Touring musicians have a great gig. Rock and roll! It’s doubly great when they’re interested in exploring the international culinary world. We do realize some bands subsist solely on Taco Bell and Coke Zero. Shame on them! There’s Hatch chile to sample in New Mexico. Pappy Van Winkle in Kentucky. Doppelbock outside Hamburg. Tortas on the California-Mexico border. In Good Food, Rocks, we track down a band member serious about their grub—and who has held a job in the food industry too.
Electro-pop quartet Far East Movement has the honor of being the first all Asian-American hit break into the American Top 10—the single “Like A G6” has received a mere 63 million streams on YouTube. Whoa.
As native sons of LA, the group has evolved from living on TV dinners and fast food to appreciating the culinary landscape while on tour. They even started a blog to document their journeys. We caught up with the band’s Kev Nish to talk about barbecue in Boston, étouffée in Indy, and the horrors of pig heads in the butcher cold case.
So as a kid you worked at a grocery store?
I was in charge of stocking all the canned goods and dried goods. I was notorious for slashing open packages of chips and plastic-wrapped chicken with the razor blade. I had the worst return rate in the store.
Is there any food item you cannot look at because of this job?
The meat department would always keep pig heads in the cooler and I would always have to walk by, back and forth, all day long. And I could never make eye contact with it because it still had the eyes in it. And the most-nasty of all was that it was cut in half. The butchers had way more of a crazy job.
You’re half-Japanese and half-Chinese. Did you grow up in a traditional household? What are your early food memories?
I was mostly growing up on TV dinners and fast food like tacos and In-N-Out. We were all pretty Americanized. We ate spaghetti and potato salad. It wasn’t until I started traveling overseas with the Far East Movement that I was able to see how adventurous and authentic food can be.
What are some highlights from those travels?
As we traveled more and more we started a food blog. There were too many crazy foods going on to not write about it. We were in Indianapolis and the locals told us about this great étouffée being served at this market. We just played a show at Harvard and the students told us about this local barbecue that was really good and new to us. You can’t find good barbecue in LA.
What are your favorite spots in Los Angeles?
This place called The Corner is the best place to get Korean barbecue. Whenever DJs or record execs are in town, we like to take them there. For tacos, we like to go to El Taurino and King Taco.
What do you order?
Always a carne asada burrito with two tacos on the side. Always with red sauce. That red sauce is unmatchable around the world.
What do you think of Kogi?
Kogi taco truck is cool, but we’re impatient and don’t like to wait in line.
And it seems you like to included restaurants in some of your music videos..
We featured Taco House Number 1 in the video for “Rocketeer” (see: 2:00). Whenever we want breakfast burritos we go there. They usually don’t do breakfast, but make them custom for us.
What’s the order?
Always a carne asada burrito. With a scrambled egg.
Want to check out other music-meets-food stories on Food Republic? Here ya go: