Two Decembers ago, I returned to Burma for the third time, en route from neighboring Thailand, where my family had spent the bulk of our Christmas holiday.
To be honest, I struggle with writing about Burma. In some ways, I’ve been both blessed and burdened by my upbringing as an American of mixed Burmese and Chinese heritage. (My family is part of the overseas Chinese diaspora, with deep roots in Burma.)
Min Lan (မင်းလမ်း), perhaps Yangon’s best known seafood restaurant chain, serves amazing and delicious Rakhine-style fare. We paid tribute to this local favorite, dining at the chain’s Sanchaung Township location within hours after landing in Rangoon.
My family’s trip to Burma this past January coincided with my aunt’s and uncle’s. In honor of my grandmother, who passed away 17 years ago, they arranged an almsgiving ceremony at the Tipitaka Monastery in the centre of Yangon. As I’ve said before, the community is interwoven into the fabric of Burmese life. Almsgiving ceremonies, which are really communal feasts, including a donation of alms to the monastery, are just another manifestation of the this generous spirit. And the lunch served was absolutely delicious.
Some observations I made while dining out in Hong Kong. HK has an awesome food scene, but there were a few adjustments I definitely had to make. So without further ado, here are my top 5 rules for eating out in Hong Kong! Continue reading Rulebook: Eating out in Hong Kong→
I went to Taipei with the goal of hitting up as many night markets as humanly possible. So our first night in the city, we headed off to the closest one to our hotel, Huaxi Night Market (華西街觀光夜市), which was rather sedated the night we went, with a lot of shuttered shops. So we instead spent a fair amount of time traversing Mengjia Night Market (艋舺夜市) instead. Both are anchored by Longshan Temple, a 16th century Buddhist-Taoist temple located in the middle of Taipei’s oldest district, Wanhua.
Shilin Night Market (士林夜市) is a sprawling night market that extends along several streets in the middle of Taipei’s 2nd most populated district of the same name. While it’s widely cited by tourist guides and a great experience overall, if I were pressed for time, I’d pass this one, only because it lacks the signature grittiness of other Taipei night markets. (Food’s still awesome). Continue reading STREET FOOD 101: Taipei’s Shilin Night Market→
Mohinga is to the Burmese what menudo may be to the Mexicans. It’s the stuff of life, found all across Burma, in homes, street stalls and in restaurants. As a kid, I regularly ate it for breakfast on weekends (there was no way I was going to school with a potent fishy breath). Over the years, I’ve had countless iterations of mohinga. I’ll tell you this: once you’ve eaten enough bowls of mohinga, you realize that no two persons cook the same recipe–every chef makes the dish their own.
Ever since I booked flights to Bangkok, I had my eyes and stomach set on visiting Thip Samai, perhaps Bangkok’s most famous noodle institution, known for one dish and one dish only: pad thai.
Who comes to Thailand to eat pad thai, quite possibly the most pedestrian of Thai dishes anyway? But Thip Samai is outstanding, as evidenced by the huge crowds (locals and foreigners alike) that form every afternoon, even before the restaurant opens its doors.
I’m not about to start a feud between Thai and Burmese cuisines. But having been fueled by endless bowls of khao soi* while I was in northern Thailand, I beyond excited to grab a bowl of the ‘original’ Burmese coconut chicken noodle soup, aka on no khauk swe (အုန်းနို့ခေါက်ဆွဲ) when I flew into Burma.
*Khao soi just means ‘noodles’ in Burmese. Khao soi is Thailand’s take on the Burmese coconut chicken noodle soup, and has an intense coconut milk broth, on wheat noodles and a curried protein (chicken or beef).
Tamsui is a smallish seaside town north of Taipei. Only 30 minutes away from Taipei by subway (it’s at the terminus of the Tamsui Line), Tamsui makes a good day trip for travelers with some time to spare in Taipei. Tamsui is known mostly for Dutch and Spanish settlements back in the 1600s.
It’s also home to the Tamsui Old Street, a historic neighborhood filled with shops, which evolves into the charming Old Street Night Market (淡水老街夜市) as the sun sets.
If you only have time to visit a single night market in Taipei, it’s got to be Raohe Street Night Market (饒河街觀光夜市). Located by the banks of Keelung River, it was the best night market I visited in Taipei, for having a nice mix of both eccentric and traditional street bites.
The most famous night market north of Taipei is in Keelung, a sleepy port town of about 400,000. The MiaokouMarket (廟口夜市, literally “temple mouth market”), begins at the entrance of Dianji Temple (奠濟宮) and is home to a variety of interesting street foods.
Kung Wo Dou Bun Chong (公和荳品廠) is steps away from Hoover Cake Shop in Kowloon City. One of several shops throughout Kowloon (the others are in Sham Shui Po and Tsim Sha Tsui), Kung Wo is an 100+ year old establishment best known for its soybean-based products.
Modern China Restaurant is a Chinese restaurant chain (with 6 branches in Hong Kong) that specializes in the regional Chinese cooking styles of Beijing, Sichuan and Shanghai. But don’t let the English name fool you, the food is anything but modern.
My first morning in Taipei, I had one thing in mind: having a nice hearty Taiwanese breakfast. Lucky for us, Four Sea Soy Milk King (四海豆漿大王), an unassuming neighborhood breakfast joint, was only a few blocks from our place, nestled in a residential area of Datong District.