[ Suspenseful drumbeat plays ] You come to Vegas... Wo-o-o-o-o-w!
We're in the middle of the desert.
The Strip is there.
But come off-Strip.
The food is absolutely amazing.
This is secret sauce!
How come you didn't teach me?
[ Laughter ] It's a city that constantly is growing.
And then you have this Chinatown building and expanding just as much!
[ Turntable scratches, upbeat hip hop plays ] -Now, more than ever, people are willing to leave the Strip.
-We have traditional Taiwan foods.
-Mongolian hot pot.
♪♪ Your food is so good.
-This one's from Sichuan Province.
-Why do you think that Chinese food perception has to be changed?
It's by far the biggest cuisine in the world.
-People think of Chinese cuisine as fast food.
It's something that we want to change to showcase that Chinese food doesn't always have to be the cheaper sibling in Asian cuisine.
♪♪ -This Chinatown would not exist without entrepreneurship and dreaming.
-I'll gamble on anything.
-Okay, let's go.
There we go.
[ Laughter ] -Wahh!
-Oh, you got me.
I need wate-e-e-r or a bee-ee-ee-r!
-Definitely, you need a beer.
-[Laughs] I'm Chef Marcus Samuelsson, and as an immigrant born in Ethiopia and raised in Sweden, food, to me, has always told a deeper, more personal story.
[ Upbeat hip hop plays ] It's a path to culture, identity, and history.
[ Cheering ] Join me on a new journey across the country to learn more about America's immigrant communities and culinary traditions, to see how food connects us all.
♪♪ [ Hip hop jazz plays ] -If you only associate Vegas with night life, gambling, Frank Sinatra, and Elvis, you might not realize there's also extremely layered diversity.
Now, for the last 20 years or so, it's become a destination for chefs.
Some of the best restaurants in the entire world are actually now in Las Vegas and every single major casino and hotel always has an incredible Chinese restaurant.
One, because we get a lot of tourists from China, and Asian Americans have been the largest-growing population in the state of Nevada for the last two decades.
♪♪ I've cooked in Vegas so many times, but I'm excited about getting to learn all about Chinese cuisine.
Can't wait to, tch, dive into it.
♪♪ So, I'm gonna the Palazzo to check out this really chic restaurant called Mott 32.
♪♪ Very upscale, beautiful design that only Vegas can create.
♪♪ I mean, their kitchen is like a dream.
What's up, Chef?
-Hey, how are you?
-How are you?
-Thank you for having me.
I'm meeting chef Alan Ji and he's a master in Chinese cooking.
So, when you call out the order, do you call them out in Mandarin or do you call 'em out in... Cantonese.
Cantonese, Mandarin, and a little bit of English.
So, how do you say, "Pick up"?
-[Speaking Cantonese] -[Repeats Cantonese] -[Speaking Cantonese] is "take."
-[Speaking Cantonese] is "away."
[ Both speaking Cantonese ] -Yes!
-How do you say, "Faster"?
-[Speaking Cantonese] -[Repeats Cantonese] -Yeah.
-Table 32 ready.
[Speaking Cantonese] -Yeah.
[Speaking Cantonese] -Well, show me the line; show me what we're gonna do.
-I can make a ma po tofu for you.
-Feed me, Chef.
Feed me, Chef.
-Let's -- Let's do it.
So, let's clean the wok.
[ Sizzling ] -You know what I think is amazing, Chef?
-A wok that has been around for thousands of years.
You can't improve it.
This is the same wok that somebody created about 1,500 years ago.
It's quick; it's super-hot.
When a chef have no hair.
-They always burn it.
♪♪ We use a leg to turn it on.
-Yeah, the knee, like a... -Like the twist.
-So, turn it on.
-Wait, wait, I want to -- -So, see -- see -- if you -- -Whoa!
Thousand times a night, right?
♪♪ -Put some duck soy sauce.
-Duck soy sauce?
-Reason why I put duck soy sauce: -Yeah.
-make the color.
Ready to go.
The smell of this is amazing.
It's not finished yet.
-No, I'm just smelling, Chef.
[ Laughter ] So, it's blanched lobster and then you're finishing off in the stir fry.
♪♪ -Watching Alan in the kitchen was absolutely amazing.
It's like watching a dancer.
And it's also the economy of the movement, right?
'Cause it's hot and he's gotta know what the next step is.
He's so quick and precise in his movement.
-We put the lobster like that.
Lobster ma po tofu.
Mix a little bit.
-It's so delicious.
The heat and the tofu for sauce and then the lobster on top.
Yeah, I'm keepin' this.
[ Romantic tune plays ] It's a really theatrical vibe to Mott 32.
They have a open kitchen, they have a big bar, incredible decor and design, but, for me, the heart of the restaurant is really this incredible Peking duck oven where they then bring out the duck and carve it table-side.
I'm in heaven.
Peking duck has traditions that reaches back hundreds and hundreds of years, when it was a dish coming out of the Ming Dynasty.
-First part, the skin.
-So, this is truly a regal dish.
-Dip with brown sugar.
♪♪ -So good.
-Hoisin sauce with sesame and peanut.
♪♪ -Just use your hands and pick -Nice.
-the cucumbers, [indistinct].
♪♪ -This must be one of the most popular dishes on the menu.
-Yes, it is.
-So, we have limited availability of these.
-We only serve about 28 for each dinner service.
-Yeah, that's mostly [indistinct].
We have the only restaurant with Peking duck direct from oven to the customer.
-It's the perfect dish.
It has everything.
-And -- Yeah.
We have a lot of Chinese tourists here.
-They like traditional Chinese food, so we try to introduce different regions, from west to east, north to south.
-Before, everybody think Chinese food is like cheaper, that's it.
That's why we need like bring the high-level Chinese food -Mm-hmm.
-to the world.
When you come into this environment, there's no doubt.
You step your foot here for one second, you're part of an experience and, when you have this duck, it's absolutely amazing.
♪♪ [ Upbeat tune plays ] -In 1848, '49, the Chinese were interested in coming to California and Nevada in pursuit of gold.
They heard the rumors of gold and how you could be immediately wealthy.
[ Whistle blows ] In the 1860s, it was decided that the West needed a transcontinental railroad.
♪♪ And so the Central Pacific said, "If the Chinese can build the Great Wall of China, they can help us build this railroad."
[ Mellow hip hop plays ] They started with a small group, grew to 50, then 100, then 1,000, and, eventually, we estimate anywhere between 11,000 and 15,000 Chinese workers on the Central Pacific.
[ Horn blowing ] In every major community that they went through, they would have a Chinatown built right near the railroad tracks because the Central Pacific would lease the land to them and they could build their Chinatown.
The Chinatowns generally had restaurants, so, there was an introduction of Chinese food from the railroad workers to the local population and, particularly after 1900, it was very fashionable to "eat Chinese food."
[ Intense hip hop plays ] -I can't imagine a neighborhood anywhere in this country, big city or small city, that doesn't have that staple Chinese American restaurant.
And this, for me, is pret-ty amazing.
They're not owned by the same people, but, yet, we expect the same thing.
It should be fast, shouldn't be that expensive, it should taste exactly the way my Chinese restaurant in my neighborhood does.
How is that even possible?!
♪♪ I'm heading off the Strip, so I got all of these big towers and hotels behind me.
We're gonna focus on the local vibe.
♪♪ I'm meeting Jim, who really grew up in a restaurant family.
Hey, man, how are you?
Nice to meet you.
Are you excited?
You ready for some lunch?
-I'm for some lunch.
-Let's do it.
-We're going to have one of the most iconic American meal you can think about: that basic Cantonese Chinese restaurant.
This is like a old-school Chinese-, Cantonese-style food right here.
-It's a great place to kinda like set a reference of, "This is Chinese American food as we know it."
[ Suspenseful chord strikes ] Whoa!
They got the live lobster and everything!
Do you like the shrimp with the heads on 'em?
-Head on, absolutely.
[ Mid-tempo hip hop plays ] -My parents worked at a lot of Chinese restaurants when they first came over here and eventually ended up starting their own.
-So, you grew up in the industry, basically, -helping out -- -I did.
I grew up putting dishes away when I was little and eventually progressing, like a prep cook, to actually cooking.
It was called The Honk Kong Restaurant in Idaho Falls, Idaho.
Very small town; I think like 30,000 was the population.
But with one good Chinese joint.
[laughing] -Yeah, exactly.
So you were born in Chinatown?
-I was born in China.
My sister and I were born in China.
We came over as -- I think I was one years old, so.
-My hometown, Taishan, which is actually, I'm proud to say.
it was known as the home for overseas Chinese 'cause there's more people living abroad than actually in Taishan.
♪♪ -Taishan is in the Guangdong, or the Canton, Province.
Up until 1965, it's actually where more than half of all Chinese immigrants in America came from.
Chefs came to this country with their know-how and their well-established hospitality culture and, very early on, they opened restaurants.
♪♪ Over time, Chinese American cuisine started to take shape... ♪♪ ...either adjusting recipes to fit non-Chinese guests, or using local ingredients in place of what they traditionally would've used in China.
So, these are some of the reasons why Cantonese food has become that classic Chinese American cuisine.
♪♪ Thank you.
-What do we got?
This is beautiful.
-This is a Yangzhou fried rice.
There's always gonna be eggs, onions, maybe barbecued pork, and they threw some shrimp in here.
IT's kinda like the typical, basic fried rice that everyone's kinda used to.
The XO sauce with the string beans, very popular.
I mean, XO sauce is just grinded up seafood -Yeah, yeah, yeah.
-with some spice to it.
There are so many gifts that we have in American cooking because of Chinese culture -Uh-huh.
-and I would put XO right up there with ketchup, right?
-Like XO is everything.
-You can put XO on anything.
-What do you like, so far, out of these dishes?
-You know what I like?
Is it's comfort.
I know what those beans are gonna taste like.
-I know the pop.
-I know the little heat.
This fried rice, for me, is just as comfortable as having a taco or having a burger.
-This clay pot, it's a sea bass braised -- the tofu and it seeps in and all that flavor, right?
I really like this one a lot.
And that is kinda more the style that your family, with Cantonese culture, you grew up with.
-What would be your second-favorite regional Chinese food, would you say?
I mean, it would be Sichuan food.
-You like to sweat.
You're like, "I can sweat it out."
-In college, I actually did a studies abroad in Chengdu.
The very first day I got there, I was sweating and I asked him, "Can I have it not spicy, please?"
And they're like, "That's your mild."
-I bet you you never felt as American as that.
[laughing] -Yeah, exactly.
-Like, I tell my younger relatives and younger Chinese people all the time, too.
I'm like "You don't know how good you have it."
Because when I was growing up, you couldn't just go out and eat all these different types of Chinese food.
It was everything was considered weird.
If you served a chicken with a head on it still... As a Chinese American, I'm getting to try these new dishes along with everyone else too, right?
So you're being reintroduced to the authentic style of regional Chinese cooking.
♪♪ China is a huge country.
1.4 billion people in China!
But, now, we've got travelling, trading, and also, because of social media and Internet, we want to learn: What's Mongolian food like?
What's Southern China like?
What's the difference between Sichuan cuisine and food from Shanghai?
All of this different cuisine's gonna come alive and it's super-interestin'.
I'm excited about it.
♪♪ ♪♪ -Okay.
[ Chord strikes ] [ Train whistle blows ] -So, in 1905, when the railroad came to Las Vegas and opened Las Vegas as a train town, right away, the Chinese came.
[ Hip hop funk plays ] The first Chinatown in Las Vegas was in the 1930s, on Fremont and First Street.
♪♪ They had restaurants, grocery stores.
Later on, gambling casinos.
The Chinese, of course, have a history of being interested in gaming.
♪♪ In the 1970s, the major casino owners started to attract Chinese tourists, especially during Chinese New Year's.
♪♪ Caesars Palace was one of the first to really put an all-out event and I still remember the first Chinese New Year's dinner, when they served rice, they served Uncle Ben's instant white rice.
♪♪ Eventually, in the 1990s, another Chinatown opened, on Spring Mountain Road, and that then blossomed into the major Chinatown here in Las Vegas today.
[ Outro plays ] [ Suspenseful drumbeat plays ] -In many cities in America, Chinatowns were really set up because there were so many discriminating laws against the Chinese population.
♪♪ It was just not a choice where the community wanted to stick together.
It was actually forced upon the community as well.
♪♪ Las Vegas was different, in that sense.
It didn't have those restrictions, so people could live anywhere.
♪♪ So, I'm heading five minutes west of the Strip, to about a three-mile section on Spring Mountain Road and the anchor point is Chinatown Plaza.
So it's both a commercial destination and a culture destination.
-How are you?
How are you?
-Good to see you.
-This is cool.
[ Upbeat hip hop plays ] [ Vehicle horn blares ] -This is it.
This is Chinatown.
This was the first building -Mm-hmm.
-that started this whole area.
-Crystal is an amazing musician.
She works five nights a week on the Strip.
She is born and raised here in Vegas and she was about 11 when Chinatown Plaza was built.
So she used to come here to drink boba tea and hang out with her friends.
Boba, drank all over Southeast Asia, right?
-It has this texture of tapioca pearls.
-Yeah, it's kinda chewy.
-Sweet and chewy.
-How was it to grow up in Las Vegas?
I mean, when someone says Vegas, right away, people think about coming for a couple of days, partying, gambling, but, a lot of people came to work, because it was attract -- You know you can get a job.
-It's a lot like my parents.
When they moved here, my dad was working in the casinos as a dealer.
-And their English wasn't perfect.
-They saw a lot of opportunities -Yeah.
-and opened their own business.
So, it's the mid-'90s, this Chinatown mall opens.
It becomes a place for the community.
I'm sure you were like running around here, having fun.
-Yeah, there was a arcade here and we'd come to the bookstore.
This is where I discovered Chinese music, C-pop.
I'd see all these CDs that I've never seen before.
-It was before the Internet.
-We all know about K-pop, but C-pop, do not sleep on it, right?
How did you get into being a musician?
-Well, I started when I was five.
-And here I am.
-Here you are.
Being a musician, playing on the Strip.
The Strip provides gambling, sure, but, a lot of people don't think about what an incredible sort of hub for creatives it is.
-Yeah, for all the arts.
There's always shows going on, musicals, productions.
-A lotta opportunity here.
♪♪ So, I'm gonna take you to T&T Ginseng.
My mom will be there.
What's up, Mom?
-How are you?
-Nice meeting you.
-My mom, Nina.
-This is a Chinese herb store.
They sell all kinds of dry Chinese goods.
♪♪ They have ginseng.
There's so much Chinese medicinals that is so unknown to me, -Yes.
-but I know I need it.
-[Laughing] -Tell me about the tradition of medicinal stores, like tea shops like this.
I think every Chinatown needs an herbal store like this.
-A lotta Western medication, a lotta people kinda stay away from.
So, a lot of people turn to Chinese teas, Chinese herbal medication, for the same conditions.
Flu... -If Crystal come in, she would ask, "Okay, I have this ache; I have this pain.
And then she will go to the... -So, you need an herbal doctor to write you a prescription.
-And then, she will fill it, just like any other pharmacy.
-She'll make batches of the medication and then you boil it and then you will drink it.
-Thank you so much.
-Yeah, no problem.
♪♪ -Vegas is really similar to LA, in a way, in terms of, it has these unassuming strip malls, right?
Mall after mall after mall.
And each one of these plazas, there's amazing food happening.
Nina and Crystal has taken me across the street from Chinatown Plaza to their absolutely favorite restaurant: Yi Mei Champion Taiwan Deli.
♪♪ China and Taiwan has a really complex political relationship, but we don't have to talk about that to enjoy this incredible, delicious food.
Taiwan takes influences from mainland China; also Japan, that colonized Taiwan for many, many years; and then, of course, the indigenous population.
How are you?
-How are you?!
I'm excited to be here.
-The boss is here.
-Yeah, boss, boss lady.
-Boss and boss lady, exactly.
-In Taiwan, she's a movie star; and World War II hero.
-Wow, that's amazing.
[laughing] My mom is very good friends with Borman and she's here all the time -Nice.
-and so they all party together.
-So, we have a traditional Taiwan food.
In Chinese, we call it [ Speaking Chinese language ] So, let's have a traditional Chinese breakfast.
A couple of stuff go out.
-Whatever you like.
-Whatever you like.
♪♪ [ Bell dings ] Chinese breakfast basically turned out to be a banquet.
I'm gonna to try a little bit of everything.
-So, this is a omelet Oyster.
-I love that.
And this one, it's a stinky tofu.
-I love it.
-[Laughs] The hard part is pacing yourself, from the stinky tofu... What do you call it in Mandarin?
-[Speaking Mandarin] -...to homemade soy milk.
These like long stick, almost like churros-looking, doughnuts.
Because so many people order eggs and the Chinese doughnut, so I made it one: doughnut and Chinese pancake together.
You're killing it with the doughnut!
The oyster omelet is really nice.
-You like it, huh?
-This one's our Xiao long bao, soup dumpling.
-I say I wanna do traditional Chinese-Taiwanese food.
Taiwan's a very good food place.
Everybody go to Taiwan for vacation, they wanna eat Taiwan food, you know?
[ Cymbals crash ] It's the best.
[ Funk plays ] -The star dish at Taiwan Deli is its beef noodle soup.
It's almost like a full ramen broth, hand-pulled noodles; and then this hardy, braised beef; and a ton of vegetables, like bok choy, pickled mustard greens, scallions.
♪♪ -Oh, good.
-This would be my favorite dish.
-Chinese long life.
The broth is fantastic.
And then the bok choy and the noodle?
-This is a special treat.
-I have a young couple come.
-They from San Francisco.
He ate it, he said, "Oh, my gosh!
This is one when I was little in Taiwan!
I never found this kind in United States."
He said, "Do you deliver?"
I say, "Sure."
So, I went to the post office and they will cost $150 to ship it.
I say, "Okay, forget it," so I call him, I said, "Put your wife on the phone."
He said, "Why?"
I said, "I teach her how to make it."
So I teach her.
-That's so sweet.
That's so sweet.
-[Laughing] -Did you like it?
From the boss?
-[Laughing] -Signature from the boss; that's good.
[ Tripping tune plays ] This lunch was absolutely fantastic.
Thank you so much.
-I love my job.
-Yeah, I can tell.
-I can tell.
The United States is the best country.
If you wanna work hard, you get your opportunity, you know?
But you need to work hard, you know?
It don't come out from the sky, you know?
-Uh, I thought -- -[Laughing] It doesn't, you know.
-Can you show me that place?
I wanna go to that place.
-[Laughing] [ Suspenseful music plays ] -Today, we celebrate Chinese cuisine, but it's really important to remember times wasn't always like that.
♪♪ -Anti-Chinese sentiment developed very early in the 1850s and '60s.
There's this theory that, when you see somebody who doesn't look like you or act like you, it's fear and you wanna keep them away.
♪♪ The movement grew stronger and stronger and motivated people to campaign on this issue and so, in 1882, Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act, which forbade the immigration of Chinese laborers.
The only people who really could come over were merchants, merchants' family, students, and diplomats.
And then, 1924, you have this great limit.
Only 100 Chinese people could come in every year, no matter where they were living in the world.
If you were Chinese, you fell under this quota of 100 per year.
♪♪ -These extremely restricted policies only ended when China became an ally to the U.S. during World War II.
♪♪ But shortly after the turn of the 20th century, some restaurateurs were able to get a special visa that let them bring over new employees, mostly relatives, from China.
So, that is another reason why it became so many Chinese restaurants in America.
Restaurants has really been a pillar of the community for so many years.
[ Upbeat hip hop plays ] So, now, I'm going to Shang Noodle Shop and meet Chef Sam, to learn about hand-pulled noodles.
What's up, boss?
How are you?
How are you, Marcus?!
-Good to see you.
-What do you got there?
-That's hand-pulled noodles.
Southern China is warmer and wet and that's where rice is the main staple.
Northern China is cooler and drier and that's where wheat grows.
So, in Beijing for example, the capital, that's where you find wheat-based noodles, like this.
Are you gonna teach me, or what?
[indistinct] Are you ready?
So, this first part of the process, in Chinese, it's called [ Speaking Chinese language ] It's by spinning, crossing, to get the dough really silken.
-So we're gonna shake.
You put the two hands together.
-And then we're gonna repeat it -Hold on, hold on, hold on.
There we go.
[ Laughter ] Did you grow up with this type of Chinese food or is this something that you learned?
-I didn't grow up with this 'cause I live in southern of China, but, one time that was travelling Beijing, I saw these hand-pulled noodles, and it was like, "This is a piece of artwork."
-And how do you go to the next step?
How do you make the [indistinct] to the noddle part?
-So, this part is getting it to be silken.
-Getting there, yeah, yeah.
-And then we'll put it down on the tables.
So we can see it's like pretty much the same size.
-And we're gonna spray a bunch of flour on there to avoid sticky, as well, and, from this part, we're gonna roll it.
Are you ready to take a shot at the noodle?
-Yeah, let's do it.
-So we're holding two sides of the dough.
Shake it out and coming like a U-shape.
-And then, from this point, we're gonna keep doubling the dough so the noodles get smaller and smaller.
So, now, we have four noodles.
-More flour at the center point and the hand will be just crossing the noodles.
-Shake one time.
Every two times, we're gonna rip it off and start from the center point again and then cross at the center of the dough and we shake.
Look how many noodles we get already.
When you go into places like Sam's Noodle Shop, it's like kids, families, it's everybody.
It gave me this flashback, as a kid, going into the pizza shop where the pizzaiola was whirling, [indistinct].
It's the same thing when you go into the noddle shop.
When I'm lookin' at these eight-year-old, nine-year-old kids eating fresh noodles, I bet you home noodles can definitely become the next wave of comfort food.
♪♪ So, this noodle is called [ Speaking Chinese language ] We can stay really far and you can still go into the pot.
Or you can get really close.
[ Hip hop funk plays ] [laughing] That's awesome.
-It's flat noodles.
What I love is I've cooked all my life.
I've never done this.
There's always new ways you can learn in cooking.
-Always new tradition.
You're getting there!
Louis, better than you.
-So, basically, they can come off now, right?
-You will love these noodles.
-This is a stir fry with ground pork, with preserved veggies.
-Spoon will be good.
Otherwise, it's gonna be really salty.
And we have chili sauce with a soy-sauce base.
-And we're gonna add some chili oil.
And what region of China would you say this is from?
-This is from Sichuan province.
-So I got all the pork and the... -You got all the pork.
-You got the sauce over there, chili oil.
-The texture of the noodles.
-The numbness, you're gonna get.
Later, you're gonna need a cup of ice water to cool it down.
-With a good amount of veggies and the pork, it just makes up a perfect balance of the noodles.
-Thank you, Marcus.
I need wate-e-e-r or a bee-ee-ee-r!
-Definitely, you need a beer.
[ Mellow Asian hip hop plays ] ♪♪ Las Vegas was hit pretty hard during the recession, 2008, but it's bouncing back and you can see it.
There's more buildings coming up; there's more communities being built, so there's lots of opportunities here.
And I'm gonna meet a young entrepreneur, Leo, who started this amazing tea business.
This is all about tea here, -Yes.
-100% just a tea house.
-Tell me about how tea fits in the average Chinese culture.
-First of all, they don't drink ice water, ever.
I don't care if it's like 130° in Vegas.
I have family visiting from China.
All they want is hot water.
-[Laughing] -Hot water.
I love it.
♪♪ -This is actually -- we call it Tai Ping Hou Kui.
Ooh, this smells beautiful.
-This is a special Chinese green tea that is pressed after they pick it.
So, with the green tea, temperature matters.
A lot of places, actually, that use boiling water to brew their green tea, which is, a lot of times, a problem, so we're gonna wait for it to cool it down a little bit.
So it opens up the tea at the right temperature, right?
All the other ones is the opposite.
You want it high temperature -Yeah.
-to bring out all of the flavor.
But not green tea.
It's gonna be bitter.
♪♪ Green tea, people always associate with Japanese green tea.
-And then, if they go to Chinese restaurant, they'll give you green tea, but it doesn't even look like the green tea that most people are familiar with.
In Japan, they took their tea from China a long time ago, -Mm-hmm.
-and then, they made their own style.
-So a little bit brighter color than we're normally used to with green tea, right?
-So, the nose is beautiful, very sweet nose, right?
It's very heavy.
-Very, very good.
I wanna try -- I'm ready.
I wanna try the next one.
The second tea is my favorite.
This one is Pu'er.
It's an aged tea.
-Oh, wait, wait, wait.
You break it off?
-Yeah, you have to break it off.
[ Tranquil hip hop plays ] This is, we call it a cake.
They all come from the same leaf.
Green tea's not processed and then, black tea is completely oxidized.
This come from an area that is very hard to reach.
It's government-protected and the tree has been around for hundreds of years and they literally have to climb to pick the leaf.
♪♪ [indistinct] You can brew this 15 to 20 times.
-So, one little thing like that, you can drink this for two hours.
-I just love the flavor of that.
A little bit heavier, very complex.
Almost like a pinot noir, like very complex, the way it's built in structure.
-It feels really rich and luxurious.
-The tea has an element that is good for your brain and so it makes you focus more, so you're actually going to have a smart conversation over a cup of tea.
-I thought bourbon was the way to get a smart conversation.
-[Laughing] -All these years?
It's clearly working.
-But this is beautiful and it's such a fun way to be educated about something.
It's also very social.
I wanna know and I wanna engage.
-We are living in a area where everybody kind of just like going to, I don't know, bars and night club and people are getting more and more lonely, in a way.
It's getting harder to socialize now.
-The kind of people that come here, they come, in the beginning, because they love the tea, -Yeah.
but, what I realized later on, they actually care about like helping each other.
Our customer were able to make the tea for each other, for some stranger that you never met.
-Yeah, and we all going to share the same cup of tea.
It's social feel about it.
It's amazing community you wanna be in with.
It's almost feel like it's not my shop anymore.
-Wow, that's great.
Then you really succeeded.
♪♪ [ Upbeat hip hop plays ] Now, when I'm a little tea drunk -- which is a thing, by the way -- I'm heading back to the plaza right next door to Chinatown Plaza and I'm going to meet Alan.
And he owns this place.
It was started by his dad.
It's one of the oldest restaurants in the Chinese community in Vegas.
Kung Fu Thai & Chinese Restaurant.
Where's Bruce Lee?
Where is the kung fu star?
-Back then, it was cool.
Now, people thing that we're teaching kung fu, instead of cooking.
-So, we're here to do a duck dish.
Tell me the duck dish we're gonna do.
-The duck dish is an ancient recipe.
It's called Teochew roast duck.
It predates Peking duck.
-It's older than Peking duck?!
-It's older than Peking duck.
-But it's younger than me.
[ Laughter ] Yeah.
♪♪ I see a lot of different good ingredients.
This is just to marinate it?
This is both marinate it and to make the gravy.
-This is cinnamon, star anise, and galangal.
-Also very Thai.
Sweet soy sauce and black soy sauce.
And five-spice blend.
-This is the stuff.
-Oh, you know how to do it.
-Oh, it smells good!
-[Laughs] [ Bubbling ] -This is a good-size duck, huh?
-We use the same duck as they use for Peking.
There's more meat around the rib area.
So, whenever we cook, we use six duck at a time, so it stays upright.
-I love that.
That's really smart.
And how long do we simmer it?
-This duck, though, is not cured.
We didn't dry it, steam, no anything like that, right?
-This is just great duck simmering in this wonderful stock for an hour and a half.
-Teochew roast duck.
-Teochew is a Chinese dialect.
Our family came from Shantou, north of Hong Kong, in Guangdong Province.
-And how did you get to Thailand?
-During the civil war in the '30s, where the Communists and the capitalists were fighting each other, a lot of Chinese saw that the capitalists was gonna lose, so they all migrated down south.
Most of the people either went to Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia.
Our family settled in Thailand.
-So, in the restaurant industry, your family's really pioneers, right?
Opening in downtown Vegas.
♪♪ They first started on Third Street and Fremont, 'cause, back then, that's where all the action was.
♪♪ And then, from '82 to '93, we were the first independently operating restaurant in a major hotel casino.
-We basically started the trend.
After we moved here, literally about a year later, Chinatown started.
-Was it always Chinese-Thai restaurants?
-When we first started, our menu consistent of 3/4 Chinese food -Yeah.
-and 1/4 Thai food.
-'Cause back in the early '70s, there was only two other Thai restaurants in the whole United States.
-So, no one knew what Thai food was.
-Thai food was.
-And, today, it's probably one of the most popular cuisines -Yeah.
-that we have.
This duck is the opposite from a Peking duck, where it's all about the crispy skin.
Here, it's actually all about these subtle flavors that come from the broth.
Ohh, here's the good stuff!
It has this super-flavorful meat that comes through the marinade and the slow simmering, really delicious.
Looks so beautiful.
-Marcus, this is my wife, Jill.
-Jill, this is Marcus.
So, in Thailand, the Thais will eat this with a hot sauce.
It's sour and spicy.
-This is secret sauce!
How come you didn't teach me?!
[ Laughter ] -Homemade hot sauce.
-Jill, you're gonna give me the recipe for this, Jill.
So, Jill, are you also Thai-Chinese?
Your food is so good.
You have the best of both worlds.
Like you have Chinese and you have Thai.
It's very unfair.
-The duck, that's an art and that's an ancient tradition.
If you don't cook this, maybe this recipe, one day, will go away.
I think about all the hundreds of years it took my ancestors to, you know, to keep on making this and, uh, how blessed I am to still have the recipe to make it.
'Cause you can't find this, anywhere.
It's getting to be a, uh, endangered dish, -Mm.
-so to speak.
I cannot give any advice.
You've been in business 40 years.
You know what you're doing.
You're already very successful.
♪♪ So, right now, I'm gonna check out this fun, destination dining spot called Chubby Cattle.
Hot pot is a dish that you find all over China and many places around Asia.
♪♪ Today, I'm learning about traditional Mongolian hot pot.
Mongolia is on China's north border.
♪♪ It's a cold place.
It has long winters, so it makes complete sense that they are experts in hot pot.
-How is that?
-Broth is fantastic.
The base of it is amazing.
Almost like a dried prune or an apricot, yeah?
♪♪ So, hot pot gets started in the kitchen, but gets finished at the table.
I'm sitting down to eat with Chef Harby and his two business partners.
These guys are young entrepreneurs and they're taking these Asian dishes and put it into this super-fun and modern environment.
Tell me about Chubby Cattle.
Who came up with the name?
-So, this came about two and a half years ago when Harby and I met and then we met Joyce.
Three of us came up with the name together.
-Good one, too.
-Yeah, yeah, yeah.
-Yeah... -The beef, yeah.
So, how are we gonna eat this?
I wanna eat.
-You cook in a family pot, Shabu-Shabu-style.
You put the beef in for like three to five seconds and it's ready to go.
Hot pot is the number-one cuisine in China.
Everyone, on the weekend, will wanna go to hot pot, whether friends go out or you go on a date.
You're cooking together; you're feeding each other.
I think that's a big part of it.
-And it makes it fun and something to talk about.
-We also have dipping sauces and you can customize your own ingredients.
You have all types of different cultures coming to our restaurant.
It's kinda like sushi, right?
Everyone's eating sushi and Japanese food and we wanna get to that point with hot pot, as well.
[ Hip hop funk plays ] -Is either one of you born in Mongolia?
What's the biggest difference between working in America and working in Mongolia?
Well, I love the broth.
All the aromatics that you added, the sweeter notes, almost like this mellow nutmeg flavor.
And I like the little fat that comes on top from the wagyu and everything.
It's very nice.
-We all had a dream about revolutionizing Chinese cuisine, because when it came to the U.S., people think of Chinese cuisine as something fast food.
You know, you got your orange chicken, chicken broccoli, and so we really wanted to show even at an affordable rate, you can have premium ingredients, really showcase the history of our culture.
-Chinese food in America's obviously evolved, but it's also, I think, so important to look at all the hard work the Chinese-American immigrants did.
People stuck together, fought through really tough laws that were up against them, providing jobs for generations and generations.
-And so you have a lot of tradition there.
-But you're bringing a whole new other connectivity, 'cause you're younger, you work with technology.
What do you see?
Like, what can people like yourself do in this generation?
-There's a lot of misconceptions about what a country is based on, is politics, and I think we have to look past that and look at, you know, the people in itself.
What are they eating?
What are they listening to?
Food and music and entertainment -- these are all platforms for people to get closer in a global way, right?
-I mean, that's key.
♪♪ Whether it's delicious food, art, or music, it's all about curiosity.
So, right now, I've been invited to this community center to check out the Chinese music ensemble.
Is this your kid?
-The director, Ms. Li, is trying to preserve Chinese culture in this super-modern society in Vegas, teaching both kids and adults to play traditional instruments and music.
♪♪ ♪♪ [ Applause ] Good job, man.
How are you?
What's your name?
I love this instrument.
At this culture center, there's a lot of things going on.
It's just this beautiful mishmash of adults, kids, instruments, costume changes, and then on top of that, a spread of homemade food.
-A lot of our parents are actually really good cooks.
This is rice cake.
-That one's from Shanghai.
-Here we have... -More like a vegetarian, that one.
It's soy bean and tofu.
-Oh, that's a good one.
-That's 'cause she made it.
[ Laughter ] -What do you like the most about coming here?
-It's pretty interesting because we're all Chinese.
A lot of people come from Taiwan and not from China.
-And if we do come from China, it's like a whole bunch of different regions.
So, even family, like, upbringing is a little different from, like, yours, even though you grew up here.
Your parents are both Chinese and brought up in China.
So it's -- We all still have our different traditions, all different family things.
-Yeah, we're still learning from each other.
Especially, like, after rehearsals and stuff, we eat together, talk about how our practice went.
-I love it.
I was really impressed to see the whole community coming together.
♪♪ -And it's just Vegas in particular where there was seriously nothing here.
-But it's young, you know?
Chinatown in Vegas is young.
So it makes sense that, culture-wise, it takes a little while.
-Think about what Chinese food has done to America, bringing non-Chinese culture together.
-Music can be the same thing.
-That's what our goal is, to spread as much as possible.
[ Cheers and applause ] ♪♪ -Eureka Casino opened in 1963, and it's the only Chinese-American owned casino in Nevada.
The owner of Eureka approached us and said, "Hey, we have a kitchen.
Please keep the chicken wings, hamburger, and Philly cheeseteaks, and you can do whatever you want with the menu."
-It's kind of a fine balance of creativity versus foods that people can relate to.
So, the bao, we tell people it's an Asian sandwich.
Is it yummy?
I think it allowed people to see, wow, there is actually an Asian-American influence in downtown.
-For us, this is where we live, this is where we raise our kid.
-So we wanted to create this microcosm, this little local economy that we can support.
-I always thought Vegas was kind of like the Wild West.
Like, if you have a vision, you can make it happen.
-If we're putting our heart into it, people will come.
♪♪ -So, I've been all over Vegas, from the Strip to Chinatown, but downtown Vegas is really my happy place.
♪♪ Just look at all the signs -- Casino so-and-so has been around forever.
El Cortez, all of these places.
You feel like you're walking through a '50s or a '60s movie, maybe Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis is gonna come out of one of these places, and it just has this vintage vibe around it.
I'm meeting up with Sheridan and Jenny at their second restaurant, Flock & Fowl, which is a stone throw away from the original Chinatown in Vegas on Fremont and First.
And we're gonna make one of my favorite dishes of all time that I've never been able to master -- Hainan chicken.
What's up, Chef?
How are you?
-So what are we doing?
-So, we have some Hainanese chicken.
-Hainan chicken started in southern China.
Small island called Hainan.
It's a very simple, humble dish, and really, for me, it's like the essence of chicken.
-It is, right?
And is it supposed to be sort of room temp, basically?
It's poached chicken.
We never serve it hot or cold.
Always room temperature.
-Then you serve it with rice?
Aromatics of ginger, garlic, scallions... all cooked together with chicken fat over the pandan leaves.
-The key word here is chicken fat.
That's really the key word, right?
That's the secret.
So, it's plated.
We have three different sauces.
-This one's the chili sauce, our house-made soy, and our ginger sauce.
Can you scoop a bowl of rice?
-You can smell the aromatics.
We're getting well.
We thought we knew what Hainan chicken rice was.
And, like, 2013, 2014, we took a trip out to Taiwan, ate Hainan chicken, and it blew us away.
We came back.
Every day, he was obsessed about chicken and rice.
-Before we opened Flock & Fowl, I tested this recipe pretty much every day for about six months.
And it was -- -No choice.
-I love it.
♪♪ -All right.
This looks good.
I've had this dish before.
I love it.
I can't wait to try it.
-It's totally a passion project.
Our goal was perfect rice, perfect chicken, a perfect sauce.
-And it is.
The chicken is amazing.
You grew up in the restaurant industry, right?
My parents opened and closed 19 restaurants all over Los Angeles.
-The key word there is opened and closed, right?
-Yes, opened and closed.
My mom and dad are from Canton and Hong Kong.
My mom only had kindergarten, and that was it.
She went off to work, and that pretty much was her life.
Like, no education.
My dad studied till, like, 8th grade, and he actually practiced for like a whole year to swim from Canton to Hong Kong.
The swim is four hours.
And at first, you know, like, I always thought it was a joke.
Oh, swimming to Hong Kong, swimming to Hong Kong.
But it's true.
They swam to Hong Kong to escape communism.
So, anyway, 1978, they come to America.
In 1979, his mom also came to L.A., and we were actually both born at the same hospital.
-So, my mom worked in restaurants, as well.
She was there seven days a week.
The kitchen kind of took me in.
And that's how it started for me.
-Downtown Vegas has obviously been around for a long time.
But yet it feels new.
What's happening here?
-I would say in the last few years, there's been a lot of new development.
We want to help build our community and add culture, some good food, and a place for people to hang out.
-I think for us, we were both so scared to say that we want to be in restaurants.
It's true and authentic to who we are.
We are Chinese-Americans that experienced the labor of our parents coming in for our first generation of refuge.
They found it.
Then they went for the dream.
I just feel like we got the choice to do what we wanted, and we still chose restaurants.
-I love to see something that is rooted in tradition, but yet you're doing it your own way.
-That's really cool.
-Maybe we'll start our own little Chinatown.
It's gonna take tons of years, but it'd be great if we could do something like that.
♪♪ -Couple of things about my Vegas trip.
Yes, I gambled.
Yes, I lost money.
But besides that, I ate so well.
How do you say "cheers" in Mongolia?
-[ Speaking foreign language ] -From ancient recipes to modern presentation, it was really fun to explore all the diversity of the Chinese-American culture here in Vegas.
-From strip mall to strip mall to strip mall, to see this all in Vegas, it's pretty amazing, and that speaks to the work ethic and the incredible ingenuity in the Chinese-American community.
I'll see you over at the Gold Coast.
Come and see me.
Just grab me.
-I got you.
[ Laughter ] ♪♪ -Next time on "No Passport Required"... -The Nigerian community in Houston is the largest community outside Nigeria, but its food has yet to hit the mainstream.
See if this little Ethiopian boy can hang with the Nigerians.
West African cuisine, it's big, broad, smelly.
-This is spicy.
-Bring it, bring it.
All these flavors thrown in your face, but if you start to understand it, they're incredibly delicious.
-To order "No Passport Required" on DVD, visit shopPBS or call 1-800-PLAY-PBS.
This program is also available on Amazon Prime Video.
♪♪ [ Laughter ] -Ahh!
[ Laughter ]