Learning From Los Kogi Angeles: A Taco Truck and Its City

October 25th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

(2013). “Learning From Los Kogi Angeles: A Taco Truck and Its City.” In R. Ku, M. Manalansan, and A. Mannur (Eds.), Eating Asian America: A Food Studies Reader (pp. 78-97). New York: NYU Press.

Anthology essay (solicited, refereed).

The Comfort Zone: Shaping the Retro-Soul Audience

November 25th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

(2012). “The Comfort Zone: Shaping the Retro-Soul Audience.” In E. Weisbard (Ed.), Pop When the World Falls Apart (pp. 201-229). Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Anthology essay (solicited, refereed).

To Live and Dine in Kogi L.A.

November 13th, 2009 § 0 comments § permalink

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“To Live and Dine in Kogi L.A.” Contexts. Vol. 8(4), Fall 2009

Culture review.

“While praised for being a more youthful, multiethnic, and tech savvy form of food delivery, Kogi trucks providing ethnic fusion street food in Los Angeles also illustrate the persistence of socioeconomic divisions in urban life. According to Oliver Wang, Kogi demonstrates that there are still lines that aren’t crossed when it comes to urban ethnic relations.”

Background: I was first introduced to Kogi by my colleague at USC, Karen Tongson, who had heard about the truck before its popularity had reached the proverbial tipping point. As the Kogi story began to unfold in the winter of 2009, I was intrigued by how media coverage of the Truck wanted to posit it as this culinary representation of Los Angeles culture and society. To be sure, I did think Kogi was marvelously ingenious; less so for its food (though those short-rib tacos are delicious) and more so for its distribution and marketing innovations as a haute cuisine catering truck. However, I was also struck at how Kogi’s changing set of locations seemed to synch up perfectly with any number of increasing popular, gentrifying neighborhoods and thanks to the Truck’s well-remarked upon Twitter feed, I was able to do a simple mapping of where the Truck had been and equally important, where it never went. That put me on the path of this article, the core thesis being that Kogi does indeed reflect L.A. It just happens to be a far more complex Los Angeles than is promoted in news stories or publicity boilerplate. (Note: anyone having trouble accessing this article in full PDF form can email me for a copy instead).

Between the Notes…

November 8th, 2001 § 0 comments § permalink


Between the Notes: Finding Asian America in Popular Music.” American Music, 19(4), Winter 2001.

Journal article (solicited, refereed).

Examines how trends in Asian American popular music-making reflects changes, tensions and aspirations within the Asian American community from the 1970s until present.


Background: This essay, my first published piece of academic work, represented a culmination of nearly 10 years spent researching the politics of identity amongst Asian American musicians. As an undergraduate and graduate student – as well as arts journalist – I had interviewed many Asian Americans involved in jazz, folk and hip-hop and used this essay as an opportunity to lay out ideas about how those musicians perceived the role of race and identity within their work. Asian American music is still largely understudied and theorized in my opinion (the excellent work of my mentor Deborah Wong excepted) and especially with the seeming explosion of musical interest in a younger generation of Asian Americans during the ’00s, there’s many new ideas to bring into that conversation.

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