Those who loved High on the Hog will love the new HBO Max docuseries Take Out With Lisa Ling. While the acclaimed Netflix series explored African-American cuisine, award-winning journalist Lisa Ling takes audiences into the kitchen and restaurants across the Asian-American and Pacific Islander diaspora.
Premiering January 27, Take Out With Lisa Ling explores not only the food but the culture and lives of Asian people. Ling even visits the only remaining Japanese restaurant in Boyle Heights, California. Although Americans are perhaps overly-familiar with our Westernized versions of Asian food (what mall doesn’t have a Chinese food place?), there remains a large amount of ignorance toward Asian history.
One of the many symptoms of racism and white supremacy is the flattening of non-white cultures. For too long, Asian Americans have been lumped together, exoticized, and marginalized. While Asian food has become a staple across the country, even included in stereotypes of city dwellers with modern lifestyles (is it possible to have a show about young people in New York without at least one scene of a character eating noodles out of a take out box?), the diversity and vastness of Asian-food and culture are often looked over.
In the six-episode series, Ling travels from the bayous of Louisiana to Orange County’s Little Saigon and shines a light on a cuisine that is anything but monolithic and has a detailed history in the United States. The docuseries is executive produced by Lisa Ling, Helen Cho and David Shadrack Smith.
Ling’s own family has a special history with food, as her grandparents opened a Chinese restaurant in Folsom, California named Hop Sing Eat Shop. Her grandfather, who had an MBA from NYU, was unable to get a job in finance because he was Chinese.
The rise in violence toward Asian-Americans proves that racism is alive and well, but Take Out With Lisa Ling aims to change the narrative.
“Somehow, the food has been the one thing that’s been able to transcend ignorance in some ways,” Ling told NBC News. “So we thought this [show] could be the perfect opportunity to tell these buried histories through something that most Americans have come to really love and cherish, which is Asian food.”