The Fusion Cuisine Anthony Bourdain Wanted Everyone To Know About

Anthony Bourdain, among many titles, was the unofficial champion of eating local. When traveling, as he shared with CNN, Bourdain said his first rule of thumb in deciding where to eat was looking at where most locals were going. As Bourdain told Insider Tech, when traveling anywhere in the world, foodies should ask themselves, "What do they do there that is unique to that place, that they inarguably do better than anybody else in the world?" In Korea, dishes like pork buns and gimbap are in the spotlight, and Bourdain was all about it.

The writer also appreciated the sanctity of hometown favorites on a larger, global scale. If there's one national dish that everyone in the U.S. should know about, Bourdain told Thrillist, it's immigrant food, namely Korean American fusion cuisine. "What I would like to see is — maybe something that represents the melting pot — is the army stew that's such a mash-up of the American/Korean experience. That would be nice. And it might well happen."

Indeed, it looks like Bourdain's prediction might already be coming to fruition. The international section at many major grocery stores has, slowly but surely, expanded. Once-foreign words like "bulgogi" and "gochujang" have become commonplace. Fusion is being utilized as an assimilation technique, slowly introducing non-familiar foodies to Korean culinary stylings with stepping stones like fried chicken and barbecue.

Korean-America fusion dominating the modern food scene

Today, Korean American fusion is "in," and it's expanded to major cities all around the U.S. Thursday Kitchen in Manhattan's East Village is serving up fusion tapas like Korean popcorn chicken and kimchi paella. Crisp is a Korean-style fried chicken hub in downtown Chicago, and Han Bat Sul Lung Tang is not to be missed in L.A.'s K-Town. This sort of masterful, intentional best-of-both-worlds approach is what has earned Chef David Chang fame with his Momofuku empire. On a larger scale, Korean-American fusion culture is having an even larger, multi-faceted moment right now with the popularity of K-pop band BTS, K-beauty brands like Tonymoly, and the South Korean film "Parasite" recently winning the Oscar for Best Picture.

Perhaps the most impactful aspect of fusion cuisine is its powerful potential as an uniter and a subsequent showcase of heritage. As Bourdain noted in a 2018 interview on "The Daily Show with Trevor Noah," "The history of the world is on your plate. Every bite of food is an expression of often a long struggle, a long story, and I guess that's one of the satisfactions, one of the joys of traveling and eating is you find out who's cooking, and why, and where these things come from."