Partner Spotlight: Pine & Crane’s Vivian Ku
Pine & Crane is as much a testament to the melting pot of Taiwan as it is to the city of Los Angeles. The beloved restaurant located in the heart of Silverlake brings authentic, delicious Taiwanese-Chinese fare in a comfortable, modern setting. They are known for sourcing the best local ingredients and serve up Spread The Love®’s NAKED Organic Peanut Butter in their famous Dan Dan Noodles!
We interviewed Pine & Crane Owner and Spread The Love partner Vivian Ku about Taiwanese culture and the island’s tasty food!
Spread The Love: Taiwan is a tiny little island on the other side of the world. For someone who hasn’t made a trip yet, what are a few things about Taiwanese culture you would love that person to take away with them after dining at one of your restaurants?
Vivian: That Taiwanese food is interesting because of all the various influences from it's complicated history -- influences from Japan, from the Aborigines, from all the provinces in China. As a result of people living within close proximity to one another on such a small island, everyone's culinary habits and history is shared. As a result, I think the food in Taiwan is sort of organically designed to appeal to the masses.
STL: Pine & Crane was one of the first restaurants to bring traditional Taiwanese food from the immigrant suburbs of San Gabriel Valley and Orange County to the heart of Los Angeles. How did Pine & Crane come about and how did you know it was the perfect moment?
V: I've always wanted to open a restaurant and a Taiwanese one just made a lot of sense for a couple of reasons. Not only did I feel like it was underrepresented during the time, but I also just felt like people would really enjoy the flavors once they were introduced. I didn't necessarily know it would be the perfect moment, opening any small business always involves some degree of risk!
STL: How have your earliest memories made their way into the dishes you serve and the atmosphere you’ve created?
V: My grandparents on my mother's side were originally from Northern China, where wheat based food items are heavily consumed. Childhood memories were filled with hand cut noodles, dumplings, buns, and the like. Many of those items have found their way onto the Pine & Crane / Joy menus.
STL: What's your favorite Taiwanese food? What's a customer favorite at Pine and Crane? and why?
V: It's all so good, it's hard to pick a favorite. If I had to pick one thing, I would say Minced Pork on Rice because it's the quintessential Taiwanese dish, full of ingredients that make it taste distinctively Taiwanese -- fried shallots, soy sauce, rice wine, rock sugar, and unctuous pork.
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