The Boyle Heights food scene is frequently mentioned in “best of LA” lists, and tasty dishes by up-and-coming local chefs have been profiled on national and international TV programs. Most recently, a number of Eastside eateries are at the heart of two new documentary series currently streaming.
Several Boyle Heights food makers are featured in the latest season of Broken Bread, the series by famed Koren American Chef Roy Choi, for KCET and Tastemade. Episode 2, “Food as Resistance,” looks at how Milpa Grille challenges the concept of traditional Mexican food with a menu focused on corn, squash and beans. It also shows how the restaurant on César Chávez Ave. functions as a host to other pop-up businesses like Macheen – chef Jonathan Pérez’ pop-up operation, also featured in the program.
Premiering last month on HBO Max, an episode of Take Out With Lisa Ling explores how Boyle Height became a refuge for Japanese Americans who were interned during World War II. During the episode, the journalist visits Otomisan, the local restaurant believed to be the last remaining Japanese diner in Los Angeles that was recently listed as a historic-cultural monument.
“It has become not only a symbol of resilience, but a symbol of unity,” Ling said in an interview with NBC News. In her visit she chats with Otomisan owner Yayoi Watanabe and says she has taken on a role akin to the “community’s Japanese mom.”
The episode also features East Los Musubi, a local pop-up by Doreen Nakama and Adam Martinez that serves variations on a dish created by Japanese Hawaiians after the war. During a recent promotional visit to Jimmy Kimmel Live, Ling offered some Flaming Hot Cheetos Musubi to the host and his sidekick Guillermo, as documented by LA Taco.
Broken Bread’s “Food as Resistance” episode will next air on Monday Feb 14 a 7 pm on PBS SoCal. It also streams on the PBS app and is available online for a limited time on KCET.org. Take Out With Lisa Ling streams on HBO Max.