San Jose’s Japantown gets a moment in the national spotlight this weekend with a short segment on Anthony Bourdain’s CNN show Parts Unknown.
The Emmy-award winning TV show hosted by the celebrity chef and author takes a look at the Bay Area’s changing landscape and food scene with stops in San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose, home to one of the few remaining Japantowns in the United Sates.
In San Jose, Bourdain spoke with local author Curt Fukuda at Japantown’s Minato restaurant, where the two dined on chicken katsu with curry sauce and cod cheek and had a conversation about the history of Japantown.
“Bourdain is very unpretentious, I was amazed at his knowledge,” said Fukuda said, who fielded numerous questions from Bourdain about the neighborhood. During their meal the restaurant remained open while Bourdain’s four-man crew and producer filmed the scene.
According to Fukuda, who co-authored “San Jose Japantown, A Journey,” the neighborhood was originally San Jose’s Chinatown before the city’s first Japanese residents started to arrive in 1890. Fukuda also shared details on the U.S. government’s devastating Japanese internment program, in which his family experienced first hand.
The segment was filmed back in June with little fanfare. Bourdain also made stops at San Francisco’s 4505 Meats on Divisadero Street, Trader Vic’s and Swan Oyster Depot. In Oakland, he met with Black Panthers founding member Bobby Seale at soul food restaurant Real Miss Ollie’s and also dined at Juhu Beach Club.
The show (season 6, episode 6) airs at 9pm Sunday on CNN, with the San Jose segment appearing just before the 30-minute mark.
Four Japantown recommendations from Curt Fukuda:
San Jose Tofu Shop
“They still make tofu by hand, they don’t have these huge machines. It’s Just as good if not better than tofu from Japan.”
“They also make their monju by hand. It’s a real treat.”
Buddhist Temple and Church
“It’s just gorgeous.”
“They have a replica of barracks from Japanese internment camps.”