Street food dressed in Sunday-go-to-meeting clothes for my birthday feast
Latest visit: November 10, 2013
First visit: July 19, 2013
About Street Food
Street food is ready-to-eat food or drink sold in a street or other public place, such as a market or fair, by a hawker or vendor, often from a portable stall.
Street food vending is found around the world, but has variations within both regions and cultures.For example, Dorling Kindersley describes the street food of Vietnam as being “fresh and lighter than many of the cuisines in the area” and “draw[ing] heavily on herbs, chile peppers and lime”, while street food of Thailand is “fiery” and “pungent with shrimp paste … and fish sauce” with New York City’s signature street food being the hot dog, although the offerings in New York also range from “spicy Middle Eastern falafel or Jamaican jerk chicken to Belgian waffles” In Hawaii, the local street food tradition of “Plate Lunch” (rice, macaroni salad and a portion of meat) was inspired by the bento of the Japanese who had been brought to Hawaii as plantation workers. You can read more about Street Food Around the World on Facebook. And here’s a list of Asia street food types.
Tai Tok is the driving force behind Street Food Asia. I first met Tai at the January 26, 2013 Roadrunner Food Bank Souper Bowl, where his entry (Chicken Kai Soi Green Curry Soup) won second place in the Critic’s Choice competition (I was one of the judges). After the judging was done, I walked the floor to see what was not entered in the Critic’s Choice competition (desserts and such), and Tai spied me from about 50 feet away. He rushed over to me and asked me why I had not visited his place and written about it. Well, Tai, I finally got around to Street Food Asia last July, and am I sure glad that I did.
The restaurant concept is clever: put a handful of food types together (such as wraps, rice cakes, sandwiches, rice bowls, noodle dishes, curries, dumplings, spring rolls, grilled meats, wok fried foods, and more) from many Asian countries and cities ( such as Saigon, Tokyo, Seoul, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Beijing, and more) and let the diner choose from a ginormous menu (which costs $25 to produce) If you can’t make up your mind or if you don’t see your favorite, just ask and the kitchen will do their best to accommodate you. You should probably read the menu online before you go for the first time.
Tai invited me to return with a collection of good friends, and he would cook for us. No menus for us, everything was to be his choice. Last night, on my 78th birthday anniversary, ten of us showed up to sample his special dishes. Are we all glad that we did.
Tai told me that a birthday meal should have lots of dumplings, noodles and fish which
denote longevity. Here’s what he prepared:
Seoul Street Dumplings (Chicken kimchee dumplings) and
Beijing Street Dumplings (Shrimp cilantro dumplings)
These dumplings are not like those you will find in Chinese-American store-front restaurants. They are delicate and incredibly tasty. You need to start your meal with these. My favorite is the chicken kimchee.
Seoul Street Wok Calamari
This is not your neighborhood deep fried calamari. The calamari are slowly stir fried in a spicy sauce and come out very tender and tasty.
Some of my guests thought this to be the hit of the evening. I would return for just this dish. Best calamari I have ever had.
Seoul Street Grilled Short Ribs
Korean grilled short ribs are a staple in Korean restaurants. Beautifully grilled and nicely spiced, they are among the tastiest I have had anywhere.
Go ahead and pick them up with your fingers. Don’t forget to lick your fingers when you are done.
Beijing Street Grilled Spare Ribs
Tender meat was falling off the bones. Order a bunch — one is not enough.
Better than any you will find in Chinese-American restaurants. By far.
Again, use your fingers.
Kuala Lumpur Grilled Portabella Satays
I have never had portabella satay before. I will probably have this dish every time I return to SFA. Tender, tasty, melt-in-your-mouth.
The peanut dipping sauce kas a bit of a kick to it.
You think you don’t like mushrooms? These beauties will change your mind forever.
Prawns: Bangkok Street Spicy Chili
These large prawns are lightly battered and cooked in a spicy sauce of medium piquancy. Utterly delicious.
I will ask for more heat next time. Perhaps some bird peppers. This spicing, however, is appropriate for a group of ten. Not every one is a chilihead like I am.
Entrée: Kuala Lumpur Street Wok Seared Sword Fish Sambal
Here comes the heat. My kind of food. This was the spiciest dish of the evening.
I, being the BDay boy, got to take the leftovers home. At the bottom of the box sat ten red chiles, probably bird peppers (50,000 – 150,000 Scovill) Good for me, but potentially dangerous for mild-food lovers.
Noodles: Kuala Lumpur Street Char Kway Teow
The final entrée was this excellent noodle dish. These are wide noodles. Generous amount of chicken and tofu. Covered with bean sprouts.
Mild dish. and very tasty. I loved it.
After the last entrée, Tai brought us a palate cleanser: Beijing Street Shrimp Wonton Soup. I like the idea of serving a delicious and delicate soup in a small bowl after the last entrée. Served at the beginning of the meal, it might take up valuable stomach space.
Kuala Lumpur Street Coconut Banana Fritters, caramel chocolate sauce
After all that food, did we really need dessert?
Fried bananas covered with coconut sitting in a large puddle of intensely sweet caramel-chocolate sauce. Save room for this one. It’s a beauty.
For a second dessert, Tai brought us small cups of Bangkok Street Black Rice Pudding, sugar cane stick, passion fruit boba, lychee and mango. Incredibly rich. ou sould order at least one small cup to share with your table mates.
Rooibos is a broom-like member of the legume family of plants growing in South Africa’s fynbos. The generic name comes from the plant Calicotome villosa, aspalathos in Greek. This plant has very similar growth and flowers to the Rooi Bos.
Rooibos tea is a perfect way to finish off a feast like this. I keep several cans if it at home with my extensive tea collection.
This feast was a smashing success
Every one in the party agreed that this was one of the best meals they have ever had. Wliile Kent, one of my retiree cronois, allowed that is was the very best meal he has had in all of Albuquerque. Bob Chase called it the best meal he has had ever since he had known me (41 years).
Tai pulled out all the stops for this feast. Thanks, Tai. Everybody vowed to return. And talk with Tai. Hus enthusiasm is infectious.
Street Food Asia has earned an Honorable Mention on my Top Ten List.