Who is Tiny Urban Kitchen?
Hi! My name's Jen and welcome to my blog!
Tiny Urban Kitchen was born out of a tiny urban kitchen in my tiny urban condo located between my alma mater and the other school in Cambridge. Despite the size, I till managed to do tons of crazy kitchen experiments there - everything from learning my mom's Taiwanese recipes and creating cute Totoro foods to exploring complex techniques like sous vide and molecular gastronomy.
To read more about how the blog started, check out my entry for round 1 of Project Food Blog, which describes not only how this blog began, but really the core of what motivates me and what defines Tiny Urban Kitchen.
If this is your first time here, welcome! Here are some quick tips to help you navigate the site.
If you're interested in cooking, definitely check out the Recipes Index , where you can search a visual gallery of all the recipes on this site by various categories. Some fun recipes to check out include the delicious Thai recipes from my cooking classes in Bangkok, Malaysian recipes from a cooking class I took in Kuala Lumpur, and my large collection of Taiwanese / Chinese recipes.
Interested in the sous vide technique? Here's a primer on sous vide, including links to several recipes I’ve made from famous chefs like Thomas Keller and David Chang.
The top ten recipes I personally used on the blog are Taiwanese Grilled Corn, Grilled Bok Choy, Taiwanese Meat Sauce over Rice, Tea Eggs, Taiwanese Three-Cup Chicken, Milanese Veal Osso Buco, Baja-style Fish Tacos, Crispy Basil Smashed Potatoes, Authentic Roman-style Pasta Carbonara, and Matcha Mochi Cake.
Need Boston Dining Recommendations?
If you're visiting Boston, definitely check out Jen's Picks, a list of all my restaurant recommendations for anyone visiting Boston. If you still want to explore more, check out the Boston Page, which leads to many surrounding neighborhoods. Click on any one and explore the visual gallery that leads you to individual restaurants.
For day trips from Boston, consider the Berkshires (Boston Pops in the summer, foliage in the fall), Cape Cod, Cape Ann, or Portland, Maine.
I travel A LOT, and I always do extensive research about food before going to a new location. Therefore, if you're planning on visiting a new place, definitely check out the places I've visited and written about in these locations when you're planning your trip.
Start with the Japan Guide if you're visiting Tokyo. There are lots of posts about Japan, since I've been going almost every year for the last 8 (!) years. In Asia, I've also eaten my way around China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore.
In Europe, we have eaten in some phenomenal restaurants in London, experienced the local cuisine in Munich, spent unforgettable weeks exploring Rome and the Piedmont region in Italy, visited Greece's numerous ruins and gorgeous islands, and spent a week in the resilient country of France just one week following the Paris attacks. We've eaten our way around Spain (both Barcelona and Madrid) and spent a week on a cruise of the fjords of Norway ending in Copenhagen.
There's a ton of really good food in Montreal, Canada, and tons of stuff to see in Australia and New Zealand.
I've traveled extensively throughout the U.S. The cities with the most posts would probably be Las Vegas (I go annually for the CES conference), Napa and Sonoma (wine country!), and New York City (it's just so close to Boston!). In 2014, we went on an extensive 2+ week trip to the Hawaiian Islands (one of the most memorable trips I've taken recently), and we still regularly visit Los Angeles and San Francisco to see friends and relatives.
For a fun photo gallery of all the Michelin Starred restaurants I visited, check out the Michelin Stars Gallery.
What has surprised you most about food blogging?
I think everyone says the same thing, and I have to agree. The community is AWESOME. Most people start food blogging to share recipes with friends and family, or to keep a record of all the restaurants they've visited - at least that's why I started my blog. You never really realize how food blogging can connect you to so many like-minded people around the world. I've had the great privilege to "meet" people from Europe, Asia, Australia, Canada, and, of course, all over the US. Things like the Foodbuzz Festival are great ways to connect with other food lovers. I never would have thought that starting a food blog would open the door to so many other friendships, opportunities, and experiences.
What has been the most amazing food opportunity that you've had as a result of food blogging?
One that is up there is definitely my trips to Napa Valley to blog about the S. Pellegrino Almost Famous Chef Competition. In 2010, Foodbuzz and S. Pellegrino had hosted a contest to send one person there. I was thrilled and beyond belief that I had actually won the contest. The trip really opened my eyes to what the food industry is like. The food industry, especially the restaurant industry, is grueling, and it takes a ton of hard work and perseverance to make it. I was so privileged to be able to see this up close. It really gave me a new perspective and added respect for those who choose to follow this career path. Of course, Napa Valley is also beautiful, and I had a fabulous time there just checking out the vineyards and trying some amazing restaurants!
What camera do you use? What's your process in photography?
I switch between my Sony DSC RX1R (which is more pocket-sized so I carry it around with me everywhere I go) and my Canon 5D MKIII depending on the situation. The SLR is really big and heavy, so I use it more during vacations and food events that are clearly "camera-friendly." I would say 80% of the pictures on my blog are taken with the pocket sized cameras. For social media, I mostly use the iPhone 7. I use Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 to catalog and work up my images, which are all shot in raw format. I then export them to WordPress.
I got the Canon 5D MKIII in 2012 and the Sony DSC RX1R in 2015, so any photos before those dates were taken with either a Sony DSC RX1, Panasonic Lumix GF1, Canon 5D MkII, or Canon 5D, all of which are excellent cameras.
Which posts did you have the most fun creating?
Man, that’s a tough question! Before Project Food Blog, there was a really fun post I worked on called Kyaraben on Steroids. I spent the day making sushi and other foods in the shapes of my favorite Japanese anime characters. It was a ton of work and took all day, but to this day I still love looking at the pictures of the cute Hello Kitty, Domokuns, Totoros, and Keroppis that I made for this post.
I had a lot of fun creating posts for the numerous rounds in Project Food Blog. My favorites would have to be a toss up between the final post in the last round (Final Reflections where I made a moving stop-animation video of Boston constructed out of vegetables (and sang a song!)) and the hand-pulled noodle instructional video that I made for Round 7.
What have been some of your favorite dining experiences ever? In the world?
There's no better place for sushi than in Japan, and all of my favorite sushi experience are there - from the world famous Sukiyabashi Jiro and Sushi Mizutani (Jiro's disciple) to many, many others.
Some of my favorite high-end meals were from places like Le Bernardin in New York City, The Ledbury in London, and Saison in San Francisco, where the phenomenal Japanese-inspired food, warm ambiance, and exquisite service really made for an unforgettable experience.
I love dumplings. Nothing beats a freshly wok-crusted shenjianbao (pan fried bao) from Yang's Fy Dumpling in Shanghai or a steaming black truffle pork dumpling from Din Tai Fung in Taiwan (or China!). The baked chasu pork bun at Tim Ho Wan blew me away the first time I had it (with its flaky, almost butter crust).
In Rome, I will never forget the pasta carbonara at Roscioli or the paper-thin pizza crust at Pizzeria Dal Paino. I will always remember the smoky wok-hei from the drunken noodle at Raan Jay Fai, an an open-air stall in Bangkok. I still dream about the white truffles in Alba, and I fondly remember the chili crab and Hainanese chicken rice in Singapore. And don't forget the delicious freshly baked bagels from Montreal, a treat that is available 24 hours of the day.
I love interacting with my readers through my various social media platforms. Although I offer lots of information on the blog, I have also learned a lot of things from my readers. The communication totally goes both ways, and I love it that way! I realize in the age of social media that people are moving those conversations to a wider variety of platforms.
So please, feel free to say hello via any of my numerous social media channels.
Thanks for visiting!