HANGIN’ WITH JEFF HAMADA: A BOOOOOOOMING CONVERSATION
In our quest to explore the interactions between food and culture, we thought: “where better to start than with Vancouver’s very own, Jeff Hamada?” As the creator and driving force behind one of the most popular art blogs on the planet, Booooooom, Jeff has established himself as a tastemaker in the industry. He’s got a keen eye and has a pulse on emerging artists and trends. So what does an art nut like Jeff have to say about hangover cures and his favourite place to eat outside of Vancouver? We sat down with the man himself to find out just that, plus a little bit about the craziest meal he’s ever had.
TEAMCHOMP: Jeff, can you give our readers a brief introduction of yourself and your profession?
JEFF: I grew up in Richmond and moved to Vancouver shortly after I started an arts and culture website called Booooooom. It went from being my hobby to my full time job and eight years later I’m still having fun with it. This year my friend Levi and I launched a second site, Booooooom.tv which is a video platform focused on short films, music videos, and animation.
How do you define food?
I really enjoy eating, but I’m not a foodie. I’m not lining up at a hyped up spot for a single plum floating in perfume served in a man’s hat. Food for me is more of a social thing, I like the conversations and storytelling that happens around food.
Has there been times when food crosses over with art and has caught your eye?
I was invited to Israel a few years ago and our group was taken to this market restaurant called Machneyuda. At the end of the meal they cleared our table and covered it in foil and this really loud music started playing. The entire restaurant started clapping as the staff came and started throwing cake (like really throwing it) and syrup at our table and they essentially made a giant Jackson Pollock covering the entire long table we were seated at. They gave us forks, and we ate it directly off the table.
Having the opportunity to travel around the world, what are some of your favourite places and cuisines?
Japan is number one for me. Sri Lanka was really amazing – I never liked curry until I went there, and have loved it ever since. In Taiwan, I repeatedly hit this one food stand – a girl was making these vegetarian breakfast popiahs. Like non-fried spring rolls, but packed with like apple slices and raisins and sprouts and nuts. Okay, that was a horrible description, but I can’t really remember everything that was in there – it was a wild combination of flavours. I never associated that kinda thing with Taiwanese food before. It’s been two years since I was there and sometimes I still crave them. Maybe one of your readers will know what I’m talking about and be able to describe it better. I would go back just for that and the cold noodles.
When friends are visiting Vancouver for the first time, where are the top 3 spots you would take them to?
Kingyo, Mr. Red, and Deer Garden. I’ll give ‘em directions to Medina for breakfast cuz I ain’t waking up.
Do you step in the kitchen once and a while, what are your signature dishes?
The only thing I ever make is spaghetti.
Share a crazy drunk story of yourself and the best hangover dish for the cure?
This wasn’t “crazy” but we were at a house party in Hawaii. We couldn’t find any shot glasses so my friend, Eugene, and I actually carved a hole into a block of spam and forced everyone to drink out of it for the rest of the night. It was actually worse than you imagine it being.
I don’t have a hangover cure, but after drinking I like ending the night with a sliced fish congee and salty donut at Congee Noodle House. Also you used to be able to get poutine the size of a small baby delivered from Brado until 3am – for like $5. It was dangerous. I think they’re closed down now (which makes sense).
Hands down, best thing, worst thing, scariest thing you’ve eaten?
Best – my girlfriend Maiko’s homestyle Japanese cooking. Worst – stinky tofu in Taiwan – I’m prepared for all the hate I’m going to get for saying that, but for everyone who says it doesn’t taste like how it smells – YES IT DOES. Scariest – eating sushi in Ireland.