If you really want to get to know a culture, you've got to try it's street food. Whether it's a steaming bowl of pho or laksa, assorted dim sum or even fried crickets, street food will always serve up a vibrant range of flavors and adventure—an experience to savor, right down to the noise and smoke of city streets full of people chattering in a foreign language.
Good news: you can enjoy a delectable lineup of street food at the Asian Street Food Festival, running till September 3 at The Food Exchange, the dining outlet at Novotel Manila Araneta Center. Guest chefs from eight Asian countries—Thailand, India, Korea, Japan, Philippines, Vietnam, Singapore and China—man interactive stations, making the experience that much more fun. You can watch while the skewers heat up on the grill, or the fish balls sizzle in the wok, while the delicious aromas whet your appetite. There's even a sorbetes cart!
Fresh from his stint as co-host of this year's World Street Food Congress in Manila, Chef Sau del Rosario curated the menu of this one-time only food festival. "Street food is a celebration of heritage recipes passed on to us, with their own unique cooking techniques," says Chef Sau. "We all have that wonderful experience of street food. Maybe it's som tam being made by an old lady in front of you, or fish balls, tamales, even mangga't bagoong."
Chef Sau himself presents the Singaporean, Vietnamese and Malaysian street food selections, including these fresh Vietnamese spring rolls. His dishes include Beef Rendang Padang, Hainanese Chicken, Bami Goreng and so much more.
The Char Kway Teow is irresistible with rice noodles that are salty-sweet, with coriander and a spritz of lime.
Spicy, creamy with a hint of sweet, this laksa has depths of flavor you'll want to plumb. It is, in one word, superb.
Aof Suwannalert came all the way from Thailand to share her country's street food specialties: Kha Moo Palo, pork stew with eggs and mushrooms; Tong Muan Sod, a fried crepe with coconut cream, sesame seeds and tapioca; and of course the popular and well-loved Tom Yum Goong and Pad Thai. She insists on making everything from scratch, using authentic ingredients. It makes all the difference in the flavor.
Rajan Veeranan from India showcases some of their famous street food, like Papri Chaat, crisp fried dough wafers with boiled chick peas, boiled potatoes, yogurt and tamarind chutney topped with chaat masala and sev; Pani Puri, round puffed balls filled with potato mixture and served with sweet and tangy pani; Mumbai Vada Pav, an Indian delicacy made by stuffing deep fried potato fritters in lightly toasted buns and served with spicy chutneys.
And of course, no street food selection would be complete without grilled meats. This selection of Asian favorites include inasal, satay and assorted skewers.
Kudos to the participating chefs of Novotel Manila's Asian Street Food Festival. You've whetted our appetite for more!
The Asian Street Food Festival at The Food Exchange, Novotel Manila Araneta Center runs until September 3. For more information, call (02) 990-7888.