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Sublime Spanish Eats in Bali

When Restaurant magazine released their prestigious list of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants for 2013, Spain slaughtered the competition with three restaurants in the top ten, including the number one spot (El Celler de Can Roca in Girona, in case you were wondering). No other country managed to grab more than one spot in the top ten, which is perhaps a testimony to the ingenuity of Spanish chefs and the superb produce that comes out of this incredibly diverse Latin country. With this in mind, is it any wonder that some of Bali’s finest dining establishments are Spanish or Latin inspired?

El Kabron

el kabron

Photo courtesy of El Kabron

Nothing beats the stylish digs and picturesque location of El Kabron, resting high atop a cliff in Uluwatu and overlooking the swells of the Indian Ocean far below. By day, the place is part Mediterranean-style beach club with a freeform infinity pool overlooking the ocean and comfy blue and white bean bag chairs surrounding the pool. Come sunset, it’s all about signature cocktails at intimate tables, authentic Spanish tapas and laid-back grooves by live bands and DJs.

Spanish-born Executive Chef Marc Torices inherited his passion for cooking and love for the natural flavours of Spanish and Mediterranean cuisine from his grandmother, and he brings his gastronomic flair to El Kabron’s tapas, paellas and sweet treats. Small plates include imported Spanish Bellota ham and cured Manchego Cheese served with toasted bread sprinkled with fresh tomato and olive oil, Pulpo a la Gallega, Sliced Octopus with Potatoes seasoned with smoked paprika and olive oil, and Montaditos de Butifarra Catalana, Grilled Homemade Catalan Sausage with toasted bread. If it’s sweet treats you’re after, indulge in some of the best Crema Catalana this side of Barcelona.

Torices recently revealed his ‘Rustique Dining’ menu, which features dishes made with fresh ingredients that are loyal to what the ground can deliver at different times of year and prepared simply, avoiding unnatural approaches. This way, the true flavours of the ingredients come out and are celebrated in their essence. The a la carte rustic menu is available from 7:30pm to 9:30pm daily.

When the sun has well and truly set and the stars are twinkling above, El Kabron heats up into a stylish and sophisticated nightlife venue, with live music every night of the week, including smooth jazz bands, acoustic sets by talented local and international crooners and DJs from around the world. Head mixologist, Carlos Gutierrez, keeps the good times flowing with his special version of sangria served by the pitcher, cool cocktails and an enticing selection of international wines and beers.

Tel: 0361 7803416            www.chiringuitoelkabron.com

 

La Finca

Pintxos-f

Photo courtesy of La Finca

Just as you would expect from a vibrant Latin restaurant, La Finca offers heaps of character in their beautiful open-air setting with soaring bamboo beams, rustic wooden chairs and tables and outdoor garden seating amid lanterns and fairy lights. The vibe here is easy-going yet lively, and no attention to detail is spared, right down to the bright ceramic plates and beautifully presented Basque and Mediterranean dishes. The owners at La Finca work under the philosophy of ‘Alimenta El Alma’, which means ‘food for the soul’, so each and every dish is made with soul to feed the soul, using fresh organic ingredients and artisan methods and recipes.

Besides the usual tapas suspects like Jamon Iberico, Patatas Bravas, and special selections of Spanish cheeses, La Finca thinks outside the box with creative dishes like the Paquetito de Foie Gras con Salse de Remolacha y Estragon, Wrapped Foie Gras in creamy red beet tarragon sauce, Paquetitos de La Finca, artisan pasta pockets stuffed with sundried tomatoes, feta, and basil and complemented with capers, olives, rocket and butter sauce, or their famous Carne a la Piedra de la Finca, hot stone-grilled Australian rib-eye steak served with fresh spices, herbs and sauces. Keep an eye out for their weekly croquette specials made with various fillings like truffles, roast chicken and jalapeno, and squid with squid ink.

For those looking for a midday fix, La Finca also recently open for lunch with light bites like authentic Basque Pintxos—bite-sized tapas from the Basque region, and heartier fare like the Fideos Torcidos con Gambas Trufadas al Ajillo, hand-twisted noodles with garlic truffle prawns, as well artisan sandwiches and burgers made with fresh bread prepared in house. Refreshing sangria makes for the perfect liquid lunch, and if that isn’t quite doing the trick, try the Nieve de Leche, an icy dessert made with mint, condensed milk, lime juice and vodka and topped with shaved ice. La Finca is conveniently located between Canggu and Seminyak, just minutes from Batu Belig Beach.

Tel: 0361 2740088            http://www.lafincabali.com

 

La Sal

la sal

Photo courtesy of La Sal

 

Bali’s first Spanish-Argentine restaurant is the brainchild of chef Lino de Zordo and Gonzalo Sanchez, who have been tantalizing palates with their contemporary tapas, tender BBQ meats and creative Latin-inspired specialties since 2005. Here the culinary concept of good food paired with good drinks and good company reigns supreme in their breezy al fresco dining area decked out in warm wood tones and surrounded by frangipani trees, and in the covered dining room with intimate white tables and soft lighting. The space is conducive to long leisurely dinners with friends and family over a few bottles of wine, and La Sal’s unwavering attention to detail in cuisine, ambiance and service makes it no surprise that La Sal is the recipient of the Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence for 2013.

La Sal works on the philosophy that ‘Life is no life without salt’—a statement that calls into question blandness and mediocrity in food and in life. This philosophy manifests clearly throughout their menu, which features a healthy mix of hot and cold tapas, innovative salads, hearty mains and decadent desserts with an Argentinian twist. Complementing the culinary creations, the drinks list features classic Spanish sangria, fine international wines and creative cocktails made with top shelf spirits.

The tapas at La Sal never fail to impress, as they are made with the only the best imported and local ingredients and are a mix of both traditional and modern culinary construction. Cold tapas include the Carpaccio with Foie Gras grass and a Manchego cheese cloud, Marinated Spanish Olives, and the fresh and vibrant Bruschetta with vegetables and goat’s cheese. If calientes is more your style, you can choose from Calamari deep fried and drizzled with white and black aioli, Grilled Garlic Prawns with truffle oil, or the sailor’s style Clam Casserole. Fresh salads can also be shared and are hard to resist with offerings like the Soft Shell Crab Caesar Salad or the Warm Goat’s Cheese Salad with a sweet and crunchy honey-walnut vinaigrette.

For those with bigger appetites, the main course menu offers an abundance of savoury meat and seafood dishes. Try the rich Crispy Pork Belly with casserole lentils and chilled mango, or the Slow-Cooked Lamb Shoulder, roasted for 72 hours so the meat is soft and buttery, and served with a two-pepper sauce and steamed vegetables. The Paella Mixta also gets rave reviews for its generous portions of chicken, vegetables, fresh seafood and subtly seasoned saffron rice. Finish the meal off with a sinfully smooth white chocolate and dark chocolate mousse or the Helado de Dulce de Leche, caramel ice cream prepared in true Argentinian style.

Tel: 0361 738321            www.lasalbali.com

 

Tapeo Gastrobar

tapeo gastrobar

Photo courtesy of Tapeo Gastrobar

 

A welcome addition to Beachwalk’s already vibrant dining scene, Tapeo Gastrobar is both cutting edge restaurant and sleek rooftop bar serving up chilled sangria and Iberian fare in a contemporary setting overlooking Kuta Beach. After a long day of surfing, shopping and sun worshipping, head to their second floor location and grab a seat outside on the expansive wooden deck with oversized day beds adorned with comfortable cushions, or head indoors for a more intimate vibe. Soak up the tropical breezes, ultra-modern decor and chilled beats playing in the background as you dine on rich and flavourful fare prepared by Barcelona-born Chef Victor Taborda.

Taborda’s innovative menu features a mix of traditional Spanish flavours mixed with modern creations. Take for example, their sangria list, which includes six different options to choose from made with either red, white or rose wine. Throw in a creative tapas list, and you’re simply spoiled for choice. Try the wildly popular Queso Brie Frito, fried Brie served with mango marmalade, Atun Marinado, Marinated Tuna with soy sauce and seaweed salad, or the Mini Hamburguesa de Oxtail, which is exactly what it sounds like—a mini hamburger with a oxtail patty, seasoned to perfection and garnished with mayo and rucola. Mains include six different types of paella as well as fresh salads and a wide selection of fish and meat dishes.

After the feast is done, stick around to rock out to live bands or groove to the DJs hitting the decks on the rooftop patio under the stars. The drinks list here is impressive to say the least, with refreshing mojitos, international wines by the glass, draft beer on tap, and the super strong Ibiza cocktail made with eight different types of booze. Check with the staff to see if there are any specials on, as drinks specials and food promotions are almost always running.

Tel: 0361 8465645

 

Serenity Spanish Restaurant & Bar

Serenity Spanish

Photo Courtesy of Serenity Spanish Bar & Restaurant

 

With an unassuming facade and simple red and white sign reading Serenity Spanish Bar & Restaurant, you might be tricked into thinking that this is just another run-of-the-mill dining venue. However, like so often is the case, the modest exterior belies what lies within. Drive past it on the Sanur Bypass, and you would be missing out on one of Bali’s newest hidden gems—a temple of opulence, romance, space and muy delicioso authentic Spanish flavors.

A quick tour of the restaurant reveals two levels, with the main dining room and al fresco terrace on the ground floor and a swank cigar lounge, private party room and intimate tables hidden in cozy corners on the upper level. The lavish decor carries throughout each of the rooms, and the sense of light and space is compounded by large windows and a wide balcony that looks down onto the main dining room.

Serenity Bar & Restaurant comes to us from Singapore, where it has a long-standing reputation for Mediterranean-style ambiance and delicious Spanish fare, including tapas, paella and their famous Cochinillo Asado, which has often been referred to as the most succulent roast suckling pig in the city, possibly even giving Bali’s babi guling a run for its money. In traditional Spanish style, the tender pig is carved with a plate at the table (proof of the superlative tender texture of the meat), and the plate is smashed on the floor afterwards for good luck.

Popular tapas choices include the Patatas Bravas, golden chunks of potato drizzled in a mildly spicy romesco sauce and smooth aioli and the Rollito de Bacon y Esparrago for its crisp green asparagus wrapped in warm salty bacon. The Crema de Mariscos, a seafood soup with a rich velvety tomato broth laden with tender pieces of fresh dory, squid, prawns and scallops in the shell is another winner, and of course, the paella and suckling pig is not to be missed. Wash it all down with a red sangria made with smooth Spanish Rioja or a white sangria made with a fruity Australian Sauvignon Blanc.

**This article was previously published in the Yak magazine Sept/Oct/Nov 2013 issue. To check out the latest articles from the Yak, go to www.theyakmag.com.

Best Wine Bars in Southeast Asia

Wine Bottle Rack

 

Ah vino—nectar of the gods, social lubricant and a welcome addition to any meal. Although wine is not a traditional drink in many Southeast Asian countries, that doesn’t mean you can’t find a good glass or three on your travels. For serious oenophiles or those who simply want a change from the usual Bintang, Tiger or Beer Lao, check out these top wine bars in Southeast Asia.

 

White Marble Wine Bar & Restaurant

Photos of White Marble Restaurant & Wine Bar, Hoi An
This photo of White Marble Restaurant & Wine Bar is courtesy of TripAdvisor

 

Located in the heart of historical Hoi An, this chic wine bar is housed in a 2-story wooden colonial building that has been revamped to offer a contemporary twist. The wine list here is impressive to say the least, with bottles from places as varied as Italy, New Zealand, California and France, and 12 wines by the glass, starting at just $4. The menu is an eclectic mix of Vietnamese and Hoi An cuisine like Fresh Rice Paper Rolls and Grilled Beef in Betel Nut, as well as international fare like the Trio of Dips, Sushi and a heavenly Cheese Platter.

98 Le Loi St

Hoi An Old Town, Vietnam

Tel: +84 (0) 510 3911862

http://www.visithoian.com/whitemarble

 

The Wine Pub

Photos of WP wine pub, Bangkok
This photo of WP wine pub is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Beer may be best for many in Bangkok, but wine lovers in the know head to The Wine Pub for its European-style ambiance and huge selection of bottles. Grab a seat at the huge bar or in one of the cushy booths and choose from over 100 labels from around the world or their 6 wines by the glass that change on a regular basis. If you need something to soak up all that plonk, The Wine Pub offers up a great tapas menu, as well as delicious French cheeses, charcuterie platters, salads and pastas.

Pullman Bangkok King Power

8/2 Rangnam Road, Thanon-Phayathai,

Ratchathewi, Bangkok

Tel. +66 (0)2 680 9999

Hours: Daily: 6pm – 2am

www.pullmanbangkokkingpower.com/promotions/wp-wine-pub

 

Rubies Wine Bar

rubies2

It may be small, but what Rubies lacks for in size it makes up for in vibe and vino. Snag a spot at the wooden bar inside or one of the cozy tables outside and order from a diverse mix of international wines by the glass or bottle. Get here early on the weekends, as the place packs out with expats who come for the great drink specials and live bands and DJs. They also throw lively parties throughout the year on holidays and special occasions.

Corner of Street 19 and 240

Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Tel: +855 97 884 9664

Hours: Tue – Thu: 10am – 1am, Fri – Sat: 10am – 2am, Sun: 10am – 1am

www.facebook.com/RubiesWineBar

 

VIN+

VIN+ Senayan Arkadia - Escargot in Zuccini

New to Bali’s burgeoning wine scene, Vin+ is hard to miss with its soaring bamboo structure that evokes the shape of a wine barrel and sleek glass windows that offer indoor diners glimpses of the treetops and the lively Seminyak action below. Guests can sit outdoors in the shady garden wine lounge or lush al fresco dining area or enjoy air-conditioned comfort inside. On your way out, hit up the retail shop to peruse over 18,000 bottles, including rare and exclusive vintages. Or even better, call them up to have bottles delivered directly to your door.

Jl. Kayu Jati #1 Seminyak

Bali, Indonesia

Tel: +62 361 473 2377

Hours: Restaurant: 5pm – late, Shop: 10am – late

www.vingroup.biz/index.php/wine-boutiques/vin-seminyak-bali.html

 

Douang Deuane Restaurant and Wine Bar

Wine glass

 

Cheap and cheerful, this charming little spot that serves up great French and Asian dishes accompanied by divine wines by the glass, carafe or bottle. The French owner is super friendly and makes you feel right at home, and the soft lighting and sultry jazz playing in the background add to the ambiance. For a romantic dinner out, reserve the secluded and solo table for two on the upstairs balcony.

Th Francois Nginn

Vientiane, Laos

Tel: (021) 241 154

Where to Find the Best Street Food in Southeast Asia

Southeast Asia has long been known as one of the best places on earth to get fresh, tasty and cheap street food. From Singapore hawker stalls to Indonesian bakso carts, Thai night markets and Vietnamese roadside restaurants, we give you the rundown on the top hotspots for street food in the region.

Bangkok P1100339

Best Street Food Spots in Bangkok, Thailand

 

Sukhumvit Soi 38

 For a true Thai street food experience, head to Sukhumvit, Soi 38 where you’ll find a plethora of tin tables and plastic chairs and vendors selling everything from Pad Thai noodles to mango sticky rice. The stalls here are clean and there is a high turnover of locals and foreigners, which means the food is fresh and tasty to boot.

Time: 6pm til late

Pad Thai

Pad Thai

Victory Monument

 The Victory Monument acts like a beacon calling hungry office workers, students and foodies to the small laneways shooting off from the traffic circle here. Wander down any of these streets and you’ll find plenty of food stalls selling delectable lunch dishes, including the famous Thai boat noodles. With a dark, rich broth flavored with herbs, spices and pork blood, slippery rice noodles, green vegetables and pork or beef, we bet you can’t eat just one bowl.

Time: 7am til late

Chinatown (Yaowarat)

 After the sun sets, busy Yaowarat Road transforms into a bustling night food bazaar with hundreds of vendors selling classic Chinese specialties like bird’s nest soup and roast duck, as well as some Chinese influenced Thai dishes like fried pork belly in peppery soup and rice noodles with ground pork, fiery chilies and aromatic holy basil.

Time: 6pm til late

Poultry at Chinatowns Talat Leng-Buai-la market (6491924593)

Roast Duck in Chinatown, Bangkok

 

Best Street Food Spots in Singapore

 

Maxwell Road Hawker Centre

 Smack in the middle of Chinatown, this hawker center is a Singapore institution and home to some of the most beloved street food stalls such as Tian Tian Chicken Rice with its succulent chicken served over broth infused rice with a side of fiery chilli sauce and Jin Hua Sliced Fish Bee Hoon, which offers up golden pieces of fried fish floating in a milky broth with thin rice vermicelli noodles.

Time: 8am to 10pm

Chatterbox ChickenRice

Chicken Rice

Old Airport Road Food Centre

 With up to 30 minute queues for quintessential Singapore hawker dishes like oyster omelette in chili sauce and Char Kway Teow (rice noodles with Chinese sausage, cockles, bean sprouts, chili sauce and dark soy sauce), you know the food stalls at the Old Airport Road Food Centre have got to have something good going on.

Time: Mon to Fri: 11.30am to midnight, Sat to Sun: 10.30am to midnight

 

East Coast Park Lagoon Village Food Centre

It’s all about fresh BBQ seafood like chilli crab, spicy grilled stingray and black pepper crab at the East Coast Park Lagoon Village Food Centre, as well as tasty wonton noodles, braised duck rice and satay. It doesn’t hurt either that the location is right on the beach, so you can grab your grub and have a picnic by the sea.

Time: 8am to 9pm

Chilli crab-01

Singapore Chilli Crab

Best Street Food Spots in Kuala Lumpur

 

Jalan Alor

A favorite foodie pit stop for locals, Jalan Alor runs parallel to Jalan Bukit Bintang, and is packed with hawker stalls selling Malaysian staples like chicken satay, grilled fish, braised duck with rice and fresh tropical fruits like durian, rambutan and mangosteen.

Time: 6pm til late (although some stalls are open during the day)

Kuala Lumpur - Jalan Alor

Jalan Alor, Kuala Lumpur

Chow Kit Market Hawker Stalls

Chow Kit is the biggest wet market in Kuala Lumpur, and as such, it should come as no surprise that there are tons of hawker stalls here that sell delicious street food made from only the freshest ingredients. This is the place to go to get heavenly nasi lemak—coconut rice with various side dishes such as fried chicken, crispy anchovies, roasted peanuts, hard boiled egg and of course, fiery sambal, golden shrimp fritters, ikan masin (salted fish) and murtabak—flaky pan-fried bread with an egg and minced meat filling.

Time: 9am to 5pm

 

Petaling Street Night Market

Located in the heart of Chinatown, Petaling Street is a warren of shops selling clothing, electronics, handbags and souvenirs during the day, but come evening, the hawker stalls start to emerge. Many of the hawker stalls here have been in operation for decades, so you can sample tried and true recipes for delicious seafood, chicken and rice, BBQ fish, curry laksa and roti.

Time: 4pm til late

Laksa

Laksa

Best Street Food Spots in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)

 

Ben Thanh Market

Enter Ben Thanh Market, pass the colorful displays of silk scarves, beaded shoes, leather handbags and glossy lacquerware, and head deep into the interior where you’ll find simple stalls selling everything from steaming bowls of pho to crispy and fresh spring rolls, banh mi pate sandwiches and bun thit nuong (rice vermicelli noodles with BBQ pork, mini spring rolls, fresh herbs and fish sauce). Wash it all down with a rich iced Vietnamese coffee served with sweetened condensed milk.

Time: 6am to 7pm

Pho-Beef-Noodles-2008

Pho Beef Noodles

Ton That Thuyet Street, District 4

Everyday, food vendors and foodies alike flock to this long strip of pavement to grab mouthwatering Vietnamese dishes like bun bo la lot, rice vermicelli noodles topped with grilled beef, pickled vegetables, peanuts, sprouts and herbs, sticky rice with Chinese sausage, dried shrimp, chicken and fried shallots and che dau trang, a sweet dessert made with glutinous rice, beans and coconut milk.

Time: All day

 

Banh Xeo 46A

Banh xeo is a Saigon favourite, and locals in the know head to Banh Xeo 46A in District 1 to fill up on the savory rice flour crepes packed with fatty pork, shrimp, bean sprouts and green onion and just a touch of turmeric and coconut milk. This roadside restaurant also serves up divine fresh and fried spring rolls.

46A Dinh Cong Trang Street

District 1, Ho Chi Minh City

Time: All day

 

Best Street Food Spots in Jakarta

 

Pecenongan, Central Jakarta

By day, this street looks like any other, but as soon as night starts to fall, the mobile food carts move in and locals from far and wide flock here for tasty and affordable Indonesian fare. Get your fix of sate kambing (goat satay), martabak (a mix between a crepe and a pancake with sweet fillings like bananas, chocolate or cheese) and nasi uduk (coconut rice with roasted chicken, tofu or tempe).

Time: 6pm til late

Sate kambing sate ayam

Sate Ayam and Sate Kambing (chicken and goat satay)

Jalan Sabang

One block west of Jakarta’s backpacker area of Jalan Jaksa lies Jalan Sabang, a haven for street food that pulls in hungry diners both day and night. This is one of the best places in the city to get cheap eats, including nasi goreng (fried rice), chicken and mutton satay with spicy peanut sauce, fragrant duck rice and pisang goreng (fried banana).

Time: All day until late

Jalan Mangga Besar

If you’re craving Chinese food or seafood, Jalan Mangga Besar is the place to be. Some specialties here include bakmi kepiting (noodles with crab meat, fish balls and crispy fried wontons) and bubur ayam (chicken porridge). For the truly adventurous, try the cobra satay washed down with a shot of cobra blood.

Time: 5pm til late

Bubur Ayam Travelling Vendor 4

Bubur Ayam

 

For more info about Southeast Asian street food, including recipes that you can make at home, check out these great books from Amazon:

 

Do-it-yourself BBQ in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

SL370956

 Eat out and cook your own food at the same time. Impossible? Not in Phnom Penh.

Let’s be honest. How many of us actually cook at home on a regular basis? In a city like Phnom Penh where cheap eats and lively restaurants are abundant, the urge to eat out is sometimes all consuming. But for those of us who crave the act of cooking for ourselves, Phnom Penh offers plenty of do-it-yourself restaurants where you can eat out and cook your own food at the same time.

The most popular do-it-yourself restaurants are Khmer barbecue joints, which can be found in almost every neighborhood in town. The premise is simple—you’re given a gas fueled grill, a platter of fresh vegetables, side bowls of prahoc (Cambodia’s ever popular fermented fish sauce) for dipping, and a plate of raw beef, with or without organ meat. Then, you’re on your own to grill up the offerings as to your preference. But like anything, standards of service and quality of food vary considerably from place to place.

One of the better Khmer barbecue restaurants in Phnom Penh is The Four Aces (or At Booun in Khmer) located on the corner of St. 86 and St. 64. The set up is simple – iron tables, plastic chairs and the ubiquitous bar girls roaming the indoor and outdoor tables. But don’t let the tissue littered floor fool you, the service and food here go above and beyond.

Upon being seated, a waitress will immediately ask you what you would like. There’s no menu here, so you have two options – Sait Koh Ang (grilled beef) or Soup Chnang (soup with meat and vegetables). Most of the servers speak English, but it wouldn’t hurt to know the Khmer names of the dishes or to bring along a Khmer speaking friend.

Now comes the fun part – if you’ve ordered grilled beef, you simply melt the supplied butter or lard over the grill, and lay on the meat and vegetables, cooking them to your preference. Pretty soon, the air will be fragrant with grilled onions, carrots, and sizzling beef. A quick dip in the complimentary bowl of prahoc, and you’ve got a truly Khmer meal.

Soup Chnang

For those in the mood for soup, a pot of beef broth with meatballs is placed on your grill, and you can pick and choose which vegetables and noodles to add from the platter supplied. Choices range from mushrooms, Khmer herbs, onions, fried garlic, spinach, and green water vegetables. You will also be given a plate of beef and one egg, which you crack onto the beef, mix around, and then slide into the soup. In ten minutes or less, you’ve got a hearty and healthy dinner.

Another great venue for soup lovers is the junction of Norodom, Monivong, and National Rd. No. 2 in the south of the city. Here one can find a plethora of soup restaurants lined up side by side, each imaginatively named after their street numbers (333, 555, 642, etc.).

Each restaurant serves exactly the same dishes, namely, huge portions of fresh veggies, meat, noodles, and dried tripe for the discerning eater to mix and match as they please. And servers are always readily on hand to top up your broth or refill your ice-cold soft drinks, Anchor draft, or Cambodian whiskey.

And what is a barbecue without freshly cooked meat? For the truly carnivorous at heart, look no further than Beong Trabek on St. 428. Finding it should be no problem – just look for a sea of motorbikes out front, and you’ll know you’re at the right place. Set in a warehouse sized beer garden setting, this place caters to large families, and groups of 10-100, as well as tables for two and even solitary diners.

Do it yourself BBQ in Cambodia

Beong Trabek really does grill it all, from juicy strips of beef or pork, to fresh squid, monstrous prawns, succulent oysters, and even delicious crabs straight from the beach. Each dish is grilled on clay pot barbecues set up strategically around the room. While the standard procedure is to let the servers cook your food for you, they have no problems relinquishing the task to you if you so desire.

While you watch your feast being grilled to perfection, you will be set up with a plate of freshly roasted peanuts, vegetables, chili sauce, and a small dish of pepper with accompanying lime wedges. Squeeze the lime into the pepper, and you’ve got another tasty Cambodian dipping sauce for your meat and seafood.

If you really want to enjoy your barbecue in true Khmer style, order a pitcher of draft beer and a can of ABC stout, poured directly into the pitcher with the beer. Served over ice, it’s the perfect accompaniment to grilled meat – just don’t blame me if you wake up feeling a tad (or incredibly) groggy in the morning.

 

Four Aces (At Booun)

Corner of St. 86 and 64

 

Soup Chnang

#333, # 555, #642 Monivong Boulevard

 

Beong Trabek

# 10 St. 428

Bali’s Favorite Dish: Babi Guling

 Bali’s Favorite Dish: Babi Guling

Ask any Balinese person what their favorite food is, and they will most likely tell you it is the ubiquitous and much cherished babi guling, or in English, roast suckling pig. This delicious and authentic Balinese fare can be found in small warungs (simple local eating establishments) and restaurants in almost every village and town on the island, and it is also commonly served at important events such as weddings and coming of age ceremonies.

Preparation begins by stuffing freshly slaughtered juvenile pigs with a mixture of savory and fragrant ingredients such as garlic, ginger, ground candlenuts, kaffir lime, black pepper, turmeric and chilli. Then the pigs are slowly roasted on a spit over a wood fire for hours, and continuously basted in coconut oil or water to ensure that the meat stays tender and moist while the skin turns a rich golden brown.

Typical servings of babi guling include thick slabs of juicy white meat, thin slices of crispy aromatic skin, rich blood sausage and succulent innards prepared a myriad of ways. Side dishes can often include a vegetable dish such as diced long beans with grated coconut, a spicy sambal, a rich pork broth soup, and of course, the staple of every Balinese diet, rice.

The most popular place to eat babi guling in Bali is without a doubt, Warung Ibu Oka in Ubud. Since the restaurant opened over two decades ago, word of mouth and rave reviews by notable food writers, including author and TV host Anthony Bourdain have ensured that this small warung is packed to the gills with both tourists and locals alike every day. At the time of writing a “Special” plate with all the trimmings cost 30,000 Rupiah.

Other popular places to eat babi guling include Warung Mika in Batubulan, just south of Ubud on the main road to Denpasar, Warung Babi Guling Sanur, on the Sanur bypass, and Warung Babi Guling Bapak Dobiel in Nusa Dua. Prices vary depending on the restaurant or warung. Of course, if you are invited to a Balinese family ceremony, this is a great way to sample this delicious dish for free and experience authentic Balinese culture.

Dog Meat a Tasty Treat in Cambodia

Dog Meat a Tasty Treat in Cambodia

When it comes to food in Cambodia, there are no set rules, particularly when it comes to eating food that is typically taboo in the Western world. One tasty Khmer snack that is often frowned upon by foreigners is the meat of a creature commonly referred to in the West as “man’s best friend” – the dog.

Although not as popular as in China or Vietnam, dogs in Cambodia have long been a cheap and freely available alternative to beef, chicken and pork, and there are many Cambodians who believe that dog meat is even tastier than all of the above.

The meat itself is generally dark and tastes a bit gamey, not unlike pheasant, deer or venison. It has a slightly stringy consistency, with some fat attached to the meat, although this does not make it particularly greasy.

Popular Khmer superstition states that if you eat the meat of a black dog or drink its blood, any internal illnesses you may have will be cured. This is only true, though, if the dog has no white or brown spots anywhere on its body.

Commonly referred to as koh dtreuk in Khmer, or simply sait chkaeh, there are numerous ways to cook and serve dog in Cambodia.

Dog-meat soup is popular in Cambodia, particularly in the countryside. Called somlah majew kreung, it is a combination of dog meat, bones, head and organ meat mixed with young tamarind leaves, water and lime juice to create a tangy sour soup. The dish is very similar to the popular sour chicken soup served in Khmer restaurants across the country.

In Phnom Penh, the most common form of dog meat to be had is barbecued dog, which can be found at many roadside food stalls along the East side of Monivong Boulevard, just north of Norodom Boulevard, and at the corner of Norodom and Street 214, to name a few well-known locales.

Barbecued dog is served in the same way that barbecued beef is served in Cambodia – that is, piping hot with sides of fresh, raw produce such as carrots, cucumbers and young bananas, and dipping sauces of prahok (fermented fish paste), and pepper and lime sauce. Dishes are usually shared with friends or family and washed down with plenty of cold beer.

Although it is rare to find dog-meat cuisine in Phnom Penh’s conventional restaurants or supermarkets, one doesn’t have to look far to enjoy this tasty treat.

House speciality

Phnom Penh’s most popular dog meat eatery is Hang Taprunch, located across the Japanese Friendship Bridge. Take the first right after coming off the bridge, go behind a makeshift hammock bar and pool table hangout, and the restaurant can be found amid an abandoned-looking fairground.

This restaurant-beer garden is decked out in green plastic vines, plastic chairs and metal tables, and serves up plates of fried dog meat and Muscle Wine to hungry police officers, moto drivers, groups of teenage boys and local families.

 


dogs in cambodia have long been a cheap and …available alternative to beef, chicken and pork.


 

The fatty and lean parts of the dog are served up on small plates – bones and skin intact – in a sweet and spicy sauce of chili oil, peanuts and sugar. Accompanying the meat are plates of fresh vegetables, herbs and young banana plants, and a dipping sauce of fish, garlic, lemongrass, lime and chilies. Patrons can dip the combination of veggies and meat in the sauce while watching traditional Khmer boxing on TV and sipping cans of cold Anchor beer. Small plates of fried dog meat cost US$1 each.

All of the dogs used at Hang Taprunch come from Kampong Cham province, where they are cleaned and cooked before being sold to vendors from the capital. This particular restaurant uses only the meat from the body and legs, although common practice is to use all parts of the dog, especially the head and brains.


By the kilogram

Close to Phnom Penh’s Boeung Keng Kang market on Street 380 is a small family-run business that sells fresh dog meat by the kilogram. For 15,000 riels ($3.64), you can get one kilogram of meat, and customers can purchase up to 10 kilograms at a time.

Fresh dog meat is procured in the early hours of the morning from the Olympic Market area and resold to buyers out of the family home for the first half of the day. After midday, the family marinates the dog meat in spices and sets it to dry in a basket, to be barbecued later.The remaining dog meat is mixed with curry paste and greens, to be served to hungry customers with rice or on its own, or it is boiled into a soup.

Although dog meat may not be for everyone, eating it is legal in Cambodia and offers a cheap alternative to the more commonly consumed sources of protein in the country.

With the variety of different dog-meat dishes and eateries on offer in the country, it seems that this snack won’t be going by the wayside any time soon.

 

 

By Stephanie Mee