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New App LikeGrandmaMade Tells You Which Ethnic Foods Are Authentic

This ph? is authentic, according to new app
This ph? is authentic, according to new app
Anne Fishbein

Are you at a Thai restaurant and suspicious about whether the pad Thai and other dishes on the menu really are authentic? Finally, there's an app for that.

The app, called LikeGrandmaMade, is simple to use: Take a photo of the dish in question and it will immediately will return a thumbs up on the screen if the dish is authentic, and a thumbs down if it isn't. If you do get a thumbs up, you can learn more about the dish using the "Grandma's Lesson" feature, which will pull up its history, a phonetic pronunciation guide and illustrations showing how the dish should be eaten. If you get a thumbs down, it suggests ways to politely convey to your server that the dish is not up to par, as well as alternative, more authentic restaurants nearby.

LikeGrandmaMade is the brainchild of Jacob Lee and Olivia Jackson, L.A. residents who came up with the idea after returning home from a monthlong trip through Southeast Asia. "A few days after we got back, we had this really strong craving for a bowl of pho, which we ate every day while backpacking through Vietnam," Lee says. The couple ended up at Bamboo Garden on Beverly Boulevard. "It had 288 four-star reviews on Yelp," Lee says, "and all the reviews said it had really, really authentic Vietnamese food. But we walked in, and there was no Sriracha on the tables."

"Then we looked at the menu," Jackson says. "The pho there was $10! C'mon, $10? Is that really authentic? And then there was other weird stuff: beef and French fries, chicken curry. Chicken curry. What? I mean, seriously." An idea was born.

Neither Lee nor Jackson works in the tech industry - the couple runs a shop in Venice that sells Mason jar accessories - but "there's a real need for an app like this," Lee says. "Diners have a right to know."

To create LikeGrandmaMade, Jackson says, the couple created an algorithm with the help of an elite squad of authenticity experts, including actual grandmothers, Elite-level Yelpers, Rick Bayless, sushi master Jiro Ono, a Korean chef who has spent the last 10 years fermenting one jar of kimchi and a cloister of Italian nuns who eat nothing but pasta four times a day.

LikeGrandmaMade is available for iPhone for $29.99. An Android version is coming soon.


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