Lisa Ling Reveals the Asian Dishes She Tried for the First Time on Her New HBO Max Food Series

·3 min read

Lisa Ling's new HBO series has her exploring one of America's favorite cuisines, and trying a few new dishes along the way.

The award-winning Asian American journalist and former View co-host returned to the ABC daytime show on Wednesday, where she opened up about her new HBO Max series Take Out — which follows Ling as she shines a long overdue spotlight onto the contributions Asian Americans have made on the United States culinary scene.

It's something Ling, whose own family story began in a Chinese restaurant, knows all too well. But while filming the show, the 48-year-old mother of two admitted she learned things she never knew before, including trying two dishes she'd not yet eaten.

"For this series, I ate egg foo young and chop suey for the first time because my grandmother would never cook it at home," Ling told The View hosts Joy Behar, Sunny Hostin, Whoopi Goldberg and Sara Haines.

"We did an episode in New York about the Bangladeshi community, and most people probably don't know that there are so many Indian restaurants here in New York, but they're run by Bangladeshis," she added. "So I also tried Bangladeshi food for the first time."

"Take Out With Lisa Ling" Explores Asian Cuisine in America | The View
"Take Out With Lisa Ling" Explores Asian Cuisine in America | The View

The View

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Ling said on The View that she created Take Out because of the popularity of Asian food in America today.

"These days, most people really have come to love Asian food," she said. "There are more Chinese restaurants in America than McDonalds, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell combined. Even in the smallest corners of America, you'll even find sushi or Vietnamese food and Thai food, maybe even Bangladeshi food."

Still, while Asian food has become ubiquitous in the U.S., Ling noted that, "People don't really know the history behind a lot of these places, and the stories of survival and struggle and triumph."

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Take Out with Lisa Ling "Little Saigon"
Take Out with Lisa Ling "Little Saigon"

Carmen Chan/HBO Max

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Doing the show was a way for her to also help normalize Asian American delicacies to those still unaware. "[This is] food that I used to be ashamed of when I was a kid growing up," Ling said. "I mean, I would have never brought noodles to lunch at school. I would have been totally made fun of and teased!"

She also wanted to spotlight how food has been an opportunity for immigrant communities, "especially going through these times over the last couple of years when attacks on Asian Americans have just really skyrocketed."

As an example, Ling recalled how her grandfather moved to America in the 1920s with her grandmother, and got his M.B.A. at the University of Colorado. He later attended New York University but despite his degrees, "he couldn't get hired to work in finance because he was Chinese." The couple then "scraped up enough money" to open their own Chinese restaurant, "even though they didn't cook."

"Restaurants have become such an incredible pathway for immigrants to pursue some … semblance of the American dream, Ling said.

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Take Out chronicles Ling's journey across the U.S. as she speaks to the people behind Asian restaurants from Louisiana to Orange County, per HBO Max.

Ling explores "the foods we love while shining a long overdue spotlight on the contributions Asian Americans have been making to the United States since before the United States was even the United States," the show's official description reads.

Take Out with Lisa Ling premieres on HBO Max Thursday.

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