Pantry Basics: Thai basil laksa leaf pesto

LaksaPesto

I make this Thai basil laksa leaf pesto in large batches when we have to prune our Thai basil and laksa leaf (Vietnamese mint) plants. It doesn’t contain any cheese, but the fish sauce (I like Red Boat) provides the umami kick that you’d otherwise get from the parmesan in a traditional pesto. I store some in the fridge and freeze the rest so that there’s always some close at hand. Continue Reading →

Siem Reap, Cambodia – a refreshing new resort and simple, comforting food

I’m embarrassed to admit that my travel experience in Southeast Asia is almost nonexistent. Having lived and holidayed in North and South America, various parts of Europe, and even Japan and Korea, it seems like I simply forgot to explore my own backyard – which, given the beautiful photos and pieces of travel writing I’ve seen from friends who have been to the region, is a huge shame. Which is why I decided to fly to historical Siem Reap in Cambodia over the recent long weekend. My girlfriend K had been anxious to visit the magnificent Khmer temples of the sprawling Angkor archaeological park, and I wanted to find out more about the country’s cuisine. Both of us came back happy campers. Continue Reading →

Top kiddie friendly restaurants and more in Bali

Holidaying in Bali with hungry kiddies in tow?  Have no fear!  Bali offers a wide range of restaurants serving local delights and well as international favorites.  Little Steps Bali has eaten, sipped, and relaxed at restaurants throughout the ‘Island of Gods’ to give the scoop on where to dine with kids.  Enjoy! Continue Reading →

A homage to Xiao Long Bao – Chinese soup dumplings

Like many people, I first discovered xiao long bao in a famous Taiwanese restaurant called Din Tai Fung. I don’t usually eat in chain restaurants, but I do make an exception for this New York Times rated, Michelin starred eatery which is famous for its xiao long bao. And so after first experiencing the steamy, soupy, pork-filled wonders of xiao long bao for the first time, I became obsessed. Now, it is one of those things I must have weekly or somehow I feel deprived.Xiao long bao means “small steaming purse or basket” in Mandarin, which is a very factual description of a magical dish. These dumplings are traditionally filled with small pork meatballs (although you can find chicken, vegetable and seafood nowadays), and are encased in a thin, translucent dumpling shell with a savory broth within. Continue Reading →

Toddler Food: Barley Grits Porridge

Toddler Food

Like many Chinese children, I grew up eating plenty of porridge (which, in the Chinese context, is savoury and usually made with white rice). It’s the sort of dish I still find comfort in when I’m feeling under the weather. But it’s not the one dish I’d pick if I had to eat only one thing for the rest of my life. Continue Reading →

Pakomen (排骨拉麺): The Comfort Food of Japanese Prime Ministers

Origami, Capitol Hotel Tokyu

This dish of spare rib ramen—that the Japanese call pakomen (and if you read the kanji, it would be called pai gu la mian in Mandarin)—leapt out at me when I first studied the menu at the Capitol Hotel Tokyu’s all-day dining restaurant, Origami, on our most recent trip to Tokyo. It is part of the hotel’s old time favourites menu that consists of beloved dishes that that had been served at the old Capitol Tokyu Hotel for decades. As it turned out, pakomen was one of eight varieties of ramen that had been served at the Capitol Tokyu. It was the most popular, and the one dish that purportedly every Japanese prime minister has enjoyed. Continue Reading →

Pantry Basics: Roll Cake (ロールケーキ)

Japanese roll cake

When my toddler, T, had his first taste of this roll cake his wee face broke into a wide smile that lit up his eyes and entire face. Like him, I can’t seem to get enough of this light-as-a-feather roll cake. Asian incarnations of the Swiss roll are decidedly lighter than their European forebear. The Japanese, in particular, have catapulted the roll cake (ロールケーキ or ro-ru keiki) into another stratosphere. Their roll cakes tend to be lightly, rather than assertively sweetened. And they have a soft, delicate texture and moist, fine crumb I absolutely love. I was heartbroken when the Arinco stall in the basement of Ion where I had indulged in many a salted caramel roll cake air-flown from Japan closed down. Continue Reading →

You Si, the Painter that Paints Without a Brush

I had the opportunity to meet with You Si in Shanghai, China at an art gallery event. I was talking in a group that kept expanding and suddenly I found myself talking to a lively Chinese man with an infectious smile and lots of stories to tell. We established early in the conversation that we both used to live in New York and then we bonded over shared memories of the “city that never sleeps.” As it turns out my new cocktail companion was You Si, a Chinese artist who had moved to New York and lived there for more than two decades but had in recent years moved back to China to live in Shanghai. When I asked, “is any of this work yours?”, he replied, “no, none of this is my work, I am a guest tonight just like you.” Continue Reading →

Satisfying the umami thirst with curry noodles

 

The curry mee I regularly partake in at the O&S Coffee shop in Paramount Gardens, Petaling Jaya is my security blanket. Comfort food is so much more than tracking back nostalgia or missing mum’s cooking. It’s an amalgam of senses that envelops us in safety,  calmness and satisfaction. This dish is the perfect representation of Malaysian soul food. And for me, nothing quite hits the spot like a bowl of curry mee. Curry mee is basically noodles (mee=noodles) – usually a choice between several types such as egg noodles and rice vermicelli – submerged in a rich spicy broth. It comes served with a variety of condiments such as blood cockles, chicken, as well as shrimp and fried tofu. Continue Reading →

Style expert tells how to get the best from custom tailors in Asia

Have you been to one of the ubiquitous tailors in Asia, perhaps in Singapore, Hong Kong or Thailand, or even Vietnam and China? Have you ever left less than satisfied? I have. Until I met Anthony Moynihan. Anthony is a fashion stylist extraordinare based in Shanghai, China. He has worked for top Asian fashion magazines, styled music videos and ad campaigns, created his own line of couture sold in Japan, done custom designs for Japanese pop stars and has helped many a client and friend learn how to look their best. Continue Reading →