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Dividing South Asian Cuisine as Broadly as Possible

During a trip to Bangalore back in 2013, I bought a copy of Lathika George's "The Suriani Kitchen"
https://taleoftwotomatoes.wordpress.c...

It was very informative - Syrian-Christian cuisine in Kerala adds to India's rich culinary history.

about 4 hours ago
klyeoh in India & South Asia

Dividing South Asian Cuisine as Broadly as Possible

Good suggestions, Kalivs.

I'd put Hyderabadi cuisine under South India - Andhra cooking is a close cousin of Tamil Nadu's rich repertoire of regional dishes, especially Chettinad cuisine. Also, Andhra's fabulous biriyanis have very good counterparts in Tamil Nadu (Dindigul biriyani cooked using tiny South Indian short-grained, aromatic "seeraga samba" rice known locally as "parakkum sittu" and "Kannivadi" meat, which comes from tender grass-fed goats.) and Kerala (Thalaserry Biriyani by the Moplah Muslims).

Goan-Jewish sounds interesting - I'd never tried that. Also, not forgetting French-Tamil Creole cuisine from Pondicherry:

http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/1015277

about 6 hours ago
klyeoh in India & South Asia

Dividing South Asian Cuisine as Broadly as Possible

No, Konkan is a coastal region within Maharashtra state - the term is much-used in Mumbai but, it seems, not much outside it. I'm hoping long-time Hound, Howler, can chip in on this.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Konkan

Some folks tend to lump the cuisine under Maharashtrian, but that would be diluting its uniqueness and its strong seafood identity. Others will describe that as Malvani cuisine. The Malvanis are a sub-dialect group of the Konkani:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malvani...

I'm not as familiar with the subtle distinctions between Konkani and Malvani cuisines due to my limited exposure to them. I do hope anyone from that region can contribute towards this discussion.

I suspect your US-centric search engines on the Web somehow throws up different results from my Singapore-based one. When I Google here - there is no result at all on "Kinkani". Rather, Konkani is one of the languages in Goa - this excerpt from the Department of Tourism, Government of Goa, India - Language
www.goatourism.gov.in/people/language

"Goa is a multi-lingual state, thanks to its chequered history of thousands of years, which has seen people of various regions, ethnic races and religions from India and abroad coming over to and settling in Goa, while influencing the local language. At present, Marathi and Konkani are two major languages of Goa."

about 8 hours ago
klyeoh in India & South Asia

Dividing South Asian Cuisine as Broadly as Possible

I think Konkani cuisine suffers from an identity problem (http://recipes.wikia.com/wiki/Konkani...).

Else, it would be the next big thing in Indian cuisine around the world - I especially liked its emphasis on seafood. Some of the top proponents in Mumbai:

1) Trishna
http://travel.cnn.com/mumbai/eat/tris...

2) Mahesh Lunch Home
http://www.maheshlunchhome.com/

3) Gajalee
http://www.gajalee.com/

4) Konkan Cafe
http://travel.cnn.com/mumbai/eat/mumb...

Goan cuisine has always had overlaps with Keralan, Konkani & Mangalorean cuisine, so no surprise that curried crabs would make an appearance there. I've had (the *very* Goan) bibinca served to me at the Konkan Cafe @ Vivanta by Taj Residency; and at Karavalli @ Gateway Hotel in Bangalore, a Keralan dining institution (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/842973).

Konkani and Goan are the only two Indian cuisines I'd come across where pork was used. Somehow, although there's no explicit restriction against consumption of pork in Hinduism, the Indians largely do *not* regard pig as an edible animal.

1 day ago
klyeoh in India & South Asia

Malaccan-Portuguese cuisine at Simply Mel's, Kuala Lumpur

I have a soft spot for Quentin's - I've been a loyal customer ever since Quentin Pereira's father, Robin, cooked at Casa Bom Vento in its first incarnation along East Coast Road (the current Casa Bom Vento on Joo Chiat Rd is more similar to subsequent owner, the late Gladys Chee's vision).

Robin Pereira then cooked at a food court in Changi South, and his cooking was as good as ever. Needless to say, I followed him wherever he (and his son, Quentin) goes: Quentin's at East Coast Rd, and now at the Eurasian Community House, will always be my go-to place for Eurasian food in Singapore, besides Mary's Kafe @ Queen Street.

[Singapore] Hainanese Chicken Rice Lunch at Yet Con.

Yes, he's retired. Besides its trademark chicken rice and roast pork, I think only the steamboat is being offered currently.

Dividing South Asian Cuisine as Broadly as Possible

Yes, there's been quite a bit of cross-overs in the regional cuisines of India: paratha and dosa are now as common in Mumbai as in their birthplace in the south.

Somehow, I'd have expected "sarson da saag" with "makki di roti" to be more popular in South India than it is - very hard to find in Chennai or other Tamilian cities. But I guess the South have their own wide repertoire of vegetarian dishes already.

What about Konkani cuisine, wildly popular in Mumbai and other Maharashtrian cities? Its seafood options are *absolutely* amazing, and Mumbai-based Gajalee has even opened branches in Singapore, where its curried crab goes head-to-head with Singaporean chilli crab - I guess you'd classify it under General Indian?

1 day ago
klyeoh in India & South Asia

Dividing South Asian Cuisine as Broadly as Possible

I think Murgh Makhani should be in the North Indian/Punjabi category:
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/893124

I've always associated chaats, including samosa chaat with Mumbai - that's categorised under North Indian, right?

BTW, it should be spelt Gujarati, not Gujurati :-)

1 day ago
klyeoh in India & South Asia

[Singapore] Sembawang White Beehoon from You Huak

You Huak is currently one of Singapore's hottest local eating spots - outrageously popular for its Teochew-inflected "white beehoon": thin rice vermicelli stir-fried/braised in a seafood broth. It's a simple, spartan dish - a single serving consisted of the "bee hoon", a couple of de-shelled shrimps, slivers of squid, bits of scrambled egg and a few chopped stalks of "choy sum" greens. Eaten after the requisite squeeze of local lime, it was umami-overload. Locals refer to it as the Sembawang white beehoon place - Sembawang being the northern neighbourhood where the eatery is located.

We were one of the earliest customers at lunch (arrived at 11.20am) so no problem getting a table and duly ordered our white beehoon. We also ordered a couple of other popular sides:

- "Hae choe" (deep-fried rolls of minced pork-prawn wrapped in bean-sheets). These were light & absolutely scrumptious: the best I'd tasted in Singapore, I must admit. Freshly-fried and served hot, one bites into the meaty discs, through the crisp shards of beansheet and into the soft minced pork-shrimp filling with chopped waterchestnuts providing an additional crunch. Delish.

- Fried chicken wings: the chicken wings looked unremarkable, but when served freshly- fried and crisp from the wok, they were a revelation - light, greaseless and absolutely crisp-skinned whilst moist & juicy inside. The chicken wings were lightly-marinated in fresh turmeric before being deep-fried.

To avoid the daunting lunch crowd - come here at around 11.20am and snare a table. The waitress comes round to take your order at 11.30am when the restaurant opens officially. By 12 noon, every table in the small, open eatery (no air-conditioned, I was sweating even with the fast-whirling ceiling fans above). By 12.20pm, there will be a long queue outside - waiting time during peak meal times can be around 1 hour. I must admit, though - the good food here is really worth the wait.

[Singapore] Hainanese Chicken Rice Lunch at Yet Con.

Indeed - because the Hainanese style of poaching chicken requires a la minute boiling of the chicken till just done, then quickly dunking the just-cooked poached chicken into iced water to stop the cooking process. This results in the gelatinous layer just underneath the chicken skin, in-between the skin and flesh much-treasured by Hainanese chicken rice connoisseurs. But the act of quickly cooling the just-poached chicken also resulted in still-running blood in the chicken bones.

[Singapore] Hainanese Chicken Rice Lunch at Yet Con.

Yet Con has always been my family's go-to place for Hainanese chicken rice. It may not be as swish as its newer competitors, but it's been there forever & ever (est. 1940). Stepping into Yet Con, spitting distance away from the grand old Raffles Hotel a couple of minutes' walk away, is like going back in time - to the Singapore of Noel Coward and Somerset Maugham. Not sure if they'd seen Yet Con or even stepped inside, since the restaurant was there when they visited Singapore & lived at the Raffles. In those years, Seah Street (bordering Raffles Hotel) was called Hainan Third Street, whilst the other two streets parallel to it was Purvis Street (Hainan Second Street) and Middle Road (Hainan First Street).

The whole neighbourhood was a Hainanese quarter - a Chinese ethnic group known for its culinary excellence and for its dominance of the food industry since the first Hainanese (Lim Chong Jin) stepped onto the shores of Singapore in 1841 - until today, the Hainanese dominated the running of the traditional coffeeshops/kopitiams in Singapore (and Malaysia).

A Hainanese bartender at the Raffles, Ngiam Tong Boon, invented the legendary "Singapore Sling" cocktail in 1915. Elsewhere in Singapore, his Hainanese compatriot, Loi Ah Koon, founded Ya Kun in 1944, a kaya toast-and-coffee business which has grown into a chain today.

The Chinese community always believed that the Hokkiens made the best "mee" (noodles), the Teochews made the best "koay teow" (flat rice noodles) whilst the Hainanese brewed the best "kopi" (coffee), hence the popular gastronomic refrain in Singapore/Malaysia of opting for "Hokkien mee, Teochew koay teow, Hailam kopi".

Over at Swee Kee (51-53 Middle Road) in 1949, an enterprising Hainanese restaurant owner-chef, Wong Yi Guan, and his apprentice, Mok Fu Swee, improved upon the traditional poached chicken and rice dish from their Hainan island homeland to come up with the famous Hainanese chicken rice rendition which we in Singapore know today. Swee Kee operated from 1949 to 1997. It closed down when the Singapore government acquired the row of old shophouses where it was located in order to widen Middle Road. Sadly, Swee Kee never reopened as the chief "chicken chopper" decided to call it a day as he was already in his 70s then. The family decided to pack up and returned to Senai, Johore (southern Malaysia).

But Yet Con carried on that tradition. First opening in 1940 to offer Hainanese hotpots (called "steamboat" here in Singapore), it expanded its repertoire to offer one of the best renditions of Hainanese chicken rice in Singapore. I loved the rice here: fragrant with ginger, scallions and garlic, and glistening with chicken fat. The poached chicken is tender and with a bite to it.

Yet Con's well-known among Singaporeans for its roast pork, a haphazardly-chopped mess of pork belly drizzled with sweet dark molasses, resting on a bed of sweet, pickled mustard leaves. A light, clear chicken consomme is served gratis.

So what is ONG choy?

Wow, you've resurrected an 11 year old thread.

The term "kangkong" is also used in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia (only the Thais have a separate word for it: "pak boong")

I read somewhere that we South-east Asians actually got the term from the Sinhalese language by way of the Portuguese (who first encountered "kan kun" in on the Sri Lankan island) in the 16th-century.

Jul 04, 2015
klyeoh in General Topics

Dividing South Asian Cuisine as Broadly as Possible

I think you *can* merge Sri Lankan and Tamilian into South Indian, since I think Keralan cuisine is as close to Sri Lankan cuisine than its Tamilian cousin. What's Karnatakan cuisine, but a small subset of the great cuisines of its Southern neighbours.

You simply *cannot* merge Punjabi and Bengali food together! The cuisines are so very, very different.

"North Indian" is a bit more difficult to define as a category by itself - it is, after all, Punjabi-based - similar to Pakistan's own North-eastern regional cuisine.

Gujarati can be kept as a separate category if only to emphasize its vegetarianism.

Jul 04, 2015
klyeoh in India & South Asia

Suggest food/snacks to bring from HK to Canada?

HK International Airport now has shops like Kee Wah and Wing Wah, which specialize in baked goods which visitors like to buy as food souvenirs to bring home: various types of traditional Chinese cookies.

http://en.keewah.com/

http://www.wingwah.com/eng/products/d...

Jul 04, 2015
klyeoh in China & Southeast Asia

one-day visits to Salzburg, Vienna and Bratislava--recommendations?

Anytime - drop us a line if you're coming this way.

Jul 04, 2015
klyeoh in Europe
1

Good Morning, Singapore - Part 1: Economy Breakfast Noodles

Esconced away in the lesser-known Pek Kio Food Centre near Novena, Sin Kee's economy bee hoon mee has a blander, Teochew-inflected rendition - a nod to the food centre's largely older, Teochew clientele.

The stall is not as busy as economy bee hoon mee stalls at Holland Village or Old Airport Road - which is great as, after all, who'd really want to queue for half an hour for one's breakfast first thing in the morning.

I didn't quite like the brand of luncheon meat used by this stall, though - not Maling brand's. But their fried egg was done perfectly and served a la minute, with the golden yolk flowing out to coat the noodles. Bliss.

S$2.20 (US$1.65) for a pretty substantial breakfast. For more Teochew breakfast options, there's a Teochew kueh/steamed glutinous rice cake stall at the next aisle of food stalls, where one can get "p'ng kueh" (steamed, pink-coloured cake with glutinous rice, dried shrimp, black fungus & peanut filling) and "soon kueh" (steamed glutinous rice cake with jicama/yambean & dried shrimp filling). All served with a generous dollop of chilli and a drizzle of Chinese sweet, dark soysauce.

Address
=========
Economical Bee Hoon Mee
Stall #01-34
Pek Kio Market & Food Centre
Blk 41A Cambridge Road
Singapore 211041

Jul 03, 2015
klyeoh in China & Southeast Asia

one-day visits to Salzburg, Vienna and Bratislava--recommendations?

Sounds very tempting.

I'm working with some local Slovak oclleagues, though, so I may get introduced to some local spots which I'll be sure to share here.

Jul 03, 2015
klyeoh in Europe

one-day visits to Salzburg, Vienna and Bratislava--recommendations?

Well, make a trip down to Singapore and I'll take you on a *real* gastronomic tour of the city's eating places, i.e. where Singaporeans have their usual/every day meals, not where tourists or business visitors go to.

Jul 03, 2015
klyeoh in Europe

one-day visits to Salzburg, Vienna and Bratislava--recommendations?

vanderb - I'll be spending 3 weeks in Slovakia in July/Aug, and will be exporing Bratislava. Zylinder sounds like a great place. Do you have any other recs for the city?

Jul 02, 2015
klyeoh in Europe

Singapore - Modern-Nyonya cuisine at Candlenut, Dorsett Residences (Outram Park)

Very true - even a legendary hawker who's been cooking his food with a passion for half a century will be criticized if he sells the dish $1 more than an average-tasting rendition from some anonymous neighborhood food stall. Whingeing and whining have become too common-place in Singapore these days ;-)

Jul 01, 2015
klyeoh in China & Southeast Asia

Good Morning, Singapore - Part 1: Economy Breakfast Noodles

After covering the central, south, east and western parts of Singapore, it's a natural progression for me to seek out a good "bee hoon mee" spot in the northern part of the island.

This "bee hoon mee" stall at Lucky Star Eating House in Marsiling offers one of the best renditions of the dish I'd had! The mix of Hokkien mee and bee hoon was perfect, and I liked the fresh-tasting, lightly-fried luncheon meat slices - an egg-wash gave the luncheon meat a pleasant crunchy exterior. The tofu was Hakka-style - large and very soft in the middle, and the accompanying chilli sauce was slightly sweetish yet retained enough chilli-heat to spike up the flavours of the noodles.

A neighbouring stall at Lucky Star offers some very good Cantonese roast duck and roast pork as well.

The popular "koay chiap" stall is closed today (Wed) though, so have to do it another time then.

Address
========
Lucky Star Eating House
211 Marsiling Crescent
Singapore 730211
Tel: 6362 2183

Jul 01, 2015
klyeoh in China & Southeast Asia

Singapore - Modern-Nyonya cuisine at Candlenut, Dorsett Residences (Outram Park)

"I know of a better place..."
-------------------------------------------
LOL! Indeed.

Another popular Singaporean refrain: "It used to be good, but the standards have gone down."

Jun 30, 2015
klyeoh in China & Southeast Asia

[Ipoh, Malaysia] Traditional home-cooked Cantonese flavours at Wong Koh Kee

Wong Koh Kee on Yee Lai Hong (Concubine Lane) has been operating for over 70 years. It's currently run by the 4th-generation of the Wong family who started it during the Japanese Occupation years in World War II. The restaurant is very popular among local Ipoh-ites who loved the home-cooked flavours of the cooking there - better than any I'd tasted in KL, actually.

What we had for lunch:

- Steamed tilapia with brown bean paste. Very fresh fish, with a perfectly-balanced sauce of fermented brown beans, garlic and other flavours.

- "Sam wong tan" - silky-smooth steamed egg custard which consisted of chicken egg, duck egg, century egg and minced pork.

- "Pei par kai" - superb barbecued chicken with a superb home-made plum sauce.

- Stir-fried watercress ("sai yeung choi") with roast pork. The roast pork was not crisp-skinned anymore after being stir-fried with the watercress, but the texture of the vegetables was nice & soft, not fibrous like most Chinese-style stir-fried vegies tended to be.

- "Gwoo lo yoke" - sweet-sour pork. This is one of the best-tasting I'd tried: each pork morsel was glazed with the sweet-sour sauce and was crisp on the outside, yet yieldingly soft inside.

Need to come early for lunchy (preferably before 12 noon) - the tiny space fills up pretty quickly.

Address
========
Wong Koh Kee
3, Jalan Panglima
31650 Ipoh, Perak
Malaysia
Tel: +60 5-241 9474

Jun 28, 2015
klyeoh in China & Southeast Asia

[Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam] Northern Vietnamese lunch at Tuấn & Tú, Pasteur

Yes, it's very similar to Cantonese 'haam ha', though the Vietnamese shrimp paste ('mắm tôm') is stronger in smell and taste.

Jun 28, 2015
klyeoh in China & Southeast Asia

[Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam] Northern Vietnamese lunch at Tuấn & Tú, Pasteur

Yes, the nutty crunch and flavour complemented the turmeric-flavoured fish fillets very well.

Sorry for the bad pictures - I didn't bring my digicam, so resorted to my Blackberry's camera which produced rather poor quality pictures.

Jun 28, 2015
klyeoh in China & Southeast Asia

[Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam] Northern Vietnamese lunch at Tuấn & Tú, Pasteur

Tuấn & Tú Quán is a trendy eatery run by the well-known brother-and-sister team who'd successful combined their talents (brother, Tuan's a PR consultant, while sister, Tu, runs a spa) with their passion for food to conceptualise their restaurant which has become a favoured lunch spot for Saigon's trendsetters and fashionable crowd. It specialises in Ẩm Thực Miền Bắc (Northern cuisine), anchored upon recipes by Tuan & Tu's grandmother.

I understood that it used to be housed in a tastefully furnished, cosy & charming house when it started off a decade ago, but has moved to this new location along Pasteur in the middle of last year. It still *is* rather cosy, except in a vertical manner, with the seating area spread over 3-storeys in a narrow shophouse lot.

I let my Hanoi colleague do the ordering - though she seemed quite conscious that my other two Vietnamese colleagues were Southern Vietnamese, hence chose dishes with some greens to satisfy everyone's taste-buds (Northern Vietnamese cuisine tends to put vegetables *very* much in the background).

What we had:

Jun 27, 2015
klyeoh in China & Southeast Asia

[Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam] Saigon Breakfast 1: Cơm tấm (broken rice with meats)

Lau - you should find out more about him if/when you go back. Many returning Vietnamese are pumping $$$ into Saigon's economy and opening new, trendy eateries. Would be interesting to find out which restaurants his family owns back in Vietnam.

Bot Chien Dat Thanh in Saigon is, of course, very local - but very well-established as one of the nmost popular "bot chien" spots in the city. The other top "bot chien" places in Saigon are:

- Che Ky Dong (Est. 1981) which is actually a dessert ("che") place which happened to make a killer "bot chien", freshly-fried to order.

- The "bot chien" cart along Hai Thuong Lan, opposite the post office. It's perhaps the oldest "bot chien" place in Saigon - dating back to the 1970s. Its rice cakes are cut into long strips instead of rectangular/cubic pieces.

- A husband-and-wife "bot chien" cart at Cay Keo, near the corner with Luy Ban Cich, Dam Sen Park.

Take note that the Vietnamese regard "bot chien" as tea-time or after-dinner snacks, so these places would only open in the mid- to late-afternoons till late night.

Jun 25, 2015
klyeoh in China & Southeast Asia

[Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam] Imperial Hue lunch at Quán Ruốc

Yes, it is a foodie destination of sorts. Mind you, the infrastructure is still way behind other SE-Asian countries like Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand's - Ho Chi Minh City (a large city with 13 million people in the metro area) has an international airport only the size of Penang's (which has only 1.5 million people in comparison).

Most shops are *not* air-conditioned, and it's really bad in hot summer months - like now! Even the air-con in the malls that do have them don't seem very effective.

Drinks/alcohol are fairly cheap, but dining in restaurants or hotel outlets catering to foreigners are amazingly expensive.

Street foods are good, but you need to be careful as local germs/virus can cause tummy upsets and ruin your holiday.

Jun 25, 2015
klyeoh in China & Southeast Asia

[Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam] Imperial Hue lunch at Quán Ruốc

Quán Ruốc's a must-try, Lau.

Jun 25, 2015
klyeoh in China & Southeast Asia

[Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam] Saigon Breakfast 1: Cơm tấm (broken rice with meats)

Heh-heh, so your fave go-to shop in CA is called Dat Thanh, too. It means Double Prosperity. The shopowner's most probably Chinese-Vietnamese :-)

BTW, the *original* Cafe Brodard in Saigon's no more :-(

It's location is taken over by Sony, which is opening a retail store on that spot soon (see the pics I took during my 2005 and 2015 visits).

But Saigon now has Brodard bakeries all over town - it's now a chain! I was at one of the new outlets - this one's just round the corner from the old Rue Catinat (Duong Dong Khoi) location.

Jun 25, 2015
klyeoh in China & Southeast Asia