This week’s episode explores one of the greatest aspects of diversity in Asia: the wide range of food available both across the region and within each individual country. Every foodie and every local seems to have a favorite dish and knows the best place to get it: Scott and Trevor are no exception, and in Episode 19 of Talk Travel Asia they talk about some of their Favorite Foods of Asia and fill you in on the restaurants that they think serve the best!
To start the episode, Trevor talks briefly about his dining experiences in Korea. He explains how, while there is decent Korean food in Bangkok, it really can’t compare to the authentic food in Korea. His uses this example as a springboard to talk about how eating locally is really the best way to experience the best cuisine around the region. Scott agrees that the best barbecue he had in Korea was at the most grungy-looking local-style venues. Trevor thinks that while there are some great high-end places to get excellent food, you should look out for where locals eat when looking for the best restaurants.
Vietnam: Scott takes us over to Vietnam and talks a bit about one of his favorite dishes, pho. After speaking generally about this quintessential Vietnamese dish, Scott names Pho Hoa as his favorite. He explains that the restaurant name is common around the world nowadays because this particular shop set the bar for the most famous pho. Trevor then talks about how, while pho is so well known, he was impressed that Vietnamese cuisine has so many dishes to order. He suggests that visitors to Ho Chi Minh City who are looking to try a variety of dishes check out a restaurant called Ngon, although he notes that their pho isn’t particularly impressive. Scott then mentions Restaurant Bobby Chinn as one of his favorite restaurants in Hanoi and HCMC, which is more fusion that traditional but is an excellent high-end dining option.
Cambodia: Scott and Trevor talk about the restaurant they ate in the night before recording the episode: Sovanna Khmer BBQ. The restaurant continues to grow every year due to its increasing popularity, a surefire sign that a joint sells great grub. Scott explains that they serve Khmer-style BBQ and that the grilled pork is outstanding. Trevor talks about how Sovanna is not only a great place to eat but also is a cool cultural experience as its almost exclusively frequented by locals.
They then talk a bit about Cambodian pepper and the dipping sauces that really make the Cambodian food special, which leads to a discussion of the black pepper stir fried crabs available on the beach just outside Kampot town. Another venue in Kampot that must then be mentioned, Scott notes, is the Rusty Keyhole. The ribs at the Rusty Keyhole are legendary; so much so that they came up in conversation several times while Trevor was in Siem Reap just prior to recording this episode. Trevor briefly also mentions how he also likes Cambodian-style fermented pork ribs, which are different from the American-style ones at the Rusty Keyhole but that his favorite rib restaurant had recently closed down.
Bali: Scott asks Trevor about the food in Bali and Trevor explains that the ribs in Bali are excellent as well. He explains that the Balinese are excellent at cooking both pork ribs and crispy duck and offers Naughty Nuris Warung as a top option for both. While most people think of Indonesia as a Muslim country where people don’t typically eat pork, he explains that the Balinese are Hindu and that their food is also surprisingly spicy. Scott agrees with Trevor that eating with a group of people is good way to dine as the typically Asian way to eat is by ordering a number of dishes and all sharing, as opposed to the western style of ordering your own dish.
Sri Lanka: Scott briefly talks about his recent trip to Sri Lanka and the food he experienced there. He doesnt claim to be an expert, but he found a family run guesthouse in the beach town of Mirissa that served fantastic food, including deviled prawns. He can’t remember the name, but says they ate the prawns there three nights over a five day stay.
Laos: Trevor and Scott talk about how Laotian food is quite similar to Thai food except that it’s not quite as spicy. Scott says that one of his favorite dishes was at a restaurant in Luang Prabang called Tamarind: a beef cheek massaman curry. Trevor says that he once had a green curry with turkey in Laos but he can’t recall the restaurant where he had it. Both thought its pretty cool to get food that’s similar to Thai food but with unique twists. They also briefly mention the vegetarian offerings there, including the vegetarian buffet at the night market in Luang Prabang.
Kuala Lumpur: Scott talks about roti cenai, one of his favorite foods in his current home town. There is a chain called Pelita, Scott explains, where he gets some daal, chicken curry, and roti cenai at one of several branches in the morning or late afternoon, the only times of day that it’s served. He then talks about the chicken mee curry noodles at a food stall called Sam Kee noodle stall at Imbee Market. He recommends you get there quickly as high rise towers are popping up all around it and the market’s days may be numbered. He also likes the ice coffee you can get nearby the noodle stall.
Thailand: Scott and Trevor have a lot of experience eating in Thailand. Trevor says this is a tricky one because they both know so many people that have so many different opinions on where to get the best whatever kind of Thai food. As an example, Scott talks about his favorite place to get ba mi moo daeng, a very common Thai dish. He emphatically states that Nakhon Patom Restaurant in Chiang Rai has THE BEST red pork with noodles in the kingdom. Trevor says he likes the chicken version of this typically red pork dish outside the mosque on Thong Lor in Bangkok.
Scott then talks about Soi Polo Chicken, one of their favorite places to eat fried chicken together whenever Scott is back in Bangkok. The restaurant, which has been around for around 40 years Scott explains, serves a variety of Isan, or northeastern Thai style, cuisine such as somtam (papaya salad), laab gai (minced chicken spicy salad), nam tok moo (grilled pork), and khao niew (sticky rice).
Trevor then asks Scott about where he likes to go for late-night street food snacks. Scott suggests the moo ping, skewered marinated barbecue pork, at the corner of Silom and Convent Roads in Bangkok. Trevor says to get the spicy chili sauce but to be careful because it really is hot.
Trevor decides to go a bit more upscale for his next recommendation and says that he thinks the Central Chidlom Foodloft has not only a great atmosphere, particularly for a food court, but also has the best tom yam goong (sour and spicy shrimp soup) in Bangkok. Scott agrees and then wraps things up by throwing a crazy one out there: the bamboo worms at Chiang Khong wet market, which he swears taste just like buttered popcorn: bon appetite!
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