Explore Southeast Asian food, including the cuisines of Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, and the Philippines.
Photo by MyLastBite

Photo by MyLastBite

One look at Los Angeles’s restaurant scene says it all — L.A. is a cultural melting pot. Home to the largest Thai population outside of Asia, Los Angeles is saturated with delicious Thai restaurants that are loved among diners. On our mission to find the city’s finest Thai food, we sought the expertise of local food bloggers. Today’s post features Howard Meyers of Consuming LA, Anita Lau of diary of a Mad Hungry Woman, Vegas and Food, Wasima of tiffin unboxedand Gabriel Woo of Woo! Food.

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Posted by on August 13th, 2013

Photo by goodiesfirst

Photo by goodiesfirst

New York City’s Thai food offerings are a true testament to the city’s diversity. From curry to chocolate ribs, you’ll find all of your favorite Thai dishes and more! In our search to find the city’s best Thai restaurants, we utilized the expertise of popular New York City food bloggers: Jean-Philippe of I Just Want to Eat, Yvo of Feisty Foodie, Malini Sood Horiuchi of The Restaurant Fairy, and The Right Pick. Ranging from authentic fare to fusion dishes, here are New York City’s best Thai restaurants:

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Posted by on July 30th, 2013

Since Bee Yinn Low launched Rasa Malaysia in July 2006, it’s become THE go-to site for Asian recipes—from Malaysian to Thai, Sichuan, Korean and more. That shouldn’t come as a surprise, however; after all, with more than 400 recipes (and counting), it’s the biggest independent Asian recipes site on the Web–recently featured in Travel + Leisure Southeast Asia. So how did a humble food blog, which Bee began simply with the intention of documenting and sharing her mother’s recipes, make it to the big leagues? Besides the sheer volume of recipes, Rasa Malaysia features professional-grade (read: majorly droolworthy) food photos and the secret sauce in any big-time bloggers’ arsenal: great content—in Bee’s case, popular, recognizable restaurant-style recipes made easy enough for the home cook to tackle.

Fast-forward to present day: from her home base in Irvine, CA, Bee’s been hard at work on conceptualizing, developing and testing the recipes for her latest project: her first cookbook, out this week. Read on for the scoop—you don’t want to miss it. (Seriously, the recipes read like the favorite dishes at your beloved Chinese restaurant. Awesome.) Below, Bee shares some behind-the-scenes insights into her world.   (more…)

Posted by on September 9th, 2011

Andrea Nguyen

Andrea Nguyen is the author of two critically acclaimed cookbooks, Into the Vietnamese Kitchen and Asian Dumplings, and she’s working on a third–a highly anticipated title that I got the inside scoop on. Andrea’s respected blog, Viet World Kitchen, has made her a superstar in the food blogosphere and only added to her popularity in the “real” world. Slate.com gave her props in 2009 for unearthing Vietnamese traditions and “demystifying the Viet pantry.” Andrea’s longtime readers will agree: she makes even the most complicated-looking recipe seem infinitely more approachable. Once you read about her here, head on over to Viet World Kitchen and Asian Dumpling Tips for more on this talented blogger and author.

You’re at work on your third cookbook, due out in Spring 2012. What can we expect?

The third book is a pan-Asian cookbook that I’m very excited about. It’s different from the previous books and challenges me in many ways. It’s a single subject work that focuses on a particular kind of Asian food. As with Into the Vietnamese Kitchen and Asian Dumplings, I hope to introduce people to time-honored traditions and modern ideas. I can’t say much more than that at this time because the work is not yet near finished. I basically toil in my kitchen, do research and write on my computer! (more…)

Posted by on November 19th, 2010

Nguyen and Thi Tran of Starry Kitchen

Meet Thi and Nguyen Tran, aka “Team SK,” the husband-and-wife team responsible for Starry Kitchen in downtown Los Angeles. They’re super fun, super friendly and super talented at churning out creative, affordable, pan-Asian cuisine that’s earned a cult following since the Trans first launched their venture as an illegal underground restaurant-in-an-apartment. In early 2010, they moved into a commercial restaurant space, and the rest–well, you can read some of it here–and you can catch the rest by following Team SK on Twitter @starrykitchen.

Do you ever cook together?

Nguyen: We used to a lot back at home. Thi’s still the talent in the kitchen, but before we started Starry Kitchen we used to complement each other. She’s the cook and I’m the baker of the two. She likes to improvise and hates recipes, and I cook better with precision and recipes (which, funny enough, is the complete opposite of how we are socially!)  Now that we work so much we actually eat out a lot, but that’s partially to meet and introduce ourselves to the community, too–and partially ’cause it’s just fun to discover new food! It’s pretty fun working in food…most times! 🙂

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Posted by on October 15th, 2010

446492206_3adef3a070If you’re a sandwich lover plus you’re partial to cheap eats, the banh mi may be your next favorite sandwich.  So what exactly is Banh Mi?  Sometimes referred to as a “Vietnamese Hoagie”, it’s basically a Vietnamese submarine sandwich made with a French-inspired baguette.  Introduced to Vietnam by the French in the early 20th century, the first banh mi (pronounced BUN-mee) were just bread, butter and ham or duck or goose liver pâté.  Done the French way, this sandwich was traditional and minimal.

Over time, the Vietnamese adapted the banh mi and made it their own. Since wheat isn’t grown in Vietnam and has to be imported, the baguettes were baked with half rice and wheat flour. The French butter was still referred to as “butter”, but was a mayonnaise like spread made from egg yolks and oil.  Pickled carrots, daikon, jalapeno, cilantro and cucumber were added for flavor.   What really made the Vietnamese banh mi stand out from the French version were the selection of meats that could be added to the sandwich.  A lot of these meats were home cured and also showcased the fact that Vietnam has a long tradition of pig-preserving, from headcheese to pork rolls.

You could have your pick of grilled or barbecued pork,  grilled beef, roasted chicken, sardines or meatballs.  As mentioned above, other options include the pork roll, which is ground up pork that is packed tightly into a roll, wrapped with banana leaves and then steamed or boiled or  headcheese.  Headcheese is a combination of pork ears, tendons, skin, fats and other extra pork head meats that is  processed together into a roll and then sliced. Still need some porky goodness?   If so, you may want to order the shredded pork skin or the Vietnamese version of cold cuts, which is usually made of cured pork and layered with strips of fat. Believe it or not, there are even vegetarian options like tofu or wheat gluten.

As alluded to earlier, banh mi is cheap eats.   Banh Mi sandwich shops will sell banh mi within a range of $1.50 to as much as $5.00 each.  Considering how we are trying to save our pennies, banh mi is definitely a great alternative to eating out and not having to sell your house in order to do so.  Do you want to try a banh mi for yourself?  Than check out some restaurants below and hopefully, one of them is local to you.

Cho Cu Bakery
14520 Magnolia Street Suite B
Westminster, CA 92683
(714) 891-3718

Banh Mi Ba Le
1909 International Blvd
Oakland, CA 94606
(510) 261-9800

Ba Le Bakery
5018 N Broadway
Chicago, IL 60640
(773) 561-4424

New Saigon Sandwich
696 Washington St
Boston, MA 02111
(617) 542-6296

Lee’s Sandwiches
Saigon Mall
3212 N. Jupiter Rd.
Garland, TX 75044
(469) 326 2392

Posted by on May 15th, 2009

eggrollsWhen asked to describe Filipino food, I always describe it as being a mixture of food influenced by Chinese and Spanish cooking, but I never really knew all the details. With a little research, I was able to find out more about my own home food and want to share that information with you.

First, Philippines is a country that has a tropical climate divided into rainy and dry seasons with an archipelago with 7,000 islands.  In fact, there are over 80 dialects in the Philippines with Tagalog being main language that allows the lines of communication to flow regardless of what province you hail from.  These isles contain the Cordillera mountains, Luzon’s central plains, Palawan’s coral reefs with seas touching the world’s longest discontinuous coastline along with a multitude of lakes, rivers, springs and brooks.

When it comes to the population, there are over 120 different ethnic groups including the mainstream communities of  Tagalog/Ilocano/Pampango/Pangasinan and Visayan lowlanders – all who work within a  lush environment.   Here they lived their lives, built houses, wove cloth, told and wrote stories and most of all, prepared food.

The Chinese who came to trade sometimes stayed on, bringing with them their food culture, which they probably taught to their Filipino wives.  This Filipino-Chinese cooking would use ingredients native to the Philippines, have Filipino names, but be cooked using Chinese techniques.  Dishes like pansit are simply noodles, lumpia are fried eggs rolls and siopao are like the Chinese steamed filled buns called cha su bao.  Most of these dishes were adopted across many different parts of the Philippines, but adapted based on what ingredients were locally available.  For example, Pansit Malabon has oysters and squid since Malabon is a fishing city while Pansit Marilao is topped with rice crisps because Marilao is a city within the Luzon rice bowl.

The arrival of the Spaniards brought with them both Spanish and Mexican food influences, since a Viceroy from Mexico City was appointed by Spain to govern the Philippines  until 1821 when Mexico and Central America  were able to achieve their independance from Spanish rule. Spain’s rule lasted for 333 years and during this time period, it meant the production of food for an elite, nonfood-producing class, and a cuisine for which many ingredients were not locally available and had to be shipped into the Philippines

Filipino-Hispanic  food had new flavors and ingredients like olive oil, paprika, saffron, ham, cheese, cured sausages—and new names. Just as with Filipino-Chinese cooking, Spanish and Mexicand dishes were adapted and eventually became a part of modern day Filipino cuisine.  For example, Paella, the dish cooked in the fields by Spanish workers, became a festive dish combining pork, chicken, seafood, ham, sausages and vegetables, a luxurious mix of the local and the foreign. The Spanish custom of stuffing festive capons and turkeys for Christmas called Relleno, was applied to chickens, and even to bangus, the silvery milkfish. With the conversion to Catholicism, Christmas became a holiday celebrated by Filipinos.  Christmas coincided with the rice harvest and as a result came to feature both the myriad native rice cakes, but also ensaymadas (brioche-like cakes buttered, sugared and cheese-sprinkled) to dip in hot thick chocolate as well as apples, oranges, chestnuts and walnuts of European Christmases. Even the Mexican corn tamal turned Filipino, becoming rice-based tamales wrapped in banana leaves.

By the very virtue of the Philippines being part of Southeast Asia and that it shares similarities in climate, topography and geography with neighboring countries like Indonesia, Malayasia and Vietnam, it’s easy to see that all these countries would breed similar cuisines and dishes.  For example, the use of chili and coconut milk in dishes can be found in Indonesia, Malaysia and specifically, the Bicol region of the Philippines.  Many Philippine desserts, particularly those made of rice and coconut are similar to those of Indonesia and Malaysia. Among these are biko and suman, sticky rice cooked with coconut milk and sugar and wrapped in banana or pandan leaves, bibinka, puto and kutsinta which are different types of rice cakes. Patis and bagoong, fermented fish or shrimp sauce, similar to those produced by Vietnamese and Thais, are used to flavor food when cooking and are served as sauces for a variety of dishes such as kare-kare or appetizers such as chopped green mangoes.

When the US took over the governing of the Philippines, the American influence consisted of Filipinos learning the ways of convenience, which included pressure-cooking, freezing, pre-cooking, sandwiches and salads, hamburgers, fried chicken and steaks and most of all, cooking with canned goods.  Canned goods like Spam, corned beef and fruit cocktail started appearing in the Filipino kitchen, but even then we put our own spin on this convenient cuisine.  For example, Spam would be sliced, fried and eaten with eggs for breakfast.  Corned beef would sauteed with onions and garlic while our version of fruit cocktail would include jackfruit (langka), coconut (buko)  and palm nuts (kaong).  Even hot dogs were sliced and added to spaghetti.

Add to the above other cuisines found in the country along with other global influences: French, Italian, Middle Eastern, Japanese, Filipino food today really tells the story of Philippine history.   So given all these outside influences, it’s sometimes difficult to ascertain what Filipino food really is.  On the one hand, Filipino cuisine is simply food that comes from the land, sea, field and forest, but it also includes dishes and culinary techniques learned from countries like China, Spain, Mexico, the US and more.  What makes this food uniquely Filipino?  Simply, it’s because of the Filipino’s openness to new foods, their ability to re-work these new dishes using local ingredients as well adapting them to fit the Filipino palate and finally, being able to accept and absorb them into our food culture

So if you’d like to try Filipino food, here’s a list of Filipino restaurants that you can check out for yourself.

Barrio Fiesta
4420 Eagle Rock Blvd
Los Angeles, CA
(323) 259-5826

Max’s Restaurant of the Philippines
1155 El Camino Real
South San Francisco, CA 94080
(650) 872-6748

Tatay’s Philippine Restaurant
237 NE 167th St.
Miami, FL 33162
(305) 654-9494

Elena’s Restaurant
Tropicana Square
94-866 Moloalo Street #D4A
Waipahu, Hi 96797
(808) 676-8005

Manila Cafe
7020 Commerce St
Springfield, VA
(703) 644-5825

Posted by on April 23rd, 2009

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