On the Scene: Food Lovers Delight

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Chef Lawrence Chu was recently featured on the front page of the Features Section of the San Jose Mercury, headlined as the South Bay’s Power Restaurant where feasting with the famous is common place. As expressed in the interview, Lawrence said back in the 1980s when then-Secretary of State George Shultz called a meeting of officials in the Reagan administration, guess where it was held.  Tennis star Serena Williams twittered her three million followers of this favorite restaurant of hers when she visits Silicon Valley. On any given day or evening when I’ve come into Chef Chu’s, the tables are full of patrons who smile when welcomed by name by owner Chef Lawrence or his son, Larry Jr., and even daughter Jennifer.  The family enterprise started in 1970, and Chu recalls cutting his teeth in the restaurant business as a busboy at San Francisco Trader Vic’s where he saw this was a place for movie stars and politicians alike to cluster.   Now Chef Chu’s is the place to see and be seen, as well as be introduced to the finest of service and Chinese dishes the Chus can put  before you at Chef Chu’s on the corner of San Antonio Ave and El Camino Real in Los Altos.  See you there.

Jerry Hill, center greets guests from Acupuncture organizations of Northern California

At the Garden Party held at his home, Assemblyman Jerry Hill welcomed many supporters including his San Mateo colleagues, with a wide spread of gourmet sandwiches, open wine bar, and trays of pastries.  He chose a perfect California day to enjoy fine foods and good company to come to support a very likeable Jerry Hill’s senate run.  Currently a candidate for the State Senate, the popular Hill and wife Sky has been endorsed by many groups.  Aide to Fiona Ma, Francisco Hsieh introduced Jerry to a large contingent of acupuncturists at the party.  Representing the California Certified Acupuncturist Association was president Sam Huang, a practitioner from Oakland. President Xiao Ping Wang of the United California Practitioners of Chinese Medicine said that his membership of 300 doctors would all be behind Hill’s candidacy. Among the doctors of acupuncture there, I met my old doctor, Professor Daren Chen of the Academy of Chinese medicine, who recalled treating me 20 years ago when I interviewed him for an AsianWeek story.

Talk about food. Little Carley Joy Owyoung is only three months old and too young to enjoy the World Gourmet Buffet where her Red Egg Party was held, but her two hundred family and friends were overwhelmed with the selections offered at this popular Fremont Restaurant.  Great grandmother Helen Owyoung, grandparents Dana and Lani Owyoung, and Glenn and Lynne Watanabe were  busy showing off their new granddaughter, while parents Jeremy and Stacey were occupied giving out bottles of pomegranate flavored water with cute Carley’s picture on the cap.  Seen among the packed buffet tables were great great grandaunt Suki Jang, Dorothy Toy-Fong with daughter Dorley from Paris, Lani’s fellow Grant Ave Follies friends Pat Chin, Ivy Tam and Darlene Mar, Jennie and Warren Chin, grand uncle Brian and Gina Owyoung.  I taught Gina at Cleveland School in Oakland as a newlywed over 50 years ago, so it is fun to see how my first grade students grew up in happy family surroundings.

Baby Carley Joy Owyoung poses with parents Jeremy and Stacey, grandmother Lani, great grandmother Helen, and granddad Dana Owyoung.

Dr. Jerry Hiura was thoroughly roasted, but thank heavens, not in the oven, at a Thanks, Dr. Jerry dinner given by the Contemporary Asian Theater Scene group, an organization he himself founded a dozen or so years ago when everyone recalled he was a young advocate with frizzy Afro long hair.  Obviously a poplar dentist in San Jose Japantown, he also has been a longtime advocate of the arts, having served on the California Arts Commission, San Jose Arts Commission and Silicon Valley Arts Council. Among those at the podium unloading Hiura secret stories were former San Jose Mayor Susan and Phil Hammer, former Congressman John Vasconcellos, Steve Yamaguma who founded CATS with Jerry, Kimochi Exeuctive Director Steve Nakajo, La Mesa Verde Founder Raul Lozano, actor writer Tim Yamamura, and San Jose Managing Director Nick Nichols.  Jon Jang dedicated a song to grinning Jerry – instead of “On our Way to Route 66” his was “Going to Root Canal 66”.  Laugh of the evening was when PJ and Roy Hirbayashi, founders of San Jose Taiko, pulled Jerry on stage to perform with them on the taiko drums.   Others performing in tribute to him were his uke teacher, Rodney Takahashi and vocalist Moy Eng of the Community School of Arts and Music.

Paul Fong, Jerry Huira, and John Vasconcellos

The Chinese Culture Center opened its new exhibit WOMEN at its Chinese Culture Gallery last week, announced Executive Director Mabel Teng to us.  WOMEN features video works, installation art, photography, sculpture and more in a diverse array featuring 13 artists, seven from China, two artist collectives, three NGOs in social project and five local artists, female, male and LGBTQ artists.  Appearing at the showing were artistsXiang Zi, Gao Ling, Stella Zhang, Ana Teresa Fernandez, Man Yee Lam, Rae Chang and Adam Tow. Come visit this exhibit of fascinating designed materials created by a consortium of NGOs within China focusing on LGBTQ community, women and sex workers that must operate through underground channels to avoid scrutiny.  Exhibit will continue through November 15, 2012 at the Chinese Culture Center, located on the third floor of the Hilton Hotel Financial District. Free admission.


Calling all Alumni of the Sigma Omicron Pi Sorority was the mantra when Mayme Chinn, Nora Lee and Jennie Louie threw an open invitation to lunch last month to former members of this UC Berkeley based Chinese sorority.  In an era where Asians were not invited to join panhellenic sororities, a group of active UC Berkeley coeds in the 1940s decided to form their own organization.  Still going strong as a student sorority on college campuses across the nation, Sigma Omicron Pi alumni now want to resurrect the alumni chapter.  If you were a member once upon a time and would like to reconnect with your old sorority sisters and meet new ones of other years, contact Jennie Louie at jenniehlouie@mac.com. As a former Sigma Omicron Pi member myself in my UC Berkeley days, I would love to see old college cronies of my yesteryear so hopefully this group will be resurrected for future reunions of SOP sisterhood.

You can really call the Ao Dai Cultural Festival a community-based project because over 200 volunteers from diverse ethnic groups and walks of life were involved in this project which occurred a few weeks ago in downtown San Jose. The Festival ran from 3pm-8pm with outdoor booths of foods, arts and crafts and children’s activities.  But it was the indoor evening performance at the San Jose Performing Arts Center that brought glamour and beauty to the forefront.  Organized by THE FRIENDS OF HUE FOUNDATION, THE GREENRICE FOUNDATION, DIASPORIC VIETNAMESE ARTISTS NETWORK AND GG CONNECTIONS, this festival featured an art symposium, and fine art exhibition curated by Trinh Mai.  The highlight of the day, however, was the show of fashions, around historic fables, of the traditional Vietnamese Ao Dai Dress.

Models were the tall lovely women from the Miss Ou Dai Pageant of Northern California and GG Connection modeling the beautiful fabric and designs of My Chau, Huyen Tran,  and Nam Phong,  Duc Hung brought his “Fairy Silk” collection, while Sy Haong showed his delicate use of fabric in his Courtesans Attires Collections, Minh Hanh showed her Falang collection accented with a special appearance by Miss Vietnam 2012.  Much applause accompanied the appearance of the most exquisite ao dai gowns as ever seen in Santa Clara Valley.  Vanessa Vo ensemble and orchestra provided the musical background for all of the fashion show.    At this 2nd Annual Ao Dai Festival, the Friends of Hue Foundation (FHF) presented the year’s Humanitarian Award to the Vietnamese-American Non-Governmental Organization Network (VA NGO network) in recognition of its tireless efforts and dedication to the development of Vietnamese-American NGO’s ,in building the foundation for collaborations among Vietnamese American NGOs, and training and sharing expertise in capacity building and program workshops.     With the growing large community of Vietnamese citizens in Santa Clara County, it is wonderful the community can bind together to share their rich Vietnamese culture with the outside world.


Those of us enjoying California summers take off to Monterey Valley to enjoy the scenery of the beaches and especially the golf courses.  Gary Nelson’s Seascape Golf Course surpassed all my expectations with 18 lush contoured fairways winding through the Resort’s lush forests and around its tranquil lakes. Warning – 15 of the 18 holes have water features that love to attract errant balls.   Additional benefit if you stay at the Seascape Resort is that the course is only  a mile away with its locale among a series of  coastal dune lakes.  Quite closeby is DeLaveaga Golf Course perched atop the hills surrounding Santa Cruz. Tim Loustalot told us proudly that it is one of the top ranked public courses in California and combines natural beautiful surroundings with a challenging and thoughtful course design featuring beautiful tree lined fairways and deep canyons. For a last summer play day vacation , visit these two courses when in the Santa Cruz/Seascape area.

Director of Golf Tom Loustalot welcomed Carole and Jim Yamaguchi, Calvin Wong to his DeLaveaga Golf Course in Santa Cruz, CA


The Mississippi Henry Jue family held a reunion in California when they came to Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation’s unveiling of its Phase 2 Immigrant Heritage Wall  to proudly view the plaque they purchased in honor of their parents. Californians there were Magen Jensen,  Mary Ann Wong, Gladys Fong and Jane Quon.  From Tennessee were Betty Dickard and George Jue. From Arkansas came Jessie Fong and arriving from Texas was Helen Joe.

The Jue Family held a reunion while coming to California to view their plaque on the Angel Island Immigrant Heritage Wall

A San Francisco lunch, hosted by Susan Chang, heralded Evangeline Lum’s birthday, much to the honorees surprise.  Congratulating her were Eileen Tong, Margaret Lee, Bettie Lum and Jayne Leon.

Evangeline Lum’s Birthday


San Jose Taiko turns its annual fall show into a collaborative project called “Taiko+Technology.”Working with ZERO1 curator Jaime AustinDr. Michael Fienen of the USGS, who worked with “sonification” of earthquake data; the artists’ collective Anticlockwise Arts, which fiddles to produce visual effects; and the South Bay’s Tim Thompson, a noted technologist/artist, Taiko aims to dissolve the presumed differences between an art with ancient roots and the latest innovations in digital presentation. Sounds exciting and new for this 40 year old organization which began when Roy and PJ Hirabayashi started  the taiko revolution with their fledgling San Jose Taiko.According to artistic director Franco Imperial, audiences can expect to see San Jose Taiko “using technology as a platform for inspiration,” with an emphasis on “use of projection to visualize how taiko is being interpreted on a digital canvas.” September 21-22 at the Mexican Heritage Plaza, 1700 Alum Rock Ave., San Jose.  Tickets: (408) 293-9344

HATWALK 2012 will be held November 10 at the San Jose Fairmont Hotel to celebrate hats and the comfort they bring to cancer patients. Presented by the Asian-American Cancer Support Network (AACSN) , HATWALK will be a fun filled evening gala to celebrate the value of “hats” to cancer patients, and emceed by NBC Bay Area reporter Janelle Wang and ABC7 News reporter David Louie.  The organization’s signature HATWALK hat fashion show is always a highlight of the evening with hats being purchased right off the heads of the models as in years past.   The AACSN was founded in July 2003 byMay Bakken and Fidelia Butt, M.D. as a nonprofit organization with a mission to become a community resource network for Asians Americans affected by cancer in the Bay Area through social programs and creative fundraising.  For info: AACSN.ORG.

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