A magazine for the restaurant community
Secret Menu is a magazine for the restaurant community with stories that aim to inspire, inform, and connect. From first-hand interviews to features and photo essays, Secret Menu is a celebration of local restaurants, the communities they sustain, and the incredibly hard work of running a business.
So why Secret Menu, and why now? Secret Menu was founded on the belief that one’s restaurant’s story can inform or inspire one another. Each issue will explore the unique restaurant culture in a particular city, providing insight into how restaurants connect a neighborhood and how their stories connect to one another.
We hope those in the restaurant industry will find something in this issue to relate to, along with a salt-shake or two of information and inspiration for their own work. Ultimately, Secret Menu is a celebration of the restaurants that are integral to local communities.
Issue one: Asian cooking in Los Angeles
One of the most unique things about Los Angeles is its explosion of food culture in the last ten years, namely Asian food. Close to 1.5 million people of Asian descent call Los Angeles home, and bring a myriad of cuisines that have enriched Los Angeles’s food scene. In this inaugural issue of Secret Menu, we go deep into the diverse Asian restaurant communities of LA forged by chefs and owners, with a look at how their businesses connect the neighborhood and their stories relate to one another. Each establishment, as Lisa Ling puts it in her intro letter, “is rich in stories of immigration, resilience, perseverance, triumph, innovation, and the preservation of culture.”
"Recipe for Sanity"
In “Recipe for Sanity,” Jude Parra-Sickels chronicles the chaos of dinner service at David Chang’s Majordomo in Los Angeles’s Chinatown, and provides a recipe he uses to stay centered through the restaurant’s busiest times.
Keegan Fong, owner of Woon, talks about the threads of connection from his childhood and how he’s hustled Woon to be more than a restaurant in the article, “S(woon)!” Fueled by the hustle he learned from his early pop-up days, Keegan expanded the restaurant’s footprint into new verticals, including his own line of products that come straight off the beloved Woon menu.
"Korean Liquor Gets Its Due"
Dakota Kim, a Korean-American food and lifestyle writer based in Los Angeles, explores how liquors like soju and makgeolli (collectively called K-sool) are becoming more popular due to the explosion of Korean culture and music in “Korean Liquor Gets Its Due”. A new generation of Korean-American restaurateurs and distributors are leading the way, creating products that speak to their cultural heritage, culinary innovation, and market trends.
Our parents immigrated to the US mostly between the 70s and the 90s. As the second-generation, we’re between our twenties and forties, producing products that we want to see for ourselves.
"All Together Now"
“All Together Now,” is an interview with Justin Pitchetrungsi, an art director turned (accidental) second-generation owner of Anajak Thai in Sherman Oaks, a restaurant that has served customers for over 30 years. Justin delves into generational expectations from immigrant parents and the pressure to preserve Anajak Thai’s legacy.
The photo essay, “Family Meal,” takes a look at the staff and meals that keep some of Los Angeles’s beloved restaurants like Jitlada and LA Rose running. It’s a poignant look at how family meals serve as bonding rituals and safe spaces where staff can breathe easy and be themselves.
Read these stories and more in Secret Menu
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