person can get something to eat”. I haven’t been there in years, and look forward to rediscovering the Grand Central Market again soon, but still it’s not exactly what Bourdain calls, “a ONE chef, ONE dish vast food court”.

It’s true that our multicultural city is filled with delicious strip-mall eats, and I personally plan to spend more time searching them out (hint to my foodie pals). But the large food courts I’ve been to (at various local shopping malls) would never be a destination dining trek of sorts. Well, except for “Hotdog-On-A-Stick”. I’m a sucker for any type of food on a stick.

Susan Feniger’s Street Food

When I first read about Chef Feniger’s new restaurant, I envisioned it to be a sort of miniature hawker center. An enclosed space filled with individual street carts from the around the world. In my mind, I even imagined individual cooks (in traditional attire) selling the dishes at these tiny indoor food stalls. I don’t know WHERE I came up with these ideas, but reading Jonathan Gold’s description in LA Weekly certainly added to my fantasy:

“Street is a virtual museum of world street food, snacks and savories from every part of Asia — Korean-style mung bean pancakes studded with bits of anise-braised pork belly hollow, potato-stuffed Indian ping-pong balls called paani puri, moistened with a bit of spicy broth a juniper-laced salad of roasted beets and crumbled walnuts even a take on the classic Singaporean breakfast dish of toast with coconut-jam kaya and a runny egg. There are dense dal fritters, a delicious version of the do-it-yourself Thai bundles of roasted coconut, bird chiles, peanuts, tamarind jam and minced lime, among other things, sensibly wrapped in bits of collard instead of the traditional betel leaf.”

So no, Susan Feniger’s Street is not the culinary “It’s A Small World” experience that I fantasized about, but it is a wonderful, exciting (and fun!) restaurant that brings my dream just a little bit closer.

What we ate:


Amuse-Bouche: A very exotic (savory) version of a Rice Crispy Treat! Millet Seed Puffs, with Marshmallow, Fennel, Curry, Coriander,Cumin and Black Currant


Spinach Varenyky: Ukrainian dumplings stuffed with spinach and cheese. Served with sour cream and lemon marmalade


Paani Puri: Chef Susan Feniger first tried these on a street market in Mumbai, India. Filled with potato, chutney, beans and topped with yogurt cilantro


Cuban Stuffed Potato Cake: Filled with spiced beef, raisins, and capers with tomato mint salsa and poblano crema


Scandinavian Beet and Apple Salad – Slow roasted beets with apple, black currant, watercress, toasted walnut, and millet croutons in a juniper vinaigrette


My FAVORITE bite: Kaya Toast, a uniquely Singapore experience toasted bread spread thick with coconut jam served with a soft poached egg drizzled in dark soy and white pepper (link to recipe below!)


Marinated New York Strip Steak, skewered and roasted in the wood oven, served with Wild Mushroom Spaetzle and Rapini with Creamed Onions and Bacon


Top Photo: Vietnamese Corn – wok cooked medley of fresh corn, spring onion with glazed pork belly.
Bottom: Saag paneer with Kokum Dal and Rice Plate – A South Indian spinach dish stewed with homemade paneer cheese, tomato and spices served with dried plum dal and yogurt rice.

Susan Feniger’s Street [CLOSED]
742 N. Highland
Los Angeles , CA 90038
(323) 203-0500
Website


A Bossa Nova New Year’s Eve

Bossa Nova music makes me feel giddy and extraordinarily happy. You know that feeling you get from listening to childhood records? A sudden spike of joy deep inside your soul?

When my sister Janet and I were growing up in Okinawa, our favorite records were the ones we weren’t allowed to play. Dutifully, we listened to Disney records that our grandparents mailed from the states, but we most enjoyed sneaking into our dad’s immaculate record collection.

He never found out about our little secret because my big sister was absolutely brilliant (even at seven years old). When we decided on an LP that we wanted to hear, Janet would pull THREE albums partially out of the record shelf. The one we wanted to hear was in the middle, the two others on each side were place holders (so she knew where to return the treasured vinyl). Big sis never allowed ME to actually TOUCH the records, which was probably a really good idea.

Our very favorite albums back then were Herb Alpert, and the awesome Sergio Mendes & Brasil 󈨆. We knew all the words to “Mais Que Nada” (still do), and would invite friends over for after-school dancing. To this day, Bossa Nova is always on my party mix. Just try listening to “One Note Samba / Spanish Flea” without dancing or bobbing your head.

When Peter and I first met fifteen years ago, we bonded over discussions of Bossa Nova music. Two years later on our wedding day, I walked down the aisle to Astrud Gilberto’s “Summer Samba (So Nice)”. If you don’t know the song, the lyrics begin with:

“Someone to hold me tight, that would be very nice
Someone to love me right, that would be very nice

Someone to understand each little dream in me
Someone to take my hand and be a team with me

So nice… life would be so nice, if one day I’d find
Someone who would take my hand and samba through life with me”

For New Year’s Eve, we like to do something low-key. Sometimes we spend it with family, sometimes we cook together at home or go out to a nearby restaurant.

We’ve fallen in love with chef Gary Menes’ cooking at Marche’ recently, and luckily the restaurant is just a few minutes from our house. When I read there would be a live JAZZ band on New Year’s Eve, I don’t know why but I just assumed it would be modern or fusion jazz. Not my favorite, but I figured at least Peter would really enjoy it. Besides Bossa, I’m a big fan of New Orleans jazz (especially Preservation Hall, the legendary band we recently saw at Disney Hall).

We had a 9pm dinner reservation, and I knew the food would be fantastic (this would be our fourth visit) so I wasn’t going to let the jazz in the background bother me. The duo wasn’t playing when we were being seated, and after we settled in and put on our party hats, there it was…. glorious BOSSA NOVA!

Yes, it was an elegantly laid-back, truffle-filled (thank you chef Menes!) food fest of a New Year’s Eve at Marche’, but with our beloved Bossa Nova warming up the crowded yet cozy dining room, it felt more like a party just for two.

My very Last Bites in 2009:


Winter Black Truffle Risotto. Raviolli: Swiss Chard, Mascarpone, Reggiano, Chestnuts.


Foie Gras Terrine, Date Compote, Brioche. Romey Lettuce, Baby Beets, Goat Cheese, Pistachios.


Hokkaido Scallops, Cauliflower, Apple, Gastrique, Vaudouvan Butter.


Fennel, Orange, Pear, Forbidden Rice.


Healthy Family Farms Chicken, Peas, Carrots, Tendrils, Grits.


A5 Grade Australian 100% Wagu eye of RibEye , Pomme Puree, Hearts of Romaine, Bunch Onions, Red Wine


Calvados Brandy Cheesecake (plus lovely Caramel Apple Millefeuill, Apple Walnut Cake and Brown Sugar Ice Cream!)

Note: This restaurant is now closed. Please follow Chef Menes on Twitter

Marché
13355 Ventura Blvd.
Sherman Oaks, CA 91423
(818) 784-2915
Website

Mentioned Above:


CNU conversations: Can we build authentic, small-scale communities that subtly adapt to change?

A few thoughts on a CNU 23 presentation by Russell Preston and Matt Lambert about their ongoing work on defining and fostering authenticity within New Urbanist places. Other thoughts will be forthcoming, as I write them up.

Do design and development really disrupt enduring neighborhoods? This block in Guangzhou, China, changed tremendously, but in some ways didn’t change at all.

1. Role of design
Flexible, adaptable buildings allow uses to change in their natural cycles. Crucially, notoriously fickle uses like production and retail must be given room to adapt. Not only do shop concepts and merchandise change, but the volume of these uses needed rises and falls with economic cycles. Tactical urbanism has shown us that design details may not be quite as important as broader questions of scale and program. Such a “stage set” approach may be especially appropriate in an era where programs frequently change.

2. Small scale
To the extent that smaller, more “honest” enterprises can be designed around, perhaps the best physical model relies on creating adaptable space along many smaller frontages — a fractal approach, as it were. More marginal businesses have long turned to side streets and passages to be near, but not in the middle of, the retail action.

Since these frontages are inherently not as valuable, they can remain affordable even amidst higher rents for premier locations nearby. Just as coach houses are “naturally affordable housing,” consider the value of alleys, passages, and even enclosed arcades as “naturally affordable retail.”

Another CNU 23 session, ostensibly about pedestrian malls, featured examples of pedestrian-only ancillary passages where smaller retailers thrive just off Main Street. Beth Anne Macdonald spoke about Division Street in Somerville, N.J., where commerce has thrived after the street was turned into a pedestrian mall in 2012. Division (like Bethesda Lane, which Tim Zork presented at the same session) was intended as shared space but ended up being car-free 24/7 — a testament to that type’s tremendous flexibility. Despite its Spartan design of concrete and streetlamps, Division is thoroughly programmed year-round.

Kensington Market in Toronto has a built environment that’s a terrible jumble of everything, but it gets the scale — and thus the feel — just right. It’s car-free on summer Sundays, thanks to gates that cost just $180,000.

Similarly, I’m setting up a walking tour in October of how retail is thriving away from the main streets in Georgetown, along its alleys, side streets, and the pedestrian-only C&O trail. The neighborhood’s historic scale — its small blocks and small spaces — and relatively flexible zoning permits this natural shift between uses. That these processes can work illustrates two chapters in “Death and Life”: small blocks and aged buildings.

Of course, financing these spaces can be a challenge. Yet this country is plagued with throwaway retail space, much of it ancillary to upstairs office and residential. Whether the ground floor of an apartment complex is given over to “amenity space,” or to small retailers who may or may not reliably pay rent, shouldn’t be of much interest to the bankers — and, arguably, many of the apartment tenants might well prefer the latter! Designing the public and private spaces with the flexibility to accommodate whatever uses might be demanded could prove a greater challenge.

At the Louisville NextGen meeting, the one example of a new-construction informal street market that I could think of was a set of buildings in Downtown LA’s Fashion District. They appeared to have been built largely as paid parking garages, for which there are many local comparables, but had clear-span ground floors to accommodate small wholesale clothing retailers. It was awesome.

3. Policy and non-market structures
Market prices for prime space in gateway cities have — due to high outside-investor interest — reached heights that stifle innovation and organizations that evaluate their impact in primarily non-market means. Furthermore, not all institutions are lucky enough to have purchased their property “back when it was cheap.”

The 5M model (final program & renderings) has promise — identifying “community anchors” more broadly than just non-profits, offering free or discounted space to these community serving entities, and profiting by selling ancillary services. The other innovation is that this project’s pro forma has been turned on its head: the community space is accepted as a given at the starting point, and the market-rate buildings sized accordingly. (Since every development in San Francisco is discretionary, you might as well ask for the moon.)

But what about the next community that comes along? Will tomorrow’s fresh ideas and institutions have similarly protected spaces? Is this model flexible enough to accommodate new institutions, or shifting missions among the existing institutions? Rather like rent control, this approach privileges those who showed up at the right time, excludes newcomers — and leaves the question of capital renewal unanswered. Could a similar space, like [innovation] District Hall, be continually refreshed with new concepts and competitions on a regular basis?

(We had a detailed conversation about a potential corporate structure to ensure long-term community affordability on the following day. Notes about that conversation are forthcoming.)

4. Chinatowns, new
At least some suburban communities have successfully retrofitted smaller scale uses into strip-mall suburbia: the “ethnoburbs” that Asian immigrants have settled across North America. Even shiny, new buildings still foster small businesses, due in part to high density, tiny footprints (see above), management that understands the business models, and perhaps other factors that could be identified.

These retail centers can be built in a more transit-oriented manner the vertical malls cropping up around Flushing have a mind-boggling spatial complexity. The vertiginous skyscrapers of Hong Kong, clustered around mass transit, have organically evolved 3-D pedestrian networks so intricate that they defy description, but which host all sorts of authentic communities.

5. Chinatowns, old
These neighborhoods appear to maintain a remarkably stable level of economic diversity — of activities, of economic groups — and appear, from the outside, to have stable populations. Yes, some of this stability is real, and partially results from capital that gets locally recycled, through local institutions.

But what looks like stability from the outside also hides considerable turbulence under the surface. There’s constant upheaval among the community’s participants, as high in-migration balances out community members “lost” to assimilation. By and large, assimilation (as institutional racism declines/morphs) has undermined most of American cities’ other mixed-income ethnic enclaves, but since Han Chinese easily outnumber every other ethnic group in the world, there will always be a inflow of migrants — or will there?

Another less-than-replicable factor behind Chinatown’s staying power is a lack of effective enforcement (“It’s Chinatown, Jake”). Thus, things don’t quite happen to code it’s cheaper, but somebody might get hurt. Whether that trade-off is worthwhile is your judgment call, but it does illustrate that over-regulation might be a factor in driving high costs.

6. Community change and the word “authentic”
It’s worth thinking through a bit more about how “authenticity” (see this discussion by Sharon Zukin) like any other aspect of community character, will move in cycles. Every community changes its participants, and is changed by its participants. The people who come after us have different experiences, and what we do shapes how they understand the world around them. This feedback loop can either result in a virtuous, or a vicious, cycle.

The pace of change also matters. Change is literally a fact of life, but violent upheaval is rarely welcomed. Many communities today are upset by the roller-coaster ride that property markets have put them on, with prices rising much faster than social infrastructure can adapt.

What appears authentic and novel to us will seem workaday and fake to someone else: If I cooked one of my grandfather’s recipes for you, you’d see it as “authentic” and he’d see the exact same dish as “fake.” It’s exactly that interplay, exchange, and evolution that makes cities — and especially American cities — such interesting and exciting places. It’s a tough edge to surf on, to simultaneously embrace and resist change, to honor established practices while inventing new ways, but it’s a worthwhile endeavor.


Watch the video: Food Fighters: AA Gill and Anthony Bourdain in conversation


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