The Max Original docuseries “Take Out with Lisa Ling” debuts with all six episodes Thursday, Jan. 27, on HBO Max.
When it comes to choosing where to eat out, Chinese, Indian, or Japanese food is as ubiquitous as pizza and burgers. These days, there are Asian restaurants in practically every mall food court and Main Street across the U.S. Yet, little is known about the diverse communities behind them. Asian Americans have long been lumped together, misunderstood, exoticized, and even purposefully cut out of our history books.
In “Take Out,” award-winning journalist Lisa Ling — whose own family story began in a Chinese restaurant — travels from the bayous of Louisiana to Orange County’s Little Saigon, exploring the foods we love while shining a long overdue spotlight on the contributions Asian Americans have been making to this country since before the United States was even the United States.
“I spent the first 17 years of my life ashamed of my ethnicity — I just didn’t want to be different from everyone else and that applied to the food I brought to school,” Ling recalled. “Today, I packed noodles, soy sauce fried egg, seaweed packets and French/Chinese cookies for my girls’ lunch — I would have never brought those things to school when I was a kid! …
“Although my own family’s journey in America began in a Chinese restaurant, I would have never imagined that one day I would front a show that highlights Asian food and Asian American history, and work with an almost entirely Asian American crew — led by the amazing Helen Cho. It wouldn’t even be fair to call this a dream come true—because I couldn’t even have dreamt it could be possible.
“There is no better way to get to know and appreciate a culture than through food so I hope you’ll find our show to be as fun, illuminating and delicious as we do! Oh, and our theme song was written by the baddest-ass girls around, The Linda Lindas …
“Took my family to the restaurant that my grandparents once owned, Hop Sing in Folsom, Calif., and I ate egg foo young and chop suey for the first time in my life! Opening restaurants has been a means of survival for so many Asian immigrants and it’s amazing that there are more Chinese restaurants in America than McDonald’s, Wendy’s and Pizza Hut, combined. For so many like my grandparents, it has been about about sacrifice, dogged persistence and resilience. I cannot wait to share these stories with you.”
Little Tokyo-based Go For Broke National Education Center announced, “In one of the episodes, Lisa visits with Doreen Nakama, owner of East Los Musubi. Doreen, part Mexican American and part Japanese American, creates musubi dishes to celebrate her grandfather, Alton Nakama, a member of the famed 100th Battalion/442nd Regimental Combat Team. Pvt. Nakama was one of the eight members of I Company who walked out of the Vosges Mountains [in France] after the rescue of the Lost Battalion.
“Featured also in the episode are the Go For Broke National Education Center’s Torchbearers. GFBNEC’s Torchbearers are young adults who are dedicated to preserving the legacy of the Japanese American soldiers of World War II.
“Grab a Spam musubi from East Los Musubi and watch the episode on Jan. 27!”
“When he found out that HBO Max picked up ‘Take Out with Lisa Ling,’ my dear friend … told me that we should visit the last Japanese restaurant left in Boyle Heights,” Ling said. “My response was, ‘Left from what?’ I would go on to learn that Boyle Heights became a refuge for Japanese Americans released from prison camps after WWII. After losing everything they had (homes, businesses, etc.,), Boyle Heights became one of the only places in which Japanese Americans could afford or were allowed to live.
“Now, the mostly Latino residents of BH consider the owner of Otomisan their Japanese mom.”
The docuseries is executive produced by Ling, Cho and David Shadrack Smith. Ling is the host of “This Is Life” on CNN and former co-host (and occasional guest co-host) of ABC’s “The View.”
For more information, go to: https://www.hbomax.com/