Archive for 2009|Yearly archive page

East African Local Dish

In Grill, Tanzania on November 26, 2009 at 9:51 pm


Nyama Choma – crispy fatty meat roasted to a perfect combination and seasoned with sassy curry flavour.

In Swahili, it literally means “grilled meat”. Using curry powder to marinate the meat, its wobbly fats are further flavored with a sizzling taste.

Back in those days as a volunteer in Bomang’ombe,  Tanzania, I would spend Friday evenings with my local friends munching on Nyama Choma, coupled with ice cold Serengeti beer. They would bring us to the best in town, where the beef was roasted just before we arrived.


Nyama Choma is usually eaten with ugali, boiled cornmeal mush,  the primary staple of the entire Sub-Saharan African continent. Ugali is eaten with almost every other thing, especially soup, stew or sauce, or other dishes with sauce or gravy. As a side dish, ugali is served in a big bowl that everyone eats from.


Where to find it:

Nyama Choma is not available everywhere, and you need to know which ones are good. Always ask a local – they’ll always know the best. Remember to order in advance before you go.


Imperial Food in Beijing

In China on November 9, 2009 at 10:41 pm

Behold the imperial version of  traditional Chinese dishes at Ge Ge Fu: a Manchurian restaurant set in an authentic ancient mansion allowing you to genuinely walk back in time, specifically, the Qing Dynasty.


At Ge Ge Fu (translated to ‘Home of the Princess Dowager’), food does not play the key role. It’s is the rare experience that they provide.

With waiters dressed in traditional Royal servants’ costumes, and even addressing you as a Princess, you really might just feel like a royalty. It is inevitable to feel like you’re walking straight into a tourist trap (at least I did!), but the all-Chinese menu and Chinese-speaking Manager and servers assure you a true Chinese indulgence. Don’t fret – bring a phrasebook along, and you’ll do just fine.

Before the meal, you even get a tour of the ancient mansion, where you can explore the ancient study room and living area. They are fully furnished with antique porcelain and ivory furniture, retaining the way they looked centuries ago. There are also traditional dance performances and acrobatics right in the eating hall.

Traditional dance in the courtyard

The restaurant’s specialty is its hot pot. With a huge variety of different soups and sauces to choose from, I’d highly recommend the duck soup and snake soup. Steamy, sour yet rich, and definitely a refreshing taste of Imperial cuisine. Match that with some cold vegetables such as pickled cabbage, and rice, you would get a satisfying and unique meal. Of course, with such a unique setting and extravagant cuisine, all these come with a price. A 3-course meal that comes with vegetables and steaming hot pot, costs 200RMB per person.

Hotpot and dumpling

Ge Ge Fu Restaurant

9 Daqudeng Hutong, Meishuguan Houdajie,
Open 11:30am-1:30pm; 5pm-10pm

Tel: +86 10 6407-8006

My original article was posted on Things You Should Do.

Top 5 Foods to Try in the Philippines

In Exotic Foods, The Philippines on November 6, 2009 at 1:46 pm

Honestly, can you name any typically Filipino dish? Why does the mention of Asian food only brings to mind Kong Bao Chicken, Chinese Fried Rice and Pad Thai?

Filipino dishes have been under the shadows of its Asian cousins for way too long. Thanks to Anthony Bourdain, they are gaining some well-deserved attention of their own these days.

Barbecued meat - Photo by petitochips.

The Philippines undoubtedly has the best barbecued street food and satiable meat. At every corner of the Philippines, you will find locals gathered around a barbecue grill, enjoying skewered meat with a San Miguel beer in hand. These are 5 of the best Filipino foods to dip your hands in to taste culture at its best.

1. Isaw Manok

One of the most popular local favs is the unique Isaw Manok (grilled chicken intestines on a skewer)- grilled to crispy perfection and glazed with sweet and spicy sauce. Besides the Isaw, there are many other barbecued organs you can choose from – chicken gizzards, liver and goose tongue. They might sound exotic, but give it go and you’ll find them better than any other grilled foods around.

Isaw Manok

2. Tapsilog

A typical Filipino breakfast, this platter is made up of rice with dried cured meat and a fried egg cooked sunnyside up. Simple as it is,  the Filipinos can’t live without it. Despite its huge portion, especially for a breakfast, you’ll be asking for more.

Tapsilog - Photo by Miggy

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Venetian Bites

In Italy, Quick & Easy on November 2, 2009 at 7:57 pm

Cichetti by the Calli

Eating Italian – pizzas, pastas and lasagnas. Few actually know that eating Venetian, however, is a trickier affair. Cichetti (pronounced as chee-ket-tee) is Venice’s answer to tapas – small portions of appetizing snacks that tickle your taste buds seductively.

Cichetti usually comes in an assortment of cubed octopus, small sarde in saór (fried sardines) and marinated anchovies. The result: a rare flavour of fresh lemony seafood in its simplicity. It literally tastes of Venice.

Where to Find the Best:  There are tons of restaurants in Venice that serve up tantalizing cichetti. Cantine del Vino gia Schiavi in the Dorsoduro district reinvents cichetti. Slurp your ombra (small glass of wine) while biting on these petite canapes on one of those slow and lazy Sunday afternoons. Oh, it gets crowded on some days. Fret not, bring the feast onto the staccato footsteps – watch as a gondola slowly rows by. Or why not turn your feast into a picnic and munch your cichetti onboard a Venice gondola ride?

While some cantines serve up seafood cichetti,  small palates of cheese or cured meat also dominate their menus. With luck, you might be chancing upon quality ham that could make you sit up and think.

What’s Next: After some quick bites, head out to Piazza San Marcos for some Spritz to wash down the oil. For most, the Venetian typical aperitif is drank before meals and serves to whet the apetite. It’s a potent concoction of carbonated water, white wine, lemon or olive and usually Campari.

There’s no harm in having the aperitif after meals, though an Italian would probably give you a disapproving look. Who cares, as long as you’re in Venice?

5 Great Eats Under £5 – London

In England, Great Eats Under $5, Quick & Easy on October 27, 2009 at 11:17 pm

London grudgingly holds the throne as one of the most expensive capitals in the world. Pauper days while living in London were mostly spent hunting for the cheapest eats in town. So as a tribute to my cold-and-poor days in London, here’s a roundup of 5 great eats under £5 and where to get them.

O'Neills Sunday Roast1. Special Sunday Roast at O’Neills

If London were a dish, it would be the Sunday Roast: beef fillet, Yorkshire pudding, roasted potatoes and tons of gravy. Feasting on this meaty platter is the mandatory Sunday activity for the Brits. You can easily find an English Pub at almost every street corner, and all of them do the quintessential Sunday Roast. Try to catch the promotions on selected days, with a set going for £4.99.

Check out the website http://www.oneills.co.uk/ for a list of pub locations.

2. Camden Food Market – International Food

This is where India meets Morocco meets Mexico. The artful assemblage of exotic foods from different corners of the world makes for a great hangout for foodies. Feast your eyes on the colorful foreign foods on display, and all that, for prices as low as £3.50. My choice: beef rendang at the Indonesian store – only for the spicy-tongued.

Camden Road, London, NW1

Camden Food Market - Photo by 2Camels

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Miami’s Best Pizza

In Miami, Quick & Easy on October 20, 2009 at 4:53 pm


It ain’t no lie. Miami’s Best Pizza actually does serve up the city’s juiciest, thickest and richest pizza, ever.

I’ve lost count of the times spent gorging down thick pizza slices, laughing and hanging out in the pizza place during college days. A hop and a jump from University of Miami‘s Coral Gables campus, the pizzeria is easily the most down-to-earth spot for a quick bite.

Miami’s Best Pizza has been around forever, serving college students and residents for decades. It’s a classic good ol’ American pizza joint with a casual atmosphere and hearty menu.

My personal favorite is the meat lovers’ pizza, but some say the Miami special (pepperoni, ham, italian sausage, onions, pepper) wins hands down. You’ll have to try it to judge for yourself!

1514 South Dixie Highway

Coral Gables, FL

Tel: 305-666-5931


The Smelliest Fruit in the World

In Exotic Foods, Singapore, Smelliest Foods on October 18, 2009 at 10:57 am


The South East Asians worship the durian like a miracle, and even name it ‘the King of Fruits’. So much so that it’s almost like a mascot of our culinary world. Despite its glorious reputation, many visitors to this part of the world often find the strong and strange aroma rather, unpleasant.

In Singapore, it is even against the law to bring durians into taxis, the subway system and hotels, due to the powerful smell they give off. From blocks away, you could smell if a family is having a durian feast. Oh yeh, it’s almost an enigma on its own. How could a fruit or anything edible smell this bad?

The locals however, beg to differ. To us, this heavenly smell is unique and not to mention, fragrant and sinful. A delightful weekend treat always includes opening up a durian and savouring its pure texture and flavour.

The interior of a durianWith a prickly obscurely green outer shell, the inside of a durian usually contains up to 6 seeds engulfed in yellow thick meat. The taste of it is hard to describe, it’s almost a mixture of sour and sweet, with a thick and soft mango-like texture.

How to eat it?

It usually takes some strength to chop it in half, then dig your fingers in to the yellow meat and start chewing away.

Where to get it?

The best place to get top quality durians in Singapore, is Geylang Road.  An entire street dedicated to good food, local eats and prostitution (what a strange combination, get there and you’ll know what I mean), it’s a must for any food-lover and traveler interested in seeing a different side of the country. Rows of durian stalls line the street and are brightly lit with fluorescent lamp, you won’t miss it! Remember to choose the D24 durians, best species ever!

Durians for sale

Vietnamese Street Food at its Best

In Food Markets, Vietnam on October 13, 2009 at 10:10 pm

Street FoodStreet food in Vietnam is like the escargots in France, couscous in Morocco and burgers in America. You gotta have it, regardless of comfort level. By that, I mean a degree of exotic food gulping and spicy soup chocking.

As a foodie, crazy for anything authentic, my first stop in a city is always the local’s haunt. The Ben Thanh Market in Ho Chi Minh City (what used to be called Saigon) is the epicenter of all things Vietnamese.

From scorpion liquor to silky textiles, there’s something for everyone here. But most of all, it’s the food stalls in the market that make a visit to the market truly worthwhile. Sit yourself down in front of these simple fluorescent-lit hawker stalls that dish out a bowl of steamy pho, or a small platter of Vietnamese spring rolls.

Indoor food stalls in the Ben Thanh MarketBy night, the streets lining the Ben Thanh Market transforms into a bustling night market. Expect to dip your fingers into deep-fried frogs’ legs (the crispiest!) and spicy hotpot (try throwing in seafood and meat into a bowl of boiling soup). And all that, for half the price of usual restaurant fare. Street stalls by nightWhenever you’re in Ho Chi Minh City, don’t forget to race to the market for some of the best food in town. And if you’re worried your stomach might not tolerate the rough and tough of street food, fret not, the hygiene level is ace!

Spanish Tomato Toast

In Healthy Foods, Spain on October 11, 2009 at 10:45 pm

Photo by Purple CloudThe Spaniards are quite an eccentric bunch of people, when it comes to food. Eating, to them, is a way of life. An everyday meal always has to consist of 3 courses (sometimes 4) – from the starter, to main course and dessert. There’s no rush, and you should always savor it.

Undoubtedly, that’s what I love about living here. Food has to be perfect, even for breakfast.

Begin your crash course in Spanish culinary by dipping your hands into the first meal of the day.

The tostadas con tomates (tomato toast) is a typical Andalusian breakfast that is simple and healthy. Ever since I’ve moved to Andalusia, it’s been my energy-providing meal every single morning.

A toasted slice of baguette garnished with generous portions of olive oil and tomato pulp, it’s as simple as life can be.

Coupled with a glass of orange juice, it sure is a vibrant and energetic way of kick starting my day. Buen Provecho!

Here’s my recipe to make tostada de tomate (2 portions):

-4 thin slices of baguette bread
-4 ripe red tomatoes cut in half
-Extra-virgin olive oil
-Small bowl of coarse salt

1. Toast the baguette lightly in the oven.
2. Once the bread is toasted, rub the cut side of the tomato over the bread, pressing firmly to push the pulp into the bread; discard the skins and remaining pulp.
4. Drizzle olive oil over the bread and tomatoes; sprinkle with salt. Voila!

Photo by Flopper

Sheep Brains for you, mademoiselle?

In Exotic Foods, Morocco on October 7, 2009 at 9:27 am

Sheep's head

Of the many exotic food in the world, I’d say this has quite the taste. For some, sheep brains just taste like tofu. For the uninitiated, it could just about taste like… well, brains.

The Moroccans have managed to pull it off rather well,  la cervelle d’agneau (sheep brains in french) is  grilled slightly, retaining the internal soft and brainy texture.

Sheep brains

At Djemma el Fna, the bustling food epicenter of Marrakech ( a must-see for all foodies), almost every other store has a whole row of sheep heads on display.

Besides the brains, there are other parts of the head that the Moroccans eat. Sheep head soup is also a popular one.

Morocco is one place I love for food and ambiance. Marrakech is blessed with a myriad of unworldly aroma and mystifying Arabic lights. I’ll be writing more on Moroccan gastronomy, so tune in!