Talking #LAFoodCulture With Buzzfeed Tasty Producer Kiano Moju
Intro: Food Tribe is taking a deeper dive into #LAFoodCulture, by featuring the chefs, restauranteurs, and foodies that make LA's food scene what it is. We want to hear from various perspectives about LA's food culture, and are excited to share those voices with you!
This week, we had the pleasure of speaking with Kiano Moju, video producer with Tasty, founder of Culinary Inspo and author of the cookbook Livin’ for the Weekend. We were excited to get her takes on street food, black ice cream, misconceptions on the food scene in London, and of course all things #LAFoodCulture. She may have even alerted us to a few underground hot spots for Taiwanese food and poke.
Kiano also spent time getting her postgraduate degree in London, and it was insightful to hear about how they eat across the pond. She denounced the common notion that most Londoners survive on daily fish and chips and other bland foods. The increase in popularity of Middle Eastern and North African cuisine in London was surprising to her, and that seeing these sorts of flavors coming back to LA is becoming more and more apparent.
However, it wasn’t all peaches and cream. The London food scene is alive and well, featuring increasingly more world renown chefs, but Kiano did have one gripe with London’s scene.
“I could not get my tacos!”
It is easy to become accustomed to one type of food if you live in a specific area all your life. Spending so much time in London gave Kiano an even greater appreciation for how innovative and eccentric the #LAFoodCulture is.
“There’s so much more Asian cuisine here and obviously Mexican cuisine, but I think the interesting part is the style. You have these various categories of really healthy food and street food, and the concept of street food, even though you don’t necessarily get it on the street.”
The presence of street food in traditional restaurants is a big part of what makes LA’s food scene so exciting. You see events such as Smorgasburg, with dozens upon dozens of food trucks stacked practically on top of each other just begging to fill your belly with everything from fried chicken sandwiches to acai bowls.
LA also has some of the more unique designs you’ll see in any food scene, which is one of the things that stuck out to Kiano upon moving west.
“When I first moved here and I was asking people for restaurant recommendations, half of them weren’t about how good the food was, it was about ‘Oh, this place is really popular!’ I think that idea of what’s popular translates to how restaurants are designing their spaces.”
The popular restaurants can certainly also taste the best, but it is interesting to see restaurants focus so much on external designs, PR strategies, and social media to get their food out there.
Of course, Kiano also clued us into a hot spot or two that are staples in her food repertoire. The uptick in ice cream shops is a revelation, particularly when it comes to rolled ice cream, and even black ice cream. The matcha ice cream at Mikawaya is also can’t miss. Any of these would be the perfect dessert after hitting up one of LA’s many delightful Asian fusion spots.
“I went to this restaurant the other week and it blew my mind, and I haven’t had a restaurant blow my mind in ages. It’s called Little Fatty in Mar Vista. It’s one of those where I took a bite, put my fork down, look behind both my shoulders and be like, is this real? How did I not know about this place?”
She recommends getting the hand-pulled noodles with cumin spiced lamb. A fresh change of pace from your typical Chinese food or ramen, this Taiwanese soul food joint should definitely make your belly happy.
We ended the interview by asking Kiano what her dining table would look like for her last meal on earth.
“I’d have the biggest dinner party ever. If you took Western Europe, and into Africa, that whole strip is how It like to eat. Some Moroccan meat, some Kenyan appetizers, some French desserts and plenty of wine flowing.”
You can’t argue with that.
“It’s your last meal, so you gotta ball out.”
Truer words have never been spoken.
We can’t thank Kiano enough for taking the time to speak with us and for her unique perspective on #LAFoodCulture. Her taste for some of the more international flavors is truly one of a kind and inspires us to be less basic with our pallets!