In 2010, two brothers from Seattle created a minor internet viral sensation when their ode to San Gabriel Valley eats, "JJ Hong Kong Cafe," got more than 50,000 views. At the time, Andrew Fung told the Los Angeles Times food blog, "The song doesn't do the SGV complete justice because there are tons of places missing, but it's safe to say I will be coming back very very soon."
Andrew kept his word — he and his brother David are proud new residents of the San Gabriel Valley. And this time their more extensive tribute to local restaurants, "626" named after the area's zip code, has gotten nearly 200,000 hits. We profiled some of the responses last week from City Council members to long-ago nostalgic residents. Now the brothers shared with us via e-mail why they relocated to Monterey Park, why an anthem to the area's Asian food wealth via hip hop, and why Savoy is probably their favorite local spot.
You both grew up in Seattle. How did you end up making a video about the SGV?
We actually just moved from Downtown LA to Monterey Park. But growing up throughout our childhood we would come visit our cousin in Monterey Park and experience this unique Asian American fusion lifestyle. After we graduated from college we came down and spent a few months with him, living the SGV lifestyle (boba shops, cafes, public parks, etc.) and decided to make the move down to SoCal. We're always out and about in the SGV…I love it here.
How did the idea for the video come about?
Growing up we were huge hip-hop heads/nerds and we would always see rappers making songs repping Brooklyn, Chicago, LA, wherever they were from. It's basically a glorification of where you're from or the life you live. Coming from Seattle, life in the 626 seemed so unique and special to us because we didn't grow up around it. So we just wanted to make an anthem/ode to the lifestyle that we love and we know so many others do as well.
What was the experience of making the video like?
The video was really fun to shoot – it was director Jason Poon's directorial debut actually. We already knew some of the owners of the businesses featured but our producer Tommy Su is an Alhambra native so he was able to make a lot of connects. We contacted Elaine Wong (who is a student at Mark Keppel) and she brought out the choir and dance teams so it was awesome to see the community come out. It was shot over 3 days so there was a ton of setups and we drove around the SGV A LOT so I feel like I really know the area better as a result of shooting the video.
What sort of reactions have you gotten to the video?
Reactions have been great, generally. A few comments said they never felt proud to live in the 626 until they saw our video and that meant a lot to us. There were some comments that said they felt left out of the video because it doesn't encompass the whole 626 (such as West Covina, Pasadena etc.) but we're just showing our perspective on the 626. We have a lot of respect for the other parts of 626 and other lifestyles not represented in the video.
What did you want to show with this video?
We wanted to show how cool and special the 626 can be, especially for food. It's the most densely Asian part of the US (and specifically Chinese) so I think the culture in the 626 is really unique and incredible. Hopefully local people got a visual/audio representation of how cool and distinct where they live really is, and for those outside the 626 to see how cool it is as well.
What are you guys working on now?
We're working on more music videos and skits for our YouTube channel, performing at colleges and events (planning 2012-2013 college tour now!), and we've got a segment we shot for The Cooking Channel that will air in April. We're always looking for more directors/editors/DP's to work with so contact us at [email protected] if you're interested!
A lot of people have been asking us to do a remix to "626, Young, Wild, and Free" so maybe we'll do another track – who knows!
And what's your personal favorite spot in Alhambra to hit up?
There's so many spots but overall it's gotta be Savoy, especially if you sit outside. It's such a great atmosphere to people watch and enjoy good fusion food. It reminds me of Westside LA the most of any place in the SGV.
Interview has been edited and condensed.