Staff Picks: Pop culture trends in food


Cultivate your food for thought with “Hot Ones,” “Binging with Babish” and Tatsu Ramen. Photo credit: John Louie Menorca

By John Louie Menorca

Watch This! — “Hot Ones”

Photo courtesy of First We Feast.
Photo courtesy of First We Feast.

“The show with hot questions, and even hotter wings,” is the famous tagline for the YouTube web series “Hot Ones,” produced by First We Feast and hosted by Sean Evans. The tagline follows in a host to guest talk show interview format, where both Evans and the guest consume spicy chicken wings. Each set of hot wings get increasingly hotter and is then followed by an ever progressing difficulty of questions based on the guest’s background.

“Hot Ones” has featured celebrity guests ranging from DJ Khaled and T.J. Miller from the show’s first premiere on the web back in late 2015, to more recent guests like Shia LaBeouf, Paul Rudd and Maisie Williams. Each of the guests background is questioned and explored from the generally-known, to the details that are uncovered throughout the show’s research. At the end of the show, each guest is given a window to pitch their current project.

Starting out with mild Sriracha wings, both Evans and the guest of the episode climb a ladder of ten progressively hotter wings and questions. At the top, stands “Hot Ones” own the Last Dab, a hot sauce said to be over 2,000 times hotter than the starting Sriracha wings. Guests progressively feel the effects of the spicy wings and are given tools to counter those effects such as milk and water.

Standout episodes include Nick Offerman, who plays the role of Ron Swanson in “Parks and Recreation,” and food show enthusiast Alton Brown. Brown scoffs at the heat presented before him as he reviews the hot sauces by rating, all while maintaining his composure.

The YouTube channel for “Hot Ones” can be found here.

Watch This! — “Binging with Babish”

Photo courtesy of Binging with Babish.
Photo courtesy of Binging with Babish.

There are many YouTube channels dedicated to movie and television highlights, but the YouTube channel “Binging with Babish” is dedicated to the food featured in such highlights. From the filled-bun dumpling bao, featured in the Pixar short “Bao,” to the Ribwich sandwich from “The Simpsons,” such dishes are analyzed from their scenes and cooked on the screen.

One of the most recent episodes features a recreation of Ram-don, a dish which mashes up ramen and udon noodles, from the Academy Award-winning opening scenes of “Parasite,” a Korean tragicomedy film.

Andrew Rea, the chef behind the stove, analyzes the scene presented, and then recreates the dish in a descriptive, yet captivating step-by-step process. The final result is usually a mirror-like representation of the food that is presented in the movie.

Rea doesn’t stop there, he goes on to make his own version of the dish. Instead, in this episode, he makes the dish that Ram-don is based off of: Jjapaguri, the actual Korean name for the dish, consists of two separate dishes of ramen noodles and udon noodles made and then combined in the final product.

Episodes of “Binging with Babish” are available on the YouTube channel, with new episodes each week.

Eat Here! — Tatsu Ramen

Photo courtesy of Tatsu Ramen.
Photo courtesy of Tatsu Ramen.

The difference between the average instant ramen packet and a genuine bowl of ramen with fresh ingredients is felt first in the tastebuds, and nothing warms the soul like good food.

Tatsu Ramen’s motto is “Ramen with a Soul,” something the restaurant is able to bring to life in their classic ramen bowl. Made daily with broth that is cooked for 14 hours, visible to entire restaurant through a window that peers into the kitchen.

The dish includes chashu pork slices cooked to tenderness and a seasoned soft-boiled egg that retains the firm egg white on the outside and the gooey egg yolk on the inside. All of this combined together with al dente ramen noodles to create a tastebud experience that satisfies and almost demands seconds.

With seven different ramen bowl variations to choose from and options for rice bowls on the side, the menu is well rounded to satisfy any food lover until they’ve had enough. Additionally, one can order a wagyu ramen burger, two slightly crispy ramen buns, a medium-rare wagyu burger supplemented with scallions and a soft-boiled egg.

Accommodating all food lovers ranging from carnivores to vegans, the Tatsu Ramen experience is perfect for nearly everyone.

For more information, visit the Tatsu Ramen website here.