S.E.A Food and Eat It

My mouth was watering before I had even left the UK thinking about South East Asian food (or S.E.A food…geddit!). I mean who doesn’t love the delicious spice of Thai food and who hasn’t almost been able to taste the Hairy Bikers’ offerings on their tour through the region (how wrong that sounds!). So expectations were running high… especially after 3 months in the culinary powerhouse of India.

Rex eating Hanoi Fish

Touchdown was in Hanoi, the loud and unapologetically crammed northern Vietnam centre. Here was the start of what was to become the Beef Noodle Soup trail (or Andy’s worse nightmare). Things started well with Foodie Father Bannister in tow. Night 1 saw us munching on local river fish steamed with coriander, celery and herbs and served with noodles, more fresh herbs and local beer… a great start indeed. Hanoi also had what we christened ‘Street Duck; which was hard to resist… crispy, golden and sliced straight into noodle soup again with lashings of cheap cheap beer. Sadly after our delicious Christmas Eve seafood fest on a junk boat on Halong Bay; things went downhill quickly. All the fish in Vietnam was delicious, especially Elephant Ear Fish with rice pancakes and fresh veggies, but otherwise Vietnam was noodle, noodle, noodle, noodle. So in the end, we resorted to Indian Food!

Street Duck

Next stop was Cambodia… ashamed but full and happy… our first meal in the capital of Phnom Penh was pie, mash and beans! Come on people, we’ve been away for over 4 months at this point! Quick cultural and gastronomic recovery came in the form of fabulous Fish Amok… a truly tasty, creamy, coconutty dish basked in banana leaves. We consumed alot of fresh spring rolls in Cambodia too and of course Angkor Beer!

Phnom Penh Pie

So it was now time for Laos PDR, reputed to be most peoples’ favourite place in S.E.A…. Laos was a lowpoint… Gastronimically speaking… not in travelling terms (remember I am focusing on food here!). The option was lazily put together bland dishes vs. omniverous terror in the form of full birds, rats or pigs innards on sticks.

When we say Omniverous... we mean Omniverous!

We landed again in Noodle Soup territory for safety and our favourite meals in Laos were decidedly un S.E.A… steak in a Belgian restaurant, Pizza in Luang Prabang… Indian (again!). Things were pulled back from the brink of taste terror by a fantastic experience.Wandering across an idyllic bridge in the Northern Laos hills; after 6 days on the road with fried rice and noodle soup, a scent wafted past me and I felt like Tom and Jerry being dragged by the scent by the nose under a roadside parasol. A Laos lady was pounding a pestle and mortar and producing seriously spicy smells. The giggly school girls waiting by beckoned us to join them and we had our first taste of Som Tam – unripe Papaya salad with palm sugar, chilli, mini shrimps. tomato and crushed nuts… bloody tasty stuff.

Tom Yam Yummy

By the time we reached Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand, our tastebuds were tingling and we resolved to eat as much Thai curry as was humanly possible in 5 days. This was easy, fun, clean and satisfying – plus the spice levels shot up about seven notches which made Andy a happy boy… he just LOVES to burn off his tastebuds! I did my cooking class for a day on an organic farm, which was just an excuse to eat all day really … and we left rounded and happy for our final S.E.A stop.

Malaysia is reputed to be the culinary highlight of S.E.A and top on foodie holiday lists. Now this part of the trip is not quite over as we have 9 days left here, but so far Malaysia is perfectly positioned for our tummies. Chinese, Malay and Indian food fuses together and we have had spare ribs in Kuala Lumpur, freshly caught BBQ’ed fish in the Perhentians and Muhtarak pancakes in Kota Bharu. We are currently in Penang savouring the local delicacies. Arriving fresh off an 8 hour overnight coach, we plonked ourselves in Tai Tong… a famous DimSum restaurant in Chinatown. This place did not disappoint – as we sat on our Formica table, ladies marched past with trolleys full of steaming dimsums, savoury buns and sweet treats, whilst we guzzled down chinese tea… and the meal cost less than 4 squid… despite us eating enough to sink a ferry! We have of course been to Little India for some tandoori chicken and sampled the local specialties like fried oysters with egg.

With less than 2 months left on the trip and some decidedly un-exotic locations on the list, we at least know now what to do if we can’t find anything local that we fancy…. go Indian! So Bradford is really a good place to be returning to!


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. tonton
    Mar 14, 2011 @ 21:29:05

    Watch out for the Tom Sam,Andy,’cos crushed nuts can be very painful;ouch!


  2. Trackback: Food vs Fuel | Dinky Thinks

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