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A Taste of Home

REEL NW

A Taste of Home

Searching for Grandmother’s egg foo yung at Seattle's Chinatown-International District.

Airs Sunday, May 7, 2017 at 5:00 p.m.

Excerpts available for streaming from May 7-17, 2017.

After five years circling the globe via bicycle, Singaporean filmmaker Val Tan settles in Seattle, where she goes in search of the dishes that remind her of home. She finds those dishes in Seattle’s Chinatown-International District (C-ID), but, she notices, something is different about the food. In A Taste of Home, Val goes behind the scenes at five of the oldest food establishments in the historic neighborhood to find out where — and why — Asian and Asian-American food stopped being one.

Val’s journey takes her through 100 years of Chinatown-International District history. She learns about the origin and evolution of the Americanized chow mein noodle at Tsue Chong Co. — the oldest and only food manufacturer still operating in the C-ID — and how four simple ingredients started a noodle-making empire that has provided for four generations.

Val also visits Tai Tung, a traditional family-run restaurant serving up the same menu in the same location since 1935. The only thing that has changed, they say, is the price. Walking through Tai Tung’s 80-year-old doors, Val feels transported to another time -- and yet, the cuisine still isn’t what she remembers from her grandmother’s kitchen back home. Like many eateries in the C-ID, Tai Tung has adapted out of necessity, turning American ingredients into Chinese food.

There are just two of the fascinating stories Val uncovers on her journey through Seattle’s C-ID, a historic neighborhood that has seen more than its share of adversity -- and of triumph. From one family's decision whether or not to rebuild after a fire destroyed their bakery to Val’s attempt to recreate her grandmother’s rice dumplings with a little help from her friends, A Taste of Home is ultimately about the food — and the people  — that make a place a home.

About the filmmakers

A Taste of Home was created by Singaporean filmmakers Tay and Val (the fillmakers prefer to be called by their first names). In her 15-year career, Tay has produced, directed, and edited over 30 documentaries and has won multiple awards.

Val has over 20 years of experience as a television host and actress. At 14, she became the anchor of an educational series broadcast on national TV. In 2009, Val, along with Tay, co-founded a production company and debuted the reality TV show P.S. I’m Sorry for a nationwide audience. 

Together, Tay and Val have cycled across the globe they live in Seattle.

Filmmakers’ statement

We were homesick! That was what prompted a trip to Seattle’s Chinatown-International District: We were looking for a dish that would ease our homesickness. We walked into Tai Tung Restaurant and were mesmerized by its 80-year-old door, the hand-written menu on the wall, and its dining counter. It was so vintage!

While there, we chatted with the owner about his family history and the history of the restaurant. Boss Harry, as he is called, showed us the original 1937 menu and we asked if anyone was documenting his family’s story and the restaurant’s story. He said no, and the rest is history.

Over the next three years, we experienced hands-on cooking in the sacred kitchen of Tai Tung Restaurant. We learned how to wrap a traditional Toisanese joong from a mother-daughter duo. We bonded over an extinct family dish with Seattle food anthropologist Maxine Chan. We experienced the ties that bind in Tsue Chong Noodle Factory. We witnessed the healing story of the Mon Hei family. We uncovered a distinct flavor left behind by the Chinese forefathers of the C-ID, a flavor that has drawn the community tightly together since its beginning.

We hope that through this documentary, we are able to take you back to your own taste of home, no matter how many miles away.


SUPPORTED BY



 

 

Presented by

We are proud to partner with
Seattle Asian American Film Festival as presenter for this film.
Seattle Asian American Film Festival

There are 3 comments

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This film sounds so amazing. I will definetely watch it. How beautiful to be able to find someone that makes the Old Country dishes the way they are supposed to be made, with the right ingredients and loving hands. Thank you KCTS for your great programs. Beacause of you we can watch quality television. I will keep on donating forever.Kind regards, Susan

Thank you for your kind words and support. We are honored to be able to bring works by local independent filmmakers to our audience at KCTS 9. We hope you enjoyed the program and will tune in again for next episode of REEL NW featuring short narrative films by NW filmmakers on Sunday at 5pm or watch online here anytime. Thank you again! Best regards, Laila

I'm really bummed about missing this. Is there any other screening planned? Thank you!

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