Monday, January 25, 2010


i ate tofu today. i didn't like it, but i ate it. so there! i used to think it was just a texture thing for me, but i feel like that is just an excuse. i really didn't like the taste. BUT, the texture of a food doesn't help me like it any more if i don't like the taste of it to begin with. i've eaten dessert tofu before (coconut flavored is pretty good. it is also useful for making vegan desserts as a kind of egg substitute) and i don't mind it. but the texture of dessert tofu is pretty damn similar to the texture of other tofu. (i know i know... there are many kinds of tofu, and i'm totally stereotyping... forgive me)

anyway, i ate the tofu in a dish called yong tau foo. i just looked it up with my trusty friend wikipedia (we are becoming quite close these days), and the tofu used in yong tao foo is stuffed with a meat paste. apparently yong tau foo means "stuffed bean curd," but it is used in a soup dish. i now know why i didn't like the taste of the tofu. i am fairly adverse to spongy meat pastes in general, but specifically fishballs. the soup was good though, and i liked the veggies and the rice noodles.

as for the description, i'm just going to cut and paste from wikipedia:

Yong tau foo is essentially a clear consomme soup containing a varied selection of food items including fish balls, crab sticks, bittergourds, cuttlefish, lettuce, lady fingers, as well as chilis, and various forms of fresh produce, seafood and meats common in Chinese cuisine.

The dish is eaten with chopsticks and a soup spoon and can be eaten by itself (served with a bowl of steamed rice) or with any choice of egg or rice noodles, or bee hoon (rice vermicelli). Another variation of this dish is to serve it with
laksa gravy or curry sauce. Essential accompaniments are spicy, vinegary chili sauce, similar to Indonesian sambal oelek, and a distinctive brown sweet bean sauce or hoisin sauce for dipping.

photo courtesy of Chensiyuan from the Wikipedia Commons

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

comfort food

i am thinking that comfort food is important. i'm used to cooking for myself at home, and i've cooked once here so far in the past almost 3 weeks. lazy? yeah... but mostly just busy.

when you (not YOU you, the general you) are traveling, or you have moved to a new place, sometimes you just want to eat familiar foods. its normal. some people call that culture shock. now i'm fairly used to asia, so i'm not suffering huge culture shock, but i do miss certain things about eating and food back in canada. you need to satisfy that craving in some way. some people do this by eating fast food. but as my previous post mentioned, i'm not so fond of fast food. however, the other evening my family had a lovely nighttime snack that was pretty blissful. i will let my photos describe the wonderfulness of the snack: (with the help of some tag lines)

yogurt with fruit + sugar

(i was a snob and bought the slightly more expensive natural yogurt - you know, the preservative and additive-free kind. i've given up some of my food snobbishness here already, but i'd like to keep some of my snobbishness, thank you.)

avocado with lime, salt, pepper

(sometimes the simplest things in life are the most amazing)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

should one ever try eating 'western' food in asia?

my answer? no. as in, 'avoid it like the plague!'

but if you are desperate for 'western' food (i really hate labeling), at least do it in limited quantities. or make it yourself.

on the weekend i went for brunch with my family. i ordered an eggs benedict, and an americano. i was asked what size of americano i wanted, small, medium or large, so i asked back: 'how many shots do you put in your small?' two. in my barista mind, i am thinking that seems alright, since where i used to work, we also used 2 shots in our 'small' 12 ounce cups. but then i get my americano, and i can see through the glass it is so watered down. i have no idea what size their large is, since their 'small' appeared to be a 16 ounce cup. oh well. i sucked it up because i don't want to appear to be a stuck-up foreigner. or an ang mo, which is a slang word for foreigners. it literally means 'red devil.' haha... so apt.

but my tangent about coffee is over for now. except to say that local coffee beats espresso-based coffee here. so far. i will be sure to let you know if i have a pleasurable encounter with an americano.

as for the eggs benedict... it was okay. i won't say much except that vancouver still has the best eggs benedicts i've ever had. hands down. the west coast of north america does eggs well. very well. i really need to learn how to poach eggs. i hear its easy, but i figure i'm either lazy or i'm scared i'll fail at something easy.


i have a confession to make. the other day i had not only 1, but 3, substances that i have pretty much successfully avoided for the past 2 years.
1) fast food fries
2) fast food burger
3) coca cola

i'm not going to mention the name of the place, because i don't want to provide any marketing for this company (yes, bad marketing is still marketing).

but, needless to say, i did not feel good that night. my innards are not used to that many fake substances at once. the fries aren't so bad i guess. but why eat generally tasteless fast food fries that aren't good for me when i can eat tasty homemade yam fries at almost any restaurant in vancouver? sigh. i miss vancouver. kind of.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

dāo xīao mìan

this whole blogging thing is kind of time-consuming. i'd love to do it every day, but man... it takes up so much time. this is the second time i'm posting in a week. i'm already beating my average for blog posts per week. :)

these past 2 weeks i have been meeting up with old friends from high school. one of those friends is a kiwi (she hails from new zealand. special note: a 'kiwi' is a person from new zealand. not to be confused with the kiwi fruit or the kiwi bird) but she spent over 12 years of her developmental years living in singapore. so, even though she is caucasian, i trust her judgment of se asian foods. or maybe i trust her judgment because she is caucasian? who knows. anyways, last week she introduced me to 'popiah.' (for you caucasians out there it is pronounced kinda like 'poe-pyah') its this wrap with turnips and veggies and peanuts inside. i didn't get a photo and i'm probably not describing it to its justice and i honestly have no idea whether its chinese or malaysian or a lovely mixture or what. but it was amazing. i will definitely be having popiah again, and not just to grab a photo. but this past sunday, we were having lunch and i decided to try something completely new. i had no idea what i was ordering, except that it was some sort of soup, and i had the options of chicken, beef, or pork. it was pretty good. it was called dao xiao mian:

'dāo xīao mìan' (刀削麵, knife-sliced noodles)
(thank you wikipedia)

it was a soup with hand-cut noodles. i had it with chicken (which i am not sure if i would do again - they only give you the options of using a spoon or chopsticks, and yet the chicken was in full drumstick form. i'm sorry but i am not exactly deft enough to be able to cut up chicken drumsticks with chopsticks.) and it was quite tasty. the interesting part was watching the chef handle this lump of dough, because he shaved the noodles off the dough into the hot boiling soup right in front of you.

in my quest to be more adventurous with foods here, one of my friends has shared with me a list of over 50 foods that one has to eat in singapore, so i will have to try to work my way through it while i'm here. we'll see how that goes...

Sunday, January 10, 2010

becoming a southeast asian foodie

i used to live in singapore. but i was a teenager, so you can imagine that i ate a lot of fast food, most of which i make sure i avoid these days like most people avoid h1n1.

i will be spending a couple months in the south east region of asia - mainly singapore and indonesia - and i am hoping to be a bit more adventurous with food this time around. i've been here over a week now, but sadly i didn't have my camera on me for many of my meals. lugging that heavy contraption around is just more pain than its worth sometimes. i'm still coming up with a solution to that....

but here are a few of my favorites (from my teen years, and still now) that i managed to sneak photos of:

kopi - malay/indonesian for coffee

i think kou fu is a chain of coffee shops here. its not that i care specifically for THEIR coffee, i just like coffee in general. sadly they do have starbucks here, and sadly, i have ventured into not one, but two of them. at least. overpriced. and i can't even use my starbucks cards so i actually have to pay for the coffee i buy there. but i digress. kou fu, and other coffee shops here like kopitiam, yakun, and other nameless shops here make coffee the traditional malay/indonesian way, which is strong, sweet, and made from a sock. and often made with either sweetened condensed milk or evaporated milk. if you ask for coffee, they will give you coffee with sugar and condensed milk. if you ask for coffee 'o' it is black with sugar. if you don't take sugar or milk you have to be very specific, and ask for 'kopi kosong' which means 'empty coffee.'*

guava - a type of fruit.

this stuff is pre-cut, peeled and conveniently bagged for me, so you can't see the green skin or the seeds inside. its a crunchy fruit, comparable to an apple but not really.
some people think its bland, but i love it.
its even better with salt.
oh yeah, i grew up on this fruit in the jungles of indonesia. i'm pretty sure it was one of the first words i spoke as a baby.

roti prata - oily goodness.

that's not what it means, but seriously, oil never tasted so good. it's an indian delight you can get for roughly 80 cents a piece. (curry included) literally roti prata means 'flat bread.' this is one of the cheapest, most satisfying dishes one can get in singapore.

here's what i gained from wikipedia:

"Roti prata is the Singaporean evolution of the Pakistani and Indian paratha, a pancake bread made of dough composed of fat, egg, flour and water."

please, avid readers (i know you exist! don't worry i am going to write more often than every few months), stay abreast for more exciting foodie adventures with joey.

*important note: i may not actually know what i'm talking about. just general observations. if i write any untruths please, please tell me. this way i can be irritated that you brought my faults to my attention and proceed to correct my naivety and assumptions.