The Season 2 finale focuses on Asian-American entrepreneurs, including Tim Wildin, the Chipotle executive whose Thai aunties' recipes contribute to the menu at Shophouse; Lynda Trang Dai, the "Vietnamese Madonna" who's now the queen of banh mi sandwiches in Orange County's Little Saigon; and Charles Phan, whose Slanted Door was named best restaurant in the country by the James Beard Foundation.
The distinctive, rustic cuisine of Taiwan is explored. With Cathy Erway, author of "Foods of Taiwan," Danielle hits a Chinatown market and then makes the island's most famous dish, beef noodle soup. At Taiwan Bear House, started by homesick young expats, she tries a New York take on the box lunches known as biandang. And in California's Orange County, she pays a twilight visit to America's closest counterpart to a classic Taiwanese night market.
A former financier who offers a light, healthy take on Indian classics at his fast-casual start-up Inday; the adventurous restaurateurs behind Babu Ji, where meticulous preparations and a Bollywood vibe have led to breakout success; and a Silicon Valley engineer who got her start in the food business selling homemade chai by bicycle in the hills of San Francisco.
The rise of China has meant the rise of Chinese culinary traditions in America. Included: an industrial kitchen where traditional "confinement meals" are made for new mothers across the country; an underground Manhattan cocktail den whose main ingredient is the fiery liquor baijiu, the world's most heavily consumed spirit; and a wedding in the heart of San Francisco's Chinatown where old world and new meet at the banquet table and on the dance floor.
The relationship between faith and food is evident at three Asian houses of worship, including a Buddhist temple where Danielle is served an artful vegetarian feast; a Sikh temple where she helps cook Indian flatbread for a communal meal; and a Queens mosque's annual food fair, where she samples Indonesian dishes and learns about life as a Muslim in America.
Agriculturists large and small, traditional and cutting edge, are featured. Included: Ross Koda, a third-generation Japanese-American, who runs a renowned Central Valley rice farm and hopes to keep it in the family; Kristyn Leach, who hand grows artisanal, heirloom Asian produce for one of San Francisco's most popular restaurants; and, on the gorgeous Half Moon Bay coast, a pair of electricians who operate America's first wasabi farm.
The Season 2 premiere features American manifestations of otaku, the Japanese trope that combines cutting-edge pop culture with fetishistic obsession. Included: New York's first cat cafe; a Brooklyn izakaya run by a Frenchman in thrall to Japanese anime and manga; and a California suburban mom who's a star on the international bento-box circuit. Also: Danielle gets in the sumo ring with a 600-pound opponent and then helps him make chanko nabe, the sumo wrestler's staple meal.